Editor’s Note: A gameplay tool is any kind of application that enhance the gaming experience in some way. It can help a player make better decisions, make it easier for a person to communicate strategy, or just help a person have more fun. People have been using them for decades without realizing it. It’s about time we popularize the concept! This particular article is about MineAtlas by @Mine_Atlas.
A great tool for a great game. In the past 10 years as video game modding and toolmaking has become increasingly popular, there have been a few games that have risen to the top to capture a huge percentage of developer attention. The loveable, block-bashing and building hit, Minecraft is at the pinnacle of the list. It only makes sense that one of the greatest gameplay tools of all time would arise thanks to this game! MineAtlas is my favorite of the bunch.
Creating Worlds. To create its seemingly infinite number of massive maps, Minecraft uses a concept called Procedural Generation. You may think that each time you start a new world the location of blocks is randomized, but that is not the case. There is a predefined set of rules and calculations (an algorithm) that is run each time a world is created with the only difference being a “Seed”. This seed is chosen randomly or purposefully by the player, then placed into the algorithm and used by the Minecraft engine to spit out the same game-world each time.
How MineAtlas Functions. The tool MineAtlas is a web app that can be used to see a 2D representation of any Minecraft Map when a player provides a seed. This makes it easy to discover biomes without having to run around the entire world under threat of darkness and baddies. A player can even keep the beautiful map up on a second screen window while they play so they can always keep their bearings. Some maps are more favorable in the size of particular biomes and the structure of land formations, so MineAtlas can be used to scope out random seeds before committing to a map. With the click of the “random” button, MineAtlas generates a map filled with waypoints. If a player likes the layout, they can copy that seed directly into their Minecraft game while they generate a new world.
What makes it great? MineAtlas takes a tough engineering problem and simplifies it down to an elegant solution. A basic user can get all the information they need out of this tool by clicking only one or two buttons. It saves players a massive amount of time by allowing them to see important information about their world in only a moment’s time. Before discovering MineAtlas, I had been known to waste hours before discovering the fact that I didn’t enjoy my map’s layout. To add to all of it, the creator has been hosting this site for 4 years, an impressive feat considering many gameplay tools become obsolete after a short period of time.