What is Minetest, and what does it do to be that?

I will consider both, the present and the future, simultaneously, because it would be bad if there weren’t any continuity like that. This kind of unifies history and future in a way that I would see best.

Minetest is about:

  • Messing around
  • Being able to do crappy but interesting stuff which nevertheless is enjoyed by other people
  • Not taking anything seriously
  • Doing this in a voxel-based multiplayer sandbox game.

That is what it has always been about. However, as a project grows, it’s impossible to keep total anarchy or dictatorship, so we need some way of fitting this into the fairly scalable architecture (development-wise) we have now. The alternative would be to scale the project down and make an army of forks. It could be fun too, but don’t think it is generally desirable.

Particularly, Minetest is not about making fancy-looking things at the cost of freedom. Go away right now if you want that.

In order to build upon a larger base of work, the larger base of work must be chosen somehow. Minetest uses these approaches:

  • Keep the common base small enough to be manageable, as it is bound to be a monolithic chunk. This is what is called the Minetest Engine. It’s sole purpose is to enable cramming all kinds of messing-arounds into one in a decent voxel world experience.
  • Keep the common base (the Minetest Engine) as universal as possible. I like to compare everything that goes into the engine for how well it suits a gravitation-less space game without ground surface. If everything is either disableable or suitable for such, then it gives much more freedom for people to experiment and create interesting things, even in ground-based worlds.
  • Keep the common base lightweight, simple and well-written enough for it to not become some monster that everyone fears, because everyone is dependent on it.
  • Following these limits, incorporate features that help people do the things in the first list.
  • It mustn’t be made unnecessarily hard to make polished content even while most content isn’t polished.

Then there is the work that is built upon this common base. It has it’s own issues. Here are the issues that come to mind and how Minetest solves them:

  • Lack of creativity: Minetest tries to make it easy to experiment with weird and unconventional things, and publish those things to inspire others.
  • Lack of consistent and large pieces of content: Mods facilitate organization of huge amounts of content. Subgames(*) allow collection of them to coherent wholes. While Minetest’s culture isn’t very focused on consistency, Minetest tries to make it possible if someone wants to focus on it.
  • Lack of publicity: Minetest tries to make it easy to share anything, and the community is all about sharing everything.
  • Lack of main direction: We suck at this. Short suggestion below.

It’s starting to seem to me that we need to change the Minetest distribution to contain a bunch of different subgames instead of trying to have one main game. New ideas or thumbs ups for this?

Hopefully this explains for example why Minetest isn’t *necessarily* a Minecraft clone, and why it *kind of* is, and why it doesn’t matter in itself.

(*) I use the word subgame here because it’s less confusing for people not involved with Minetest

9 Responses to “What is Minetest, and what does it do to be that?”

  1. temperest Says:

    I think splitting up the main game into multiple games is a pretty good idea, all things considered. However, not like the build and survival game before – the games should differ significantly and each have their own unique goals. Of course, that’s just what I’d personally like to see, but I think most people would enjoy it as well.

  2. Philip Says:

    I agree with Temperest. This idea could also have the splitting of different devs toward what they are good at… Very nice and much possible through this plan.

  3. Wuzzy Says:

    In general I agree with your opinion, celeron55. This is the “direction” I want Minetest to go.

    I strongly agree with the term “subgame” as an alternative for “game”. I never liked the usage of the term “game” because it is just fucking ambigious. “subgame”, on the other hand, is much clearer. I think we should replace this term throughout Minetest and the involved wikis and rename the forum “games” to “subgames”.
    I just added the alternative term to and added a redirect to this page on . I intend to replace the term on the entire wiki when “subgame” becomes generally accepted by the community.

    I have no opinion on what subgames are distributed with Minetest by default. As long as I can download any subgames as I wish freely, it really doesn’t matter that much to me.

    We do indeed suck at leadership, which I do not consider a bad thing. I do not see any reason why any form of leadership could benefit this project, seeing how well this crazy project called “Minetest” created by a bunch of lunatics ;-) worked out so far. IMHO maybe the “sucking-at-leadership” approach is not so bad, after all. ;-)

  4. GingerHunter797 Says:

    I also think this is a good idea, it will definitly set Minetest apart from Minecraft.

    Yay! I apart of this discussion! :D

  5. tinoesroho Says:

    Here’s my two cents. And two game blurbs. Subgames. Worlds. Whatever.

    A steampunk world fallen into decay. The survivors of humanity travel from island to islands, seeking power supplies in ruins, and scavenging automatons. But the robots aren’t quite dead…

    Build steam-powered machines, boats, and even companions to assist you in your own epic quest.

    Legends say that a person form the past will come to lead the Eoli to victory against the Molkorc. A stranger in the plains will grow into a true hero, forging armor, weapons, and building an army out of scattered tribes. But they have to survive first…

    A rollicking adventure loosely based on HG Well’s Time Machine.

  6. randomproof Says:

    As far as subgames goes, it should be possible to use the Minetest engine to build a RPG style game. In this kind of a game the player is not the one building the world, but the game designer(s) and the player is walking around and interacting with the world they make. I think that everything is essentially there to do this (NPC interactions and wearing armor would need some thinking about).

  7. Guest Says:

    I like to think of the word ‘game’ in reference to ‘a game that uses the Minetest engine’. For example:
    The Cheese Jumpers game is an open world based upon the Minetest engine. The object of this game is to travel the moon in search of the finest cheeses to send back home to earth.

  8. TheyCallMeDanger Says:


    For a myriad of reasons, I’m looking to diverge away from the Minecraft code base. I’ve looked into a number of platforms today, and this one seems to be the most viable. First question, is how difficult it would be to port my minecraft mod over…? (hundreds of blocks/items, and about 70 monsters) I was not able to find any documentation that would help me with this task, which I think would be of paramount importance if you’re after minecraft/forge converts, which I also think you should be…

    I’ve been around a bit. Probably coding since before you were born. Lol! :) I could probably even solve that “leadership” issue you seem to be having…

    Can we talk a bit to see if joining forces would be in our best interests? Please email me directly at rh.clark@comcast.net


    Richard H. Clark

  9. Pedro Rosado Says:

    C55, after reading this, and being an adept to minetest on Ubuntu, I would like you to read this thread on the minetest forum, and give me your opinion regarding the minetest project itself


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