Minecraft Earth Gets First Live Demo at WWDC Using Apple’s ARKit
An augmented reality version of Minecraft is coming to iOS.
Minecraft creators Mojang have used the latest version of ARKit, the ARKit 3, to showcase some of the augmented reality capabilities on an AR version of Minecraft in the new software during Monday’s keynote at the WWDC. This was the world’s first live gameplay demo of Mojang’s next smartphone-exclusive AR game which will be known as Minecraft Earth.
During the demo, the studio also provided the strongest hint yet on when eager users might get access the augmented reality game. According to Mojang, it will be coming “this summer” to iOS devices. However, the studio didn’t reveal when the promised Android version of the game might be launched.
The onstage demo of Minecraft Earth started with two Mojang staff aiming their iOS devices at a table whereupon a Minecraft game world emerges which multiple users can interact with simultaneously. The employees were able to walk around the table and aim their device cameras at the blocky Minecraft game world, the staffers were able to deploy weapons and items and even interact with switches. They could go into their inventories and drop or plant items. A staffer was even able to put a Minecraft-like doll avatar into the blocky game world and animate it by moving her real physical body. The latest ARKit 3 version seems to support body gestures such as hand-waving.
The next phase of the demo involved a shift from the table top to the entire WWDC stage, projecting the small augmented world on the tabletop into a much bigger virtual world on the stage. The Mojang employees appeared like real people inside the life-sized blocky augmented Minecraft Earth world. The bodies of the Mojang reps was occluded by the augmented virtual content. For example, a staffer was able to hide behind a virtual bundle of planted flowers. To reach the various parts of the augmented virtual world, the players walked around the real-world space but they used their phone views in laying down torches or manipulating distant objects in the blocky Minecraft Earth world such as when a massive underground lair emerged beneath a player’s feet.
The app leverages on motion capture and people’s occlusion to bring an immersive world of Minecraft into real-life and in real-time via iOS devices such as an iPhone or an iPad.
It is not clear yet how Minecraft Earth will make it possible for players to move around in much larger environments. For example, how will players move up stair cases? It’s one thing to see some life-sized staircases beckoning at you but it is another thing altogether to attempt “climbing” a virtual staircase!
Most of the demo, however, leverages the familiar Minecraft UI as well as a clear set of controls for switch manipulation, attacks and item usage. The translation from the original Minecraft to the wow effect of the augmented Minecraft world where it is all happening around you is quite on point even though it’s all happening through the lenses of your smartphone or tablet screens.
Also from the demo, it is clear Minecraft Earth will not be as abstract as Pokémon Go. It will be interesting to see how the Minecraft Earth gameplay will pan out when the beta version is released later this summer. Microsoft first detailed the AR game last month.
Watch the Minecraft Earth gameplay demo below:-