It's not difficult to see why Minecraft is a game that is loved for millions. Its written in Java allows it to run on a variety of platforms, including Linux. There are a lot of Minecraft enthusiasts who would love access to the source code and get to work on it. Unfortunately, the source is not available to the general public.
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There's good news. Many people have attempted to recreate Minecraft and other similar games with open-source software. Are you in search of a free Minecraft alternative to Minecraft? Here's a brief overview of Minecraft clones and derivatives that you should really check out.
These projects are at different stages of completion and are used to achieve various purposes. Some seek to duplicate the Minecraft experience completely or at least offer a similar experience. Others are taking the voxel-based game concept to completely new levels, and still others are more of a framework that can help you build your own game or creation.
Minetest is the first game on our list. Minetest is possibly the most complete alternative to Minecraft, which is billed as an "near-infinite-world block sandbox game and game engine." It supports multiplayer as well as subgames. It also features a variety of terrain generators and various default biomes. It also has a user-friendly API for creating mods using Lua.
Minetest is open source under the LGPL and is written in C++ so it's relatively fast when compared to others written in scripting languages. Minetest is compatible with Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, FreeBSD, and possibly other operating systems, too. You can download the source code on GitHub.
Minetest screenshot, Minetest website, CC-BY-SA 3.0.
Terasology could be a contender for the most stunning rendering engine in the pack; its shadows are both terrifying and breathtaking. The game that began as an experiment in procedural terrain generation has grown into a fully-featured gaming experience, featuring multiplayer and a variety of add-on modules that are automatically installed to let you try out different gameplay techniques.
Terasology is written in Java and released under an Apache 2.0 license. Due to its Java-based platform it should run on just about any platform that has sufficient power, as long as you have the Java 8 virtual machine installed.
Terasology screenshot, Terasology Code repository, Apache 2.0.
Voxel.js is composed of several related projects, meaning you can use as much or as little of the code as you want to create your ideal game. The main library, voxel engine is a very basic engine to render boxy scenes, but there are more than 200 add-ons that are available. You can see examples of other engines in the gallery. The engine itself is released under a BSD-style licence; other add-ons may be licensed differently It's worth checking before you make assumptions.
Screenshot of voxel forest using Voxel.js, Jason Baker.
TrueCraft is written to be very similar to the original game. It is described as an Minecraft "implementation," as opposed to a clone and is compatible with official Minecraft server versions. The creator of TrueCraft is looking to implement beta version 1.7.3 of the original game, a point in the development of Minecraft he considers "nearly perfect." TrueCraft is a snapshot that was deliberately frozen in time. He seeks feature-parity to Minecraft.
TrueCraft is very similar to the original. This is why TrueCraft has taken very care to avoid copyright issues. TrueCraft allows code only from developers who haven't decompiled or otherwise had access to the original game source code. However those who have had access been granted access are encouraged and welcomed to contribute in different ways. TrueCraft is written in C# and is open source under an MIT license.
TrueCraft screenshot, TrueCraft code repository, MIT license.
Craft is an open-source voxel engine which is akin to Minecraft. While development appears to have slowed down or stopped but there are more than 200 forks, many of which (such as the school project Not2bad-craft) are able to provide major improvements. Craft's simplicity may appeal to you if you're looking to create games similar to Minecraft but aren't sure where to begin The game engine is housed in only a few thousand lines of C code and utilizes OpenGL for rendering. It employs simple algorithms to create terrain and other tasks. Everything is stored in an SQLite3 databank. It's worth considering the possibility of a multiplayer server based on Python.
Craft is available under an MIT license.
Craft screenshot, Craft code repository, MIT license.
Other excellent alternatives
You should also check out these other notable references:
Freeminer is a second sandbox-based game that was inspired by Minecraft and based on Minetest. The authors want to make the game enjoyable but still retaining some perfectionist elements. It has installers for Linux, Windows, and Android. ClassiCube is an Minecraft Classic clone written in C#. It is open source software under the OpenTK license, and installs on Linux, BSD, Solaris, Windows, Mac OS, and in browsers.
There you go. This is not a comprehensive list. There are plenty of other options to explore. As more people begin to play these games or develop their own, we will undoubtedly discover more options. Which one is your favourite and which one did we leave off you would have liked to have included?