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It’s Like Minecraft, but not Minecraft… Cubelands

Some of Cubelands' newest citizens are making a street intersection, complete with stop lights.

Some of Cubelands newest citizens are making a street intersection, complete with stop light.

So this is interesting. While rummaging through the internet’s bargain bin this fine Saturday afternoon, I came across a game that is very, very similar to the ever popular Minecraft. It’s not Minecraft though, it’s actually a game called Cubelands.

Now, I won’t get into the ethics involved in making a game that plays so similarly to everybody’s favorite sandbox, build em and destroy em game with zombies. I don’t have the knowledge of when this game was created or when development started. Hell, I haven’t even explored the game fully enough to really see if the game copies Minecraft down to the smallest of details. I’m not here to pass judgment, is what I’m trying to say.

What I will say, however, is that, in many ways, I’m actually more impressed with Cubelands than I am with Minecraft. Now as any of our regualr readers should know, I’m a HUGE proponent of Minecraft. I love the game and it has taken far more hours of my life than I’d like to admit, but it’s certainly not a perfect game. While Cubelands isn’t perfect either, just write off the bat I can instantly notice a few things that make it feel like a more complete game than Minecraft.

First and foremost is the graphics. Now I’m not a stickler for the way Minecraft looks. In fact, I genuinely enjoy the game’s minimalist graphics, but I’d be lying if I said that my Cubelands castle didn’t look more like a castle than my Minecraft castle. It’s an unfortunate truth but one that holds true. As somebody who is playing with virtual Legos and building virtual versions of things that existed in real life, the more realistic I can make them, the more impressed I’ll be. It’s just the way I am.

Additionally, the game seems to be developed from the ground up to be primarily a multiplayer game. What you’ll notice upon visiting the game’s website is that, currently, there doesn’t seem to be a single player option. You can simply join a game, or host your own game and begin playing in multiplayer right away. You don’t need to buy/host a server yourself or anything of that nature. Just jump in and play with people who are already online. (I do realize Minecraft does have a series of privately owned servers already.)

Of course, that’s not to say the game is currently on the same level as Minecraft. There are a lot of things missing that really make Minecraft the great game it is. For one, I don’t really see anyway to craft items like tools, armor, food, or furniture. It’s all about just removing and placing blocks.

Additionally, my personal favorite part of Minecraft isn’t included, i.e. surviving the night. Minecraft is great because, to go along with the building and creating, you’re also tasked with surviving against a number of enemies who can easily dispatch you if you stay out unprepared during the night. From what I could tell Cubeland doesn’t have any sort of monster/survival element to it.

I can see the developers of Cubelands getting a lot of backlash from the extremely loyal Minecraft community as being nothing more than a rip off. I mean, the similarities are striking. However, I don’t necessarily feel that way. Just like how Halo and Call of Duty push each other to create the best FPS experience, I’d love for Minecraft to get a solid competitor and really have both games carve out their own niche. After all, it’s not like Minecraft was a totally original idea either.

Cubelands is available in a beta mode, right now, for free. If you’re curious to see the “other side” of the Minecraft genre then check it out and let us know what you think in the comments.




  • John

    I tried it out, and it lasted a few minutes before a crippling bug showed up. I was placing bricks down about 10 spaces away from the edge of the world, and all of a sudden the tiles just started going invisible. Large chunks of the world became see through and any tiles they were connected to had their backface missing. I fell off the world a lot and got frustrated, so that’s really all I did.

  • Horatius

    Thanks for posting this. I’m really looking forward to seeing more Minecraft-likes. It should be stressed that they are going to be good for gaming, because they increase competition, and will wind up filling niches that satisfy players who crave a game slightly different than what the big player is producing.

    Notch himself was making a clone of another game when he made Minecraft. He has always been open about this, because he understands that ideas can be improved upon and evolved into innovative new ideas. Without Infiniminer we’d not have Minecraft, just as without Doom we’d not have Serious Sam.

  • LCom

    Honestly, this makes me happy. The whole crafting and surviving monsters thing is cool and fun, but I miss the early beta for Minecraft – what is now known as “Minecraft classic”. The way it’s going, all the crafting and actual mining is building in resource management mechanics. It is needed for the game that he’s making, but all it does is slow down the people who want to log in and make huge cool structures. There are plenty of editors and programs for getting around resource management, but then it’s almost like people just don’t realize the classic version is around.

    I would like to see Cubelands stick to that idea of just building, making structures and places and landscape. If they can do that, and maybe focus more on the decoration side of things. They wouldn’t need differing tiers of tools, or logic machines made out of of redstone dust, but things like torches, glass, signs, and maybe other cool things. More things focusing on movement and displays (pyrotechnics on hot air balloons. Just throwing that out there). Just resonating with that idea of a similar game filling a different nitch.

    • Geoff Gibson

      I agree actually. Personally, I prefer Minecraft’s survival mode, but I would think/hope Cubelands would want to exploit the section of Minecraft fans who just want to build and create things. As I said in the article, I believe the genre is big enough for two competitors so long as they don’t mimic each other exactly.

  • Mike

    Hi All,

    Geoff, thanks for reviewing the game! It seems to be my first official review. The similarities between Cubelands and Minecraft end right at the “cube building”, from this point on I can finally deploy all updates that make Cubelands unique.

    “I would like to see Cubelands stick to that idea of just building, making structures and places and landscape.”
    That’s indeed the plan. Hence the tight community/multiplayer integration. We are adding more features that encourage building, we need to add some “purpose” to the game for the people that are overwhelmed by the freedom of the game and finally we want to add some more “casual” game experience to the game. Think of treasure hunting..maybe even a simple FPS deatchmatch. However, if we do so we’ll make sure it’s integrated in the main game nicely, and the main game being all about social gaming/building/multiplayer.

    On the short term this means:
    -Daily or weekly community contests such as “build the best castle of the day”
    -User of the day (display of skin+about text display in the main menu)
    -Screenshot of the day(week/hour/minute) to be used as dynamic background for the main menu.
    -After this I’ll start on the required in-game changes (signs, etc.)


    • Geoff Gibson

      Thanks for taking the time to respond Mike! Please let us know whenever you have updates you want to share.

      • Mike

        Geoff: Sure thing :) !. I’ll email DIY when I’ve finished the bunch of updates I have in mind right now. These should set CL even more apart from Minecraft. These updates shouldn’t take too long.

  • CazCore

    here’s a very early/simple prototype of my block builder/editor.

    my favorite games are fast, old school fragfests like Duke 3D, Quake 2, Unreal Tournament, etc.

    that kind of gameplay along with an innovative weapon system where you customize different weapon elements, so that its almost like having a customized weapon editor….. that is where my gameplay is going. also, roguelike dungeon generation for possibly some single player/cooperative shooting action. but definitely for multiplayer fragging. altho there should be plenty of handcrafted environments to play in too of course.

    i have to finish at least one other game first (music game where you play real notes/music) before i can get back to work on it. which, btw, i’m intending to have the music game be a mini-game inside the block building world.

    i just couldn’t resist whipping up a quick prototype since i was so inspired that a block based world wasn’t an automatic turnoff to the gaming masses. i’ve been wanting to do something just as accessible and fun, but with more advanced primitives such as cones, cylinders, etc, and where you can precisely choose the x,y,z sizes of the boxes (don’t have to be cubes) and place them precisely (boxes could overlap each other) and freely rotate them too.

    i intend to open a page at where you can download the music game for free, and pay what you want (if you like it) hopefully in less than a week, and would appreciate any financial support (paying what you want for the game) so that i can stick to my coding projects without having to get an outside job to make my next rent payment. obviously that would slow me down alot. i have much grander plans for everything i’m working on to be merged and to add more layers that…… well its better not to talk too much, and just try to get stuff done as fast as possible. 8)

  • bradur

    A good read. You presented the similarities and differences between the games well.

    Also, I’d like to point out, that labeling a game a “Minecraft ripoff” is quite silly, as the concept was not in any way Notch’s idea to begin with. He got the idea off another game, called Infiminer. Notch ripped Infiminer off in the sense that he “copied” the blocky building game idea but his implementation was somehow more appealing (especially the Survival mode) that it hit off with the gamers much better than Infiminer ever did. Infiminer was released with the MIT license that would have even allowed Notch to copy the code had he wanted to do so.

  • Baberayray1234

    umm i kind wanna know how do u start this game because im new and i wanna play this game so if u know can u plz tell me asap:) ty