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This article is missing information about Legacy Console Edition terrain changes. 
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This article is about the history of world generation. For the biome history (IDs, etc.), see Biome § History. For the history of generated structures (Loot Tables, behaviors, etc.), see Generated_structures § History.

Java Edition[]

Classic, Indev and early Infdev[]

Java Edition pre-Classic
rd-131655The terrain is very rough and full of caves as shown in Notch's video.[verify]
Levels are 256*64*256 blocks big.
rd-132211The terrain is now flat with one layer of grass and lots of stone under that.
rd-20090515The terrain is now varied in height, with a layer of grass at the top, a few layers of dirt under it, and then stone going down to the very bottom.
Cliffs will occaisionally generate.
rd-161348Cliffs are now more common.
Java Edition Classic
0.0.3aCaves now generate underground.
0.0.12aNew terrain generator, terrain is now rougher and changes in elevation often happen in 2-high intervals.
Added water and lava to world generation.
Bedrock now generates around the sides and bottom of the map.
Terrain now generates in islands above sea level. Some worlds can be 95% water because of this.
All dirt with access to sunlight below sea level will not become grass upon world generation.
0.0.13aDirt generation is now two blocks thick.
Terrain generation changed, terrain is now a little smoother than earlier.
The world no longer generates in islands, but instead, generates lakes within the main land mass, sometimes connecting to the infinite ocean around the world.
Worlds were huge in size (512*512).
0.0.13a_03Lava now no longer generates on the surface.
Worlds have been reverted to the normal size (256*256).
0.0.14aAdded sand, gravel, blobs and trees.
Added world size option: levels can now be Small (128*128), Normal (256*256), or Huge (512*512).
New noise generator: Less bumps on the surface, smoother hill transition, dirt layer can once again be more than two blocks thick.
Ores generate in large blobs on the sides of cliffs and in caves.
Beaches of both sand and gravel generate on and below ocean level.
0.0.14a_04Tree shape changed - now has a plus shape on top.
0.0.15a (Multiplayer Test 1)Gravel now only spawns in water.
Added modern small trees.
0.0.21aCaves generate slightly differently than before.[more information needed]
0.24_SURVIVAL_TESTRougher terrain and more cliffs.
Longer and narrower caves, these get bigger the deeper in the world that you are.
Lava generates right above the bedrock layer.
Mushrooms and Flowers now generate naturally.
The noise generator is more reminiscent of the one used in 0.0.11a: Cliffs can be sheer walls again.
Java Edition Indev
0.3120091223-1Levels start off as a small size now.
20091223-2Due to leaves blocking light, the ground immediately around a tree log generates as dirt.
20091231-1Grass can grow in slightly darker areas meaning the ground around trees is back to grass.
20100106Added new level generation options, see below:
Level type (island, floating, flat, original).[note 1]
Level shape (square, long, deep).
Level size (small, normal, huge). See below for a guide to map sizes:[note 2]
The default setting is Island, Small, Normal, Normal.
The bottommost layer of the world no longer has an infinite lava sea.[verify]
Flowers removed from terrain generation.
Removed water from above the surface.
20100107Added the Hell and Normal, World Theme[note 1]
  • Normal
  • Hell
Deep floating maps now have layers of islands.
20100109Added "Inland" Level Type option: like the Original type but with grass instead of water surrounding the map.
Removed "Original" Level Type.
Grass Blocks in Hell replaced with dirt.
20100110Islands now have more sand.
20100113Ocean water is still infinite even though other water is finite.
20100122Liquids can now spawn.[more information needed]
Liquids can spawn above sea level and on floating islands.
New lighting pass, preventing stack overflows on huge deep floating maps.
Flowers added to world generation.
20100124-1Added the moss stone Indev House for players to spawn in.[note 3]
20100124-2All air directly above bedrock layer is turned into lava.[verify]
20100128Added Diamond Ore which gets generated in the world.
20100130Re-added the Infinite Lava Sea at the bottom of the map, this time its infinitely deep.
20100131The Lava sea will only generate whenever caves cut through the top layer of bedrock.
The bottom layer of bedrock can very rarely have gaps.
20100201-2The Lava no longer spawns on the surface
When generating a new level any grass block below flower turns into dirt.
20100203Flowers no longer spawn with dirt under them.
Minecraft Indev20100212-1Hell now starts off bright and gets darkened.
20100214-1The Indev House is now made of wooden planks and stone.
Hell worlds no longer start off fully bright before getting darkened.
20100214-2Added the Paradise and Woods themes.
Dirt exposed to enough light upon world generation gets turned into grass (visible in Hell).
When there is no good place to spawn an Indev House, it simply won't spawn.
Java Edition Infdev
Minecraft Infdev20100227-1The terrain generation changed greatly in this version.[note 4]
World generation has been greatly simplified (with the removal of sand, blobs) in order to make infinite world generation implementation easier to work with.
Added brick pyramids.
Added obsidian walls.
All generation beyond 33,554,432 blocks is solid stone.
20100227-2Brick pyramid generation changed - they will now always come to a single point at the top, rather than sometimes being truncated, resulting in "brick square frusta".
20100313Removed obsidian walls.
Oceans are considerably larger than before.[check the code]
20100320Reimplemented primitive blob generation, in which they spawn as scattered, single blocks.
Reimplemented tree generation.
20100325Blob generation has been changed to the modern generation type. However, a float is used in their generation, causing their generation to break down at excessive distances.
Added caves. They generate through all blocks, not just terrain blocks.

Alpha-era terrain[]

Java Edition Infdev
Minecraft Infdev20100327The terrain generation changed greatly in this version.[note 4]
World generation has been significantly overhauled, which is visually very obvious.
Removed brick pyramids.
Removed caves.
Removed random patches of flowers.
The large stone wall at 33,554,432 no longer generates. Instead, the Far Lands generate at 12,550,824.
20100413All trees are now large trees.
Sand and gravel now generate with the world again.
20100420The terrain generation changed greatly in this version.[note 4]
World generation seems considerably less mountainous.
20100608All trees are now small trees again - big trees do not generate.
20100611The terrain generation changed greatly in this version.[note 4]
Terrain now appears to come in large islands.
Terrain can now generate high enough to be higher than the world height limit, causing it to be cut off.
Monoliths now have the potential to generate.[verify]
The amount of trees that generate appears to be different now.
20100616The terrain generation changed significantly in this version.[note 4]
Terrain generation in ocean areas is now different.[verify]
Reimplemented caves.
Random patches of flowers and mushrooms now generate.
Springs now generate.
Lava now naturally generates, although how it does so exactly is unknown.
20100617-1Bedrock now generates at the bottom of the world again.[verify]
Tree generation has changed such that logs only generate at layers where there are no leaves.
Coastlines are now "more gradual".
20100617-2Caves have been changed to be "more regional", and allegedly can form large clusters. The thickness of tunnels can also vary, affecting the frequency of branching.
Springs are now more common and can generate on the surface.
Added dirt and gravel blobs.
Bedrock now generates at the bottom of maps,[verify] even though this was already added in the previous version.
Lava no longer generates at the very bottom of worlds.
Ore blocks were "generated with a random amount of blobs regardless to the type of ore" prior to this version.
20100618Log blocks now generate in the leaf layers of trees again.
20100624Mountains are apparently less tall in this version.
20100625-2Added dungeons.
20100627The density of trees has been reduced.
20100630-1Caves can be bigger than before.
Java Edition Alpha
v1.0.1Added redstone ore blobs.
Coal ore blobs can now vary in size.[verify]
v1.0.4Added winter mode worlds, with their own block palette of snow and ice. Normal worlds appear unaffected in this version though.
v1.0.6Added cactus to world generation.
Readded large trees to world generation.
v1.0.11Added clay disks and sugar cane random patches to world generation.
v1.1.0Clay generation is apparently more common.

Beta-era terrain[]

Java Edition Alpha
v1.2.0previewThe terrain generation changed greatly in this version.[note 4]
Added biomes.
Added the Nether.
An in-game value corresponding to the Old Customized depth noise scale has been changed from 100 to 200.
v1.2.0_01Areas where soul sand would have generated in the Nether in v1.2.0 now generate with gravel instead.
v1.2.0_02Soul sand now generates in the Nether again.
v1.2.6Added water and lava lakes.
Java Edition Beta
1.2Added birch trees.
Added spruce trees.
Added lapis lazuli ore blobs to world generation.
There is allegedly more coal ore, iron ore and diamond ore found in caves. Whether this refers to blob size or frequency is unknown.
1.2_02Lapis lazuli ore is apparently more common and can be found at bedrock level.
1.3Sandstone now generates beneath natural sand.
Fixed a grassland/sand biome border issue.[more information needed]
1.6Test Build 3Added random patches of grass, ferns and dead bushes to world generation.
?The frequency of blobs no longer varies per quadrant of the world.
1.7Clay generation has been fixed and no longer exclusively spawns when x and z are equal.

Early Release-era terrain[]

Java Edition Beta
1.8Pre-releaseThe terrain generation changed greatly in this version.[note 4]
Terrain generation has been outright overhauled, adding and removing several biomes and changing how height is applied. The full list of precise changes may be listed later, although would end up massive.
Removed savanna, shrublands, rain forests, seasonal forests and tundras
Removed Mountains and Oceans as generated structures
Added Extreme Hills, Ocean biome, Taiga
Added strongholds, villages, mineshafts, and ravines.
Added disks. Clay no longer generates in beaches.
The sea level has been decreased by one block (64 to 63).
The Far Lands and Farther Lands no longer generate.
Java Edition
1.0.0Beta 1.9 PrereleaseThe terrain generation changed slightly in this version.[note 5]
Added Mushroom island (and related), ice plains and frozen ocean biomes.
Added nether fortresses and added an (empty) portal room to strongholds.
Beta 1.9 Prerelease 3Added a glass tower to strongholds.
Added more chests to strongholds.
Beta 1.9 Prerelease 4Added The End.
Removed the glass towers of strongholds. Grass and flowers can now generate in snowy biomes - previously they could only generate under shade, for example from trees. When the previous behavior started is unknown.
1.111w48aChanged temperature value of taigas from 0.3 to 0.05, making them generate with snow again.
12w01aAdded more biomes, these are: Beaches, and biome variants such as Desert Hills, Extreme Hills Edge, Forest Hills and Taiga Hills.
Added superflat world type.
Blacksmith buildings in villages now hold chests with loot.
1.2.112w03aThe terrain generation changed slightly in this version.[note 5]
Added Jungle and Jungle Hills biomes.
12w04aAdded Desert Wells to deserts.
12w05aMineshafts now bridge over ravines.
1.3.112w16aAdded an optional bonus chest.
12w19aChanged height scale and height depht of Desert Hills, Forest Hills, Extreme Hills edge, Ice Mountains, Jungle Hills and Taiga Hills.
12w21aAdded desert pyramids to deserts.
Added emerald ore, which generates on blobs of up 10 blocks in Extreme Hills biome and variants.
Changed desert villages to have desert-specific blocks.
12w22aAdded jungle pyramids to jungles.
Changed emerald ore blob size to 1 block.
1.4.212w36aAdded carrots and potatoes to villages.
12w38aStone monster eggs now rarely generate in Extreme Hills biomes and variants.
12w40aAdded swamp huts to Swamps.
1.513w01aAdded Nether quartz ore, which generates at the Nether.
1.6.113w17aLakes no longer spawn on desert biomes.
13w18aAdded loot chests to nether fortresses.

Major Release-era terrain[]

This section is missing information about a crap ton of unaccounted for changes in this era. The reason red sandstone was introduced, for example.. 
Please expand the section to include this information. Further details may exist on the talk page.
Java Edition
1.7.213w36aThe terrain generation changed greatly in this version.[note 4]
Just like Beta 1.8, Terrain generation has been outright overhauled.
Re-added Savanna, and added several of it's variants.
Oceans are now much smaller.
Added Mesa and it's variants.
Added Roofed Forest and it's variants.
Added Sunflower Plains as a Plains variant.
Added Birch Forest and it's variants.
Added Flower Forest as a Forest variant.
Added Extreme Hills+ as a Extreme Hills variants.
Taiga now normally generates without Snow, similar to Taiga from Beta 1.8 to 1.1.
The previous Taiga has become it's own biome, Cold Taiga
Added Mega Taiga and it's variants.
Added Deep Ocean as a Ocean variant.
Added several Biome variants.
Added Amplified world type.
Jungle are now much rarer.
Several changes to Swampland, Plains, and Extreme Hills.
Extreme Hills Edge no longer generates naturally.
Removed Frozen Ocean.
Changed Biome categorization into 4 categories.
Biome elevation now has much greater variation.
Caverns are now less interconnected.
1.813w02aAdded Diorite, Andesite, and Granite, which generates randomly underground.
14w17aAdded Customized world type.
14w25aAdded Ocean Monuments, which generates in oceans.
1.915w31aTerrain generation in The End has been completely changed.
Added End Islands, which generates hundreds of blocks from the main island.
Added End City, which generates at the End Islands.
Added End Ship, which sometimes generates at the End City.
There are now 128 Strongholds per world, instead of 3.
Added Igloos.
1.1016w20aAdded Fossils, which generates underground.
Added Magma Blocks, which generates in the Nether.
1.1116w39aAdded Woodland Mansion, which generates very rarely in Roofed Forest.
Added Return Portals, which generates randomly in End Islands.
1.1318w06aThe terrain generation changed slightly in this version.[note 5]
Removed Customized world.
18w07aRavines now generates in the Nether.
18w08aAdded Warm Ocean and it's deep variant.
Added Lukewarm Ocean and it's deep variant.
Added Cold Ocean and it's deep variant.
Re-added Frozen Ocean, although it's different from the original version.
Added Deep Frozen Ocean as a Frozen Ocean variant.
18w08b Deep Warm Ocean no longer generates naturally.
18w09aAdded Underwater Ruin, which generates in all oceans.
18w10dAdded Coral reefs, which generates in Warm Ocean.
18w11aAdded Shipwrecks, which generates in all oceans.
18w15aAdded Icebergs, which generates in Frozen Ocean.
18w16aAdded Buffet world type.
1.1418w43aAdded Bamboo Jungle and it's mutated variant.
18w47aAdded Pillager Outposts, which generates in most land Biomes.
18w49aAdded Snowy Tundra villages.
19w07aAdded Snowy Tundra zombie villages.
1.1620w06aAdded Crimson Forest to the Nether.
Added Warped Forest to the Nether.
Added Soul Sand Valley to the Nether.
The original Nether biome has been renamed to Nether Wastes.
Added Ancient Debris, a rare ore in the Nether.
20w11aAdded Nether Gold Ore to the Nether.
20w15aAdded Basalt Deltas to the Nether.
20w16aAdded Bastion Remnants, which generates in the Nether.
1.1720w45aAdded Amethyst Geode, which generates underground.
Added Copper Ore, a new ore in the Overworld.
20w49aAdded Dripstone Caves, which is accessable only in Buffet or Custom world type.
21w06aComplete overhaul of Caves.
The World has been extended 64 blocks up and 64 blocks down, which means that it is possible to build from -64 to 319 in the overworld.
Ore generation has been tweaked to match the new world height.
Added Aquifers.
Added Spaghetti and Cheese Caves.
Removed Underwater Canyons and Underwater Caves.
21w07aAdded Grimstone, which generates below Y=0.
21w08aAdded Smooth Basalt, which now generates at the Tuff layer on Amethyst Geode.
Added Deepslate Ores, which now generates when an ore replaces Deepslate.
Added Crack Carvers, which is like Canyon but deeper.
21w10aAdded Lush Caves, which is accessable only in Buffet or Custom world type.
21w15aReverted most of the changes from 21w06a back to the original, as the changes will be moved to Java Edition 1.18. This can be bypassed by using the Official Caves and Cliffs Datapack.
Tuff and Deepslate now generates in blobs between Y 0 and Y 16.
21w16a(Experimental changes) Aquifers below Y=0 are now sometimes made of lava.
21w17a(Experimental changes) Added Noodle Caves.

Mountainous Release-era terrain[]

Java Edition
1.181.18 Experimental Snapshot 1The terrain generation changed greatly in this version.[note 4]
For the first time since Java Edition 1.7.2 in 2013, Terrain generation has been completely overhauled once again.
All of the Cave changes from 21w06a to 21w17a has been re-activated.
Lush Caves and Dripstone Caves now generates naturally.
Complete Overhaul of Mountains.
Added 5 sub-biomes for the new mountains. Mountain Meadow, Mountain Grove, Snowy Slopes, Lofty Peaks, and Snow Capped Peaks.
Terrain generation is now independent from Biomes, with Biomes adapting to whatever terrain they happen to generate throughout.
Terrain is now smooth and more extreme.
Removed Large Biomes and Amplified world type.
Removed most of the sub-biomes.
Eroded Badlands and Ice Spikes was added back in Java Edition 1.18 experimental snapshot 2. Whether any of the other biomes listed will be re-added, or if any will be removed from the game outright, is currently unknown.
Swamp does not generate properly, this is fixed in 1.18 experimental snapshot 2.
1.18 experimental snapshot 2The terrain generation changed slightly in this version.[note 5]
Swamp now generates properly.
Eroded Badlands and Ice Spikes now once again generates naturally.
Terrain now tend to be flatter.
Biome are now smoother and less noisy, with less microbiomes.
Beach are now larger. Some areas don't generates them, this is to provide some variation.
Reduced the size of Cheese Caves.
Cave Entrance are now smaller, and less likely to go down all the way to Deepslate level.
Lush Caves are now rarer and smaller.
Underground Biomes interfere less with surface Biomes. They can still leak out sometimes.

Bedrock Edition[]

Alpha-era-terrain[]

Pocket Edition Alpha
v0.1.0Added a simple world generator. The world is simillar to pre-Java Edition Beta 1.8 world generation.
The world is 256 blocks wide and 128 blocks high.
Added 5 Biomes, Snowy Tundra, Snowy Taiga, Plains, Desert, and Forest.
v0.1.3Cacti now generates in Desert.
v0.9.0build 1The terrain generation changed greatly in this version.[note 4]
The world is now infinite. The old limited world can be created by using Old world type.
Added most Biomes that exist as of Java Edition 1.8.
Frozen Ocean no longer generates naturally.
Added Villages, Mineshafts, Strongholds and Dungeons.
Added Flat world type.
v0.9.5Added Mesa Bryce, Extreme Hills+, and Jungle M.
v0.10.0build 1Mesa biomes now has gold at every elevation, and can generate Mineshafts on the surface.
Water in swamps are now tinted gray.
Huge Mushrooms generate in swamps.
Added Desert Wells.
v0.11.0build 1Added Birch Forest M, Birch Forest Hills M, Extreme Hills M, and Extreme Hills+ M.
build 8Changed the default biome.
build 10Increased the amount of gravel in the Extreme Hills M Biome.
v0.12.1build 1Added the Nether biome.
Added Nether Fortresses.
build 10Leaves coloring shaders are now used only when the color for a biome actually changes.
v0.13.0build 1Added Desert Pyramids.
v0.14.0build 1Added Swamp Huts.
Cauldrons in Swamp huts are filled with random Potion.
v0.15.0build 1Added Jungle Temples.
Added Savanna and Taiga village variants.
Villages can now generate in Snowy Taiga and Snowy Tundra biomes, where village buildings are constructed with spruce wood like in taiga villages.
Villages have a slim chance to generate as abandoned villages, which spawn zombified villagers. Cobwebs and moss stone replace some blocks in the buildings of such villages.
v0.16.0?The biomes can now be viewed on maps based on the grass color.
Added Ocean Monuments.

Bedrock Edition-era Terrain[]

Pocket Edition
1.0.0alpha 0.17.0.1Added End biome.
Added End City.
Added Igloos.
1.1.0alpha 1.1.0.0Added Woodland Mansions.
1.1.3alpha 1.1.3.0Added Fossils.

Glacier Seed Comparison[]

Notes[]

  1. a b See Notes §
  2. See Notes §
  3. See Indev_House#History for detailed information about Indev House history.
  4. a b c d e f g h i j This means that worlds converted from versions before this will change the distribution of chunks generated after.
  5. a b c d This means that worlds converted from versions before this may change the distribution of chunks generated after.
Map sizes (width × length × height)
Square Long Deep
Small 128 × 128 × 64 256 × 64 × 64 64 × 64 × 256
Normal 256 × 256 × 64 512 × 128 × 64 128 × 128 × 256
Huge 512 × 512 × 64 1028 × 256 × 64 256 × 256 × 256

Indev World Types[]

  • Island: World spawns as a large island surrounded with water, smaller island off the coast are comon too. Border block is water as well, sand will generate.
  • Floating: World generates in rings of floating islands high in the air. Border block is water. Sand is common although caves often lead into the void.
  • Flat: world is a perfectly flat plane with trees growing. Border block is grass. Sand does not generate.
  • Original: Resembles classic 0.30 terrain generation
  • Inland:
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