Infiniminer is an open source multi-player block-based sandbox building and digging game, inspired by the games Infinifrag, Team Fortress 2, and Motherload, in which the player plays as a miner searching for minerals by carving tunnels through procedurally generated block-based maps and building structures.
Infiniminer is commonly associated with Minecraft for giving Notch the idea for where to go with Minecraft, and is often regarded as a direct forerunner. It was developed by Zach Barth of Zachtronics Industries with the help of his friend Chris Gengler in their spare time, and released in steps of incremental updates during April and May of 2009. It quickly garnered a following on message boards around the internet, and inspired Notch to start working on Minecraft several weeks after it was discontinued.
Like Minecraft, Infiniminer is a block-based mining and construction game. Players can play on one of two teams, Red or Blue, as one of four classes: Miner, Prospector, Engineer, or Sapper. Each class has their own set of abilities, tools, and blocks they can build with, with each costing a certain amount of metal ore to place. Most building blocks are team-colored and serve a specific function rather than being purely decorative, and playermodels and tools are flat sprites instead of 3-dimensional objects. The sky is perpetually dark, and the landscape of the limited-size maps is made up entirely of bare dirt, stone, ores, and non-flowing lava blocks. It was originally intended to be played as a team-based competitive game, where the goal is to locate and excavate precious materials such gold and diamonds, and bring your findings to the surface to earn points for your team, until the winning team reaches a certain amount of points. However, as the game gained popularity, players decided it was much more fun to build things than to compete for points.
Zachtronics discontinued development of the game less than a month after its first release, after a major source leak was discovered which allowed hackers to make unauthorized modifications to the game. Soon, there were players using modified clients to cheat on servers, and multiple communities arose each with different versions of the game, and it was hard for the developers to maintain Infiniminer, resulting in further development ceasing. In 2015, the Google cloud server for the game was shut down, but the game is still available for download, and the source code of Infiniminer is now available under the MIT License. Building Infiniminer requires Visual Studio 2008 and XNA Game Studio 3.0.
According to Notch, Infiniminer was "the game I wanted to do". Notch enjoyed the game, but found it flawed, noting that while building was fun, there wasn’t enough variation, and he thought that the big red and blue team-colored blocks were "pretty horrible". He believed that a fantasy game in that style "would work really really well", so he created a simple first-person engine in the Infimininer style, reusing some art and code from multiple earlier projects, to create the cave game tech test, which would eventually go on to become Minecraft.