RubyDung was an unreleased strategy game created by Notch before Minecraft, developed until February 2009 at the earliest.[note 1] Not much else is known about the game other than it was influenced by Dwarf Fortress, and that it was cancelled early in development, before it was even released. Notch's next game would be Minecraft (later known as Minecraft: Java Edition), which is based on RubyDung's codebase.
While most gameplay features/mechanics are unknown - assuming there were any to begin with, as the game was cancelled during a pre-alpha state - the game was meant to be a clone of Dwarf Fortress had it been finished, albeit easier to play and with a heavy focus on accessibility, unlike the former game which has been remarked for being quite complicated and unfriendly to beginners. It also featured 3D graphics, something Dwarf Fortress lacks, as it is a text-based game.
The game took on an isometric perspective.
After the game was cancelled early in development, the codebase would later be reused for Minecraft. Even the grass block and cobblestone block textures that appear in later versions of the RubyDung appear in the earliest builds of Minecraft.
The grass and cobblestone textures were randomly colored on the fly. It included a 3D texture mapper. Along with grass and cobblestone materials, there also appeared to be a dirt material in earlier versions of the game, along with an alternate, earlier grass texture less resembling the one seen in Minecraft. There were trees present in the game too, which there are lots of in the screenshots that they are present in.
The terrain generation was quite varied, containing many bumps, hills, and monoliths. Unlike the blocky nature of Minecraft, there appeared many sloped surfaces. There were also maze-like dirt paths in earlier versions of the game.
Since the game was in an early development stage, no GUI, text, or any other such features appear in any of the existing screenshots of the game.
The name "RubyDung" was a placeholder name for a "dungeon game in the rubylands", the "rubylands" being a rough idea for a game world that Notch had. Rubylands is a project Notch was developing in early 2008.
Creation of Minecraft
RubyDung inspired Notch to make Minecraft when he wanted RubyDung to have a first-person view, but when he tried making this, he thought that the textures were too blurry and distorted. Shortly after Notch's days coding for RubyDung, he came across the game Infiniminer, which put down the foundations for Minecraft.
On October 30, 2009, Notch talked about RubyDung on his blog in an entry titled "The Origins of Minecraft".
Minecraft's source code came from RubyDung, as such, the earliest versions of Minecraft still internally refer to themselves as RubyDung.
- The earliest builds of Minecraft, which is based on RubyDung's codebase, still contain the terrain.png file from RubyDung, and it dates to February 2009.
- "Dunno if I told anyone this, but that version was called "rubydung", as a placeholder name for a dungeon game in the rubylands rough gameworld i had in my head." – @notch on Twitter, July 18, 2018