Zombie Town is an unreleased game that Markus Persson (Notch) was developing around February of 2009. The game's characters were adopted as the humans in Minecraft a few months later. They formed the first character model for Minecraft.
Before Notch started to work on Minecraft, he took part in various editions of the Java 4k Game Programming Contest from 2005 to 2009. This competition, initiated by Java programmers, was about writing the best possible computer game with a maximum size of 4 kibibytes (4096 bytes). Notch submitted the following games:
- 2005: Sonic Racer 4k: a racing game.
- 2005: Dungeon4k: a dungeon crawler.
- 2005: Hunters4k: a first-person shooter.
- 2006: Miners4k: a mining game.
- 2006: Dachon4k, a space shooter.
- 2007: l4krits, a Luxor clone.
- 2008: t4kns: a real-time strategy game.
- 2009: Left 4k Dead: a zombie shooter, inspired by Left 4 Dead.
- 2009: MEG4kMAN: a Mega Man fan-game.
Due to the nature of the contest, these games were extremely simple. Left 4k Dead is similar to Pac-Man; the character walks through a labyrinth of corridors and rooms that are sparsely illuminated by the player's flashlight. Zombies frequently attack and have to be shot, and there are red powerups that restore health and yellow powerups that restore ammo randomly distributed throughout the increasingly hard levels.
The zombie theme appeared to be prevalent throughout Notch's games, and he was planning an improved sequel to Left 4k Dead, which he called Zombie Town. Notch wanted three-dimensional pawns, inspired by Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. For the first time in his life, he programmed a completely three-dimensional representation of figure textures from scratch.
In May of 2009, Notch started developing Minecraft. Notch realized that the blocky design of the Zombie Town characters would fit well into Minecraft, and that the low texture resolution meant that every player could have a totally unique skin. Three days into Minecraft's development, he added Zombie Town's characters into Minecraft as humans. They were the first tests for the player character, which was necessary for the later introduced multiplayer mode.
Notch mentioned the game on his blog, The Word of Notch, that same day. Several months later, in a blog entry titled "The Origins of Minecraft", he talked about it some more, revealing the name and also uploading a video of it to his youtube channel Nizzotch.
- Notch's video of the game was called "Zombie Town", however, in his blog post he referred to the game as "ZombieTown".
- On Twitter, Notch referred to the game on two different occasions, once as “Zombietown”, and again as “zombietown”. He also revealed that he had made around four different unreleased projects under the same name.
- The original upload of the Zombie Town video was located here, but it has since been blocked, though archived versions are still available.
- "The origins of Minecraft" (archived) – The Word of Notch, October 30, 2009.
- "Zombie Town" by Notch – Archive.org, October 30, 2009.
- "Exhausted, but happy" (archived) – The Word of Notch, May 14, 2009.
- "(...) Metagun remake, Minitale, and Zombietown (needs better name). And, you know, Minecraft and 0x10c. Fun! =D" – @notch (Markus Persson) on Twitter, May 24, 2012
- "I went with zombietown. I think it's the fourth project I have with that name across various /backup/old_2/ folders" – @notch (Markus Persson) on Twitter, February 2, 2017
- Minecraft 4k, another game Notch created for the Java 4K contest.
- RubyDung, another game preceding Minecraft.
- Legend of the Chambered, another game preceding Minecraft.
- Infiniminer, another game preceding Minecraft.
- Minicraft, another game created for a contest.
- 0x10c, another unreleased game created by Notch.
- Brickcraft, another unreleased game created by Notch.