Digital archivists who’ve been steadily documenting old versions of Minecraft hit a treasure trove this weekend—thanks to programmer and Twitter user Luna (@lunasorcery), they now have access to a very rare version of Minecraft that was only available for 4 hours in 2011: Minecraft Alpha 1.11.
The update is a notable one in Minecraft’s history, as it’s the one that introduced features like the fishing rod and ducking. But most players only encountered this update as Alpha 1.12, since 1.11 contained a bug that caused the game to crash to a grey screen. Mojang managed to ship a fix for the bug within a matter of hours, and took down version 1.11.
The archivists at Omniarchive have been working to catalogue the builder sim’s historical builds for some time, but Alpha 1.11 proved elusive. It had only been available for about 4 hours, and with a game-crashing bug present, many users had deleted it when they installed 1.12.
But Luna’s tale about discovering and reporting the file is practically an exercise in good dramatic writing. Thanks to a “never delete anything mentality,” and an errant tweet, Omniarchive’s members were able to ask if she had the version backed up anywhere.
She did. On a flash drive buried in a box.
The reaction from the Omniverse Discord when she reported her findings will brighten your day:
Image via @lunasorcery
Since sharing her story on Saturday, Luna noted that several other previously unearthed Minecraft builds had been archived, both from her records and other users inspired by this unlikely series of events.
It's interesting to see how the preseveration challenges of digital games vary from those of physical games--but also are remarkably the same. Somewhere out there, rare versions of notable online games are in the same place as their physical counterparts: buried in a hard drive, in a closet, waiting to be unearthed.