There was a time when the extraordinary popularity of Minecraft round these parts was a source of amusement, of rueful chuckling and head-shaking. But today, I signed into our CMS and was terrified to discover that this year-old game is presently 1100% per cent more searched-for than Grand Theft Auto 5. Not heard of GTA 5? No, I guess you wouldn't have. It's kind of like Minecraft - only with more swearing, hookers, helicopters, receding hairlines and toilets - and it's supposed to be 2013's biggest release. Supposed to be.
The recent intensifying of enthusiasm is squarely the fault of Minecraft Xbox 360 update 9 - it's one of the more significant additions, introducing the option to "finish" your Minecraft career by journeying to The End and doing battle with the Enderdragon. 4J Studios has yet, alas, to furnish us with a release date, though the arrival of update 9 screenshots (see above and below) suggests that it's not far off. If you're among those mechanically F5-ing these pages in hopes of news, (1) you scare me, and (2) here's a short list of ways to pass the time, drawing on our previous Minecraft coverage.
1. Invent a new Minecraft multiplayer game
We've already rounded up a few proven concepts in our best Minecraft multiplayer games feature - have a look at the goods and see if you can't extrapolate. Here's one to start things off: multi-level Spleef. The idea here, in case you'd forgotten, is that competitors face off in an arena constructed above a killing drop/natural hazard, and try to hack away the floor beneath each other's feet. Why not build three arenas atop one another, and leave a few items lying around on lower tiers so that any player who falls gains an advantage over those above?
Alternatively, how about a Minecraft spin on Halo Forge Mode favourite Duckhunt? One player commands a series of TNT cannons - the others try to reach and/or slay him before they're blown up.
2. Build an in-game computer
The ultimate test of any sufficiently complex level editor is whether you can build an actual, functioning logic engine right inside it. The ingredients are there in Minecraft - all you need to do is join together enough Redstone circuits, in short. Check out the video below for further pointers. Just be careful you don't accidentally give rise to Skynet, because that'll probably play merry hell with Minecraft Xbox 360's custom texture packs, as and when they arrive.
3. Build the world's longest rollercoaster
I thought the Carroll-flavoured effort below was pretty damn mind-blowing, what with its huge skull faces and labyrinthine volcano section, but then a bunch of Sarky McSneeries on Twitter assured me otherwise. OK, guys - see if you can do better.