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The main article can be found at Minecraft Wiki: Minecraft.
Minecraft (sometimes referred to as Vanilla Minecraft or Vanilla) refers to the unaltered, unmodded, original Minecraft game, on which all mods and modpacks are based. It provides hundreds of blocks and items, dozens of Mobs and Biomes, and 3 dimensions on its own, which mods then expand on.
In order to use mods or modpacks, one must own either a Minecraft or Mojang account and have purchased the full version of Minecraft. The game can be purchased in the official Minecraft online store.
Minecraft is currently being actively developed and new versions of the game are constantly released. Currently the most recent Minecraft version is 1.8.3, however most stable modpacks are still based on older versions. This is due to the fact that mods need to be updated to the new version, which is often a time consuming process. Currently the latest widely used Minecraft version is 1.7.10. Very few mods are compatible with version 1.8, mainly because the Minecraft Forge API has not yet been updated beyond Minecraft 1.7.10. The Forge Mod Loader is already available for 1.8 and is used by some mods, however numerous other mods rely on base class editing to implement their features due to the lack of an API to use.