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On the minecraft wiki entry for monster spawners, there is this statement:

A monster spawner is only active when a player is within a distance of 16 blocks from the spawner (where distance is calculated the standard (euclidean) way)

Does this calculation take into account vertical distance as well as horizontal distance?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

To test this, I built a tower over some spawners and stayed directly over them about 15-20 blocks higher than they are.

enter image description here

As you can see, the flames have disappeared (and the spawners quit spinning, but you can't tell that from a picture), indicating that they are no longer spawning, despite me being directly over them.

So yes, it does take into account vertical distance.

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Is it possible to move a spawner? I assumed I had to build around it. – John Jan 18 '12 at 15:15
@John In vanilla, no it's not. I used the TooManyItems mod to make this test. – John the Green Jan 18 '12 at 17:02

Yes it does take into account vertical and horizontal distance. If you are 6 blocks across and 10 blocks down from the spawner then it will continue to spawn mobs.

The except to this is if the spawner has spawned 4 mobs. After spawning 4 mobs it will wait from 10 to 40 seconds then rechecks an area 17x17x9 to see if there is less than 6 mobs of the monster spawner's type. If so, it will spawn more.

In short, monster spawners only work if a player is standing near it.

source: Minepedia - Monster Spawner

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