Monday, November 22, 2010

Minecraft - Death, Building, Terror

I got to play a bit of Minecraft this weekend and some of my expectations of the game were brought back down to Earth, but don't tell my brother, I still want him to try it and I'd love to see multiplayer with him. Anyway that doesn't mean that I still don't find the game to be engaging in many different ways, if I had to compare it to another game I'd have to say it was a combination of SimCity and Doom. SimCity in that a lot of the purpose is to build the world around you which can be a lot of fun and the means with which to gather materials to do that are only found in the depths of the Earth and exploring in the darkness dropping torches to ward off monsters is thrilling to say the least.
So this weekend I did a couple of things, first I decided that I wanted to branch out from my first house, I didn't really need to because as it turns out the caves below my house seemingly go on forever, but more on that in a minute. So I decided to hike up one of the nearby mountains and build myself a little observation post, naturally I didn't take a picture so I'll have to do that next time I get on. It's pretty cool, it's about 2 blocks below the cloudline and it's walled with glass and an open ceiling with a great panoramic view. The best part is that any monsters would be very hard pressed to get up there to me so it's quiet which is nice as well when I want to do some crafting in peace, because my first house reminds me of "I am Legend".

I've learned that my first house is very safe now, it has high walls a large ditch that you have to cross via the glass bridge which is blocked off with a gate. But to hear those guys out there at all hours of the night banging on the walls gets a little annoying, so I decided that I'd go exploring for a good location to build a castle. I ventured out to the North across the seemingly endless desert and found a nice grove with lots of trees and sheep and a tiny island just off the coast in a little inlet. I was thinking this will be perfect, it's an island so the monsters won't be bugging me all night. So with piles of stone that I had collected from the mines under my original house I went about making what I thought would be an amazing castle. Turns out that as the darkness closed in I rushed to get the walls up so it ended up not having quite the majestic footprint that I would have liked, but no matter that could be fixed. I also included a line of glass all the way around the castle so that I could see outside and a large skylight for light during the day. I was going to put some towers on it and everything, really do it up nice, but then the night came. Turns out that zombies can swim, same with spiders and other stuff, so the whole idea to make this awesome island castle was flawed. I decided that I'd just abandon the idea and try again later so I crafted up a boat and sailed back to my original house. I left some materials in the house just in case I was back in that area, and that is kind of my plan to leave stuff all over the place just because. One day I'll go on an epic quest and I intend on leaving a trail behind me.

What is going to be interesting about that epic adventure is something I learned that I wasn't to happy about, it turns out that if you die and you're too far away, your stuff is gone. I was really hoping that any of my deaths that took place would leave behind some loot for future adventures, but alas that isn't going to happen, and I have to say I was bummed about that. I guess it adds to the element of danger in adventuring, because it would be very easy to get back to where you were and pick up your stuff, plus I'm sure there is a network issue with keeping all of that stuff active at a long distance, oh well.

So how did I learn about death, well naturally the hard way. I was doing some very deep digging underneath my house and came across a zombie spawner. Pretty easy to take out so I killed off the zombies and set up torches around the spawner so that they would stop spawning. I'm not really sure what happened, I think I might have touched it, because a zombie spawned while I wasn't realy paying attention or when I dropped down on the spawner on accident and he proceeded to kill me while I was fumbling around trying to get to my sword. Naturally I dropped a lot of iron, redstone, gold, and an assortment of other nice items that I should have taken back to the surface (or at least put in a chest). When I ran back down there to find my stuff, it was all gone, I wasn't so much pissed as I was disappointed because of what that meant, but I could still put stuff in chests so it's not a total loss. Oh and to avoid future problems I went ahead and took out the spawner, those things are going to die now.

Now knowing the price of death, that adds a little more excitement to what I would consider an already pretty terrifying cave exploration. Graphically Minecraft pretty much sucks, I mean it's a bunch of boxes, which I think work great, but seriously it's a bunch of boxes, it's no Crysis 2 or anything, hell it's not even WoW. But when you mix in the right level of darkness, mobs that can tear you apart (creepers) if they get the jump on you, and the sounds of them all around you, never knowing from which of the three tunnels ahead of you they are coming from, well then you got yourself a nice little sense of dread, which I find thrilling. Remember playing Doom back in the old old days of gaming and never knowing where a mob was going to jump out from and proceed to kick your butt, well this works similarly.

Minecraft is a lot of fun and I'll keep on playing it for as long as I find it to be fun. The concept of the game is so different than anything else out at the moment that I find it so refreshing, it's a true sandbox game but it suffers from one problem that all single player games do, you can't really show off your work to anyone, so in the end there is a bit of isolation. Which is probably what spurred me to write this blog, sure no one is ever going to read it, but it feels a little better knowing that it's there.

Until next time.

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