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Learning Minecraft #1

Minecraft

After hearing positive things but being completely unfamiliar with it, I downloaded the trial version of Minecraft for the Xbox 360. I chose to keep any exposure to the game’s content to an absolute minimum, reading only a paragraph or two about the game’s jist (just to make sure I wasn’t letting myself in for something I’d likely despise). Minecraft sounded intriguing – building with blocks, creating something – a welcome change from the countless hours I’ve spent slaying hordes of aliens, dragons and irradiated zombies.

The game’s menu screen loaded and it was accompanied by a relaxing and optimistic soundtrack, setting a calming ambience. I started the game and, through a first-person perspective, found myself looking out into a basic 3D natural environment composed primarily of textured blocks. Trees, water, sand, sky and undergrowth all framed a few animals grazing amongst the ruins of a small building. The game’s title was displayed in-game and skyward, similarly composed from blocky textured graphics. A prompt informed me the game was about building things from blocks and that nocturnal monsters(!) would emerge so I’d better build shelter before nightfall. This was new, different and, with the addition of this completely unexpected threat, compelling.

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Another prompt said I’d be required to mine the environment’s resources in order to construct things and I could rebuild the partially destroyed building to use for shelter. I soon learned some basic commands such as run and jump and found that, by pressing the RT, my hand would rapidly hit out in a pawing motion. I went up to a nearby tree and pawed at it only for the targeted segment to start to blacken with damage and then completely come apart. I collected a timber cube from the debris and also noticed that gravity didn’t play a significant part in this new world – the tree had been relieved of a structurally integral section of its trunk, but remained in the same position as before.

After getting to grips with the basic inventory system, I was prompted to construct a work station from whence to turn raw materials (wood, stone, sand, gravel etc.) into usable items such as tools and building blocks. Different tools were relevant to the gathering of corresponding materials – an axe for collecting timber, a pickaxe for breaking off stone and a shovel for harvesting sand and earth. I became tired at one point and had to eat to replenish my energy. I though about bludgeoning a passing pig to use as a food source later on but decided against spoiling the pleasant equilibrium I was enveloped in.

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The double threat of nightfall and monsters was looming so I set about renovating the nearby building as fast as possible. As I dug out sand blocks from the edges of a nearby pool, water immediately rushed into the temporary void – something which contrasted to the behaviour of the de-trunked tree. I soon constructed the required tools and gathered enough materials to repair the walls of the broken-down building, put a door and roof on it and got inside – ready to face the night and its indeterminate creatures. Right then, just as a level of comfort was setting in, the trial ended as my time had expired. This experience has piqued my interest in Minecraft, especially after hearing ‘you can build anything’ and I shall endeavour to purchase the full version and continue this series.

The author of this fine article

is a Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2009. Get in touch on Twitter @P_Worth.

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