Learning Minecraft #2
As I’ve self-imposed a blackout on Minecraft information, I was surprised to learn it’s not the saccharine building game I’d expected and is in fact a dreadful land of nightmares. I’ve upgraded to the full PC version and within 30 minutes of my first play I’d been shot dead by a skeleton archer, mauled to the afterlife by a zombie and exploded into pulped yams by a green tentacle-demon. Throw in tumbling off a cliff, scalding by lava and starving to death and Minecraft feels like playing Limbo – your character’s so vulnerable that every wrong step can mean annihilation. I seriously did not expect to be writing these things – I thought I’d be playing amongst cows and chickens, happily re-structuring the landscape, maybe I’d have built a really nice house by now. Instead, I now truly fear the night (which occurs after a mere 15 minutes) and the awful creatures under its cloak.
As soon as the new game world had been randomly generated, I set about exploring as much as possible, hoping to acquire a mass of building material and set up a base before nightfall. The world was a series of small islands with varying terrain; jungles, quarries, lakes, beaches and clearings. The inquisitive fauna picked amongst the flora as I rushed past, looking for new and exotic materials to mine. Suddenly, the soundtrack changed to a foreboding din – announcing the falling of darkness: the sun dropped out of the sky like its suspension chord had been cut. I panicked, hastily attempting to build a makeshift mud hut in a laughable attempt to protect myself from the unknown monsters. I thought I could see one approaching as I put the last few blocks into place, a floating green thing like some Lovecraftian land-jellyfish, then Boom! In an instant, two-thirds of the hut was wiped out by the creature exploding upon impact with it. I don’t know if that’s just its style or if it really hated my building, but either way I had survived its attack. Seeking shelter I bolted, but I didn’t make it through the rest of the night…
It turns out the demo I played on the Xbox 360 was very accommodating and molly-coddling. Not so here. Barely anything is given away, it’s all about discovering it for yourself. Whereas the demo had a list materials I’d need to make certain items, no such info exists in the full PC version and crafting comes through trial and error. A laudable concept lies in the fact that the crafting process partially relies on you putting together materials in the shape of the object you intend to create. For instance, if I need to create a pickaxe on the workbench (a process that presents a grid of squares where you place materials) I’ll have to arrange wooden sticks into a vertical line and then place a horizontal line over the top – once this picture of materials is in the correct order, a pickaxe item will appear and let me build it.
Although I’d died often, I soon found one of the points I’d been finished off at and was thankful everything I’d collected was scattered around, ready to be reclaimed. After a few more attempts at shoddy shelters, and trying to defend myself against multiple undead assailants using a stick, I decided to carve out a shelter in the side of a hill, then block off the entrance at night. This was a successful temporary measure although not pleasant; only the pitch-black darkness of the self-created cave and overbearing zombie-groans to kept me company. I hate being this vulnerable. I must mentally and physically tool up and then exact revenge on these abominations.