Another game I’ve been spending a lot of time on recently is Minecraft. Created by the enigmatic Notch (a Swedish bloke), Minecraft (MC) is a global phenomenon. Even though it’s currently only in beta testing, MC has sold over a millions copies.
I’m a relative newcomer to MC. A friend lent me his account for a few days and when I eventually got around to playing it (I admit that I did ignore it for a fair while before trying it out – I was dubious) I was hooked pretty quickly.
I wasn’t hooked instantly, though, since the complete lack of a tutorial left me furiously hammering the mouse button because I didn’t know any better. Some kind of introductory thing would be hugely helpful, even if it was only telling you the controls.
After I worked out how to actually collect basic materials I had to return to the MC wiki to find out what the heck I could do with an inventory full of bits of tree and earth. It became clear quite quickly what I needed to do.
It was getting dark, and in MC, while the sunsets are actually quite pretty and picturesque, they spell trouble. And in MC, trouble is spelled c-r-e-e-p-e-r. When it gets dark, scary things come out to play, where play = kill you and eat you.
Because it had taken me so long to figure out how the basic controls worked, I hadn’t had time to make a shelter or find coal to make torches (the only source of light in the scary dark night). This meant I was alone and open to attack. The safest thing I could think of was to dig a small pit and cower until the sun came up. Which I did. I’m not sure if it was luck or something else, but I survived that first night pretty easily and safely. The noises scared me to the edge of my seat though. The groaning of zombies, the chittering of spiders and the twang of skeleton’s bowstrings, all combined with something I couldn’t identify and the occasional explosion to make the fairly quiet night seem cacophonous.
When the sun rose, I emerged blinking from my pit and jumped immediately back into it. I could see from where I had been a zombie on fire. Turns out the MC monsters don’t like the sun. It burns some to death and makes others docile. After a moment or two I ventured forth into the world again and started to plan out a place to live and mine.
Minecraft really is a game that does what it says on the tin. You mine to gather materials and then use them to craft almost anything you can think of, really. I’ve seen some fantastic things, ranging from a scale model of the SS Enterprise from Star Trek, to a funky little beach parasol made by abusing the strange physics the game has.
This a game which really has me gripped, and a lot of my friends too. We have gone to some lengths to set up a multiplayer server, including using a laptop which does NOTHING ELSE other than run idle, dedicated to the server. (Admittedly, it is a laptop which has no screen, but that’s beside the point)
Steep learning curve aside, I highly recommend this game. It is one that takes you and has you gripped. It lets your imagination run wild, and gives you a real sense of achievement. Don’t believe me? Try mining your first diamond vein, or trapping your first monster in a cleverly designed trap which implements Redstone (Minecraft’s equivalent of electricity). Then you’ll see what I mean.