September 19, 2010

A Weekend in Minecraft

Minecraft is an independent PC game lovingly crafted by a single individual, Notch (though now his company numbers 3 as a result of his success). I spent almost every free moment playing the game and I have to say it is the PC game that brings me back to my childhood imagination more than any other.

Minecraft is a game with a single goal -- survive. During the daytime the world is peaceful and more or less cannot hurt you. But at night, incredibly powerful zombie like creatures emerge. They seek you out, which means you need to build yourself a home and a means by which to defend yourself quickly.

You can harvest from any object in the game, including dirt, rocks, feathers (from chickens), leather (from cows), flowers, string (from spiders), sand, lava, and more. You combine these ingredients in a simple interface to form blocks, doors, ladders, tools, weapons, mine carts, compasses, and more. The community has created a fantastic wiki on crafting here.

My first day in the game I found a small crevice between two hills and I began digging an earthen fort. Alas, I didn't last long that night as one of the night creatures explodes. He made short work of my fort and I realized stone was the only solution.

Upon death, you re-spawn and the world remains the same. But, you need to find your way back to whatever encampment you created. I was never able to find my first fort, so I started over with the resolve to never lose my home again. I chose a large hilltop as my starting point and built from there. Whenever I returned home, it would be to a towering fortress.

That first night saw me huddling in a small stone cave I created. As the days carried forward, I soon had an immense fortress complete with an interior mine, tower, battlements, and I started building a site for an eventual minecar track.

Every time I want to cut a corner, I suck it up and do the work correctly. I had to completely rebuild two walls, walls that require a lot of stone, because I built them incorrectly in the first place and there was far too much dirt. Stone, defense, and aesthetics drive me towards perfection!

I still haven't tried multiplayer. Based on how awesome this sandbox is alone I crave to spend this time with another blocky human being.

But, enough talking.

Here is my world of Minecraft.

Cows provide leather, which can be used for armor.
I knew I was home when I saw the lit tower. 
Of course, the tower got bigger...
View of the battlements from the top at night.
View of a spider from the safety of my early tower.
Early view from the inside of the fortress. I would soon replace the dirt with stone and streamline the defenses.
Naturally formed cave near the fortress. Hopefully it contains precious goods...
The view from the middle of my own person quarry. Notice the stone!
The grand staircase! This took a long time and a lot of stone. 
The front door at the top of the staircase. I was giddy when I realized I could build a door that opened/closed via lever.
I circled the enemies -- there are 6 from just this direction. I smile with my bow in my tower, both of which I made.
I smile even more when the same enemies explode in the morning sun. Back to work!

Minecraft is currently in Alpha, but it plays incredibly well (i.e. you feel like you're playing, not testing). It is updated weekly and you can read the developer's blog, or follow him on Twitter. The game is sold digitally for the low price of 9 Euros at the moment. The price will increase once the game is finished! 

The game receives a lot of support from its community. Though not used in the shots above, the Painterly Pack really changes the visuals. And there are more! 

I also want to thank Rock, Paper, Shotgun for inspiring me to finally play the game I bought a month ago with their excellent Mine The Gap series. You can read Part 1 here.

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