Dreaming of pixelated rock

I’ve tried to figure out Minecraft a couple of times in the past, playing with free demos or online versions or something, and it never quite made sense. I didn’t know what to click on to do things, or even what kinds of things were available to do.

Then for some reason I spent a little actual money on the Pocket Edition (i.e. the iPad app, in my case), and it clicked.

It is in some ways utterly awesome, and I think it will be replacing WoW for awhile as my thing to dork around in when I’m feeling too antisocial for Second Life (or, now, when I don’t want to bother with an actual computer, but have my iPad as always nearby).

(Executive summary for those interested in Minecraft vs. SL comparisons: Minecraft is (for me, so far) about using cleverness to build things (and survive) given a set of tricky constraints; whereas SL is about enabling people to build (and do, and be) the most amazing things that they can think of, with as few technical constraints as feasible.)

But now on to Our Story!

The famed Tower of Somewhat More Than Modest Height.

The famed Tower of Somewhat More Than Modest Height.

Again I started out unable to do anything at all, but this time I Googled around for tutorials enough to find the key difference between tapping on things and holding one’s finger down on them (completely different actions, typically), and then I was good to go.

Well, for awhile. :) I started out in Survival Mode just because it sounded like fun, and pretty much ignored crafting and dug in the sand and cut down some trees with my bare hands, and sort of threw together a wood-and-sand fort with a little moat around it for keeping away the monsters for the first night.

That did not go terribly well. I could probably have been fine just crouching inside the walls all night (and hoping nothing jumped over), but I wanted to see out, and with my minimal architecture I kept like falling into the moat and being greeted by a zombie who had also fallen in, or going too close to an Explodey Guy, and dying and things.

So I read the web a little more, discovered crafting, built my first Crafting Table, decided that carving out a secret underground base in the sand was more promising for now than building up, and I was off.

The Secret Underground Desert Base with its guard house, and a section of the old Roman Road, seen from the viewing dome atop the Tower.

The Secret Underground Desert Base with its guard house, and a section of the old Roman Road, seen from the viewing dome atop the Tower.

The glass roof of the Secret Underground Base can be seen above there. The guardhouse nearby is one of the two main entrances (once I had a Crafting Table, the discovery of Wooden Doors was perhaps the next major technological milestone). The other entrance is in the tangle of sand and rocks beyond the glass roof, near the Weird Tall Thing That I Built For No Reason.

The Old Roman Road leads out toward my second base. Once I’d mastered the basics of base-building, I wandered about a day’s journey from the main base, and built a new smaller one in a hillside there to spend the night. Eventually I built that Road leading to it so I wouldn’t get lost. The road isn’t used much, since there’s also now a tunnel between the two bases.

(In fact my whole instance here is pretty much riddled with tunnels connecting everything to everything else, so I never have to go outside to get from one place to another unless I want to hunt or cut wood or tend the farm or something. Does everyone starting out in Minecraft build a spiderweb of underground tunnels, or is that just me?)

Nowadays the second base is mostly devoted to mining, in mostly a downwardish direction.

Looking upward from the current bottom of Deep Delving.  The base area, with crafting table, furnace, etc, is 'way out of sight up there somewhere.

Looking upward from the current bottom of Deep Delving. The base area, with crafting table, furnace, etc, is ‘way out of sight up there somewhere.

Naturally, being a main mining center, the Delving area seems to produce little or no coal, iron ore, and so on, when compared to random little digs that I make while wandering around…

I still get jumped on by zombies and attacked by spiders and skeleton archers now and then, both because I go boldly out in the early morning and night sometimes, and because they tend to spawn down in the mines (the mine down the ladder from the tunnel near the Farm entrance is officially the Haunted Mine, although now that I’ve put in a few dozen extra torches it seems safer).

At first I was living off the flesh of innocent cows and piggies, and the occasional apple from a tree (as is the usual computer-game trope, eating heals one’s injuries), but when those ran low I went to the web again, and discovered farming!

The water-side farm, with rustic stone farmhouse in the background.

The water-side farm, with rustic stone farmhouse in the background.

Basically the only crop is wheat, and basically all you do with it is make bread, but each unit (loaf?) of bread eaten recovers two-and-a-half hearts worth of health.

Farming is exponential; you discover your first few seeds while tilling the soil with your hoe, and after that you get something like two or three seeds on average for each seed planted (in addition to of course the wheat for bread). So eventually either the entire world will be wheat-fields, or I’ll just have an unbounded quantity of unused seeds.

Nature’s bounty!

And then I made the Tower of Somewhat More Than Moderate Height just for fun, and it does have great views at the top of the Very Long Spiral Staircase. (There’s currently a giant spider living on the roof at the very top; not sure if it’s stuck there forever or until I break the roof and it drops down on me and I kill it, or if it will expire eventually, but it’s a fun decoration in the meantime.)

There’s also a big basement under the tower (with crafting table and furnace and chest; I love how they look sort of like a washer and dryer and meat freezer all side-by-side in some suburban utility closet), and of course I’ve linked that basement into the tunnel system.

I need to make a map for myself now, of all the various bases (Main Base, the mines under it, Delving Base and Deep Delving, the Tower, the Farm, the Viewing Room, Snowland, the Hunting Lodge, Arboretum Outpost, and various little hillside doors I haven’t named), and how the tunnels connect them all. For instance to get to somewhere (I’ve forgotten just where at the moment) you go into an obscure tunnel in the corner of the mine under Main Base and then take a left just before the end and go down another tunnel, and…

Until just recently there was still one little burrow that you had to travel overland to get to, but then I dug back into the hill from it and eventually happened on an existing tunnel, so now that one is in the network also. Not that I could necessarily figure how to get there very quickly.

For closing, here are a couple of atmospheric shots, of the Tower seen from Arboretum Outpost at night, and vice-versa just at dawn:

The Tower seen from Arboretum Outpost at night.  Note roving zombie on the left.

The Tower seen from Arboretum Outpost at night. Note roving zombie on the left.

Arboretum Outpost, seen from the top of the Tower just at dawn.  Note roving skeleton-archer.

Arboretum Outpost, seen from the top of the Tower just at dawn. Note roving skeleton-archer.

Most recently I’ve added some fencing and planted some trees at the Arboretum, and it better lives up to its name.

So I’ve been seeing torches and pixelated stairs and long narrow hallways in my dreams, and on the insides of my eyelids when I close my eyes. Not, thankfully, the only things I see on those occasions :) but it’s been a common theme. (See also ol’ Headburro, who is doing cool stuff in I think the PC version, and like wearing diamond armor and all.)

If I don’t get into the more complex PC game and the whole modding thing (see for instance this video for a person talking about and doing Minecraft things of which I have no idea whatever what is going on with in), I suspect that the addiction will eventually wane, and I’ll go back to WoW when I’m not feeling SL-ish.

But time will well!

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became a blur, because they moved so fast…

Here is a machinima (machinema?) of a poem by v talented friend Karima.
 

 
I am happy to brag :) that I contributed in a tiny way by providing scripted examples of ways to make papers sort of blow around, one of which ended up in the video. Yay me!

Nat (the videographer and cat) and Karima (the poet and voice) do all various neat things; you should “check them out”.