Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Minecraft - Say goodbye to life

Recently I've gotten myself sucked into Minecraft,an indie,sandbox,building game that first popped up in its classic form in 2009.On the surface it's a wickedly addictive construction game,the only limitations are your imagination (and if you're going for more modern structures your grasp of circuits),but in Survival mode it becomes a good old fashioned Transylvanian race to get to shelter before the sun sets,and the nasties come out for the night.Yes,there are many things in this world that can kill you,your own short attention span being one of them,but as long as you make sure you're armed (it's dangerous to go alone!) you should survive quite nicely.Or at least survive long enough to run back into the safety of the hole you dug...whimpering.

The first thing to do upon spawning in your new blocky home is to gather some resources for yourself so you can get a shelter going,an essential for surviving those long minecraft nights.The only time I've fervently wished for a real change in the game was the first time I started,as the only tip I got was how to open my inventory.After running around for a good 10 minutes clicking things maniacally,I had sorted out that smacking things generally breaks them and yeilds a resource,however it took well into that first night for me to figure out that for some things the trick is to HOLD IN the mouse button, not tap it till my finger fell off.After figuring out the right way to smack a tree and yield wood,I then had to figure out
crafting,because there are certain resources that need to be smacked with specific tools.

One of the things I find completely awesome about Minecraft is how you craft different items.The entire process is completely logical,yet entirely creative all at the same time.The first item you need to figure out is a crafting bench,in itself not a giant challenge as it consists simply of 4 planks (made from wood) in the 2x2 crafting grid provided you in your inventory.From there on,things get more...Interesting.Each new item you need requires you to open that crafting bench and figure out which materials to use to make a shape vaguely like the tool you want.A stone sword,for example, requires a stick topped by 2 cobblestones (a recipe you may want to keep close to your heart,swords are your best friend).
So playing with resources and your crafting bench can take up a few hours of your life,as you discover new and wonderful things to make.Of course,hopefully you've paid attention to your personal needs.

After gleefully playing with the crafting bench for a while,it's time to build a shelter.My personal favourite is to run to the nearest hill or mountain and dig into it.Not only is this the easy approach,as you simply need to dig out a hole in the right shape and not construct actual walls,I also find it convenient for when I inevitably start to mine.If the door to your mine is in the back of your home you never need to go far for the comforts thereof after all.Of course another option is to become all too engrossed in crafting and spend your first night huddled in a dark corner,continuously swinging a sword,but having done this once I don't recomend it.

The other need you will have to attend to is your hunger bar.
This little row of meatsticks shows you when you need to eat,and if you neglect it till it's empty you WILL start to starve.Solution?Go forth and smack a pig!Or a cow or chicken as the case may be.Yes,the animals running around your environment aren't there to simply annoy you,they are there to be eaten.Of course,if you prefer the vegetarian option there are plants that can be grown and harvested too,but this takes much more time.Pigs,cows and chickens,these are your best bet for not starving most of your health away.(Not sheep though,they give only wool,which is not edible)

Having built some tools,made a shelter and found some meat,you will now only have to worry about the multitude of things that can kill you.First and foremost are the mobs,or monsters,they come out at night or spawn in darkness and once they see you,they will kill you,but first,they must catch you!Most mobs must indeed be right up next to you in order to inflict any damage,such is the case with your bog-basic zombie and spider mobs and indeed even with the always annoying creepers, who will attempt to stand next to you and blow up,they're charming that way.Skeleton archers and ghasts (once you've made your
way to the nether) are distance attackers,which means if you didn't hear them coming you will be treated to a sudden fright as you are struck by arrow or fireball.Oh yes,I did say HEAR,most mobs have their own unique sound affect,zombies giving off classic groans and growls,skeletons the clinking of bones.In my humble opinion the creepiest sound so far is the weird giggle-like noise of the ghasts,although they're adding more dangerous mobs to the game in preperation for the official release in November.

And of course,there are the Endermen,these long-limbed black menaces are actually relatively benign,using their time to move blocks randomly around.Until you LOOK AT THEM.That's right,placing your crosshairs on them for more than half a second causes them to freeze...and stare back.After they have cottoned on to your scrutiny you have 2 options,pull on your fighting pants and get ready for a rumble,or not move your crosshairs away...not even 1 pixel...ever.If you mave your crosshairs,the enderman will open its mouth,roar,and teleport toward you.It will then follow you until you die,or it dies,or something else attacks it.There is a silver-lining to this creepy cloud,endermen are hurt by water,so the fast expanding puddle round your ankles has a USE.

For all that the game has a myriad of monsters all apparently thirsty for your flesh,other non-sentient problems to look out for such as the evil fire-water known as lava and creepy sound affects that will have you nervously staring into corners in your own home,it also brings to the table hours (and I really mean AGES) of gameplay.Whether you wish to venture forth and discover great things,build incredible feats of architecture,or tunnel underground for secret chests and abandoned railways.And when you find your world no longer has enough for you to do,there's always multiplayer,which aside from being great fun in itself opens your eyes to new ideas for building and ways to play.Minecraft is truly as great a game
as you make it.

Still creepy though...

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