Thursday, May 17, 2012

Minecraft



I should be sailing across the Great Sea with my trusty talking ship (the King of Red Lions) but instead I find myself very low on health and lost in the darkness of a densely overgrown forest with nothing but the stars as my guide. “Why didn’t I bring a map?” I ask myself as the sounds of an approaching horde reverberate from the trees. I know my keep must be around here somewhere, but where? How did it get dark so fast? Didn’t I just see the sun drop off the horizon? “Ry, can you hear me?” I ask into my headset; his silence echoes in my ears, I am alone… So utterly alone… Out of the darkness I hear the call of the zombie; he’s almost right on top of me. I run quickly towards the direction I think should be home. Any second now I should see a torchlight beaming off of the rising cobblestone towers. Any second now I should be safe in bed. Suddenly, I hear a noise from the darkness that makes the hair stand up on the back on my neck. “Hissssssssssssssss.”  Before I can react, it’s too late. “Boom!” I don’t even have time to face the Creeper before I’m killed and re-spawn empty-handed inside my keep.


That'sssss a very nice wooden sword you've got there.
It'd be a (ssss)shame if anything were to happen to it...
That’s right kiddies, yours truly has fallen into the vice lovingly referred to as Minecrack. I don’t game on my computer so Minecraft kind of slipped right by me initially. I mean, I saw various cool Minecraft related items on Think Geek, but didn’t really know what to make of all of it. It wasn’t until Minecraft Pocket Edition was released for the iOS that I first gave it a try. The Pocket Edition was pretty neat; it allowed you to explore a fairly expansive open world filled with water, mountains, trees, grass and sand and with unlimited blocks build whatever you wanted or could imagine. It was kind of like a virtual Lego set but as far as a time waster went, I wasn’t convinced. It was fun to build towers and castles and mess around with the flow of the water, but I didn’t really get the point of the game. At one point I actually asked my future brother in-law what the deal with Minecraft was and why was it so popular. He chuckled to himself before he told me to just be patient, the version of Minecraft that I was playing on my iPhone was just Mojang testing the water, and soon survival mode would come and then I would understand what was so great about Minecraft. I kept building, waiting to see a new Minecraft update pop up in my App Store app. Finally, just when I was starting to lose hope, it happened: there was a update and they added survival mode. I couldn’t wait to download it (I did have to however because of a delay) and see what the hype was all about. As soon as I opened the Minecraft Pocket Edition app I noticed the difference; I now had an option of playing in creative mode or survival mode, and it was time to give survival mode a test run. Everything seemed pretty much the same except now I had weapons and more tools, nothing too crazy, and then night fell and the zombies came. At first I was psyched. I mean, whoa – zombies?!? This is pretty cool. But then they kept coming, and coming, and quickly I realized that nighttime wasn’t the time to be outside exploring. I casually told my buddy Joe about Minecraft now that he was also an iPhone user and he downloaded the app as well. This is when Minecraft really got ahold on me. Initially I didn’t notice that I was slowly succumbing to the thralls of addiction. I mean, Joe would build something awesome and then I’d try to top him, and then he’d top me again and send me back to the drawing board. It was all just good clean fun, right? Well, not entirely. I don’t even want to admit to the amount of time I’ve spent creating a world in Minecraft Pocket Edition, but I think at this point I’m at week’s not even days. There might’ve even been a day or two when Jaclyn left for work and I started playing and then when she returned home from work she found me un-showered sitting on the couch still clasping my iPhone in my hand raving about my new underwater temple. She’d smile at me, but I could see in her eyes the look of fear. “That’s ok,” I thought to myself, she’s just worried that I didn’t do the… pick a random chore or task I didn’t complete (to include a new blog entry) and she’ll feel better when I do it tomorrow, but in the meantime check out this sick waterfall I designed! This is how my weekends were; she worked while I spent time killing the battery on my iPhone playing Minecraft and then plugging it in and playing some more. Then the addiction grew; it wasn’t enough to just play when she wasn’t home anymore, I began to play while we spent time together, like while we watched movies or got caught up with our TV shows. I played on car rides and while we waited for dinner, I played and played and played. Then, one night as she lay in bed beside me and I finally put the game down, I told her, “You know, I think I might be addicted to Minecraft.” Her eyes rolled; I knew this fact had been obvious to her for a while now, and I guess I had been acutely aware of my growing addiction, too. After all, hadn’t I suddenly been suffering from carpal tunnel? Minecraft was no longer just a timewaster, it had become part of my daily routine and overall probably the best app I’ve ever purchased value-wise (and I have folders and folders of games). But I starting hearing about everything I was missing by playing The Pocket Edition; for instance, the mascot of Minecraft was the Creeper and I hadn’t even seen one besides on a t-shirt. I’m not complaining; I love The Pocket Edition and they’ve been great with the updates (most recent one introduced crafting!) but it was time to move on to something more substantial, something more expansive.
Zombies in my underwater lair
I was right about to buy the original Minecraft when I heard about the Xbox 360 version on the horizon. I liked the idea of playing on the 360 because I’d be able to use the controller to play and I’d get some use out of my 360 (with all the Zelda gaming, it’s been collecting dust). I decided to wait. Little did I know how hard the wait would be - I had recently visited my brother in Colorado and he showed me everything I had been missing and that alone almost made me break down and buy it. But I held fast and waited until May 9th to buy the Xbox version (I even scored cheaper Microsoft Points by purchasing them off of Amazon) and it was worth the wait. Now, I know for all of you hardcore crafters out there I speak blasphemy praising both the Xbox and The Pocket Edition having never once played the original, but like I said before I’m not really a computer gamer. Honestly, the last game I think I played on a computer was Indiana Jones and Fate of Atlantis (man that reminds me I have to buy Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings for Wii so I can finally beat Fate of Atlantis). I don’t know why I have an aversion to computer games; maybe it’s because I’m already in front of the computer enough (writing mostly, stuff like this) or maybe it’s because even though I use a laptop, I have it so tethered to my desk through various devices it’s actually more convenient to use it at the desk making using the computer an isolating event, or maybe… I dunno, I just own gaming systems so I want to use them. I’m not sure, but whatever the case is I’m not very good at gaming on my computer. That being said, I was/am very excited to be able to play Minecraft on my Xbox. It allows me the ability to play with my brother (the one and only one living in Denver), it allows Jaclyn to try it out and see that the thing eating up so much of my time is actually pretty cool (and she has enjoyed playing the game with me) and when Joe (who now lives in Virginia) purchases it too, all four us will be able to build in the same world, which will be amazing.

Two of my towers at day break
It’s only been a week since the Xbox version was released and I’ve already earned all the achievements but two (haven’t rode a pig, haven’t travel 500m in a mine cart), unlocked all of the gamer awards (just look at my avatar) and earned two different gamer pics, but even with all of that accomplished there is still so much more to do. I’ve only created one castle and I don’t even think that is quite done. I mean, not now that I have access to the Nether realm and can mine for Glow Blocks and Soul Sand, and I haven’t even really begun to experiment with the Red Stone Ore or mine carts. But before I let too much more time pass, it’s time to return to the Great Sea and continue on my quest to beat all of the Legend of Zelda games before I get sucked even deeper into the world of Minecraft. Right after I place this last block that is…