A week and a bit ago I bought myself Minecraft, the new It Game. The premise is simple: you collect resources, and use them to make tools and houses (and crazy enormous sculptures). It’s awesome, and very addictive.
Pretty much anyone who comes to my (real life) house is forced to admire my (game) house, and my many tunnels – now with signs to help me remember what’s where – and my new lava lake, etc, etc. I also tell them my stories of triumph (“after 6 days I’ve finally figured out how to make fire! Good thing I turned off the zombies!”) and of woe (“I dug a new tunnel and found some trees and then I couldn’t find my tunnel again and I thought I’d lost my house forever!”). I’m trying to keep my obsession in check so that my friends don’t start avoiding me.
But I do want to show you what I’ve built… I promise not to be too verbose – just a few pictures, and then some thoughts on gaming for newbies. So:
This is my house. It looks onto a lagoon and across the ocean. The house has windows all along the front, and a stone roof. It backs onto the mountain, and my main tunnel has it’s entrance inside the house.
After getting traumatically lost a little while ago I’ve started taking elaborate precautions. I build tall towers at each tunnel entrance to help me find them again. I’ve also started building a large tower on top of my home mountain – I’m going to cover it in torches to make it easy to see from far away.
Here are my towers from a bit closer up and to the right a bit. Look at that crazy overhanging shelf with the trees. I saw that when I was lost, but decided not to check it out. If I had I might have found my way home and not had to drown myself to get back to my precious house 😦
This is my lava lake. It’s the start of a series of caves full of useful stuff – coal and iron, particularly. As you can see by my items bar, I’d just died – falling into the lava while trying to get a good screenshot. I should have known better than to walk backwards.
Here is another of my pathfinding mechanisms. I’ve found some good caves at a distance from my house, and I’m marking the route with a sand path. The sand is easy to see at night.
(Five pictures is not so bad, right?)
Anyway… I’m so glad this game lets you turn off the enemies. For me the appeal is the sandbox building fun and I didn’t want to have to keep dying annoyingly while I tried to figure out what was going on. I don’t have the long gaming experience which would make it possible for my to jump straight in and survive (as I said, it took me about a 6 “days” to figure out how to make light). I’ve played a grand total of six games – Lego Star Wars, Zelda Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy I & II, Super Mario Bros (Wii), and Zelda Phantom Hourglass on the DS. What hope have I got against zombies when I can’t even make a stick?
I really appreciate games that make it easier (possible?) for non-gamers to get started. I think most gamers don’t realise the wealth of concepts, approaches, conventions and physical skills that they have to draw on when starting a new game. I still feel the lack with every new game I start. I’m still scarred from the time people tried to make me play Warcraft 3 at a LAN – luckily the Wii brought me a nice friendly platform and some games which didn’t scare me. I’m now the proud owner of a games console and several games, and now Minecraft, my first PC game that isn’t a relative of Solitaire or Minesweeper. Maybe I’ll try zombies in a new world sometime, now that I know what I’m doing a bit…