So after years of being told, “Dad, you gotta play Minecraft!” and a brief moment of attempting to play the iOS version of the game – and getting killed not even a minute into the game – I’ve finally stopped resisting and have immersed myself in the worlds of Minecraft. First, I tried the version that can be played on Windows 10… and trying to navigate using the keyboard and mouse proved to be a pain; I can connect my Xbox controller to the computer but, eh, while that is kinda easier, the Windows 10 version doesn’t quite behave like the Xbox One version so I’ve opted to stick with the Xbox version and not subject my computer’s keyboard to any more abuse than I already give it. My baby got me the Xbox One version of the game and I’m quite grateful that she did this for me; now when I wanna play, I don’t have to get up and go into another room and fire up my computer.
My Minecraft drill sergeants – my daughter and her husband, who were the same critters that taught me how to play Borderlands – have been cramming all sorts of arcane shit into my head about this game; it’s about the only time my daughter can yell at me and get away with it. The one thing I like about having both of them in my game is listening to her giving her hubby the business about how he does things, like running into a pack of creepers and zombies and needing to eat quickly to avoid getting killed and having to respawn without all the stuff you’ve painstakingly gathered. I hear a lot of, “You’re gonna die…” directed at him and I don’t know which thing is more fun – playing and learning the game… or listening to her jumping in his ass about stuff.
Still, I gotta give them props because without their help, I’d probably be running around the game without any real idea of what I’m supposed to do other than survive. I’ve been in their worlds and, wow, they’ve both built some rather impressive and beautiful worlds for themselves. They tell me that if you can think it, you can build it and so far, I’ve taken the place where I first decided to settle in and expanded it in a way where it’s all connected, well, except for the new place I recently built which is close by. While I’ve yet to master crafting like they have, they say I’ve been doing well for a noob and even my grandchildren (who also play) seem to be impressed that Pop-Pop is throwing down with one of their favorite games.
I’ve got several mines dug and while there doesn’t seem to be a trick to digging one, um, after following behind my son-in-law as he got lost in his own mine, I’ve come up with a way to dig a mine and, hopefully, not have to suffer the indignity of getting lost in my own construction project. As I dig, I place torches on the left side so that if I have to get out, the torches are now on my right and easily followed out of the dig. I’ve learned to craft a compass and a map, both of which come in handy (I’ll get to that shortly) but the thing that bothers me about this game is that I’m used to playing games where a part of the HUD (heads-up display) is a kind of radar thingy that’s both a miniature version of a larger scale map but also lets me know where the bad guys are in relation to where I am.
Minecraft has no such animal, which is how I manage to get blown up by creepers and jumped by witches that sneak up on me from behind or I hustle around a tree and, shit, there’s a zombie… and chances are I don’t have my sword in my hand. I’ve learned the hard way to not be outside a very well lit place after dark and if I’m inside, I gotta do the Minecraft version of turning on all the lights since some bad guys like to find a spot you forgot to light up inside your home or mine and blow it – and you – back to the spawn point. And I learned all of this before I learned that there is a game mode where they only way you get killed is if you do something stupid – Peaceful mode.
My drill sergeant daughter gives me the business about playing in Peaceful mode but since I’m not experienced with all the nuances of this game, I’d rather not be bothered with trying to escape monsters and when trying to run away from them, fall into a deep cavern (and die) or find out I’ve fallen into a hidden pool of lava (and die) and, yes, I’ve done both of these things and have had my instructors laughing at my demise and being told to watch where I’m walking… which is hard to do because, apparently, in the Xbox One version, holding a torch in your hand does not provide you light to see by; you can make all sorts of shit in this game but the one thing you can’t make is a flashlight…
Being in Peaceful mode is good for exploring and having a compass is valuable because no matter where you are, it will always point to the place you first spawned into your world – and I make that point somewhere in my home. Yesterday, I got a lesson on how hard it is to read a map, which uses a coordinate system of X, Y, and Z and while I understand this system, um, it takes some doing trying to figure out where you are in relation to where you want to go, as proved by a walkabout with my son-in-law yesterday – and in a mode that can get you killed – and we were wandering around all over the place… with my daughter in the background constantly saying, “Brian, you’re going the wrong way!”
These two are really funny. I do my walkabouts in Peaceful mode because I’ve been told that if you don’t explore the world you’re in, you won’t be able to find different and essential things each biome has to offer so you also have to practice how to get out there and explore… and be able to find your way back home – and the compass as well as torches placed along the way, help a great deal. Except, yesterday, ah, fuck, that didn’t help me very much. I walked out of the upper level of my crib, turned to my left and asked, “What’s over there?” and headed off in that direction to explore but wound up stopping and turning back because upon seeing some torches in front of me, shit, that’s right – Brian and I had went this way the other day, damn it. So I turn back and I’m hustling back, kinda got turned around the wrong way a few times but my own sense of direction is at work.
It’s very dark because the game is simulating a total eclipse during the day and night cycles and I guess to pay homage to the upcoming event tomorrow. I’m running along, dodging nosy cows and the occasional wolf that shows up and I’m thinking that I’m getting close to home… when I fall into a pit there was no way I could have seen even in daylight and my last sight was falling down toward a huge pit of lava and, as the game dutifully mentioned, I died trying to swim in lava. The good thing is that I respawned back home; the bad thing is that I lost everything I had been carrying.
Shit, fart, piss, fuck, and damn it all to hell.
One of the things I learned is that there are worlds, also known as seeds, that have been created for the game so when you create a new game, you can either let the game randomly pick a seed or, if you know it, enter the seed’s ID number or name and, voila! You’re in a pre-constructed world that can offer a great many things that can either make it easy to get established… or test your ability to play the game and survive. I’ve created four such worlds to play around in and I will admit that you really can spend a great deal of time getting yourself established since, every time you create a new game, you arrive in it with nothing – unless you select the option that will make a crate of goodies appear wherever you happen to enter that world. Then it’s the first rule of survival – build a shelter and be able to make fire – but with little to help you even with the goody crate. Chopping down trees, mining dirt and rocks, killing cows, sheep, chickens (which looks like a duck – go figure) and pigs so you can have food and other items.
And, yes, despite what my darling daughter says, doing this in Peaceful mode is way easier although in the one world/seed I used, I was chasing a sheep to get its wool so I can make a bed; it stopped at the top of the mountain and I felt a moment of triumph and even said to myself, “Yeah! Got your ass!” – but the sheep ran off to my left at the last moment and I was still moving forward… and I’m glad that I took my thumb off the joystick because if I hadn’t, the next step taken would have had me falling into a very, very deep ravine and dying. On the other hand, the view of that drop was breathtaking…
When I’m in the game without my teachers, I can’t help feeling that I’m truly alone in my world even though that’s not true; you’d have to scout around and find a village that might be populated with some “folks” you can trade with; they might have a garden you can grab necessary stuff you need like carrots and melons and, importantly, seeds that you can use to grow your own crops – y’all should see the garden my daughter built for me. There are temples both on land and underwater and if you’re not in Peaceful mode, they are very dangerous places. A Minecraft world is anything but a beautiful place to run around in; even in Peaceful mode, there are dangers all around you and I know my thoughts are always filled with thinking about the stuff I need to survive and not doing something dumb that will get me killed.
Now, the game does have a tutorial which I didn’t know about until my daughter asked me why I hadn’t done the tutorial… and the tutorial I didn’t know existed. You can learn the basics there but what I’m learning is that the tutorial doesn’t even come close to teaching you everything there is to learn about this game, which explains why you can search the web and find all manner of “how to play Minecraft” stuff – and there’s a lot of it. The game has, under Settings, a “how to play” kinda thing that, again, can teach you some very basic stuff but isn’t going to help you build a fortification to keep you and your collected stuff safe… and at night. The game has weather and in one trip to my world, I almost got struck by lightning. There are different biomes or environments, like jungle, mesa/desert, and even snow/ice but as I mentioned, if you don’t go exploring – or aren’t learning the game from someone who really knows how to play it – you just don’t know what might be around you.
I’m kinda hooked and I was even dreaming last night about how to go about building more elaborate buildings, like a multi-story apartment building… and just because I can build one. Once I get a better feel of my world, I’ll get out of Peaceful mode and play with all the dangerous stuff. If there are any Minecraft players out there and playing on Xbox One, you’re cordially invited to come see what I’ve built so far – my gamertag is SmartKDaddy.