Sunday, February 27, 2011

Minecraft: Or How I Learned To Stop Wondering Where The Past Four Hours Have Gone And Just Love This Game

Today I shall step away from rabidly playing Minecraft to review Minecraft. Minecraft is an independently published game that was originally made by only one man. It has sold over one million copies to this day, and the creator has founded a game studio with the profits in order to further polish and finish the game. Minecraft is probably best explained as the love-child of model train enthusiasts and Legos. The entire world is made out of little square blocks. You can destroy them, pick them up, place them to build things, mix them together to make other things, and at night monsters come. That’s pretty much the entire game. But that is not a condemnation. Games like Minecraft and the Sims are perfect examples of emergent game play. The game would lose something if you had to do something, like slay a dragon threatening a town or something. Instead you are your own adventure. And it never disappoints. For this review, I started up a brand new world. And since it is so hard to review an experience, I’ll just share mine.

I awoke on a shore of a small beach. In the distance I could see snow-capped hills and forests as far as the eye could see. Under the frozen ocean before me squid swam and menaced me. Looks like I am not going swimming anytime soon, I thought. As I turned around I saw something on a far hill. Here the snow ended and instead sat a massive tree, forever ablaze. Since I obviously had never seen any horror movie ever, I ventured toward the blazing unknown inferno.

I guess I had picked my direction correctly. Over the small hill was entire forest of flame. And I now saw the source. Lava was pouring from a small cave in the face of a nearby mountain and pooling in the forest. It had incinerated the leaves off the trees but had left the trunks and branches intact, just on fire. It was quite the site to behold, and decided this was a good enough landmark to build a temporary fortification at. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to miss the massive makeshift torches from any point nearby. It seemed like a good idea at the time, so I built a small wooden shack near the lava flow and began making tools.

A few seconds past and then I heard it. Horrible, unearthly sounds of pain. I stepped out of my sanctuary and saw it. A massive green abomination was on fire and barreling towards me. I sprinted away from my hovel and headed deeper into the conflagration. I didn’t make it too far. “HSSSSSSSSSSSS!” the monster shouted, before exploding. I was far enough away to survive the blast, but I couldn’t say the same about the surrounding terrain. What was once grass and dirt was a massive hole. The explosion caldera linked into an underground cave system.

Now imagine this, only on fire

I hoofed it back to my home and produced some torches since the hole was pitch black, and returned to the cavern entrance. Tossing a torch on the wall every few feet, I began my descent. I hadn’t gone too far when I heard scuttling from my right. From around a corner a massive spider leapt out at me. I had forgone weapons, so it was me wielding a pickaxe versus an arachnid monstrosity. I barely emerged victorious. Around that corner I found where the beast had come from. A nest of the bastards was right in my cave. So I threw a handful of torches inside to scare the bastards out and blocked off the tunnel that led to me. A pinnacle of bravery I am not. Just past the spider nest I saw it. A massive hole going straight down. I could hear and sort of see water pooling at the bottom, but the rest was pitch black. So I leapt off the edge, into the abyss.

The abyss, lit up after the fact

I’ve learned a few things since that first night on the beach. Whenever I die, I wash back up on the same beach. I am stuck in the blocky purgatory. But I don’t have to keep hiding. I will not run from them anymore. I returned from the abyss with massive amounts of iron. I have a sword now. And a bow and a handful of arrows. I am no longer the hunted. I hunt them for sport, for resources, for the catharsis. I lure them into fields of flame or into massive pits. I outsmart them and out maneuver them. This is my world, damn it, not yours. I’m just going to take it back. One massive spider or exploding green monstrosity at a time.

-Joe Schlicht

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