April 6th, 2011

Ghaleon

Damn you, Minecraft!

Just what I need, another addiction. As if my writing hasn't suffered enough from my already astounding levels of procrastination.

Let me tell you a little story. For the past month I've been repeatedly hearing references to this thing called Minecraft. At the time I ignored it, but then some of the internet personalities I follow began doing Let's Plays of the game, which I also at first ignored. One night I was bored enough to actually watch one of them, and what I saw made me curious enough to pay for a copy of the game just to see what all the fuss was about. So I downloaded the game, started it up, hoping that I hadn't wasted my money ...

OH MY GOD, WHEN DID THE SUN COME UP?

Minecraft is a game that strands you on a randomly generated landscape, and from there its up to you to decide what to do. I ended up on a beach, so I pretended that I was washed ashore after narrowly surviving a shipwreck. So what am I to do now? At this point I had to look up guides online, since the game has no tutorial. Once I figured out the goal (or rather, the lack thereof) I set about gathering building materials. Since I had absolutely nothing to begin with, I began collecting dirt with my bare hands. I was in the process of constructing a little mud hut when the inevitable happened.

The sun went down.

What's that sound? Are those zombies? And skeletons? What's that little green thing that looks sort of like a penis? OMFG DID THAT THING JUST EXPLODE? A giant spider hopped over my mud wall and is trying to bite my face off! MOMMY!

I died, respawned at the beach, and ran like hell from spiders, zombies, and the green penis things (which I later learned are called creepers) that love nothing more than to run up and suicide bomb you, decimating your health and destroying everything around it, leaving nothing but a crater. Eventually the sun rose and the zombies burned in the light (thank God, monsters that don't sparkle!).

Naturally, from that point on I worked like hell on completing my modest mud dwelling, hoping its walls would protect me from the horrors that would arise come nightfall. After building four high walls (but unfortunately no roof yet) I huddled in fear as I waited out the night. By this point I was getting the hang of crafting. I constructed a work bench which allowed me to construct more elaborate items, and a furnace which I could use to smelt materials to produce other usable materials. I smelted sand to make glass, which provided my house with some windows. Finding my inventory space quickly running out, I built myself a storage chest to store unneeded components.

Several in-game days later I had a small house built, and (thank goodness) I learned that I could create a bed which I could use at sunset to have the night pass in the space of a few seconds. I found myself falling into a comfortable routine. I'd run out and gather materials during the day, and come sundown I'd run like hell to my house and bury myself in blankets hoping the Boogey Man (who looks oddly like a penis) wouldn't come in the middle of the night and blow up my house.

So there I was, gazing at my little mud house, and thinking "this place looks like shit," so I set off to gather higher quality materials. I crafted an axe to cut down wood, a pickaxe to mine stone and ore, and a shovel to more quickly scoop up dirt and sand. After several more in-game days my inventory was filled with wood, cobblestone, and piles of sand which I stuffed in the furnace to make more glass. I replaced the mud walls with stone, and added another layer to the walls so they had a wood exterior. When that was done I thought "hey, this house could use a second floor," so I built a second story with walls made almost entirely of glass, which provided me with a pretty scenic view.

After that I thought, "hmm, that's pretty good, but how about something a little more fancy?" So a third floor it was; this time the walls were ENTIRELY made of glass, with a domed ceiling. In a moment of pure juvenile abandon I decided I wanted a water fountain on top of my house shaped like a cock and balls, so if anyone asked where I live I could say "just look for the house with the huge cock on top of it." Several in-game days, a LOT of crafting/gathering/smelting, and obsessive work later I now had myself a rooftop garden with a stunning view of my surroundings, with the grand water cock as its centerpiece. Interestingly, the water cock is visible for quite some distance, giving me an easy to spot landmark to follow so I don't get lost.

"You know what this place needs?" I thought to myself. "A pool, that's what, and a diving board on the third floor I can jump from. One real-life day later I was happily climbing to the third floor at my house, massive water cock at my backside, and jumping into what I jokingly named "the orgy pool." It's at this point that it became clear why my parents put me in therapy.

This game is the epitome of an open-world sandbox (and it literally contains sand). You're thrust into this large world with absolutely no set goals or objectives. It's up to you to find your own fun. Once you have a project in mind, the logistics of actually building said project will lead to many hours mining for ore, chopping down trees, smelting materials into other materials, crafting tools and then crafting better tools to replace the shitty ones you originally made. It's strangely gratifying to do so. Not only can you make just about anything you can imagine, the game makes you earn it. Every pane of glass used to construct my third story garden came from sand that I gathered and smelted in the furnace. Because of the work that went into it, I appreciate my creations more than if I could have just pressed a button and gave myself all the glass I needed.

So here I was, floating in a pool of warm liquid and gazing up at the majestic water cock, wondering what to do from here. A million ideas flashed in my head, and I excitedly began anticipating my next project.

Then I realized that I had just spent the better part of two real-world days constructing a monument to male genitalia, and proceeded to shut off my computer and slink out of the room in shame.
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