I started hearing about it on the Weekend Confirmed podcast when Jeff Cannata tried it out, and it had me intrigued. I love indie games, and the fact that this one had done so well made me want to check it out. None of my friends actually played it. Some friends' kids have played it, but it was usually in the "creative" mode - where there wasn't really any danger, and I really didn't see the point.
Anyway, since I was about to take a vacation and head to Dallas, I thought it was a good time to try it out and see what I thought. I downloaded it a couple nights before I left. I already knew a little about how to play the game, mostly from watching the YouTube videos on the Minecraft website and hearing the stories from the podcast. I also heard them talking about playing the beta of the Xbox 360 version on the Major Nelson Radio podcast. I decided that I wanted to play the PC version, partially because it was further along in development, and partially because I knew I'd have a computer with me (and not have an Xbox with me) on the trip.
I managed to chop down a tree and make a small shelter relatively quickly. I was able to survive my first night right off the bat, but I think it's more because I knew what to expect from the videos and from the podcasts I listened to. Soon, I carved away more an more of the side of the mountain, until I actually had something that looked like a house. I was being really cautious - I didn't know what to expect and I was deathly afraid of all of the monsters that were in the world.
After a couple of nights, I had a stone house, carved into the side of a mountain, and a nice patio out in front. I had dirt "stairs" that you had to jump up to get to the front of the house. I had torches that lit the area so no monsters would show up. I thought it was rather neat. I didn't look at the wiki to figure anything out. I sort of enjoyed figuring out how to do stuff on my own.
I actually posted in the Minecraft forums here: http://www.minecraftforum.net/topic/1260896-what-hints-should-you-give-beginners/page__p__15391866#entry15391866The people on the forums were really nice, and I got lots of good advice. Some of the other players also made a few jokes, and I started to understand the Minecraft jokes, too.
The jist of the post is that I wanted to figure out the game on my own. I thought I was doing pretty good. I figured out a lot of the stuff on my own:
- How to make a hoe - while crafting a pick, I saw the picture change.
- How to make a furnace - by looking at the achievements
- How to make glass - I knew glass existed in the game by listening to the Major Nelson Radio podcast, but I figured out how to make it on my own.
- How to make a door and a fence. I was really excited when I figured out how to make a gate for my fence, too.
My house started shaping up. I had a fence around the patio so I wouldn't fall off the ledge, and the fence plus the stone wall around the patio kept most monsters out.Some things were spoiled, and some things I had to look up. I didn't know how to heal - I was waiting around forever thinking that I'd just regenerate health eventually.
Around this time, I showed the game to my girlfriend's daughter. We took turns playing, and were having a lot of fun. She didn't have a good handle on the WASD keys, since we didn't really play any other PC games (other than StarCraft II vs. the computer). She also would get too excited when she saw a new mineral or stone and recklessly run towards the resources and jump off cliffs.Regardless, we were still having a blast. It was another game we could do together, even though we weren't really playing at the same time. We spent our vacation taking turns on the computer, and just having fun seeing what the other was doing.
After I got back from my trip, I went out to eat lunch with a coworker. I told him about the fun that A. and I had playing Minecraft, and he said that it sounded interesting. He was intrigued that there was a Unix client. He tried it out after work, and he said that he didn't really get it. Oh well.
Around this time, I started getting more feedback from my forum post. Besides some hints about the game, (and besides everyone saying that everyone uses the wiki) I heard a lot of people saying that I should create my own server. I started figuring out how to do this, but we were also starting to be invested in our own worlds. We did get to start a multiplayer game while my girlfriend was working on a weekend, so we did get to play (for about an hour) on the same world. It was a lot of fun, even though we didn't get a lot done. We make a shelter in the side of a cliff, found some coal, and made stairs down the river. We had some fun stories, like how A. made a dirt house (but didn't leave any room for me) and how she killed me while trying to fend off a skeleton.
When we got back from vacation, A. went to science camp with her school. When she got back, she said that there were a lot of classmates that actually played Minecraft, too. Some of the girls in her class played, but gave up when a creeper came and blew up her house. Some of the boys actually had their own server and invited her to play. I thought it was great.
In the meantime, I was playing Minecraft on my own, late at night. I realized that I needed to play with sound (and not while I was on the phone) because I needed to hear when the creepers snuck up on me and tried to blow me up. I also started trying to dig deeper, and figure out what I could do besides build my house.
I really didn't like nighttime. I heard the monsters in and around my house, but I really didn't like the fact that I couldn't see them. It was especially freaky when they'd show up and bang on the door to my house. I think I jumped out of my chair the first time I heard that.
Since I figured out how to make glass, I started putting in windows so I could see out at night time. When I saw that the monsters were just outside my house, I started digging around the house so they they wouldn't be right on the other side of the wall. The windows got bigger, until my house was made entirely of glass. (I guess it's a good thing that zombies don't know how to break glass. Or maybe they just don't want to throw the first stone.) I started finding more rare materials, and didn't really have a good idea want to do with them.
I also started to make my own skin for my guy. I gave him a white patch of hair, so it looks like me. I also changed him so he's wearing a pair of shorts. It's still a work in progress.
One of the funniest moments I had was after I started to get the hang of the game. I could hear the different sounds in my headphones, and I could tell what type of monster it was, and about where it was located. Anyway, I was playing late at night, and I could hear that there was a spider somewhere above me in the trees. I had adequate armor and weaponry, so that I wasn't too worry if it were to suddenly attack me. As I was meandering around my house, a spider dropped from the ceiling and landed on my hand and ran across the keyboard. I freaked out. I think I might have actually screamed out loud. As soon as the shock passed, though, I realized how funny it was.
Now that I've figured out more of the game, I switched my world over so that it's actually playing in a Minecraft server on my laptop. A. can join my world if she's around, or we can go back to the world that we were working on together. My latest project is to use up all the materials I collected. I started making a tower, and building it to see how high it can go. I thought it was rather neat - it encloses a small area with a workbench, a bed, and a chest, and it has a spiraling staircase to the top of the tower. Basically, I was looking for something to do with the cobblestone after I dug up all that rock.
I also started listening to The Shaft - a Minecraft podcast. I started at episode 1, at the end of 2010, when the game was still in alpha. So far, it's been good, since they haven't spoiled anything I hadn't already known. I also heard them talk about Minecraftchick, a girl who started playing and knew nothing about video games when she started. It's actually really entertaining to watch. I heard that she works for Mojang (the creators of Minecraft) now.
Another thing I heard on the podcast, after several episodes, is that they have their own public server. I sort of want to check it out, but at the same time, I'm not sure that I want to actually build anything there. They started griping about some of the building that people made, and one of their grips was about how everyone seems to want to build a super-high tower made out of cobblestone, and how they are such an eyesore. Oops. I guess I won't be visiting, other than as a tourist.
Finally, I ended up talking to my coworker yesterday. Even though he said that he really didn't get the game, he ended up buying it and going home and playing it. He actually figured out things like obsidian and how to use a hoe. He also told me how to make a ladder, before I got a chance to tell him that I didn't want any spoilers. Regardless, I think it's great that there's someone else at work that I can talk to about Minecraft.
I hope that A. and I have more free time together in the future. I'm looking forward to building more stuff with her.