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February 21, 2011 9:05 PM   Subscribe

Jonathan Gourlay explores Minecraft, an ugly game with no point and endless possibility.
posted by The Whelk (173 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
On my first day, I thought the game was about punching pigs. So I punched pigs. Then night fell and a demon, kind of like a Hong-Kong hopping vampire, crept toward me in my loneliest loneliness and exploded, saying (at least in my narrative): “This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more.”
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:15 PM on February 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


Nice, but I struggle with the word "legos".
posted by doublehappy at 9:18 PM on February 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


> One day while we played in the hut, she dropped her baby.

"Uh oh!"

I don't know anything about Minecraft, but I don't think I'll ever get tired of watching that.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:20 PM on February 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Minecraft quantum mechanics.
posted by empath at 9:21 PM on February 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


"But i struggle with the word legos"

Logos?
posted by The Whelk at 9:22 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Loved it. But:
Legos come in two distinct philosophical stances. Traditional existentialist Legos present you with a box of colored, stacking bricks and no reason for being. For those who feel that life has a set purpose and innate, god-given reasons for being, there are themed Lego sets...
If I recall my own Lego-filled childhood, there were always "themed" sets. You were given a box with bricks, with a drawing of an artifact on the front; you built a truck, a building, a ship, a car. Once. Then you threw away the instructions and you turned the bits nice placid car into whatever the hell you wanted.

In quasi-Marxist terms (since we're doing political philosophical stances), the structure of the Lego was never free of an underlying ideology about what the bricks should have constituted. The really great thing about Lego, which remains great no matter how much marketing you add to it, is that the way you play with it, you critique the fundamentals of how the bricks go together. They might have started as a castle or a firetruck but with a bit of work and organisation they can be whatever you want them to be.

Every time you turn over a bucket of Lego with a small child, you start another small Revolution.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:25 PM on February 21, 2011 [49 favorites]


Liberte, egalite, legoes.
posted by The Whelk at 9:27 PM on February 21, 2011 [10 favorites]


Metafilter: an ugly game with no point and endless possibility.
posted by mhum at 9:28 PM on February 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I recall my own Lego-filled childhood, there were always "themed" sets.

There were always generic lego sets that were just boxes full of bricks.
posted by empath at 9:30 PM on February 21, 2011


No video game before Minecraft has presented the player with a world as simple, beautiful, and engaging as a box of random Legos or wooden blocks or loose change or sticks or shells… toys whose only purpose is to soak up human consciousness and light into being upon a human whim.

to be fair there was Blockland which was basically just legos plus you could fly
posted by girih knot at 9:32 PM on February 21, 2011


Nice, but I struggle with the word "legos".

I understand the Lego company's stance on this. They need to consistently use the term "Lego" as an adjective and refer to the blocks as "Lego bricks" or else the trademark might become diluted. Lego doesn't want to become a genericized trademark.

The fans, though? Is there a reason why Lego fans are so up-in-arms about it? I've never heard a Ford fan complain about people driving Fords. So why is it a big deal when kids play with Legos?
posted by explosion at 9:35 PM on February 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


In all my years of observing holiday traditions as a child, I was never allowed to experience the thrill of accidentally falling to my death while lighting the candles.
posted by jake at 9:40 PM on February 21, 2011


Here's a 20 minute minecraft documentary, btw.
posted by empath at 9:43 PM on February 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


he causes bearded men to to jump up and down and make crazed masturbatory mining motions at the very mention of his name.

Sounds like a Jack Radcliffe appearance at a Bear weekend.
posted by hippybear at 9:48 PM on February 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I read the post quickly, and with tired eyes I saw Jonathan Gourlay explores Microsoft, an ugly game with no point and endless possibility.

Still somewhat fitting.
posted by krakedhalo at 9:50 PM on February 21, 2011


Attention Minecraft fans: Notch's opus has been nominated to represent the modern age of gaming in the Smithsonian's upcoming "Art of Video Games" exhibition. It's competing with Starcraft II and Age of Empires 3 in a round of public voting; if you want to show your support, go to the exhibition website and navigate to Era 5, Modern Windows platform, Combat/Strategy genre. Be sure to show some love for other deserving titles like SimCity (Era 3, SNES, Combat/Strategy Genre) and Shadow of the Colossus (Era 5, Playstation 2, Action Genre) if you have the time.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:50 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Age of Empires: Cilo
Starcraft : Calliope
Minecraft: Euterpe
posted by The Whelk at 9:58 PM on February 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's a 20 minute minecraft documentary, btw.

"You don't punch 500 million pigs without making a few enemies".
posted by chaff at 9:59 PM on February 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Minecraft is not an ugly game.

That's like saying Mondrian made ugly paintings.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:01 PM on February 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


I don't think I can get behind any Smithsonian video game exhibit which has snubbed both Super Metroid and the entire Castlevania series in voting. Seriously do they have some place where I can write in candidates?
posted by girih knot at 10:02 PM on February 21, 2011


I sent a friend a review of real life as if it was an MMO and he said it sounded like a Minecraft rip-off.
posted by NoraReed at 10:04 PM on February 21, 2011


Out of all the things I've read about Minecraft, this has to be at once the most depressing description and best reason for playing I've found yet. The idea of recreating places where you've been to, as he said, make up for the absence of the thing is somehow the most compelling things I've heard about the game. Might get started tonight when I get home.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:26 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


That Smithsonian voting site is like something out of Saw. Like, "hey, here are three 'target games' for the Dreamcast, which only half a dozen people will have ever played anyway, but as between Megaman 2 and SMB3, pick one, asshole. Same with Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country." It all comes across like it was put together by someone with no knowledge of the actual history of games trying to find the most judicious way to make up for that fact, and failing horribly.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:53 PM on February 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


You want an ugly game? Here's an ugly game.
posted by telstar at 11:04 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ghidorah, that angle stuck with me, too. It reminds me of a favorite book of mine, Thomas Glavinic's Night Work, in which the protagonist awakens in a Vienna that is, inexplicably, completely devoid of life. After wandering aimlessly looking for someone else, he spends his time reconstructing his childhood home, moving old furniture into his old house and rummaging in the attic for old photographs of his missing loved ones.

Of course, the world of Minecraft is not so lonesome -- there's always the wandering livestock and the assorted monsters. But that eerie feeling of solitude does creep in at the edges: when you're walking the fortified halls of your compound at night, or crawling through some dank crevice hundreds of feet below the surface.

It's especially prominent in the empty multiplayer servers, which remind me a lot of abandoned Active Worlds universes. Surrounded by light and color, bizarre architecture of every kind, but all of it frozen in place, like a ghost town. It doesn't have the added quality of age that AW has -- these buildings have been undisturbed for days, not years -- but it's still mildly creepy.

The structure of the world reinforces this feeling, I think. It's reminiscent of the short story "Missile Gap" by (Mefi's Own!) Charles Stross. In that piece, the Earth of the Cold War has its continents suddenly flattened and transported to the surface of a preposterously large alien construct, an immense disc with a giant sun at its center, so large that Africa and Eurasia are like tiny isles compared to the unexplored supercontinents that lie beyond the strange new seas.

Minecraft's infinite geography conveys the same feeling -- you've got the small familiar territory you've scouted out for yourself, maybe even a broad region you've colonized with friends. But no matter how far you penetrate into the frontier, no matter how many aqueducts and railroads and towering sculptures you construct, you'll always find yourself at the edge of wilderness, all alone in this incomprehensibly vast space riddled with caverns and teeming with monsters. It's like all the most terrifying ideas about deep space, brought back to earth.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:04 PM on February 21, 2011 [20 favorites]


I got bored with the free version of Minecraft so quickly that i'm starting to doubt my own creativity. Or I'm not a visual person
Rhaomi just sold me on the full game though
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:18 PM on February 21, 2011


The full game is definitely better than the free version, Lovecraft In Brooklyn. The biggest plus is that the geography is far more dramatic. In the free Creative mode, you get a single bounded square dotted with hillocks, plateaus, small lakes, and a few sheer cliffs. There are also no resources to mine. You can do some stuff with this, but not much.

Buying the full version is like moving from Northumberland to Cappadoccia. You get an unlimited world full of breathtaking soaring arches, high rocky crags, rolling plains, wide oceans, and chthonic cave systems crisscrossed by waterfalls and magma flows. Not only is there more variation, but the scale of everything is so much higher and broader and grander.

Add on top of this a day/night cycle, a more realistic lighting system, a wider selection of materials, a menagerie of animals and monsters to contend with, and a crafting system that turns the simple point-and-click boredom of Creative mode into a difficult task that imbues all your creations with additional meaning, and the world is far more compelling and evocative than it might seem from the little browser demo.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:47 PM on February 21, 2011


So, ignoring whether Minecraft is an awesome game or not, I found myself pretty bored by the metaphor? allegory? that the author was trying to draw in the article. The two images at the end said more than his words ever could.
posted by Night_owl at 12:03 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


All my Minecraft saves are different. Most of them are experiments, or doodles that I delete after an hour or so of exploration. Others are tests of specific functionality - World 4 at the moment has lots of minecarts in it to no great effect. Sometimes I just want to spin up a new world without the bother of exploration; see if its a pretty one. Some of them aren't. I usually use World 2 for that kind of thing.

World 3 is special though - that's a long form game where I made a decision some months ago to try to survive in the world come what may. Its not the world I spent my first night in. Far from it. But that part of me that Minecraft spoke so clearly to that first night is indulged in World 3. World 3 contains 'undertakings' - where the word 'mine' or 'hole' or 'building' becomes inadequate to describe what it is that you're actually doing in there.

When Notch rushed out an update that contained a bug that stopped your possessions persisting after you died, and I lost all my gear - that I'd actually made! - I genuinely had to stop playing for a while. I was furious.

Sometimes when I'm down in the deep shaft and one of those random spooky noises is triggered, I get this out-of-body zoom out effect and my awareness is drawn out from my little avatar; all alone at the bottom of the world; snick-snick-snicking away at a wall of dirt; all the way out to take in the enormity of the world he's in. And there's a tangible feeling of loneliness there. I begin to think that I'm spelunking in the caverns in search of a friend.

So then it occurs to me as I write this that a part of me is actually living in World 3 of Minecraft. And that's pretty weird, I think we can all agree.
posted by Jofus at 12:39 AM on February 22, 2011 [16 favorites]


The fans, though? Is there a reason why Lego fans are so up-in-arms about it? I've never heard a Ford fan complain about people driving Fords. So why is it a big deal when kids play with Legos?
Sorry for the derail. I honestly wasn't aware this was a thing. I've just internalised the word lego as both singular and something quasi-plural, and hearing "legos" has on me the same effect as, for example, hearing "sheeps". I'm not saying "lego" is the same as "sheep" - the way I use "lego" definitely doesn't map to the way I use "sheep". I say "one lego piece", "two lego pieces", "playing with lego", "lots of lego [pieces is implied]", "lego". I rarely say "piece of lego". I dunno - I'm no linguist. I do need to get into Minecraft though.

posted by doublehappy at 12:45 AM on February 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


So, ignoring whether Minecraft is an awesome game or not, I found myself pretty bored by the metaphor? allegory? that the author was trying to draw in the article. The two images at the end said more than his words ever could.

To be fair, the essay was only about 1200 words. He'd need about 800 more words to match the two pictures.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:33 AM on February 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


So, I get home, plunk down the euros for Minecraft and... I can't log in. I've been trying, without success, for the last hour. I keep getting a 'can't connect to minecraft.net' in my Minecraft Launcher window. Am I doing something wrong? Or have I stumbled on to your hideous secret? There really is no minecraft, just an ongoing Emporer's New Clothes thing?
posted by Ghidorah at 1:34 AM on February 22, 2011


Ghidora: Unhappy timing, apparently Minecraft's DB servers that are required (only) for logging in are currently fritzing. You might want to keep trying.

Hirnlego
posted by _Lasar at 1:42 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyone who wants to run Minecraft under Linux will need to tweak a few settings & copy a few libraries around, but I can confirm that it runs quite happily.
posted by pharm at 1:46 AM on February 22, 2011


If I had any hair, I'd be tearing it out. Oh well, there's always Red Dead Redemption.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:46 AM on February 22, 2011


Anyone who wants to run Minecraft under Linux will need to tweak a few settings & copy a few libraries around, but I can confirm that it runs quite happily.

It didn't in the 2006-vintage AMD CPU in my Linux box (which also doesn't run Google Chrome). I'm guessing the new JVMs (and the V8 JIT compiler) rely on some instructions only in newer CPUs?
posted by acb at 3:10 AM on February 22, 2011


I seem to have Minecraft running on my computer non-stop lately... it's honestly been more satisfying than the latest Civ.

... that said, I seem to play fundamentally differently than others. Most people seem to build a fort, which is besieged by baddies. Civilization and safety is tenuous, dependent upon the light of flickering torches, and each bit of secured territory depends upon adventuring ever deeper, in pursuit of coal and increasingly precious mineral resources.

In my case, though, I usually follow a "green" strategy, digging a hole in a sandy coastline to start out with, while cutting down trees for making charcoal for torches and glass, which I use for my roofing material. All saplings gathered are used for ceating tree farms, which are kept "under glass" and provide a huge abundance of charcoal... for creating even more glass. The sand I dig out is used to expand my "safe" area, oftentimes into nearby seas and other areas with sand. Eventually, I also put crops and green fields for wildlife under my glass ceiling, with the whole area and my entire perimeter surrounded by plentiful numbers of torches. Monsters become a rarity. Even when I adventure into caves, they're usually covered in the glass dome and safely isolated from more secure areas. I'm able to systematically explore and let sunlight into them, as needed, to drive out monsters. I put entrances into my glass shelter a safe distance from the glass roof, just in case I run into a creeper... but really, once you get going, there's very need to leave the ever-expanding bubble. I've turned whole islands into glass-domed fortresses.
posted by markkraft at 3:32 AM on February 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


If I had any hair, I'd be tearing it out. Oh well, there's always Red Dead Redemption.

You'd probably be better off spending these last few hours before you first log in getting your affairs in order.
posted by fullerine at 3:41 AM on February 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


I am all kinds of glad I am not the only one for whom lego is both the singular and the plural. Carry on.
posted by Jilder at 3:53 AM on February 22, 2011


(And no, I wouldn't presume to say that the way I play is the best... although it does work for me, because it allows me to concentrate on the kinds of things I like to do in game, and to approach the challenges in the kind of way I prefer.

It's a bit like asking someone how they like to prepare/eat their favorite snacks. It's fun and addictive, but highly individualistic. There is no one right answer. )
posted by markkraft at 4:30 AM on February 22, 2011


Oh, and because of that invidualistic nature, watching how other people play Minecraft can be pretty addictive in itself.

I love the Yogscast series of videos on Minecraft... it's a bit like watching Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington MMORPG. They succeed overall, but sometimes, they fail, but have all the more fun because of it.
posted by markkraft at 4:42 AM on February 22, 2011


acb: It's just Java. You have to copy the right system libraries into place or it'll fall over though. Instructions are floating around on the minecraft wiki / forums somewhere.

(Google chrome claims to require an Athlon64, although not necessarily in 64-bit mode.)
posted by pharm at 4:58 AM on February 22, 2011


Wow, the two images at the end literally miss the forest for the trees.
posted by DU at 5:09 AM on February 22, 2011


In case people weren't aware of it, a completely separate team is more or less copying Creative mode for Xbox without Notch's permission. They argue (probably correctly) that Notch/Mojang really don't have much to stand on in terms of law, since they're imitating a play style rather than actually stealing something tangible.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:23 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, it's like the uncanny valley. Even though the ripoff has significantly better graphics, it actually looks much worse.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 5:48 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, I just learned about Charcoal, which I had no idea existed. My mind is blown and plans for glass palaces are forming. I almost regret starting that apocalyptic forest fire near my secondary base.

I also learned about pressing shift while walking to keep from falling off an edge. Dear God, so many wasted, plummeting nights.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:03 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


My favorite bit of minecraft lore (aside from wandering around your friend's dreams in multiplayer) is the growth of an emergent, independent mythology, notably Him.

It's an idea that tweaks and enforces the Fortress Of Solitude aspect of single player. You're working along, being productive ..but then there is a torch. In a tree. You never put a torch in a tree. Huh. In your base, something small has moved. Did you move it? You can't remember. Wait has ...has someone .....entered your base?

*scary music!*

Him is the other player in the single player game. The antagonist who has spent god knows how long here, alone, with nothing but creepers for comfort and it's made Him batty. And now you're here and you're his strange invading monster. He wants to destroy you but hides in shadows and corners, gas-lighting your base and staring at you with his cold, dead eyes.

I'd never want Him to actually appear in the game, but I adore the fact that players have created an entirely new character with backstory and motivations to embody that creeping feeling of dread when you can't remember if YOU put that torch there or if this a new mine or an old one or if your base hasn't been subtly fucked with in some way.
posted by The Whelk at 6:14 AM on February 22, 2011 [28 favorites]


In case people weren't aware of it, a completely separate team is more or less copying Creative mode for Xbox without Notch's permission.

If any game needs to be cloned, it's Minecraft.

It's almost more a platform than a game, really.
posted by empath at 6:20 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Whelk - that has entirely blown my mind and solied my trousers.
posted by Jofus at 6:22 AM on February 22, 2011


I wish there was an option to allow Meddlers into your set Single Player world. I'm not sure it would work very well to use other, human players as the potential to grief would be pretty high. I want to log into my comfortable gameworld to find a weird temple in the distance, not that someone has dumped lava all through my base and rigged my Nether portal to explode.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:23 AM on February 22, 2011


Jofus - More backstory

I love how it's working just like how traditional mythologies are supposed to have formed, gathering pieces from all over the place, lots of names for one thing before it gets differentiated (Him, Herobrine) and just the raw neatness of the idea of haunted code, the ghost in the game world, the shade that is just like you except that he. hates. you. It's too good an idea to actually be part of the game but it makes for great proto-myth.
posted by The Whelk at 6:25 AM on February 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


If any game needs to be cloned, it's Minecraft.

It's almost more a platform than a game, really.


Yes. And on a more practical level, Java seriously sucks.
posted by DU at 6:29 AM on February 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


That's the concept behind the Yogscast series that someone mentioned above. It starts out as a regular 'hey watch us bimble around minecraft getting killed and falling in holes' (which is great, if that's your thing) but then somewhere around episode 16 of season 1, they decide to make it interesting by introducing characters who they don't control and who start fucking with their stuff.

It becomes pretty clear after a few more episodes that its arranged in advance, (the Other Characters have worked out some quests and a narrative that the hosts follow though, I'm pretty sure, the hosts don't actually know in advance what's going to happen) but for a couple of episodes its genuinely quite scary to watch these guys realise that they are not alone.

(Loquacious posted about it a couple of days ago - you should check it one time.
posted by Jofus at 6:30 AM on February 22, 2011


The Whelk - Fascinating. There's a story - that I've been meaning to turn into an FPP for a long time now - that mountaineers and climbers often tell when they're on long, dangerous or treacherous climbs. At some point they begin to feel that there's an extra climber with them on the mountain. From what I understand, they say the feeling is benign - like the 'spirit' is there to help them or keep them company and that the feeling of it 'being there' is so convincing that they often begin talking to it or are surprised when they look up and find there's no one there with them

I read about first in a book about Shackleton - they all reported feeling that there was a fourth man with them on the hike across $island-that-they-hiked-across-before-finding-the-whaling-station.
posted by Jofus at 6:34 AM on February 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is why I play SMP mode. That way I know there are other players around and I'm not alone.

But, sometimes I think I see a dark shadow flitting through the trees.
posted by Severian at 6:39 AM on February 22, 2011


Oh, and last post, promise. This mod is actually quite fun - new animals and new baddies. It's a faff to install but actually works quite nicely once you tuned the spawn settings a wee bit.
posted by Jofus at 6:40 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jofus, I've read about the same thing, that on long expiditions, counting the crew always ended up with one extra person that no one could ever find, yet when they counted again, there would always be one more person counted than was actually in the party. If you were to create such a post, I would surely favorite it. As would many others.

And the favorite count would strangely always be one favorite more than the list of people who'd favorited it...
posted by Ghidorah at 6:44 AM on February 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


In case people weren't aware of it, a completely separate team is more or less copying Creative mode for Xbox without Notch's permission.

Unless they're copying actual art assets or cribbing from the Minecraft source code, the question of Notch's permission shouldn't come into it. One doesn't need Shigeru Miyamoto's permission to write a horizontally scrolling platform game, after all.
posted by acb at 6:50 AM on February 22, 2011


That animal mod looks really awesome. Unfortunately I find I am completely unable to install mods (on Linux). The instructions just. don't. work. But it's probably just as well, otherwise my kids would be on me to install who knows what all the time.
posted by DU at 6:58 AM on February 22, 2011


Out of all the things I've read about Minecraft, this has to be at once the most depressing description and best reason for playing I've found yet. The idea of recreating places where you've been to, as he said, make up for the absence of the thing is somehow the most compelling things I've heard about the game.

That's what I got out of the article, too. The author's daughter is growing up. He now lives in Chicago after spending 11 years living on an island in Micronesia. It's all kind of sad.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:58 AM on February 22, 2011


Yeah, Minecraft was fun for a while.


Congratulations on being a dad, article writer, you seem very proud of it.
posted by codacorolla at 7:06 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Navelgazer: "That Smithsonian voting site is like something out of Saw. Like, "hey, here are three 'target games' for the Dreamcast, which only half a dozen people will have ever played anyway, "

Whoa, hold on. The Dreamcast died an early death, but it had a fantastic and robust library of games, many of which are classics. Why diss the Dreamcast when the Saturn is right there?
posted by graventy at 7:25 AM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, and I was confused at first, the Smithsonian site has little unmarked circles that look like decoration that you can click on to flip pages to other games. So there's more than just the three that appear initially. Terrible design.
posted by codacorolla at 7:45 AM on February 22, 2011


Nice article. I tried to recreate a house of mine in Minecraft once but, probably fortunately, creepers got me before I could finish. It's dangerous to rebuild your life. Years ago when the Sims first came out, my children and I made a replica of our own house and family, as near as we could get it. Then, we stood there transfixed in horror. What had we done? What if our family drowned or starved or succumbed to any of the terrible ills that Sims are heir to? What if then that creeping doom escaped from the computer and swallowed us whole? It was awful. We were afraid to delete the family for the same reason - you have never existed - but it was either that or spend the rest of our lives obsessively caring for our digital analogues. Soon after that deletion, we had to move away and our lives changed dramatically. See? That extra spirit is always watching.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:47 AM on February 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


My favorite bit of minecraft lore (aside from wandering around your friend's dreams in multiplayer) is the growth of an emergent, independent mythology, notably Him.

Or, to keep it in the theme of the linked article: the Other.
posted by mahershalal at 7:54 AM on February 22, 2011


Great. Someone's created a parallel reality game for people, and somehow SlenderMan has crept into THAT, too?

Sleep -- will you ever visit me again?
posted by hippybear at 7:59 AM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


The best thing about Minecraft? Discovering some huge, vast underground cavern filled with iron and diamonds and realizing that you are getting chills at the idea of exploring someplace that no one has ever seen before.

You are the first.

There aren't too many places left on earth where you can do that, and Minecraft offers it in the safety of your living room.
posted by quin at 8:16 AM on February 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


And then, deep in the bowels of the earth, you realise you are hopelessly lost. Your last pickaxe shattered against the unyielding rock, your last torch guttering fitfully against the wall with no hope of obtaining more before you reach the surface. What started out as a short foray into an unexplored cave has led to untold wonders. But now, surrounded by lava pools, strong water currents and dark passageways you hear a bubbling rattling cough, and that is when you learn to fear.
posted by BigCalm at 8:32 AM on February 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Not to dampen your drama, BigCalm, but at that point I welcome reincarnation.

Unless I'm carrying a load of diamonds. Then I have finger-scrabbling, copper-in-my-mouth fear.
posted by Mercaptan at 8:37 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fairly certain that the best part of Minecraft is making MAGNIFICENT GARDENS IN THE SKY.
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:47 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


And then, deep in the bowels of the earth, you realise you are hopelessly lost. Your last pickaxe shattered against the unyielding rock, your last torch guttering fitfully against the wall with no hope of obtaining more before you reach the surface.

I once clawed all the way up from bedrock with my big square hands. I had three torches. I kept digging a stair, going down to the lowest torch, taking it, then taking it to the top of the stair and starting to dig again. It took forever.

But I was carrying my first compass, my first watch, a load of diamonds and obsidian to make my first portal so death was not an option. When I broke out into the light I cheered a little bit.
posted by winna at 9:01 AM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Nobody who plays Minecraft gets to make fun of me for playing Farmville.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:07 AM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Watching more of that Yogcast Shadows Over Israphel series makes me sort of want a Dungeon Master mode for servers. Imagine it - you could construct mazes and dungeons for others to explore, modify existing creatures to make new threats, and create characters for players to play.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:07 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


..oh god robocop, I'd never leave the house. Add the power to warp BETWEEN servers and ...yeah well Welcome to Exploring The Multiverse With Whelk.

(and Notch does keep hinting on more RPG-ish elements so maybe! possibly!)
posted by The Whelk at 9:08 AM on February 22, 2011


I once clawed all the way up from bedrock with my big square hands. I had three torches. I kept digging a stair, going down to the lowest torch, taking it, then taking it to the top of the stair and starting to dig again. It took forever.

But I was carrying my first compass, my first watch, a load of diamonds and obsidian to make my first portal so death was not an option. When I broke out into the light I cheered a little bit.


And then a creeper snuck up behind you and killed you, right?
posted by acb at 9:13 AM on February 22, 2011


Yeah, I suspect that a dungeon master challenge, where the players can't destroy blocks, but can carry armor, swords, bows, and torches is coming soon. All the elements are already there and it would open a huge new play style.

Traps, monsters, lava. Ooh I get the evil-overlord chills just thinking about it!
posted by quin at 9:14 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


It'd be even cooler if you could import these dungeons into your own game. So you go online to some Minecraft Dungeon Emporium, select a well reviewed dungeon, and import it to your world. Next time you log on, the dungeon is there, waiting for you, in the form of a red door in your inventory. Place the door and foom, you now have access to a little bubble world to adventure in.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:21 AM on February 22, 2011


and a bubble dungeon inside a bubble dungeon inside a bubble dungeon until you confront Him in Limbo.
posted by The Whelk at 9:22 AM on February 22, 2011


I like the dungeon master idea, but not the "no destroying blocks" rule. The whole basis of Minecraft is building structures. That should be incorporated, not rejected.
posted by DU at 9:22 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


and a bubble dungeon inside a bubble dungeon inside a bubble dungeon until you confront Him in Limbo.

MINECEPTION

BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARM!....
posted by Jofus at 9:28 AM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Minecraft with the orb mod looks pretty uh ...uh ....just go look
posted by The Whelk at 9:34 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nobody who plays Minecraft gets to make fun of me for playing Farmville.

Sure we do.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:40 AM on February 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


Nobody who plays Minecraft gets to make fun of me for playing Farmville.

Incorrect!
posted by Mister_A at 9:40 AM on February 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


the orb mod

So it's like you're in a Dyson sphere, eh? Cool!

Anyway, I sure hope real life calms down a bit so I can get back to Minecraft!
posted by Mister_A at 9:42 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I play neither Farmville nor Minecraft, but I think the difference between an open sandbox and a worry machine should be self evident.
posted by hippybear at 9:42 AM on February 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


Can someone do a video like this for aporkalypse?
posted by empath at 9:43 AM on February 22, 2011


VISIT CHARMING PORKTON - SEE THE RUINS OF FLATICAN CITY - OBTAIN HIGH QUALITY GOODS IN NEW HAMSTERDAM - TOUR SCENIC NOTIONAL PARK - VISIT HYRULE AND THE MENGER SPONGE! SPEND TIME IN ANKH MORPORK AND LOOKIT OUR HUGE MUSHROOM!
posted by The Whelk at 9:46 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nobody who plays Minecraft gets to make fun of me for playing Farmville.

I think ThePinkSuperhero has just articulated the video-game equivalent of Poptimism.

"Nobody who listens to <ultra-hip indie band> gets to make fun of me for listening to <sugary manufactured pop>"
posted by acb at 9:46 AM on February 22, 2011


Also: OMG beta 1.3 update just dropped.

Beds! Half height blocks! and more!
posted by Mercaptan at 9:50 AM on February 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


And here I thought I was going to finish this outline today!
posted by The Whelk at 9:51 AM on February 22, 2011


I like the dungeon master idea, but not the "no destroying blocks" rule. The whole basis of Minecraft is building structures. That should be incorporated, not rejected.

Maybe certain kinds of bricks that the dungeon master could place that the player couldn't destroy then, to my mind, it sort of defeats the idea of creating a castle filled with traps if the heroes can just sort of bore through the walls and make their own doors.

Still, I look forward to playing in any environment where this might be a thing. Some of the traps I've seen people make are just so damn clever, that it'd be a treat to be on the receiving end of them.
posted by quin at 9:52 AM on February 22, 2011


Haven't half height blocks been in it for a while now? Or is this something else?
posted by quin at 9:54 AM on February 22, 2011


BEDS!

Beds reset one's spawn point, yes?

Hip hip hooray o frabjus day!

Let Minecraft Expeditionary Force I BEGIN!

*gathers supplies, crafts diamond armor, builds boat, disappears for Parts Unknown*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:55 AM on February 22, 2011


Quin: Very true. That should be more half sized blocks.
posted by Mercaptan at 9:56 AM on February 22, 2011


The dungeon master could build stuff out of bedrock. And I guess have some similarly-impregnable materials for building doors, etc out of. Which I guess is what you are saying.

Maybe the blocks would have to remember who placed them and the DM's would always be sacrosanct.

Also: OMG beta 1.3 update just dropped.

Well there goes that room painting I was going to do IRL tonight.
posted by DU at 9:56 AM on February 22, 2011


Just read the announcement, three new half height blocks. Gotcha.

[on preview: yeah. Still Yay!]

posted by quin at 9:57 AM on February 22, 2011


I think you'll find thepinksuperhero was having a little joke, old thing
posted by Jofus at 9:57 AM on February 22, 2011


I broke the bed news on reddit DAYS ago.. you people are behind.
posted by empath at 9:57 AM on February 22, 2011


Notch's blog doesn't take comments anymore? The appearance of one-way communication is always a very bad sign in any project...
posted by DU at 9:59 AM on February 22, 2011


That Smithsonian voting site is like something out of Saw...

But at least they allow you to vote for Shadow of the Colossus. If I had to point to one videogame and call it art, it would be that one.
posted by de void at 9:59 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmmm. Notch's update doesn't say that beds reset the spawn point. Drat.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:02 AM on February 22, 2011


...hey Minepeople. When in game, press F3 - obtain magic powers.
posted by The Whelk at 10:03 AM on February 22, 2011


Also I using the seed Metafilter
posted by The Whelk at 10:04 AM on February 22, 2011


Notch's blog doesn't take comments anymore? The appearance of one-way communication is always a very bad sign in any project...

Pretend that every post is WHY DIDN'T YOU FIX THIS THING. WHERE ARE THE UPDATES WHY ARE YOU SO LAZY

Hmmm. Notch's update doesn't say that beds reset the spawn point. Drat.

That is planned for the next update.
posted by empath at 10:04 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also there is a spelling error on the pause screen
posted by The Whelk at 10:04 AM on February 22, 2011


Also, has this shading been the norm for a while now or have I been like 8 versions behind as usual?
posted by The Whelk at 10:06 AM on February 22, 2011


Nope, it's his implementation of the Better Light mod.
posted by empath at 10:07 AM on February 22, 2011


Oooh magic powers!
posted by Mister_A at 10:21 AM on February 22, 2011


Anyone else hear a new audio cue? Very odd, faint whooshing noise..no connection to what it is yet.
posted by The Whelk at 10:39 AM on February 22, 2011


Update! Yay! But. . this world must be converted? What is this, the second coming of the missionary saints? Also, damn, my fireplace has gone out.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:43 AM on February 22, 2011


Also, damn, my fireplace has gone out.

Does this mean that Netherrack no longer burns perpetually? If so, damn, there go my fire/cactus mob traps...
posted by acb at 10:46 AM on February 22, 2011


Holy shit, the newest, rarest, strongest, bestest material takes 20 minutes to harvest.
posted by The Whelk at 10:53 AM on February 22, 2011


Do you have to hold the button down the whole time or can you walk away and have a smoke?
posted by Mister_A at 10:59 AM on February 22, 2011


Nothing is better than diamond. Nothing.
posted by DU at 11:02 AM on February 22, 2011


So, there's beds, but don't warp yet? Waah. At least night will be less boring when I'm not near a mine.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:04 AM on February 22, 2011


"But I was carrying my first compass, my first watch, a load of diamonds and obsidian to make my first portal so death was not an option. When I broke out into the light I cheered a little bit."

*click*
*HISSSSSSSSS*
posted by markkraft at 11:05 AM on February 22, 2011


Oh, good, the Great Forest Fire (est 1903) will finally go out.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:06 AM on February 22, 2011


Yeah, all of my Burning Chunks 'O' Wood are now gone daddy gone.

This is both bad and good. It was lazy perimeter defense, sure, but dammit now I hafta build walls and lava moats and stuff.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:29 AM on February 22, 2011


WRT "exploring someplace no one else has seen before" there's a paper in one of the recent issues of Icarus calculating the likelihood of existence of ice caves on Mars. Total digression, I know. Still, it gives me chills to think about it.
posted by newdaddy at 11:46 AM on February 22, 2011


Just don't do what I did, and download the new launcher. Unless you want to be UNABLE to log in again, and instead be tormented by the shrieks of joy from your children, home on a snow day, who are smarter than you for not having bothered with it, and who are delirious with delight at the adorable beds and better lighting, while you are trapped in the futile loop of login -->try again --> login --> try again.
posted by mothershock at 11:55 AM on February 22, 2011


What makes minecraft even more challenging for me is that I have never had sound. So creepers are an even more unpleasant surprise than they would be ordinarily.

It is an alarming thing.
posted by winna at 12:09 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dammit, reading this thread got me fired up to play again after a few weeks off. But the damned game crashes when I try to open SIngleplayer. Anybody else having trouble (Mac, 10.5.8?)
posted by COBRA! at 12:46 PM on February 22, 2011


I've never been able to get it to run on my Mac (well, my OSX86 Frankenstein box) so I end up running it in Parallels. I'm actually kind of hoping that if there is a new loader, I can get away from this, but I won't know till I get home and the server problems have passed.
posted by quin at 12:48 PM on February 22, 2011


I just came here to ask the same thing, COBRA. It ran fine on my Mac yesterday.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:23 PM on February 22, 2011


No go on 10.5.8 on my machine here. Fine on 10.6.whatever. :(
posted by pjaust at 1:27 PM on February 22, 2011


I was finally able to log in -- runs fine on my 10.5.8, for what it's worth.
posted by mothershock at 1:29 PM on February 22, 2011


I can log in fine, it just crashes after clicking Singleplayer.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:37 PM on February 22, 2011


The Linux launcher is a Java archive. Maybe download it instead of the one for your platform? It'll run.
posted by LogicalDash at 1:38 PM on February 22, 2011


The new (linux) launcher also has been renamed from Minecraft.jar to minecraft.jar so it didn't even overwrite my old one. Plus it worked, so it didn't matter.

Why not copy the one from your kids' machine?
posted by DU at 2:18 PM on February 22, 2011


Holy shit, the newest, rarest, strongest, bestest material takes 20 minutes to harvest.

Wait, what? What material is this?
posted by lekvar at 2:23 PM on February 22, 2011


Ah, you're right -- multiplayer works fine in 10.5.8, but singleplayer crashes.
posted by mothershock at 2:26 PM on February 22, 2011


Turned out to be a hoax!

Boooo.
posted by The Whelk at 2:26 PM on February 22, 2011


The Whelk: Also I using the seed Metafilter

The name of the world also affects the world gen, if you want repeatability. (I tried one named "seed test (Whelk)" with seed "Metafilter" and it spawned me next to a nerdpole on a hill, looking like some war monument. Natural, apparently, but the Him discussion made me give it a funny look for a while...)
posted by Upton O'Good at 2:39 PM on February 22, 2011


I want to name my band Existentialist Legos. But I imagine I'd get sued.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:00 PM on February 22, 2011


Whelk, what turned out to be a hoax?
posted by rebent at 3:09 PM on February 22, 2011


the new material thing
posted by The Whelk at 3:16 PM on February 22, 2011


ah
posted by rebent at 3:46 PM on February 22, 2011


OK good so no smoking for me then.
posted by Mister_A at 3:47 PM on February 22, 2011


OS X 10.58 person here. I bought it, but it keeps saying "user not premium" when I log in. Clicking Options does nothing. Sad panda status achieved.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:07 PM on February 22, 2011


Having just paid for it after lusting after it for quite a while, I can tell you the new lighting actually runs better on the old crappy graphics on my Thinkpad (Intel GMA 945). Now I have no excuse not to waste endless hours of productivity!
posted by tmt at 4:11 PM on February 22, 2011


I just checked Reddit's same seed experiment. It turns out your spawn position differs, but not your world. If everyone walks to the same coordinates, they'll see the same objects.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:27 PM on February 22, 2011


Single Player crashes under OS X 10.5.8 using the Mac launcher, the Linux launcher, and even in the browser. Lame.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:44 PM on February 22, 2011


mccarty.tim: I just checked Reddit's same seed experiment. It turns out your spawn position differs, but not your world. If everyone walks to the same coordinates, they'll see the same objects.

Crap, just tested it, you're right. Ignore my nonsense about the world name. (The natural nerdpole's at [x=80, z=90], if anyone's curious.)
posted by Upton O'Good at 5:23 PM on February 22, 2011


"Single Player crashes under OS X 10.5.8 using the Mac launcher, the Linux launcher, and even in the browser. Lame."

Maybe you should try Firefox.
posted by markkraft at 5:30 PM on February 22, 2011


Anyway, here are some Minecraft Youtubes that I've been wanting to post in a thread, but don't really warrant their own:

A bunch of angry neckbeards have written a pretty comprehensive cheat engine for the SMP game. A good reason to not have a public server.

Real-life Minecraft. Pretty awesome. Really impressive special effects.
posted by codacorolla at 5:34 PM on February 22, 2011


that griefing video does not make me happy
posted by rebent at 5:39 PM on February 22, 2011


Jesus, that's vile.
posted by lekvar at 6:21 PM on February 22, 2011


And it's BORING. God, Apork had like bombs and traps and hidden mob spawners and a forest fire. These dorks just punched shit. Laaaaaaame.
posted by The Whelk at 6:24 PM on February 22, 2011


The update ran fine on my Mac. OSX 10.6.6.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:30 PM on February 22, 2011


yeah the griefers are humorously lame.
posted by Severian at 6:34 PM on February 22, 2011


"Apork had like bombs and traps and hidden mob spawners and a forest fire. These dorks just punched shit. Laaaaaaame."

It would've been amusing to see them unobtrusively enter people's buildings, and rig them to explode, burn, or basically be blacked out and filled to the brim with mob spawners...

... but despite the pain that would cause, I don't think the intent was to be entertaining. Any real creative effort in what they were doing would've been trashed by a restore anyway. That said, if they're serious about causing long-term grief, filling the world with boobytraps that wouldn't be triggered too often / detected too soon, but which would cause serious damage would be highly effective, in that the options would be losing what was damaged, or losing potentially days worth of work. Good argument for the baddies to create an unobtrusive mob harvester on the server and creating buttloads of TNT...

Still, why they didn't set the big wooden boat on fire though completely eludes me, as it would've been quicker, unstoppable, and looked brilliant.
posted by markkraft at 6:38 PM on February 22, 2011


Dang can't connect!
posted by Mister_A at 7:13 PM on February 22, 2011


Huuuy. This thread got me back to playing with news of beds. I could make a bedroom! So I started a new world, had a nice little three room place build into the side of a cliff.

Creeper drops from above and blows the front off the place the third day.

Lately I've only been playing to try out the new stuff. Inevitably a creeper blows the front off of whatever I'm working on. I usually don't have to heart to go back and try to fix things. Blerg. I know it probably happens to most people, but it still feels so damned personal. Well, I'll guess I'll not play until something new and cool catches my eye. Notch's Twitter says that they're going to add a food meter. Scary!
posted by Mister Cheese at 12:24 AM on February 23, 2011


For people being griefed by Creepers and other inconvenient monsters: you can erase all existing ones and prevent more from spawning by changing the difficulty to Easy. There's no shame in this if you're focused on building something neat. I mean, why allow your structures to be stalked by walking pipe bombs and confine yourself to your home base for half of every day? It's as silly as leaving the disaster toggle on in SimCity, letting random tornadoes and fires wreck your expensive buildings and distract you from getting your zoning just so.

The looming danger of nightfall is a nice touch when you're first starting out and scrambling to build basic tools and carve out a crude shelter before it's too late, but once you've moved from "DIG A HOLE" to "add crown molding to the Eastern Antechamber," it's just an annoyance. Do yourself a favor and save the monsters for when you want to explore a new cave.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:26 AM on February 23, 2011


After all of that, it seems that my six year old laptop with integrated graphics (Intel's drivers for my chip are around 14.nn, the OEM Toshiba drivers? 6.n, last updated in 2006) just isn't good enough for Minecraft. Something about OpenGL, or somesuch, and then nothing.

Any ideas?
posted by Ghidorah at 2:02 AM on February 23, 2011


Just so we are certain and mine craft aside - That was one of the coolest things I have ever read on the internet.

Including mine craft? That piece of prose may well have been the most fantastic "Gaming Moment" in my life.
posted by Cogentesque at 2:36 AM on February 23, 2011


I actually usually play on Peaceful because waiting all night before I can go out and build is a hassle. The Bed feature basically recreates this, only you don't even have to work in the dark at night.
posted by DU at 4:52 AM on February 23, 2011


The looming danger of nightfall is a nice touch when you're first starting out and scrambling to build basic tools and carve out a crude shelter before it's too late, but once you've moved from "DIG A HOLE" to "add crown molding to the Eastern Antechamber," it's just an annoyance.

Though, surely, by this time, you'd have arranged it so the Eastern Antechamber is sufficiently sealed off from any mob spawning grounds to keep hostile mobs well away.
posted by acb at 6:08 AM on February 23, 2011


Mine craft meets old spice guy
posted by The Whelk at 6:25 AM on February 23, 2011


Seeing signs that they may have fixed the problem for Mac 10.5 types.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:57 AM on February 23, 2011


Ghidorah, are your video drivers up to date? That usually resolves OpenGL issues.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:41 AM on February 24, 2011


I got into bed on a multiplayer server and was immediately blown up upon waking up. Apparently creepers don't sleep, they just wait for you to open your eyes.
posted by tmt at 11:42 AM on February 24, 2011


tmt, the way it's coded, if it's at all possible for a hostile mob to reach you when you go to sleep, you'll wake up immediately and a hostile mob will spawn next to you. Because of Murphey's Law, it's bound to be a creeper.

Basically, what you want to do is put your bed in a house.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:58 AM on February 24, 2011


That actually makes some kind of perverted sense. The beds were in an open chamber that led to 3 long mine tunnels. I figured that since everything was really well lit we were safe. I was betrayed by the light!
posted by tmt at 2:20 PM on February 24, 2011


Tubbypaws: Minecraft Papercraft.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 3:51 PM on February 27, 2011


I have one of these dirt blocks on my desk at work. One of the only benefits of working in the printing industry is plenty of paper to play with!
posted by lekvar at 4:59 PM on February 27, 2011


empath: "Minecraft quantum mechanics."

Conclusive proof of dual wave/particle nature of the chicken.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:57 PM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dammit, Rhaomi, I was just gonna post that. But I got sidetracked trying to build a chicken cannon.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:36 PM on March 3, 2011


C418's official Minecraft soundtrack now available for $4 purchase or free streaming on Bandcamp.com (via)
posted by Rhaomi at 1:04 PM on March 4, 2011


This piece of information has improved my Mac OSX Minecrafting no end.
posted by Jofus at 8:20 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking of which Jofus, I think I gifted you a bunch of random crap when I was drunkcrafting.

Carry on.
posted by The Whelk at 8:56 AM on March 5, 2011


The chest of stuff from The Lakeside Beautification Wossname? Much appreciated! (Did you see I built a Community Theatre up behind that little house of mine?)
posted by Jofus at 3:51 AM on March 6, 2011


I saw! There should be a very blocky production of Romeo and julet or something.
posted by The Whelk at 6:13 AM on March 6, 2011


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