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Walking to The Far Lands in Minecraft
February 6, 2014 6:03 AM   Subscribe

Simon Parkin writes 1600 words for The New Yorker online about The Far Lands or Bust!, an ongoing effort to walk to the end of a world in Minecraft. [via Boing Boing]

The Far Lands have been mentioned previously but never appeared on their own before.
posted by cgc373 (45 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
I really like this...but! He quit his job and does this full time, yet has only traveled 180 hours in the past 3 years? Wowzers!
posted by Literaryhero at 6:21 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Given how much time some people (cue Venn diagram showing overlap among kids/college students/unemployed folks) sink into doing stuff on Minecraft, I'm surprised that nobody has figured out how to hack the game into just procedurally-generating an entire world all at once (creating some kind of monster multi-terabyte gamesave file in the process) and then just spawn their character a few meters from the "edge."
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:39 AM on February 6


People have done exactly that, Strange Interlude. You can use a "server command" to teleport yourself to an coordinates you want, and if you appear at a location, Minecraft will generate the terrain around you. Behold, the Far Lands. However, this guy is about the journey, not the destination. I just hope he's updating his client as he goes, or he'll miss out on some of those sweet new biomes.
posted by Jimbob at 6:43 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


There's something magical and poetic about this. A lone man's quest to the end of the world in a video game which starts as a lonely endeavor, then brings him financial independence and respect from his peers.
As his quest progresses and the Minecraft universe slowly collapses around him, the player's perceptions of the real world get glitchier and stranger. One morning, he mysteriously disappears from the face of the earth, and forever becomes an internet legend.
Years after, Minecraft players straying too far from the spawn point still whisper of the glimpses they get of a strange character and his wolf, oddly resembling real life Kurt J Mac...
posted by Riton at 6:43 AM on February 6 [13 favorites]


Hmm based on that Minecraft Wiki I just linked, it appears that if he updates his client, the Far Lands would no longer exist. So he's on an anachronistic journey now.
posted by Jimbob at 6:45 AM on February 6


Nothing makes me feel old and out of touch quite like Minecraft.
posted by diogenes at 6:46 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


I tried to do this manually back in the beta stage, just sailing forever into the ocean. It was really dull though, islands seemed to get scarcer and scarcer, and I didn't have the patience to boat on back. So there's a me in some saved game that's been stuck in a rowboat far out at sea for two years. It's terrifying to think about really. So I won't.
posted by msalt at 6:47 AM on February 6 [14 favorites]


This guy has incredible patience. I don't know how many Kerbals I've smeared against the surface of the Mun because I was too impatient to walk a few hundred meters and instead used my jetpack to move around, only to hit the ground while moving too quickly.

I love the idea of exploring a giant virtual world. It's like Lewis and Clark, only without any actual danger and maybe done while wearing pajamas.
posted by bondcliff at 6:52 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Jimbob "I just hope he's updating his client as he goes, or he'll miss out on some of those sweet new biomes."

Nope, Kurt is still on the version he started with. After he started FLOB there was a code change to Minecraft's rendering engine that dramatically increased the distance to where the Far Lands begin.

Kurt's other Lets Play series are well worth watching, if you're into that sort of thing. In particular I would recommend his F1 2012 Co-op with VintageBeef and Kerbal Space Program series.
posted by I Havent Killed Anybody Since 1984 at 6:55 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Also, the FLOB website has a "World Map", a google maps-ish visualization of the journey, which covers episodes 1 to 182.

Kurt (Mac?) talks about this New Yorker piece in FLOB episode 318: YouTube
posted by I Havent Killed Anybody Since 1984 at 7:13 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Has he died at any point on the quest? Presumably he occasionally builds a bed to reset his spawn point?
posted by 256 at 7:17 AM on February 6


Yes, he regularly builds beds to sleep through the night, and at the end of each episode he builds a "hidy hole". You can see the space between "hidy holes" in my World Map link above.
posted by I Havent Killed Anybody Since 1984 at 7:19 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


The linked video starts with him standing next to a bed. (With a custom blanket? It's been a while since I've played.)
posted by Room 641-A at 7:22 AM on February 6


Whoa. Stringworld.
posted by Mister_A at 7:41 AM on February 6


Nothing makes me feel old and out of touch quite like Minecraft.

I mean, it freaks me out that like 8-year-olds are getting really into it, but it's a fun game. Play it! You can build a tree fort or a mountain stronghold, it's fun.
posted by vogon_poet at 8:03 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Nothing makes me feel old and out of touch quite like Minecraft.

For me the thing that makes me feel old is knowing that my deep knowledge of Minecraft is now itself years out of date. I'm sitting on very blocky rocking chair bullshitting wistfully about the Good Old Days.
posted by cortex at 8:14 AM on February 6 [19 favorites]


I mean, it freaks me out that like 8-year-olds are getting really into it, but it's a fun game. Play it! You can build a tree fort or a mountain stronghold, it's fun.

My 8-year-old's entire life pretty much revolves around Minecraft, with occasional forays into other video games. For Christmas he wanted a laptop so he could play more effectively...and nothing else. His Legos are covered in dust and he never touches action figures. We do make him do outdoor things and go places with us to do real-world interaction, and he does creative pretend play with his friends (that usually involves Minecraft plots), but we might as well give away the rest of his toys. It makes birthdays and Christmas kind of a pain, where other relatives are concerned. You can buy Minecraft t-shirts and stuff, but he doesn't really care about those either.

His childhood is on such a different planet than mine.
posted by emjaybee at 8:31 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


it freaks me out that like 8-year-olds are getting really into it

That's one thing that I've noticed.. Minecraft started out in 2010 as kind of a nerd game, but seems to be slowly evolving into a kids game. I don't know if that's because the adults are abandoning it, the kids are finding it, or Mojang is intentionally steering the product toward the kids. Back when I played on Aporkalypse server (which was under the wing of MetaFilter and MFC), it was open to all who could write a good application, and I don't remember a whole lot of kids signing up at all. Since last year I gradually moved last year to Wooden Axe, which is a staunchly 18+ server, and they're having to almost barricade the door to keep the kids out.

Not that I have anything against kids, but it removes one major element of having to screen for trolls and griefers, and it's nice to get online with other adults that I have a lot in common with.
posted by crapmatic at 8:34 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


He has in fact not died yet. In fact, he still has the original diamond sword he created before leaving the spawn area, the "Diamond Sword of Spawnpointyness".

His companion, the tamed wolf Wolfie did "die" once -- he glitched and disappeared. Because it was due to a glitch, Kurt mounted a Doctor-Who themed rescue attempt episode which made me cry at the time.

Kurt is the best.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:54 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


That's one thing that I've noticed.. Minecraft started out in 2010 as kind of a nerd game, but seems to be slowly evolving into a kids game. I don't know if that's because the adults are abandoning it, the kids are finding it, or Mojang is intentionally steering the product toward the kids.

Just to put it in perspective, Minecraft just recently celebrated 14 million copies of the PC game sold, becoming the fourth best-selling video game of all time.
The above means that the total cross-format sales of the game now stands at a staggering 36-million copies between PS3, Xbox 360, PC and mobile formats.[...]It’s now the fourth-best selling PC game of all time, drawing level with World of Warcraft and only beaten by the first two Sims. It remains the only indie-developed title in the top 30 best-selling PC games
It is a kids game and an adults game, but according to one study, teenagers rule:
Minecraft is, essentially, the gaming version of youtube.com; a social interaction that has exploded onto the gaming scene and has transcended the typical boundaries of gaming. The player demographics within Minecraft can reveal a lot about the popularity of this game. For instance, the largest demographic is that of 15-21 year old’s, which comprise a vast 43% of the player base. the 22-30 year old age bracket consists of just over 21% of the base. Rounding out the top three is the under 15 age bracket, which averages to 20.59%. The lowest player demographics happen to rest with the 61-80 age brackets, which is to be expected. While these numbers may not seem wholly important on their own, it’s essential to understand that they can tell a lot about the types of people the game is aimed towards. These numbers show that, while gamers of all ages play this game, it’s typically played by teenagers, as they comprise over 60% of total players.

While teenagers may be the central demographic, the overall numbers are a bit misleading at face value. The two most important numbers within all of them are the under 15 and over 30 numbers. The fact that over 20% of the Minecraft player base are children and young teenagers should not be ignored, even if the 15-21 percentage is higher. Most video games tend to do well with either children or young adults, but rarely both. This fact displays that it isn’t merely one demographic that this game does well with, but a variety. This is also true with the over 30 age brackets, as nearly 15% of players being over the age of thirty is a superb number for any game. The last reported number of copies sold of this game sit at just over 33 million, which means that nearly five million players are over the age of thirty.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:01 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


I think one reason it's a huge kid's game is because it's a game parents can play with their kids without losing their minds.
posted by corb at 9:05 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I would like to propose "indeed" be added to the tags.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:06 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Sure, why not, Celsius1414.
posted by cgc373 at 9:09 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Yeah my kids learned it from me, for sure.
posted by Mister_A at 9:19 AM on February 6


cortex: "Nothing makes me feel old and out of touch quite like Minecraft.

For me the thing that makes me feel old is knowing that my deep knowledge of Minecraft is now itself years out of date. I'm sitting on very blocky rocking chair bullshitting wistfully about the Good Old Days.
"

It's kind of a glorious opportunity, if you think about it. I never thought I'd be able to tell a ten-year-old and an eight-year-old "you know, I remember a time before beds" and mean it.

I also got to feel like a guardian of forgotten lore when I showed them how to build a portal to the Nether.
posted by invitapriore at 9:20 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Nothing makes me feel old and out of touch quite like Minecraft.

I mean, it freaks me out that like 8-year-olds are getting really into it, but it's a fun game. Play it! You can build a tree fort or a mountain stronghold, it's fun.


I've played it a little. I get the allure. But I don't get why my friend's five-year-old son prefers watching stampylonghead vidoes over any other activity. I watched an episode with him and it left me deeply confused.
posted by diogenes at 9:35 AM on February 6


I think one reason it's a huge kid's game is because it's a game parents can play with their kids without losing their minds.

Would I be wise or unwise to introduce it to my five-year-old daughter? It seems like a good creative activity that we could do together, but I worry that it would eclipse all other activities.
posted by diogenes at 9:39 AM on February 6


Would I be wise or unwise to introduce it to my five-year-old daughter? It seems like a good ceative activity that we could do together, but I worry that it would eclipse all other activities.

It's not THAT addictive. It's pretty much like lego, but cheaper and more interactive. Some kids are obsessed with lego, some aren't.
posted by bbqturtle at 9:52 AM on February 6


The great thing about Minecraft is that each player can find their own little gameplay niche. Some people are master builders, others love the mechanics of growing crops and animal husbandry, or building complex logic circuits with Redstone, and some players just like to beat the sh!t out of each other on PVP servers.

I think it's fantastic that my 11-year-old and I can play it together. He likes to gather resources and fend off the monsters, and I get to build wacky little castles and stuff.
posted by monospace at 9:59 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I think one reason it's a huge kid's game is because it's a game parents can play with their kids without losing their minds.

I think the ability to play in "peaceful" mode is also a factor for most parents I know.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:11 AM on February 6


The fact that this guy can make a living doing nothing more than exploring a virtual world makes my brain fucking ache.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:23 AM on February 6


It's not (just) about the game. In the version Kurt is using---playing isn't the right word---the world is quite repetitive. See one or two episodes, and you've seen most all of the visuals he's going to show in the series.

Part of the attraction is the gimmick. It's right at the edge of achievable. If he keeps going he might make it in a decade or two (or three). This is a folly, self-acknowledged, by some lights a trivial thing to do, but one that will require enormous dedication to finish.

People keep coming back because he's interesting to listen to. Minecraft is the visual and the primary "reason" for the series, but, at its core, he's vlogging. He has a voice well-suited to voice-over or radio work and enough to say that he keeps his audience engaged.

On the other hand, Minecraft has a real purpose for the vlog too. It provides a continuous serene flow of new visuals, interesting but same enough that they don't detract from what he has to say. The terrain may cause him to stop for a second and remark on it---MC can through up some really nice sights every now and then---but then allows him to get back to what he was talking about. The journey pulls him back into the game occasionally, providing breaks in his commentary. I find it considerably more interesting than just looking at a talking head.
posted by bonehead at 11:16 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


The fact that this guy can make a living doing nothing more than exploring a virtual world makes my brain fucking ache.

Make a living entertaining thousands of people combined with raising over $100,000 for charity. Not too shabby.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:20 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


If you play Minecraft and haven't yet tried modding it, you should. There are approximately a billion mods that add all kinds of crazy and interesting stuff to the game. Some of the modpacks now will automatically download and install everything and keep it all separate from the core game, so you can switch between them easily.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:31 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I mean, it freaks me out that like 8-year-olds are getting really into it, but it's a fun game.

I just want to say that, judging from the birthday party we were at last weekend, eight year olds are really into it. (And so am I.)
posted by The Bellman at 11:41 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


The video thing is huge. There's a kid a church who found out I play Minecraft and always wants to talk to me about it. Mostly he's not talking about his own gaming, but about what his favorite Minecraft video bloggers are up to.

My favorite kids-playing-Minecraft story comes from the Idle Thumbs Podcast where someone tells of a friend's kid who, like lots of kids, makes videos of himself playing. His mom discovered this when she heard voices in his room and went in to find him playing Minecraft while narrating and commenting on what he was doing in a British accent.

Yep. Yogscast and other British Minecraft video bloggers are so popular that apparently there are kids who just think that's the way you're supposed to talk when you talk about Minecraft.
posted by straight at 12:44 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


My son is five and is a huge minecraft fan. I think he likes watching Joe Hills play Minecraft as much if not more than he likes playing it himself.
posted by drezdn at 1:04 PM on February 6


Are any of the well-known youtubers mefites? if I could casually drop into conversation that I knew the Sky Does Minecraft guy from Metafilter... Well let's just say it would give me a level of credibility with my children that I do not currently enjoy.
posted by selfmedicating at 1:30 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


My almost-16 year old is hugely into Minecraft, for Christmas he asked for a gaming headset so he could voice chat over TeamSpeak with other 'crafters on some of the public servers he enjoys playing in. He was made a mod and then an admin on two different servers, which utterly blows my mind because this is the same kid who doesn't consistently remember to close the refrigerator door IRL, yet I can hear him from the other room calmly giving a griefer a first warning.

My son is good with a banhammer, who knew? Makes a mom proud.
posted by jamaro at 3:18 PM on February 6 [10 favorites]


What?? There are things to look at in this game?? I tried playing it once like two years ago and just saw a bunch of weird pixellated cubes and I exploded them for a while and then got super bored and gave up. The end.
posted by Mooseli at 4:48 PM on February 6


Minecraft started out in 2010 as kind of a nerd game, but seems to be slowly evolving into a kids game.

Like you, I started out early, getting in on the alpha version, playing on Aporkalypse with you. I'm amazed, astounded by how big it is now, especially with kids. My 7yo son's into it. At school, him and the other kids "play Minecraft" on the playground, pretending to be zombies and skeletons. He want to a Minecraft birthday party last year.

And the influence on servers is felt. I've gone off the Aporkalypse in recent months, partly because of stability issues with it, low player counts, and the fact that my main interest in Minecraft is playing with all the new stuff when a new version is released, and Aporkalypse seems to be perpetually 6 months behind the curve. So I started playing on my ISP's server, which is freely available to all customers.

Compared to the experience on Aporkalypse, it was very, very strange. The first thing was all the technically-enforced rules. Protected zones. Protected chests. I guess we were lucky on Aporkalypse to have a good community of people who were mature enough to be excellent to each other.

But the next thing I noticed was the way people spoke to each other in chat.
hi r u coming 2 are house???
were r u?
i met u their if u give me a dimond sord
oo!!!
help me help em is their an admin i need help
i need help i lost my stuff can u get it bak for me
HELP!!!!!! i need my stuff bak were our u tp 2 me
At first I sat there thinking, wow, how dumb are these people? Where the hell did they come from? How do they tie their shoes in the morning?

Then I suddenly realized. I'm probably online with a bunch of 6 year olds. They probably can't tie their shoes. You wouldn't guess their age from what they're building though.
posted by Jimbob at 5:27 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


I've only ever dabbled in Minecraft, and not in years at this point. The game I remember was much more rudimentary, though it was always obvious to me why it could be popular with just about all ages. As everyone, says: The same sort of thing that makes kids excited about Legos. In fact, watching it turn from merely a "nerd sensation" as someone put it earlier into the juggernaut made me feel really good.

I never played a whole ton of it though because I could never think of a project to do in the game that would hold my interest for very long. That said, I'd tour Aporkalypse (never modify anything just explore what others had done), and would watch the occasional let's play or tour videos.

I'd never heard of this particular series and it sounds really interesting. Much like with those half-finished strongholds I'd built, I dunno if I'll watch all of it, but I'll definitely watch some of it.
posted by sparkletone at 11:03 PM on February 6


PS. I'd always found the generated geography to be in its way quite beautiful, even before they added the more advanced biome stuff. I think that's another reason I'm so interested in watching this.
posted by sparkletone at 11:11 PM on February 6


The geography is why I keep coming back - the feeling you get when you walk out of the forest and see the (square) sun rising over a (blocky) plain, rolling hills, a snow-capped mountain beyond. And knowing you're the first person to ever see that view. There's something primordial about it. And the new biomes just keep giving - I finally found a mesa biome the other day - stunning. It's pretty endless what they can do with it if they wanted - the "More Biomes" mod adds some fantastic stuff. I'd personally like to see some Australian biomes - tall eucalypt forest, rolling red sand dunes, shrublands. Maybe one day.
posted by Jimbob at 2:59 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


I'm a huge Minecraft fan, despite not having a lot of time to play it. I just started a Hexxit server up with some friends, and it's a great time, like coming home.
posted by X-Himy at 6:46 AM on February 7


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