Beyond Vanilla
January 26, 2012 8:54 PM   Subscribe

Minecraft was officially released a few months, back, but that doesn't mean that the game still isn't being updated. Aside from new features like Kitties and Jungles being added in the latest update, there are hundreds of active mods available which are updated constantly.

The most popular ones are created with an API called The Forge, so they're all mostly compatible with each other if you like to mix and match.

Buildcraft adds a transport system using pipes, oil, refineries, combustion engines, quarries and systems to automatically build structures and craft items.

IndustrialCraft adds nuclear and solar power, and tons of new industrial machinery for mass production and new items, weapons and armor to craft.

Red Power adds integrated logic circuits, more colors of redstone wire, colored lights and a bunch of other features.

Better Than Wolves (not Forge compatible) introduces mechanical power from windmills and water wheels, pottery, hemp, elevators, a bunch of utility blocks and focuses on gameplay balance and staying within the flavor of the original game., it also allows some great automated systems.

Mo' Creatures adds tons of new creatures.

Computercraft adds fully functional computers.

Millenaire adds actually useful NPC villages.

The Aether mod added a whole new realm of air.

Smart moving makes Steve a lot more nimble, giving him the ability to crawl, dive and climb.

If you want even more mods, the Yogscast-- when they aren't doing new episodes of their long running Let's Play epic "The Shadows of Israphel"-- have reviewed dozens of mods, and the Minecraft Forums have hundreds more.

And if you don't want to go through all the trouble of building your own worlds, there are also dozens of "Adventure Maps" available for download, which turn minecraft into a more traditional adventure game, complete with complicated narratives, epic battles and jumping puzzles.
posted by empath (68 comments total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
Mine craft ....kittens?

How did you know I sprained my ankle?
posted by The Whelk at 9:01 PM on January 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

I haven't played Minecraft since just before they added Endermen, and am increasingly intimidated and lost whenever I browse the /r/minecraft subreddit. And I'm apparently not alone.

Are there any decent guides out there that explain what's been added since Beta ~1.7 for people who were already familiar with the game? And uh, can I actually play the current version without screwing up my precious map files?
posted by Rhaomi at 9:02 PM on January 26, 2012

I would start a new world if you haven't played for a while. It won't 'break' it exactly, but they keep changing the terrain generation which will cause weird things to happen if you walk to a new part of the map.

The minecraft wiki is always up to date with the most recent version.

Here's the changelog.
posted by empath at 9:04 PM on January 26, 2012

I haven't tried any mods yet, because the rigmarole you have to go through to install them, just to have them break again once the next update comes out annoys me greatly. Well, yeah, I know it's not that hard to install mods. It's just annoying. Especially since we're now, what, six months past Notch declaring he would enable 3rd party modding / release the source code?

I hope Minecraft gets to the stage where mods are downloadable and installable within-game using some kind of package manager. Where you can connect to a SMP server, and a message will pop up saying "This server requires Aether Mod, download and install?". It would bring an entire new level of brilliance to the game.
posted by Jimbob at 9:09 PM on January 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you have modloader, a lot of mods are pretty much drag and drop. You can also not update when new minecraft versions come out. I'm still a couple of versions back because I haven't wanted to update Better Than Wolves.
posted by empath at 9:10 PM on January 26, 2012

With all these mods and the constant updating of content I'm more with Zero Punctuation in that z,ine raft isn't do much a game as it's a genre or something.
posted by The Whelk at 9:10 PM on January 26, 2012

Matt Damon!
posted by Windopaene at 9:13 PM on January 26, 2012 [7 favorites]

Oh, I forgot the graphics mods that I had intended to put in the FPP:

Optifine improves the graphics and performance a great deal.

This water shader is amazing.

And last, Sonic Ether's Shaders add real time shadows and other amazing graphics effects.
posted by empath at 9:14 PM on January 26, 2012

I think it's super-cool that Minecraft has turned into such a collaborative thing. I hope the devs start pulling some of that code in from the community. They've had some really neat ideas.

Seems like it's moving faster since Notch delegated the project to one of his cohorts. With a new lead dev, it seems to be under good steam.

You know, the Minecraft wiki just bugs me. I dunno what it is about it, but they are just superb at 'explaining' something while remaining absolutely opaque. It's so bad that I sometimes wonder if they deliberately go out of their way to be obtuse. I've shaken my head several times, and wondered if it would be possible to possible to explain something worse, if you actively tried to be confusing. The redstone circuitry stuff is particularly bad. Redstone circuits aren't actually that hard, but the wiki makes it sound like nuclear physics.

I suppose I shouldn't complain, since I didn't take the time to write anything myself, but still.
posted by Malor at 9:23 PM on January 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Minecraft has hit modageddon for me- I can't remotely imagine diving into the game when I know the inevitable result will be that I'll install 20+ mods, and spend basically no time doing anything but poking about and trying to get them to actually work. Plus- if I install a mod that adds a bunch of craftable items, the result seems to always be massive flipping back and forth between the game and the documentation for how to get anything done.

I did a lot of Morrowind modding, but it was possible to add mods to the game, forget about them, and then be pleasantly surprised when some element of one appeared. It feels like some Minecraft mods just add craptons of things to craft, and you have to spend lots of time reading the docs on them to use them.

On the other hand, is there a siege engine mod...?
posted by BungaDunga at 9:34 PM on January 26, 2012

If you're just going to install one, install Better then Wolves. It's fairly intuitive, stays in the theme of the game, and has a very smooth and natural progression, and the guy that designs it is an actual professional game designer, so he tends to add items that actually add new and interesting game mechanics, and are less 'wouldn't it be cool if'.
posted by empath at 9:39 PM on January 26, 2012

You know, the Minecraft wiki just bugs me. I dunno what it is about it, but they are just superb at 'explaining' something while remaining absolutely opaque.

It's a combination of being written by people for whom English is a second language, and especially the restone sections, being written by computer science majors.
posted by empath at 9:40 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Minecraft is fun, but I just can't get over the whole uselessness of it all. I mean, simcity was useless, but at least they gave you arbitrary goals. Minecraft is just fun and useless and THAT'S IT. Of course, that hasn't stopped my friends from creating pirate ships and skysubways and what have you, but I just can't get over the total lack of game of the whole thing. I just can't get over it. I guess that's my loss :(
posted by Afroblanco at 9:41 PM on January 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

A few of my favourite maps:

Survival Island was probably one of the most popular maps. A small island, with apparently few resources. Survive as best you can. It's been "retired" by it's author, but you can find a copy of it here.

Skyblock was it's most notable successor and even simpler: survive and thrive starting from a small island in the sky.

And lastly, Vech's Super Hostile maps. They live up to their name. They are also some of the most visually stunning and imaginative I've seen for the un-moded vanilla game. His maps are puzzle survival and lots of ultra-violence. Just remember, Vechs hates you and he wants you to die.
posted by bonehead at 9:41 PM on January 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

Minecraft is just fun and useless and THAT'S IT.

Minecraft is a toy, not a game. It's like a top, or Legos, or a rocking horse... something that's supposed to be inherently fun to tinker with. If you want to then play an actual game with your toy, you can do so, but it's all up to you to define.

I get kinda bored with singleplayer, but multiplayer is fun -- you can show off your creations to all and sundry.
posted by Malor at 9:44 PM on January 26, 2012

My withered husk greets you from last year's Minecraft thread. Curse this game and everything I have built in it over the last 16 months. Never again will I ... Oooooooh kitties!
posted by Aquaman at 10:10 PM on January 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

And, of course, there's Mine Little Pony. Simon and Lewis have a go.
posted by bonehead at 10:15 PM on January 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Goddammit. It's not enough that I haven't yet found a mooshroom biome, now there's all this to add to the to-do list.

If you don't see me in a week on the blue, send a cadaver dog.
posted by zennish at 10:40 PM on January 26, 2012

I would start a new world if you haven't played for a while. It won't 'break' it exactly, but they keep changing the terrain generation which will cause weird things to happen if you walk to a new part of the map.
Two things will happen: One is that the terrain generation will create a sharp boundary when it starts generating new terrain in 16x16 chunks. I.e. in the middle of the ocean a sheer wall 30 blocks high might rise.

The other is that the biomes suddenly are off. Your lush land might get covered in snow, which happened to our family SMP server when we upgraded to 1.0.
posted by Harald74 at 10:50 PM on January 26, 2012

Damn, I totally forgot about the mooshroom biome. I hope I keep forgetting about it so that when I finally encounter one I'll be surprised.
posted by brundlefly at 10:51 PM on January 26, 2012

Minecraft is all about multiplayer. It's been the single most addicting game that's ever hit our household. I haven't played it for many months, but my kids, and the kdis of my friends, are COMPETELY AND UTTERLY SLAVES TO IT. The pointlessness of it is the whole point. You can do anything.
posted by unSane at 10:56 PM on January 26, 2012

[Obligatory MefightClub/Aporkalypse plug]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:01 PM on January 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Now I can't play it anymore, due to the need for a giant cat burial complex each time one dies by accident. And the need for insane over-the-top retribution against anyone who kills one. Lava. TNT. Imprisonment inside an obsidian box beneath the sea.
posted by Zarkonnen at 12:53 AM on January 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

Does anyone else, having finished reading a wiki article, automatically hit Esc, as though that would somehow close it and return you to the game?

Just me, then.
posted by Segundus at 1:10 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had heard of Minecraft but really had no idea what it was. From the appearance of it from few screenshots/videos of the game I've seen in the past I though it was some ancient game with a cult following. Just looked it up on Wikipedia to figure out what the hell it was all about and realized it was only released a few years ago. It's pretty ugly, but from what I gather the appeal is all in the gameplay?
posted by Defenestrator at 2:06 AM on January 27, 2012

I thought it was some ancient game

I'd say it looks about 1993? Back then they would have claimed it was 'virtual reality', not really legitimately. People would have watched the sun set open-mouthed at the incredible realism.
posted by Segundus at 2:31 AM on January 27, 2012

It's pretty ugly

It is gorgeous.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:54 AM on January 27, 2012 [12 favorites]

ClimateCraft is a mod that integrates carbon emissions into Minecraft, using real scientific data, built to demonstrate green data firm Amee's carbon-calculations API.
When you burn some wood in a furnace, the mod calls out to AMEEconnect to do a calculation, and adds the result to a tracker in-game. As the carbon ticks up, the environment gets more and more polluted as the skies go dark and the clouds come down. OK, not entirely accurate, but an effective visual indicator!

...Of course, there are also ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Plant a tree, and AMEEconnect will work out how much carbon was taken up by the tree growing and reduce the tracker by that amount. After a long day of mining and smelting, you’ll have to go plant a few trees to keep the weather nice.
posted by memebake at 2:59 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's pretty ugly, but from what I gather the appeal is all in the gameplay?

Once your mind adapts itself to the blocky visuals, it is a touchingly beautiful game. The first time you have time to watch sunrise from a safe place, or the first time you discover a torchlit underground waterfall, its pretty amazing. Minecraft has a specific visual language that you need to inhabit for a bit to understand.
posted by memebake at 3:03 AM on January 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

Minecraft is an actual game now. It's got a victory condition and everything. All that's changed is that there's a final boss that you can kill to get an ending screen.

I'm insinuating that the difference between a game and a toy has more to do with how the player approaches it than with what the developer does.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:06 AM on January 27, 2012

It's pretty ugly, but from what I gather the appeal is all in the gameplay?

It is in the gameplay, but as others have indicated, there's more "play" than "game". And saying Minecraft is ugly is like saying Lego bricks are ugly. You get over the "it's all pixellated blocks!" feeling very, very quickly, once you catch the moon poking from behind a distant mountain as the gentle in-game piano music rises to a subtle crescendo. Then, as you pause and regard the view, you get blown to shit from behind by a creeper. The aesthetic is actually pretty finely tuned, as is apparent from the fact that all the "realistic" texture packs available make the game look god awful. The creator made a smart decision to do his best to stay on one side of the uncanny valley.
posted by Jimbob at 3:11 AM on January 27, 2012 [6 favorites]

And yeah, I get the impression the "ending" was pretty obviously thrown together after Notch got sick of people complaining that it wasn't a "real" game. In my experience, on multiplayer servers since the "final" version with the ending was released, people generally get together and slay the dragon within a few hours...then get back to the real business of building forts and gardens and Menger sponges.
posted by Jimbob at 3:16 AM on January 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's pretty ugly, but from what I gather the appeal is all in the gameplay?

Minecraft is a game that allows you to project a lot of yourself onto it. More, I think, than any other game I've played or heard about.

Having overthunk this quite a lot, I can sum it up by saying that I would be dismayed to think that someone else had been looking at any of my maps. It would be like someone reading my diary and making me sing for my Aunties *all at the same time*.

Or, put more succinctly, I'm a weird guy playing a weird game.
posted by Jofus at 4:10 AM on January 27, 2012

Oh yeah, and you know what I think the game needs? Wind. And more specifically, wind noises.
posted by Jofus at 4:11 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been meaning to do a post about the woefully under-known AdventureCraft. Basically, it's a whole separate install of MC that's scriptable that turns MC into a game creation engine. Zelda implemented in MineCraft, for instance. It isn't just map-making, it's also making blocks that can't be destroyed, blocks/monsters that respond appropriately, etc.
posted by DU at 4:28 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think AdventureCraft is different than these Adventure Maps.
posted by DU at 4:34 AM on January 27, 2012

The big difference, technologically between mincraft and other 3D games that might 'look better' is that minecraft has an entire 3D depth to the entire world. And the entire thing can be dug out and modified. So a game like Quake, where you have walls that just sit there and never move is a lot simpler to render. In particular, the entire thing is built using binary space partitions that determine where stuff is so that you only need to render what's in your field of view.

I'm not sure how the coding works in mine craft, but the fact that everything can be modified in real times makes it more difficult.

The other thing, from a user interface point of view is that everything is 'touched' by a whole cube at a time. If things could be made in other shapes, the UI to the game would need to be much more complex.
posted by delmoi at 4:52 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I mainly play single player creative, just pootling about building things. One thing I've really not grasped in recent releases is the whole enchantment / potion thing. I know I'd have to play with monsters for it to be worthwhile - but how worthwhile is it?
posted by jontyjago at 4:57 AM on January 27, 2012

I'm in the same boat as jonty - I have no concept of potions or enchantments. I think that stuff is "upper level content," an area I never seem to get around to, as I'm perfectly happy building vast ziggurats in my own glory.

One thing I like with the recent expansions is the addition of chasms. I like to explore and coming across a vast gash in the ground is pretty exciting. Same thing with towns. I've yet to find a Fortress.

My current world (seedname: spacetime) seems bereft of chickens, though, so I'm not all that eager to start playing around with monsters. No chickens, no feathers, no feathers, few arrows.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:13 AM on January 27, 2012

For enchantments I usually just enchant when I build up a few levels of experience. I never live long enough to have a whole lot. Just adding a low level enchantment to your sword or pickaxe can help a lot.

Potions though, you need to study the wiki or be tabbing back and forth to get it done right. Its definitely a concept thats too complex and has no in game help. Its not too complex you can't remember it once you know it, but there are two or three different steps to creating potions.
posted by Phantomx at 5:21 AM on January 27, 2012

It's pretty ugly, but from what I gather the appeal is all in the gameplay?

No, the appeal is the freedom to do whatever you want. And it only looks ugly. It's actually amazing.
posted by DU at 5:25 AM on January 27, 2012

My kids like to play the Super Hostile maps using the Mine Little Pony mod. Vechs' evil plans are much cuter with ponies!
posted by mothershock at 5:26 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

RE: enchantments and potions -- I really didn't see the point of them until I watched a Let's Play of Vechs' map "Spellbound Caves." It seems like there really isn't a way to get through the map without using special potions (to make you run faster, or to make you immune to fire) and enchanted items (to help you kill the bad guys faster, or knock them back farther when you hit them). I thought that was a really smart gameplay/map design choice on his part. (Or at least it finally made me say, "Okay, I can see how those things I didn't care about before might actually come in handy.")
posted by mothershock at 5:30 AM on January 27, 2012

It doesn't have to look ugly.
posted by empath at 5:36 AM on January 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

I caved in (no pun intended) and bought Minecraft after the last FPP on New Year's Eve. I haven't gotten a damn thing done in real life since then, and it's all MetaFilter's fault. If you keep hearing about Minecraft, looking at those blocky screenshots, and wondering what the big deal is, here's my long-winded take on it:

I am a good 10 years behind the curve when it comes to video games; I have a low tolerance for getting stuck in quest/boss type games, and hyper-realistic graphics (and the cost of hardware to support them) don't do much for me. The last major game addiction I had was to the original Roller Coaster Tycoon, and to a lesser extent The Sims. Those are also sandbox style games, but with both of them I eventually realized I was spending way too much time appeasing those whinging park guests and making sure my Sims remembered to go to the bathroom, and those demands and chores only get worse the longer you play... not really all that fun.

Minecraft works because as long as you remember to eat and take shelter at night, you can switch gears whenever you get bored with something; if you get sick of mining cobblestone to build your giant tower/Colossus of Rhodes/pyramid, you can head off into the wilderness to explore for a while. Or tinker with redstone and build an automated wheat farm. Or whatever. There are some achievements and and end boss built into the game, but I think most people just like the fact that they can just play in whatever style suits them.

I don't think it's ugly... just low-fi. Anyone who grew up with 8-bit graphics will remember how you had to use your own imagination to augment what you were seeing on screen, and I think that's one of the things that people find so compelling about Minecraft, even if they've grown up with the current generation of consoles. The scale of 1 meter blocks was well-chosen, too; anything larger wouldn't make sense from a first-person perspective, and anything smaller would turn every task into a tedious grind.

And multiplayer is definitely where it's at. I've been doing my own thing to start with on Aporkalypse, but there are some remarkable collaborations going on... and exploring and seeing the crazy things other people have undertaken can be just as fun as building your own.

(Oh.. and to be somewhat on-topic: The Aporkalypse has a few server-side mods that make life easier, but I've also been playing on a 100% plain vanilla server and haven't gotten bored enough to tinker with mods yet.)
posted by usonian at 6:02 AM on January 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

Technic pack is one of the best mods for minecraft.

It integrates like a zillion things, as well as had custom bridges for the components.
posted by Lord_Pall at 6:14 AM on January 27, 2012

I didn't link to technic pack because they didn't get mod owners permissions so there was a bunch of drama over it.

There's also the yogbox.
posted by empath at 6:18 AM on January 27, 2012

They got the biggies (ic and buildcraft), but it also showed that a lot of the minecraft mod community and developers were a bunch of weenies.

I still think it's great.
posted by Lord_Pall at 6:22 AM on January 27, 2012

Level is another one of those things I don't understand. I'm level 9! So...?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:49 AM on January 27, 2012

robocop: When you enchant weapons and tools, it drains your level. So to make a level 30 item, you have to be level 30. When you're done, you're back to 0. So it's not so much "level" as it is "Enchanting Level"
posted by rebent at 6:55 AM on January 27, 2012

This is a lot of fun, and can be a great game for kids. I set up a server for my six and seven year old girls and they really love it, especially the seven year old.

Some folks in the UK used it to build an advent calendar for the month of December and each day was a portal where inside you would find a puzzle. If you could figure it out, you got a candy cane. If you collected all the candy canes, (they were really just red and white striped levers) then you could unlock the final day which then treated you to a grand finale roller coaster ride through a marvelous Christmas wonderland.

My older daughter is also a Yogscast fan and she wanted to record our adventures for her own youtube channel. So if you find yourself bored out of your skull and you're willing to watch some 20 or so hours of play, you can watch us open each day and try and discover the answer to the puzzle. I'm embarrassed to admit how frequently we resorted to cheating. Not to mention the day when I freaked out on her because she was killing innocent testificates.

We ended up having an interesting dialog on the forum and in the videos with the creators of the game, a brother and sister team across the pond. Based on our play they modified the game to make it a bit more accessible and child-proof. Thanks to us, no one will accidentally blow up their father on day six anymore. I hope my sacrifice is appreciated.

By the way, how do we get an invite to aporkalypse and is it safe for a seven year old? I can't get the "Join Us" link to work.
posted by Toekneesan at 7:02 AM on January 27, 2012

Aporkalypse isn't explicitly kid-safe, but its mostly responsible adults, not obnoxious college kids, so there isn't a lot of bad language or any 40 foot statues of cocks or anything like that. If you let them watch the Yogscast, it's definitely not any worse than that.
posted by empath at 7:15 AM on January 27, 2012

Minecraft is a toy, not a game.

Yeah, and I get that, because that's exactly how I used to defend SimCity. Except ... SimCity was different... You had measurable goals (like city size) and unlockable achievements (like new buildings). But also there was this sort of balance you were aiming for : the right amount of growth, the right mix of industries, low crime, etc... Minecraft is like you build stuff and that's it. Too much like actual work for me.

Although I have played it in multiplayer and it was kinda fun.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:31 AM on January 27, 2012

Try installing some of the technical mods and working your way up the tech trees. Better then Buildcraft (a combination of Better Than Wolves and Buildcraft) has about a 20-30 hour progression from punching trees up to fuel refineries and automatic crafting, etc. And there are tons of automated systems you can try developing. My most recent project was a system that automatically creates clay urns, cooks them in a kiln, and then uses them to store souls filtered out of nether-rack. Then you use the soul urns to craft steel and more advanced tech.

But before I could do that, i needed to get a hemp farm going so I could make a windmill, and a cow farm going so i could make tanned leather and glue, and a saw to cut up the wood, etc.. and capture wolves to get dung, etc. It's almost like playing civilization or sim city. I've got about 20 hours into this world and I've barely touched the buildcraft stuff yet.
posted by empath at 9:03 AM on January 27, 2012

My kids are 5 years apart. God bless Notch for building something that thy can do together, albeit from different ends of the house. Seeing my 16 year old animatedly discussing the nether with my 11 year old's friend (a girl, no less) was astounding. This a kid with Aspergers who mostly ignores people from outside his circle.

(I am sort of secretly thinking of buying my own account. Cuz I need more distractions in life.)
posted by Biblio at 9:19 AM on January 27, 2012

Yeah, and I get that, because that's exactly how I used to defend SimCity. Except ... SimCity was different... You had measurable goals (like city size) and unlockable achievements (like new buildings). But also there was this sort of balance you were aiming for : the right amount of growth, the right mix of industries, low crime, etc... Minecraft is like you build stuff and that's it. Too much like actual work for me.
Lego didn't have a goal but I loved playing then as a kid.

From what I understand there's also the challenge of basic survival. You have to build a shelter to defend against bad-guys at night. And some of the mods/level packs turn it into more of a game.

The other thing -- even though it's totally self directed, you can set a goal for yourself of wanting to build X or get Y tool - and you have to gather up the materials for it yourself. It's not free (unless you cheat) so in effect once you set a goal achieving that goal is just like playing a regular video game.

Anyway, I haven't played minecraft other then the demo version for android. It's not because I think I won't enjoy it, but because I'm afraid of getting addicted. I mean, it sounds like fun and I already get addicted fun computers stuff too easily as it is.

The UI for the android is actually not very good, if you don't have a phone with a gamepad. I have a physical keyboard, you have to use your fingers on the screen, which basically obscures most of the action. There are also no other entities in the game with you. (And you seem to have unlimited materials, which is unlike the real game, as far as I know)

Despite that I did actually spend some time playing, and had fun. The fact that everything gets wiped out when you quit probably saved me from wasting even more time on it :)
posted by delmoi at 10:24 AM on January 27, 2012

Minecraft enchanters are necromancers.

Those "experience orbs" that drop out of enemies you kill? SOUL DUST. Experience points would not transfer to whoever gets to the loot first.

Expect to be able to animate the dead in a future expansion. Hey, how'd you THINK all these zombies got here?
posted by LogicalDash at 10:40 AM on January 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

A big part of Minecraft's appeal to me was its simplicity. I could turn on Peaceful mode and just explore, bring absurd amounts of stone and ore back to my little cave, and just build cool shit. I don't want to fight monsters or mix potions or enchant things or have to remember to fucking eat. I want to play with Lego, not start a campaign through The Elder Scrolls: Lego Edition.

Sadly, all these complications and distractions and cruft seem to have been welcomed with open arms, so I guess me and my vanishingly-small-minority opinion can take a hike. Which is fine, and I do hope y'all have fun. But I miss what it used to be, and if I'd known last summer what direction the game was headed, I might never have picked it up.

Ah well. Omnia mutantur.
posted by Zozo at 10:44 AM on January 27, 2012

I just started playing again after a 6-month-or-so hiatus, and boy, is it even more fun now. The joy of the game is in learning all of its little secrets and developing your own tricks for them. The fact that they keep expanding on and adding those secrets allows you to stay engaged when you start tiring of what you've been doing. Such a great game -- and I'm not a gamer.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:45 AM on January 27, 2012

I could turn on Peaceful mode and just explore, bring absurd amounts of stone and ore back to my little cave, and just build cool shit. I don't want to fight monsters or mix potions or enchant things or have to remember to fucking eat. I want to play with Lego, not start a campaign through The Elder Scrolls: Lego Edition.

Creative mode is still like that.
posted by empath at 10:46 AM on January 27, 2012

Mudpuppie, I'd urge you to try one of the Skyblocks. That's a fantastic vehicle for learning lots of the tricks without a lot of distractions. The only difference between the 2.1 and 2.0 versions is the amount of dirt at the start---I'd recommend starting with 2.1. More dirt (that's all there is) means more possibilities later on.

The Vechs SH training map also has a bunch of tricks I'd never thought of either: climbing a wall with a single bucket of water, for example.
posted by bonehead at 11:22 AM on January 27, 2012

Afroblanco: "I just can't get over the total lack of game of the whole thing."

My younger cousin introduced me to Minecraft just last month. At first, I thought I would share the same sentiment -- that it would be more "toy" than game, that the world would be too open-ended, that the game would suffer for lack of goals, that I would run out of things to do or care about, if I didn't have some ambitious creative project.

Then I started playing, and I was really surprised by how much "game" and narrative there actually was!
Cross-post from mefightclub:
My little cousin just introduced me to Minecraft!
This is such an amazing game!

In my first few hours of playing, I:

- Spawned in a swamp and punched some trees to make a crafting table and some rudimentary tools.
- Slayed a bunch of cows, chickens, flowers, mushrooms, and sugarcane.
- Wandered into some plains, where I finally saw my first signs of sheep, as well as a small cave where I found a bit of coal, just as dusk was falling.
- Crafted stone tools, blocked off the cave entrance, lit a couple torches, dropped my bed, and called it a night.

- Woke up, found myself alive, packed up my belongings, and decided to build a boat! _o/
- Crashed my first boat into a lilypad and built another one.
- Set off in a random direction, not knowing how large the procedurally-generated ocean might be, nor whether I would find anything interesting on the other side.
- After traveling across open water for a distance at least 3-4 times as wide as my sight radius... finally sighted land! Not just an island, a whole other continent!
- Went =O in real life. Breathtaking mountains, reaching up into the clouds! A pumpkin patch near the shore! A ravine with a river running through it! A forest with wolves!

- Found my first 2 blocks of iron ore within the sheer cliffs.
- Cut down some trees to build a modest wooden cabin on the riverside; just large enough for a bed and a crafting table.
- Built a 64-column of dirt on top of my cabin, as a marker. BASEjumped from the top of this dirt tower into the river. (Wheeee!)
- Hunted monsters for the first time after nightfall! Gathered some bones from some skeleton archers.
- Fed the bones to wolves to tame them!
- Went ^_^ in real life. Wolves have a "shaking water off" animation after they take a swim! (Squeeee!)
- Made it my goal to tame a whole wolfpack.

- Got killed by a random creeper who snuck up behind me without me noticing.
- Stared at the "you have died" screen for a moment.
- Respawned all the way back at my original spawn point, because apparently my bed was "missing or obstructed" or something?

How wonderful is that?
As I respawned, I could imagine some main-theme music playing, and the word "MINECRAFT" fading in, like the title overlay of a movie.

Can you think of any other game intro as compelling as this?
I can already see the story arc from here. I'm back at my original swamp. No wolf companions, no bed, no tools, no food, absolutely no sense of direction.
Just vague memories from a previous life, and an overwhelming resolve to find my way back home.
And a plan that involves torches on top of lilypads. =D

I love how people can come up with their own goals and motivations in Minecraft. Some people want to build massive megastructures. Some people want to get all the achievements in the game, and/or get high experience levels in order to enchant powerful items, and/or defeat the enderdragon. Some people want to hoard precious metals and gems. Some people want to create intricate redstone mechanisms. Some people want to explore the world and look for interesting geological features.

But what was most surprising for me was that, even without entering the game with any of those preexisting motivations, I haven't had to do any work at all to think up goals for myself -- they've just evolved organically out of things that happened to me in the game, and they feel more real because of that.

My journey has taken me to a second continent. It's not the same as the one I was looking for, but I still had to survive through the night, so I built a second house. Sprinting around the continent depleted my hunger bar quickly, so I found myself building a wheat farm for a consistent source of food. I read on the Minecraft wiki that you can make maps out of redstone, iron, and paper. But to make paper, you need sugarcane, and I lost all my sugarcane with my first house. So I've had to explore until I found some more in a desert. Now I want to automate my wheat/sugarcane farm. But that means I need sticky pistons, which means I need slimeballs. So I've gone spelunking in vast cave networks down to bedrock, fighting slimes and other monsters underground. I've spent so much time underground that I've carved biouvacs into the stone, and slept there. Maybe I'll eventually want potions of swiftness, to travel more quickly. So I'll have to mine obsidian, to make a portal to the Nether, to fight blazes for blaze rods, to craft a brewing stand. Either way, I've steadily been acquiring more rare ores, and crafting better tools, weapons, and armor. But I've never forgotten my original goal. I've been carefully marking my trails, so I won't get lost again. With all my experience, and all the resources I've gained, I'll be better-equipped when I sail across the ocean again.

I'm prepared to explore a dozen continents this way. I won't stop until I find my home.
posted by omnomnOMINOUS at 11:55 AM on January 27, 2012 [8 favorites]

You don't need sticky pistons for a sugarcane farm. Regular ones will do.
posted by empath at 12:12 PM on January 27, 2012

I've been playing around with a bunch of mods for a while, but there have always been some mods that don't work at all for me and that makes me sad. I've seen videos of them and two things come to mind; first, blind jealousy and, second, awe at just what people with time, skill and determination can do. I'm still blinded by how simple and yet awesome Minecraft itself is, let alone some of its more accomplished modders.

Those that I've never been able to use but dearly want to:
  • Elemental Creepers. Boy, would I dearly love to accidentally run into a creeper only to find that, as I prepare to die, it explodes into a shower of cookies instead of blowing me up.
  • Twilight Forest, which adds yet another realm to travel to via portal, useful if you really like big trees, among other things.
  • Thaumcraft, which is now Arcanacraft, apparently. It adds magic!

Thankfully, I've been able to get Biosphere and most of Risugami's other mods to work (now with End spheres, but sadly no Dragon as far as I can find), and now that I have finally gotten to the "Oooooh, let's see what this much TNT would do to this" stage in my Minecraft playing, I'm now dying on a daily basis as I create my post-apocalyptic world.
posted by neewom at 12:37 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Peaceful mode is still in the game, dude. I think you have to choose it at world-gen?
posted by LogicalDash at 4:57 PM on January 27, 2012

Peaceful mode means no mobs, but you still have to gather resources and craft things.

Creative mode means you have infinite everything and can smash blocks instantly - ie. a mode for quickly building and trying things, with no challenge. "Cheat mode" if you like.
posted by Jimbob at 5:36 PM on January 27, 2012

I just started using the zombe dig mod for minecraft in survival mode. Increases mining speed up to 10x. If you think about how long you spend mining for blocks to build things it gets depressing. The mod walks the fine line for me of feeling like I'm cheating since the tools still wear out and nothing else is changed. I can just collect resources more quickly.
posted by dibblda at 6:58 PM on January 27, 2012

I play minecraft with my son who is 750 miles from me. It helps with the depression.
posted by andryeevna at 5:25 AM on January 28, 2012

« Older Caroline Knapp's "Drinking: A Love Story"   |   desk vs desk Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments