Sunday, April 28, 2013

Minecraft: More than just Mineshafts


If you’re a fan of sandbox style games than you’ve likely already heard of Minecraft or maybe you’re even already one of its players. If you’re familiar with the game then you know that despite the title the game is far more than just digging a giant hole in the ground (though that can be part of it). This game allows its players to create a world belonging to them alone which they can share with others or keep to themselves. The most notable aspect of the game and something you’ll likely notice right away is that the world is composed entirely of large blocks. While the blocks are made of different materials, they’re still typically the same shape and size giving this game a unique feel.

Graphics and Sound
The Horizon
Minecraft isn’t well known for its amazing graphics as you can imagine would be the case for a world composed entirely of large blocks. This however isn’t so much a failing on the part of the games creator, but rather a stylistic choice that I believe plays well with the feel of the game.

SFX and music likewise aren’t major points for the game relying on a small number of sound files that are frequently repeated to provide the audio experience for the player. Time is instead spent on developing mechanics and expending the already impressive crafting system in order to continue building on the game’s strengths.

Gameplay
Minecraft is divided up into a number of key gameplay aspects that the developers have really fleshed out to provide the players with a multitude of options across two different modes of play. A player can choose to play in creative mode where they’re able to build to their heart’s content using unlimited resources and taking advantage of the lack of dangerous creatures. The other mode is called survival and as its name implies it’s a somewhat harsher (though not unreasonable) gameplay mode that gives you only the resources you can gather for yourself and has you fending off attacks from dangerous creatures that come out at night. To make things even more interesting there is also a hardcore mode for survival that increases the challenge level of the nightly monster raids.
The Mineshaft
1. Mining – As the name of the game implies mining does play a part in the game if you want it to. Players can create tools to help them dig deep into the surface of their world (shovels and picks) to secure the resources sequestered in the deep for use in all manner of projects. Over the course of my first three days playing I’ve created a network of tunnels below my hobbit hole style home branching out in all four directions from a central point (where my ladders to the levels above and below are). I began at sea level and so far I’ve got at least 10 levels and have yet to hit the bottom. There’s no telling how far down I’ll have to go, but I’m determined to mine my way down to lava so I can make obsidian (a very hard and difficult to destroy substance) for use as a more permanent anti-monster barrier.
2. Farming – Particularly important in survival mode is the farming aspect of the game. As you go through the game you’ll find seeds for different plants that can be planted grown and harvested for use in making food. This aspect of the game will use the hoe tool and any seeds you’ve acquired to create a place for you to grow your favorite crops. Methods of implementation are as varied as your imagination and many players have found methods of creating farms that will actually water themselves leaving the player free to reap the harvests, replant, and worry about other things. In addition animals exist in the game which can be penned in and used to provide additional resources to the player such as milk, wool, and eggs. Alternatively these animals can be used for more protein oriented applications. If you like your meat you’ll also want to do a bit of breeding using wheat on two like creatures in proximity to one another in order to create a baby version of the same creature which will eventually grow into a viable food source.
3. Logging – Absolutely a necessity in the world of Minecraft is the logging aspect which involves the use of the axe tool to chop down or rather, destroy block by block the trees that grow all over the landscape. The timber collected can be used to make tools, fences, chests, and a large number of other very helpful things for use in the game of Minecraft.
4. Fishing – Ready to relax and take a load off? Minecraft also offers a fishing system allowing you to catch fish to cook for food. While even less complex than World of Warcraft’s fishing system (which if you’ve not played the game is not that complex) it’s still a great way to get some extra provisions to get you through those long nights.
5. Combat – If you’re tired of huddling in your bunker scared to go out at night there is also a combat system in Minecraft allowing you to take it to those monsters troubling you each evening. Using the materials you gather you can create weapons such as swords, bows, and arrows as well as armor to protect you from the assaults of monsters that get too close. Be sure to keep food with you however as keeping yourself well fed is important for health regeneration.
6. Building – The primary focus of the game is on building whatever you can imagine. Using the different materials you gather as you explore the world you can create all manner of structures including castles, towers, bridges, roller-coasters, underground mazes, starships and anything else you can imagine.

Conclusions
Though my experience with the game has so far been relatively brief I have already begun to imagine the possibilities and eagerly look forward to making them a reality in my own Minecraft world and showing them off here in my N3rd C0rn3r.