|ESRB rating: E
release date: May 10, 09
|» All About Minecraft on ActionTrip|
When beginning the game, you can choose between two modes: Creative and Survival (with a hardcore option), and there's also multiplayer. In Creative mode you're free to fly around the map and build whatever you want, without any restrictions and monsters to bother you. An unlimited amount of every resource is at your disposal and everything else depends upon your own imagination. Survival mode is best described as Robinson Crusoe with evil creatures lurking in every dark corner. It's an unusual and rather lonely experience. All you have for companions are farm animals and maybe a pet wolf and a snowman. Besides exploring, crafting and fighting for survival, you can also farm, keep livestock and build traps to protect your domain. Nasty things come out to play at night and you'd better be indoors or armed to the teeth, when they pay a visit in case you plan to take them on.
When playing on hardcore, you must eat regularly in order to stay alive, and once dead, you stay dead (That sounds familiar. - Ed. Vader). What's very amusing about it is that should you die a cheap and totally unexpected death, you're presented with the option to delete your world and everything in it. Did I say option? Well, no, it's just one lonely button in the middle of the screen. The first time it popped up for me, I stared at it real hard for a while, trying to wish it away. It didn't work and eventually I had to put my session out of its misery. But a few days later I recovered emotionally and it was back to world generation for me. There's no option to choose what type of environment you'd like to spawn in, so if you'd prefer playing in a snowy biome, you'll have to keep on generating new worlds until you end up in one. There's an easier way to do it, but you can read about it and a lot more on Minecraft Wiki. You will spend a lot of time on that site, and that brings me to the game's one major flaw: the lack of an in-game tutorial.
Now, how the hell did this happen?
Romantic in a sunsetish, pixelated kind of way.
I don't know if this was intended. Perhaps players were meant to experiment and discover what they could and couldn't do on their own, but I doubt there's even a handful of people who play without consulting some online knowledge base at one point or another. My other beef is the map being next to useless and the settlements of mute NPCs serving no purpose whatsoever... yet. Now that the game is officially out, developer Mojang revealed that they are working a new game called something like, um, The Elder Scrolls of Bethesda's Oblivion. Did, I get that right? Anyway, this did not swing the spot light away from Minecraft, which is a good thing, of course. More goodies will arrive with future patches, just less frequently than during the Alpha and Beta days.
I could talk some more about other things you can busy yourself with, but I see no reason to get into too much detail. This game can be as complex or as simple as you like. It's all up to you. I've seen tons of entertaining user-created videos and if you need some inspiration, I suggest you take a look at how others are having fun. I've even come across a series with a family (including mom) happily building and adventuring together. Quite an amazing sight for someone who grew up with Counter-Strike in shady Internet cafes, while mommy and daddy were busy treating each other like dirt (Welcome to the club, pal. Ed. Vader). Perhaps it's for lack of trying, but I can't think of another video game that might bring a family together so easily, or at the very least, help parents encourage creativity in their children. As awesome as they are, all the Half-Lives, Fallouts, WoWs and Skyrims cannot do that.
Indie gaming is the latest thing and it's flourishing on every major platform and Minecraft was one of the major triggers for that. The game's worldwide success proved that gamers want to do more than compete for the 'Deadliest Killer' title all day long, and I'm happy to note that other indie developers have been encouraged by this.
While Minecraft may not be everybody's cup of tea, I doubt anyone can deny that it's an important step into new territory. It has already inspired a myriad of titles (Terraria, for example, has become a huge success) and there are many more on the horizon. These are exciting times, but in order to acknowledge that, you'll need to broaden your horizons too and tread into these vast and mysterious new territories yourself. Don't be shy now, give it a try.
The first true sandbox game, enjoy your freedom;
Constantly searching the Web for crafting recipes, some might object to the absence of an actual storyline and a sense of purpose.
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