Sunday, July 1, 2012


Written by Joe the Revelator

I apologize in advance for my infrequent posts of late. A demanding work schedule combined with my choices of entertainment have left me with little to talk about; re-reading old books, half-watching episodes of old sitcoms, and of course, playing the devil's game, Minecraft.

Why I Shouldn't Play Minecraft

My relationship with Minecraft could be likened to a recovering alcoholic living in a brewery. Whenever I start a new game, any game, I find myself rushing to the character creation options, tweaking my way through the customization menus, and eventually spending hours on whatever home-base layouts offered within the game. I'm an anal retentive freak about building my lair. When I bought a home in Skyrim I became a nesting bird on heroin. I spent more time looking for shiny objects and glowing weapons to adorn my Hall than I did worrying about the main quest line. By the end of the game I had so many bloody helmets on my shelf, ripped from my victims for no reason other than their decorative value, that my wall looked like the interior of the Predator ship.

In Neverwinter Nights 2 I maxed out the build-chain of Crossroads Keep with the highest quality garrison, best commanders, and top-notch defenses. In Mass Effect 2 my ship had the highest upgrades before mid game. In Morrowind I converted my "Tower" into a town, using teleport spells to import exotic dancers, merchants, and guards. For Fallout, I reverse-pick pocketed every citizen of Megaton, so my home would be surrounded by power-armored yokels brandishing alien blasters. In Guild Wars my clan hall had every vendor upgrade. My guild had one member.

A game that allows near-infinite construction possibilities with the ever-present threat of zombie invasion was the last thing I should install.

My First House

Cube-Ist Art

For those who don't know, Minecraft is a low-graphic 3d construction game. The player looks like one of the blockheads from Gumby and the world around him is composed of cubes of various colors. Brown blocks with black lines represent tree bark. Grainy tan blocks are sand. Pink blocks with eyes that emit "oink" noises are pigs. Etc. The game stretches the limits of what one can do with simple textures and effects, creating vast landscapes of mountains, oceans, and subterranean caverns with lego-like surfaces.

The only threat to your character, aside from drowning, falling off your construction, falling off mountains, falling into chasms, and falling into lava, are the zombies. Whenever the sun goes down the zombies spring up, filling the land with milling, shambling monstrosities that moan and groan endlessly. They vary from green-skinned walking horrors, to skeletons with bows, to black mini-Cthulu's who can teleport into your lap and re-adjust your spinal column in one hit.

Without anyone else in the game I can only assume this is an "I Am Legend" scenario, wherein I'm supposed to invent a vaccine for the brain-eaters who are lucky enough to seek shelter before the sun turns them to ashes. Unfortunately my character is (as well as everyone else's character) more of a stone mason than a blood pathologist. The only cure I can offer comes in the form of a rock to the skull.

This is the face of addiction.

Stuck in the Stone Age

From what I've seen online, the character can slowly advance to higher tech levels of equipment and buildings; from mud huts to steel skyscrapers, with levers, electronics, and pig-frying bacon dispensers. Unfortunately I've never gotten past the iron age. Most of my tools are stone until I run into a patch of raw iron. I've mined the other minerals available in the game; gold, diamond, coal, "red dust". But what's the fun in building something small and high-tech, when you can create monolithic towers with glass-encased lava flows and deathtraps? Or giant stone god statues with phallic shaped heads?

Having said this, I can fully recommend playing Minecraft to anyone, anywhere, for any reason. I could also just as easily recommend getting hooked on crack, demolishing your house, and constructing a monument to yourself out of the rubble.

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