Sunday, September 9, 2012

Minecraft and Me

If you haven't yet heard the buzz about Minecraft, you're about to! Minecraft is a sandbox game where you build your world in a land made up of 1 meter cubes, with everything from realistic materials like sand, glass, stone bricks, and clay, to fictional blocks like netherrack, glowstone, end stone, and soul sand. There are creatures to fight, different types of land to explore, and massive underground cave systems that can lead you to great loot or to nowhere at all. The game even has its own style of electricity. You are limited only by your creativity (and the 256 meter map height). From dirt huts to highly-detailed castles, Minecraft lets you build it all.

How did you learn about Minecraft?

The first time I heard about Minecraft was via Twitter in January of 2011 (or so). My friend Cameron tweeted something about logging into Minecraft for the first time in months and the first thing he noticed was different types of trees. Then I started hearing about it everywhere. Just the name dropped here and there, but in any imaginable place. As a gamer, I became curious and decided to investigate.

I started by lurking on the GameFAQs Minecraft forums. I read what people were saying about it, and noticed people looking for help with things. It was still in Beta, as such, many things had issues and people wanted certain things added. Most of what I learned about the theory of playing the game I learned from here.

From there, I went on to Youtube videos. Survival Island by the Yogscast caught my attention, and I. Was. Hooked. I learned all I could about the crafting by making something in a 3x3 grid that kind of looks like what you're trying to make, and finally I tried out the free classic creative mode on minecraft.net. While it was disappointing to learn that no crafting was implemented, it was still kind of fun to just explore and build.

What happened next?

After a while, I got bored of classic. So what did I do? I did what most teenagers have done at some point: I downloaded a cracked version that didn't require an active login name yet still allowed me the full freedom of the game. My test was this: if I got bored with it as quickly as I did the classic mode, then I didn't waste my money on it. If I liked it consistently, I could go and buy it officially.

By this time, it was nearing April. Beta 1.4 had just been released, which meant wolves and beds. That day, I learned something.

Videos do not do the creepers justice.

I had a lovely little cube made of wood planks, and it was night time. As I was heading in, I hear a SSSsssss...

Boom!

My door, the front side of my house, and my life were all taken in an instant. The invulnerability (or lack of monsters) in classic had softened me, and now I was bad guy food.

Before even halfway through April, I acquired a premium account and was enjoying the legal fun of this cubic world. I built minecart rollercoasters, homes in mountains, homes on plains, and large mines which yielded little to no diamonds. I downloaded Survival Island and played through it, a little surprised when no airship was waiting for me like it was for the Yogscast. This game was wonderful, and it unleashed my creative side in a way that had not been seen since my 5th grade art teacher used a picture that I was drawing as an example of "exactly what not to do."

What about multiplayer?

You get lonely, being the only human in a potentially infinite world. Thus, multiplayer began to catch my interest. It started off on my friend's personal server, where I first struck a decent amount of ores and diamonds. People were playing the game with me, we could talk and trade and interact. The game wasn't so empty anymore, it suddenly felt much more alive. My buildings were still only just more than hollow blocks, but then we all worked together to build a large waterslide. That waterslide was the first time I had actually built something that wasn't just a cube, unless you count hollowing out large rooms inside a mountain.

Then I moved on to another friend's server. It was peaceful mode, but you still had to mine and dig to get materials. My friend had this huge thing built, I think he called it Iron Forge, and it was incredible. I decided to build my house in the nether. Made mostly of obsidian, iron, and lapis lazuli, with a little bit of gold and diamond, it could withstand a ghast attack if we ever left peaceful.

That server was nice for a while, but then Minecraft updated and the server didn't.

Time to move elsewhere once again.

This time, I learned the true meaning of "dedicated server." I found a little place, once known as CrypticCraft, called BlanketCraft. It was only around for a couple months, but I developed a few good friendships and had many good times. The server was owned by a guy who operated under the username Drip_N_Blood. He was pretty chill, but this wasn't always a good thing, as he was too lenient with punishments. We had a local troll. Sadly, he was fed, and got worse and worse. This went on until he crashed the server via Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. From there, everything just went downhill, and BlanketCraft bit the dust.

Oh, I almost forgot, I had become a staff member there. I spent a good couple months as a moderator, then was promoted to administrator just a day or two before it all went to hell.

That's not the end of that story, though. More on it later.

What can you do if you get bored of the game?

Other than stop playing, you mean? Because that's the obvious answer. The not-so-obvious answer, though, comes from the greater Minecraft community in the form of client modifications (hereafter simply called mods).

People have done amazing things with this game, and not just building. There exists a part of the community that develops additional things to go into the game. This is where I looked next, as I had a hard time finding a new server but singleplayer was kind of dull.

Amazing things were discovered.

I found so many mods that it made my head spin. There was one that shrunk blocks down to just an eighth of the normal size so that you could make intricate decor, another one that added clay soldiers who would fight each other...

And then I found the Yogbox.

The Yogbox is a compilation of mods, compiled by (of course) the Yogscast. It added new ores, new monsters, new pets, new things to explore and build... It's an excellent piece of work, except it isn't. It's many excellent pieces of work merely combined into one downloadable package. The new monsters made things difficult again. Elemental creepers are pure evil, and the giants make even a house not-so-safe. Oh, you're hiding? Allow me to SMASH YOUR HOUSE TO PIECES.

In short, the modding community does a lot for the game, and some things that were once mods now have a place in vanilla Minecraft. Pistons, villagers, and cats are the first three things which come to mind, but I know there's more (oh, and shears!).

Did you ever go back to multiplayer?

In fact, I did. Not too long after BlanketCraft was shut down, my sister told me of a server that she enjoyed. I figured "What the heck, I'll give it a go." and was soon happily in a community once again. I will not name the server due to moral issues that will be explained later, but I am still in contact with several of the people that I met through this server.

Before long, MineCraft was not played much by me anymore...

The Floozie

My relationship with MineCraft was interrupted. On the server that I joined, someone asked a lot of people if they had ever played Terraria, a similar and yet so different game, because he was starting a server for it. I had heard about it from a friend at school previously, and thought I'd give it a try.

Terraria is a two-dimensional game, also taking place in a world made of blocks. The worlds are not nearly infinite in size, but they have a much greater depth and height limit. There are several bosses, colored torches,    wires, lights, candles, and so many weapons.

And factional warfare.

I was the leader of The Empire, a benevolent king who built his own castle by hand. The guy who started the server, xNightCrest (though just NightCrest in Terraria), was the leader of the Rebels. They had a "secret" entrance to their hideout from MY pub!

The thing with two dimensions is nothing can really be a secret for long.

There were also the Jungle and the Corrupt factions. The Jungle faction was peaceful unless trifled with, and the Corrupt faction was vile. So vile that there were plans for the Rebels and the Empire to join forces to take out a common enemy. Then we decided to break away from factions (oh, I was a staff member by this point).

Ponies

While working to run the Terraria server with Night, I discovered that he watched My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. An 18 year old male watched a show that many, many people understand to be for little girls.

The argument that I could not insult the show without having seen at least one episode was presented to me. I deemed it a valid point. That night, I watched the first episode.

But it was a two-part episode, so I watched part two as well. Couldn't judge it until I saw the end, right?

What was going through my head as I watched?

"What is this? I thought guys weren't supposed to like this show... WHY ARE THE CHARACTERS SO ADORABLE AND LOVABLE?!?!"

I struggled throughout the episode with the fact that I was enjoying it. But then I admitted defeat to Night, and watched three additional episodes before going to sleep.

The Return of Drip

The Terraria server was paired with the Minecraft server that I met Night on, and one day I got on the Minecraft server to see how things were going. You'll never (haha, you probably will) guess who was on.

Drip_N_Blood.

But something was wrong. He was making demands to staff members. And he was an unregistered user. And his demands were being met.

Shortly after, the owner's wife got on and banned him.

I learned that he was DDoSing the server. Had been for a week or so by then. Things got confusing for me very fast.

Any of you remember when I changed my phone number? Yeah. This is why.

Drip had done this to a few other servers as well, and had (has?) an open FBI case against him, as this sort of thing is actually very illegal. It completely shuts down the internet of the target.

Since I didn't want to be associated with a guy who was wanted, and he had my phone number, I changed it.

People change. It sucks.

So what happened between you and Minecraft?

Well, Terraria development ended while there was still a lot of bugs with multiplayer. And then our server software also stopped development.

Basically, Terraria died.

Along with our new admin, XenonX, Night and I started plans for our own Minecraft server. Night had some issues with the owner of the community, and we decided to close down the Terraria server and break away from the community entirely. Start our own Minecraft server.

It took a couple weeks of preparation to get the server plugins working properly, but we started and were soon running a server without a hitch. We wound up keeping a few other staff from the Terraria server as well.

Suddenly, a wild monkey appears!

A monkey wrench can be thrown into your plan at any time, and without warning. The owner of the old server, who will remain unnamed (like his server), found out about our server. Due to us having some of the same plugins, using the same (default) color scheme for our website, and using a popular method of registration that he also uses, he threatened to take legal action.

He was going to sue Night for taking his intellectual property. His intellectual property that a LOT of other people created.

Logic? None.

Since then, I have learned that this particular person uses donations to his server to pay off his bills. You know what Night does with donations to his server?

Upgrades the server.

Hell, he upgrades the server with money out of his own pocket, too. He's still something like $150 in the hole  because of our server.

What do you do in Minecraft currently?

Anyway, once the whole lawsuit threat blew over, things went pretty much back to normal. Currently I am playing on (and helping run) EverfreeCraft (server ip: mc-everfreecraft.info) and having a blast. I've gotten my girlfriend to start playing Minecraft with me, and she enjoys it more than I thought she would. Probably more than she thought she would, too.

She and I will be building a castle soon, though with what I've learned about some current plans for the server, we might have to delay it a bit more.

I'm also playing Tekkit with a few friends on a dedicated private-ish server. Tekkit is a mod pack, it comes with the same launcher as the Yogbox, that allows you to completely industrialize Minecraft. You can get a nuclear reactor running, you can have computers that mine for you, etc. It's some pretty incredible stuff.

Well, if you read this whole thing, congratulations! I'll try not to put so much time between my posts from now on, seeing as my last one was August 2011.

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