We call this one “Stairway to Heaven.”
If you missed days 1 and 2, you’ll find the collected Mine The Gap here. And if you’ve noticed that these screenshots look different, it’s because I’ve installed the Painterly Pack, which gives MineCraft ever-so-slightly grittier visuals. I’ll experiment with a different texture pack tomorrow, too.
When we left me, I’d just emerged from a nearby cave, flush with iron, armour and chutzpah. Things are going excellently. So excellently that I watched the sun sink with indifference. What was I afraid off? I had my sword, my suit of iron, my restorative meat snacks. The monsters should be afraid of me! LOOK AT ME!
Anyway, it’s only a short two minute jog back to Stupid Cave.
I’ve just picked my way down to the beach when I see a giant spider. Pfft. You know what “giant spider” is an anagram of? “Trained Pigs.” You know what “Quintin Smith” is an anagram of? “Shin Mint Quit”. Which is a noble name, clearly. A hero’s name. Once again, the Internet Anagram Server tells me what I already know.
I’m backing cautiously away from the spider when I spot something to the left of it. A Creeper! One of those strange, plant-looking humanoids that run towards you and blow up. Now, I’m just making a tactical retreat from him when I take a chunk of damage. Wheeling, I see a skeleton with a fucking bow is volleying vicious shots at me with fearsome accuracy. At this point I remember I’m playing the game on Hard, abandon all pretence of herodom to turn and run, but it’s useless. I’m rapidly chopped, skewered and blasted into nothingness.
I click respawn. And so:
I lose everything.
It’s all gone. I feel almost as empty as my inventory. I’m in cold stupor as I finish the short trudge from my world’s respawn point to Stupid Cave, and I’m only a couple of steps from the entrance when I hear a Creeper’s signature hissing. I turn around, suffer a split-second with a Creeper’s horrible blocky face inches from my own, and then BOOM. The blast almost knocks me clean into Stupid Cave. I seal up the entrance, figuring I’ll survey the damage in the morning.
The morning comes. It’s worse than I thought.
But then, it’s only the work of five minutes to fix it. I just need a shovel and a few torches. I close my eyes as I realise that I don’t have a shovel, I don’t have coal, I don’t even have wood. I am in near-physical pain at this point. MineCraft is snatching everything I’d built from my open hands.
Fuck it. If there was a “spit on the ground” button in MineCraft and also “put hands on hips” button, this is when I would press first one, then the other.
Last night I became Iron Quinns. Now, that iron is gone. The physical iron, I mean. But not the iron in my mind. I am still Iron Quinns.
I believe I also said last night that Iron Quinns couldn’t be living in a cave. A hero needs a proper home. Might as well get to work on that.
I peel apart some trees with my hands, then return to the workshop in Stupid Cave and smash together some rude stone tools. This done, I grab a mass of rocks from the storage chest and go bounding up to the cliff directly above Stupid Cave. Here, I lay the first stone.
Pathologic was full of excellent buildings, but there’s one specific one I want to recreate. It’s the unsupported spiral staircases found throughout the town.
This quickly proves to be tricky business. I start by laying a thick foundation of stone which I lay the stairs on top of. Then, by standing on a rude dirt column running up the centre of the spiral, I can hack some of that support stone away, leaving the stairs. Finally, I can dig away the dirt pillar I’m standing on.
For the first time, I find myself becoming frustrated with MineCraft’s day-night cycle. It can’t be night already! I need to keep working!
That night, rummaging through the chest back in Stupid Cave, I find a paltry two chunks of iron gathering dust in the corner of my chest. Just enough to make myself a single iron sword. I also find I little stash of cowhides I tucked away once I’d built my suit of armour. I decide to make a leather shirt, and look! The texture pack I installed makes colours leather armour like a tuxedo!
Just shut up for a second. Shut up and have some respect for the fine man you are looking at.
The wee hours of the morning are spent waiting and watching out of the entrance to Stupid Cave. In the distance, I see a single zombie go up in flames. This signals the start of my working day.
Since I’m still hurting from that Creeper detonating in my face, I start my working day by chasing a pig half way around a fucking mountain to try and get a pork steak. Finally catching up with the creature and slaying it, he drops nothing. I actually excavate some of the dirt around the corpse in case the pork somehow got wedged underneath a block. Nothing. You can imagine me on hands and knees, scrabbling around in the dirt, furious with hunger.
Sod it. I return to the construction site.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again. This aerial construction is tricky business. I’m always risking a fall, nudging out over the lip of a block to place another block adjacent to it. Always just nosing… very… carefully… being careful not to fall because a fall would almost certainly kill m NO NO OH SON OF A BITCH
Oh, Jesus, oh Jesus Christ, I’d just gotten back on my feet. I remade all the tools. I made a fucking tux. I used the last of my iron to build a replacement iron sword. Respawning, I return to the construction site in a manner not unlike Eddie walking away from the card table in Lock Stock.
Wait. What’s this? What are all these pickups? At first I can’t believe it, but it’s my entire goddamn inventory from when I fell off the staircase. The comments on my last Mine The Gap post featured so many people offering sage advice about how they make sure they don’t lose their stuff while spelunking that I assumed that when you die, your inventory is gone forever. It’s not. It just gets scattered around you. For fucks sake! I could have launched a daring midnight raid to get my inventory back when I died the first time!
Never mind. Back to work.
Soon the staircase is finished, and I begin attaching the flat plane of dirt to it. On this dirt will be where I build my Hero House. What you can see on the left is that beacon I built in the last entry. I intend to tear it down sometime soon, since it’s ugly and the cottage will be higher than it anyway.
Another night, another day. The floating clusters of leaves that remain once I’m nicked the wood from under them really are awful. Once I’m done with the house I’ll take some tree trunks from further away and slot them into place under these fellas.
Right! This is what that flat plane of dirt looks like from the top of the staircase. As you can see, I’ve planted some trees to give my floating house more of a natural, relaxing atmosphere. Wonder how long they’ll take to grow?
In the end, I can’t bring myself to knock down the beacon. I connect it to the house’s grounds instead, as a kind of emergency exit. Excellently, while making the connection I have another tumble and fall all the way into the tree below, yet survive. Turns out leaves and branches cushion a fall. I can use this!
Finally, I can start work on the house. Rather than a castle I decide on a rustic, two-story structure with windows and a skylight, because I like the double standards involved here. I build my Hero Home on a floating island, because anywhere else would be beneath me. Literally as well as figuratively. But I am also a simple man of simple pleasures and don’t need to show off.
That night, I hear a mooing when I’m working on the roof. A cow? How the Hell did a cow get up here? Did it take the stairs? I will let it be.
Finally, I am finished.
I made the glass blocks by shoving a load of sand in the forge, if you were wondering.
Course, I’m not actually finished, because it’s very difficult to be finished in MineCraft. I need to get a Work Table and Forge up here, and then I need reeds to make books, which I can then assemble into a bookcase, and I need a diamond so I can make a record player. I’ve also got a smouldering desire to construct a set of minecart tracks that’ll carry you from my front garden all the way down to the sea. I could even make it a powered minecart so I could get back up. And of course, I’ll need a picket fence. And to have room for that I’ll need to expand the grounds.
For now, I settle for stripping out the dirt floor and replacing it with raw wood. Not lumber, but wood. Rustic, remember?
Daylight comes. With delight, I realise that from up here I can watch all the land’s monsters burst into flames with each and every sunrise. I cannot think of a nicer way of starting the day.
And there she is. Like some kind of giant space alien with one rigid leg and one bandy one. God, I built that. I’m so proud. This is a videogame, right here.
So. I’ve got the lay of the land, and I’ve got myself a house. What’s next, do you think?