MineCraft: Mine The Gap, Day 4

By Quintin Smith on September 17th, 2010 at 3:33 pm.

We call this one “Express Elevator to Hell”.

This instalment of Mine The Gap is brought to you by dokus’ RPG texture pack. Find the collected Mine The Gap right here.

I signed off last time wondering what was next for me, now I’d become a Hero and built a Hero Home. Traditionally, this is where a MineCraft player might undertake some epic, ambitious project, like creating a colossal twelve story bust of Steve Buscemi or something. Me? I’m a simpler man, with simpler desires.

Those desires take me deep underground, right to the very bottom of Stupid Cave, where I start digging a hole. And keep digging a hole. And keep digging. It’s one of the rules in MineCraft that to avoid disaster you should never dig vertically either down or up, but I am a man on a mission and as such I ask myself one simple question: What would Duke Nukem do? If he needed to dig a hole, he’d dig a fucking hole. I add ladder segments and torches as I go, resulting in the image heading this post.

Soon I reach that undulating layer of inpenetrable bedrock that marks the very bottom of every MineCraft world. Here, I begin digging sideways. And JESUS CHRIST

I instinctively dodge backwards from the lava I’ve unearthed before hitting the screenshot key. Oh, my God! Lava!

With sweaty terror chewing at my thoughts, I watch the lava come nosing out of its crevice-

And start oozing down the passage towards me.

At this point I have no idea what I’m doing, what I’ve done or what I’m going to do about it. I am a trembling berk with no plans and no clue. As it happens, that’s not a problem. The lava uses the same physics as MineCraft’s water, so it conveniently drains away into nothing before it floods the passage.

So I guess deep mining is pretty dangerous! But I can’t turn back. I haven’t yet found what I’m looking for. But it isn’t long before I do. Cutting a new tunnel directly away from the lava pocket, I find a rich cache of that mysterious, precious substance- Redstone.

You know how in movies where an organisation is excavating some alien artifact or priceless relic from the ground, they always dig a huge chamber around the artifact and fill it with floodlights? I totally get that now. I can’t yet get Redstone from this ore because you need at iron pickaxe to do that, but I can’t resist hollowing out all the rock around it. It feels respectful. My precious Redstone. My treasure. My baby. Now, let’s go find some iron.

Oh for fucks sake. More Redstone? So it turns out you can’t move for Redstone down here. Now I feel like a prick for surrounding that last bit of ore with torches like it was the Ark of the Covenant or something. Nevermind.

Right! Iron. Good. I take it up to the forge and smelt that bad boy.

You’re probably wondering why I need Redstone so badly. Patience! All will be revealed shortly.

I take the iron, craft an iron pickaxe out of it, head back down and tear into that Redstone ore like a kid unwrapping presents on what he knows to be his very last Christmas Day. With pure Redstone in hand, I can craft the item that I desire more than anything.

A compass. Rather than pointing North, MineCraft’s compass points towards your spawn point, meaning I can finally go on a proper adventure without having to worry about finding my way home.

Because I’m not really interested in any more building, or crafting myself a suit of diamond armour or anything like that. I want an adventure. I want to go on a proper trek in this randomised world of mine, and I want to come back alive with a pack full of souveniers. That’s my plan.

I leave Stupid Cave to find a huge herd of seven pigs lazing around the entrance. I take this as sign of good luck, and quickly dispatch them for their delicious bacon. There’s not much preparing left for me to do before I can leave. I’ll need to close up Hero Home, though.

Done! Now, let’s take stock:

10 pieces of jerky? 4 ladder segments? Iron sword? Pick? Back-up pick? Ratty tuxedo? Compass? Flint and tinder? Sorted. Probably.

Probably not actually sorted at all. Probably my corpse will be being picked over by skeletons within the hour.

Let’s go!

This is where my adventure begins. Morning, on a misty beach. I deploy my crafting table, whittle myself a tiny boat and set sail.

My goodness. This is something, isn’t it?

Land ho! I bring my vessel to a stop and go splashing out into this new world.

My first discovery is a problem straight out of a puzzle game. Iron ore, trapped under flowing water. Lucky I brought a supply of handy rocks!

I love MineCraft. There, I said it.

I spend the night in a little bunker I dig into an exposed cliff face. Feeling creative (boredom will do this to you) I give my shelter a second storey and knock some of the rocks away to create a wide viewing balcony.

It’s about 3am when I hear a loud, disgusting hiss that turns my blood to mayonnaise. What the fuck was that?

Cautiously, I remove the loosest part of my balcony to get a better look at what’s below.

JESUS SHITCHRIST! AUUUGH–

It takes me a few seconds to see that the spider can’t actually reach me. It just keeps jumping upwards, unable to land an attack. With nerves of molten steel I time a sword attack, hitting the spider when it reaches the highest point of its jump. Pow! It comes back and tries again. Pow! And again! Pow! And with that the spider’s corpse goes bouncing away into the night, leaving behind some string. String! If I get a little more, I can make a bow.

The next morning I find the impossible. A cave which already has torches in it! A special cave, to be sure. A spooky moan sound effect even plays as enter. The torches, however, lead me to a quick dead-end. I realise that this is, in fact, a cave I’ve explored before. This isn’t a strange and distant land at all. It’s just a foggy day on a place I’ve already been.

I leave the cave with a serious wound to my ego, so of course what I really need right at this moment is to stumble across another massive spider. Which is exactly what happens. As of yet it doesn’t seem to have seen me. I begin backing away very carefully. So carefully, in fact, that the rest of the world fades out of my comprehension and I end up walking backwards off a cliff. A very, very, very sheer cliff. After watching stone walls flit past me for more than a second, I’m convinced I’ll die upon landing. I don’t.

The fall just really, really hurts. Ow. I look up from the stones at my feet to see what it was I just fell down.

What the fuck. I’m at the bottom of the abyss! I’m the worst hero ever, but this is awesome! It’s like a setpiece that drops you into the first dungeon in an RPG.

Tragically, it turns out that the cave at the bottom of this pit closes into a dead end within 20 feet, leaving me with no choice but to climb back up.

Looking back down, the beauty of the hole has been somewhat disfigured by my ad-hoc staircase. Nevermind.

I continue on my way, and soon experience the chugging that tells you MineCraft is generating entirely new tracts of world. At last, I am exploring. And I find all kinds of stuff.

An excellent waterfall, first of all. Why couldn’t I have built my house above a waterfall?

I climb to the top of the waterfall, of course.

Then I go down, down inside a cave with a load of zombies at the bottom. Brr.

And onwards to a forest, with the biggest tree I’ve ever seen.

I climb to the top of the tree, of course. Most of being a professional explorer is climbing things, you know.

Fording a river, I find myself in a craggy, mountainous land, with a floating island in the centre. I don’t climb to the top of this, as it looks like too much hassle.

The cliffs in this place really are something else. I decide to climb one.

Beautiful. God, this fog! It’s been foggy for three days now! Does MineCraft even have fog? On a whim I check the options and find that my render distance is set to “Normal”. I change it to “Far”.

Cue facepalm. Still, the draw distance / fog made things genuinely atmospheric for a spell there.

Jogging onwards I drop down from this mountain, crest a second and gasp at what I see. I’ve discovered the promised land.

Click for bigger. Please, click for bigger.

A grand mountain looming over a tidy valley, sprinkled with trees and threaded through with waterfalls and caves. I’m speechless. I want to build a village here. I want to build a life here.

Why aren’t there more games about exploring? I’m not talking learning the corners and shortcuts of some dull “open” world here. I’m talking about games which let you pick your way through a world that’s every bit as secretive, hostile and surprising as our own. I’m talking about letting the player get lost. I’m talking about making a world so tactile, so absorbing and so believable that an exciting discovery can be as simple as a big-ass tree.

We need more of this. Because this? This is brilliance. MineCraft is brilliance in such a simple, raw form that developers the world over should be smashing their heads on desks with a force usually reserved for heading footballs, simply because they didn’t do this first.

It took going on today’s expedition for me to realise it, but after a dozen hours I’ve already gotten more out of MineCraft than I get from most commercial games, so I’m just going to tell you straight up: You want to buy this game. It’s already fantastic, it’s still a long way from finished, it’s only €10 and once you’ve bought it, all future versions of MineCraft will be yours for free.

Notch? I salute you. I know I’m late to the party here, but I’m going to go ahead and add my voice to the crowd. You are doing incredible, important work here. You’re everything that makes the PC indie scene great. For the love of God man, keep it up.

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263 Comments »

  1. Choca says:

    Damn you to hell, I just bought this.

    See you in forever.

    • Choca says:

      Been playing for a bit.

      I have made my very own Stupid Cave only I hadn’t found any coal after a whole first day of mining and had to only partially blockade my cave entrance to keep a bit of light inside.

      My mining is then interrupted by splashy noises and I shiver : it’s only a damn cow jumping around in the pond outside. This game is terrifying

      The sun finally appears again and I open my cave “doors” to go out in a quest for coal only to return empty handed a few hours later… and to get ambushed by a damn spider which had entered my cave while I was away. Don’t let your doors open.

      Second night in the cave and I get almost killed by a cave-in (they weren’t kidding when they said never dig up) which opened up my cave’s ceiling to an opportunist zombie who killed me quite easily.

      This is intense.

    • Chaz says:

      Yep, I caved in and bought it yesterday too. Was only going to play it for half an hour to get a taster and ended up being glued to it for 4 hours straight, I didn’t get around to eating my dinner until 11.30pm.

      What got me is how creepy and tense it can get, even though it’s a world made out of blocks and crude blocky creatures. I put in a nice big windowed front on my cave home so that I could look out over the landscape and one night whilst I was crafting away at my table I heard a taping noise at the window and turned around to see the horrible green face of a creeper staring back at me. I nearly jumped out of my chair with fright. Also it’s amazing how claustrophobic the mining can make you feel, especially when you go right deep down, and what is an already eerie experience is made all the more chilling by the occasional spooky noises.

  2. radomaj says:

    This is lovely, but Journey of Saga is lovelier. So, umm… Could you go back to that and write some more?
    Sidenote: that Andrew Bird song you used is rather earwormy.

  3. benjamin says:

    Fine….FINE! I give up. I’m buying this. I hope your satisfied.

    Bye bye life. Hello, Minecraft. Let’s do this shall we?

  4. Schaulustiger says:

    This series is slowly becoming an ode to Minecraft and I’m perfectly fine with it.

    Also, Quinns, on your last day, visit the unofficial RPS server and claim the iron ore we deposited in a chest for you. It’s well deserved. (and change your render distance to “normal” before you do, otherwise multiplayer will crash a lot)

    • midi says:

      What are the server details for this? Would love to jump in with you guys.

    • Jeremy says:

      Yeah, I second that. I love the single player bits, but I can only imagine jumping in with other folks would be an awesome thing. Also, I’m assuming their would be no griefing, or at least not malicious griefing.

    • Taillefer says:

      Ohh, an RPS server (albeit unofficial)? How does it work, does everybody spawn in a location near to each other? Or am I over-estimating the size of the World?

      I haven’t bought it yet, because it’s exactly the sort of game I’ll commit too much time to, but I may join you on there soon.

    • Norskov says:

      There’s a thread in the forum with the details.

      @Taillefer
      There’s a common spawnpoint for new players and if you die, but I’m fairly sure you’re invincible at the moment.

    • JB says:

      @Jeremy – The unoffical RPS server is indeed awesome. The only griefing I know of wasn’t even griefing. There have been the odd fire and/or flood. Other than that it’s Minetopia.

      Oh and Quinns, Schaulustiger is right. You need to come and get your iron. Just don’t forget the drawdistance.

  5. Deanb says:

    Hahaha. Awesome when I got to the bit about ‘does Minecraft have fog? oh it’s in the settings’.
    I thought you’d put on the fog for story effect when you set off ‘from a misty beach’.
    Been fun reading this.
    I also add my voice to the crowd.

  6. midi says:

    This is comfortably one of the very best series of game articles I have read in a very very long time. I would gladly have paid the 10€ just to read these articles never mind buy the game itself. This weekend will be my first foray proper into Minecraft and I cannot wait. So excited. You are a legend Notch.

  7. ErikM says:

    A friend of mine persuaded me to buy this. Since started playing I have made a house in the sky. A railroead connecting the house in the sky to an island in the sky, where I built a castle. Quite a wonderful experience!

  8. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Fog – press F to turn it off and on

    • pakoito says:

      And so my FPS problem dissapeared. If it stays stable at 20 I’m buyin this fo sho’

    • pakoito says:

      Any other mighty morphin power hotkey I should be aware of to improve performance?

    • dantokk says:

      If your computer has a “Turbo” button on the case try pressing that :)

    • Tei says:

      Speed settings:
      – Change graphics quality from “Fancy” to “Normal”.
      – Viewdistance to tiny.
      – Playing in a normal world (no winter one). I have not tested it, but I suppose the winter theme is more taxing.

      For some netbooks, theres some overclock tools, is easy to multiply x2 the power of these GPU’s.

    • pakoito says:

      @dantokk

      OMG! 100->133Mhz!!! I feel like super old.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      F does more than that, it cycles through the draw distances. “Fancy” graphics is also a bit of a hog, so try turning that off.

  9. groovychainsaw says:

    I’m going to have to buy this now, aren’t I? Reminds me of the best thing about world of warcraft; that feeling when you enter a new area, and you have no idea whats going to happen (top story – falling into ungoro crater at level 30 and running away from trexs for about an hour…).

    But this, this is a whole game designed around that feeling. As you say Quinns, why has no-one else done exploration as game before?

    • Ian says:

      There’s probably a lot who’d sneer, but I’d agree. Certainly when I first started playing WoW everything seemed enormous and exciting. Dun Morogh: My first love.

      Anyway, I rather fear I’m going to end up buying this, possibly this weekend, when I ALREADY HAVE TOO MANY GAMES TO PLAY.

    • Durkonkell says:

      I remember discovering Ironforge for the first time. I was quite content to wander about Majestic Dun Morogh when I discovered a path up a mountain. This path terminated in a giant doorway and through there was this huuuuge city – the dwarvern city and realm of Ironforge.

      I spoke to one of the guards and curiously clicked on the option about the Tram. “Ooh, the tram, the tram. When I were a lad we got about the old-fashioned way, clinging for dear life to the back of a gryphon! But if you’re dead set on using the new-fangled tram abomination, ye can find it in the Gnomish Quarter”.

      A tram journey under the sea later and I step out to find myself in a completely new and equally magnificent city, Stormwind.

      /target website
      /cast Debit Card

      (Oh, and I thought the bit about Gryphons was just flavour text. Imagine my astonishment when I discovered that you could actually fly from place to place on a Gryphon…)

  10. Dominic White says:

    Just a reminder to all readers that Minecraft development has slowed a bit as of late.

    The reason for this? Notch is assembling a studio. Soon, development should kick into Ludicrous Speed, as he’ll be able to delegate things like ‘running the site’ and ‘doing PR’ and even ‘drawing sprites/textures’ to other people more suited to these jobs, so he can focus on what he does best.

    What does Notch do best? Coding like a freakish robot demon from the future, adding new content and things to see every week.

  11. OptionalJoystick says:

    I wanted to ask- and here seems as appropriate a place as any- what with the Paypal thing going on, if I buy the game now will Notch ever actually see the money?

    • Sam C. says:

      @OptionalJoystick:
      He’s worked out a “compromise” where Paypal keeps a certain percentage of the money in his account locked up as reserve, but he can at least now withdraw money. At least, that’s how I understood it.

    • Dominic White says:

      To elaborate, Paypal take 5% of Notch’s takings and put it into reserve. After three months, he gets the reserve as well.

      It’s not ideal, but it’s not a major problem either.

    • Matthew Minix says:

      It was fixed. PayPal is holding on to 5% of the money for 2 months, all else can be transferred out of PayPal

    • OptionalJoystick says:

      Ah, great. Thanks! I can hear my future self is damning you already.

  12. Dave says:

    I really agree about the exploring thing. One of the reasons I still have a lot of love for Homeworld, all these years later, is it gives you a little tiny bit of that. The “what the hell is THAT?!” feeling. Only in a few stages, the ones that aren’t taken up by fighting model swaps of your own ships, but its definitely there; the awe of the unknown. What other games have that?

    Minecraft has this in spades of course. You build up your cozy little base (for myself, having bought it two days ago after reading the first of these write-ups, a lovely little hobbit hole half-way up a hill, looking out over a small lake, with a massive staircase leading down to my mines, and a ladder leading up to the top of the hill where I’ve built a two story house next to my beacon) and then you VENTURE FORTH, into the unknown (just as you’ve described here) and it’s different and scary and if you die you’re never going to be able to find your way back to get your stuff again and oh shit it’s getting dark, what’s that noise….it’s wonderful.

  13. Emphursis says:

    I was going to say press F for fog distance, until I saw that you had noticed the option xD

    Also, to those who say ‘never mine down’, you are idiots. What’s the worst that can happen? You fall in some lava? Oh well, you can get everything back in a few minutes!

    • Dys says:

      Actually, I’d say the worst that can happen is falling into the endless lilac void beneath the world.
      Death either way, but the fall has an extra tang of despair.

    • Sardaukar says:

      Except the lava will melt all your items. Like the time I carefully, slowly, extracted a bit of diamond secluded in a pocket of the stuff; I messed up at the end and my confined dig area turned into a deep fryer. Including all the diamonds from that dig.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Anyone who scoffs at the rule to never dig straight down obviously has never lost a diamond… yet.

  14. Freud says:

    I tell myself I’ll buy this when it is closer to being finished. Which may be a somewhat flawed strategy. Then again, I have this backlog of games I need to get through so it doesn’t hurt me that my first visit in Minecraftland will be more polished.

  15. JuJuCam says:

    I’m having trouble installing texture packs. I’m using IZArc, finding the appropriate minecraft.jar, extracting the texture pack and compressing it into the jar.

    After doing it apparently correctly according to every guide I’ve seen, running minecraft.exe results in the screen freezing at “Done Loading” with the loading bar about 5% shy of the end. Googling around reveals that this is a symptom of a corrupt minecraft.jar file with no advice related to fixing the damn texture pack!

    Any advice? I’ve attempted every permutation of the install I could think of and have reached wits end. The RPG texture pack looks lovely and I’d love to see my world through those eyes…

    • Dave says:

      I can offer nothing but sympathy, as I had the exact same problem…

    • JuJuCam says:

      Turns out IZArc has some issue completing this operation properly, 7-zip managed it without a hitch.

    • Nuker says:

      could try manual install… search your install drive for .minecraft and use WinRAR to open it

  16. Dosh says:

    I love Minecraft, but I hope to see more and more “stuff” to play with, because for the moment I found pretty much everyone is playing the same way and discovering the same scenarios again and again. Well this is the case for many games around (most) but with something randomly generated I hope to find a little more.
    Let’s add a few more interactions, monsters, vehicles, growing vegetation, secrets and tools and it will be perfect :D

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Yeah agreed with this. But in previous threads I and others have stated the gameplay, as-is, is somewhat “bare”. It’s good, really good, but once Notch knuckles down with the company started (follow his blog!), we can expect more good stuff… biomes, villages, and some random-prefab “stuff” are all going to make up for this lack of content.

      The fact that Notch is openly and honestly using the money he’s earning towards continued development only reaffirms my feelings that Minecraft was and still is money well spent.

    • Dozer says:

      The vegetation already is growing – well the cactus and trees do anyway.

      I don’t think this game will ever be ‘finished’. I reckon, the more Notch adds, the more Notch will find he can and wants to add after it, and it will eventually reach a point where he just has to stop working on Minecraft in order to move onto the Next Thing. Hopefully some time in the future :-)

  17. Fumarole says:

    I fear buying this will cause me to never finish my backlog of games nor see my girl ever again. So why am I about to check my disposable account balance to see if I am about to buy this game? Damn you, Quinns.

  18. Fetthesten says:

    For me, Minecraft is about exploration and building, of course – but mostly, it’s about destruction. It’s about discovering the most beautiful, natural-looking, serene valley, and then scarring it beyond recognition as I strip the land bare. Plains, forests, even mountains – I tear all that shit down and put up my own terrible creations, because I feel like it. Minecraft can be an evil game, but then again most Minecraft players are pretty evil in return.

    And yeah, Quinns played for five days and didn’t even undertake an insane, sanity-crushing construction project. Mine is a floating castle, built on an island I made myself. I’ve been at it on and off for weeks and I’m not even half done yet.

    • sfury says:

      Enjoy your evil rule while you can, Sauron, one day me and the Ents will come to avenge the fallen!

    • pepper says:

      I have actually built my own castle. including underground routes to outposts, lookouts, a harbour with a ever ready ship for me to set sail with, and my own freakin garders were I GROW ENTS. And then kill them for there sweet delicious wood. Although trees appear to grow higher when there environment is high. I have a 20 block tower next to it, and a 5 block wall, and it always tries to have the canopy grow over it. So, if you want big trees. build a walled garden.

  19. Reapy says:

    I wish you could translate over the dwarf fort adventure mode into a minecraft view. The one thing minecraft lacks for exploration is ‘stuff’. The dfort world gen makes a pretty interesting piece of world, and if you could render the thing in simple 3d like this, wow the game would be addicting.

    For a long while I’ve wanted an explore game, after I realized that the closest you get now a days are your first week or two with a brand new mmo. For the exploration to work, you need an element of danger, and a difficulty to get where you want to go. I would love to see more challenging climbing mechanics in games, the need to gather supplies before you venture out, and the ability to scrounge them up as you go. I’d also like some pretty crazy natural life with a few simple mechanics, and set behaviors, and bam, you got this awesome world to explore.

    Anyway, I hope that minecraft’s success will convince more people there is money to be made via exploration/discovery style games.

    • James G says:

      You mean like some DF to Minecraft converter utility?

      http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=64473.0

      If only there were such a thing.

    • Reapy says:

      I saw that and my head exploded appropriately, but at most this is just another viewer for dfort. The minecraft world is really simple and made for building and exploring. While the exploration in minecraft is technically unlimited, in reality you will only see various configurations of the base blocks, and one of 4 monsters. Now the varying landscape is pretty awesome and might keep it going forever, but at some point it will become boring to find another random cave with some water and lava in it and a few zombies.

      Anyway, so yeah, exploration game as described above, would be good, and hope that dfort + minecraft keep laying the tracks for this genera to get refined and perfected.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Give it time. There will surely be more to do in Minecraft as development continues. I’m hoping Notch will add some form of scripting eventually… I can’t be the only one that would like to see 3D ZZT! :)

  20. Tusque d'Ivoire says:

    I bought minecraft at the time of your second mine the gap post, and after a few feeble attempts at creating a home, which i never found again after i died, i have now found a very beautiful big cave in a cliff next to a waterfall with a nice lawn and a lake in front, and a cloud-piercing beacon on top so i’ll always find it again.

    however, it seems to be incredibly difficult to find any kind of ore except coal. i have found neither redstone nor any other metals, which is frustrating, because i kinda don’t think i’ll be able to explore without being properly equipped.

    I completely love these articles quinns! please keep playing and writing! i’m dying to see what you do with your redstone. it seems the possibilities are endless, even if the whole thing gets complicated fast. (I mean this: http://minecraftwiki.net/wiki/Redstone_circuits )

    • Jeremy says:

      Best thing to do is stock up on materials, then create some containers to store it all in. Then just take a few things you can afford to lose, go as deep into a cave as possible until you can find some iron. If you die, no big deal, you can always make more stone picks and swords. Once you find some iron, you can get things rollin in no time.

    • MWoody says:

      Note that minerals increase in value as you go down, with diamond almost always found close to bedrock. So if you’re just cruising around outside looking at exposed cliff faces, you’re probably only going to find coal and maaaybe the occasional speck of iron.

      If you want the good stuff, you gotta dig.

    • Tusque d'Ivoire says:

      I listened to your advice and dug, dug, dug like a madman. it is a long way down to bedrock, and a pain to get all the way up again, and i can’t be asked to build stairs either. However, i found some iron, and a fair bit of redstone afterwards.

      I then abandoned my main mine shaft and started digging in the farthest corner of my home cave (which has a nice hobbitty entrance). i dropped into another huuuge cave system with an underground waterfall and lake and even a little pool of lava. I do NOT think i’ve seen all of it, it’s like swiss cheese down there. swiss cheese AFTER the mice.

      Now my plan is to connect my castle in the sky with my underground kingdom. Yea, i did a little more building than exploring… and i need to figure out how this redstone triggering stuff works.

  21. RiptoR says:

    Sigh, there goes my free time… (bought the game, couldn’t resist any longer)

  22. Jacques says:

    Why aren’t there more games about exploring? I’m not talking learning the corners and shortcuts of some dull “open” world here. I’m talking about games which let you pick your way through a world that’s every bit as secretive, hostile and surprising as our own. I’m talking about letting the player get lost. I’m talking about making a world so tactile, so absorbing and so believable that an exciting discovery can be as simple as a big-ass tree.

    I find myself agreeing completely with this, though oddly I’m yet to try out Minecraft (even though I’ve purchased it, go figure). It’s what keeps me playing Love, and it’s what keeps me going back to Morrowind.
    One of my fondest moments in Love thus far was coming across an AI character that didn’t automatically try to kill me, sure, he pointed his gun at me, but only because I did the same. As soon as I switched away from my gun, he popped out a pair of binoculars and started scouting around (probably for my settlement).

  23. Dzamir says:

    Remember that you can always play on multiplayer with other ppl (my server is full of cool things and a money system, you can connect to it using dzamir.is-a-geek.com as IP address)

  24. Blargh. says:

    You sir, should be a salesperson. I’d buy anything after perfected a 4-day pitch like this.

    Quintin Smith, Speedboad salesman.

  25. Tei says:

    Think about this.

    The map of Minecraft is to all effect infinite.

    Like our own universe.

    We built a small setlement that we call home.

    Like our own planet.

    There are A LOT out here to explore.

    The happyness that you feel playing minecraft, will one day be the same happyness of the human race exploring new planets and stars. This beatifull thing that I feel playng minecraft, one day will be shared by the whole human race.

    Thats it, I said it.

    • Langetc says:

      I hope you’re right Tei. I really, really do.
      But I have the sneaking suspicion that instead of creating rockets to fly to the stars, mankind’s greatest minds will spend their time playing minecraft.

    • Berzee says:

      The difference here being no permadeath when you fall in the lava. =)

    • Harlander says:

      No problem, langetc: just use the Minecraft to 3D printer interface and they can launch their curiously boxy rockets to the far reaches of space

    • Laneford says:

      I love Tei.

    • Huggster says:

      I agree with Tei.
      And I love him too.

    • Rob says:

      Funny you should mention that, Harlander: one of the ideas Notch mentioned on his Twitter feed after visiting Valve was that Minecraft could have multiple planets.

      (argh, I accidentally posted this in the wrong place at first)

  26. oceanclub says:

    One thing that annoys me is that I can never find any diamonds. I have tonnes of redstone which I haven’t used yet, always run out of iron (starting to put in a minecart system to take me from my main base to what I’ve term “Fort Alpha” so far), but not one sodding diamond, grr.

    P.

    • JonFitt says:

      I have been playing for a few days now and have not yet found one diamond.

      I have lots of redstone, but not nearly enough iron to start building train tracks. 6 blocks of iron per piece? You’re having a laugh!

    • oceanclub says:

      “6 blocks of iron per piece?”

      Ah no, it’s not that bad – 6 ingots of iron gives you _16_ pieces of track.

      P.

    • JonFitt says:

      Oh that’s not too bad. I haven’t managed to gather 6 ingots without spending them on picks and swords yet.

    • oceanclub says:

      Yeah, I’m going to hold back on making iron picks; you only need them for gold, redstone, etc anyway. Might as well just carry a whole bunch of cheap stone ones.

    • Polysynchronicity says:

      You get 16 units of track per crafting. So that’s 0.375 iron per track piece.

    • MWoody says:

      I generally switch to iron almost immediately. Keep in mind that as you go up the tool quality ladder, they both dig faster AND last longer. Ultimately, that means you’ll probably find more iron faster with an iron pick.

    • JonFitt says:

      I wish the iron seams were bigger. It would be great to have a bigger pay-off when you do find one. I’ve usually only found 3-4 blocks in a seam.

    • MWoody says:

      Keep in mind that, unless I’m seriously mistaken, veins found on open cave faces will almost always be partial. I believe the system builds the rock, veins and all, and then carves the caves out of it. This hypothesis is supported by my solid-rock mining seeming to turn up 5+ block veins, while cave-diving averages around 2-3.

    • JonFitt says:

      I always dig my own mine, I’m too scared of caves :-S

      Ever since I found a mob spawner in a shallow cave near my mine entrance I’ve given them a wide berth!

  27. Hippo says:

    Awesome. Just make sure you know how to actually get to this place once you die and respawn, before building all sorts of stuff here…

    • JonFitt says:

      That’s why I desperately want some sort of bedroll or bed item which acts as a “spawn to closest one” respawn location.

      There’s not much point in building anything large far away (as far as I can see), because one death and you might never get back there.

    • JonFitt says:

      Ok exchange: “not much point” for: “lots of potential frustration in”
      There is always a point.

    • Vague-rant says:

      Just leave a trail of torches. About as far apart as you can barely see. Then trying to get to base in the middle of the night.

    • Moth Bones says:

      Arf. I am so bad at this game. When I die I can rarely find my way back to anywhere I’ve been, so there are lots of chests of stuff and wee hideyholes mouldering somewhere. I simply cannot find any sense of direction in the game.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Moth: The sun and moon rise in the East, and they set in the West. The clouds constantly drift North.

      However, underground it is very easy to lose one’s sense of direction.

    • psyk says:

      There is a spawn changer

    • JonFitt says:

      The spawn changer is a game file hack though and not an in game object.

  28. Taillefer says:

    Few games beat the Gothic series for exploration. And, although probably the weakest as a game, Gothic 3′s world is outstanding for any would-be adventurer. Full of secret caves, hidden treasures, along with areas of breathtaking beauty in a living world where you can observe the wildlife roaming free. And, of course, there’s the incredible danger.

  29. Zinpafo says:

    Those articles are very well done, so well done that i have willing to give a try to a demo of this to see if this can be interesting for my taste.

    Looking at the minecraft website, apparently there is no demo but a free (and certainly very limited) version of this, but is there an offline version of that “classic/free” version or is it online only despite the “single player” wording ?

    Additionally, in the instruction i read
    “WASD to move”
    Hmm, is it possible to remap the keys, WASD is certainly good for qwerty, but not really for exotic keyboard scheme like mine.

    Anyways, nice AAR, keep them coming.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      It asks you for a login, but if the login fails (due to no internet connection, or wrong username/password) then you get the option to play offline.

    • Telke says:

      There’s also an alternative, unofficial client for the Classic/Creative version – google World of Minecraft Client – it’s done a main minecraft community site.

  30. anonymous17 says:

    Enjoying these Quinns.

    Thanks for highlighting a game that both deserves this attention and points to some interesting new ground.

  31. jokewood says:

    I don’t know how you guys do it. I’ll hear a game like minecraft getting love all over the internet and be fairly nonplussed, then you guys do a piece about it and suddenly I MUST HAVE THAT GAME.

    excellent stuff, Quinns. I’ve had a big banana grin on my face for all 4 pieces.

    • sfury says:

      I’ve also given up, took me a long Slashdot thread that pointed me to Minecraft LP videos to see what the hype is about …and Quinns’ excellent series coming right after that – I cannot hold any longer (even though I’m not around my gaming PC and will be on a pretty weak one for at least month on).

      I’m just curious how many MILLIONS has Notch made in the last week or so – he said 600 000 euros were for about three weeks sales, and that was before the ginormous threads and exposure he got on many gaming and news sites (check out the before-mentioned slashdot story – 700+ comments, WOW! http://games.slashdot.org/story/10/09/10/1713217/PayPal-Withholding-Indie-Game-Devs-euro600000-Account ) – who knows how many new players this converted?

      Now that’s the organic way of starting a unique game project and growing it (and a company, albeit unintended), not APB’s and other companies’ ludicrous money and time-wasting up-front in a “sure to get your money back investment project”.

    • JB says:

      @sfury – And of course, there’s now a Penny Arcade comic series. Well, at least 2 comics.

  32. Dodgy Geezer says:

    I read somewhere (maybe on Notch’s blog) that the Paypal thing has been resolved. His new business dude is also investigating alternatives.

  33. K says:

    Not if your stuff falls into the lava too.

  34. SF Legend says:

    Have you already decided what texture packs to try next? This one looks quite nice, even though it hasn’t been updated in a while

    • oceanclub says:

      Hmm, I might give that Zelda one a try alright. I’ve tried two textures pack before but didn’t like them – they were just _too_ fussy, and it was hard to tell at a glance which tools were which and, also, what they were made of.

      P.

  35. AukonDK says:

    Waiting for Paypal to sort out my account, gah! Need this!

    The combination of this and the multistrip Penny Arcade is gonna flood Notch’s servers and pockets!

  36. laikapants says:

    Will Iron Quinns be maybe hopefully interviewing Notch sometime in the next decade? It’d be extra excellent to be sure.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      I think Notch is very busy right now. It’s not that I reckon he’d turn an interview down, I just don’t want to distract him from his work and/or new studio.

    • Ian says:

      Admit it Quinns, you fear rejection.

    • laikapants says:

      @Swimming in Iron Quinns: Excellent point as he was stressing about maybe not getting to do the Friday Update (due to now canceled meetings) in an earlier blog post. All the same I hope to see a RPS Notch Interview someday.

  37. theSAiNT says:

    It’s strange, I really enjoy living the world of minecraft through these diaries and am certainly looking forward to the next installment, yet I have very little urge to play the game myself. I do understand the thrill of exploration and discovery, and it was what made the tedious grind of leveling a character in WoW more than just bearable. However, I just don’t see myself sinking that much time into ‘just’ an exploratory game.

    The only thing that really holds my attention is competitive multiplayer. Back to SC2 for me.

    • Huggster says:

      Don’t mock until you try it, I felt the same.
      Come on – its not expensive.

  38. Gosh says:

    RP games were the players set the rules are very rare and the best games out there. a couple i can think of is stranded/darkrp for garrysmod, sahrani/chernarus/takistan life for the arma series and this game. it will be wonderful hosting an RP server once the multiplayer portion is stable and everything works :)

    keep up the adventures mr smith.

  39. SuperBladesman says:

    I’ve really enjoyed this serial of articles so far – not looking forward to them ending.

    I’ve also bought (and am thoroughly enjoying) Minecraft on the back of it. Nice work Quinns (and Notch!)

  40. Robert says:

    \o/

    As a sidenote, just visited Notch’ Tumblr. My god what a cesspool of filth, the comments I mean. I don’t even know where to begin.

    Just visit this for feedback Notch. We are civilized Gentlepersons!

    • Huggster says:

      The tumblr posts are puerile, disastrous and gross – he should probably just disable the whole lot TBH.
      *sigh*

  41. Matt Varney says:

    I believe that the only thing that spawns above sea level is coal. Below sea level iron and gold will show up. Redstone and Diamond I believe are only within ~5 blocks of bedrock.

    • JonFitt says:

      I have found bedrock in one area and then continued down 100s of block to the side. So my question is:
      Is “bedrock level” a rough level below the surface, or some rough floor to the whole world?

      It would seem to be the former.

      Anyone know of a guide to the strata?

    • psyk says:

      Don’t think so, while strip mining a mountain next to my spawn I looked over at another mountain and there is at least 10 blocks of iron and 5 of coal half way up the side.

    • Matthew Minix says:

      Diamond and Redstone spawn in the bottom 17 levels. Lava spawns are about 20x more likely in the bottom 10, so the safest+profitable area to mine is between 10 and 17

    • psyk says:

      Ahhh was gravel :D

    • JonFitt says:

      I hit lava last night. I hit it while mining the ceiling out! But rather than flooding my mine, it was just good entertainment.

      My first response was to quickly retreat and throw down a barrier and hope that it didn’t overflow. However it doesn’t flow too far, and you can dump cobblestone over lava tiles to block them. So in the end I just manipulated it back into the ceiling (note to self, put a warning sign up).

      So in summary, it’s fun, and not that bad if you don’t touch it. Dig deep!

    • Grubblik says:

      There is a guide to strata somewhere on the minecraft forum, I’ll see if I can find it. As a quick guide however I have found that 10-12 levels above bedrock is a good level to mine, I seem to get lots of Ore, Coal & Redstone around here… occasional gold too but that tends to be deeper along with redstone.

      Gah, sorry guys, can’t find the topic, my search-fu has that friday feeling :(

    • Grubblik says:

      *along with diamonds, damn the missing edit!!

  42. Altemore says:

    Now I want RPS to do a feature like this on LOVE. I’ve been hoping for more coverage of that, as it seems to have evolved a fair bit, and remains ridiculously fascinating.

    • Jacques says:

      Seconded. Though it may be a bit harder, as Love requires collaboration.

    • Altemore says:

      Well, the barman diary seemed to work out fine even though it was a multiplayer thing. I think LOVE is the same kind of game in that it’s conductive of these completely unique personal experiences, say, the wind picking up in the early morning fog, the sun rising as your village’s forcefield comes on along with the myriad of blue power lines. Ahhh, sweet love…. Really ought to get into that again, haven’t played since beta/alpha, whatever it was.

    • Jacques says:

      It’s worth coming back, lots of new features since alpha/beta.

  43. Malibu Stacey says:

    You found magma & your first thought wasn’t “how do I flood the world with this stuff using a single lever?”

    You should be ashamed of yourself Quinns.

  44. Ryan says:

    Lava actually destroys items, so when you die in it your inventory is gone.

  45. FunkyLlama says:

    Is there any chance of Minecraft running acceptably on a netbook?

    • Matthew Minix says:

      Is the netbook from the future?

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Llama, look for my posts in previous Mine The Gaps.

      Short answer: If a CULV Celeron Core 2 derivative isn’t enough – and it isn’t – Atom CPUs certainly aren’t enough either.

    • Huggster says:

      I second this – its a killer. I can play it on my desktop PC at work (ssh … not anymore) at about 2 – 9 FPS.

    • EthZee says:

      I am running it on a Dell laptop from 2005, with a 1.7ghz processor and integrated graphics. It can be pretty jerky at times, though, and you usually need fog distance to be Normal at best. And i’m running it at a 1024×768 resolution.

      Which reminds me – can you run this full-screen?

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      F11 = fullscreen.

  46. psyk says:

    Went digging around the beach by my spawn and found a cave with a few spiders and a couple of creepers no biggie after burying the creepers with sand the real exploring begins and this cave system is massive only explored a fraction of the passage ways and then disaster I fallI down a hole land on a ledge and see a spider and some creepers so drop I drop some sand to kill the creepers then fall offthe ledge (doh) on to the sand pile and this happens hxxp://img340.imageshack.us/img340/333/13166160.jpg.

    Can you get spider spawners? because Ive killed a few and more keep arriving.

    • psyk says:

      No ( . ) at the end of the image url

    • psyk says:

      It was a spider spawner buried behind half a gravel wall on the other side of a river, time retreat and kill some pigs.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Surround it with torches. Horizontally, that is. Don’t need to use more than 8, only 8 available spots. They’ll stop spawning at that point, and then you can recover their loot.

    • psyk says:

      MMM I just kept killing the spiders and moving closer, they stopped spawning after awhile. Got a record from one of the chests but i got distracted by another huge cave network that was connected to the last one and am now dead :D Now to find that chest again.

    • psyk says:

      Thanks for the tip by the way.

      Wow no wonder I keep digging in to new cave systems hxxp://img691.imageshack.us/img691/4503/map2obliquecaveday.png

      hxxp://img828.imageshack.us/img828/7579/map2obliquedaya.png
      am somewhere underneath the mountain with 3 yellow dots on top :D

    • JonFitt says:

      I just whacked the first spawner I came across until it died.

      I guess surrounding it is just if you want to keep it to spawn mobs for testing traps?

  47. Face says:

    Question: I don’t have a ‘real’ graphics card at the moment, just whatever it was that came standard with my laptop. In the free version of Minecraft Classic available on the Minecraft site the game runs smoothly on the second-to-most-restrictive fog setting. I can see for 30 blocks and there’s no sky. (Amusingly, this is about how far I can see in Morrowind as well.) I’m thinking in the full game, playing Survival mode, with creatures running around, my computer isn’t going to cut it. Right? The full version is not somehow more optimized for my non-gaming PC?

    I think I know the answer, I’m just despondently grasping at straws. NOT forking over the extra $100 for a dedicated graphics card for my laptop, because it was SUPPOSED TO BE for work, was one of the worst decisions I’ve made in the last two years. Don’t be like me, kids! Buy graphics, buy early, buy often.

    • Nallen says:

      I think it’s more on your CPU actually. In the browser based classic version I made the largest map size and put maximum draw distance on and saw the fps go as low as 9…which is about 1/3rd what I get on Crysis maxed lol.

      I’d be very interested to hear if things are any smoother on the Alpha version, or if this is an engine/tech type limitation that can only be solved with MOAR MEGAHURTZ (I have an i7 920).

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Search for my posts in the last Mine The Gaps. It’s a Java engine, so it’s quite CPU bound. Fairly recent Intel GPUs are enough to run the game to a playable level.

  48. BAReFOOt says:

    I know a game like this that looks better, is even more free, and a lot of fun. And it’s a lot older. You know what it’s called? REALITY!

    Honestly. Go ride you bike with the purpose of exploring things! Talk to people as if they were NPCs (= Talk to whoever you want, no matter if you never saw him/her before, no matter the looks or whatever. Without all the false, socially conditioned, fear.) You’ll have so many great experiences, you’ll become addicted!

    I do that, and it’s awesome! I found a blue rusting bus in the middle of nowhere, in a forest next to a clearance where nobody possibly could have droven it to in the last couple of decades! I found awesomely cool downhill tracks. I chatted up hot girls, made new friends, etc.
    Reality rules! If you allow it to.

  49. RadioactiveMan says:

    I am a proud new convert to the Church of Minecraft. The combination of Quinn’s search for Iron, reading about the RPS multiplayer server, and the excellent Minecraft Lets Play by SeaNanners (http://www.youtube.com/user/SeaNanners#p/a/33B2523A0F571466/0/ANgI2o_Jinc) finally broke my will to resist. I may never finish Racettear now, but… I find that to be acceptable for the time being.

    I’ll share my own first experience, because it was simply amazing for me: I awoke in this new world to a scenic little sand trap next to the beach, with some tree-covered hills nearby. Climbing the nearest hill, I could see in the distance a tall mountain. Wandering over to this mountain, I found meager ammounts of coal around the base of the cliffs. So, trees and coal? Sorted. Back to the first hill I had climbed, where I built a little underground house in sight of my sand trap, with the mountain behind me. I spent the next hour enlarging my new home- staying inside mostly, as there was constant scary-sounding noises above me. When I ventured out during the day, I would find arrows all over the place (skeletons?). This encouraged me to stay inside and begin a mine.

    I dug and dug, and dug some more. I put in little steps to make the main path easier to tread. I found coal and some gold, but overall was not that impressed. I found some dirt underground, which I thought might be a good sign, but nothing came of it. Eventually, I tired of mining and built a room in which to store all the stone I was accumulating. It was almost midnight and so with the room complete I decided to call it a day. At this point, I was fairly nonplussed with Minecraft- alot of digging and not much return. 5 out of 10.

    Then, as I was squaring up the room (its gotta be square) I heard something, very very quietly. Putting down my chest, I moved to the corner of the room. It was Louder. It sounded like… water? I began digging down, and the sound got louder. Forgetting the time, I kept going. All of a sudden, the square of rock I was hitting broke, and the pieces disappeared into an inky abyss. The water sound was loud. I couldn’ t see the bottom, and from my two-square-wide shaft, I saw no way to extend a ladder down. I dug horizontally and then down again, and managed to emerge on the banks of a giant underground river- WOW! Express route into the depths? Whynot!

    Selecting my torches, I hopped in. I followed the watercourse down to a large waterfall that deposited me into a giant room. This room.. was simply beyond what I expected to ever see in a game. The walls were chaotically honeycombed with blocks and protrusions and passages. This was no simple cave, with only limited exploration opportunities. This was an underground labyrinth! Wandering around, I found a second chamber, equally large, directly below the first. My footing suddenly felt very fragile. This lower room was chock full of gold, coal, and redstone. Huzzah! Then, there in the distance, I saw a faint light. What was this? Wandering over cautiously, I came upon a massive lava lake! With a waterfall visible across the lake in the distance. WOW!!

    At this point I was pretty excited. I put torches everywhere, to try and make sense of all this space (hopelessly). Things really came to a head when I returned to the central waterfall room. Walking near water, I accidentally stepped into and through the waterfall- on the back side was another massive dark room! Just at this moment, some creepy music started, and I freaked out a little bit. Its 2 in the morning, I’ve just found a gigantic room, and I have only a dozen torches left. I’ve been underground for hours, and have no idea how to scale the waterfall and get back into my mine tunnel. I decided to run for it. Someone here on RPS mentioned Shawshank-style escapes: This is what I attempted- a narrow one square wide tunnel that went up and up. After nearly being crushed by gravel several times, and using the last of my torches, I finally struck dirt, and then, daylight! I emerged knowing I would be lost in a strange location, but at least I would be able to see grass, and trees. Much to my surprise, however, upon turning I saw the very same mountain that I had begun my adventures next to! After hours underground exploration, and frantic upward digging, I had emerged within sight of the only landmark I had in the entire world! Amazing! I built a celebratory stone monolith to mark my exit point, and then realized night was falling. I ran back towards my safe little house, with a goofy grin on my face, as the sun set ahead of me and spiders emerged from the trees behind.

    TLDR: I’m hooked!

  50. Polysynchronicity says:

    Bloody hell that texture pack looks awful. Give me the original any day!