MineCraft: Mine The Gap, Day 2

This week I’m playing indie mega-hit MineCraft. Want to know whether you should be playing MineCraft too? Have a read of my adventures and see whether they (figuratively) set your heart alight. Day 1 can be found here. As for Day 2, it features swordplay, spelunking and strange explosions, plus I accidentally trap myself in a trap of Bond villain proportions.

When we left me I’d buried myself alive on a tiny island, far from my home of Stupid Cave, because I thought it would be a good idea to “go” “exploring”. Now the sun has set, there are monsters above ground, and I’m BORED. I said in the last entry that I couldn’t tunnel in any direction, because I might tap water and flood my protective chamber. That is entirely true. I decide to do it anyway.

Cautiously, listening out for monsters, I nuzzle through the dirt and pop out here, on the edge of the island. It dawns on me that I have no idea how water acts in MineCraft. I’m dying to find out. I know what they say about curiosity and the cat, but what they don’t tell you about that same cat is that he was popularly considered a cool cat among cats and boned loads of lady cats before curiosity kicked his ass.

I remove the last cube of dirt.

Fuck! That is unexpectedly awesome! Water goes pouring through the gap I cut, carrying me bodily back down my tunnel…

…and deposits me right back at the point where I buried myself. Huh. Looks like there are some rules about how far water can travel over porous terrain. Cute. I quickly wall up my experiment for fear that creatures will stumble into the stream and be carried straight to me on a kind of deadly travelator.

I kill the rest of the hours before dawn re-arranging dirt and chewing my fingernails before I finally start hearing pained grunts above me. The sun must be cooking all those nocturnal monsters. Excellent! I wait for the grunts to stop entirely, then punch out my roof.

Sunlight! I find myself somewhat stunned. It’s incredible how evocative games can be when they model nature, then make you rely on it. Changing seasons are actually on Notch’s to-do list for MineCraft. I can’t wait. I pull myself out of the hole, and-

– wait. What the Hell is that? Why is it moving? I draw my sword. My pitiful, stone sword.

Jesusing Shit! What the fuck? It is horrible! Look at the murder in its eyes! Those are eyes that know nothing but murder. Look at the nightmarish, peg-like legs. A monster. A real one! This will be my finest hour.

As it walks out from under the tree it bursts into flames, showing me the reason it survived sunrise was because of the shade. In the duel that follows the creature collapses after a few swings from my sword, but not before getting in a lone swipe that tears off half my health.

Shaken, I find my way back to Stupid Cave after a scant fifteen minutes of fevered searching. There, I take the few chunks of iron I’ve managed to find through all my mining and craft this:

An iron sword. Yeah, that’s right! No more mister stone-sword guy. This land is after my blood, and I don’t intend to let go of it without a fight. A slightly longer fight. I also go to the forge and grill the pork steaks I’d collected from various unfortunate local pigs. Scarfing one down, I’m almost back to full strength. I leave the rest in my pockets for later. Nobody said survival was sanitary. Finally, I make six dozen torches. I have no intention of running out mid-mission.

What mission, you ask? Well, I have an ulterior motive in gearing up with sword & steaks. In the comments of my last MineCraft post, people said that I was much more likely to find ore in natural caves as opposed to “mining like a baby,” as one jerk put it. Well, I’m not scared. I mean, I am, but whatever. Let’s go find a cave.

I seal up Stupid Cave with natural stone blocks, giving it more of a secret HQ vibe. Now nobody will find my home! Unless they somehow knew where to dig. And I can’t see how they’d know where to dig. It’s just some steps leading up to some torches. Would could be more natural than that?

On the way to look for a natural cave I’m distracted by some coal deposits. I’ve only just finished stuffing my pockets (mmm, coal-coated pork steak) when I notice the sun. God Dammit!

It’s already setting. Rubbish time management on my part. I’ll have to go back to Stupid Cave and go on my cave hunt first thing in the morning.

Meanwhile, I do a little more mining. My mine is getting ridiculous at this point. Not ridiculous by professional MineCraft community standards. By MineCraft community standards, it’s the work of an idiot child, but by my standards it’s ridiculous. Look, I took a video:

If you get a dungeony vibe of that, know that one of the features Notch is planning for MineCraft is an in-depth Adventure mode, with dungeons, monster spawners, monsters and chests, where the adventurers can’t dig as they would normally. Presumably this could, at some point, become a mode where one player makes a dungeon and the others invade it. The current build of MineCraft is only an alpha, remember.

That night I also add a practical feature to Stupid Cave: a garbage chute. All the rock and gravel I unintentionally amass while I’m mining can be thrown directly out of my inventory in the form of a floating pick-up, but as long as it’s all the way down there I’m in no danger of accidentally picking it back up. Sorted. Course if I ever fall down there my inventory will become flooded with about 400 cubes of rock, but I’m not thinking about that right now.

I also find a little more iron in the course of my night’s digging. Not much, but enough to make some iron trousers and iron boots. I also turn my collected cow hides into a hat. BEHOLD:

Hm. My new armour doesn’t really shout “hero” so much as “knob”, but nevermind. The next day I launch a foray as planned and find my very first cave.

And go inside…

And find an underground river!

Spelunking, it turns out, is kind of breathtaking. Everything- the risk of encountering monsters, the natural cave formations, the chance of discovering something unusual- comes together to form a thrilling whole. It reminds me of Noctis, of all things, which was an open source videogame circa 2000 that gave you a very abstract spaceship and let you explore a very abstract universe containing strange, randomised life. Discovering plant life in Noctis was an event. Discovering some of its strange, vector creatures was jawdropping. It didn’t matter that you spent most of your time staring at instrument panels and worrying about fuel. Something about the randomisation made everything exciting.

Unable to resist, I jump in the river to see where it takes me.

Iron! A fair bit, too! Yessir, Quinns’ days of not having iron will soon be very much behind him. You’ll have to start calling me Iron Quinns.

A sharp intake of breath from the singer on the album I’m listening to causes me to panic and draw my sword. I’d forgotten there were meant to be monsters down here. I haven’t found a soul.

Struggling once again to find my way home after exploring every inch of the cave, I decide on a project- a beacon, of sorts. I will build a mighty pillar directly above Stupid Cave, thus allowing me to spot it from miles away. My first crack at this sees me stacking some rubbish on a tree, and proves to be a bit embarrassing.

At first I tell myself that it’s not the size of your beacon that matters, it’s how you use it. I then decide that no-one’s going to believe that and go back to the drawing board, or rather the MineCraft wiki. I quickly hatch a plan. Back at Stupid Cave I crack open my storage chest and reduce every piece of lumber I have into sticks. I then craft these sticks in a mass of ladder segments, fill my inventory them, plus some rocks, and return to the tree. By placing a couple of rocks on the tree, then setting a ladder against the rocks, then placing two more rocks up there, then extending the ladder, I create a monstrous pillar of epic proportions. I then climb on top of it for the view.

Excellent! With the screenshot taken, I realise I have a problem. The ladder back down is 2 dimensional. It is a texture, placed on one of the sides of the single-cube column I’m standing on. And I have no idea which side the ladder is on. Realising that my sole option is to get this over with quickly, I take an educated guess and drop off the column. If I’ve chosen incorrectly, I’m dead.

It’s the correct side. I’m saved. I quickly jog back home and seal myself back in Stupid Cave for the night. The next day, I go adventuring again. Following a brief encounter with a strange monster that explodes in my face, causing a chunk of damage:

…I find another cave.

And I strike gold. Not literally. It’s just more iron. But it’s so much iron! I quickly peel 20 blocks of ore out of the ground, and that’s just the beginning. I’ll never want for iron again! Iron Quinns is born!

I came, I saw, I stole. I’m a proper hero, with iron armour and an iron sword and everything. Which begs the question: What now?

Well, a hero like Iron Quinns can’t be living in a cave, can he? I need a proper house. With a door and a bookshelf and windows and things. I need luxury.

By the time I leave the cave, the sun’s setting. It’s a long walk home, but I’m not afraid anymore. I think I’m getting the hang of this.


  1. DrGonzo says:

    Well I was listening to be your own PET’s Adventure when I stuck that video on. Suits it rather well I think.

  2. Sayyan says:

    For a long distance spelunk I usually take the following:

    4 x Cooked Pork – There are more dangers while spelunking than just monsters
    3 x Stone shovel – Whilst you should have the materials to make more, carry three allows you to continue without pausing too often
    3 x Stone pick – Used for mining stone, coal and iron
    1 x Iron pick – Use this for mining gold, redstone and diamond
    1 x Iron sword – Lets you feel empowered while you are brutally slaughtered, miles from your home
    32 x Logs – The equivalent of taking 128 planks or 256 sticks. Can be used to build a shelter while on a long trip, new tools, torches, oh and boats for launching off the side of giant underground waterfalls
    64 x Sand/Gravel – Useful for descending into shafts, simply drop from the top and then dig down.
    64 x Torches
    32 x Ladders – Can be placed while you’re climbing them, useful for ascending vertical faces

    As of the latest update the creation of a compass is available, however the materials required involve a trip down to the bowels of the planet, so you won’t be able to get hold of one before at least your first adventure.

  3. paco says:

    I had this random world and I was deleloping quite good, although I hadn’t really any future goal at all. When I was mining I was so stupid to desestabilize a block of sand and I was buried alive, dead and lost all my loot :( When I get to the dead site I couldnt find my loot, maybe the sand destroyed it.

    Oh well, I will start another random world, that one never really convinced myself.

    • jdeuel says:

      When sand or gravel falls it just displaces the stuff below it, so it might have all gone up to the surface?

    • paco says:

      I searched, nothing, maybe it was I quitted the game before actually respawning, ohh well :)

    • Lightbulb says:

      There is a timer on dropped item. If you are in the same area the timer runs and if you don’t get there in time your stuff will be gone.

      If you were a LONG way away I have read that the timer doesn’t start until you get close.

      The lesson – digging up in dangerous…. Always prepare for: SURPRISE LAVA!

      I would add a bucket of water or two to the equipment list for spelunking.

  4. FunkyBadger says:

    The only thing stopping me getting this forthwith is the mention of spiders…

    …I need some visual representation of Minecraft spiderform life before I can venture out. If they’re as horrible as the Spelunky spiders I may be locked out of the promised land forever.

    • Shon says:

      As a bug-phobe myself, the spiders in Minecraft didn’t bother me. They look like black socks that are fraying. Their entire body jumps like a flat plane. I didn’t realize it was a spider till I saw it dropped string.

    • Vinraith says:


      Here’s a Minecraft spider:

      link to minecraftwiki.net

    • Tom says:

      I feel your pain. I’m a raging arachnophobiac, but I bought the game way before mobs were introduced. Played the game on peaceful ever since. No biggy, as I play the game for the sense of exploration and creating stuff. I have found some spawncages, but as far as I can tell, they do nothing on peaceful.

      I know how the spiders look though, by browsing the forums and the minepedia and they don’t look scary. But I guess when they’re in motion, creeping up on me, I won’t handle it.

      Still, buy the game and play on peaceful. I do hope though that someday you can goodies like gunpowder from something else instead of just mobs. Or maybe Notch can give us the option to disable certain mobs…

    • rei says:

      I believe you can play it on a difficulty setting that removes monsters, although that would probably take away some of the fun.

    • rei says:

      (I’m a bit slow)

    • FunkyBadger says:

      I think I’d have been less scared of the blocky sprites if I didn’t know they were *meant* to be spiders…

    • Lightbulb says:

      …their eyes glow red…

      You cannot out-run a spider. Spiders will not burn during the day, but will also be much more passive, not becoming aggressive until you attack them. If they were chasing the player during night they will usually continue. Spiders can be mounted by a deadly skeleton. Spiders make a sound somewhat like someone slurping a straw and their distinctive noise can warn you of their presence.

      Scary until you see them: link to minecraftwiki.net

      I am freaked out by the smallest spider and patched them out of System Shock. They are fine in minecraft. :)

  5. Jamie says:

    I downloaded the bloody thing yesterday (on Mac) and know I have a plant to build lots of big towers and castles with bridges in between, except of course I’ll probably die before I get the chance. Oh, god I think I’m addicted.

  6. bleeters says:

    Your cave needs a statue. A statue of Iron Quinns, made of iron. Yes.

  7. squareking says:

    For some reason, I’ve avoided all coverage of this game until Quinn’s awesome writeups. Couldn’t help myself — bought with extreme quickness.

  8. Magicpanda says:

    Have you seen HIM yet?

    Anyway Iron Quinns, put that iron to good use and build a rail network!

  9. theimpossibleman says:

    I love the idea of this game and really want to purchase it.

    I apologize ahead of time for this incredibly ignorant question, but, is there any issue paying for this in US dollars? I just didn’t know if I need to do anything first or if I can just order it with my american credit card.

    Again, sorry for the ignorance!

    • laikapants says:

      US dollars are more than acceptable and how I (and many of the purchasers) paid for it. Go, BUY! Dig!

  10. Aerozol says:

    Ah ffff…. I am definitely getting this game.
    This playthrough + Notch’s blog about piracy = buy!

  11. Supertonic says:

    Just spent 4 hours on this then realised I should be doing some work. Bastards.

  12. fishyjoes says:

    Thanks for the awesome music Quintin!

    I think I will buy the game as soon as I have some spare time. Seams like a game you should play when you are relaxed and have time to go exploring.

  13. JB says:

    *cough* rps.fragwith.us *cough*

    All you new purchasers, why not come along and join us on the unofficial RPS server for some MP fun. It’s perfectly safe. Except for the apparently regular fires in The Wooden Pickaxe, the local inn…

    • Lightbulb says:

      It wasn’t me the second time, I was 20 minutes underground…

      The ideas of “lava lighting” and “wooden pub” should probably NOT be mixed.

      The trees… Well those were my fault.

  14. Johnny Go-Time says:

    Wow, these write-ups are better than any marketing campaign*

    I’m sold, going to buy right now!

    *Unless…this *is* the marketing campaign**……………………….

    ** J/k, I love RPS, no need for flame war

  15. FlyingSquirrel says:

    Godammit Quinns, I’d made it two weeks without playing Minecraft! Two whole weeks! Now look what you made me – oh look some ore … *mine*mine*mine* ……….

  16. Snook says:

    Why not look at it as an opportunity to confront and examine your fears in a situation where you know nothing can hurt you?

  17. joe says:

    i meant based on mc2.joe.to the public server :)

  18. nil says:

    Compare and contrast with Love (especially the engine – sometimes worse IS better, qv. Gabriel.)

  19. Sinomatic says:

    Also caved in (pardon the pun) and bought it, much to the annoyance of my bank balance.

    Damn you peoples and your tempting reviews all to hell!

    (Or at least down as far as the redstone…. )

    • Lightbulb says:

      Oh there is a hell…

      Buried deep in the dark under tonnes of natural rock and lava is the un-minable Adminium. But in some places holes are left in it leading into the Void. Only the brave or the foolish venture in there…

      (This is not a joke its really true! I love this game!)

  20. adonf says:

    the stats page is rather interesting:

    “In the last 24 hours, 11777 people registered, and 5231 people bought the game.”

    yep, fifty thousand eurodollars in one day for a one-man project. in 2012 people will blame minecraft for being the cause of the indie gaming bubble.

    • Tei says:

      check Google Thrends, the hype for MineCraft is about x20 times bigger than Dwarf Fortress. This thing is huge. Probably because is way more accesible than DF.

  21. MonkeyMonster says:

    Boss is away and dude next to me off too… Yep, I’ve already got the first uber cave running with glass walls and ceilings :D

    • Nallen says:

      Same here lol, 90% of the office is out, my own productivity is about to hit a stunning new low :)

  22. Lambchops says:

    Must remember to save more often :-(

    I’d just got properly stuck in for the first time, built my home cave but cursinga lack of tar for toches went off in search of some natural caves and found this really cool cave by a lake with an underground stream and lots of goodies.

    Then it crashed and my world is gone. Just as I was getting attached to it.

    Aside from that this is a bloody awesome game. Glad I finally caved in and bought it.

    • JB says:

      @Lambchops – My daughter had the same thing happen, so she started a new world – except that it turned out to be the same world. She spawned somewhere different, and there are some big rectangular chunks of land missing (some sort of mild file corruption maybe?), but she stumbled across her old house by accident after playing the “new” world for a couple of days!

  23. Rich says:

    Is multiplayer the only way to play the classic-like sandbox game type? The one with sponges, no health bar, all block types etc?

  24. rei says:

    I just gave up my resistance and bought it. I’m already eschewing my responsibilities for tomorrow. This game will end me.

  25. Nallen says:

    Ah hah! new goal for when I buy this (yes you sold it to me Quinns, hope you’re getting a kick back ;)) – forget Khazad-dum, Laputa is go!

    • Rich says:

      I find it hard enough to go one night without sitting in the pitch black, in anything put a hobbit hole or mud hut.

  26. Gunnar says:

    Will you stop posting about minecraft already! I have so far been rather successful at ignoring it as I fear that it will just eat up my free time if I ever start with it… No. will. not. download. must. resist…

  27. SuperBladesman says:

    I’ve been looking for two days now and I’ve still to find a cave. :(

    I have built a castle, and excavated a lot of stone underneath in the process of doing it. But now I’d like to do some exploring, and there’s none to be had anywhere remotely nearby :(

  28. Tei says:

    If you visit the unofficial RPS server, theres a box on Main Street to donate iron for Quins.

  29. Lucas says:

    You should play on normal difficulty, because the labels are deceptive. Easy has a lot more monsters (which are easier, but get you more resources), and hard has very few (but far meaner).

  30. Bahumat says:

    Through the magic of evoking the name ‘Noctis’ you have convinced me to try this game, although previously I had looked down upon it as the retarded cousin of the venerable Dwarf Fortress.

    But I loved Noctis even more than I love Dwarf Fortress. So.

    Minecraft, ho!

  31. noobnob says:

    I think I’ll actually wait for the full price.

  32. Combine Overwatch says:

    Ahh, why were you damaging your lovely stone Pickaxe by hitting that pig with it? That’s what Swords and Fists are for…