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A Smurf In Terraria: Part Two

Fine Mining

It may have been a few weeks since my first Terraria entry. But that doesn't mean I haven't been playing. I've been playing in all the spare time I've had (which admittedly mostly occurs when I'm stuck on a plane without internet access). And so it is that I bring you part two of the adventures of a young blue man called Smurf, and his desire to hit at squares with tools.

My plan for a next part to my Terraria adventures was to tell details of the first of the new terrains I'd explored. Oh, the fun we'd have – how Smurf survived the Underground Jungles, a story of crafting from meteor rock, perhaps even my first visit to a Dungeon. But it seems that's not quite how Terraria works. Because if you want to move on from the initial (enormously entertaining) stages, you need to kill some bosses. And I haven't been ready. But I have been on aeroplanes.

Copper, Iron, Silver and Gold I have coming out of my ears. Piles of the stuff in my chests at home. A pirate's plunder. It's just, to dig at stuff I'm interested in requires something more powerful – things I can only get if I start on a long chain of interlinked discoveries, none of which seem to take place within the game.

Instead, at this point it seems essential to be enjoying the efforts of those who have created the wiki. (Big thanks to those who pointed me away from the somewhat porn-infested unofficial wiki and toward the official one.) Why can't I mine these darker blocks with the purple snow? Why can't I survive more than ten seconds in the Corruption? Why is there a giant eye attacking me in my own home?

It's a peculiarity of the current version of the game, in perhaps a way that's even more exaggerated than in Minecraft, that it's not really possible to know what's going on without reading the user-created information.

Let's say you want to mine Hellstone, found in the game's lowest regions. A gold pickaxe is not good enough for that, it seems. You need a Nightmare pick for that. But to make those you need Demonite Bars and Shadow Scales, the wiki tells you. So Demonite Bars – that requires Demonite Ore, which is dropped by the Eye of Cthulhu or Eater of Worlds bosses that will occasionally appear. So that's problematic.

Then we need Shadow Scale, also from Eaters of Worlds. So that's some major boss killing to get started. Trouble is, Hellstone isn't so easily mined. It's too dangerous. It requires the use of an Obsidian Skull, which again you'll have to make. Obsidian, as we all know now, is formed when lava and water meet. And it's difficult to mine. You need something like a Nightmare pickaxe.

There are ways through this mire. Dynamite can also be used to get at Obsidian blocks, and then you can crack your way into the maze. But so often it can feel like butting your head up against a wall that doesn't want to let you in. So the next plan is, venture deep, deep down, with dynamite. Then there will be progress. That will be next time.

But brilliantly, that really didn't bother me during my recent plane journey. The eleven hour flight to LA is a horrible one. Being sat in one place for eleven hours is so impossibly inhuman. While I realise that concept may be difficult to grasp for WoW players, even they are able to get up to go to the toilet without having to apologise to nine other people. But gosh, Terraria made it so much better.

Idly mining is a strangely engaging experience. I never knew I liked mining games. I'm not sure reality had given me a chance to find that out until recently. But dig-dig-digging my way through vast caverns proves to enrapture me, and for minimal reward. The incentive I require to continue surprises me by being so little. And all Terraria need offer me is the occasional pot of coins, and the hope of a buried chest, to keep me making tunnels for entire flights.

But those chests really are quite the reward. Containing completely magical items, things you can't make for yourself, here the game is best played without having read too much of the wiki. I discovered a magic mirror that lets me teleport back to my current spawn point! What a treat. (Although I now have three of them.) If only I could get one that would let me teleport between two distinct points I would be a very happy man.

And for those who couldn't keep their excited mouths shut when I lamented the lack of double-jump, I have now discovered the means for that too. Hooray!

Oh, and a grappling hook! During that flight I finally found the skellington hooks I needed for such a tool. Which means Terraria has now entered the hallowed territory of containing double-jump, grappling hooks and zombies that can break down doors on certain moons. (I admit I wasn't aware that all games should have that latter feature until recently.)

I'm still completely bemused by mana. I have four mana stars, and absolutely no clue what they're for. I've seen reference to spell books being in Dungeons, but then that accessing a Dungeon requires having a certain item that requires mining a certain ore that needs a particular pick made from a substance I can't touch because I haven't made the right item formed from a mineral I can only get by killing an enemy that's too powerful for me. Which is perhaps frustrating.

Not frustrating enough, however, to stop me from digging and digging and digging and digging and digging. Forever. Deeper down. Wider out. Finding chambers. Channelling underwater streams through passages dug to drain chambers, in order to tap another silver seam, for no reason other than that it's there. And I saved up enough for that miner's helmet, so I don't even have to lay torches everywhere when just randomly exploring! Oh, such joy. Why I am stopping playing to write this? What's wrong with me?


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