I’m genuinely surprised that I haven’t written more Minecraft articles in the past. I used to be an avid Minecraft player, especially back when I started writing for the Daily SPUF, but it’s never really come up. I suppose it’s because everyone has pretty much covered Minecraft elsewhere, plus I wasn’t really doing anything new or innovative like building complex redstone mechanisms or recreating world icons or things like that. I just did what most people were doing, which was survive. That being said, I HAVE recreated CTF_Turbine in Minecraft, on an old creative mode server that no longer exists, but still, most of what I’ve done is small scale.
What I tend to forget though is that I’ve been playing Minecraft since it was in Alpha. I paid €5 for it, all those years ago. My brother Terroxy has been playing Minecraft since InfDev, when Minecraft first became an infinitely generated world, rather than a world of a set size. I’ve played through all sorts of stuff, from the miracle that was beds, through the existence of the Farlands, to the gigantic 1.8 beta update, through the disappearance and reappearance of beaches, via the addition of villages and Nethers and Ends and all sorts. Now I’m playing Minecraft Release 1.9.3 or something like that and it’s weird how much the game has changed, yet still hasn’t.
The original game, around Alpha and Beta times, was pretty sparse. Huge, infinite worlds with not a huge amount of stuff in them, but more on the fly crazy terrain generation. There were no endings, no End, no hunger bar, no experience, nothing like that. For most of Alpha and part of Beta, there were no beds either, meaning no way to change your spawn point (apart from mods). That meant you kinda settled where you spawned. It was a peaceful life.
These days, you need to explore to get the most out of Minecraft. There are some lovely new areas, for example the Mesa and Mushroom biomes, but they’re all very rare, you’ll most often find plains, savannas, forests, oceans, mountains, then more plains, savannas, forests, oceans and mountains. If you want anything more than diamond armour, you need to start brewing potions and getting things for enchanting. The End promises an end-game experience, but it’s tiresome to get there, especially when there’s actually fuck all in the End.
Do you know how to get to the End? It’s a long trip. You’ve got to kill a ton of Endermen, which have a not great chance of dropping an Ender Pearl. Then you’ve got to go to the Nether by building a portal made of obsidian (which requires a diamond pick axe and a long time hitting stuff). Then once you’re in the Nether, you need to find Blazes, in a world where everything sets you on fire and there’s no water to extinguish yourself. You’ll need a ton of Blazes, as you need Blaze Rods to break down into Blaze Powder to make Eyes of Ender. Then you need to get back to the main world and collect all the stuff you need for the fight against the Ender Dragon (including Ender Pearls), then spam Eyes of Ender into the air and follow where they go. Eventually, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a Dungeon (which is always about 500-1000 blocks away from your original spawn point), and you need to have twelve Eyes of Ender left to be able to activate the End Portal. Once that’s open, you can jump in and fight the Ender Dragon, which can only be done once you’ve destroyed all the crystals on top of tall towers that heal it. Finally, the Ender Dragon explodes and you get experience and the rest of the End is unlocked.
Oh, and if you die in the End, unless you’ve set up an easy way to get to the Dungeon, you’ve got to walk back and do it all again. If you fell off the edge, your stuff is gone forever.
That’s great and all, but the End isn’t actually worth exploring. The End worldspace is boring and horrible, with little in it and a fuckton of Endermen, and you have to travel thousands and thousands of blocks before actually finding anything interesting.
Other stuff you really struggle to get without exploring include emeralds, villages, melons, cocoa, cookies, dungeons, potions, breweries, mooshrooms, hardened clay, slimes, slime balls, anything made with slime balls and red sand.
Because of the exploration required these days, the way I play has changed dramatically. I used to be the sort that would travel a little bit, but would settle down and live in a small cobblestone house while I built myself a mansion and made a farm. These days, I’ll travel thousands upon thousands of blocks, collecting as much as I can along the way. Stacks of wood, saplings, seeds and vegetables for planting, a stack of cobblestone, and my trusty bed, among other things. My inventory is normally nearly full as I travel. Most multiplayer servers I play on, I’ll find myself bumping into messages like “you have reached the end of the world!” because I’ve traveled 20,000 blocks away from spawn.
I spend ages looking for the perfect place to settle down. Generally it’s an island in the middle of nowhere, but sometimes, if I’m lucky, I’ll find a mushroom island.
But the traveling part is generally the most fun bit. I’ve managed to streamline it, to make traveling as safe as possible. I sleep at sunset whenever I can, or spend the night inside a tree. My first day is spent making a pickaxe and a wooden sword, before killing as many animals as I can in order to have enough food to start the journey, with the first night spent in a sealed-in cave mining cobblestone, using a furnace and wood as a light source. Coal is easy to find but if you somehow fail to find any, charcoal always helps. After your first day, you should have cobblestone, a set of stone tools, a handful of torches, a stack of wood logs, a furnace and a crafting bench. Bonus points if you manage to make a bed as well, as using beds (in single player or empty servers) means you can skip night time with ease.
Once you’ve upgraded your gear to stone or iron if you find it, you’re pretty much set. Pick a direction and walk, making sure you have enough wood for a boat. Boats don’t break any more in 1.9, so you don’t need to worry about crashing into things and ending up stuck in the middle of an ocean.
That’s basically it. You just survive and walk, walk and run and survive. Weirdly, it’s quite relaxing doing all of this, like surviving in a one-man apocalypse or something.
If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t travel far, try it. Minecraft can be a really nice, survival experience.