Punching Trees Gives Me Wood – Part 1: The First Night

Even though I have a bunch of serious topics I’d like to talk about, I’m feeling the need to write something more lighthearted. So let’s talk about games. People like games, right?

Let’s talk about Minecraft.

What is Minecraft? I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you if you’re anything like me, I’d never see you again. At its most basic level, Minecraft is a pretty much what it says on the tin: a game about mining and crafting. But that comes nowhere close do doing it justice. Instead, I will attempt to communicate a small fraction of the wonder (and addicting qualities) this game can instill through a series of vignettes. Imagine if you will:

You wake up, alone, in a world that appears completely empty. You may be surrounded by trees, you may wake up on a beach overlooking the ocean. There may be hills, it may be flat, but everything seems to be made out of cubes. One-meter cubes.

This seems odd to you at first: you don’t remember everything being all sharp corners and pixelated textures. You touch one of the strange cubes (it looks like dirt), and it gives slightly under your touch. You poke it, and cracks start to appear, but fade when you let go. You go to make a fist, only to realize your hand and arm are a solid rectangle. You’ll worry about that later, but right now it doesn’t bother you. You hit the block in front of you repeatedly, the cracks getting deeper, when all of a sudden you hear a “pop” and the block dislodges, bouncing a short ways before settling in one spot, hovering slightly above the ground. You bend over to examine it, and pick it up with another popping sound.

It is then that you realize…

The world is yours to shape. To command. To bend to your will. Everything can be destroyed. Anything can be created. The only limit is your imagination.

The power is intoxicating.

You rush over to a tree, and start punching. A log pops out of the trunk, but the tree doesn’t fall. Huh; physics seems to be selective in where it acts. But like your blocky body, this doesn’t bother you. You finish chopping down the tree, clearing a spot underneath and punching straight up. You strike with one hand, catching wood as it falls with the other.

You are a god.

You notice the sun (also square) seems to be getting low on the horizon. The land darkens, and stars begin to appear in the sky. You turn to look for another tree to punch when you hear something.

A groan.

You look around, but the moon provides little illumination, even less under these trees. Are you really alone? You think so, but you’re beginning to have your doubts.

There!

Was that something moving? You couldn’t tell, but it looked like some sort of tall shrub, walking under its own power. You stop, but can’t hear anything from that direction. You inch closer.

Suddenly, the groan comes back, and you feel something strike your back. You whirl around, and come face to face with a zombie, it’s decaying skin a sickly shade of green. It reaches out again, lumpy hands stretched out in front of it.

Without thinking, you strike out with the block of dirt in your hand. The zombie cries out as it gets knocked back. Some of your previous bravado coming back, you strike again and again. The zombie gets a few hits in itself, but eventually it goes down. But rather than dispersing into zombie blocks (ew), it leaves a trace of flesh and glowing green orbs.

The orbs float over to you, and you feel powerful, experienced even. You have vanquished your first foe. Not only are you a god, you are a king!

But your reign is cut short when you hear a soft hissing sound, and turn to face it. The shrub from before has snuck over, as quiet as death, and it has a face! It’s body contorts, its face twisted in what can only be malice (or is it pain), and it explodes.

You are thrown back, along with the surrounding dirt. You land awkwardly, and you can feel the life drain out of you. A crater now sits nearby, blown all the way down to stone. As your head begins to clear, you hear more groans, as well as what can only be described as the rattling of dry bones. And what could be making that gibbering hiss?

You struggle to your feet. You need to find shelter. But you are alone in the dark, surrounded by enemies, armed with nothing more than blocks of dirt and wood. You stumble, and put your hand out to break your fall.

But something odd happens. The block of dirt, once in your hand, has been placed on the ground. Its placement is clearly not natural, but a direct result of your actions.

The surge of power you felt earlier comes back as you have an idea. You don’t need to find shelter, you can make it! You quickly set to work, setting the dirt into walls that quickly rise above your head. You hope you are right about the physics here as you place blocks above your head. But they stay suspended, and soon you have a roof. It is dark in here, but at least its safe. There is enough room for you to sit down, but not much more. The groans and other unspeakable noises come and go as you wait for the dawn.

Some time later (you can’t be sure) you burst through your humble wall, blinking in the sudden brightness. Once your eyes adjust, you can see that the sun is indeed up. A zombie sees you, but as it wanders out from under the shade of a nearby tree it bursts into flames! In the distance, you can see other creatures of the night in their fiery death throes. Only the creeping shrub creatures (oh yes, there are more) seem unaffected. But they haven’t noticed you yet.

You leave your first shelter and step fully into the light. A new day has dawned. You have learned you can destroy blocks, and even place them. A new thought enters your mind: could these blocks be combined? Crafted, even?

An infinite world of possibilities opens up before you. You’ll need resources, true, but you have a feeling there are untold riches waiting just below your feet. You’ll need time, but that you have in spades. You’ll need shelter, but you can build whatever your heart desires. In fact, making sure you survive the next night wouldn’t be a bad place to start…

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  1. Pingback: Punching Trees Gives Me Wood: Settling In | Kart before the H0rs3

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