Saturday, July 06, 2013

Minecraft Fever

This post could also be titled...

Why our family just spent a four day weekend playing Minecraft for hours on end.


Why my sink is full of dirty dishes.


Why even the ten year old got to stay up past 2 am two nights in a row.

Some background.

We are continually looking for fun family activities, especially games that we can play together. Over the years we've played MarioParty on the Wii and MarioKart on the Wii. We've played Munchkin, and own several versions and expansion packs of the Munchkin game. We've played Fluxx in the original and in variations. We've tried a family Pathfinder game, but that wasn't a favorite of the kids.

Within the past couple of months, Toa of Boy has developed a real interest in Minecraft. So, when he came to me and said, "You know, some families play Minecraft together," I knew we should look into it.

My impression of Minecraft, prior to playing it was that you dug around under a mountain to find certain blocks that you carried to the surface and put together to make other things with. Not really my idea of a good time.

But, we have a rule in our family that it isn't always about you. We have to take turns in choosing activities, movies, vacation destinations, field trips, etc. Even if the activity wasn't the one you wanted, we all try it and we all try to enjoy it...and in this way we support each others interests.

So, the Jedi found a tutorial video for him and I to watch, and we each played through the free demo version.

From that I learned that my initial understanding of Minecraft was way over-simplified.

In Minecraft, you start out in a wilderness setting with no tools and no supplies. You have a certain amount of daylight (10 minutes real time) to gather some basic supplies, find shelter, find coal for a fire, and hole up for the night. Because at night, unless you are playing on 'peaceful' mode, monsters come out. The first few days are all about simply surviving. You have both a health meter and a hunger meter. You need to stay safe, find food, and work towards improving your circumstance. Its a tricky process at first.

The Jedi and I watched the tutorials and played the demo version on Wednesday, July 3rd. Sweetling was away all week on a youth mission trip/service project, so it seemed that this was the perfect time to participate in an activity that Toa wanted us to try.

On the morning of the 4th I woke up and the Jedi was carrying a large case through the bedroom into the "server room". I asked what it was and he said it was going to be a new server for a family Minecraft world. (Just so the reader knows, one does NOT need a separate computer or a dedicated server to play the game. We are just, um, crazy in some ways.)

The Jedi found and loaded up this amazing, immense world.
Mostly to humor me, we agreed to set the world to 'peaceful', until we had a decent shelter built and had a steady food source.

We were far to busy to take 'before' screenshots of the little valley we found to start our camp in. We were so busy, in fact, that we were playing from around ten in the morning till 2:30 a.m.

Friday we woke up, walked the dog, got breakfast, and got busy. We turned off the 'peaceful' setting that day.

I can't tell you how cool this game is. From a homeschooling mom standpoint...the game promotes teamwork and co-operation, strategy and planning, creativity and perseverance. But most importantly, its just out and out great fun.

From nothing, and in the face of adversity, here's what we've built....

The front of our stronghold. Toa of Boy found the materials and figured out how to make a moat of fire. Inside there is a staircase that leads to the top crenelation so that you can stand there and look around. The front door is now an iron door that has a button to push to open it from the outside, and presser plate that you step on inside to automatically open it. Again, Toa of Boy made them.
This is from the rooftop looking down at the monster who is so sad that he can't reach me. Tee hee.
Here are some of the inside shots of our house. Currently, we have three levels, plus a basement, and mining tunnels underneath, AND two different rooftop levels. Most of the interior was designed and built by Toa.

Living area...

Restaurant (behind the counter is a chest with stored food supplies and a crafting table for making recipes)...
Disco floor, because every home needs a disco floor...
Indoor floor garden, which Toa made just for me :)

There are several others, but those are my favorites.

Meanwhile, my major undertaking was a wheat farm. Each square of wheat yields one bundle of wheat. Three bundles of wheat yield one loaf of bread. At first, I just planted the wheat next to a nearby pond and dug some irrigation trenches to keep it well watered. But harvesting and replanting the wheat one square at a time was taking up all my daylight, just to keep us fed. I told the Jedi that this wasn't a game, this was a job! I thought there had to be a better way to do this. So I searched online, and I found some youtube videos on automatic wheat harvesters. One in particular had a nice step by step guide on how to build one.

I got to work, and I built three.

I built the fence around them to keep the cows and pigs from wandering in and trampling the wheat. It also helps to keep monsters out at night. (Also, the base of each harvester is a trench filled with water. The soil that the wheat is planted in is immediately above the water filled trench, so the water underneath keeps the wheat irrigated so that it will grow.)

At the top of each terraced row of wheat is a water reservoir. When it's time to harvest the wheat Toa of Boy goes up and breaks the dirt block which act like a plug for the water. The water flows down and sweeps the ripe wheat and the wheat seeds into a trench at the bottom of the row. I stand there and collect the wheat and seeds. Then its a quick mater to replant.

Pretty sweet, right?

The Jedi devoted a great deal of his time to mining and crafting tools, weapons, and armor for us each. When he had us equipped with the best armor and weapons possible, he turned his attention to exploring the world. (He and Toa of Boy walked to the seacoast, built boats, and sailed down the coast to see what else they could find. When they came back home, they came back stocked with all sorts of rare and valuable minerals and supplies.)

The also built a set of stairs up the mountain behind our stronghold.
The stairs are connected to the top level of our roof and lead to a watchtower which the Jedi built on the top of the mountain.

Check out the view from the mountain stairs.

There are some materials you can only get from killing monsters. String (to make bows) can only be gotten from killing a spider. Carrots and potatoes are dropped by zombies (don't ask me why). Once you get one carrot or one potato, you can plant it and grow seeds to make more. Anyway, at night sometimes Toa and the Jedi go out monster hunting for certain supplies. I watch from the castle roof and yell helpful things like, "Behind you!"
During the daylight hours I'm working on making a giant waterslide down the face of the mountain. When it's finished, I'll post screenshots of that. I know you all can't wait for that.

For those of you who had read my recent Facebook updates and wondered what in the world I was talking about, I hope this answers some of your questions.

Now, if we can just talk Sweetling into joining us in this insanity constructive bonding time.

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