Friday, October 3, 2014

Lost in Minecraft

There are flowers everywhere, in this biome

Version 1.8 of Minecraft was recently released, and since it's been a couple of years since I last played it, I've really been tempted to start a new game.

However, I'm already busy with Wasteland 2 and Dwarf Fortress, among other games, and I play Arma 3 with my friends several days a week. So I really couldn't start a new game of Minecraft, could I?

Or could I? I've been building an above-ground fort in Dwarf Fortress, and screenshots just don't do it justice. So I thought I might build a copy in Minecraft, just so I could show it off here.

Well, that was the idea, anyway - supposedly. But if I wanted to do that, I should have started the game in Creative mode, rather than Survival mode. And when I did install the new version, I ended up with some problems with the graphics.

Most of them are fixed now, but I'd turned the game to 'Peaceful' difficulty, so I wouldn't have to worry about monsters while I was struggling to see stuff. Meanwhile, I've been looking around for a location similar to my Dwarf Fortress embark site.

And now I'm hopelessly lost. I started next to a vast ocean, and I thought I'd take a look to the south, along the shore. So how could I get lost? But now, I can't even find the ocean, let alone my respawn point.

You see, I thought I'd circle around to the west, then go north and east again. Well, that's what I thought I was doing. But now I'm completely mixed up.

I did find a place along a river which might work for my Dwarf Fortress construction. It's grassland, rather than tropical woodland, but there are forested hills nearby. And if it's not very far above the river, at least the surface is relatively flat.

Now, there isn't any marble in Minecraft, but I figured I could make that part of the fortress out of sandstone, which is at least light in color. There's a new stone in the game which would work lots better, but I wasn't sure I could find enough diorite. And I've never played Minecraft without having a vast sand desert nearby.

Except for this time, apparently. In all my wandering, I have yet to discover a desert biome. (Again, this would be no problem at all if I'd started the game in Creative mode, since then you're given unlimited resources for building. And if I'd enabled cheats, I could have always switched to Survival mode later.)

So I still don't know what I want to do. I was already lost by the time I found that grassland site, so I just kept going. After that, I did mark my way with torches, along the rivers I traveled. (Going out, torches are on the right, so they'll be on the left coming back.) So I can probably find it again, even if I can't find my respawn point.

Bunnies, too (one right in front of me; another in the top of a tree).

Afterwards, I discovered this beautiful area just packed with flowers. Really, the screenshots don't do it justice. (Still, click on them to see the full-screen version.) There's a flat plateau nearby, too, so I could build something on that, if I wanted. But that wasn't the point of starting up Minecraft.

And I'm enjoying looking around on 'Peaceful.'  Days last only ten minutes real-time, so nights are a constant interruption if I have to contend with monsters. However, unless I have a plan in mind, there's not much point to idle wandering, either.

One thing I might do is build a gravel path straight east and west, and north and south, from that grassland area. There's a ton of gravel on that plateau, near the flowers. Well, it wouldn't last long, doing that, I know. But maybe I could keep from becoming even more lost than I am. :)


Speaking of Minecraft, I want to point out that Microsoft has just bought Mojang, the game's developer, for 2.5 billion dollars.

Only Mojang didn't actually develop the game. Markus 'Notch' Persson developed the game on his own. He created his small company after the game became successful.

Here's what I said about it four years ago:
According to this, Markuss Persson is selling one copy of Minecraft every three seconds. That's about $15,000 per hour - for a downloaded game, still in alpha, developed almost entirely by himself alone. Apparently, he's reached $350,000 in a single day!

Minecraft made 'Notch' Persson a millionaire. Now, it's made him a billionaire! Not bad for a one-man indie game developer, huh?

Dawn, on the other side of the plateau

And what is Microsoft getting for its billions? Well, not Persson, apparently. The developer of the game isn't staying with the company. (I don't know what he plans to do, but billionaires can do pretty much whatever they want to do, can't they?)

Four years ago, I also quoted this from an article in the Escapist:
One guy, alone, has made a game which is more interesting, cheaper, and has better replay value than games that took an entire studio full of pixel-pushers and codemonkeys to produce. It's also amazingly popular despite having no marketing behind it at all. And the game is profitable even by AAA game standards. This is exactly the kind of thing you can't pull off when you're enamored of buying development houses for hundreds of millions so you can then spend tens of millions of dollars to make sequels of clones of games that were getting old a decade ago.

Think about that. Then consider that the money managers at Microsoft are spending $2.5 billion to buy a four-year-old game that's already been wildly successful. How does this make sense?

It's not even a story-based game, so a sequel would be nonsensical. Spending millions on graphics would do nothing for Minecraft, either. The pixelated graphics are part of its charm. And they're not even buying the developer of the game!

But for big corporations, it's always about the money. With enough money, you can buy anything, right? I suppose they think that, if they're spending $2.5 billion on it, it must be a valuable property. (Either that, or they know a lot more about what they're doing than I do, which - admittedly - wouldn't be too surprising.)

I'm just glad 'Notch' Persson has made out so well. And I hope he turns around and creates another great game, just in his spare time. :)

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