I purchased Minecraft a bit earlier this year. I played it some, found it cute and promptly forgot about it due to Eve and playing video games with other people being enjoyable. It was an attention diverter. Something to play now and then and maybe one day do something very creative with. I’ve seen the pictures and such. I kept trying to make huge projects but getting no where with it.
Enter two weeks ago. Susan Black was playing Minecraft with other Eve Players. It hadn’t occurred to me to play Multiplayer with my online community. I first checked with our primary tech guy to see if our current community infrastructure could support the game. The server, which runs our TeamSpeak3 and our forums was not set up for it. A moment of disappointment was followed by a moment of inspiration.
I have a server at home. As in a professional, business grade server. My husband you see is a DNS/Sys Admin kind of guy. His entire job rotates around servers and making the internet talk from point A to point B. One reason we picked this house was because we were sitting on a FiOS line. He had said, a while ago, that he had upgraded the line. I just nod each time he does it. It is already faster than we can use normally. He actually has a need for a massive amount of bandwidth to access his work networks and work from home but our speed is ridiculous.
The side effect is that we can run a business. We have a server rack in the basement and server boxes. They decommission the boxes after a year and he has picked up several and a rack. I was inspired and turned and asked him if we could run a Minecraft Server.
“No problem,” he said. A few hours later and we had a dedicated core in a 10 core machine with 8 gigs of ram dedicated and 128 available. We were set up to host 80 people and running stable. We had some things to learn to combat early lag problems that are inherent to Minecraft servers. Once we were up things have been going smooth as punch. My community is playing with nineteen people logged in and 18 of them logging in more then the first glance. We have about 10 fully active people who are transforming the world into a series of projects and creations.
But it is about building stuff?
Well yes. However, Minecraft has a survival mode. Survival mode means that you take damage and need to replenish your health regularly. There is a complex system of food where some items make you full for longer. Doing particular actions will burn through your food faster then others. You only regain health when your food bar is at a certain point.
To obtain food you have to farm or kill for it. However, you can slaughter your way into an empty area so farming is important and crop/animal management. In the dark there are things that want to kill you. Zombies, Spiders, Skeleton Archers, Creepers (they make no sound and explode beside you), Endermen, and the terrain itself. There is water you can swim or drown in, lava you can burn in and huge falls you can die from.
The world is full of resources. You can harvest the most basic ones with your hands. After that you need tools. Wood tools. Stone tools. Iron tools. And later Gold or Diamond ones. You have to get wood and coal and iron ore from the ground. You have to build your home, make doors, make windows, illuminate everything, and keep yourself safe.
Death has meaning. While the resources are there you take the time to get them. They don’t come to you. If you die and can’t get back to your stuff in a few minutes you lose it all. Rare items with rare spawn chances are gone. Keep exploring to find more it may take another day. Not dying is a challenge and decisions have consequences when you have a stack of a rare or hard to obtain item in your inventory.
If you are making a project you have to collect all the stuff for it. Don’t just strip out the trees. Replant saplings so you don’t have to run a long distance to get more wood. Explore exotic places to find exotic plants to make your home look just how you want it. The entire thing is fascinating and it is full of beautiful vistas, gorgeous sunsets, and amazing views. All in pixels.
Playing with other people makes it amazing. I’ve spent hours doing nothing but building roads with my husband because we decided to. I’ve explored with my corporation mates from Eve and helped and been helped by them. We share, we build, we admire, and we have fun. I can see it being a bit boring for some as a single player game unless you are heavily invested in the community. But, an active server transforms the entire thing.
And you have people to share your adventures and projects with.