Minecraft

Introductions and generally anything not related to Province Cyrodiil.
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DJGamer
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Joined: 02 Dec 2010, 01:55
Location: The Shivering Isles

Minecraft

Postby DJGamer » 16 Mar 2011, 19:08

I think I actually bought the game back in December and haven't started playing it until very recently after seeing some videos by Video Games Awesome and really getting a sense for how cool the game actually was.

Initially, I played at Easy difficulty, and that was kinda interesting and fun for awhile until I actually started to try mining and ran into a load of creepers and other monsters underground constantly trying to kill me and consequently making me lose everything I'd just managed to mine. So currently I've got the game on the "peaceful" setting-so yeah, I'm a total wimp. :p

Anyway, I've currently got three different "worlds" going, but I always keep coming back to the first one I generated-mostly because I've done the most exploration and accumulated the most resources there.

My big protect right now is putting together a HUGE freaking castle. I ended up using a some buildings I'd already constructed and incorporating them into the architecture. As a result the towers are actually sort of "upside down" from what you normally expect from a castle. The castle itself is built on top of a hill (which I had to tediously hollow out to make room for it), with my original house being expanded into the left/east tower. I'd previously built a brick house/miniature castle on a floating island to the west with a "Sky Walk" bridge with stairs descending into a mine. This was also incorporated into the castle. Additionally, I built a second tower mirroring the first to keep things symmetrical. I may expand the towers somewhat upwards in the future to make it look a bit more like a proper castle but right now I'm focusing on building the interior which is presently very incomplete.

The castle itself is made of cobblestone which is a fairly common resource that I'd accumulated a whole lot of, filling multiple storage chests. I got even more cobblestone just from hollowing out the hill to make room for the castle. I'm pretty sure I had thousands of cobblestone blocks at least and they still weren't enough to complete the castle entirely. I still need to finish building the roof and adding the different rooms and such but at least the main exterior portion is complete.

One thing I added that you'll see in the screenshots is a "chandelier". I'd gotten quite a few gold bricks but unfortunately you need nine of them to create one gold "block" (not sure why this is besides just making it more difficult to make a precious metal block vs. Sandstone and Brick blocks). So until I manage to find a lot more gold my chandelier only has one gold block in the middle and the rest is iron (and even then I needed to find A LOT of iron to make that).

Another thing that might be worth mentioning is that I'm not entirely as fond of the floating island as I thought I would be. It's mainly because I think the game likes to spawn animals on any dirt/grass blocks, no matter where they are. It kinda breaks immersion (although one might argue that immersion is a moot point in a game like Minecraft) that a bunch of animals just magically appear literally on my doorstep on an island that they couldn't possibly normally reach. It'd probably be even more annoying if I weren't playing in "Peaceful Mode"-what are the odds that a "Creeper" (a creature that chases after you and eventually explodes, hurting you and damaging structures around you) would spawn as well and destroy a good chunk of the island? At least it gives me a good source of animal-based items but I don't really have as much use for anything but maybe eggs and wool in peaceful mode. Most of the time I just have to punch or otherwise hit them off the side of the island.

One of the first things I did was give my character a "custom skin". I ended up taking one of the pre-made skins based on Link from the Zelda series and reworking it to make the clothes Red (my favorite color, and it's basically the "Goron Tunic") and the hair a bit more brown so its closer to my own hair color (and Link's been known to have more brownish-colored hair in certain games). I also added the shield which was taken from another Link-based skin that I didn't like the overall design for quite as much.

Before I go into my overall impression of Minecraft I'll share some screenshots of my castle and the floating island.

Castle Wide Shot
A Bit Closer and in Third-Person Mode
Floating Island and Sky Walk
My Chandelier and Castle Interior In-Progress

We had some discussion in the chat room regarding whether or not Minecraft should really cost $20 when the graphics are so simplistic and there's no real story to it. Minecraft's graphics can be improved texture-wise with modding and it's ultimately a stylistic choice. They're also being improved over time, most recently with a new lighting system. I'd also like to see reflections in water as at least an optional feature. Also, when you consider the draw distance and the number of "blocks" in the game it's actually pretty impressive. As far as story goes it's a sandbox game in the truest sense and the "story" is something you create for yourself-for instance you could pretend that you're Tom Hanks from Castaway and construct your own over-sized "Wilson" out of wool. :p

The game was once cheaper (around $10), but if I'm not mistaken that version of the game (the "classic" version) and although the people who bought the Alpha version of the game can upgrade for free, what new players are getting is a more complete product whereas the people who bought it earlier on had to deal with more limited gameplay options and perhaps a few more bugs. I also think it boils down to a sort of "business model" that encourages people to buy it sooner rather than later. I can't remember exactly how much I paid (I think it had to be converted to Euros), and it may have been less than $20 so I think that $20 exactly would be a somewhat reasonable price, so long as the feature set keeps expanding-and of course modding has the potential to expand the game even further still.

It ultimately boils down to the amount of enjoyment you get out of the game and on that level so far I think it's been worth every penny. Sure, there are other Indie games out there that are cheaper but none of them are quite like Minecraft. It's also interesting to note that the head developer, according to what I've read is actually part of the "Pirate Party" and while he doesn't seem to encourage people to pirate Minecraft, he doesn't really see piracy as being a threat.

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I'd like to take a moment to kind of share my own views on that subject to some extent. The "old" business model views piracy as "lost profits"-and essentially a form of "theft". In one interview I read Notch (I think that's what he's called online) said that it's a little different because piracy involves "making a copy" of the software. For instance, if you steal a CD from a store there would be one less copy of it-if you steal somebody's car they won't have that car anymore. Physical theft results in the loss of something that cannot be easily replaced, "digital theft" involves copies being made and distributed to other people. This isn't necessarily a rationalization of piracy-obviously if everyone went and downloaded the product for free without paying there's no way the creator of the product will profit at all or even manage to recuperate the cost of creating the product to begin with.

In the case of something like Minecraft it's making enough sales that even with the supposed 70% piracy rate a reasonable amount of profit is being made. Some business models would count piracy as lost revenue but if this were literally the case then Notch should be deep in debt. The piracy statistics may not even be taking into account those who illegally download the game and enjoy it so much that they end up buying the real deal.

The music, film, video game and software industries all need to rethink their business models for the 21st century and the very concepts of "copyrights" and "trademarks" should be redefined somewhat as well. Unfortunately, it may be several generations before enough people raised in this digital age make it into positions where such changes can reasonably be made-and likely the situation will get even worse before it gets better.

I also think the notion of companies investing so much of their "actual" money into vain attempts at preventing the loss of strictly "hypothetical" revenue is kind of silly. As long as you're making a reasonable profit at the end of the day it shouldn't matter-and if you're producing a good enough "product", people will WANT to pay for it to support the people who created it. For the music industry in-particular this can be a bit more problematic since a lot of people are aware of just how little money from record sales actually go to the artists themselves.

Alright, I think that's enough of my little rant for now.

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Point is, Minecraft is a pretty darn good game, though it may not be for everyone. Some people may find it a bit boring, either because they aren't as creative or they don't particularly care for the tedious nature of creating things in the game. I'm hoping that a few improvements are made to the crafting system to help streamline things a bit in that regard-mainly allowing you to easily craft multiples of an item without having to repeatedly drop copies of the item from the result window.

Another thing I'd like to note-I'm still considering whether it might be cool to have our own little Minecraft server for Province: Cyrodiil-although I'm not really sure how many of our current members use it and how handy it would actually be as a potential design tool. I have come up with some interesting architectural concepts as you can see in the screenshots. The concept of a castle where the towers are lower to the ground than the main building or a castle with the towers stretching a bit outward from the building (my brick house) may be interesting possibilities to explore-although they may not be practical in terms of realism necessarily-I'm not exactly an architect myself and Minecraft physics obviously don't reflect the "real world"-and although magic can be used to bend physical laws in the Elder Scrolls universe to some extent it wouldn't be something practical enough to use just anywhere.
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