Tag Archives: Minecraft

Console Look Back 2020: A Year in Gaming

Introduction

In this “final” week of 2020 here at 2 Guys Gaming, we’re starting with a familiar refrain. Similar to mobile two weeks ago and tabletop last week, I’m going to do a console look back 2020. I put final in quotes because I currently don’t have anything planned for next week. That may change depending on how motivated I feel after the holidays. However, I’ve been really good about updating this page for this year and especially the last few months.

I deserve a little R&R.

Besides, I have to get ready for the re-relaunch of the podcast and the re-re-re(?)-relaunch of the YouTube Channel. Also, who else can stream myself playing terrible games while making equally terrible dad jokes? I know that some can do either, but I’m confident that I’m the only one who can do both. Be on the lookout. 2021 is going to be 2 Guys Gaming’s year. Oh crap, we weren’t supposed to say that. Never mind.

Ah, who am I kidding? I will get some ridiculous idea or another to fill next week and we’ll all be here to do it all again. Perhaps I’ll review some of the new games we get for Christmas (even though that is tentatively on the schedule for January). Maybe I will convince the family to try Dungeons and Dragons again (if I can ever find my adventure I wrote). Oh, actually, I’ve got it. But, now, you just have to wait in suspense to find out what it is. For now, let’s dive into the console look back 2020. Note: I’m going to include PC in this as well, but the titles are already getting too long for my SEO optimizer.

Diablo 3

Long time readers of th epage know that I have a love/love relationship with Torchlight 2. It is even the topic of a now lost (thankfully in retrospect) episode 2 of the original podcast. I played Torchlight 2 far more than any of the Diablo games. Until Diablo 3. I think I bought it after Chris and I did some couch co-op at his place.

At first, it took some time to get used to the XBox controls. I also played the Marvel ARPG, Marvel Heroes, a ton on the PC. The controls on the PC for these types of games are just so intuitive. Easily and fully customizable, too. You can customize your build on the XBox, but the controls are not. They take some getting used to. I nearly stopped playing the game altogether because of the controls.

I kept playing. The story hooked me and we all know I’m a sucker for good story. The loot impressed me. I’m not usually one for loot, but Blizzard does a good job with their loot and cosmetics. I kept playing. Then, one day, something clicked. I enjoyed the game. The controls no longer kept me from doing mega damage with my rotation. I still have to finish the game, but that’s only a matter of time.

Minecraft and Minecraft Dungeons

These are two very different games. Minecraft is what it has always been. As I heard it described by some boomer reporter years ago, “You mine. And you craft.” As simple as it is, that’s literally all the game involves. How can it possibly be so popular then?

I can’t speak for anyone else. However, in my experience, the game is fun because it is one of the few modern games I can play with my kids. We have all spent countless hours on survival worlds mining entire mountains and crafting more than one nether portal. Sure, not that impressive to the Minecraft pros out there, but always an achievement when we finally get the experience of dying on another plane.

Quinn and I started a new world recently. Well, he started it and I joined it one day. Within the first hour of playing I had already fished up an epic fishing rod and several strong bows. We’ve both died in the nether and lost more than one of those epic rods in the weeks since. He built a villager farm that one day vanished. All in all, we are in it for the long haul on this one. In fact, he just ran another plan by me earlier this evening.

We haven’t played Minecraft Dungeons recently. For a few weeks over the summer, it hooked us both. I liked the Diablo like gameplay. He enjoyed the Minecraft setting. I logged in a couple of weeks ago to see they updated the game in many ways. We will be sure to play this one over break.

Hearthstone

What would a PC/console article be without me swearing about our favorite CCG that we all love to hate. Yes, it’s true that more often than not, the love/hate relationship is cemented firmly in hate. That is not the case this time. Plus, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t partially include Hearthstone on the console look back 2020 list just to make the mad nerds mad.

You might have heard about the kerfuffle surrounding the release of a “battle pass” for the game about a month ago. I, personally, didn’t see what the problem was. The mad nerds, though, attacked Blizzard, streamers, and even each other for not being mad enough nerds about it.

In spite of that, I come not to bury Heartstone, but to praise it. I genuinely like the latest expansion, Battlegrounds is a fun time waster of a mode, and I will even play a game of Duels now and then. Someone wrote an article that Hearthstone is the healthiest it’s ever been. Like Magic, you can argue if you want. But, I agree. The game is so much fun.

The Verdict

The console look back 2020 shows that this aspect of our gaming wasn’t as varied as mobile, certainly, but also tabletop. Nevertheless, the games I played were fun. Quinn and I have to continue that world we started. I need to finish Diablo 3. Hearthstone will continue to occupy my time until I finish the reward track. What about the new consoles? I’m glad you asked. Join me on Wednesday for that discusssion.

MOBILE LOOK AHEAD: A Year of Gaming

Introduction

I started this month of reminiscing about my year of gaming with a mobile look back. (Note: I’m so far ahead of my schedule right now that I can’t link that phrase yet. I’m writing this on Thursday and Friday December 3rd and 4th.) In this article (and for the next three Wednesdays), I’m going to take a look forward in each genre of gaming. Honestly, though, I’m not sure how this mobile look ahead will go.

My phone isn’t quite this bad, but give it time

Seeing as how I’ve finally paid (yet another) price for my Hearthstone tantrums with a broken phone, I haven’t played a single mobile game in at least two months. I think I mentioned in the previous article that I also just ordered a new laptop and I’m eyeing a PS4 bundle for after Christmas. I don’t think a new phone is in my future any time soon. We will see if I end up getting a check for my stipend work. In any case, let’s start this mobile look ahead with the possibilities I’m considering if I can ever afford one.

New Phone Possibilities

Samsung Galaxy S8 – Funny story about my current phone. While it is true that several pieces of electronics have ended because I didn’t properly take care of them (including my current S10), my previous phone was not one of them. I was at a friends house and I left my S8 in my car because I was visiting with a friend.

Well, it was summer and the phone got very hot. As I drove home, I took the phone out of the case and held it out of the window so that the breeze would help cool it. As I was doing so, the phone fell out of my hand and skittered along the ground. I drove back to look for it with no success. I immediately ordered an S10 to replace it. Because, we all need phones these days, right? Right?!

Perhaps before Covid, you could make that argument. Now, maybe not so much. Long story short, I got an email from someone who found my S8 lying on the side of the road. I went to get it from the local police department. Here’s the ridiculous part. Other than some cracking on the back, the phone was fine and worked perfect. So, I could downgrade for a few months. If only I could find the dang gone phone.

Samsung Galaxy S10 – I could just buy another version of the phone I already have. Not very exciting, but money efficient at least. Plus, I really like the phone and have been playing Hearthstone exclusively on my PC, so no danger of it being thrown into my bedpost this time.

Google Pixel 4a – When I was looking at phones before I got a crazy deal on a new laptop, this one was on the list. We’ve already all sold our souls to Google for convenient search results, so why not give them back the cash that they didn’t pay me for that soul. It is about a third of what the Samsung phones cost and seems to have the same game functionality. This will probably be the phone I get when I finally relent.

BlueStacks – This is the most likely interim solution. Aiden discovered this little trick a couple of months ago when his phone started doing funny things due to cracked screen. I used it a bit a few years ago. I’m sure there have been improvements since then.

Mobile Look Ahead at Games I Might Play

Plants vs Zombies 3 – I mentioned the first one in the previous article. I also said that I never played the second one or any of the console versions. I just got bored with the same set up each time basically beating every single level. According to the preview I found, the 3rd game is supposed to offer more “complex strategy and game play”. Okay.

Batman: Arkham Underworld: When I first saw that it was a Batman Arkham game, I put it in the definitely play category. Then I saw it was basically a mafia game with a Batman wrapping. So, I might give it a chance. But, it’s not likely to last very long.

League of Legends: Wild Rift – I have a short and checkered history with League of Legends. I tried playing the game for 5 matches. In one of them I got a player on a smurf account who was willing to work with us noobs and help us win the match. The other four were the entire team fighting among themselves while the other team steamrolled us. It was a similar experience in Blizzards Heroes of the Storm. At least in that game, you can queue bots.

I do like Teamfight Tactics and will probably download it on my new laptop. So, I’m not sure if I will play this game very much. I’m sure to try it and see if simplifying the game for mobile makes it more user (and specific to me, noob) friendly. If so, it might make it into the rotation.

Marvel Super War – If I’m going to play a mobile MOBA (that’s silly to say), then it will be this one. The likelihood of that even happening is quite low actually. Granted, I’ve never played a MOBA on mobile, but I don’t understand how the mechanics are supposed to work. Besides, there are just too many other games out there that I definitely want to play.

Mobile Look Ahead at Games I Will Probably Play

Pokemon Unite: Another MOBA game? I know I said I would most likely play the Marvel MOBA just mentioned. This one is Pokemon, though. I feel like they will provide more variety in their play styles than the Marvel Heroes. At least, that’s what I’ve found in Pokemon games vs. games based on Marvel. They’re both fun, but Pokemon are more interesting in my opinion.

Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! – I have to be honest. I’m surprised it took so long for this game to happen. The old third person “behind” levels are identical to many of these run style games. I do enjoy these types of games as quick diversion. So, if this one is any good at all, I will probably end up playing it.

Warhammer Odyssey and Total War Battles: I already own a few Warhammer games through my Steam account that I’ve only played a little bit. I like the idea of Warhammer and would love to play the miniature game. I don’t have the time or money for that, so the next logical step is playing the video games. Maybe some day.

Fallout Shelter Online – Well, I guess I got an answer to why support for Fallout Shelter fell off at the end there. They’re developing an online version of the game. I enjoyed the gameplay of the original. If they make the online capabilities decent and support it for longer than a year, it will be worth it to try.

Mobile Look Ahead at Games I Will Definitely Play

Lego Star Wars Battles: Tower defense game set in Lego Star Wars. I’m not sure about it being a tower defense games. I mean, they can be fun on mobile. But, Lego Star Wars is a fun setting, so I will definitely find time to play this game and convince myself that I enjoy it.

Diablo Immortal – As they do, fans crapped all over this game as soon as it was announced. What was the whole issue that people had? I remember that there was an issue. Started playing Diablo 3 on the XBox One again this year. I will be sure to play the hell (no pun intended) out of this one, I’m sure.

Minecraft Earth – This one has been in Beta for at least a year and probably longer. Some of my students last year were playing it during free time in class. I think Aiden might have downloaded it, too. I loved (and rediscovered that love this summer) Pokemon Go as an augmented reality game. This one offers so much more variety than Pokemon. I will lose months of my life to this game.

The Verdict

The games announced so far for mobile next year look great. There are a ton of games that I will at least try. Whether I buy a new phone or simply use an emulator, I will be busy with these games plus catching up on what I’ve missed over the last month in my already established games. Minecraft Earth will definitely push me to get a phone, though. Also, think of all the Pokecoins I’ve missed.

Minecraft Card Game

Introduction

I picked up the Minecraft card game on a lark at Target one time. I was in the store looking for Pokemon or Magic the Gathering cards. As I was searching, I saw the aforementioned card game. I did some searching to see if the game was a legitimate attempt at making Minecraft into a card game or just a case of slapping a popular property onto an inferior product.

Clearly, Spaceballs the flamethrower does not qualify, but you get the point.

As it turns out, the game was pretty good. It had decent to good reviews from the few that turned up during my quick search. And, so, I bought the game. Now that I think about it, I might have even picked it up because I needed a tabletop game for one of our previous Minecraft weeks. In any case, we have played it more than once. In searching, I found that I never actually did a review of the game like I thought. When I realized that I might need another Minecraft week due to the Dungeons update, it made perfect sense to revisit this.

The Great

It’s Minecraft: Cue either the sing song chorus refrain or the thunderous groans of disappointment. So, either thank you for understanding and recognizing my running gag or your hatred fuels me and I will continue to grind this joke into a fine powder for as long as this website persists. Seriously, though, with every passing review, this actually becomes less and less true. This card game is almost nothing like Minecraft. It retains two of the core principles, mining and crafting, but that’s it. Basically, the card game is if you took the board game and stripped away all of the cool stuff and just left the basics. Still, if you have a space issue, this game can be a fun diversion and remind you vaguely of Minecraft.

Fun: It’s a fun game. We’ve played this one over and over and I haven’t gotten bored of it yet. Heck, even Aiden has played this one and he showed no interest in playing the board game. Sure, he’s a cool teenager now, but he still plays the video game, so I’m not sure why he didn’t want to play the board game. Maybe we can convince him the next time we play.

Anger is definitely at the helm in Aiden’s brain right now.

The Good

Easy Set Up: I’m snagging this one from the board game review. However, since there are fewer bells and whistles, the game sets up even quicker than the board game. Shuffle cards, deal them into piles, and go.

Lengthier Games: Okay, this one might seem weird on a couple of levels. First, I said that the game isn’t as involved as the board game. So, how can games be longer? Also, how can it be that this is a good thing when shorter games was a selling point of the board game? Well, let me answer both questions in order. The games were probably longer because we were playing with 3 players instead of 2. Also, we weren’t up against bed time, so there wasn’t a time limit. Secondly, you may remember that I said that the board game could stand to be a little bit longer. I feel like the length of the games we played of the card game were perfect.

The Decent

Is it Minecraft?: I said it was earlier just to keep the running joke going. But, is it really Minecraft? No, honestly, it isn’t. Like I say, it’s a decent facsimile (look that one up Zillenials) of the game. But, it will leave you wanting more. Look, it’s tough to make a workable card game from Minecraft and they’ve done it. I’d just have liked more. I guess that’s what the board game gives me.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just like my mother. She’s never satisfied.

Not Collectible: When I first saw the game, I thought that it might be a CCG like Pokemon or Magic the Gathering. When I learned that it wasn’t, I was a bit upset. There also haven’t been any expansions to the game released and they said right out (I think) that there wouldn’t be. I’m not sure how even such a thing would work, but again, it’s limiting that there isn’t.

The Bummer

Can’t find the game: This is a new (and maybe the only time it shows up) section in the reviews. But, after buying the board game, Aiden went looking for the card game and he wasn’t able to find it. I just looked for it, too, and I can’t find it, either. I will keep looking and hopefully it shows up.

The Verdict

The Minecraft card game has enough Minecraft in it to make you think of the game. Unlike the board game, you can’t explore anything and the combat system (such as it is) is very limited to the point of almost being comical. Nevertheless, it is a fun game that is easy and quick to play. I just hope that we can find our copy again soon. Otherwise, I’m going to have to order another one because I want to play the game.

Minecraft: The Island

Introduction

I can’t remember when I learned about Minecraft: The Island. Furthermore, I’m not exactly sure when I made the connection that it was written by Max Brooks. Yes, Minecraft week is bleeding into a second week. I wanted to say “again” there. Because, it feels like the last time we did Minecraft, it took over two weeks. What can I say? We really like Minecraft around here. Okay, with that being said, let’s get to the introduction.

Max Brooks is the son of Mel Brooks. He is also the author of World War Z, one of my favorite takes on the zombie genre. In fact, I have started to write my own zombie short story in a similar fashion. Sorry, I know this isn’t self promotion time. I was just discussing on Facebook with a friend this particular story and I think that I should start writing it again. I’ve always wanted to release that particular collection around Halloween. That gives me 4 months.

Okay, now I’m done with the self promotion

Instead, I’m going to promote another guy’s book? Someone who probably doesn’t need my help? I guess that just goes to show what a great guy I am. Okay, seriously, though, let’s get on to the review.

The Great

It’s Minecraft: How much longer can I get away with this gimmick? Since only about maybe half a dozen people actually read this page, probably quite a while. Again, though, I have to add the caveat that it is as much like Minecraft as a book possibly can be. So, like the game, it is obviously limited. However, anyone who has ever played the game knows exactly what the book will be about even if it wasn’t titled as a Minecraft book.

It’s a good story: This should come as no surprise. Mel Brooks, even through the satire and stupid humor, has always been a good storyteller. Clearly, like Joe Hill, his son has inherited that particular talent. World War Z was an amazing story and this one is, too. If you’re anything like me, you will simultaneously want more of the story and want to play Minecraft after finishing this book.

The Good

Young Adult: The book is YA, which is a catch all these days for anything that they’re not entirely sure how to categorize. That’s not a bad thing mind you. I would love for my kids to read both this book and The Hunger Games even though you might think that both books are very different in content and themes.

Thankfully they’re not pictured here, but I don’t wish Twilight on anyone.

What I’ve learned from the world of Minecraft: This note at the end of the book hit particularly close to home. I resisted Minecraft for a while because I wrote it off as a silly or stupid game without much in the way of a story. While the last part is mostly correct, I’ve been able to craft my own stories as I’ve played, and Quinn has done the same. I’m not entirely sure about Aiden, but he has regaled me with stories of his adventures from time to time. The game has provided an outlet and a way to connect with my kids that is priceless. I appreciate that it has the same effect on others.

The Decent

Short: Minecraft: The Island a short book, but that’s to be expected from YA. Again, this isn’t a bad thing necessarily. However, as I mentioned earlier, I was thirsting for more by the end of the book. Oh well, I can just go play Minecraft and make my own stories.

My Idea!: Okay, that’s not entirely true. I’ve never had the idea to actually write a Minecraft story. But, I have had the idea to put together a video series of a guy who wakes up in the Minecraft world and follow him as he learns about this strange new world. Yeah, I know, piss or get off the pot. Well, I’ve been updating the web page for a good few months now. I think I’m ready to piss YouTube videos. Ugh, sorry for that visual.

There, now you can censor it and not have to look.

The Verdict

Minecraft: The Island is one heck of a book. It was a bit surprising that it was such a good story. No, not because I didn’t trust Max Brooks to tell a good story. Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true. I have seen other authors who venture into YA territory and you can tell that they’re not giving their best efforts. Max Brooks didn’t take that route. I’m glad that he didn’t. If you want to kill a day at the beach, you could do much worse than this book.

Minecraft Review: Nether Update

Introduction

Welcome to our Minecraft Review: Nether Update. I feel like Quinn has been talking about this update for a while now. Some of the YouTubers he watches must have gotten early or beta access and were showing it off. Every couple of days when we loaded up the game, he would remark, “I wonder when we’re ever going to get the Nether Update.” Well, we finally have.

However, I have to admit that we haven’t been able to explore the nether as much as we hoped. We actually tried the other day and it ended quite poorly. First Quinn died with a bunch of good armor and gear. Then, I went to help him and I died with a bunch of good armor and gear. Rinse and repeat a few times.

So, we did discover one thing. Mobs in the Nether now spawn much faster than before. I don’t think that they are any tougher necessarily, but there are so many of them that you can become overrun very quickly. So, a word of warning there. However, bear in mind that our experience was in a Nether Fortress. Outside of the fortress, all we encountered were zombie pigmen and I think Quinn called them striders.

So, apologies that I haven’t been able to do my due diligence on this update just yet. File in under “U” for “unsurprising”. In the meantime, I will work on some recon and also the videos of worlds promised a few weeks ago. And stay tuned for an actual Minecraft Review: Nether Update soon.

Minecraft Dungeons First Look

Introduction

Thanks for reading Minecraft Dungeons First Look! I was going to call this a review and, technically speaking, it qualifies. However, I’ve only played through about an hour and a half with Quinn, so it is by no means comprehensive. So, to finish out another Minecraft week, let’s talk about Minecraft Dungeons.

I’m not sure how I learned about the game. I think it came up as a suggestion in the store perhaps. That’s probably it. That’s not entirely relevant other than I learned about the game late as usual. When I told Quinn about it, he said something about a YouTuber he watches talking about the game.

Perpetually, Captain.

The game was advertised as a classic dungeon crawler in the Minecraft style. For some reason, I couldn’t envision that. Even watching video, I was confused. What do they mean, dungeon crawler. Then, I played the game and it clicked. Oh, this is just Minecraft Diablo. I’ve just always put Diablo in the ARPG category. So, labels are dumb, Folks. Now that I’ve played it, let’s take a first look.

The Great

Fun! – The game is a ton of fun. I mean, at least to me, that’s the only qualifier for a game to be good. Sure, story and graphics are nice little cherries on top. But, there’s only one thing that I ultimately care about. Is the game fun. This game is. I had fun. Quinn kept saying during our play time, “This game is so fun!” A friend just texted me last night to say, “Minecraft Dugeons is so damn addicting.”

Familiar – This game isn’t Minecraft. But, it’s not meant to be. With that being said, it’s familiar enough that you will find yourself doing a double take when you aren’t able to mine that cobblestone over there or you take damage from a runaway minecart.

It’s exactly as advertised. Classic dungeon crawler with a Minecraft skin.

The Good

Helpful – We all know Minecraft is a kid’s game, right? Nevermind all those streamers on Twitch. By and large, the audience of Minecraft is kids and maybe their parents. Mojang hasn’t forgotten those roots and includes helpful hints and tips as you play. There’s even an icon that points you in the right direction in case you get lost. Very nice touch.

Tough? – Don’t mistake the game as a kid’s game for one that isn’t challenging. Sometimes, games remove the challenge. That’s incredibly frustrating for me. Thankfully, the Lego games don’t. Mojang seems to have taken a page from their book. The game is tough. Quinn and I wiped multiple times against a particular boss, even with the two of us.

The Decent

Limited – I don’t know if this is true, but the game does feel limited. As Quinn and I were playing, there aren’t a ton of different types of drops from what I can see. The map feels small. And, like any of these games, there isn’t much to combat. X,X,X,X,A,X,X,X,X,A,B,X,X,X. There are two expansions already planned and maybe more will come if the game is popular. Until then, expect to be a bit frustrated by how little there is. Even Quinn said, “Wow, I haven’t played this game much and I think I might already be close to beating it.”

Lego Failure – Mojang took a page from Lego’s book and made the game challenging. They appear to not have learned from the mistakes that Lego once made. Way back when, Lego games forced both characters to be in the same area on screen. This was incredibly frustrating for a young father of young kids. I think it was one of the Batman games. I’m not sure. But, eventually, they allowed for a split screen so that each person could explore individually. That was a huge QoL improvement that isn’t in Minecraft Dungeons. Not a huge deal, but as an explorer, it’s not ideal.

The Verdict

After a Minecraft Dungeons first look, I can confidently say that it is a game that will see quite a bit of play from us here at 2 Generations Gaming. I would, obviously, like to beat the game with Quinn and maybe Aiden if he chooses to play. Then, I’d like to do what I usually do with these types of games and replay it to explore. I was so bummed when they shut down the Torchlight 2 servers. I put so much time into that game. D3 has been a bit slower, but I have times that I’m very much interested in that one. Minecraft Dungeons will join that group for sure.

Mekanism: A Minecraft Mod Review

Introduction

What is Mekanism? Well, as usual, let me start with a story. Hey, give me a break. I’m a frustrated writer who has hasn’t been able to write, except for this web page. Give me this simple outlet. I can’t promise you it will be worth your time, but I will promise to try to make it quick. Deal?

Is that the banker I hear calling?

My favorite mods were utility like a mini map and an inventory mod. To be honest, the mini map is the one thing I miss on the XBox One. Okay, I said I’d make this quick. Well, I soon moved onto visual mods like Thaumcraft and Mekanism. Those were my two favorites and I played through a world on both of them.

Between the two mods, I was virtually indestructible. I had a jet pack, magic armor, plus extra health and armor. I could breathe underwater and convert unwanted items into magical essence. It was fun for awhile. However, the curse of omnipotence is very real, my friends. Soon, I grew bored of being a Minecraft god. Then, my computer took a dump and I lost the world anyway.

A Return to Mekanism

We’ve gotten a new computer. Of course, Minecraft was one of the first things installed. However, I took a second job working nights and there was no time to play. Fast forward to March and the Covid-10 crisis and now I have all the time in the world. There’s only one problem. The XBox One is downstairs and the computer is up in Aiden’s bedroom. Long story, that. Not really, but I said I’d keep this short.

Okay, moving on. Jeez, you are pushy! When I planned Minecraft, I knew I’d do an article about mods. I’ve already talked about Thaumcraft in the past. However, you just can’t have a Minecraft week without talking about mods. So, I did some research to see the status of my old mods. Thaumcraft appears to have been abandoned, but Mekanism was just recently updated. Huzzah! Off we go.

The Great

Ore Processing – The mod introduces new ways to process your ores. As you increase your efficiency with new machines, you are able to take one ore and break it down into “more refined” materials. From one ore, you can conceivably get 5 ingots. Granted, there aren’t many ores in Minecraft that are truly rare, but this still makes for a massive surplus in a lot of cases.

The set up is pretty crazy, though.

Jet Packs! – I’m a big fan of jet packs. Often, when I taught engineering, I used jet packs as a solution to getting from one side of the river to the other. Mekanism gives you the ability to fly using jet packs. It is quite possibly the coolest item I’ve ever crafted in all of Minecraft. Just thinking about it now makes me want to go up and start the process.

The Good

Electricity – Sure, Redstone allows for some circuitry in Minecraft and is a sort of pseudo electricity. However, Mekanism gives you real honest to goodness generators and processors that run on electricity. You even have to craft and run wires in some cases to make it work. Sure, it seems like a small thing and maybe not a distinction worth mentioning. However, it’s one that I found interesting.

New Ores – I have to be honest. I almost put this one in “The Great” section. Then again, I’m the kind of guy who still gets excited every time I run across coal while I’m mining. If you give me new materials that are necessary to build new stuff, that just means there’s more to hunt for when I’m out mining!

Plus, I just like saying Osmium.

The Decent

Not a Full Reskin – The mod isn’t sold as a full reskin and I wasn’t expecting one. It just introduces some new materials and craftables. With all of that being said, I think something like Pixelmon or Parzi’s Star Wars Mod are a lot more fun than something like Mekanism. The main problem there is that those mods are usually too quickly abandoned. Probably because they’re a ton of work to design, develop, and update.

No In-Game Tutorial – I’m going to be honest again. This is really the only thing that bothers me about the mod. I just added the full reskin so that I could have my requisite 2 items in each section. Sure, there is an extensive tutorial online. Also, people have made their own. However, one of the things that I liked so much about Thaumcraft was that you could learn on the go and not have to alt-tab to figure things out. Granted, it’s a small inconvenience, but it is inconvenient.

We need a Mekanomicon. That sounds too much like Necronomicon. I will work on the name.

The Verdict

While Thaumcraft was probably my favorite mod for Minecraft, Mekanism was always a close second. Unfortunately, Thaumcraft hasn’t been updated in a few years. As I remember, it was pretty fully functional, so that isn’t a huge deal. Nevertheless, that means that Mekanism has moved into first place. There is such a variety of tasks to keep you busy. Definitely check it out if you have the chance.

XBox One Minecraft Tour

Introduction

XBox One Minecraft Tour? I’ve been planning to do Minecraft in May for the last three years. Generally speaking, May is when things ramp up in school. This year is no different, but the ramping up looks quite different. As a result, I will at least get to do Minecraft in the first week of May for now. The rest of the month, I’m going to focus on family games.

Similar to Mortal Kombat, I’m not sure how I’d do a review of Minecraft at this point. I don’t think there have been any updates recently other than a hot fix of some bugs. Additionally, if you’ve ever even seen a screenshot of Minecraft, you pretty much know the game. Finally, for the purposes of this introduction, there aren’t the same kind of mods on XBox One as on the PC, so I can’t really review them.

As a result, I’m going to do the same thing I did with Mortal Kombat. I will record a couple of videos giving a tour of two worlds that Quinn and I have been working on recently. Check them out and hopefully these are the videos that get me uploading to YouTube more often!

Massive Mine World

Quinn started this world and I joined after he had built the small house and started to dig out the underground base. I added a Nether portal that he moved into the base, which was a better location. I, as I often do, started to mine for diamonds. My latest idea is to try to clear out the bordered level 12 that is inside our mines. We’ll see how that goes. See the video below for the tour.

Video coming soon.

Desert House

Quinn also started this world. He’s been playing a ton of Minecraft lately. As I was watching, I saw the multicolored sand mountains in the background. That gave me the idea to start the house that you will see in the tour. Check out the video for what I mean.

Video coming soon.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me for my XBox One Minecraft Tour. I hope you enjoyed the videos of our works in progress. I will continue to update, especially if I get that area cleared out in the Mine World. Otherwise, hope you enjoy your time in Minecraft. If you haven’t played it before, you are missing out. It’s a simple, but fun time!

Thaumcraft Check-In (Yer a Wizard, Noob!)

Introduction (Time is Arbitrary)

What is Thaumcraft? Thaumcraft is a Minecraft mod that I played pretty extensively last year. It introduces magic into Minecraft. You could craft wands (since taken out for some reason) and cast various spells. When I played it last year, I became more or less immortal. I lost that save game, so back to the drawing board. Download Thaumcraft here.

I know. Minecraft May is infringing upon June. That’s okay, though, since time is relative and ultimately arbitrary. I mean, time itself isn’t arbitrary. It marches inexorably on into the oblivion of our own deaths and the inevitable heat death of the universe.

However, as entropy has deemed us lucky enough to live in a time and place in the universe where the motions are more or less predictable, we have chosen to use that arbitrary predictability to base our measurements of time. So, May, June, whatever, I want to play and write about some Minecraft.

After all, I once heard Minecraft as “you mine stuff and then craft things” early in it’s life cycle and that’s exactly it.

A Note on this Thaumcraft review

I wanted to play through the mod before posing this article. And, if you’re a regular reader of the web page or a someone who appreciates irony, you will know that this is where I admit that I didn’t play. That’s only partially true. I set up Thaumcraft a few days ago and did play twice today.

After consulting the internet (I know, dangerous) for a brief introduction to the mod, I loaded up a game. I knew that in order to be successful, I had to find some crystals and sleep one night. That unlocks the spell book that guides you through the rest of the magic. I’m not sure if there’s any way to “discover” the crystal/sleep method other than with the pop up that you get when you do mine some of the crystals, but I wanted to get into the mod in order to review any changes.

Well, best laid plans and all of that. The first time I played, I found crystals, but was unable to craft a bed before getting blown up by a creeper. The second time, I was able to craft my bed, but no crystals are near my spawn point. Therefore, the review is based on my experience from last year.

The Good (Thaumcraft is polished)

Thaumcraft is not a mod that is a full reskin of Minecraft. To be honest, I’m not sure how popular those are. I remember back in my DOOM days, people would completely redesign the game from the ground up and create an all new game. I’ve seen a few Minecraft mods like that, but they must be an enormous undertaking as they are few and far between and don’t seem to last very long before being abandoned.

Thaumcraft is also not a mod that just adds a few new items to the game. I’ve also seen those types. Like the old Sims 2 packs that my wife and I would download, these mods give you a couch or a lounge chair or a bathroom set or all of those things. I’m not interested at all in minor cosmetic changes to a game. Well, except The Sims.

Thaumcraft is that rare in between mod that changes the game just enough to make it interesting…more interesting. I love Minecraft by itself. I can’t count the days that I spent staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning exploring a mine that I dug 8 hours earlier. But, it is fun to see what the community thinks the game needs. Magic and technology are the two big factors that I always wanted. Thaumcraft gave me that and in a very polished way.

Plus, there’s this neat puzzle that allows you to discover new spells and interactions.

The Bad (Thaumcraft isn’t always user friendly)

Despite being a mod that mostly just works, it isn’t always obvious what you’re supposed to do. I get that Minecraft is supposed to be about exploring, but if you happen to get dropped in an area with no crystals, then you have no idea how you are supposed to proceed and the mod might just feel completely broken from the beginning. I don’t know how likely that is, but it happened one out of two times for me, so it’s somewhat likely.

Also, when playing last year, I had to cheat a bit to find the silverwood tree to make a wand that was necessary for something or another. Wands are no longer in the game, so this might not be an issue anymore. I don’t know because I couldn’t advance in the game. This is a small thing and might stink of millenial whining, but it is something that I don’t exactly love about the game.

I have seen the trees in both of my worlds, so I’ve gotten luckier or the spawn rate is increased

The Ugly (Thaumcraft is no longer supported)

I understand that people move on and that it can be time consuming to work on these projects. I also understand that the internet is an unfriendly place at times and people don’t always speak with their best voice. But, it bums me out that the developer isn’t working on Thaumcraft anymore. I’m glad that it is still out there in case anyone else wants to work on it. I also am happy that it more or less works. Who knows? Maybe I’ll work to develop it more.

Okay, okay, I get it.

The Verdict (Thaumcraft is still one of the best)

It is no longer being developed. For some reason, you don’t need wands anymore. It isn’t the most user friendly experience. In spite of all that, I’m still excited to get back into the mod and build my immortal armor again. Look for my video series, starting tomorrow, as I become the most powerful being in the Minecraft universe. Well, in my Minecraft universe.

Hopefully I am able to craft a larger living space than this guy had.

(Mine)Crafting a Story

(Editor’s Note:

Introduction

Aiden recently let me know that I could download Minecraft Story Mode and play through at least the first episode for free. A�I was under the impression that it cost money. A�That’s the only reason that it has taken me this long to try the game. A�Although I haven’t played much Minecraft in any form over the last month or so, I remain addicted to the game. A�Because, every time I do sit down to play it, I lose several hours to whatever silly job I end up creating for myself.

I have yet to play any of the “story mode” games. A�I’ve been introduced to the Guardians of the Galaxy one and find it intriguing because I enjoy the movie and comics so much. A�I even went as far as to download the Walking Dead one. A�None of them, though, have enticed me enough to load up and start playing. A�Until Minecraft. A�Because we need some filler/an easy topic to get back into the podcast, I’ve played and written about the main game on more than one occasion, and I just discovered that part of it is free, join me for my introduction to “story mode” with one of my favorite games of all time.

The Good

If you’re anything like me, you will totally geek out the first time he talks.

Voice Acting – The first thing that I noticed, and I’m sure this was intentional, is that Patton Oswalt does the voice of the main character. A�I didn’t recognize any other voices and I’m a little surprised that Patrick Warburton didn’t voice any characters, but hearing Patton’s voice as one of the first things in the game has gone a long way to increasing my enjoyment of the game.

It’s Minecraft: A�I know that I was using this old trope quite a while to illustrate the good in these articles. A�However, I haven’t used it much recently, so I feel safe resurrecting it now. A�The game is recognizable as Minecraft, even if you aren’t performing many of the same actions as in the main game.

Decent Story: A�The story isn’t great, by any stretch of the imagination. A�It was interesting enough, though, to keep me playing. A�First, I wanted to see how the building competition might end (as I expected, but a twist to make it worth the wait), then when the pig ran away, I really wanted to chase after it, and now I want to see what happens with the Wither skull and diamond trade.

Funny: A�It is genuinely funny, too. A�Both Aiden, who heard some of the dialogue and me, as I played through it, laughed at more than one part. A�It isn’t side splitting, but there is humor and it is welcome.

Choose Your Own Adventure: A�The game tells you that your choices matter. A�It also helpfully reminds you at times that a character will “remember” your choice for later in the game. A�I don’t know exactly how true that is since I’m only part of the way through the introduction, but it is valid enough that I consider my choices before making them. A�I could go back to play through again, similar to how I used to read the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books until I got the best and the worst ending, but right now I’m treating it like a game, taking it seriously, and considering the circumstances of my choices.

The Bad

In spite of the bad voice acting, this game genuinely frightened me in more than one place.

Voice Acting: A�How can this be both good and bad? A�Well, as I already mentioned, other than Patton Oswalt, I didn’t recognize a single voice. A�That’s not necessarily bad, but at least one of the voice actors seems to have taken a class at the Resident Evil school of voice acting. A�It’s not awful, but it isn’t good, either. A�It is just bad enough that when you hear the voice, it takes you out of the story for a moment as you realign and try to fit this bad into something that overall is actually decent to good and might become great later in the game.

It isn’t Minecraft: A�Wait, you are probably thinking, now you are just talking in circles. A�While that might be true, let me explain. A�It is recognizable as Minecraft due to the graphics and overall feel of the game. A�However, and I’m not saying that it is trying to be, it isn’t anything like Minecraft in terms of gameplay. A�Sure, you mine and you craft, but those are accomplished only to advance the story and only by rapid pressing of a single “button”. A�Overall, it’s just not that engaging and doesn’t add much to the game other than make it more game and less of a movie.

The Ugly

I mean, this is running on a super duper high end computer and they look like this.

The graphics: A�Again, the game knows what it is and it has been successful in spite of the fact that it uses blocky, retro style graphics during a time when games are becoming more and more realistic and pushing for realism to add to the appeal of virtual reality. A�But, seriously, the graphics are not just retro, they are retro in 3D. A�Sometimes the style is just jarring and I wish for slightly better aesthetics. A�But, I know it won’t ever happen, so I’ll just keep complaining about it. A�That’s what we old guys do, right?

The Verdict

It’s not quite Minecraft, but it’s close enough. A�It’s named for its story, which isn’t great, but is just good enough. A�Some of the voice acting leaves quite a bit to be desired, but Patton Oswalt makes up for all of that. A�Minecraft Story Mode isn’t a great game by any measure.

What it is, though, is a good enough game. A�It does just enough right to make me want to finish the first episode. A�We will see if I can continue to forgive the not so great and keep playing once it isn’t free anymore. A�I get the feeling that I might end up just buying it. A�That will most likely lead me back down the rabbit hole of the main game and both will feed one another.