We Built This City (on Minecraft)

(Editor’s Note #1:  Rock and roll is just a terrible foundation upon which to build a city.)

(Editor’s Note #2:  Minecraft?  You mean that Lego rip off game?  I don’t understand the appeal.)

My thoughts on Minecraft mirrored those in the second editor’s note.  Admittedly, they came from ignorance, but that’s how I felt.  I couldn’t understand why anyone, let alone tens (or even hundreds) of millions of people, could play the game for hours on end.  Heck, I even watched my kids play and joined in on a few games in my attempt to understand.  Hey, not every game is for every gamer.  Maybe it’s just a kid thing.  Still, it nagged at me.  There has to be something.

Turns out that, as with most things that are hugely popular, there are many somethings.  As cheesy as it might sound, Minecraft is what you make it.  (That’s not really a pun, but it was fully intended to invoke the crafting element of the game.) So, what caused this change of heart?  As with most wars of ignorance, knowledge won the battle.

Though, to be fair, red or blue lasers would be nice to have in a battle, too.
Though, to be fair, red or blue lasers would be nice to have in a battle, too.

A couple of weeks ago my youngest asked me to play Minecraft again.  Irritated, as I often am, with the mind numbing gameplay of Hearthstone, I figured “why not” and joined him in a game  It was during this session that I finally learned that there are multiple modes in the game and that we had mostly played “Creative”, which is exactly how it sounds.  There is no danger of dying and no objective in the game other than to build.

There’s nothing wrong with that and many people have built amazing things in creative mode.  I guess that I am just more of a survival Minecrafter because once I learned about that mode, I was hooked.  In survival, you have to mine for your resources, you can die, and actually offers a challenge other beyond recreating your favorite skyline or college football stadium.

Neither my favorite stadium, nor my own work. Grudgingly paying respect to the best college football program in recent history, I suppose.
Neither my favorite stadium, nor my own work. Grudgingly paying respect to the best college football program in recent history, I suppose.

My middle, youngest, and I have since created a survival world that has given us hours of entertainment.  We planned our first house by building a moat in the desert to keep out monsters.  We laughed when Quinn refused to leave the house and spent his first MInecraft week mostly sleeping.  I explored to find a mountain range full of resources for our second, and now main, house.  We cheered at mining our first diamonds in that mountain range.  We found obsidian, used that to create a nether portal, and now make regular trips into that horrifying plane for supplies.  We even researched “The End” and battling the Ender Dragon, but we need more time to plan and collect resources to make that a successful adventure.

Like I said earlier, the discover and subsequent adventuring through Survival mode has me hooked.  I bought the game on my tablet (hey, it was only 7 bucks) and recently bought it for the PC, too.  We now own the same game for XBox 360, mobile, and PC.  There is precedent for me buying the same game more than once, but there usually has to be a special reason.  Like it is my favorite game of all time or there was a steam bundle that includes the game.

Those are totally the reasons that I bought Portal 2 more than once. It has nothing to do with GladOS and her plan, with the help of Skynet, to destroy humanity. No, GladOS didn't tell me to say that last part. *nervous look off camera*
Those are totally the reasons that I bought Portal 2 more than once. It has nothing to do with GladOS and her plan, with the help of Skynet, to destroy humanity. No, GladOS didn’t tell me to say that last part. *nervous look off camera*

i don’t think Minecraft is available on Steam.  If it is, don’t tell me, because I might just buy it again.  That’s only partly a joke.  So, what about this game has made me buy it three times? It is a good-great, even-game that offers hours of entertainment. It’s not my favorite game yet.  That still goes to Portal 2.  Well, why, then?  Just tell us, Man!

Well, if you’re going to be impatient about it, I guess I have no choice.  The squeaky wheel always gets the grease.  Why are metaphors always so gross?  Skinning cats, beating dead horses, greasing wheels.  Okay, last diversion.

As if that previous statement could possibly be true.
As if that previous statement could possibly be true.

Okay, now for the reasons as to why I bought each version of the game and what they offer so you don’t have to buy them all.  You can, of course, and even knowing what I know, I would to support a great company and game.  If you are more frugal or con’t care about the fine people at Mojang feeding their families (you monster!), then keep reading.

I bought the XBOX 360 version as the second half of a Groupon (or some other such email marketing gimmick) deal a couple of years ago.  Having heard of the game, but not respecting it, I got the game because “The boys will have fun with it.”  For the record, Forza something or another was the other game and I have not played more than an hour on that game, played far more Minecraft, and maybe have even played more Minecraft than the kids.

The XBox 360 (and other console versions, I assume) offers a good introduction to the crafting system.  Granted, there are FAQs and video guides galore these days to discover the recipes for any item in the Minecrft world, but if you’re more of a traditionalist, the PC version can be a tough nut to craft.  Hey, terrible puns and non sequitirs.  You get both in spades here at 2 Guys Gaming.  If you’re a strict traditionalist, I believe that you can set the options to the classic crafting system and besides, that, there are still plenty of secrets to find in the game even if you play with the assistive crafting system.  Besides, there are still plenty of secrets to find in the game even if you play with EZ mode crafting on.  One final word of warning before continuing.  The console versions lag slightly behind in terms of updates to the game, so you’re not necessarily playing the latest version if you’re only playing on console.

Look at Steve.  He looks so happy to be going on an adventure.  Little does he know that, soon enough, he will be dropped off of cliffs, blown up by creepers, eaten by zombies, doused in lava, and much, much worse.  Let's not tell him.  The surprise is half the fun.
Look at Steve. He looks so happy to be going on an adventure. Little does he know that, soon enough, he will be dropped off of cliffs, blown up by creepers, eaten by zombies, doused in lava, and much, much worse. Let’s not tell him. The surprise is half the fun.

I bought the mobile version next.  It was the cheapest version and I wanted to see if was faithful to the big boy versions.  SPOILER ALERT:  At first glance, it is the same game.  You mine blocks, you place blocks.  You craft things.  You kill zombies, skeletons, and creepers.  It’s the same game.  Well, not quite.  On closer examination, there are things missing.  It’s not a huge deal, but the mobile game is not the complete game.  Even so, the mobile version also uses an easier crafting system and fairly intuitive controls.  If you don’t want to pay full price for the game or want to get an overview before buying the full game, mobile Minecraft is a good place to get your feet wet.

If you’re like me, and Minecraft speaks to you on a deeply personal level, then you want the PC version.  It is the most expensive, but allows you to install on an unlimited number of computers.  That alone makes it worth the price if you have a bunch of Minecraft fans in the house like we do.  There is another reason to invest in the PC version (the best reason, IMO) that I will discuss briefly, but I want to talk about the major drawback first.  Unlike the XBox version, or even the mobile version, which both allow multiplayer at an affordable price, you need to spend $27 for each account to play multiplayer on the PC.  That restriction even applies to LAN games, as we discovered this past weekend.  That was a huge bummer.

Oh well, we still have split screen on the XBox 360 and cross platform support on mobile.  What neither of those allow, and this leads into the best reason (in my opinion–and really, this is my article, so what else but my opinion) to own the PC version of the game.  As far as I know, the PC is the only version to allow you to play mods that alter the way the game acts and, in some cases, alters the game in almost unrecognizable ways.  So far, we have tried Pixelmon and Thaumcraft and have enjoyed them both.  I have to say that I’m completely addicted to the study/minigame aspect of Thaumcraft as that one introduces a kind of wizardry to the game.  Aiden has played much more of Pixelmon, which is to be expected, but I’ve had some fun with that one, too.  That’s how we learned that you need separate accounts to play multiplayer on the PC.  I wanted to join in on Aiden’s Pixelmon world, but coudn’t.  I’m not willing (yet?) to pay for the multiple accounts.  Hopefully, they offer a family account in the not too distant future.

What introduced me to mods and got me hooked to the game was I really wanted to find a mod that allows for Obsidian armor and found one that supposedly introduces technology to the game, but I haven’t gotten that one to run.  I am always on the lookout for different mods, though, so if you know of any, send an email or leave it in the comments.

portalcraft
Portal in Minecraft? That might just be the way to get me to spend absurd amounts of money on this game.

Regulars at the page know that I’m perpetually behind the times in all things pop culture.  I have no excuse for being this late to the Minecraft party other than ignorance.  Nevertheless, if you have missed the boat for as long as I have (or, more likely, if you have children who are just now growing into the age of Minecraft) then I hope that this article serves as a good introduction into the pros and cons of each version so that you can make a more informed decision.  Finally, if you do buy the game, give it a try.  I can almost guarantee that you will find it entertaining.

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