5 Jun 2011

Mining + Crafting = ?

If you were bored enough to count the number of posts put up so far on my blog... you might realise that there are only 199 posts before this, which would make this the 200th post...?!?

I should have clarified this earlier: I also considered the upcoming Past Entries yet to be published in the counting of posts, so the GRAND total is indeed 201, hence the 201st post is indeed the 201st post. Now you know how many Past Entries I've set up so far, which isn't that many actually...

In other news, MINECRAFT!

If you're one of the people who went "Huh???" after seeing that foreign word, here's a really brief explanation: Minecraft is widely accepted as a partially physics sandbox game, with no clear end-objective(at the moment). No points. No levels. In fact no clear sign of civilisation anywhere in the vicinity. The world you're in basically consists of 3D cubes(some may know them as "voxels"), which constitute an endless landscape of dirt, sand, water, stone etc.

Using your WASD + Space controls, you can navigate the world around you. No destination is assigned to you. Really. And you can roughly do whatever you want. More specifically, the paid version(survival mode) does introduce elements of danger(monsters including zombies, skeletons, spiders) and a health bar. So to stay alive, you have to acquire resources from your blockish world in order to build/craft stuff. That's it, essentially.

"That's it? Doesn't that sound really boring?" Well if you don't have the right mindset, the novelty of the game can run out pretty quickly. Technically anyone can play the game, but players that make the most out of the game tend to have A) an open mind, B) good imagination + creativity, C) perseverance + willpower in certain cases, and D) a willingness to interact and have fun with other players.

Additionally, while the game doesn't offer much in terms of graphics or objective, it does offer many MANY ways for the players to do what they want. It isn't just survival against monsters: some players have made custom adventures for others to try out, some have shown off their prowess in circuitry and logic(yes it IS possible), some have created their own machinima or music from the game... the range of content spawned from players of the game is surprisingly BIG!

And one application in particular has just been added to the growing list: as a teaching tool! Yes, teacher Joel Levin has used the game to teach students(mostly 2nd graders). Sure, they obviously adopt computer-related and game-related skills, but other more important concepts have also been disseminated to the young kids. Lessons on spatial navigation, teamwork, scarcity, online security and threats, environment and conservation... Joel has gained popularity after using this game for education, and then uploading videos to Youtube. His website can be found here!

The amazing thing is, the game isn't out of beta yet, but its fan base has already grown to huge proportions. Lots of game playthroughs, machinima, podcasts, etc have been generated by this massive community. And the price of the game isn't too hefty, making it even more attractive to Minecraft virgins.

If you're still not really sure about what this game is about, there are quite a number of Minecraft Youtube videos online, including a helpful number of tutorials. This one in particular by paulsoaresjr has been widely well received, so this could be a starting point.

Just a word of warning though: if you start to like this game very much, a huge part of your time may go into your Minecraft antics! :P