Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Minecraft - The Most Awesome Cubical Sandbox Poison

So as the Winter Holidays go on, with the Christmas Day past and the New Year's Eve is coming, everyone's busy playing snowball wars in their neighborhood and making snowmen after receiving some gifts from Santa. In Indonesia, however, winter is non-existent (DUH!) and most of the college students will face the Finals week, including myself. There's a good news and bad news for this; The good news is the Finals week has started on 29th December through 9th January 2015. The bad news is THAT above statement. Who has planned their New Year's Eve vacation plan in the middle of the Finals week? I wonder... (Only if there's a break between the New Year's Eve celebration then it's fine)

Cut to the next blog post where I will post something new, and it is about a game. While the majority of this blog covers racing games and racing simulators, I would be pleased to give something totally new that isn't related to racing: Minecraft, a.k.a the Most Awesome Cubical Sandbox Time-Wasting Poison. There's something in this game in which it wants me to play it, even the first time I played it on a web browser, in which the web version is the most basic version where you just need to build something out of the assorted selection of blocks. As the time progresses, new versions come out, from the version with an addition of the crafting element and the monster-fighting element in which monsters will haunt you down like crazy at night, to the version with amplified world resources and a compatibility to user-made mods thanks to third-party mod loaders. Building things are also more fun thanks to new additions of blocks throughout versions plus nature elements such as biomes, trees and animals. It is amazing to see how well put everything is in this game, even to think that it even attracts a racing gamer with absolutely no intensive Minecraft experience like myself.


Simple yet addictive; Minecraft's open world sandbox nature allows for imaginative creations to be realized albeit in the cubical nature. (Image:

Even introducing a game that I play won't be complete without introducing its origins. To put it short, Minecraft is a simple block-placing sandbox game created by Swedish programmer Markus Persson, popularly known as "Notch", and later on developed and published by Swedish game house Mojang since 2009. Its creative and building aspects allow players to build almost everything however they see fit, like houses and stuff, while trying to survive from scary mobs like zombies, skeletons and, of course, Creepers to name a few. The alpha version was publicly released for PC on May 17, 2009 and the first full version, after all the gradual updates, was released on November 18, 2011. Also exist are mobile versions for Android and iOS, with console versions for Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita. ALL versions receive periodic updates. The game also received tons of awards, with 2012 running Golden Joystick Award win for "Best Downloadable Game". As of October 10, 2014, there have been nearly 60 million copies sold to all platforms, making it one of the best-selling video games of all time. (Wikipedia)

Due to its open world nature, you can do anything as you please, yet there is the achievement system for doing certain tasks like crafting a weapon and mining a Diamond. The world is divided into biomes ranging from plains to forests, with lots of resources always ready for the picking (even better if you have the right tool for it. i.e., gathering stones and the like using a pickaxe). While you're busy building blocks and gathering stuffs, your business isn't just in the normal world alone; the Nether and The End present more challenges as you explore through them. In the Nether, you are in a Hell-like dimension with unique resources ripe for the picking, but be careful with stronger mobs that will "flame" you (not to mention that they are, obviously, immune to flame-enchanted attacks). The End dimension is the home for the always-teleporting Endermen; while you immense yourself in the total darkness in The End with the Endermen, Ender Dragon, one of the game's "bosses", is waiting for you to be defeated. Defeat the dragon and enjoy yourself a 9-minute long end credits (yup, you read THAT right).

Minecraft is divided to two main modes: Creative and Survival. Survival is where you start out with nothing but your "health" and "hunger", and you have to gather resources in order to build things for either building your house or craft something to be made into an item useful for your advent. As you use your energy for things like running, your hunger meter will slowly deplete, stopping the automated health meter healing, even worse when your hunger meter goes zero where it will slowly kill you. The only thing you need to do to maintain your hunger meter is to eat in-game foods you gather from either killing the animals or crafting food ingredients into one better food (like a cake for example, made with milk, wheat, sugar and eggs). At night, monsters will try to haunt you down and leave you in despair, even fear. This applies when you encounter skeleton archers whose attacks can be a bitch, Creepers that will blow you (or worse, your house) up with their explosions, and Endermen that always teleport when you try launching projectile attacks. Other than those, the bitch enemies you will fight are cave spiders, spider jockeys, and almost everything in the Nether. Defeat those mobs, and you can obtain experience points. Meanwhile in Creative, you can build almost everything, with all resources available for use, and no mob attacks even though they do exist. There's also the Hardcore mode which is basically a Survival mode made harder, and once you're dead, your world is deleted. The game also supports Multiplayer games, allowing for endless multiplayer fun on different servers of your choice.

You can buy the game or play the demo on its official site.


Fourth time's a charm; this is how my supposed masterpiece should look like.

To be honest, I had an on-and-off relationship with this game. The first time I play this game is on my old PC of mine, with myself getting addicted to the game after playing the demo, and the addiction also infected my first brother to build anything however he saw fit. Unfortunately, back then, my Minecraft-ing time is mostly spent by my brother and I decided to stay away from it for a while. The second time my relationship went to the "on state" once more is when I discovered the Clay Soldiers mod, to the point that I would also wanted to make a "Clay Soldier War Arena", something like "Cubical Dynasty Warriors for Clay Soldiers" or something. Once again, my brother took over Minecraft once more, and this time he asked me to put on the Pokemon mod too. Unfortunately, the effort to make a Pokemon-themed Minecraft was failed following an error within the application. All this was done on another old PC that was one step less older than the previous one. Cut to the third time when I attempt Minecraft-ing on my new laptop (which is eventually my current laptop as of now), but it was kind of miserable as the FPS rate didn't seem to win my heart.

The fourth and the recent time my love to Minecraft began upon discovering the Arendelle Kingdom map and the JavalCars mod. By combining both elements, I initially wanted to create a race track map set within the Kingdom's surroundings. While the FPS still indeed doesn't win my heart at all, I have learned to use third-party mods; Forge is the first way to go, useful for loading mods, and then OptiFine comes after. OptiFine itself is a tool to boost the FPS even further, which, thankfully, it did and the FPS becomes friendly even though there are occasional quick freezes. Combining both tools, after several tries, my Minecraft experience goes even further, and that I am able to learn things more than just fighting mobs and gathering stones and whatnot, like farming and breeding for example, veering away my initial goal I set for my fourth return to Minecraft. Sadly, I am stuck on version 1.7.4 on purpose because most of the great mods belongs to that version, with the new version 1.8.1 now available, offering more to the game itself, but hey, I'm just a warming-up!

Replicating my masterpiece made in the Survival mode to the Creative mode rendition.

For some reason, I am trying to build a house with a concept of "resource gathering and combat watchtower". As you can see in the above screenshot, the house is designed to fit the animals that can be farmed for resources on the ground floor, but it was currently just fit for chickens and sheep as cows weren't visible within the vicinity of my house. The lower access opens for the wheat farm hothouse and the entrance to the hothouse which is actually the home for sugar cane plants due to the fact that the sugar cane plants can be planted on normal grass and without the need for sunlight. The upper ground is where I can attack mobs from above, but that won't be possible without the entrance complete with the chest that stores weapons. Unfortunately, I don't have quite a large number of arrows to do this, and that I do this on the cheatless Survival mode, which forces me to change the difficulty to Peaceful (easiest difficulty; no mobs are being spawn in this difficulty) and spend Peaceful nights in building it. The same concept is applied to the another world under the Creative mode with a "superflat" world setting yet I gave the architecture a more pleasing environment, which in turn gives a slightly different feel from my first version. The exterior is quite a work to do as it is made on Superflat world, yet I managed to build the first hothouse (there will be a second, bigger hothouse to cater more plants), a chicken pen, a sheep ranch and a cow ranch. The top floors will be added later on.

Survival house vs Creative house; the Sheep Ranch Interior Battle

One of the reasons why I replicate this on the Creative mode is that I am unhappy with the "dirt" floor in the sheep ranch while it should have been grass all the way. The grass floor fits the second ranch well but, once again, I'm not that happy. Naturally, dirt should be "grown" to grass in a matter of period but in the sheep ranch it didn't, presumably because I either didn't expose it to sunlight or that it won't turn into grass if the block under it is not another dirt.

Unique in the Creative mode version is the "Enchantment Room" located underground, slated to have a secret entrance in the bedroom. However, I'm still learning how to create a secret door, mainly because it requires redstone elements to work; levers and pistons would diminish its "secret passage" philosophy, and they don't seem to work optimally after all. As the name implies, this is the place to enchant certain tools.

Another difference found in the Creative mode version is how the environment is shaped (see the Survival house's exterior; 2nd pic from the blog). You can see there are trees, flowers and an artificial river throughout the house. Not just that, there's a bridge too. The original version doesn't have these as it is surrounded by hills and cobblestones.

Meanwhile, enjoy the picspam of my still-WIP house (and other random pictures) here:

Beautiful entrance in the Creative version of my masterpiece
The underground sugar cane plantation in the Creative version
Another exterior view of my Creative version
Yet more exterior view
Something that even the Creative version won't get: Snow and rain at the same time in the Survival version! I forgot that the Survival version is located somewhere in the Extreme Hills biome.


Almost everyone can into the Minecraft bus due to its openness in gameplay, even for me. You just need to learn things on-the-go as you go through your first in-game days in the game. The good thing is, there are loads of tutorials in making awesome things and Survival mode Let's Plays from different players, and all you need to do is just ask Google and dive YouTube! Don't forget to always find inspirations online so you can work on your masterpiece you've always wanted to make!

Now go ahead, make almost anything!

And since it is almost the New Year's Eve, here's a Minecraft firework show for you to check out:


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