Blaugust #06: a stranger in a strange land

I started playing Minecraft last night — let’s see what all the fuss is about. The official Minecraft wiki says it’s the best-selling game of all time, so there must be something to it, right?

Alone in the wilderness

I spawned, alone an unarmed, in a wooded area, with mountains and forests in the immediate vicinity, but with a fair amount of flat space to make a start on a base camp. I set to work punching wood until I had enough to craft a workbench and some basic tools. With night drawing in, I started on a simple shelter. I spent my first night in a hovel made of dirt.

The next day I investigated a small cave I discovered nearby, which yielded some coal and cobblestone, which I used to upgrade my tools and dirt walls — welcome to the stone age!

A short walk away from my rudimentary cobblestone house — I really need a compass so I can say in which direction, or at least I should have made note of where the sun rises — I found a small lake, so I took some sand from the shoreline, and used it to make some glass. My stone age house now had windows. I went up on the roof and placed some torches, too, to better find my way home in the dark.

Day three and I was getting hungry. Getting hungry wasn’t something I had to contend with the last time I tried out Minecraft, but I guess it makes sense. I had nothing edible to hand, and the prospect of forcing down a snack of raw dirt didn’t seem too appealing. I needed some proper food. And a bed. I’d been on my feet ever since I mysteriously arrived in… wherever I am.

Speaking of which — who am I? Where am I? How did I get here, wherever here is? These are all big, philosophic questions. Maybe I can find answers.

I went exploring. I needed food and wool, to craft a bed. After a short walk following the bank of a river, I found rabbits, which I hunted down with my sword. Rabbit meat! Tonight I would dine like a king! Also, in the distance, an intriguing sight — buildings! A village! I headed over quickly, as the sun was starting to set. What I found was… terrifying.

Alone no more

These villagers are probably the most disturbing thing I’ve found so far. Those faces! Their weird, grunting language! Their passive stares and robotic movements! It was like stumbling upon a community that had suffered a mass lobotomy. Everyone was keen to grunt at me, and even to enact rudimentary trades, but I didn’t have anything they wanted.

Simple-minded yokels they may be, but I shouldn’t disparage them too much — I was living in a stone hut, and these guys had a small working village, with multiple well-built houses, crops, a blacksmith, and livestock. They were clearly doing a lot better me, despite their painfully obvious mental and cultural deficiencies. And I was glad of the shelter.

As darkness fell, we spent the night barricaded in one of the houses while zombies and skeletons stalked through the village and moaned at the doors. I ventured outside a couple of times to cut down zombies with my crude stone sword. I was a hero. These guys needed me. They could build a village, but they couldn’t defend it.

A horrifying thought struck me — were these my people? Was I an amnesiac outcast from this very village? I didn’t think so. If I’d been forcibly exiled, then it stood to reason that they wouldn’t have been so friendly to me on arrival. I dismissed the thought. I was nothing like these villagers.

In the morning I took a further look around the village, and discovered a chest in a building that seemed to be a blacksmith. There was no-one around. I considered larceny. Then I remembered my services rendered as zombie-slayer, and helped myself. I received some iron pants (nice protection, but a bit snug on the crotch) and some diamond horse armour — the most visible sign of wealth I’d encountered so far. It was probably too much “payment” for what I’d done, but then I remembered the dozy, vacant faces of the villagers and figured they probably wouldn’t miss it.

I still needed food, and wool, so I scouted the outskirts of the village. It appeared to be built on the edge of a large ravine, and I spotted some sheep halfway down it on a ledge. After some precarious mining and bridge building, I had enough wool to craft a bed, and several dead sheep. It occurred to me that you could probably shear a sheep in a less lethal way, but when all you have is a sword, uhhh, everything looks like a dead sheep.

Home is where the hearth is

I made my way home. I crafted a bed and cooked some rabbit in the same forge I used to make glass earlier, which can’t be hygienic. I was too hungry to give it much thought. But with a comfy bed and the smell of delicious roasted rabbit wafting through the air, this place was starting to feel like home. I was happy.

After a good night’s sleep, I went mining. I didn’t encounter anything of any real interest, but I did gather up plenty of iron ore and coal, which went straight into the furnace. I like to think the leftover fat from the rabbit steaks helped the process along. I’d found so much iron that I had enough to create a full suit of armour, some buckets, a sword and a pickaxe, with a some ingots left over.

Things were getting comfortable, but I still had a pressing need for food. There was some leftover rabbit, but it won’t last forever. I need a reliable source of calories if I’m going to survive. Somehow I’ve jumped from the stone age to the iron age without inventing farming.

Grow your own

My next step, therefore, is to borrow — yes, borrow — some seed stock from the ravine village, and set up a small farm near home. I’ll surround it with walls to and keep the zombies off it at night. And as the villagers seem friendly, I’m going to build bridges with them — or rather, roads. When I came to leave the village, it took me a while to spot a landmark and figure out how to get back. So, I intend to build myself a cobblestone road, marked with torches, between my home and the village. I’ll scout out a more direct route, and if that takes me over the river, or through a hill, all the better — that’ll make for a more interesting engineering project.

I’m excited to see if I can get a farm going that’s big enough to provide all the food I need, and I like have the ravine village nearby — the villagers are so disturbingly otherworldly. I’ve tried Minecraft before — I bought it back when it was still in early beta, before it took over the world — and before now I’ve always got bored pretty quickly. But not this time; I really got into exploring the world. I’ve got definite goals for the future of my lone survivor, and I want to see just what I can create. I actually had a blast, which if I’m honest, I wasn’t expecting.

  1 comment for “Blaugust #06: a stranger in a strange land

  1. August 6, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Aww I love how you wrote this 🙂 I love minecraft, I have a month where I play it frantically and then I pause, and come back a few months later. I love that you have to make your own game, you say what you are going to do, no guidance, no rules. Just live and create, set your own goals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *