Put on your explorer boots and your hardhat and change the world!
Minecraft is both a singleplayer and multiplayer game, with 2 game modes and varying levels of difficulty. To play, you can download the PC client from the official Minecraft website (minecraft.net), or you can play through the Minecraft webpage. There are also mobile apps (Android, Apple) and an Xbox version (soon at Xbox.com).
You have a vast world in which you can explore and build; what you do is completely up to you.
While its graphics are simple and its blockyness quite “old school” by today’s standards, it can be an amazingly addictive game, that has a lot of depth for a game that appears so basic.
There is no storyline, no particular way in which you have to play. You have a vast world in which you can explore and build; what you do is completely up to you. Different players find enjoyment from different aspects of the game. Some may prefer to build elaborate castles while others want to go monster hunting in caves. Some players find enjoyment in exploring with a group of other players in a multiplayer server, whereas some prefer to play alone in a single player game. Minecraft can cater to many different play styles within the one game, making it popular with a wide range of players.
Formerly called “classic”, this mode gives you infinite quantities of all items in your inventory. There is no need to craft items, as everything is available to you. There is no health bar or hunger bar, and the player cannot take damage (from lava, drowning, falling, monsters, etc.). The player also has the ability to fly, making building and exploring much easier. The focus for this game mode is mainly on building without the restrictions of collecting building materials.
The TOG Minecraft division runs a creative mode multiplayer server, referred to as “Sanctuary”.
With this mode you start out with nothing in your inventory and have to collect all the resources you need. You have a health bar as well as a hunger bar and need to be careful to avoid damage and to eat regularly.Building is therefore more challenging as you need to create everything to build with, but the end result can be very satisfying.
Mining and gathering resources from the blocks that make up the world will give you the items to build and craft with. Unlike the creative mode, you need to gather or make all the blocks and items you need to use. Cut down a tree to collect wood and build yourself shelter. Turn the wood into sticks and you can craft a pick which will allow you to mine stone. Once you have stone, you can build with it or you can make it into more durable stone tools, and so on. With coal, you can make torches to provide light. A furnace is used to create glass and smelt iron, which can be used to make better tools, armour and even minecart tracks and carts. Redstone dust can be mined and used to make circuits and switches for automatic doors and other uses. Building is therefore more challenging as you need to create everything to build with, but the end result can be very satisfying.
The TOG Minecraft division runs a survival mode multiplayer server, called “Frontier”.
For some people the building aspect is the main reason they play Minecraft. Often likened to LEGO, the Minecraft world is made up of blocks, which can be used to create all manner of constructions. Build an entire medieval township, create a floating spaceship, an underwater city - the possibilities are endless. Luckily most blocks don’t follow the laws of gravity, so it is possible to make floating buildings and unsupported structures that would be impossible to build in the real world. You can use TNT to clear the land and build even bigger if you want to.
One of the benefits of the multiplayer server is that you can travel around to other people’s creations on the world and see what they have done. Some people like to build in collaboration with other players, some people prefer to build alone.
The Minecraft landscape can be quite beautiful and is filled with natural caves and places to explore. Often caves will contain an “abandoned mine” which is characterised by wooden support beams and long labyrinth-like tunnels. In these mines you can find chests containing rare items and also plenty of monsters (if you have them enabled). There are also the more rare “Strongholds”, which are subterranean fortresses that contain not only hidden chests of items, but also a portal to “the End” (a realm populated by Endermen and a dragon!). If the above-ground world gets boring, you can create a portal to the “Nether” - a lava-filled world with its own hidden fortresses and unique monsters.
You’ll find Zombies, Spiders, Skeletons, exploding “Creepers”, teleporting
Monsters of the Minecraft world usually come out only at night, but can also be found lurking about in caverns underground and other dark places. In the singleplayer game they can be turned off, depending on your preferences, and the difficulty level can be altered to make the monsters harder or easier to kill. You’ll find Zombies, Spiders, Skeletons, exploding “Creepers”, teleporting “Endermen” and fire shooting “Ghasts” among others. Dying can mean a long walk back to the location of your demise to pick up the inventory that gets dropped when you die, so you’ll want to be prepared.
You have both a heath meter and a hunger meter. Damage will reduce the hearts in your health meter, which will slowly regenerate over time if your hunger meter is filled. If your hunger meter is not filled, you will need to eat so that you can regenerate your health. Various food sources can be found within the Minecraft world, from the meat dropped from slain animals to bread and cakes that you can craft with supplies. You can craft weapons to use against the monsters you encounter and the monsters drop items when killed, such as bones, spider eyes and gunpowder, which can come in handy in crafting. Killing monsters also drops experience orbs, which can be collected and used in an “enchanting table” to upgrade weapons and armour to make them more effective.
Minecraft was officially released in November 2011 but it is regularly being improved by its developers at Mojang. New mobs and their behaviours are added as well as new biomes, resources and items. It is full of opportunities for your creativity. Whether you feel like building monuments or battling monsters, the choice is yours. Let your mind run free in the world of Minecraft!
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