Tuesday, October 19, 2010

ever in my sight, ever out of touch

You're playing a new game. You're the protagonist, naturally; you don't quite remember how you got where you are, but there's someone talking to you. In normal games, this would be the patch of exposition that sets the stage, explains the game. In this instance...I think I'd just start screaming and throwing things at the guy.

"POSSESSED! You are possessed! Back away!" *sound of hurling furniture* "Quick, I need an old priest and a young priest, STAT!"

(There's actually five known bugs for the Fallout series, and here's a good list if you're looking for a rundown. Obviously, don't read if you don't want to know advance details about the game.)

How to create a pile of guts in Blender!

...What? Blender, the program.


And I admit, now I want to build an underwater home in Minecraft. Though this is even cooler.

I am wholly and unreservedly sure I, like Roger Ebert, would never do this. But wau, is it fun to watch.

I need to get back to the Unknown Hunt, and I will in the next few days, but in the meantime, I think I fixed the pictures on the last Minecraft entry.

Which is good, because I want to mention this video, which ties up X's Adventures in Minecraft (the Green series; apparently the Blue series will be updated intermittently as new game features are released). The entire series is great fun to watch, even if you've never played the game--he is witty, reckless, and does stupid things with great vim and vigor. But I want to draw your attention to the end of "The End":

All things change.
Without fail, every footstep...
every tick of the clock...
changes the world.
I think, maybe,
if a game can teach us anything,
it's the lesson that Minecraft can teach.
You may be left wondering...
"What is that lesson?"
Live life fully, and do what makes you happy.
Take the paths you find most interesting.
Take a few chances.
Deal with the obstacles set before you.
Enjoy the things you love...
build them up, and share them.
That's what this adventure was all about.

Thank you, X.

Some may think that this is pretty heavy stuph to weight down Cubeland with. I disagree. Sometimes, breaking a process down to its simplest levels makes the philosophies behind it that much clearer. Notch, the designer behind Minecraft, is moving towards an official beta release, and from there, to official release in whatever form he has planned, and that's fine. It may end up being a full subscription game; he may find a way to make it an MMO; he may end up with a rich and diverse world, or it may stay this simple, and this cubist.

But however that goes, we know that Notch is fully invested with the spirit of play. This is not quests and do-this-to-do-that-so-you-can-do-this-other-thing game maneuvering. It's simple.

Wander. Build. Make a home. Explore. Find new things. Deal with tragedy. Deal with joy. Succeed. Fail. Learn from both.

At its most basic level, Minecraft makes us all explorers, and all dreamers of a shared dream. Put aside everyone who's decided to invest their time in recreating what they love, in this space; while seeing the Enterprise, the city of Columbia from BioShock Infinite and the El Castillo temple (better known as Chichen Itza)--and there are hundreds of other examples, on how people have decided to play the game--what Minecraft is, what it does, stunningly well, is bring us back to the basics.

We are two cubes tall. So are most monsters. (Though there are rumors of giants entering the game in a few months.) Trees are on average five cubes tall. Our world is sized for us, by design. We drown if we swim too deeply in water; we die when things fall on us or when we're attacked; but we can come back, and we can pick up the things we hold close if we do it in enough time. We live for light; we huddle by fires during the dark, waiting for dawn. Or we stand and watch the panorama of stars wheeling overhead, and the shining of the cube moon.

This is someone else, holding out a handful of blocks, and sharing with us. What will you create? he asks. What do you want to see the world become? Sometimes the most basic lessons are the ones that leave the most lasting impressions.

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