A new life, for an old man.

Category: Reviews – Video Games

Minecraft – A Modern Review

My tree house fort! Four levels of daring ingenuity!

Welcome to my experiences with the illustrious independent hit, Minecraft. Minecraft is a game for people who like to play with things in their own time, in their own way. It has simple graphic view that appeals to all ages, being unique and yet strangely familiar. Both exciting and difficult, it can also be as easy as you want, and I think that is the inherent quality that makes it such a standout game. I have a long history of following the game, and I have enjoyed almost every step it has taken. I will be talking about what it is that makes this game so amazing, so unique, in a world of so much copycat that a new game is almost unheard of.

I started playing Minecraft classic back in June of 2009. Still free to play, the classic mode allows you to be as creative as you want to be, within simple limits. There are really only size limits to classic, and there are no mobs, no damage, but in classic, it is all about expressing yourself. A ridiculously huge trend was to make two-dimensional cut outs from anime, manga, and gaming, with a heavy repetition of Nintendo games being the main course. Upon signing in, it was customary to fall a long way through some decorative tunnel, then be dropped in a world filled to the brim with rainbow buildings, neon tanks and weapons, and the stacked art all along the edges. My first time in, I really felt like a child again, and since so many kids played Minecraft, it was easy to get lost in a game of hide and seek, or to collaborate with each other and build a castle. The setting is what does it, it just frees the mind and puts you in this giant play room. There are no real toys so to speak, but it is filled to the brim with every kind of Lego block you could ever want, as long as you want the same 42 Lego blocks to build with.

I bought Minecraft in December of 2009, when the beta was offered with all future upgrades. It was a bargain, as I went on to learn a lot about the game. There is a certain peace to it all, setting up in a new world, getting your materials gathered, mining to untold depths of the land. Mobs had arrived, zombies, skeletons and spiders. The depths of the world were exciting, and all the new minerals were fun as could be. Minecraft has a very serious crafting side to it. Those of you who enjoy making untold numbers of worthless items in MMORPG’s soon found that in Minecraft, there was no such thing as a worthless crafted item, and we all got into crafting unlike any other game. Now there was a reason to make 2000 of something, and crafting became an industry powered by humans for the first time since 1890.

Redstone circuitry was added not much later, and the crafting problem really took off. I think redstone was the single most powerful item ever added to Minecraft. Because of redstone circuits, I started hacking real electronics, and now, I can solder and play with basic electronics and digital items. I built a disco in one of the early games, on a friends hosted sim, and it had a curvy roof made of blocks, flashing lights, and a Drum and Bass loop in the floor. All built of harvested materials, back when it meant something to build without “cheating.” Cheating was a concern during 2010, where using different mods, you could have all the materials you needed. The reason it was called cheating was because, for the most part, if you played the game in single player mode, you could not mod new items in easily. People would come to public simulators and be shocked at all the diamond armor laying about, full diamond blocks paving roads. It was really funny to be honest, getting upset over someone creating a pixellated item out of nothing, for nothing, with nothing. Ah well, I was of the do it yourself model because I took pride in knowing my crafting top to bottom, and being able to use various builds for aesthetic and utilitarian purposes.

Then the new mobs started coming in, and finally, adventure mode is almost ready to go now. The game has been one point x for a while, and the end of the game is a mostly finished product. Fighting is really exciting, if a bit simple, and taking a single player world and starting from start to end is still a fairly hard to master skill and long to finish project. Gathering the materials to finish the game takes a long time, and a good amount of work for a person who has never played, and even those of us who were ready for the end at the end it was still a shock and very hard to do. Enchanting really helped single players get the end finished, personally I thought it was to hard until the enchantments and potions came along to help.

The modifications that are available as well boggle the mind. Not only can you have an infinite world¹ to play around in, you have tons of modifications you can use to play around with as well. The basic game itself is complex, full of surprises, and the mod world outside just keeps plopping new ideas into the code. I have had guns, flying ships, airplanes, instant towns, 10 times the original creatures, steam punk settings and builds, nuclear devices, and the seemingly endless amounts of textures and colors you can add to the game leave you with a cornucopia of colors and themes to play in. I recently downloaded the new 1.3.1 update, and I am, for maybe the twentieth time, building a new world, playing with my little dude in my Felix Unger shirt, enjoying the mindless addiction of peaceful block breaking in a world of blocks, where I am a blocky guy, and my dog is a blocky dog, and we swim and hike over blocky mountains and through blocky rivers. I will always, I mean I will always love this wonderful, complex, simple little game. If you have imagination unto you the size of a poppy-seed, you can go for broke with it inside the beautiful blocky world of Minecraft.


LoL – No, not the txt, League of Legends!

The look on the little guys face is about the same as mine as I play.

I have been a gamer since I was a child. I was born in 1968, and I bought my first real game in 1978, Dungeons and Dragons, and began a life long passion for difficult, time consuming games. I find it very hard to get people together to play such exciting, fun and social games anymore, and I followed the path most of us oldies have fought and bitched about ever since. MUD’s which morphed into Evercrack, which morphed into WoW, which… has not morphed, but put a capstone that is hard to build higher than. I played Minecraft alpha, and still own it and fart around, who doesn’t enjoy the odd scare of a creeper now and again? I try indie games, but most are to fast for my liking, but I did find a fast paced hard game that really satisfies my game tooth, League of Legends.

Now, before you gear up and go and download it and then come back and yell at me, let me say one thing, LoL is hard. I know a lot of the younger people out there are like oh come on, Starcraft II is twice as hard, you don’t have as much to do, you don’t blah blah blah. I am not hearing it. Grasping the concepts that make LoL a great game are not easy to come by, the community is basically made of the worst behavior I have ever seen in a gaming community, and absolutely you must put time into it to make it a great game. I play chess, and I grasped the basics of chess far faster than the basics of LoL. I am a long time gamer, and the most fun I ever have is player versus player, also known as PVP. In LoL, PVP is made up of two teams of five people, and every one of them hates you. Your team hates you, the other team hates you, and if you do bottom lane support like I do, your partner really hates you. That is a lot of hate, and it is not for everyone, but… I am reminded of fishing with my grandpa.

“I am not going to bait your hook, Glen. You have to get your hand dirty and grab the shrimp and do it. Look at him cap’n, he thinks we are gonna help him. (uproarious laughter of two old men.)”

I ended up being one of the best fisherman I ever met, and though the company was harsh, they would tell me how to do things right, and let me learn my own mistakes as well. With about ten dozen well-meaning insults that never stung, only pushed me to grow and become better, to earn my compliments. I get the same thing from… oh you get the idea. Let’s discuss the game and it’s basics.

First of all, it has been years since I wanted to learn about a game. The basics are interesting, and watching pro players on their streams is just as fascinating. Tons of guides are all about, and it is a confusing bundle to approach empty-handed. There are tanks, mages, melee, support, and junglers for the most part. Some are hybrids, some are horrible unless used by the right person, and some are right-click divas, or just to easy. I like this part the best, some are just damned difficult to learn and the strategy to use them fluctuates with every game. Another fascinating part is that you do not have to invest ridiculous amounts of time into it, 10 to 20 hours of the month, and you can grasp and gain all you need to have an honest good time. For free… There are an amazing amount of champions to choose from, and 100 guides for each one. Guides are tricky too, some are great, mostly by the pro players, and some are down right troll fodder. After a full year of playing, I have become just a basic player, but every game gets my blood pumping, as I help my team blow up the other team to bits, or get blown up to bits.

Secondly, yes, I already said it, it is free. I played one other game that was as good, and you had to pay for it, the strategies in Eve Online can be just as complex, but you have to sink years of time into the game to get into the better fights, and that is when they decide to happen. Pro players in other games rarely have time to play anything else, but one thing is certain, even with pro LoL players, everyone seems to have enough time to enjoy anything else they want to do. Being free on top of everything else, the game is a bargain, worth every penny of 60 US that I would blow on another game I might not even like once I started. The whole thing is sponsored by the sale of skins for champions, and once you get a certain champion down pat and play them well, it is almost guaranteed you will support Riot with a skin purchase. You never have to purchase anything however, so even cash strapped players can do as well as the most wealthy player in the game. There is no other game I have ever seen do this so well.

LoL is not for everyone, but if you are looking for a hard-core game that puts your strategy and mental clarity to a test, you could do far worse than investing some time into learning the damned thing. I know there is a love/hate relationship going on here, but I do love the game, for every bit that I hate, I love it more. I would like to see some more hospitality to new players, and from regular players as well, but aside from its harshness, it is a game you can fall in love with. A game that inspires people to write songs, make puppets, and cosplay. A game for gamers, and the harder the gamer, the better the love, I think.