Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Another Update

Well, it's been a while since I posted anything about how the Minecraft experiences were going.

My wife has continued to explore Survival mode, has died several times, but continues exploring and building.

My step-daughter has continued to build and explore. She's continued to build her own home, expanding it and growing it--complete with decorations and rooms. She's created a bathroom, art frames on the wall that detail objects that she likes. She even built a roller coaster using a power rail system. We had several laughs from that, because things like creepers, chickens, or skeletons would wander into it and be left there indefinitely!

One thing of note that occurred was the concept of her and I doing creative mode together. Let me tell you, this conversation was not pleasant. The idea of my step daughter having to deal with monsters was close to traumatizing. No matter how much I assured her that we would do it together, she wouldn't have it--didn't even want to try, it brought her to tears.

Upon later conversations with my wife, speaking of the incident, the obvious was pointed out: she was just afraid. While in creative mode, nothing can hurt her. She can attack without incident or fear, and nothing will sneak up on her, but in Survival mode she can be hurt--and it frightens her. Regardless of whether or not her mother or I were present, she didn't want to experience that. So, the idea was closed for now.

I started getting a bit more creative myself in the game world. At first, I took a section of the wall that had a open mouthed area, and built a wall to section it off. That wall developed into a castle with turrets. It was self contained, but open aired. Iron doors allowed for exit, but no levers were placed on the outside. The goal was protection from the outside world.

At this point, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my 'castle'. However, necessity is the mother of all invention, and a necessity arose.

While she would explore the world, my step-daughter would get nervous and scared as she would get lost. I need to increase the render distance on her computer, but to help her find her way, I built beacons that stretched to the cloud line. The beacons are stone towers, that have lava that pours down the sides and illuminate around the tower. And, of course, for effect, the lava pours down the center and has cobblestone wrap around internally, and a balcony that looks out. I'll grab some pictures later and upload them.

After the second beacon was created, I dug a tunnel between the two, and started to place a powered rail system between them. My goal is to have a central hub at the Castle tower, with spokes leading to each beacon for quick and easy travel. Once I have it completed, it should give some freedom for movement. The long term goal is to have five beacons total, one at the central point, and one at a distance away from the central tower, probably the render distance for her computer. Somewhere around there. Again, the goal is to help her find her way home when exploring.

We'll see how it develops.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Gaming in Progress: Thoughts as they happen

So we picked up my Step-Daughter from her Dad's this morning, and after getting ourselves together, the house cleaned up, snacks and such, it became time to start playing Minecraft.

At first, she was disappointed because it wasn't exactly like it is at her Dad's, which is expected. She's a kid, she wants the things she knows to be like the things she knows already. But once we explained that it runs on a PC, and she would be using the keyboard/mouse, she was okay with it (I am aware there are software plugins that you can load on a computer to bind keys from the X-Box controller to the keyboard, but, it would be another thing she'd have to load when wanting to play). So, once I showed her how to get in to the Minecraft Server loaded on my desk, I let her explore. I typed a few messages on the screen, she explored her inventory...and just walked around.

I set to work on building a small house, just so she'd have a landmark. Also, because I wanted to build a small house.

Once she became comfortable with the interface, her first order of business was a chicken coop. She looked through the inventory, found the things she wanted (dirt blocks and glass panes), and started to enclose a small space. Eventually she played around with sizes, what to put inside, flowers, etc., but she was off on her own. Her mother started to chime in and give her assistance about where to put things, what to put, why things weren't working, etc.

And that's when my wife took an interest.

My wife is a gamer too. She hasn't been one all her life, but, since we've been together she's slowly getting more and more into it, and it's absolutely fantastic to watch. So naturally, I stood up to take care of things from around the house, she sat down and started to play.

My wife and her daughter were playing Minecraft together.

The first thing they built was a horse pen. Starting with a large fenced-in area, they spawned horses, hay bails, and started exploring. The big difference now was that the child was trying to check with the parent at every step. Before, she was exploring, doing her own thing, trying things out. But now that Mom was playing, Mom had to be involved. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's very reminiscent of real life. She wants Mom to be involved and kept up-to-date on what the Daughter is doing.

Another worthy point of note is the attitude of the fence. The horse pen had a fence of one-block length high, but the animals could jump out of it. Normally how you'd solve the problem is you'd make the fence higher, or push the horse pen deeper into the ground (because game physics). Which is what was done...but then the question was the gates. My wife had created gates to walk through the fenced in area, and my Step-Daughter had fenced over the gates. When asked why she did that, she answered obviously: To keep the animals in. When asked how are you going to get out of the pen, she answered: "Uh, fly, duh." In crafting mode, you can fly. She doesn't see the need for a gate to the horse pen, because the horses aren't coming out, and she can get in from the sky. That's the right way to think, not bound by what you want...just bound by what you can do when you can do anything.

Now the daughter is off to build her own house.

Today, it begins

So we haven't picked up my Step-Daughter from her Dad's yet, but I spent some time getting everything in order over the weekend. I purchased two licenses of Minecraft, set up the server on my desktop, and installed everything needed on both my laptop, and my wife's desktop where we will be playing.

Just before things start, I wanted to make sure I was familiar with things. In my previous posting, my Step-Daughter mentioned that she only wanted to play in the Creative Mode, and not the Survival Mode or anything else--which is fine, let us be creative and crafty together.

So, I made both of our accounts Operators, and went ahead and switched their game mode to creative. Then I just...explored. I figured out how to fly, how to place items, and just traveled. Mostly down, but then other ways too. Then I hit that moment that I always hope for in a game (at least once):

"Holy shit. This is amazing."

This isn't a moment of, 'Woo, this is awesome, yeah!' It's something more than that. So what is that moment? Let me give another example:

Last night, my wife, my friend Dave, and I, were playing Dark Souls (the first, because we still haven't beaten it). And we were moving forward in underground chambers in Demon Ruins. We crossed a bridge and I was just taken aback at the raw size of everything--and all of it could be reached. I found a similar picture online of the area, but it doesn't do it justice:
Dark Souls: Demon Ruins
Used without permission: Tap-Repeatedly.

It's not the quality of the game, mechanics, or the openness of the's that sense of wonder that you get when you go somewhere new, and it's similar to when you climb a mountain and look down at the world.

"There's going to be so many enemies that I get to kill down there."
Le Grand Bornand, France
Used without permission:

And exploring caves in Minecraft granted me that....because they just kept going. And since it was creative mode, I explored. No fighting, no worrying about health or getting my way back...I just went. I hope my Step-Daughter might have the same feelings. I'm not sure, we'll see. We leave to pick her up in an hour, so I'll try to record some of the things she says as we play. 

Today, it begins.