If there has been one game that has drawn a large, diverse crowd over the last decade – it would be Minecraft. I’ve finally been “drawn” into that crowd, and I’ll explain what Minecraft is and why it is great.
If you’re like me, you like to build things in computer programs that you could never build in real life. For me, I’ve built everything from houses to electronics like computers and stereo systems, to even boilers. My “tool of choice” was SketchUp 3D, which offered a free yet fairly simple and decent CAD system.
However, my roommate and his friend were playing Minecraft one evening and I thought “that’s cool.” So I tried it on his XBox, and have been playing it since. A couple weeks ago I installed the PC version.
If you’ve never played it, I’ll give a simple run down: Minecraft is a game where you can mine objects (as the name implies) and build stuff using the mined objects. You’re placed in a randomly-generated world that can have a wide variety of biomes, features, and et cetera. In Survival mode, you have to mine everything you use. In Creative mode, you’re given an unlimited supply of items that are already made (for instance, lamps and glass.)
The nice thing about Minecraft is that you can create a functioning world, which you simply can’t in SketchUp 3D. It’s like merging a Sims game with SketchUp – where you can have a functioning village (which can be found pre-made in most worlds) with functioning mechanisms, like a rail systems or water systems. You can also build homes, villages, large multi-floor buildings. You can farm, hunt, and even fish.
Despite the ability to build functioning mechanisms and villages, there are some caveats to Minecraft. Minecraft is more of a game than a CAD system, so don’t expect to create ornate buildings with curves or complex designs. Everything is in block form, so there are very few curves in the game.
Also, the functional mechanisms that are available in the game – whether already there or you can build – is limited. You can’t build cars, elevators, or airplanes. There is no electricity (although redstone can “mimic” electricity by building simple circuits.)
I’d recommend the game if you like to build things and are looking for something to fill your free time with. It is one of few games that can be played by practically everyone: from toddlers to your grandfather. In fact, the game has become popular with toddlers and young children (below the age of 10) as it allows them to design their own buildings and systems. Unlike other games where skill is necessary to play the game, the only thing you need to be good at Minecraft is creativity.
In previous worlds, I used my roommate’s XBox to create worlds with complex redstone and rail systems, and lots of buildings. I also used a mule to travel backwards and forth quickly if the rail system wasn’t constructed yet, or the rail car was not near you.
My current world, created on my PC, consists of a village with many buildings – ranging from a post office, bank, skyscraper, power plant, blacksmith shop, etc.