Minecraft- The creation of emergent narrative. With lava.

So hey everyone. It’s the prime directive of a Minecrafter to…mine. Much like Dwarf Fortress, I’ve always found the most exciting parts of Minecraft (Henceforth referred to as MC for convenience) to be going out and making my own stories. There’s a sense of purely emergent gameplay that I find I can expressly discover and create when I play MC. So over the past week or so, I’ve sporadically been off on explorations. Not venturing too far from my safehouse, I finally decided today to go “Fuck it, I’m going to go North”. Following is the explots of what happened. First of all, I had to find my sense of direction. Heading north is the easy part, knowing that clouds will always go in that direction. It was in this rote task that I encountered my first big hurdle. The vast ocean that was before me. Naturally, inginuity struck.

After much faffing around trying to find a legitimate mountain or cave to really go deep into, I thought I’d never find anything appropriate for my needs. I found several very small caves, but they just weren’t…going anywhere. Splatters of coal here, mushrooms there, it wasn’t until I stumbled across this perfect area (Which I found from punching a sheep to death, their noise is infuriatingly repetitive). I give you, my dream mine.

To the untrained eye, it might not LOOK like much, but let me tell you. What I found in this cave was more than just resources/water/lava. It was an incredibly refreshing gaming experience that I haven’t had in quite some time. The sheer joy of exploring for what seemed like hours on end (In actual fact, it was) was made much more rewarding when I finally found this area. It seemed like the perfect little area. Almost too perfect.

The further I pushed in, the more precious resources I found. Pessimistic and naturally encountering bad luck in these kind of situations, I expected nothing more than steel (or Iron, whatever you want to call it) and maybe…well, I didn’t know what else I was really anticipating.

The further I got down, the more of what I can only describe as a visceral thrill swept over me. It seemed to go on forever. Coupled with the seeminly endless torches I brought with me, I felt like I could just keep on going forever. In a way, I suppose I did. However, what I found next, I could only have dreamed of. The glimmer of Mossy Cobblestone? Endless waves of spiders? Dramatic sound effect cues indiacting I was onto something? I finally found what I’d only heard about in MC threads of legend.

To the untrained eye, and to myself when I found it, this might not look like much. It might even look like a weird block. But what I found was much more than I could have guessed. This is what is called a “Spawner” in which the enemy inside (A spider, on fire…) will come out once every 15-20 seconds. Why would I pursue this? Because in this small, 7x7ish room were magical treasure chests, spawned by the world. These had the capacity to drop some of the rarest items in game, some which aren’t obtainable ANY other way. It took me about 5/10 minutes, clearing a way to this that wouldn’t leave me overran. I didn’t have time to screenshot any of this, it was too hectic. But suffice to say I left the dungeon with 3 saddles (Now I can ride pigs, yeehaw), 4 buckets (The end of the post will explain this in greater detail) and several pieces of wheat. Meh, wheat. Can’t win them all.

After much more spelunking, I found what I didn’t expect at all. My very first PRECIOUS mineral.

My first gold block. I’m a real miner!

I ended up as I was mining fighting several other enemies. Skeletons, Zombies, and the infamous Hisser. However, after I had mined extensively, I was…losing steam. There wasn’t anything in visible sight. I think I finally ended this quarry, and decided to make my way out. Then, I found a hisser, who exploded on me. However, it was from this, that I found something quite special.

It was from this, that he created a deep cavern from me, which I didn’t expect. However, I set up the appropriate measures, so I could not only find my way out, but…to look fancy.

Further and further I went. I fought a hard fight with a skeleton man.

However, the further I got…the more of a sense of dread overcame me. I had such a haul so far, I was kind of…scared. I had so much on me. Gold/Saddles/Steel/ Buckets filled with Lava. I anticipated something awful to happen. After quite some time, it did. I got deeper and deeper, and had to finally dam off the water. There was too much, and it was becoming increasingly tough to navigate. Water slows you down, so I had to block it off.


However…

The overwhelming stres and panic statred to get the better of me. I knew if I mined too deep, that if I got too greedy…I’d end myself. This was a turning point for me, as the player. To consider that I’d been spelunking in this mine for what ended up being 4 hours, the sense of immersion was unparalleled. Becoming a part of the world, effecting it in such a strong way, with immediate results was something I haven’t felt in a long time. After I cleaned up my work, I decided that…it was time to leave this.

This wonderful wonderful pit that was to become my tomb. After much hardship, I found my way out. I gave it a fitting end.

However, this wasn’t the end of my quest. It was about this time that I wondered to myself…where was I? After such a long time in the cave, I realised I was in the middle of nowhere. I had to pull up good old Cartograph ( The player made map program which allows you to…kind of find your way to where you’re going. Knowing that I had SOMEHOW gone to the western most point I had gone to so far, I realised I wasn’t in Kansas any more. After a lot of exploration, I saw a familiar sight. Knowing that the clouds go north was one indication of my location, and that the sun rises in the east, helped me finally find my way.

Dual waterfalls? Weird towers? I was home!

My haul was ready to be deposited in my chest.

Gold, feathers, wheat, bookshelves, books, papyrus and lava buckets were some of the things I had found. It was lovely.

After this, I figured I’d make my fort somewhat more obnoxious by replacing my waterfalls.

With lava waterfalls!!

After this, I decided that I had done enough for one day. My fortress was going places. I hadn’t actually…DONE ANYTHING to it, but i’d sure as hell got a lot more materials in which to do so

I hope that this little…journal entry has been enjoyable. For me as a player, it was simply…astonishing. The parallel of completion with…sincerely immersive gameplay was something that is somewhat absent in modern gameplay. In the common design of gameplay as is associated with more contemporary games, there isn’t really much room for…systems, I suppose is the appropriate word. This isn’t so much of a game, as a toolset used to create your own narrative. Much like Farcry 2, its what I’d consider a very strong game in the sense of complete emegent gameplay, the ability to just dump the player in a world, and let them create their own little stories.

And it was refreshing. I suppose today, In that cave, I found my paradise. Have you?

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