Minecraft: The Collapse

During the day, I explore. At night, I dig.

And in all hours, I build.

I build a boat so that I can cross the ocean without having to hop and splash through the waters like a drunken moose. I build a miles-long underground tunnel connecting my spawn point and my rat’s warren canyon. Upon my spawn point I build a glass house so that I may watch the sun set and the moon rise. At the top of my glass house I build an air bridge traveling to the peak of the nearest mountain.

And it is near to this peak that I find my first dungeon.

It’s already pre-carved out of the side of the hill. I descend into the deep, placing torches along the way so I can find my way back. Down there in the dark I hear the first rheumy growls: zombies.

Sure enough, there they are: a trio of the blockheaded assholes, playing a game of clumsy grab-ass. Ah. But a waterfall and stream separate us. It’s easy for me to wade into the water, hack at them with my diamond-edged sword, and cut them into little puffs of pixillated smoke.

But somehow, more of them show.

They’re coming from somewhere back there. In the dark. Spawning endlessly.

I cross the water. I quick throw torches on the wall just as a zombie tries to paw my face with his rotten box-hands. Then another, then another. I back to the wall, I cut ‘em down with my blade, and then I see more of this room: mossy stone, two chests, and a burning cage in the center with a little zombie effigy doll in the center, endlessly spinning.

I kill the zombies.

I flood the room with torchlight.

I end the spawning.

I open the chests and claim my booty: gold and iron and arrows.

I am the hero, triumphant.

The Hero, Descendant (Or, “The Hero Shits His Pants Multiple Times And Falls Down Into The Deep Dark Where He Must Contend With Lava And Evil”)

I continue to dig, build, and explore.

Fact is, I want to find another dungeon. The dungeon made me feel like an intrepid hero-architect, a builder of great things but also a slayer of demons, a gatherer of treasure.

I find my second cavern opening not far from the first: just a quarter-day’s walk. I see the deep dark grotto. I gather torches. And I wade into the mouth of shadow.

This one goes deep. Much deeper than the last. Every step is a step down, a step around a corner, a step around a stream of falling water or past tunnel mouths where I hear spiders hissing or the rattle of a skeleton archer’s bones. I’m getting worried.

But I’m also getting pretty fucking geeked.

I travel for a long time — sometimes falling a few blocks without certainty of how I’ll get out (I can always build steps, I tell myself), until finally I reach the bottom.

I know it’s the bottom because, ye gods, it’s full of lava.

In the center of this canyon tumbles a massive column of lava, a lavafall coming from way, way up there. Up there in shadow. Up there where monsters roam.

It’s easy to see that this is a special place. The walls are lined with precious kit: gold and diamonds and redstone and so much iron, so much coal. I even see some lapis lazuli and some obsidian.

I hear water. I fling up torches. I step into the heavy current.

And — b-d-d-d-ing.

The sound of a bowstring drawn and loosed. A skeleton archer’s arrow pierces my heart. Then another. Then another. I die there in the water, my inventory exploded around me.

I respawn upon my glass house, I hurry to my stash of goods in the house, I snatch up a blade. I’m going back. Fuck that archer. Fuck him up his bony ass with his own damn femur.

Once again I descend into the void — this time, with only an iron blade. I follow the trail of light. I fall again into darkness. I wander aimlessly on the shores of scorching lava.

Finally, I see it: all my shit laid bare, floating there in the water like flotsam (or jetsam, whatever). This time it’s no skeleton archer but rather a creeper. But he can’t get to me on this ledge. He’s easy to dispatch. A swipey-swipe of the blade and he’s down, the dumb geek. Another jumps in: hack-slash, nighty-night.

I jump into the water.

I grab all my shit. My compass, my watch, my diamond sword.

And then a zombie appears out of nowhere and bashes my block-head in with one of his block-fists.


Okay. Fine. My stuff’s still down there. I’ll just go back again. Except this time, I think, I’ll run back to my other stash and grab another sword, because I can’t go down there unarmed. This takes me a little time, but I manage. And — you know the story: again I stumble blindly into the booty hole.

Uhh. Rephrase that at your leisure.

This time, it’s different. I go down. I wander the trails. I follow the torches. I jog along lava.

No monsters this time.

And also: no stuff.

My shit is all gone. My compass, my watch, my diamond sword.

Little do I know: loose materials degrade to nothing after five minutes. Poof. Gone. It’s not here because I took too long fetching a sword. And ironically, the canyon has no more monsters for me to fight.

Frustrated, I still recognize that this is a bountiful canyon. I can easily make up what I lost just by spending some time down here, cutting away the precious metals and mystical materials.

So, I do that. I begin to mine.

I mine until my pockets are bulging with goodness. So many diamonds. So much iron. I’m filled to the tits with redstone dust and lapis lazuli. And the gold! I’m rich! I’m a king! Eeeee! Thing is, this place is even bigger than I thought. It goes on, and on, and on. I keep wandering. I keep digging.

I see a little more iron, so I cross a little stream to get it.

The stream has a current. I am pulled not two squares to my right, and I slip under a ledge because the water is deeper than anticipated.

And then I tumble into a pit of lava.

I struggle in the well, burning alive. Cooking. Hissing. Screaming.

I perish.

All my items explode out of my body. And then they hit the lava.

When they do, they go Sssss! and are gone. Burned up into the void.

I am once more a pauper. No longer the hero-architect, I am just a burned-up chump, a scarred buckethead fumbling around the dark, pawing at my junk with my impossible, fingerless hands.

And so it is that I think I must back away from Minecraft for a time. I achieved a lot in a short time, but I jumped for the brass ring…

…and fell into a hole filled with fire and death.

I retreat, beaten.


  • Well you have certainly put more time into minecraft than I have (I need to get back to that). But come you are not defeated my good Mr. Wendig, you are merely delayed. The glass house and sky bridge still stand, giant improbable monuments to your own power over nature. Consider this the next level. You conquered the surface, you mined the caverns and built tools and made a world for yourself free of the threats of zombies. Now conquer the underdark. Make the precious materials your own, tame the wild river and cool the lava. This is your Moria and FUCK the Balrog up his shadowy flaming ass, this world is yours to pillage.

  • Back in the day, diamonds were as rare as hens teeth. You found a little vein of them, you damn well ran right back up to your chest and stashed those fuckers in there. Now you get a nice dungeon you can come out with 20 of them from a few prosperous veins… sept there’s a lot more lava streams accompanying them down there.

    Try carrying a few buckets. If it’s a lava spring you can shut it down at it’s source by scooping it up. If it’s a lava pool then you can get some water and dump it on the pool to make a bunch of obsidian. (Note: If you’re going to harvest obsidian from a lava pool it’s easiest to leave the water flowing over the obsidian and then break it while it’s under the water.

    Get enough obsidian and you can create a door to monster-land. It’s like the Ways from Wheel of time. Fun stuff.

  • I just tried out the Classic version in the browser, and an hour just seems to have disappeared. Now I want to buy the Beta, but I’m afraid this has the potential to eat writing time like a fat man scarfs down Doritos.

    Goddammit, Wendig. Like I needed another time sink. I’m beginning to think all games that end in “–craft” have been coded by Beelzebub himself.

  • @Marko:

    It is a time eater, but it’s less so than I had imagined — it’s easy to get a lot accomplished in a very short amount of time.

    But still — it is a sinister beast.

    I think I might write a post later in the week describing Things I Think Might Make Minecraft More Awesomer Also Indeed Too. Or I might just nap.

    — c.

  • @Helmsman —

    This is good advice.

    For now, my spirit is broken.

    So many lost treasures. Eaten by surprise lava.


    But yeah, what the hell is up with The Nether? That’s some creepy shit, there. The fact that Minecraft has some kind of.. Hell?

    — c.

  • @Sparky:

    I like what you’re laying down.

    But it remains to be seen if I shall once more resume the mantle of hero-architect, or if I shall be a forever-scalded burn victim wandering mad in the caverns.

    — c.

  • I love how Minecraft just naturally generates these stories.

    They do tend to be similar though. ‘I had all this cool shit, then the fucking creeper/zombie/skeleton/lava got me!’

  • I’ve heard a rumor that in upcoming versions there’s going to be periodic zombie invasions; the moon will turn red and they’ll just go nuts. I’m looking forward to that, but it would be narratively more compelling if I weren’t just saving my own skin: otherwise if worse comes to worst I can dig a hole in the ground, put a piece of glass over the top and read a book until morning turns them all into little hopping tiki torches.

    In the meantime, I’m rebuilding my wooden cabin. I had a nice little fireplace in there, made from all the clay bricks I could find, plus bookshelves and a bed made from different color wool. Two stories with nice big glass windows to watch the sunrise or look out onto some gorgeous islands.

    Then I left the door open and some fucking pig or something came in, caught fire in the fireplace, and burned the place down. This was around dusk, so naturally while I was frantically putting out fires and rebuilding, one of those green fuckers came up behind me and blew me up.

  • It’s pretty creepy but like everything in Minecraft it has utility. The nether was inspired by Wheel of Time Ways meaning it was a dangerous way to fast-travel (which is handy when you start seeking out new and prosperous dungeons far-away from your spawn point).

    Hints for the nether: Take a flint and steel in with you. The dirt blocks are flammable so you can use the flint and steel to create flaming blocks that substitute as torches. Ghast fireballs can also turn off the nether portals so you might need to restart the portals.

    DON’T ATTACK THE ZOMBIE PIGS. Just don’t. They drop delicious grilled pork, but it’s not worth it. Trust me. They’re peaceful if you don’t attack them, and they come in packs. Don’t attack them.

    Just evade the Ghast fireballs. They’re slow, and a pain in the ass if you sit still but otherwise they’re only a mild threat.

    Other thing that helps is getting a 3rd party map program. I use Minutor but I run a mac. Mapping programs help not to get lost, but also to locate those evasive diamond veins.

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