Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Minecraft and other Sundries

Its all Fun & Games
I was actually pretty impressed by the response to my Its All Fun & Games post. I don't think any post on this blog to date has generated quite so many comments, and as a bonus, my little nugget of virtual narcissism has hit 30 followers. If you are reading this, hooray for you!

I continue to plug away at my Minecraft world. However, now that I have a solid grasp on the fundamentals of the game, my approach has changed slightly. I am beginning to focus more on building vs. digging and have plans to create some grandiose structures. This shift in thinking about the game was inspired, in part, by some amazing time-lapse videos like this one.

The good stuff starts at the 1:30 mark

I love the idea of using the Minecraft as a sort of 3D virtual palette for creating completely fantastical structures -who says video games need to be violent? As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am fascinated by mapping and architecture. However, I don't think I have the time or ambition to undertake a project quite as massive as the one in the above video. The overall effect reminds me of one of my favorite passages from Neil Stephenson's, The Diamond Age in which an entire island is created by nano-bots for young Princess Charlotte's birthday.
The smart coral burst out of the depths with violence that shocked Hackworth, even though he’d been in on the design, seen the trial runs. Viewed through the dark surface of the Pacific, it was like watching an explosion through a pane of shattered glass. It reminded him of pouring a jet of heavy cream into coffee, watching it rebound from the bottom of the cup in a turbulent fractal bloom that solidified just as it dashed against the surface. The speed of this process was a carefully planned  sleight-of-hand; the smart coral had actually been growing down on the bottom of the ocean for the last three months, drawing its energy from a supercon that they’d grown across the seafloor for the occasion, extracting the necessary atoms directly from the seawater and the gases dissolved therein. The process happening below looked chaotic, and in a way it was; buteach lithocule knew exactly where it was supposed to go and what it was supposed to do. They were tetrahedral building blocks of calcium and carbon, the size of poppyseeds, each equipped with a power source, a brain, and a navigational system. They rose from the bottom of the sea at a signal given by Princess Charlotte; she had awakened to find a small present under her pillow, unwrapped it  to find a golden whistle on a chain, stood out on her balcony, and blown the whistle.

The coral was converging on the site of the island from all directions, some of the lithocules traveling several kilometers to reach their assigned positions. They displaced  a volume of water equal to the island itself, several cubic kilometers in all. The result was furious turbulence, an upswelling in the surface of the ocean that made some of the children scream, thinking it might rise up and snatch the airship out of the sky; and indeed a few drops pelted the ship’s diamond belly, prompting the pilot to give her a little more altitude. The curt maneuver forced hearty laughter from all of the fathers in the ballroom, who were delighted by the illusion of danger and the impotence of Nature.

The foam and mist cleared away at some length to reveal a new island, salmon-colored in the light of dawn. Applause and cheers diminished to a professional murmur. The chattering of the
astonished children was too loud and high to hear.

It  would be a couple of hours yet. Hackworth snapped his fingers for a waiter and ordered fresh fruit, juice, Belgian waffles, more coffee. They might as well enjoy Æther’s famous cuisine while the island sprouted castles, fauns, centaurs, and enchanted forests.

Princess Charlotte was the first human to set foot on the enchanted isle, tripping down the gangway of  Atlantis with a couple of her little friends in tow, all of them looking like tiny wildflowers in their ribboned sun-bonnets, all carrying little baskets for souvenirs, though before long these were handed over to governesses. The Princess faced Æther and Chinook, moored a couple of hundred meters away, and spoke to them in a normal tone of voice that was, however, heard clearly by all; a nanophone was hidden somewhere in the lace collar of her pinafore, tied into phased-audio-array systems grown into the top layers of the island itself.

“I would like to express my gratitude to Lord Finkle-McGraw and all the employees of Machine-Phase Systems Limited for thismost wonderful birthday present. Now, children of Atlantis/Shanghai, won’t you please join me at my birthday party?”
In other Minecraft news, apparently the game will be available for XBox 360 sometime this coming winter. When that happens, I fully intend to get in on some massive cooperative world-building with my friends.

Impending Visits
My girlfriend's 8 year old brother is scheduled to fly out for his first visit out of his home state (KS) at the end of the month and he will be in town over one of our regularly scheduled game nights. I am weighing a couple of options for how to approach the event:

Option 1: cancel game night and spend time with little brother -practical, but unimaginative.
Option 2: incorporate little brother into our already existent game night structure. While I think it would be fairly simple to work him in, I think a hyperactive 8 year old might be unable to sit through 3 hours of D&D.
Option 3: Run an alternate game with little brother and some or all of the usual game group. Possible alternates include RPG kids, Castle Ravenloft, Munchkin or other simplified game systems.

Any recommendations? I'm generally good with kids. I have nephews of my own and have worked in museum education for several years, but when it comes to kids, nobody knows everything.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely talk to the parents. My seven-year-old nephew could easily spend three hours playing Battle of Wesnoth, so it may not be a problem. But it depends on the kid--he may have zero ability to sit through games, or he may only be interested in certain types of games (not necessarily RPGs), meaning you'll either have to cancel or talk your friends into a different kind of game night.


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