Whenever you start a Survival Mode game on Minecraft, the first thing you need to worry about is the basics.  Namely shelter.  A roof over the head, a bed to sleep on, and a means of feeding your little Avatar should Avatar get hungry.  This also holds true if you intend to stay in a locale for a length of time, whether you’re out exploring or if you happen to get yourself lost through means entirely too stupid to repeat here (but detailed in full yesterday.)

When lost at sea, choosing a small island to park the old carcass is your best bet.  Easier to reach the shelter at night, less likely to find full of the monsters Minecraft will through at you, and conveniently close to water, where you can lure the dreaded Creeper out and into.  For reasons known only to the game makers, water contains their explosive habits, doing no damage to Avatar or environment.

This isn’t a complaint, mind you.  I can’t tell you how many times that little factoid saved my hiney.

Knowing all this information, I picked out a small bit of land not far from a larger region and built my shelter there.  I brought no weapons, I brought no map, I brought no food to save myself (and what food I now had was the point of the mission), but I did have everything I needed to build a shelter.

Including glass for windows.  Because glass is a vital travel need.  What with the way you can only plant it once and it breaks if you try to remove it again.

Seriously?  This whole excursion wasn’t well thought out at all.

With shelter and bed built, you need tools to proceed.  At the start of the game, this means making things like a pick, an axe, and a sword.  This current situation, however, didn’t seem to call for much more than something for self-defense.   And even that could be skipped if lost equaled being within walking distance of a familiar place.

Thus I’m on walkabout.  As mentioned yesterday, little spires of dirt (or whatever) help in keeping track of where you are, where you have been, and where you need to go next.  That in mind, I build a spire on top of my little block of a shelter.  To make it distinctive from any other spire I’ve made, I place a large asterisk on top.  Thus the island gets christened Asterisk Island, or just Asterisk for short.

Bet you were wondering just when the explanation for the title would come in.

Anyway, the net result looks like this:

The Asterisk Affair 001

And yes, I had plenty of wood on hand for me to make door and chest with.  This isn’t as dumb as it sounds; the boats in Minecraft are notoriously frail.  They’ve been known to break apart on mere contact with a chicken, and the resulting debris isn’t always enough to rebuild much of anything with.  Thus you carry wood with you when you head out.  Or an axe to get wood.  Your call.

Before setting out on walkabout, though, I do one more smart thing (which is totally out of character, I know.)  I build myself a hoe and make a little garden by the water to plant potatoes in.  I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but I do know the odds of Avatar getting hungry are pretty good.  Finding food isn’t always an easy task, and as I’ve gone through all of this for these potatoes, I don’t want to eat my way through them and make the whole affair pointless.

Prep time done, and after a night of sleep, I set out on walkabout.  Nearest hill is the best bet.  Get the lay of the land, for one thing.  For another, it makes whatever spire I build that much more visible from a distance.

First hill climbed, nothing familiar, up goes the spire.  There’s another hill near by, so that’s the next point of interest.  So I just walk over there and repeat the process.  Right?

Wrong.

For one thing this process is BORING.  At the start of the game, when you’re looking for interesting new stuff, it’s one thing.  When you marking a route to a point you plan to go back to, it’s another.  But the plan is once Asterisk is left, it’s left for good.  No return.  Thus not only is time being wasted this way, it’s also cluttering the environment with spires that lead NOWHERE.

What to do now.  Well, there’s always making a map…

The Minecraft novices no doubt has smacked their foreheads over the obviousness of this line of thought.  You could make an in-game map?  Why wasn’t this the first things you did, you nimrod?

It’s not that simple.  Making a map requires eight pieces of paper (made from twenty-four sugar cane, which I’ll have to look for as the plant doesn’t exist on or near Asterisk) and a compass.  Don’t ask why you need the compass; call it magic, because the map fills itself in when you look at it in newly explored areas.

The compass itself needs built from eight bars of iron (which must be refined in a furnace) and a single red stone.  Not a stone that is red, mind you, but a particular item that can only be found in remote locations.  Jungle temples, say, and deep, deep within the ground.

Very deep.  Near the magma deep.

Jungles aren’t plentiful near Asterisk.  However, in climbing that first hill I did spy a cave.  Which, if I was lucky, would lead down to red stone level.

Now THERE was an idea.  This whole getting lost thing improves immensely if there’s an Adventure involved.  And while exploring the world is an adventure in and of itself, it doesn’t compare with roaming through the dark, fighting skeletons, zombies, and giant spiders.  Oh, and the Creepers.  Mustn’t forget them.

Plus, I can always use more red stone.  Then there’s mapping out new territory…

This is a great idea!  I couldn’t wait to start!

Tomorrow:  Why this wasn’t a great idea.

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