Mining in Minecraft comes in two distinct methods.
The first is actually carving out a mine. Walls, staircases, the works. You can even build support structures to hold up the roof if you want, though that’s an aesthetical choice and not a necessity.
Back at my home town of Owlcraft, making a mine make sense. Owlcraft, in theory, should look and feel like a large town/small city. Which is why I want more people and explains in a degree why I’d traipse over half a planet to get potatoes to encourage the citizens to breed.
No, wait, false alarm. Nothing explains that.
Here at Asterisk Island, there’s no need. Once I find my red stone to make my compass (and from compass to map, a process that still frizzles my brain) I’m leaving the place. Probably for good and all. Even ignoring support beams and the like, red stone lies deep, deep, deep underground. Real deep. It’ll take forever getting there, and frankly isn’t the sort of adventure I’m wanting at this juncture.
Thus the second method, namely plain old-fashioned spelunking, is the order of the day. This involves heading into a cave and pressing through down and down until you either find what you want or you can go no further. In the latter case, that means heading out and finding another cave to try again with.
Of course, it’s not really that simple. Running around in the dark isn’t conducive to getting what you want. While you’ll not likely be eaten by a Grue (oh look, a Zork reference) there are plenty of monsters roaming around that will ever so kindly kill you if given a chance. For instance, my nemesis, the hated and fearful Creeper, just loves to sneak up on you from the shadows in its suicidal effort to blow you up real good.
Then there’s the more common danger of falling through a hole twenty to thirty meters deep to your death. If you’re lucky all that happens then is that your little Avatar slams into the rocks and has the contents of your back pack–or however you hold your stuff, the game’s a little silent on that matter–goes flying every which way. If you’re unlucky, it means Avatar lands in lava, which, aside from being entirely too hot, means that everything you worked so hard to collect goes up in a ball of smoke. Forever lost.
Unless you’re not on autosave, like me. Then it’s just a pain in the ass to recollect and redo everything you just lost.
So yeah, finding light is a good idea.
Fortunately it’s also an easy task. A stick and some coal makes torches, and torches can be placed damn near anywhere. Though the wise Minecraft spelunker always puts them on the left wall. That way when you want to head back out, all you do is keep the light to the right and you’ll be alright.
Trust me. It’s no fun wandering caves trying to figure out just where you came in at. Besides, I’ve been lost entirely too much on this venture as is.
In life, too, come to that.
To return to an earlier danger, let’s discuss lava. Lava can be found in two distinct varieties: Gushing from a wall and in a nice pool. The former you avoid, but when you’re looking for red stone, you’re looking for the stuff. Any light in the distance might mean you’re nearing your goal.
It could mean other things too (such as having found your own trail), but leave us put a side the exposition and lean more towards the narrative for today. I entered the cave I found near Asterisk Island and started exploring. Torches on the left, the occasional dust-up with a monster, and so on and so forth, looking for lights in the distance and I make my way down to the center of the world.
Playing it the way I intended would entail just that. No more, no less. But on the way down, I started seeing things in the walls I wanted. Coal. Iron. Gold. Once I left the area, I wasn’t coming back. Be a shame to leave all this good and useful stuff behind. Let’s collect.
Not unreasonable. Good idea, even. While I have some magical armor on, I use the iron I find to build new equipment to protect myself. A new sword, and such like. Doing so means having a furnace, but that’s okay. I needed it to cook to cook potatoes to get the most out of them.
And no, I didn’t eat all the potatoes and thus render the quest pointless. A little credit for some brains, if you please.
It’s in the process of exploring and collecting that I suddenly get the urge to remodel Asterisk.
Remodel the base I have ever intention of leaving and never seeing again.
But look at it:
That’s so bland and boring. Now compare it with this:
And a night shot for good measure:
Isn’t that great?
Of course it’s great. And I needed stone steps up to the cave (for convenience’s sake, of course) and maybe a mine cart to ride up and down into the caves, supports for the cave roofs (it’ll look so much better that way), some trees around the island (for supplies, don’t you know) and…
It’s creator syndrome. It’s what pulls me back to this game time and time again. The urge to build, to see a world spring up all around me. A town populated by villagers I saved, I protect, I keep going. A little spire with an asterisk on top.
It’s hard to resist.
Fortunately, before I started plotting out a village (which would by necessity be dinky, as Asterisk wasn’t much of a much in the first place) I discovered a hole in the cave. Not horribly deep; maybe twenty meters by the way the game judges things. Most importantly of all, though, there’s light down there in the darkness.
At this point I was a little low on tools. My pick broke and I needed to go back to Asterisk to fix up another one. However, I was a little nervous about losing this place. Torches surrounded the thing and while they’d help me get out, they wouldn’t help me find.
Not that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal hunting it up again. I just wanted to save a little time. So in front of the hole I make a large arrow out of torches pointing straight towards it. No mistakes that way.
The arrow made, I stepped back to look at it, feeling rather pleased with myself. With this discovery the adventure moved towards its conclusion, and all without a major screw up on my part. I done good.
That’s when the hissing started. Behind my Avatar stood a Creeper, very pleased with itself, about to take me with it to kingdom come.
When did I save last, exactly?
Oh, setting when first set foot on Asterisk.
Hours ago. Before I’d even made the base…
Tomorrow: I commit what has to be one of the dumbest acts in my Gaming History. Which is saying a lot.