Welcome to The First Fifteen, where we test the widely-held theory that you can learn all you need to know about a video game in the first fifteen minutes of playtime. First up, Minecraft Xbox 360.
Two days ago Mojang in conjunction with 4J Studios released a new version of Minecraft, Minecraft Xbox 360. As a veteran Minecraft player, I was excited to get my hands on the game, and figured this would be the perfect opportunity to start out The First Fifteen column I had been planning for months. So I set my timer, started up the game, and prepared myself for something new and yet familiar.
I mention that I've played Minecraft before, mostly so that you'll understand that even with someone who's built castles and villages and waged war on Cave Spiders in Forgotten Mine Shafts and even the occasional Enderman, things can go very very wrong.
When you first start Minecraft Xbox 360 you are given the option to play through the tutorial or to start the game without it. Being the hardcore veteran that I was I decided to skip the tutorial. That was my first mistake. The tutorial experience allows players to learn about the new control schemes without having the added pressure of the Day/Night cycle. Without this buffer I was given about 5 minutes to figure out how the controls worked, collect materials and build a shelter.
I started out by collecting wood, what I thought would be enough to create some tools, build a Crafting Table, and get my shelter completed. I did not collect enough -- mistake number two. I ran over to where a half-completed house stood and made myself a Crafting Table, an Axe, a Pick, and a Shovel. I figured making these would give me enough of a time advantage to finish the shelter and get some items working for charcoal for torches. With my tools in my inventory I made Wood Planks so I could finish the shelter, and then quickly ran over to where a Furnace stood against a small amount of Cobblestone. I decided it would be best to move the Furnace into my makeshift shelter, so that I wouldn't have to run outside to get items smelted. This was my third mistake.
I neglected to use the Pick to break down the Furnace, and instead of moving it, I destroyed it. Now I had no way of making charcoal, it was already getting dark, and my shelter wasn't even completed. Cursing my stupidity I figured I might be able to make another Furnace if I broke down the Cobblestone behind where the original -- and now destroyed -- Furnace stood. Doing this cost me precious moments, and netted me exactly 5 Cobblestone.
Finally done with the stone, I started throwing my Wood Planks around to fill in the holes in the shelter. The problem was, I am not used to using a controller with Minecraft, and was quickly getting fearful of the beasties that come out at night, so I started to make mistakes. Worse than that, I ran out of Wood Planks. Standing in the darkness with an open sky above me, I had to make a choice: Do I dare go out and get more wood, or do I stay here and hope nothing finds its way in?
I decided waiting around, particularly when I only had fifteen minutes to play, was not the best option. So I set out for the edge of the starting area, where a couple torches marked a tunnel that leads to a Village. Hearing nothing but monsters around me and seeing several distinctly nasty shapes in the gloom, I grabbed one of the torches. Suddenly arrows were flying by my head, and I raced back into my shelter, only to realize the Skeleton was in the house! I sliced at him with my Axe (you will note I didn't think to make an actual weapon like a Sword. That was another mistake I made) until he fell and then quickly filled in the empty spaces in my roof with the Cobblestone I had. This was not enough however, so I settled for putting up my Torch to keep more monsters from spawning inside.
Now I had to head back out into the darkness to get wood to build a door and finish the roof. I really should have thought things through better. With my Axe in my hand I dodged out into the darkness heading for a tree that stood next to a pond. I chopped as if my life depended on it, picked up the Wood Blocks that dropped, and was about to turn and head back when a familiar hissing began behind me. Knowing the best way to save yourself from a Creeper is to run, run I did, and when he exploded I was narrowly saved from death by running in circles around the tree. The crater the Creeper left behind held a couple blocks of Dirt and there was Stone exposed under what used to be Sand, so I jumped down to try and mine enough to make up my missing amount and hopefully get a Furnace built. Mistake number four (or is it five?) I managed to jump down into a hole where the water pressure pinned me against the stone, and I it took me more time than I would like to jump my way out into the Pond proper so I could swim to shore.
By that time I realized that it would probably be best if I just headed back to the house and finished it. Once I got into the house Creeper Number Two exploded, cratering outside the house and shaking me up a good bit. I mustered my gumption and finished the roof, made a door, and placed it as quickly as my thumbs would allow. That's when Creeper Number Three attacked, destroying the entire East Wall of the house. Having been in two craters before this, I used what materials I had in my bag to plug the hole. There is nothing very stable about a Gravel, Sand, and Dirt wall, I can tell you. While I was building said wall, a Pig wandered in the gaping hole in the side of my house, and was pinned inside once I had finished. I considered killing him for food, but realized I didn't have a furnace to cook the meat, and so left House Pig to his own devices.
At this point the sun was rising, and in a few moments all those nasty monsters outside would be bursting into flames. It was time to head out and grab materials to fix the house. I left the house, making sure to close the door behind me, and starting hacking down the nearest tree. I felt the pressure of the time clock ticking down, and figured maybe I should just work with what I had. I headed back to the house to survey the damage, and ran into a rather unpleasant Spider. Hacking at a giant Spider with an Axe is not exactly my idea of a good time, and it took forever for him to drop. At this point I was overwhelmed, the time was fast approaching for me to end my game, and all I wanted to do was curl up in a corner with House Pig and await the end. So I returned once again to the house that had made my night so very eventful, and vowed that the next time I start up a game, I will swallow my pride and play the damn tutorial.