29 January 2012

Minecraft SMP 1: an Anecdote of Redemption

Ever since fall 2010 I've been playing Minecraft on and off. Since the "official release" brought a slew of new features, I started playing again after not doing much with it for a long time. Since then I had started another world since my original one had started out without biomes and was also lacking a lot of the newer resources in a considerable circle around my original base of operations. Now this winter, a friend of mine had the idea to start a private server for us and some select few friends to play on. Only people we knew personally and who favored our building-philosophy of using somewhat realistic medieval/renaissance architecture etc. were going to be allowed on our server. I called it our personal "SMORPG", or SOME multi player online role playing game.

I had originally pushed the idea of using my current single player world as a server-world, mainly because I had explored a good bit of it and wanted some advantage as a guide. This didn't happen as my computer was broken and I didn't have access to the hard-drive it was on so our admin, let's call him J, went ahead started a fresh world for the server, telling me and the other guy we had gotten into this about how the generated world was great for settlement, with rolling grasslands and lots of animals. So, after my new computer got on line and everything was set up, I was very much looking forward to finding myself in these promised lands, looking what my two compatriots had built and carving out a niche for myself in the glorious little civilization we were going to build. I fired up Minecraft, logged on to our server and... found myself in a dark swamp, with the sun about to set. Crap. I swam to the muddy shore and climbed up a tree - there must be nice grasslands somewhere, right? Wrong. It was swamp as far as the eye could see - our king J had betrayed me!

I hacked down a tree, made a crafting table and a sign crying about being betrayed. Then the monsters of the night started to spawn. With a stick I fought off a zombie, getting badly hurt in the process, then I swam towards a source of light I spotted in the darkness. The light turned out to be not the hoped-for civilization but a lake of lava - I did the only thing I could do to survive the night and built a dirt-column to wait for sunrise on, fighting off spiders with my stupid stick all night long. When the sun finally came up, I was rage-filled about the betrayal with which king J had lured me into this hellhole. I left my column and went in a random direction, into the wilderness. It didn't take long for the swamp to make way for a forest and in the side of a mountain I found some coal. Half-starved as I was at the time, I slew some chickens, hastily crafted an oven, baked them, ate them right before starving and then made a small cave to spend the next night. I moved on the next morning, until I saw some majestic mountains - here, I decided, I'd build my base.

By this point it had become clear to me that wherever J and Chris, the other guy on the server, were having their little civilization, it wasn't around where I was and I had lost track of any direction anyways. Also, I decided that, since J had tricked me into this death-trap and I had just barely survived it, revenge was to be had. I decided to become The Resistance to king Js empire, the thorn in their side, the knowledge that whenever you weren't on line there was someone there riffling through your stuff, messing things up, planting TNT-traps. I had decided to become a griefer.

Now griefing these two people, real life friends of mine, would be a strictly in-game thing. I knew that both, being role-players I had played pen and paper RPGs with before wouldn't just block me out of the server once I'd become a problem. They'd try to solve the problem in-game. As J had admin-rights to the server and could do pretty much whatever he wanted and they were outnumbering me, I was going to have to use guerrilla-style tactics. I had already send them a letter of intent via e-mail, crying about the foul betrayal of the treacherous king J (a title he had never given himself) and swearing bloody revenge to him and his willing accomplices. Some equipment would be needed so I started to mine underneath the mountains I had built my house on top of, then, thinking that the use of a mapping-tool wouldn't be beneath my enemies, tore down my house on top of the hill and moved all goods into a cave near the mountain top, hiding it so no torches or torch lights would be seen from above at night. I grew crops in the cave, I slept in the cave, I mined in another cave, I built up my technology towards iron and redstone.

Having obtained both iron and redstone, I decided to mix things up a little and find the enemy city. Using a compass I had been able to craft, I set out towards the spawn point and then went in a large circle around it. After a night on a tree I finally saw a beacon-tower the two had hastily put up. I had found them. I walked there, knowing that I was alone on the server. It was the first time in my experience with Minecraft that I found another players civilization and it was incredibly exciting. Where would I start my revenge? A big construction site was in the center of things on a hill, where a basement and foundations of a larger building had been excavated. I put down two sings right in the middle of it. The resistance is here now. Down with king J. Then I explored the lodgings of my two compatriots some more.

In a common room with two chests, a crafting-table and an oven I saw a sign that shook my world, made me stop and stare at my computer screen. "I have obtained obsidian" it said "Nether expedition can start soon". A wave or realization washed over me and all desire for revenge was gone. I didn't have obsidian for I would need diamonds for that and that might take who-knows-how-long to find. It was the first time I was with other people in Minecraft and I wanted to harm them and their creations? How much could we move when working together? How much could be gained? Wasn't cooperation the only real way to react to being in this world together?

I tore down the two signs I had posted earlier and set one next to the sign about the upcoming Nether expedition: "Just tell me when. -MadZab"

Then I started building my own house next to the entrance of the mine the two of them had started with. And around that our city grew.

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