Welcome to Minecraft: 6 Great Things To Do To Get Started

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So you've seen people rave about this mysterious indie game and decided to take the $12 plunge. What is there to do and enjoy? Here are six things you'll eventually encounter that'll really get you to stick with the Minecraft experience.

1. Your first night
There are a lot of tutorials on Youtube that detail what you should do within your first few minutes of starting up and they're all right. Everything is relatively peaceful with farm animals prancing around during the day but at night, this game about mining and crafting suddenly becomes a zombie survival-horror game.
When you first spawn, it's often midday, so it's a mad sprint to punch as many tree logs as you can so you can have the wooden tools necessary to build a suitable shelter which will keep zombies, skeletons, spiders, and creepers at bay. And the lighting applied to this pixel world makes the darkness even more suffocating as you jump at the slightest grunt and snarl from monsters that can smell your flesh as they claw at your makeshift home.
2. Getting lost while exploring
It's very easy to get lost in Minecraft. You can only visually identify so many mountains and lakes as landmarks until you start mistaking other mountains for the one that leads to your home base. And when you get lost, there are any number of reactions you could have. If you didn't leave behind too much, you could carve out a new living in a new home.
But if you've left all sorts of great loot behind in your house like iron ore or gold, you'll be motivated to find your way back. It's then a desperate struggle as you seek out your home while racing the clock before desperately crafting together another makeshift shelter to hold the monsters at bay at night. After getting lost twice, I vowed to leave behind torches like bread crumbs to never get lost again.
3. The descent
Eventually you will mine deeper and deeper until you have yourself a bonafide mineshaft. Either you'll have one right inside your home or you may stumble across a natural cave system. Either way, it's an eerie experience suddenly breaking into a natural spring, dimly lit by the torches behind you. Could there be monsters here? And how much deeper can this go?
In your own shaft, you should have left a way to ascend such as stairs or a ladder, but I made the mistake of exploring a natural pit with no escape plan ready. All I could do was go deeper and deeper, watching as my supply of torches slowly dwindled as I wonder how much farther I can go. Then I hit the crescendo moment: the darkness ebbed away as lava lit the room with light and the prospect of a painful death.
And I did. And all 36 ignots of iron I had collected melted away along with my body.

4. Ridiculous engineering
Building is simple and unrealistically easy. As my friend put it, "It's like playing with legos but with deadly wildlife."

You simply need some sort of building material, be it wood, dirt, stone, or what have you, and start stacking. Only sand and gravel obey gravity, so you can easily construct square homesteads, towers that serve no purpose but to conquer the landscape, and entire port cities complete with docks and boats.
Exploiting the lack of gravity further leads to more possibilities. Literal hanging gardens, waterfalls suspended in midair, improvised chandeliers. It's almost as if the lack of physics has unintentionally created a physics engine unto itself.
5. Explosions!
Every monster has their own way of annoying you. Skeletons shoot arrows, spiders run faster than you, and zombies simply groan constantly in an attempt you creep you out. Speaking of creeping, creepers are by far the most iconic monsters you'll soon grow accustomed to.
One day you'll be minding your own business, chopping down a tree growing outside you house, when the next thing you know you hear the unmistakenable sound of a fuse burning. "Sssssssssssshhhh!"
Blammo! Not only have you lost a chunk of you health, but the creeper's explosion has also taken out a chunk of your home!
While most monsters don't pose a threat during day hours (zombies and skeletons burn in the sun. Spiders are passive in daylight as well), creepers continue to be a nuisance at all hours, looking for an excuse to blow up and leave behind an ugly crater on your property.
6. Looting and plundering
Somewhere out there is a stash of loot just waiting to be claimed by you. As you explore the land, you'll find all sorts of interesting land formations that are just begging to be explored in depth for you to plunder. Suspicious sea caves, walls of gravel, the sound of running water behind a wall of stone. There are treasure chests out there, somewhere, spawned by the game, holding rare items such a pig saddles and musical records, usually guarded by a mob spawner: a glass cube with a flame inside continually spawning some sort of monster.
Even upon returning to the pit I died in, now dubbed the Gravel Pit, I discovered several walls of gravel throughout the cave that I had missed the first time through. Even though I had collected a lot of iron on my first trip, I soon found out that the gravel was hiding so much from me. From iron deposits to entire unexplored rooms with more darkness to purge with my torches.
There so much more the try and explore in this expansive, blocky game. I haven't even touched multiplayer yet. There are entire mole cities constructed with the help of four or five people on a server, toiling away for days and even years to construct lavish castles and dungeons. There are still many things I have yet to try like crafting TNT crates, creating logic traps with red dust, and so much more. Minecraft will hold my attention for a while longer, and I'll want to write about it more in the future in my travelogue.

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