I’m a bit of a pain of the ass when it comes to space: I’m obsessed with it. I’m not talking space as in outer space, but the spaces that we surround ourselves with everyday. I’m a bit of an agoraphobe, so I have a tendency to prefer closed in spaces, including caves.
I’m also the kind of person who will play a game for maybe twenty minutes, become bored of it, and quickly put it aside, never to be played again. It has happened to more games than I can count, and one reason I’m reluctant to pick up a new game unless it is heavily discounted. This phenomena is especially pronounced if I get frustrated with a game, and especially if I feel that the whole purpose of the game is to piss me the fuck off.
Minecraft is a game in which the player explores a randomly generated world, collecting resources, building shelters, making tools, and so on. What is so remarkable about this game is that if I recall correctly, the game cost me around $20, yet continues to give me pleasure in ways no other game has ever done. It is also a game that I’m still playing (though not with the fervor I once might have) ten months after I bought it.
If one were to ask me why, I would point to the one thing that frustrates me about many video games: their lack of freedom.
You know what I’m talking about: that stupid plumber in Mario Bros. is simply incapable of walking to the left. And if you try, he runs into an invisible wall (or, at least in every version of the game I’ve ever played). In Quake II, at least in the single player story mode, you are forced to go along a certain path to get to the final boss at the end. Even Portal has this limitation, no matter how cleverly disguised.
Minecraft has none of this: you go where you want to go, when you want to go there. Since the world is randomly generated, its size is only limited by the hardware it is running on. The beauty of Minecraft is that it is different things to different people: For some, it is a game of survival; for others, it is a game of construction and creativity; for yet others, it is a game of exploration.
I’m in the exploration camp: I love finding new, cool, and/or beautiful places when I explore these randomly-generated worlds. Every once in a while, I will come across a piece of scenery that takes my breath away. Some of my favorites actually come from caves, and I call these scenery “cavescapes.”
Here’s one such example of a cavescape (keep in mind that these are all at least quasi-randomly generated):
This is a naturally occurring cave in seed #1381145796. Look at all those nooks and crannies just begging to be explored.
Here is another from the same seed:
And yet another, still from the same seed:
I would further note two things:
- All of these caves are interconnected by winding underground passages, forming one massive cave system that goes on for miles.
- If you use the seed #1381145796, be careful where you step: This world is pockmarked with tiny little holes in the ground that open up into massive chambers like the one in the third picture above. Not visible in that picture due to the poor angle, is that there is an opening to the surface at the top of this chamber that is only one meter by two meters. If you’re not paying attention to where you’re stepping, you will fall through that hole (and the dozens like it) to your death.