Returning to the Mines

After a little bit over two years, I returned to Minecraft. Even though I played back in mid to late 2020, I didn’t really get into it much. One of my friends wanted to run a server and wound up setting up a huge number of automated farms to generate pretty much every type of material we could want, all the resources we could trade for, and so many XP farms that we never ran into issues when it came to enchanting things. We even cleared The End and got everyone on the server kitted out with Elytra (a cape that lets you glide or even fly if you use fireworks while gliding) so that travel become easy and safe. Except in the Nether, where there was lava everywhere and one false step could not just kill you, but destroy every item you had. Which, you know, falling to your death in The End could also do, since that’s above a massive, endless void, but you usually had time to save yourself if you were flying when this happened.. It was a lot of fun, but it took a lot of the procedural joy out of the game, when everything became easily available.

Now, I’m back to playing the game. This time, I’m playing with a group I’ve never played with before. They have a very different and somewhat more interactive mode of playing together than my old group did (we mostly did our own things but had a hub we’d use to gather for group efforts like exploring The Nether or fighting bosses), but it has been fun to play with them. They seem a lot more interested in making things that look nice than things that are operating at peak efficiency. It’s a welcome change, since I tend more toward the slow but pleasant side of things when that’s an option, like minecarft railways and train stations or paths and signs. Anything that doesn’t require risk and danger to operate but that, though a modicum of effort, can help create a pleasant, enjoyable gaming experience as you appreciate all your time in the game rather than ruthlessly pursue some goal.

Don’t get me wrong. The ruthless pursuit of goals can be fun. Being able to point to some major goal that you’ve accomplished can feel great, but I’ve seen that a lot of my ruthless and goal-oriented friends have a tendency to fall off the game when they stop making rapid progress toward their vision. The people who are more content to take their time and work at a measured, even pace rather than peak efficiency seem to be the ones who stick with it more. All of that comes with a few simple caveats that these are not constant rules, but things that are generally true. There’s a few people on this server who all have massive goals they’re chasing and, while they aren’t aiming for peak efficiency, are working with a level of dedication and focus I don’t think I could ever hope to match. After all, I like a bit more variety in my life. Too much of one thing burns me out and I’d rather spread out my enjoyment over time, so I can hopefully enjoy things in the future again.

As for my own efforts, I wound up sailing far away from everyone else to build a mysterious wizard’s tower on a mushroom island. The location is a closely guarded secret that only one other person knows (and I trust him with my life), but I’ve provided everyone the ability to find my location if they look hard enough. Once the tower is finished, I’ll probably invite them more specifically to come check it out (and risk the various gravity-based traps therein) since what I’m building isn’t so much of a masterwork of form as it will be a delight of function. It’ll still look interesting, I hope, like a giant mushroom visible from super far away if they’ve got their render distances turned up, but the emphasis is on making it an interesting place for people to explore. With some danger, of course. It’s no fun if there’s not danger.

I don’t really know what my goal is going to be once this is done. Thankfully, it will likely be months before that happens, since I wound up spending an entire day’s worth of playtime building a fun little mushroom house in a little mushroom zone I manufactured on the main hub. The person who put the server together wanted everyone to be near each other, to have everyone playing together, so I took some time out of my busy exploration and tower-building schedule to fix my error by building a home at the hub. To be entirely fair to myself, I did not join until almost a week after the server started and no one told me that being near each other was a stated goal of the server. It does explain why everyone has their large and impressive projects stuck near each other, though. Regardless, it has been a lot of fun and I’m excited to continue playing with this group. Between playing all my other various games, of course. And, you know, my writing. And work… When I’ve got the time.

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