NOTE: I usually put this stuff in the Contra Miniseries’ video descriptions. THE ONLY REASON THIS IS HERE ON THE BLOG is because it was too long to fit in YouTube’s video description. The video can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wSFSFJADsw
CONTRA MINISERIES - 006 - LIKE WAVES OF THUNDER CRASHING UPON THE SHORES OF DESTINY
BILL RIZER reached into his back pocket and pulled from it a cigarette. He placed it between his lips, uttering the words, “Light, you son of a bitch,” and the cigarette lit, glad to have felt the breath of BILL RIZER.
Hundreds of billions of dead guys behind them, BILL RIZER and LANCE BEAN, the CONTRA, found themselves standing at the door to the inner alien lair.
“It is here, RIZER! The aliens are just behind that door for some reason.” LANCE BEAN, glowing like an honor roll schoolgirl from the delight of battle, pointed a single tree trunk-like finger toward the Red Falcon’s door that led into the disgusting dwelling.
“Yes, LANCE… all that stands between us and those filthy disgusting horrible stupid assmongering aliens is that door.” BILL RIZER slipped another cigarette between his lips, the heat from the first igniting it. “But each and every one of THE SILVER BARON’s bullets is like a hungry child to me, and they hunger for the blood of evil. They wish to fly through the air, gleefully, with determined leers, screaming in joy, until they dig into the flesh of our enemies, drinking of their blood and bathing in their blood and just generally doing a whole bunch of stuff with their blood.” RIZER gently caressed his gun, the long, hard shaft of its barrel still warm to his firm, reassuring grip.
LANCE nodded, as if he knew what the crap Rizer was talking about. “I know what you’re talking about, BILL RIZER, CONTRA. Your bullets cannot be wasted on this door, heavily reinforced and absolutely, humanly, 100% impenetrable to anything, ever, though it may be. To fire your bullets upon this door would be to deny them the joy of killing stupid evil things that they so deserve.”
BILL RIZER slid another cigarette between his lips as it lit from the growing flame of the others. Then he reached into his other back pocket, where he kept already-lit cigarettes, and pulled two from there, poking them into his mouth as well.
After exhaling a manly blast of smoke from his lungs, he extended his hand to his friend (who stood only like about 4 or 5 feet away) and RIZER spoke to BEAN. “LANCE BEAN, I speak now to you!”
LANCE flexed all of his muscles at once for no reason at the sound of RIZER’s voice. “Rrrgggrrghh!”
“LANCE, we must pick the lock on this door in the way that only you can accomplish.” RIZER approached LANCE, and with the hard, thick tip of his finger, he gently tapped LANCE’s bare, firm chest. Referring to LANCE’s pectoral muscles, which RIZER and BEAN called their “awesomes,” he said to LANCE BEAN, “You must use these.”
As RIZER slid another cigarette into his mouth, LANCE’s eyes widened with realization. “BILL RIZER, you are right! Stand aside! I will pick this lock!”
LANCE turned to the workout bench that was sitting there for the purposes of this writing. He laid his back upon it, and reached up for the barbell, on each end of which was locked several 18 trillion pound weights.
RIZER, struggling to find a space in his mouth for like four more cigarettes, and trying the avoid the small fire in front of his face, asked LANCE, “Do you need a spot?”
As both CONTRA laughed heartily at RIZER’s maniacally insane joke, LANCE BEAN’s awesomes bulged massively, effortlessly lifting the barbell for a single bench press. As the thunderous roar of LANCE’s testosterone exploding in his private parts and his chest convulsing so suddenly filled the air, the stars themselves seemed to dim. Every Red Falcon soldier RIZER and BEAN killed up to this point were then revived, brought back from their recent deaths, only to relive the memory of how they died and then die again.
The door, so near the bench press, collapsed under the manliness and flew into the alien lair somewhere, never to be seen again.
LANCE rested the barbell back on the bench and stood triumphantly. “The way is clear now, BILL RIZER.”
The aliens wandered around their lair aimlessly, as they were wont to do. Suddenly, the CONTRA, BILL RIZER and LANCE BEAN, exploded onto the scene!
“Fellow aliens!” shouted one of the aliens, “Speak English so our dialogue makes sense!”
“That’s mighty nice of you,” grinned RIZER, like thirty cigarettes clenched between his teeth, LANCE BEAN standing behind him, also grinning. “But we don’t need to understand you. We just need to kill you!”
A single, bold alien stepped forward, its many sharp teeth and powerful claws gleaming silently. “BILL RIZER! LANCE BEAN! You are the fabled CONTRA.”
“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA” RIZER said.
The single, bold alien readied itself for combat. “RIZER! I will chop your dick off!”
BILL RIZER, his wide, toothy grin becoming wider, and toothier, spoke. “Foolish alien!” He aimed THE SILVER BARON at the foolish alien. “Even your hyper-evolved, ultra-sharp bio weapons could not hope to pierce the flesh on even one of my dicks!”
THE SILVER BARON, itself almost quivering with anticipation and excitement, erupted in an ecstatic roar as RIZER pulled back on its sensitive, eager trigger. A forceful rush of white-hot bullets, a stream of indiscriminate death, flowed spectacularly from the gun’s pristine, beautiful barrel.
The foolish alien was instantly shredded, disappearing forever behind the veil of justice unleashed by RIZER’s assault.
“We are besieged! Alien swarm, attack!” At once, the creatures’ hive mind sent them into action, flying, running, crawling, slithering, and jumping toward the CONTRA.
RIZER slipped like ten more cigarettes between his lips, and spun THE SILVER BARON in all directions, laughing loudly as he remembered a joke he heard a while back.
LANCE BEAN, springing into action himself, and also laughing at the same joke that he remembered at the same time BILL did (because they’re cool like that), began to flex his CONTRA muscles. With each ridiculous flex, LANCE BEAN’s muscles created deadly shockwaves of pure force. These shockwaves slammed into their enemies, pulverizing their normally strong, resilient alien carapaces, and turning their soft insides into a well-mixed goo of gloppy glub glub.
“Rrrgh! Rrrgh! Rrrgh! Rrrgh! Rrrgh! Rrrgh! Rrrgh! Rrrgh! Rrrgh! Rrrgh!” BEAN said.
When all the aliens were dead, shredded or crushed, RIZER slipped a few more cigarettes into his mouth, and suddenly both CONTRA heard an eerie voice penetrate their minds.
“CONTRAAAA…” came the echo from deep within.
LANCE BEAN, his BEAN SENSE going wild, grinned a grinny grin. “RIZER… it’s the voice of the alien heart-brain thing.”
“Know this, alien heart-brain thing!” RIZER yelled into the lair’s dark, slimy, twisting tunnels. “You have invaded our minds only because we, the CONTRA, have allowed it.”
“Indeed,” spoke BEAN, “with a single clench of my butt muscles I could break your psionic link and scramble your mind, ending you at this very moment.”
“So make this count, alien heart-brain thing, because his butt muscles grow ever more eager to clench.” RIZER slowly slipped another cigarette between his lips.
“CONTRAAAAA….” the creature hissed, “YOU HAVE KILLED THOUSANDS OF MY MINIONS, BUT YOU HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO EXPERIENCE OUR NUMBERS. SINCE YOU ARRIVED, I HAVE HATCHED TWICE AS MANY AS YOU HAVE KILLED ALREADY.”
LANCE BEAN pulled from his pocket a bottle of fine barbecue sauce, popped the top, and drank it. When he was done, he bit down on the bottle itself, the glass crushing between his teeth, and swallowed it.
The alien heart-brain thing continued. “IF YOU TRULY BELIEVE YOUR FRAIL HUMAN BODIES HAVE THE RESOLVE TO PERSEVERE THROUGH MY LABYRINTH, ONLY TO MEET YOUR DOOM AT ITS END, THEN TO YOU, I EXTEND MY INVITATION.”
The very walls of the lair, itself a living, breathing entity, shifted to create openings into the many arteries and passageways that led to the heart of the beast. Through the darkness of each path, BILL RIZER and LANCE BEAN could hear the skittering, hissing, and crawling of the millions of voracious aliens within. The bioluminescence of the “room” in which the CONTRA now stood dimmed, and that of the winding caverns ahead brightened a sickly blue-green, with dancing, jumping shadows foretelling of the monsters to come; truly, the beast was inviting them to choose a path.
“Truly, the beast is inviting us to choose a path,” whispered LANCE.
RIZER, slipping another cigarette into his mouth, his entire face by this point nothing less than an actual living flame, could not be bothered to give a fuck. “LANCE, direct my wrath.” (lol, Artanis quote!)
LANCE BEAN, using his BEAN SENSE, locked onto the direction of the heart-brain thing. He turned his gaze toward a solid wall, and shouted, “BEAN BEAMS, go!” His eyes brightened like eyeball-sized spotlights, and from them a pair of pure white laser beams of destruction, bright as a thousand suns, rushed forth to burn straight through the wall for miles ahead. At the end of the newly-created, smoking tunnel, was the heart-brain thing.
“OH SHIIIIIIIIIT” it hissed.
“That never gets old, old friend.” RIZER, his steel arm bulging and angry, lifted a hand into the air and snapped his fingers. An instant later, bursting through the ceiling arrived a roaring, winged beast, THE SKY KING.
RIZER said, “This pterodactyl, with eyes of ball lightning, wings of lava, talons of the emotion dread made manifest, teeth of super diamond, and hardened flesh woven of the fabric of time and space, is THE SKY KING, and my friend.”
“I know.” said LANCE.
A moment later, BILL RIZER and LANCE BEAN were atop the back of THE SKY KING, and with an instant sonic boom, were flying through the large, alien-infested tunnel created by BEAN’s BEAN BEAMS. THE SKY KING’s wings left behind them a massive, inescapable inferno moving faster than the speed of sound; THE SILVER BARON, cradled in the bulky, powerful arms of BILL RIZER, created an all-encompassing cascade of cosmic bullets to the left half of the tunnel, while LANCE BEAN fired an extra powerful, sustained BEAN BEAM and flexed his muscles to create massive explosions to the right side of the tunnel. In front, THE SKY KING roared a violent tempest of lightning, its bolts arcing endlessly ahead, filling the lair’s many corridors, corridors which met the doomed tunnel and which were filled with aliens, with bladed spears of electricity.
The CONTRA had arrived.
“Now,” mused RIZER as the CONTRA neared the end of the tunnel, “after all these minutes, I’ll finally get to kill the heart-brain thing I just found out existed.”
“That thing’s long overdue for a good ass-kicking,” agreed LANCE BEAN.
“SKRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWW” said THE SKY KING, “SKRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWW!!”
“PUNY CONTRA…” the heart-brain thing spoke, “YOU HAVE DESTROYED EVERY LAST ALIEN BUT ME, AND I AM CERTAIN YOU WILL ATTEMPT TO SLAY ME, AS WELL. BUT KNOW THIS, I AM BUT ONE OF COUNTLESS OTHERS LIKE ME, ACROSS COUNTLESS PLANETS, AND OUR CONSCIOUSNESS IS NOT LIMITED TO ONE, UH, HEART-BRAIN THING. FUCK I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO CALL MYSELF. ANYWAY, THE POINT IS YOU CAN’T KILL ME, I’M LIKE, PART OF A UNIVERSAL HIVE MIND. KILLING THIS HEART-BRAIN THING IS LIKE CLIPPING A TOENAIL. IT IS INSIGNIFICANT TO THE GREATER WHOLE AND EVENTUALLY REGENERATES ANYWAY.
“CRAP DID I JUST CALL MYSELF AN INSIGNIFICANT TOENAIL?”
RIZER, his entire head surrounded in living flame (but not actually burning, because flames dare not touch BILL RIZER without his permission), grinned a wide, toothy grin (yes, again). “Your FACE is an insignificant toenail.”
“Oooooohhhhhh, snap!” LANCE BEAN lifted a hand toward BILL RIZER for a high five.
As RIZER reciprocated, slamming his intense, masculine hand into BEAN’s equally intense and just as masculine hand, THE SKY KING skraw’d, and the force of ***THE CONTRA HIGH-FIVE,*** the ultimate weapon against evil, and the supreme act of man friendship, generated a solar light at the point of contact. The bright, intense light filled the alien lair with warm hope for a brief instant, and the image of BILL RIZER and LANCE BEAN, hands locked in an awesome display of awesome, sitting atop THE SKY KING, with THE SILVER BARON glowing as brightly as BEAN’s chest, floated on display before the heart-brain thing.
“IT’S… BEAUTIFUL…” it hissed.
After the briefest moment of warm, hopeful silence, ***THE CONTRA HIGH-FIVE*** exploded. “YEAAAAAAHHHH!!!” yelled RIZER and BEAN as the colossal blast disintegrated the heart-brain thing and destroyed the evil lair around them. A sphere of force and light radiated outward for hundreds of miles, encompassing the island the ocean around it, erasing all traces of evil caused by the Red Falcon and their alien allies, and reversing the damage they had done.
When ***THE CONTRA HIGH-FIVE***’s aura of goodness had faded, and all that was left was a pristine, beautiful island, untouched by evil or aliens, THE SKY KING spoke.
“Skraw skraw, skrawskraw skraw skraw skraw. Skraw skraw skraw skraw skraw skraw skraw, skrawskrawskraw skraw. SKRAW SKRAW!!!”
“Yes,” smiled BILL RIZER. “We have done a fine job since we came here about four minutes ago.”
“BILL,” said LANCE, “your five o’clock shadow is coming in.”
“Is it?” BILL RIZER rubbed his chin. “Huh. So it is.” Placing both hands on his hips, he gave a sudden grunt, and the tiny hairs on his chin exploded downward off his face, landing on the ground beneath, where they instantly began to grow as budding beef-jerky-and-porno-magazine stalks.
“Let us have a barbecue, LANCE BEAN.” said RIZER.
“…in space!!! Hahahaha!” laughed BEAN.
“SKY KING, HOOOOOO!!!!” RIZER pointed a finger toward the night sky. And with that, the CONTRA blasted off into space in a massive ball of fire, not to be seen again until the next game or something, I don’t know.
Here’s a short conversation I had with Dresenpai over Steam. There’s a video link posted early in the conversation. I suggest watching it to get the full scope of this conversation.
Never tell your password to anyone.
Friday, October 19, 2012
8:49 PM - Dre: yo
8:50 PM - davidr64: ohai
8:50 PM - Dre: your opinion. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7rH1C964uA
8:50 PM - davidr64: watching
8:51 PM - davidr64: well first off, in the first 30 seconds, they’re talking about the exodus of players from starcraft and trying to bring new blood into it
8:52 PM - davidr64: but i must say, League of Legends has already trumped Starcraft as the premiere western esport of this coming decade
8:52 PM - davidr64: actually
8:52 PM - davidr64: it’s even devastated starcraft in Korea too
8:52 PM - davidr64: and that’s where it counts
8:53 PM - davidr64: yeah they touch on this too
8:54 PM - davidr64: i read artosis’ blog post they’re talking about too
8:54 PM - Dre: i havne’t been keeping up with starcraft. i just know that moba games have become increasingly popular e-sport wise.
8:54 PM - davidr64: are moba games in general?
8:54 PM - davidr64: i think it’s -just- league of legends
8:54 PM - Dre: and i think that is in large part due to variety.
8:54 PM - davidr64: no i’ll tell you what it is in a minute
8:54 PM - davidr64: when this video is done
8:56 PM - Dre: well, i think part of it is the variety of characters and strategies coupled with the fact that you have teams to get behind. people love teams. teams aren’t just one person. the team can change over time.
8:57 PM - davidr64: yeah, Destiny is right on 100% of the stuff he said. i don’t appreciate his mocking Artosis, who is, in my opinion, -the- voice to listen to about Starcraft, but Destiny’s an awesome guy too so i’ll let it slide
8:57 PM - davidr64: yup, you’re right about that too
8:57 PM - davidr64: it’s the team aspect
8:57 PM - davidr64: in starcraft a team is a group of people who practice together and in some leagues will even play against each other
8:57 PM - davidr64: there’s a lot a team does for one another in the background
8:58 PM - davidr64: most of it is not seen by the viewer
8:58 PM - davidr64: but in league of legends
8:58 PM - davidr64: it’s more like an -actual- sport
8:58 PM - davidr64: with teams, and coaches, and interviews that
8:58 PM - davidr64: you know
8:58 PM - davidr64: -aren’t-
8:58 PM - davidr64: in Korean
8:58 PM - davidr64: and yes, the casual aspect of the game is what makes it the stronger esport than starcraft
8:59 PM - davidr64: but starcraft 2 also has shot itself in the foot a little too in many regards
8:59 PM - davidr64: Brood War has an advantage over SC2 in that it has more than a decade of balance changes to make it, literally, the only perfectly balanced game in existence and i don’t think any other game will be more balanced than Brood War
9:00 PM - davidr64: Brood War is even better than Chess for balance
9:00 PM - davidr64: because Brood War balances 3 unique sides
9:00 PM - davidr64: absolutely perfectly
9:00 PM - davidr64: now this resulted in something that nobody could predict
9:01 PM - davidr64: A finely trained and masterful Brood War player, when playing Brood War against another finely trained and masterful Brood War player, will express who he is as a *person* through is play
9:01 PM - davidr64: watching a pro Brood War player play a few games, you can tell lots about him
9:01 PM - davidr64: whether he’s impatient, whether he’s got a temper, whether he’s honorable, or well-adjusted, how respectful he is of himself and others
9:02 PM - davidr64: you can see and FEEL these things in a Brood War match, even starting as low as players who are just “adept” at the game
9:02 PM - davidr64: it’s like a martial art
9:02 PM - davidr64: and truly
9:02 PM - davidr64: Brood War play and its very existance *IS* an art
9:02 PM - davidr64: but Starcraft 2 lacks this spirit
9:02 PM - davidr64: this element…
9:02 PM - davidr64: it can’t be found here.
9:02 PM - davidr64: not yet.
9:03 PM - davidr64: Starcraft and Starcraft: Brood War were created to be great games.
9:03 PM - davidr64: Starcraft 2 was created to be a great esport.
9:03 PM - davidr64: With built-in spectator modes, shareable replays, a new battle.net community
9:04 PM - davidr64: they gave it the tools to become what Brood War became without those tools
9:04 PM - davidr64: and one would think this is a path to success
9:04 PM - davidr64: and you know what
9:04 PM - davidr64: i still think it very much is a path to success
9:04 PM - davidr64: but in putting the -game- aspect behind the esport aspect, Starcraft 2 loses something
9:04 PM - davidr64: but!
9:05 PM - davidr64: that’s only because Starcraft 2 is not yet balanced.
9:05 PM - davidr64: for it to be balanced, we need both the other expansions out
9:05 PM - davidr64: and we need the game to stop evolving
9:05 PM - davidr64: just balance patches
9:05 PM - davidr64: this won’t happen for many years yet
9:05 PM - davidr64: and Starcraft 2 needs time to transform from a game into an art, the way Brood War did
9:05 PM - davidr64: but
9:05 PM - davidr64: ironically
9:05 PM - davidr64: Brood War’s success in Korea made esports an actual thing
9:06 PM - davidr64: and Brood War’s success opened the door for League of Legends
9:06 PM - davidr64: and League of Legends won’t allow Starcraft 2 the time it needs to develop into what Brood War was
9:06 PM - davidr64: as a result, SC2 may never
9:06 PM - davidr64: another aspect that is missing
9:07 PM - davidr64: is the turmoil that spawned Boxer, the undisputable grandfather of all of this
9:07 PM - davidr64: the Korean economy was in shambles just before Brood War hit
9:07 PM - davidr64: living conditions were bad
9:08 PM - davidr64: but Boxer, who was actually a student and soccer player at the time, took up Starcraft
9:08 PM - davidr64: and eventually found a rival in Yellow, down the line
9:08 PM - davidr64: which sparked interest in the game
9:08 PM - davidr64: as it became popular, telecommunications companies filled the growing need for higher bandwidth so people could play their video game online
9:08 PM - davidr64: it was great
9:08 PM - davidr64: you buy the game and the expansion
9:08 PM - davidr64: and then battle.net play is free
9:09 PM - davidr64: so perfect for a struggling economy
9:09 PM - davidr64: this led to Korea building up its magnificient tech infrastructure
9:09 PM - davidr64: with fiber in apartment buildings
9:09 PM - davidr64: pc bangs (cafes) cropping up
9:09 PM - davidr64: money circulating
9:09 PM - davidr64: sponsorships
9:09 PM - davidr64: Boxer, with Brood War, saved a fucking country.
9:09 PM - davidr64: (this is an exaggeration, somewhat, but very much it was a big part of it)
9:10 PM - davidr64: SC2 has no such opening
9:10 PM - davidr64: there *IS* stuff it can do to help a struggling American and world economy
9:10 PM - davidr64: just like Brood War did
9:10 PM - davidr64: the problem is
9:10 PM - davidr64: now that esports is a thing, thanks to Brood War
9:10 PM - davidr64: League of Legends can do anything Starcraft 2 can do
9:10 PM - davidr64: better
9:10 PM - davidr64: in that regard
9:11 PM - davidr64: oddly enough, though
9:11 PM - davidr64: Riot and League of Legends are doing only a “passable” job
9:11 PM - davidr64: there’s so much more that they can be doing, but aren’t
9:11 PM - davidr64: Riot is run by young people, and they’re ignorant
9:12 PM - davidr64: they may consider themselves trailblazers
9:12 PM - davidr64: and in some limited ways they are
9:12 PM - davidr64: but all this shit has been done before, elsewhere
9:12 PM - davidr64: and they need to learn valuable lessons from the past and from other industries
9:12 PM - davidr64: they are the biggest esport right now, sure
9:12 PM - davidr64: but while they are great
9:13 PM - davidr64: they COULD be magnificent
9:13 PM - davidr64: and just
9:13 PM - davidr64: won’t.
9:13 PM - Dre: lots of great information there.
9:13 PM - Dre: and fully agree
Let me end this blog post by preemptively clarifying a few things that might not be clear to readers. I am in love with Starcraft, Starcraft: Brood War, and Starcraft 2—all aspects of Starcraft. Please do not get the impression from anything I’ve said here that I do not love this game. If I speak positively about Starcraft, it’s because I love Starcraft. If I speak negatively about it, it’s because I’m concerned.
I also want to say that while I do speak with what may appear to be barbed words about Riot, I do not do so out of malice. League of Legends may not have the deep history with me that Starcraft has, but I really do enjoy League of Legends, as a game and as an esport, very much, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for Riot and what they’ve done with it.
I don’t mention things like that in a conversation with Dresenpai, because he knows these things about me already. Readers of this post might not realize these aspects though, and so I’ve hopefully clarified them here.
You can find Dresenpai’s YouTube channel here:
NOTE: I usually put this stuff in the Contra Miniseries’ video descriptions. THE ONLY REASON THIS IS HERE ON THE BLOG is because it was too long to fit in YouTube’s video description. The video can be found here: http://youtu.be/Ql4Pz-XevQk
CONTRA MINISERIES - 005 - BY LIGHT OF GUNFIRE
BILL RIZER stood high atop a hill, his weapon, THE SILVER BARON, cradled in his arms and held close by his side. His masculine hands, heavy, lean, and thick, gripped the gun firmly, a single finger tucked gently, but decisively in the small, tight ring containing the trigger.
A narrow eyed grin staring out over the battlefield, where carnage was wrought by his very gaze, RIZER would tease the trigger with small, tight, quick squeezes. Over and over again his finger would pump against the sensitive mechanism, causing the gun to shake in his arms.
The small pulses of fire coming from the gun, deadly and destructive though they may have been, were only precursors to the excitement to come.
Once BILL had teased his gun’s trigger enough, he slipped the bulk of his finger against it, and gave a deep, generous, manly squeeze.
THE SILVER BARON’s terrible maw, hot already from the bursts of fire that came before, lit with a horrifying bright light. Just like lightning itself, from afar the dazzling colors of ember, smoke, and fire must have looked beautiful. But to the receiving party, the enemy Red Falcon soldiers, the sound of BILL RIZER’s gun screaming and the flashing lights that came from it were sensations to be feared.
THE SILVER BARON, in the arms of BILL RIZER, unleashed nothing less than a wall of bullets, impossible to escape, sprayed over a large area, shredding enemy soldiers as a waterfall at full force would shred a thin slice of bread.
Meanwhile, in the valley below, LANCE BEAN, a hunger boiling in his veins that only the taste of battle could sate, shirtless, sought a suitable victim to begin his frenzy.
A single enemy soldier, running in panic from the violent rain of screaming bullets brought forth by the gun of BILL RIZER, stumbled and fell only a few feet from LANCE BEAN. By the light of RIZER’s gun, he spotted the hunched silhouette of BEAN, walking one slow step at a time, the CONTRA’s feet dragging through the dirt.
The soldier reacted quickly. Knowing that LANCE BEAN would be the end of him if not stopped, the enemy soldier, still lying on the ground from his fall, instinctively pointed his rifle toward LANCE and pulled the trigger.
A single bullet flew, and almost as if time itself had slowed, the enemy soldier could see it making its way toward LANCE’s torso. LANCE was unaffected. The deadly projectile hit home, but was crushed flat, unable to penetrate the invincible, adamantine wall that LANCE called his chest.
Panicked, the enemy soldier let fly several more rounds. The crack of the rifle firing was muffled by the loud roar of THE SILVER BARON up above, and LANCE BEAN, unstoppable, reached down to grip in his hand the throat of his prey.
Lifting the enemy soldier off the ground and holding him high, LANCE BEAN, with his free hand, ripped off the soldier’s armor and shirt to expose the bare, soft chest of his victim. LANCE gazed upon the soldier’s body, and he slid his fingertips softly down his enemy’s bare skin.
His finger stopped and pointed to a spot on the soldier’s chest. ”This,” said LANCE, “is where your heart beats.”
The soldier, struggling only slightly, replied, “Yes, LANCE BEAN, that is where my heart beats.”
LANCE, surprised that the enemy spoke his name, queried the soldier. ”So… you know my name?” A fierce glare filled his eyes, the glow of RIZER’s bullets reflecting in them like a roaring inferno.
The soldier quietly spoke to his assailant. ”Yes, LANCE BEAN. Your name is one of two that all of my ilk have memorized. BILL RIZER and LANCE BEAN are the things that fill our bodies and minds with the same fear that a child experiences when thinking of what might lie under the bed, or in the closet, or around a dark corner. Indeed, LANCE BEAN, I believe we, each and every soldier slaughtered here today, know you better than you know yourself. A legend cannot know itself, even if that legend is a living, breathing person. In the backs of our minds, with every bullet we fire upon the innocent, we fear the buildup of karma that might one day lead us into your animal-like fixation.”
The soldier took a deep breath, and stopped struggling, letting his body go limp as LANCE BEAN held him above the ground. The soldier continued.
“But it is not until this moment, LANCE BEAN, that a soldier of my ilk, a soldier who has done so much wrong, so much evil, sees the last part of the legend. I do not refer to the unfiltered wrath and retribution that I can see burning even now in your eyes. I do not refer to the way the pulse from your heart travels from your chest, up your arm, through your fingers, and into my own body, linking us in these final moments as justice is intimately linked to the wicked.
“No, I can see the true final piece of the Legend now. None of my kind will ever know this one simple truth, because I will not live to tell them. Indeed, now that I know, my fate is already sealed. The last part of the legend is the simplest part: balance. For every evil deed we commit in this universe, there must be justice. The longer we go without paying for our crimes, the stronger you, CONTRA, must become. Soldiers like us… like me… We can put off our judgement for only so long. Those of us who have escaped every previous tax on our evil are eventually faced with the omega wrath.
We are eventually faced with CONTRA.”
The soldier closed his eyes, breathing a defeated sigh.
“Good answer.” LANCE pulled his hand back, formed a fist, and swung his obsidian knuckles with a punch into the soldier’s bare chest, causing a thunderous boom as the soldier’s body was deconstructed at the molecular level, disappearing into thin air.
As he watched his victim’s erasure, something awoke in LANCE BEAN. His BEAN SENSE, which can detect aliens or something, flared up. He looked over his shoulder and shouted to RIZER, “RIZER! I am shouting to you!”
“I have heard you, LANCE BEAN, my old friend! Now that my attention is yours, speak, and let me understand!” BILL RIZER continued firing his weapon over the masses of helpless soldiers.
LANCE smiled. ”I can sense the location of the aliens!”
BILL’s eyes widened. ”I HATE ALIENS! LANCE BEAN, provide direction to my gun’s fury!”
I think. I think a lot. I think deeply. I’m a thinker.
In my mind swirls a sea of subjects, and frequently my mind’s eye will gaze upon one of these subjects and study it intensely, forming theories and conclusions and always raising more questions. Sometimes I can control which subject becomes my target, and sometimes I cannot.
Often, that subject is Minecraft. And no, it’s not because Minecraft is “what made me popular” or because people, for the better part of two years now, have kept asking me for it.
It’s because Minecraft is, itself, a subject to ponder. I don’t think the average Minecraft player has even the slightest clue of just how much there is to Minecraft.
And I’m not talking about how many recipes are in the game, or how many monsters there are, or how many (now countless) mods there are for it, or how many people play it. These things are the obvious.
Today, a topic I found myself contemplating was how truly scary Minecraft really is.
First, I will discuss the biggest topic that comes to mind when you pair the words “Minecraft” and “scary” in your head. I am of course, referring to Herobrine, or, as I prefer to call him, “HIM.”
Man. Even just reading the word “HIM” is scarier than reading the word “Herobrine.”
But for the purposes of this blog post I will freely interchange the terms for the sake ease-of-reading.
Why Herobine “Works”
So why is Herobrine so scary? Or, should I say… why WAS he scary? Because let’s face it: the name Herobrine strikes fear into the hearts of practically no long-standing Minecraft player these days. (The tragedy of Herobrine is something I also wish to discuss, later in this blog post.)
But there was a time when Herobrine was frightening to just about everyone, especially when he was known only as “HIM.” He originated on the Brocraft stream as a very clever prank that escalated into what I would call an outright social experiment. At that point, though, it was out of Brocraft’s control, and very much in the hands of the community.
When “HIM” was first conceptualized, Minecraft was a very different game from what it is today. Minecraft was in its Alpha stage, and still had a very long way to go. The game was filled with potential and could become anything. So again: why WAS Herobrine so scary? It’s because of what he represents.
The Fears of Minecraft
Minecraft Alpha was simple; very basic in its design. But in its simplicity, it accomplished an unfathomable amount. There was one key aspect of the game that was readily apparent, or made itself apparent soon enough: the dark, is bad.
There was no brightness slider in Minecraft Alpha. When the sun set, things became dark, indeed, wicked… the world you were wandering which was only minutes ago bright and filled with friendly animals was now shrouded in blackness. No longer were you paying attention to the far-off hills, daydreaming about what might be just ahead. Now, the darkness had closed in around you, turning that wide-open world into a small area of your immediate surroundings, to which you became intimately aware.
The sounds of animal footsteps were just a natural sound during the day. But when you heard that signature crinkle of grass or dirt nearby, and you couldn’t see what it actually was, your mind was jolted into thought, wondering what it could have been. Your next reaction was probably to stand still, and wait, quietly, hoping to hear a “moo” or an “oink” or a “baaaah.” When you DID hear that sound, you were relieved slightly… but what happened to you when you DIDN’T hear that sound?
If it was your first time playing, you most likely instead heard the clink-clank of a skeletons bones, or worse, the tortured moan of a zombie. In Minecraft Alpha, for a new player, these sounds were terrifying themselves, but there was still something else you did not want to hear after a nearby footstep:
When you heard a footstep, and then another, and yet another, but no sound to identify what it actually was that was so close to you in the pitch black, your mind would again jolt into thought, and for you, time could not pass fast enough for the sun to rise again.
These days, we salty dogs, the long-standing Minecraft players, know that in stock Minecraft, a creature making footsteps without making any other sound is just another creeper looking to mess up our buildings. But for a new player, back in the Alpha days, the silence after a footstep was eerie, and the discovery of a creeper was an exciting—and deadly—way to find your closure.
So, what does all this have to do with Herobrine?, you may be wondering.
Well, calm down. I’m getting there. First, let me talk more about how Minecraft invades your mind the way you love it to do so.
Beyond the Obvious
So, in Minecraft Alpha, the monsters were, naturally, the first and most readily apparent form of fear. But after some time, you learn what they are, how they function, what they sound like, how to defend against them, and how to kill them. In fact, at some point, you no longer fear them, but wish to confront them, and claim their rewards! The monsters turn from the deadly creatures they once were into a valued source of necessary resources, like arrows, feathers, and string. (And yes, in Minecraft Alpha, zombies dropped feathers. I wish they still did.) The hunters had then become the hunted. And for a while, hunting them was exciting. There was still an element of fear in seeking them out, because you had to venture into dark places or wander out at night, but with sword in hand and armor draped over you, the confrontation was exhilarating and rewarding.
Here is a key point, and I want you to remember it for the rest of this blog post:
Overcoming your fear had led you to great rewards.
But, for you, there was another fear in Minecraft that was just waiting for you to reach this point… It is a fear beyond the obvious, it is the worst fear of all, and it had been watching you literally every step of the way.
I’m not referring to Herobrine, or “HIM.” I’m referring, as I said earlier, to what Herobrine represents.
Herobrine Represents You. You are your fear.
Herobrine, “HIM,” represents the one element in Minecraft that, in my mind, was one of the most important elements Minecraft Alpha had going for it.
You see, Herobrine represents you, and your desire for there be something more.
Let me ask you this: have you ever been wandering around in a dark cave, and you ran out of torches, so you turned back? Why did you turn back? Did you do it because without those torches you could not see, or did you do it because you didn’t want to feel alone, and afraid in the dark?
How much of you carries torches around because they prevent the game from spawning monsters (a technical, in-game reason), and how much of you carries torches around because they represent safety (a very human reason)?
If you’re a long-standing Minecraft player, probably 90% of you carries them for the first reason, and probably 10% of you for the second reason. But think back to your early Minecraft days. What did the balance look like then? 10/90? 20/80? 0/100?
That fear of the unknown compelled you to play safe, and you didn’t want to feel afraid.
Here’s a common scenario, tell me if this has ever happened to you: You’re wandering in a twisting, winding cavern, moving deeper and deeper into the earth. Suddenly, you break through a wall, or you drop down a bit into an open area, and you see one of the absolutely most terrifying things you’ve ever seen in Minecraft:
You see torches that are NOT your own. And you’re playing Minecraft Alpha. There IS no multiplayer component to the game. You are truly alone in this world, the only living, breathing thing here. But there they are. Lit torches along the wall or floor.
Your mind jolts, once again, into frenzied thought. Are these my torches? Who placed them here? Holy crap I’m down here with someone or something else. Am I in danger? I’ve never heard of this before, is this part of the game, or…???? SHOULD I LOG OUT? SHOULD I FOLLOW THESE TORCHES?
And then, just like everyone else who has experienced this scenario, something happens that snaps you out of it. Either you are really brave and you follow the torches, or you think more carefully about the situation, or something else happens that makes you realize, “Wait a second. These ARE my torches!”
Your fear is abolished, and you are relieved. Maybe you even feel a little silly, laughing at yourself a little bit as you make your way back to your shelter.
But that fear inside you when you were confused, the thought that you might not ACTUALLY be alone here, was utterly, coldly gripping, and at the same time, intensely exciting.
Even after that moment when you realized the torches were yours, and the world shifted back into proper perspective, a tiny part of you still wondered if you truly were alone in that Minecraft Alpha world of yours.
Herobrine Represents Us. We are our fear.
But there is still MORE to all this than simply the individual. Herobrine could not exist if it weren’t for the Minecraft community as a whole.
You see, Minecraft has ALWAYS been a multiplayer game. Even in Alpha, I used to say, “Minecraft is a multiplayer game without a multiplayer component.”
And it’s true. Minecraft played solo is no fun. It’s the kind of game that makes you want to share your experiences in it—in fact, in my opinion, it’s the BEST game of that kind.
This is why I created X’s Adventures in Minecraft in the first place. Minecraft Alpha was a single player game, but without built-in multiplayer, I had to find a way to MAKE the game multiplayer. It just so happened I already had a few thousand subscribers on YouTube, and thus, I turned Minecraft, for me, into a multiplayer game by bringing others along for the ride.
And as a community, we have always craved “more, more, more” from Minecraft, haven’t we? Back in the Alpha days, we wanted more building blocks, more monsters, more adventure, more game modes, more options, more multiplayer aspects, more biomes, more mods, more videos, more MORE MORE!
It is this communal desire for “more” that created Herobrine. Individually, as we played Minecraft, the game would periodically give us glimpses, hints of something that we should fear. The darkness always held the threat of something unexpected, even if we knew it was unlikely or even impossible for that “something” to exist.
When the story of “HIM” manifested, we as a community swarmed and clung to it. The very idea that there was a “ghost in the machine” was enticing, terrifying, and exciting all at once. Herobrine, although for a time he didn’t have that name, was instantly a success.
The varying degrees to which the story of “HIM” impacted each of us created a violently choppy tide of responses. Some people discounted it and brushed it off legitimately. Some people did so simply because they were afraid. Others, like me, may have jumped into the game HOPING to run into “HIM,” for the thrill of sheer terror and facing a foe that is supposedly, in every way, a game changer. And some still even stated that they would quit playing Minecraft until there was an official word on the ghost.
More stories popped up, one or two of which were good while the vast majority were terrible and obvious attempts to fan the flames. But no matter how you look at it, it was a fear generated by us, as a community, and it was a fear that was born of a desire:
More. Give. Us. More.
The Tragedy of Herobrine
And this is tragic. You see, dear reader, the sensation that Herobrine brought to Minecraft is born of our desire for there to be something greater in the game. Some secret, some aspect, some… some-ANYTHING that makes the game more than what it actually is.
Maybe we liked Herobrine because he added some purpose to an otherwise no-purpose game. When we had just become unafraid of the dark, he infused it with a greater terror than we had yet known in the game. Even our own homes weren’t safe.
Herobrine is the ultimate representation of what Minecraft MIGHT have been, but unfortunately cannot ever achieve. Herobrine truly is a ghost in the machine; it is impossible to make him real.
When I say “real,” I’m not talking about adding Herobrine to the game or using a mod that makes him appear.
When I say “real,” I mean exactly that: real. He’s a paradox. He IS real, you see. The IDEA of him is real. The sensation surrounding him is real. All the countless posts, pictures, stories, and mods of him are real.
But the definition of Herobrine is this: “A frightening ghost in Minecraft that can appear, act intelligently and of his own volition, and exist in your Minecraft world despite having not been programmed into the game.”
And as we all know (mods aside), if it’s not in the code, it’s not in the game, and it’s impossible for us to encounter something like that.
At least, I hope it is.
And yet, I also hope it isn’t.
Herobrine achieved celebrity status, eventually, as time has passed. His existence as he was first made manifest has been officially debunked, the fear which surrounded him has dissipated, and now he serves as somewhat of a mascot for Minecraft, right alongside the creeper.
There are mods that add Herobrine to the game, and even Mojang themselves regularly poke at his status by adding joking comments about him in the game’s patch notes.
Nobody is afraid of Herobrine anymore. The fear that he once brought is gone, and that is tragic. With that fear depleted, and with real multiplayer now in the game, and with villagers, and kitties and doggies you can tame as pets, there is no longer that feeling of “alone,” and thus we come to the realization that the game really IS just a bunch of procedurally placed blocks, and the monsters really ARE that easy to kill, and there really is nothing beyond what we know of the game.
Please do not mistake this as a blog post about Herobrine. See deeper. It is a blog post about how scary Minecraft is, or was, and how that is a very good thing.
But that fear is gone. Remember earlier I asked you to remember that one bold line up above? ”Overcoming your fear has led you to great rewards.” Unfortunately, that is not the case here. We did not “overcome” the fear of Minecraft… it dulled on its own, and eventually faded away. Without overcoming it ourselves, we have not been left with a reward, but instead, a somewhat relieving sadness.
What We Have Gained
It dawns on me that this whole blog post has been about the exciting fear of Minecraft, and how many of us players-since-Alpha have lost it. But this writing is mostly my thoughts on a single subject: how Minecraft uses fear to excite you and draw you in. I have no aim or goal with this post except to share some of my thoughts.
I have no ill feelings toward Minecraft. Some may think I am lamenting the loss of “the good old days,” and complaining about it, when really, I am not. I am sharing with you folks just one part of my MANY thoughts on Minecraft, the same way I have shared my thoughts and experiences in YouTube videos.
Much of this post has been on a lower note, and some of it (I hope) has been thought-provoking, and maybe even nostalgic for some of you.
So I will end on a high note, and talk about what we have gained in place of that initial, new excitement.
The fear of night, monsters, and Herobrine could not last forever, after all. Minecraft has much more going for it than just that terrifying excitement that comes with your first days playing it. If we were all here just for that new excitement, we’d have all left a long time ago.
But we stuck around. We stuck around because as we have been united in our early days as the community, either in multiplayer servers, in the forums, or by watching videos, we have formed bonds that keep us playing. We have discovered that our desire for “more, more, MORE” can be satisfied easily, through the mods we see all over the place, and through Mojang’s continuing work to bring us big new updates like the upcoming Adventure Update (which I’m eagerly awaiting).
Even better is that Minecraft is game where we can choose our level of involvement, and for how long. It isn’t like many multiplayer games where you feel like you NEED to play to “keep up” with the player base, either in ladder points, skill, gear, or just time invested. Minecraft lets you play how you want, when you want.
I think it’s this freedom that we gain that replaces that initial excitement of fear.
As for Herobrine? Well… though we have lost him as a terror, we have gained him as a character. There are people with Herobrine skins for their character models, there are animations of him, and generally, just a fanbase surrounding him.
One of the great things about Minecraft is that there are many new frontiers to explore regarding it. Some of these frontiers are obvious. But one of the themes in this blog post has been to look beyond the obvious, and that’s exactly what I intend.
I have some ideas for Minecraft that are ambitious (and I’m not just talking about my “achievements” videos). But I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to them, and I don’t know if I’ll share them with you guys. Some of them aren’t fully solidified as ideas yet.
One Fear Left Unaccounted For
After all is said and done, though, there is still one fear left unaccounted for… one of Minecraft’s singular, sickly dark arms whose hand has yet to release it’s grip.
This fear has no name… but I think you feel it, sometimes, when playing Minecraft, and you’re all alone. We have overcome the fear of monsters, the fear of the dark, the fear of Herobrine, and a few others.
But somehow, for some reason, inside each of us as we play, no matter how long you’ve been playing Minecraft, you will occasionally STILL feel it. The fear of the unknown is still there within us, within Minecraft, even after all this time.
Yes, it’s rare, and these days, it passes quickly. But it’s there, isn’t it? Why do you still feel this way, after all this time? What is it that grips you, and makes you feel like it’s watching, or waiting… or both…?
I wouldn’t think too much about it if I were you.
I’ve embedded the video below, but you should visit the YouTube page it’s on directly if you want to leave a comment. :)
Thanks, Yakov2020! :D
So it turns out Notch saw it, but didn’t read my previous blog post.
And I don’t blame him. The title I gave the blog post — “What’s Wrong with Minecraft (and How to Fix it)” — comes off (unintentionally) as, “Hey, Notch, let me fix that boring game of yours.”
Now that I think about it, I was pretty ignorant to think he wouldn’t take offense to a title like that, even though that’s not at all how I meant it.
I mean, I’d be annoyed, too, if someone wrote a really long blog post titled, “How to Fix X’s YouTube Channel.” My immediate reaction would be, what the hell? My channel’s fine the way it is, this guy needs to get off his high horse.
So I don’t blame Notch for choosing to ignore my blog post. First of all, he has to filter negativity out so he can continue to make Minecraft. (And trust me, after doing YouTube for over a year, I should know a thing or two about filtering out negativity.) Secondly, he shouldn’t have to put up with someone telling him “how to fix” his game. Especially not on the weekend.
And he most certainly shouldn’t have to put up with it to the point of receiving text messages at home about it. Which is what happened.
So I do feel bad about all that. My post wasn’t meant to annoy or demoralize him, but that’s what it ended up doing.
It always sucks when someone tries to do something good, but it ends up having a a negative impact.
I’m going to take the path of humility here and realize that, although my intentions were good, I went about that post in the wrong way.
And though I realize the chances are slim Notch will read this, I’ll say it anyway:
Notch, sorry about that, man. :) I promise you my intentions were pure, but I made a mistake. I’m still new to having an audience following me, and I didn’t realize exactly how much of an impact I could have. I’m still learning.
For the rest of my audience: please remember that my previous post was, and still is, for you guys. I don’t feel any great loss for Notch not having read my post, because as I stated several times, that post was just to keep my audience informed about my feelings toward Minecraft.
Having Notch read it would have only been a bonus.
None of the ideas in my blog post did I ever expect to get implemented. I did say several times that I realized that my ideas were probably pretty far from what Notch had planned, and I posed all of them in such a way that they were examples of what could go into Minecraft.
I still think they’re all pretty awesome, and I’m glad so many of you do, too. Some have suggested that I turn these ideas into a mod for the game. Well, if I had the knowledge, time, and ability to do so, I would. It seems like thousands of you would have a great time with it!
So again, thank you all for your support about my last post, but let’s not bug Notch about it anymore. The man says he has a plan for the adventuring aspect of Minecraft, and I, for one, believe him.
Stay tuned, everyone, for more X’s Adventures in Minecraft: Call of the Prime Wolves. :)
UPDATE: IMPORTANT: Notch has responded to this post. I wanted him to read this blog entry, but it’s clear that he doesn’t want to, AND THAT’S PERFECTLY FINE. I don’t want a whole legion of people attacking him about his decision, and I don’t want anybody else trying to get him to read it.
I sincerely thank everyone who thought my critique was valid and who were excited enough about my ideas to try to get Notch to read it. :)
I will write a blog post and/or make a video about what I’ve learned from this experience later today when I get time. You can read his response on reddit here: http://fb.me/YYIxWnpQ
Okay, here’s the post as I wrote it in full:
First, let me say this. Notch, if you ever read this, please understand that it’s not meant to sound degrading or demeaning. It is not meant to make it seem like I know more than anyone else, nor do I intend this blog entry to feel like my ideas are the “right” ideas. No, these are simply my thoughts on Minecraft.
I hope you and the community as a whole will see it for what it is: one man’s experience with Minecraft and his thoughts on how it can be improved for the benefit of the game and the community.
And please note: the first part of this writing starts off with a fair bit of negativity, but it grows into something much better.
I don’t mean to ruin anybody’s fun; I really don’t. (And honestly, I don’t think I will anyway.) This post is going to sound cynical, but the topic of Minecraft, and how I feel about it, is one that I think very few people actually understand. And that, naturally, is my fault, because I haven’t communicated it clearly.
I’ve thought about Minecraft a lot, and why I find it (mostly) so very boring these days. But I’m not the type to sit around and whine about how bad things are and leave it at that… no, I, dear friends, come up with solutions.
These solutions are ultimately just ideas, and they’re ideas that I’m sure are far from Notch’s agenda for Minecraft. In fact, I’m fairly certain Notch doesn’t even know I exist.
First, let’s talk about why I stopped playing Minecraft.
AGAIN, THIS IS GOING TO SOUND CYNICAL, BUT THERE IS A SILVER LINING. Just read on.
Minecraft has a simple premise. You mine, and you craft (thus the name). It’s a sandbox world. It does have some minor elements of adventure in it, but they are just that: minor.
For a lot of people, the mining and the crafting is enough to sustain them. These are the people who like to build giant structures that serve no purpose other than to express their builder’s creativity and to sate their creator’s desire to build. They are the kids in the classroom who play with the Lego blocks, their minds endlessly formulating new contraptions and ideas, their imaginations concocting new reasons for why a block might go here, or might fit there.
And for other people, the adventure part is what draws them in. The excitement of knowing that in Minecraft, the sun will set, and that throughout the carpet of blackness there are endless hordes of deviant creatures seeking to maim, pierce, shred, and destroy the player if given even the slightest opportunity is what keeps these people playing. They crave the idea that there are better and better materials to find to craft stronger weapons and armor, and they delight at the discovering a new dark, sprawling cave system.
These are the kids who are in the playground who are trying to swing as high as they can on the swingset, and climbing the fences to see what’s in the trees across the road.
Most Minecraft players are not either of these two extremes. Most players are a healthy mix of both of these types, but often tend to lean one way or the other to favor either building or adventuring. And often, this lean is influenced by situational mood, so a player who normally favors mining and crafting can one day be bitten by the urge to explore, and vice versa.
This is a good thing for Minecraft, because it means when one aspect of the game becomes stale, the other is waiting to be experienced.
But it’s also a bad thing for Minecraft, because it means that both aspects of the game (the gathering/building and the adventuring) must, themselves, remain healthy in equal measure. If either of these sides grows too weak and stale, the game begins to get boring.
This is why we see some updates that bring in building materials, like fences, sandstone blocks, and dispensers. And it’s why we then see other updates that bring adventuring up to par, such as with watches, compasses, wolves, and, of course, the Nether.
But, come on. I mean, really, step back and look at it. None of these updates has given Minecraft new life. Mojang is a small team and they are doing their best, and yes, they have achieved phenomenal success for small crew. They will grow, and Minecraft will grow with them. But for the time being, they are still only a small crew, and the best that a small crew can afford right now is to bring in these minor updates.
Sandstone blocks and the other building materials like colored wool do not add anything new to the game. They just add a few different types of Legos to the bucket in the classroom. The basic premise behind building in Minecraft is not changed by these additions (and don’t worry, I will tell you my thoughts on how this could be improved later in this blog entry), and so updates like this only provide players with a spark of emotional inspiration. ”Ooh, sandstone! I have to try that out!” But when a player does try it out, he or she soon realizes that what they just did was the same thing they did with cobblestone, and dirt, and wood, and obsidian. The process of finding a new type of block, harvesting a lot of it, and then using it to build something (or compliment another structure) is the same. Builders have done it before, and with each new colored block, they’ll do it again, and it will again be the same experience over and over again.
As far as adventuring goes… well, the adventuring in Minecraft has been very weak from the start. And this is the core reason I became bored with Minecraft and have remained bored. Wolves have brought me back into the game because they were the first real adventuring update in my eyes, and I am playing Minecraft again, but I can’t imagine wolves will keep my attention very long.
When it comes to adventuring, there always needs to be some threat. Creepers, zombies, skeletons, and spiders… these are all things that a smart player can protect himself or herself from easily. The X-System, for example, is built in such a way that no monster can threaten me when I am in or near it. The looming defensive tower lets me spot threats from afar; the X-Light 9000’s angled design makes it so nothing can block the view; the roof of the X-Fort is built with a 2-block rim so that monsters can’t jump on me as I exit the door; the whole place is well lit so that monsters can’t spawn within; and all the entrances and exits to the X-Cave are sealed. (Yes, I know spiders can climb walls now and thus the X-System is no longer 100% impregnable, but back when I stopped playing this update hadn’t been released and at that time the X-System really was a one-man fortress.)
Case in point: it’s possible to become TOO safe in Minecraft. Once the X-System became impregnable, and the X-Cave became too well-lit to spawn many monsters, and I had gained fighting skill enough to handle any foe, the danger and threat of evil faded — quickly.
Monsters became just another mob type in the field; just more animals from which to harvest resources. Resources I already had too much of anyway.
This removed, almost completely, the adventuring element of Minecraft. And this is why I say the adventuring in Minecraft was very weak from the start, and remains very weak to this day. The building aspect actually eats the adventuring aspect too quickly. You can create a completely safe base of operations out of dirt, the simplest resource.
With the adventuring aspect gone from my game, I actually left the X-System. Without adventuring to do, all that was left was to build. And I don’t like to build things unless they serve a purpose. The X-Fort and the defensive tower protect the entire X-System. The Greenhouse of Harmony goes unused, but it was built to provide food. Mining Shaft 1 is there to give me a way to collect new resources. All of my structures DO something; they’re not just for show.
I’m not putting down anyone for building large structures just for the fun of it. I fully realize that’s a big draw for many who play Minecraft, and I respect that. I enjoy seeing all the awesome things people make. But that type of play just isn’t what I like to do (most of the time). My series is “X’s ADVENTURES in Minecraft,” not “X’s Giant, Useless Buildings in Minecraft.” (Again, not insulting anyone for what they do in Minecraft; just stressing a point.)
So I left the X-System in search of more adventure. It was a sad day for all, etc., etc., yadda yadda. But leaving the X-SyStem wasn’t nearly as sad as the realization I came to when I actually did find something new.
I found Death Mountain. And it was fun at first. But the adventure to find and survive in Death Mountain wasn’t *real.* I had named the place Death Mountain hoping it would make the game feel more dangerous somehow, that there would be a ramp up in difficulty. But no; Death Mountain was no different from my home back at the X-System. The creatures were still the same (and killing them was just as easy and non-threatening). The resources were still the same (and collecting and using them wasn’t any more significant). The gameplay was still the same.
Shortly after I died and respawned at the X-System, having lost all my work back at Death Mountain (of course later, a viewer would send me a map to get back, but I’m talking about before that happened).
So I lost all my work at Death Mountain… and I was glad. I was happy that I was finally out of that “adventure.” It was very dissatisfying, and it was then that I realized my adventure in Minecraft was done.
My series had run its course after that, because the adventuring in the game was over. I found myself dragging it out because I didn’t want to let go of that feeling Minecraft originally gave me. That dark, scary feeling that I must hide from the evil things, that I could be confronted with danger around any and every corner. I wanted to hold onto that, but it was gone. Because there was no more adventure to be had; there was nothing around the next corner except yet more procedurally generated terrain, more annoying animals, and more easy-to-kill monsters.
I had experienced this once before with EverQuest, an MMORPG I played back in 1999 - 2001 or so. Norrath, the world EverQuest was set in, was so new and there was so much danger and adventure to be had. After the first year of playing, though, I found myself familiar with the game’s many places, characters, classes, and threats, and it began to lose its grip on me. I played the game for many, many months after I felt the excitement leave, searching desperately to find it again, but eventually EverQuest fizzled for me and I had to let it go, disheartened.
Having experienced that once before, I recognized the feeling with Minecraft and I quit playing it much sooner than I did EverQuest. I feel many people playing Minecraft today are in that boat. It has been out long enough that I know many players are still playing the game just because they want it to feel like it did before, but they’ll never feel that feeling again from Minecraft.
Not as it stands now.
Yes, I hear this a whole lot. Texture packs are okay; I like the default look of Minecraft so I don’t think I’ll use one and if I do, I won’t stick with it.
Mods are a different topic though. I realize they can add a lot to the game, but they do nothing to give real substance to Minecraft. One commentor said something to this effect on one of my videos:
“Minecraft is about mining and crafting. No amount of mods will change Minecraft beyond that simple premise.”
And it’s true. Until Notch and his crew can give Minecraft new life, REAL new life, no amount of mods will make Minecraft any more fun for me than it is now. (And don’t worry, as I said earlier, I have ideas for this.)
I can’t overstate this: Very few Minecraft mods interest me, and those that do, don’t interest me enough to care.
These have some potential. I like the idea of adventure maps. I’ve seen some pretty cool looking ones.
And to be honest, I had an idea for my own adventure map… I may release it at some point in the future, and I may not. This is why I haven’t released the X-System world for download. Because I intend, someday, to make it an adventure map all its own. I have such cool ideas.
But don’t get your hopes up. Really, don’t. I may or may not ever get around to this.
But yeah, as far as playing adventure maps goes, I may try one, but it seems to me that (and I hate to say this) Minecraft is becoming to PC gamers what Call of Duty is to Xbox gamers. That is to say, there are so many people doing Minecraft videos, and so many people doing adventure maps on YouTube that I just don’t want to join in that already diluted, watered down pack.
In my opinion, Minecraft, to maintain longevity, needs a healthy mining/crafting element and a healthy adventuring element.
It has a decent mining and crafting element already in place. This is up to par, but could definitely be improved.
It has a very weak adventuring element.
I’m glad you asked, voice in my head.
The building part of Minecraft is fine, I think, for now. I think being able to build more useful things with the blocks and materials in the game, like movable cranes and wrecking balls, or aimable spotlights, or generally just working, moving parts like pulleys, gears, and pivots would be awesome, but I also recognize that the game engine prohibits creations like these. They are things that would really make Minecraft builders go wild with joy, though, and I’d like to see work toward things like this made in the future.
But for now, I think the building is okay right where it’s at. Instead, I think OTHER additions need to be made to the game to make the existing building game more fun. I’ll talk about these ideas in just a bit. But first, let’s talk about the weak, fragile, and ailing adventuring part of Minecraft.
Let me preface this by saying that, hey, maybe this is all just me. Maybe Notch never intended Minecraft to be an adventure-type game, and maybe my strong imagination gave the game more credit than it deserved in this department. I fully recognize this as a possibility, but I really think it’s in the game’s and in the players’ best interests for me to go into this next part assuming that Minecraft not only IS an adventure/survival game, but that it can be a really, really great one.
The first thing I think Minecraft needs is many more layers of progression. (And I don’t mean World of Warcraft-type progression, I mean progression in the literal sense of the word.)
Let me explain what progression is, first. You know how spiders have that pesky leap ability which lets them close the gap between you and them very quickly? For a new player (or any player that has no strategies for defeating monsters yet), this means the best way to defeat a spider is at range, with a bow and some arrows.
But wait, you can’t make a bow until you’ve collected string… and you can’t collect string without… killing spiders…
That’s progression. Minecraft forces you into melee combat with a tough foe, and you have to do it a few times until you’ve collected enough string to make a bow. Once you have a bow, spiders become easy, but only after you’ve already beaten the challenge (the spiders) as it was intended to be beaten do you get the reward of being able to surpass that challenge more easily in the future.
You see this in many games, and it’s part of what makes games fun, and makes games rewarding. In The Legend of Zelda games, many temples have puzzles and challenges that you have to beat the hard way first, such as crossing a large gap with a series of hops, jumps, and moving blocks or defeating enemies. Only after you’ve crossed that gap the hard way do you really appreciate the Hookshot when you get it later in the temple, making that large gap a breeze - and really fun to cross.
So Minecraft already has progression like this with the bow, but needs more. One way I think we could build on this example would be to introduce new, and more powerful monsters into the game. They wouldn’t even have to be designed from scratch, either. You could make them variants of the existing enemies.
A spider, for example, with glowing purple eyes and a sickly, pale grey skin instead of black would be scary to encounter. It could have double the jump distance, and it could poison the things it bites. Poison could act like short-lived fire, damaging the player periodically until the poison has consumed an extra 2 or 3 hearts in addition to the damage it dealt with its attack. An even more fun idea would be that if the player is wearing iron armor or better, the poison effect won’t apply (the fangs can’t get through).
Now what if these spiders only spawned deep underground, and dropped a special type of string that when used to make a bow increased the bow’s attack damage? This would give players a reason to armor up (protection from poison) and go dungeon crawling. A new, more powerful weapon is the reward, and the fun is in the adventure. What’s more is that an update like this could be done in a single patch.
All Mojang would have to do is make a new mob out of a reskinned spider, give it spawn rules (could use the slime’s spawn rules, except just make it spawn more frequently), code in some poison damage, and make a new craftable item for the new, higher-damage bow.
It’s a small update, and the players would create their own adventures out of it. It adds a level of progression, too, keeping the player playing longer.
Now that we see how one small change can have a big affect in the adventurer’s Minecraft, let’s do this for all the existing monsters! Remember how I said the new spider could spawn only deep underground? Well what if deep underground, there were variations on ALL the monsters you see normally above ground?
A new zombie type with double a normal zombie’s health, and its attacks have a 50% chance to slow the player’s movement for a few seconds. This new zombie would be more “tanky” (to use an RPG term) and would work well in groups of other monsters (as zombies often appear). With all that extra health, having that upgraded bow from the new spider string is a very good idea underground, now!
And a new skeleton type, too, whose arrows fly 90% fast as yours do. (Currently, skeleton arrows fly much slower than the player’s arrows.) I don’t think their arrows should fly as fast as a player’s, but I do think giving a normal skeleton more accuracy would increase its difficulty enough to make it a whole new creature with a new threat level.
Creepers? Maybe they should stay the same. They are a staple of Minecraft, and they’re already as threatening, I think, as these dark variants of the above ground creatures would be anyway.
Let’s talk drops, too. As the dark spiders (that’s a good idea, I’ll start calling them “dark” creatures, since they live far below ground) drop the new type of string, the other dark creatures should drop new rewards as well. Maybe the dark zombies don’t drop feathers, but instead could have a chance of dropping iron ore. ”What?! Iron ore should only be mined!” some people may cry. But remember, I’m talking about improving this game’s adventuring aspect, and adventurers are not always particularly fond of mining expeditions. Having the dark zombies drop iron ore (not iron INGOTS, but just the ore) would give adventuring players a way to recover some of their lost resources, too, without having to slow down their fun with a mining run.
And because it’s just the ore, the player is still encouraged to return whatever home base he or she has built to smelt the ore and fulfill the “craft” in Minecraft by creating another sword or more armor. Because remember, the dark zombies we’re talking about have more health, and thus they require more sword swings to kill, and thus will wear out a player’s weapon durability faster. An adventuring player needs a way to recoup that loss, and having zombies periodically drop ores would be a fun way to do it.
Dark skeletons could drop dark dust, which I’ll go into in a bit. They’d also have to drop a few arrows, too, so the player doesn’t have to worry TOO much about using that new, upgraded bow (not too many arrows, though; a little worry and resource management is good, and a skill most adventurers like using).
Dark slimes could be an especially rare find, too. They could be quite dangerous, launching slimeballs at players, and spawning even more rarely than normal slimes. A dark slime, once defeated, could have a 100% chance to drop a diamond. Again, this fits with the theme of letting adventuring players collect resources without having to build mining shafts, and since dark slimes would be so exclusively rare, pumping the occasional extra diamond into the player’s personal economy (or even an SMP server’s working economy) wouldn’t hurt things very much, and it would go a long way in making a player feel really good about gearing up, digging deep, and exploring.
Diamond in hand from a fresk dark slime kill, any adventurer would seek to return to the surface to stow it away. And then comes that sigh of relief, and that personal feeling of a job well done. At that point, and adventuring player could log out of Minecraft satisfied with what he or she’s done, much the same way builders can look upon their grand structures with that same sense of accomplishment.
Individually, these dark creatures are small changes that could add a lot of fun to the game. But I realize that as a whole, everything I’ve proposed in relation to these dark creatures could bring up a lot of balance issues and require a lot of coding work. But once done, I feel that Minecraft and the players would benefit immensely from something like this, and I hope that Notch and his crew could feel the same way at some point.
That’s fine. I understand a lot of players like the threat level of the monsters right where it’s at. I realize that many players aren’t like me and don’t have strategies in their heads for going toe-to-toe with the existing creatures and for a lot of players, the current set of monsters is tough enough!
But remember: the game has a difficulty slider. Perhaps the dark monsters only spawn on Hard Mode. Or perhaps the existing difficult levels remain exactly the same, but a new ”Extra Hard” option is added to that slider.
I think that would make everyone happy.
There’s more than just monsters, I think, that could be added to the game to make it more fun for builders and adventurers alike, and everyone in between (remember, I know everyone falls somewhere in between “builder” and “adventurer”).
Let’s take some of the game’s existing resources and make them more fun! Redstone dust, for example. Yes, it’s true that redstone can be used in massive contraptions that do simple things like calculate numbers, dispense cakes, fire arrows in one direction, keep track of time, launch packs of TNT, or play music, just to name a few. But as it stands, to do anything really awesome with redstone you need a degree in Minecraft physics and computer science.
Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But you get my point: for the vast majority of Minecraft players, redstone doesn’t do much for us. And there’s so much of it to be found!
Each block drops so many units of dust and redstone is really common at the lower depths.
So, redstone is magical, right? (Or at least, that’s the theory according the Minecraft wiki and the Minecraft community.) Let’s make use of that idea…
Minecraft already has books, paper, and magical redstone in place. How about a new type of craftable item: spellbooks? What if you could combine a normal book with some redstone dust and some other item to create single-use spells? A normal book, some redstone dust, and a redstone torch, for example, could create a Fireball spellbook. The spellbook could then go in the player’s hotbar, like any other item, and when you selected and right-clicked it would consume the book (just one use per book!) and launch a fireball up to 100 squares. The fireball could behave like a ghast’s normal attack, except thrown by the player, and when it strikes enemies it could deal heavy damage and set aflame any enemies in its blast radius, but not directly hit by it.
How about that same recipe, except instead of a redstone torch you used, say, 10 snowballs? Now you can have an Ice Bolt type spell that when used acts as a fireball would, except on impact it covers the ground in snow, sends a few snowballs (not more than 10) flying around, and, like the fireball, destroys a small area of landscape. Except when an Ice Bolt destroys something useful, like a block of coal or iron ore, the resource is dropped as if it had been mined, instead of being destroyed as it would by a ghast’s attack or a creeper’s explosion.
This would make Ice Bolt a decent spell to carry around to help with mining resources and defending oneself underground, whereas Fireball could be the definitive attack spell.
Mind you, these spell books take a lot of resources to create. We’re talking papyrus and wood (books), snow and/or torches (coal, wood), and a hefty amount of redstone dust.
Plus these spell books would not be stackable, so resource management again comes into play. Do players bring some magic with them when they go adventuring? If so, what do they sacrifice? A pickaxe, potentially shortening their trip? Some cooked pork, making it so they might not be able to heal?
Is the magic really worth bringing at that point? Or is the idea of Fireball and Ice Bolt just a novelty; something you make just to try it out and then never make more of?
If that’s your thought, then remember, since it’s magic, there could easily be more useful things that would be worth the inventory space for that one-cast spellbook. Let’s add another layer of progression for fun. Let’s say you can create a new resource of your own: a magical book by combining a normal book with 8 redstone dust surrounding it in the crafting square. This would yield a magical book that, like papyrus becomes paper, could be used to create other types of magic books.
Say you take that magical book you just created and surround THAT in 8 Lightstone Dust. You could create a Light spell that, when used, creates a radius of light around the player as he or she moves. (Again, I realize the game’s engine prohibits this kind of thing right now, but we’re just throwing ideas around here.) The spell could last one full game day or until the player dies. This would make a useful and fun alternative to setting torches everywhere as you adventure, and notice how the recipe for it didn’t require any coal. It actually saves on torches. And torches, vice versa, save on spell components if you choose to go that route.
How about another type of spell? Something for the builders. Combine a magic book with some obsidian blocks and create a spellbook of Fortify. Fortify, when cast, could ”harden” a 12x12x12 square (or some other area, this doesn’t have to be exact) of already placed material (like, for example, the X-Fort, or a large part of the Greenhouse of Harmony), giving all those blocks the same durability as obsidian (while maintaining their original looks). Enchanting a whole building in this way makes structures highly resistant to creeper attacks. There could even be two types of Fortify. Glinting Fortify, which would make affected blocks “shimmer” just ever so slightly to indicate they’ve been hardened, and normal Fortify that applies the affect without a visual cue (for those who want to maintain the exact look of their buildings).
Notch could go crazy with this kind of stuff. A magical book and some feathers could create a Flight spell, letting the player fly for short periods of time (maybe 30 to 60 seconds, I don’t think any spell should grant too much power).
Or instead of flight, maybe a Jump spell, similar to what you’d find in Zelda 2. It gives the player the ability to jump ten times the normal jump height for three minutes.
Combine that with an also-craftable Haste spell (possibly created by combining a magical book, a pair of chainmail or leather boots, and sulphur) to give the player double movement speed, and you’d have players scaling mountains easily to collect resources or traverse their (by now) large Minecraft worlds more easily.
In fact, I can picture Haste, Jump, Fireball, and an upgraded bow making the Nether seem easier to handle. And hey, maybe people wouldn’t have to turn the game to Peaceful just to travel in the Nether!
And yes, I realize the Nether is SUPPOSED to be a hellish place where if you linger for any length of time, you’ll die. But if a player puts forth the time and energy into creating the necessary resources through adventuring (spells, armor, powerful weapons, plenty of food), that player should be able to enjoy the reward of being able to face the Nether and actually use it for fast travel between Nether gates. Isn’t that what the Nether was originally made for, anyway? Give players a way to use it without having to switch to Peaceful.
And maybe you could create a Regeneration spellbook that would give the player a slow, steady health regeneration for a full game day, lessening the need to carry food. But the regeneration should be very slow, like half a heart every 8-10 seconds, so as not to ELIMINATE the need to carry food. (And yes, just because I know I’m going to get someone spouting, “just turn it to Peaceful,” I know Peaceful mode has this effect. But not everybody likes switching their game to Peaceful when things get rough. That gets boring very quickly.)
I have many more ideas than this for improving Minecraft, but I’d hate to put them all in one post. This blog post is colossal already, and if you’ve made it this far, I thank you for reading it.
Again, I’d like to stress that I do not think my idea of how we can improve Minecraft is the ONLY idea for how to improve Minecraft. I also realize many people think it’s fine the way it is and that I should stop QQ’ing. I respect everybody’s opinion in this regard and I ask that you respect mine, as well.
This post is just about why I became bored of it and what I think could be done to improve it for those of us who enjoy its immense adventuring potential.
If you agree with this blog post, please try to get Notch to see it. Tweet it to him over at Twitter (@Notch), e-mail him, post it in forums, on reddit, Digg, all that stuff. I’ve never wanted to catch Notch’s eye before, but this time, I really hope to. I’d love to get his recognition on this, and to see what he thinks about it.
[Edit: He’s already responded (read above) so please don’t notify him about it anymore.]
Please leave your own comments below, too, dear readers. I’d love to hear what you think.
2010 was a fantastic year for me. 2011 will be hard pressed to beat it.
“Hey, Dave,” he said, looking at me sitting at my work computer. ”This’ll be the year, Dave.”
He was right.
His name was Mike… I don’t remember his last name. He was a heavy set fellow with a warm spirit and a big, genuine heart. It was December of 2009, and I was working at a popular cell phone provider’s call center.
I was miserable. The weather was cold, and the routine was boring, soul numbingly boring. I didn’t care at all for that job. Nothing there interested me even vaguely, except for a handful of the people I met there. I hated having 10 hours of my day stolen from me by that place. I desperately needed the money at the time, though.
You know how when you first start a job or in some classes in school you’ll be required to stand up and say a little bit about yourself? We had to do that our first day.
“My name is David, and I used to run my own business. Some things didn’t work out, and when the economy tanked I lost what little business I had. I’d like to start it up again, but first, I need more money to advertise. So I’m here.”
Only a few days into training, I hadn’t had any real time to get to know my coworkers. But already I was in a routine of picking up coffee at our first 15 minute break once we’d herded ourselves like mindless cattle to the tiny break room.
“Hey, Dave, what kinda coffee you drinkin’?” Mike was from New York, and his annunciation and pronunciation made it no secret.
“It’s a vanilla latte… that’s all this machine has except straight black coffee.” At the time, I didn’t drink black coffee very often.
“Ah, I have a coffee mug in my truck you can have.” He obviously needed the money pretty badly, too, because Mike was a stocky fellow who had previously only worked in construction. He answered the ad for phone support just like I did for a lack of any other options in this economy.
“No, it’s fine,” I waved my hand weakly to turn down his kind offer. ”I’ll just use these cups.”
“Nah, don’t worry ‘bout it. Those cups don’t keep the coffee warm. I don’t use the mug in my truck anymore, you can have it.”
“Okay,” I said, “Sounds cool, thanks.”
I didn’t think he’d actually give it to me later. I figured he’d forget. This was only a few days into the job after all.
But the next day, he came to my desk and placed on it a green coffee mug with a black lid. The bottom rim of the mug was chipped, but only barely. It was also clearly old and had seen much use.
I looked at the mug, visibly confused. I had forgotten he even said he’d give it to me. An instant later it dawned on me. ”Oh, right! Hey, thanks, Mike.”
“Hey no problem, Dave.”
I bought his coffee that day to thank him. It was a small gesture, sure, but it was the least I could do.
Soon, Christmas and the holidays of 2009 rolled around. Some of us brought treats for the whole class to celebrate… but not only did I hate working at that sinkhole, I had no money to buy something that I could share with the whole class.
Mike, however, bought everyone a personalized card. While I couldn’t be bothered to care about anyone in that classroom (except of course, him and a couple of the prettier girls), he was awake and lively enough in class that he knew at least a little bit about everyone there. He was just that kinda guy.
He passed out his Christmas cards. Knowing I wanted to start my business back up, he made mine out: “Don’t give up, Dave! Things will be great in 2010.”
I can’t find that card today… I tried to find it just before writing this blog entry. Sadder still is that I can’t find the coffee mug he gave me. I know they’re here somewhere. I would not throw those away.
Know what’s even sadder? A few weeks later, in January, Mike quit. He was a very nice guy, and everyone liked him. But working in construction so many years prior to this job, he had a difficult time understanding the technicalities of a cell phone and the workings of a cell phone company. He failed or barely passed most of the tests, and didn’t do too well on a daily basis there.
He lined up some work for himself in yet another city, and quit.
All of us in that training room didn’t care for anybody else there (we were all just making it hour by hour for our paychecks). But the day Mike stopped showing up, everything felt different. The whole class was very quiet. Usually it was pretty loud in there. The people there, full grown adults most of them, chatted and gossiped and spewed vulgar, tacky jokes all day. I don’t blame them. They were trying to get through the deathly monotony of it all in their own way. But it was obnoxious.
Still, we all felt Mike’s quitting that day. Things went back to normal only a short few days later.
Some number of days passed, and Mike showed up one more time to fill out some paperwork with our trainer. Everyone greeted him with warm hello’s, some of the girls telling him how much they missed him in the class. He was real cool about it. Wished everyone good luck, and waved goodbye to everyone from the doorway.
My desk was right by the doorway.
Just before he left that January day in 2010, he turned to me and pointed a finger my way. ”Hey, Dave,” he said, “this’ll be the year, Dave.”
He was right.
Last year, in 2010, I suffered some major financial setbacks. I’ve gone deeply into debt, and tried time after time to get my business running again. I’ve failed numerous times. Sure, I’ve had minor victories… but the losses I’ve taken have been devastating. They far outweigh my gains.
But all the while, I’ve had a beautiful hobby. This shining light that has kept me not only sane, but happy, this whole past year. You see, in December of 2009, I released my first YouTube video. Clicky the image to watch.
It wasn’t very popular at all. I got about 20 views a day. Back then, YouTube used a star rating system (you know, like rate this video between 1 and 5 stars), and I used to sit there for the first few days after I’d released a video to watch for the first rating I’d received. I used to hope someone gave it 5 stars. Sometimes it took several days before any of my videos got a legitimate rating, or a comment.
My first few comments and ratings were exciting! People found my video useful, and that made me happy. Very happy. The process was difficult to start, but I decided to make more videos. I was mostly new to editing and capturing footage, and I was poorly equipped at the time. My computer wasn’t very strong, I had a tiny hard drive, and my microphone wasn’t all that great.
But I turned video making into my hobby. It was incredible fun. I’ve always been the creative type, but had no legitimate creative outlet. YouTube gave me the opportunity to create new things that people actually wanted to consume.
I was incredibly happy, and addicted. I couldn’t stop thinking about my next video, or how to improve my style or editing, or when I’d find the time to capture footage, or how I desperately just wanted to leave work so I could make my videos.
Despite financial problems, despite health problems, despite my business failing… I was enjoying life more than ever. Yes, making YouTube videos truly was that big of a thing for me.
I realize it sounds silly. But I don’t care. I LOVE my hobby with a passion. To me, it’s like a hobby train enthusiast. At some point in his life, he gets a train set and builds his little circular track with a little working engine and a few cars on his coffee table. He takes a few more steps, and now his train set has a switching station and another little train running on it. He later expands his first train and makes it larger, and adds some grass and trees and maybe a little town to his model train set. Soon, the set grows too big for his coffee table, and after years of enjoying and loving and nurturing his hobby, he’s dedicated his whole basement to the train set and the thing runs like a charm much to his delight.
This is what my YouTube hobby has been like to me for all of 2010. I never imagined I’d gain this many subscribers (at the time of this writing, 107,161 and counting), but I never really cared for subs, or views, or ratings, or comments.
I’m glad I have all of those, though, because they make the hobby more fun. But I just love playing video games, and I love sharing my experiences in them with the world. It’s the love of the games and the art of creating a quality video that makes me love what I do.
And now, at the end of 2010, nothing has changed. I still absolutely love doing this, and I’ve gained so much from it. I’ve never had a hobby in my life before, something I look forward to every day. Something that helps define who I am as a person. But now I do, and I’m so thankful I found it.
But now there is so much more. Now, as I work on a video, I know I have tens of thousands of people who will be happy to see it, and that’s a special feeling. I’ve also over the course of 2010 earned a Machinima contract, so some of my videos are even earning me some money.
Here’s my first Machinima video, for those of you who didn’t know I was a Machinima Director or for those of you who haven’t yet started watching my Half-Life 2 videos (clicky the image to watch):
When I got the Machinima contract, I nearly melted with joy. This, admittedly, is because the prospect of making a living doing my hobby was extremely exciting. Get paid to play video games?! Sign me up!
But this also began an internal struggle for me. Should I start making videos and sending them exclusively to Machinima so I can make lots of money? Or should I let my hobby remain pure and fun, instead of turning it into a job?
Ultimately, I decided I loved my hobby way too much the way it was to change it. So I haven’t released very many Machinima videos, even though they would pay me to do so. Instead, I’ve focused on my channel and doing what I love simply for the sake of loving it.
As a result, I haven’t made very much money off my videos, but it wasn’t about money in the beginning and I didn’t want to change that.
On the topic of making money from videos… My YouTube channel’s growing success also enabled me to do something else I absolutely love doing: it enabled me to talk on even footing with some of my favorite YouTubers.
SeaNanners, DiggitySC, PeanutSC, JX23, Dodger from PressHeartToContinue… these are all individuals I am a fan of, and now I talk to most of them on a fairly regular basis. To be able to meet and socialize with some of my favorite personalities on YouTube is awesome.
Getting back on topic, though: SeaNanners has been doing the YouTube thing longer than I have and undoubtedly he has had more success with it. He’s been through everything I’ve been through and more, so when I started struggling with the prospect of making money from my YouTube channel, he had some advice for me. I’ll never forget what he said to me.
SeaNanners: Oh, money… haha. Keep doing your YouTube thing because you love it. If money comes, great. But don’t chase it. Then it’s not genuine.
He was absolutely right.
And some money has indeed come in for me as a result of this YouTube thing. But it’s not because I’ve chased it. It’s money that has come in just because I love what I’m doing, and I couldn’t be happier with how I’ve been able to achieve that while not sacrificing the integrity of my beloved hobby.
So, thank you Mike, wherever you are, for believing in me. You’re not a computer type person, so the odds of you reading this are extremely slim, but thank you anyway. I know you meant to wish me luck in my business, but things work out strangely sometimes, and your encouragement has carried through this year to help form something even greater.
And thank you, 2010, for being such a fantastic year. Mike was right. ”This’ll be the year, Dave.”
And indeed it was. It was the year I found a great love in my life, the love of my favorite hobby.
What will 2011 bring, dear viewers?
It’s been a while since I updated my blog! But there are some things I’ve been wanting to talk about, so I’ll make a quick update here.
What’s become of Fallout: New Vegas?
Well, I ran into some serious technical issues with the game while recording. One part of the game had busted polygons that would stretch into eternity and flash on the screen wildly, and I couldn’t walk down that hallway, much less see into any of that building’s rooms. People told me the game was bugged, but I didn’t know it was *that* bugged.
In addition to that, I decided to restart my LP of New Vegas anyway because I wanted to focus on Energy Weapons. I think I’ve since changed my mind about that, too… because I tried restarting my LP and it turned out very bad, haha. Partially because I kept running out of energy ammo and, MOSTLY because I had some sound problems while recording the game. I recorded about 2 hours of Fallout only to find out the sound was unusable. :(
The sound was great in the live stream, but in Fraps it was broken. Sigh. Well, if you want to watch the footage of the live stream where I restarted New Vegas, you can watch it here:
I will be restarting New Vegas a third time, most likely while not streaming it. So wish me luck on that. I haven’t had much luck keeping that LP going, but dang it, I really want to!
Speaking of the Live Stream
Speaking of the live stream, in case you didn’t know by now, I have one. Here’s the link: http://www.justin.tv/davidangel64
Make sure to sign up at Justin.tv and follow me there. You can also keep up to date of when I start streaming (I always tweet it) on my twitter: http://www.twitter.com/davidangel64
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
Ah, WoW. The game that started my whole channel. Yes, my name is X because it’s short for “Xalamon,” the name of my undead death knight in WoW.
And now Cataclysm has finally been released and I… am not excited for it. I thought Cataclysm would hook me and reel me back in, but it hasn’t. Not quite yet.
I’ve seen a lot of videos on it, and watched a number of live streams, and kept up with the news about it. But Wrath of the Lich King (the previous expansion) was just so very boring at the end there that it left me with a really stale taste for WoW. I don’t have any desire to get back into grinding heroics for better gear that lets me grind more heroics for hours.
I must admit that everything I have seen about Cataclysm looks fantastic. The expansion really does seem to make WoW a whole new game, with much more dynamic quests, more dynamic play, more dynamic content… I think it’s safe to say Cataclysm is just so much more dynamic than previous expansions. And that’s a very, very good thing.
But money is tight around the holidays for me, and like I said, Cataclysm should excite me but doesn’t. So I won’t be buying Cataclysm right away.
That said, I realize that I don’t have to buy Cataclysm to enjoy 90% of what the expansion offers. Most of the new content comes in the form of the new landscape and the new gameplay experience from levels 1-60, and I can do that without spending an extra penny. So I may make some videos of Cataclysm content soon, but I make no guarantees.
At the end of December I’ll be getting my first small check from Machinima. We’ll see how much money that brings in and if it’s enough, I’ll probably buy Cataclysm and join the fun. We’ll see how it goes.
Now, while I will never turn down donations (you can click here to donate, hint hint), please don’t donate with the idea that it will get me to buy Cataclysm… I appreciate the sentiment very much, but I don’t want to feel obligated to buy and play a certain game because someone donated specifically for that game. If you DO donate, please do it simply to support my channel as a whole. :-)
Now, this surprises me. I’m actually fairly excited about the Minecraft Beta coming out, and I’m not really sure why. Currently, I am quite bored with Minecraft and it’s difficult for me to stay interested in playing it for more than 2 minutes at a time.
But the beta promises a form of loose narrative to the game, and I really think that’s what it needs. Some sort of objective, some sort of goal or story to it, while letting it remain a sandbox game. That’s difficult to achieve, I know, and a tall order, but it’s exactly what Notch is beginning to implement in the beta for Minecraft.
That’s big news for me, personally. There are also supposedly some other neat features that will be coming with the beta, like full-fledged multiplayer support that should play mostly like the single player game, except with more people. I realize most of this functionality is already in the game, but that it will be more polished and more fleshed out in the beta is a fun idea.
I might be interested in making videos about Minecraft again after the beta comes out… but remember, I said the same thing about the Halloween Update, and I didn’t make a full series of that update like I intended to.
The reason for that, though, was because I expected more out the Halloween Update and I feel, to me, that update fell flat. It didn’t add as much as I thought it would, and in the end the Nether (which I looked forward to most) is pretty darn useless.
It was a fun distraction, being as scary as it was for the first 10 minutes, but once you get past the initial disturbing sounds, the Nether became a place where you just went to die. There are no rewards for traversing the Nether, except that glowing stone that permanently emits light. Using the Nether as a transportation system is sketchy at best, too, so… in the end, as I said, the Nether was pretty useless and that turned me off even more when it came to Minecraft.
Will the Minecraft Beta release fall flat, too? Or will it breathe new life into X’s Adventures in Minecraft? I’m hoping the latter.
Here’s the “and more” part. It’s Alizee. I saw this video a few years ago and just found it again. For no other reason than “I think she’s hot,” here’s the video:
(Use the full screen button there on the right.)
That’s it for now! Thanks for reading, guys.
Yay, a new computer, finally! This is the first time I’ve ever had a computer that can run brand new games. In the past, my computers have always been a few generations behind.
I have to thank everyone who donated. It took me a while to actually build the machine (3 days in my spare time!), and I spent the whole last week testing it.
Before I go any further, let me give you the machine’s specs.
Now, let’s talk about some of the things this rig is going to let me do.
Here’s my stream’s URL: http://justin.tv/davidangel64
I usually start the stream whenever the whim hits me. Sometimes I’ll post a YouTube video up about it, and sometimes I won’t. You can be better notified of when I’m streaming by following me on Justin TV when you get there and having it use one of its notification methods (like e-mailing you) when I start streaming. And you can follow me on twitter, where I am much more likely to make announcements about impromptu streams.
Right now I’m streaming a lot of Starcraft 2 and I’ll usually sneak a little Minecraft in there, too, but I’m keeping Minecraft minimal until the Halloween update comes out.
With my new computer, I can do much newer games, and I plan to. But before I can do those newer games, I need to make room on my list of active series. So this means I need to finish Half-Life 2, so I will be doing that soon. Keep an eye out!
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Like with Half-Life 2, I need to finish up Castlevania so I can begin playing newer games. In all likelihood, I will not be doing a 100% run of Aria of Sorrow anymore. I don’t have the time to farm all those souls, and it’s for this reason I haven’t been able to continue Aria of Sorrow. If I just cut all the soul farming out (which it pains me to do), I can actually make videos of this game again. And that’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now.
Minecraft Halloween Update
I will be releasing a new series of Minecraft videos when the Halloween update hits. I may release this series on Machinima. I’ve been talking with my contact over there but I don’t have anything set in stone yet. I can’t say for sure where the series will air, but it will air.
One thing that is certain, though, is that the series will not be nearly as long as X’s Adventures in Minecraft, and I will continue to give focus to other games at the same time.
I’d like to give more details about this, but I don’t have everything worked out even in my own head yet. Things may completely change or they may stay right on course. I guess we’ll all have to stay tuned to find out (even me!).
Well, Duke 3D doesn’t work too well on newer computers, it seems. I have sound problems with DN3D on my new machine.
The reason we haven’t seen any new Duke videos in the past week or so is that my old computer has been unplugged since my new machine took its place.
But I will continue and finish this series. Duke Nukem Forever is a game I WILL be playing on my channel, and I feel it’s only right that I complete DN3D first. So I’m going to fire up the old PC again and play me some Duke!
New Games: Fallout? Fable? Something else?
So the two main reasons I even built this new PC from the ground up is so I could do live streams and play new games. But I’m not sure what new games to play yet. I’ve spent most of the donation money on the PC, and I made sure to save some for games. I’ve only got enough left for one or two games; they have to be PC games because I don’t own a PS3 or an Xbox; but I don’t know which games they should be.
Fallout: New Vegas seems like the most obvious choice, right? Well, that’s the problem… it’s the obvious choice. I’ve always liked doing the off-the-wall things that others aren’t doing, and New Vegas is heavily saturated on YouTube right now. I’m not saying I won’t do a New Vegas Playthrough, but I am saying it’s not my top choice right now.
Fable 3? That’s not being released until a few months from now. I really want to do an LP of this, but it’ll have to wait.
Do you guys have any suggestions? Do you want to see New Vegas anyway? Is there another game you think would be worth watching me play?
Let me know, but keep in mind that I won’t be putting much priority on a new game until I’ve finished Half-Life 2 and Aria of Sorrow.
Half-Life 2: Episodes 1 and 2? Another Castlevania Game?
The questions that arise about my new approach is whether or not I will continue the Half-Life 2 series with Episodes 1 and 2, and whether or not I’ll move on from Aria of Sorrow into something else, like Dawn of Sorrow or even Lords of Shadow.
The answer is that right now, while I do intend and want to do these things, I just don’t know. I would love it if I could do every series I wanted to and all their sequels, but it takes a lot of time and I have to prioritize. We shall see what the future holds for these.
Minecraft Live Streams
I’ll probably end up doing more of these when I get a new headset. Right now, I can’t stream my microphone and the game audio at the same time without making it so I can’t hear any sound myself (clearly not an ideal setup). To remedy this, I need to get a headset that doesn’t plug into USB, and instead plugs into 3.5mm jacks. This will send sound through my PC’s Stereo Mix instead of through USB and I can stream it properly.
That’s it for now.
Alright guys, that’s for reading this far. I hope I’ve done a good enough job in this blog entry of keeping you guys up to date.