We've heard a lot about Minecraft lately, haven't we? The game finally hit 1.0 on November 18, for a start, which caused much celebration as games journalists across the world flocked to their copies of Microsoft Word to finally type up the 10/10 review they'd been hankering to dish out for yonks now.
My first thought, then: can Minecraft really be worth all that praise?
Then, of course, there was the frankly gargantuan convention that was MineCon 2011. I'd only briefly seen the effect Minecraft has had on people first-hand before now, as zillions of people walked across the halls of gamescom and PAX wearing cardboard Creeper masks. This gigantic game, which has now sold over four million copies, has grown in two years to become absolutely massive - can those four million people really be wrong?
So I, ever on the cusp of predicting the latest gaming trends, decided to get started in Minecraft roughly a year after everyone else started banging on about it. I hear all the cool kids are playing something called Terraria these days, so I might give that a look in 2013.
Our benevolent editor Tom Orry clearly saw something in my latest noble endeavour, tasking me to keep a diary of my first week's progress and post it to you, the Internet. I was more than happy to oblige, because it meant I got to play Minecraft during office hours. And also out of the office. That's the kind of effect this game has on you.
Monday November 21 - The first day
Hello friends! I've started playing Minecraft because if I don't then I won't be able to keep up my cool indie cred. So, what's a Minecraft? I'm in a forest and there's absolutely nothing here. I can see some trees, a few mountains, and more trees.
I've heard zombies and Creepers come out at night - that's the thing I have to avoid isn't it? How am I supposed to build things? I don't actually have anything in my inventory. I'm going to pick up some blocks.
I started playing Minecraft but I got killed by a Creeper, which are grim little spotty green dudes with a shocked expression like you've just told someone who reads the Daily Express that maybe the Government didn't conspire to murder Princess Diana. They explode when you get near them and are sods. Boo!
I've had to bury myself alive. I'm not even joking. I don't actually know how to build anything yet, and day turned into night and the monsters arrived - the only thing I could realistically do was claw up patches of sodden ground with my hands and then cover myself in dirt. It's quite dark down here. I'm hoping for morning soon.
I got killed by a skeleton thing.
Alright, I've had a couple of hours to tinker around with stuff and I'm still virtually clueless. Pearson is getting pretty annoyed with me asking him stuff every twenty seconds and keeps telling me to just go read a Wiki. This seems quite useful. I think I can build up a basic assortment of tools now - wooden pickaxe here we come!
I'm lost and alone and hungry and it's dark and there's zombies :(
Tuesday November 22 - They Hunger
Hello Tuesday! Last night I ended up dying a few times, but eventually carving an underground abode and protecting myself by blocking off the entrances with walls of dirt. This morning I'm going to find and kill some sheep so I can construct a bed, which allows me to sleep through those dangerous nights.
No sign of sheep, and now I'm getting pretty hungry. There's an in-game food requirement, and currently I'm hovering between 'dead' and 'seriously chuffing famished'. I'm going to see what's in my inventory and whether or not I can eat it.
Oh no I ate zombie flesh and now I'm really sick.
I ate raw chicken and now I'm sick again.
I've worked out that eating raw meat is not a good idea. Go evolution! Now all I need is to find a way to cook my food. OH GOD SO HUNGRY HOW DO I MAKE FIRE?
Alright, I've finally found (and murdered) some sheep. Wool ahoy! I can't wait to sleep in my warm and comfy bed.
One problem: I've lost my cave. I can't get back. I wandered off and now I'm lost in a forest and it's getting dark. If I die I will almost definitely lose my wool. This can't be happening to me. This game is the worst.
I constructed a giant tower out of sand and stood on the top, where no monsters could get me. It also gave me a vantage point, so I could get my bearings and make my way back to the cave. What a great game!
Wednesday November 23 - Home is where the heart is
I am sick to death of living in this stupid cave - and I need a new home in Minecraft, too! ZING. I'll be here all week. But, yeah, time to construct a basic house. I'm going to make the walls out of Cobblestone, with some nice wooden edges and a lovely roof made out of steps. Steps are the only thing in this game I know that look a bit like a roof. Alright! How hard can this be?
Building a house is bloody hard work. I've barely laid the foundations. I've also had to burrow underground to mine enough stone and stuff to make this house, and Creepers live underground. Do all houses get built this way? Right now I basically have a hole in the ground as my foundations.
What a thing of beauty! I'm in love; the same kind of love a parent must feel when they look into the eyes of a newborn child. Look at it! DOORS. WINDOWS. ROOF. LIGHTS. A NICE LITTLE STAIRCASE. I imagine there's never been a more elaborate and beautiful construction produced in the entire history of Minecraft.
I'm not going to make something better than that today, so I think I'm going to log off and get some actual work done.
Just been telling my girlfriend about the majesty of my beautiful abode and she said she was actually ashamed of me. She also said she'd rather walk in on me having an affair rather than walking in on me playing Minecraft.
Hopefully my girlfriend doesn't come downstairs now because, boy, will she be disappointed. I found a source of iron in my underground caves. IRON.
Thursday November 24 - The OTHERS
What's a man supposed to do after he's built a house and found a steady supply of iron? I've got like 30 ingots of it now. I've built an iron pickaxe and sword and I feel like a God. An iron God. It kind of feels like I've hit a bit of a wall now - I've done all the basics, but I'm not really intelligent enough to do all of that advanced stuff the pro Minecraft players get up to. I think Pearson's off building some kind of fancy minecart system powered by magic dust or something at the moment, which honestly sounds so confusing if I think about it any harder I might pop.
Holy crud! I've stumbled upon some kind of native settlement. It feels like the Others' camp from chronologically-challenged television show Lost. Are these dudes going to attack me? They're about five minutes walk west from my house.
These guys are complete idiots. I've pilfered almost everything of any value - I've scoffed up all their books and nicked all their wheat. I've even taken a couple of doors. I haven't tried to attack one, but they're not coming for me and I'm off.
I'm completely lost. Again. Sod this game.
Friday November 25 - A farmer's life for me
After yesterday's blatant disregard for my neighbours, I've ended up with a nice little supply of wheat seeds and sugar cane. I've already planted the sugar and it's growing a treat - as you can see. Who knew crime could be so sweet? But I need to do something a bit more complicated with the wheat.
So I need a hoe? Jeez, it's always so much effort to do anything. Grassland needs to be tilled before seeds can be planted, and fertile ground needs to be within four squares of a water supply. This means I've had to build a custom reservoir - requiring me to build a bucket - and it also helps to have a light source to keep monsters away. After planting the seeds they should grow into delicious piles of wheat.
What am I actually supposed to do with all this wheat and sugar now? Oh boy.
Alright, I've officially lost it. I'm going to check myself into a mental home after I finish my latest project - I'm trying to create an underground grass area which animals will spawn in and I can then use as meat. Because after getting some crops on the go you need a nice bit of meat, right? I fancy some cows. I'm hoping cows will spawn in my massive underground animal farm.
I just read that animals don't spawn in Minecraft 1.0 and that my massive underground farm is essentially useless. Fuuuuuuuuuuu. I'm clocking off for the weekend.
Monday November 28 - Mapmaking
Good morning! I had a lovely weekend - how about you? I was away from my computer all weekend and I only thought about playing Minecraft about fifty times. That's pretty good, right? Anyway, let's get back to business: I found Redstone and now I can build fancy guff. I have a map now. I'm never going to get lost again. Time to go exploring!
I am completely lost. I'm incredibly cross. Why don't the stupid maps keep drawing after a certain distance? I've been wandering around for about twenty minutes.
I died twice. I've lost all my great stuff. I'm devastated. I'm blaming the map. I'm actually pretty cross; I think I might just give up. I only have to play the game for the rest of today anyway.
Alright, fine. I've built a new cave system. It's totally awesome. I'm getting loads of redstone and I've made a second house. I built a medieval tower for absolutely no reason, and I found some diamonds. I think that's the appeal of Minecraft, actually - moments of incredible frustration mixed with a well-earned sense of accomplishment. I don't know why I'm playing it, but I do know that I can't stop.