First Steps into Minecraft


I’m one of those gamers who never played Minecraft… until last week. Of course, I knew some things about it and saw other people play it here and there. But I didn’t have a copy for myself.

I started getting interested in Minecraft by reading some of The Ancient Gaming Noob’s posts over time. Being that I enjoyed sandboxes, there really wasn’t an excuse for me not to try it, though I wasn’t sure if I could get used to the blocky aesthetics.

When Minecraft released on Wii U last year, I kicked around the idea in earnest. I came pretty close to picking it up a few times, but always hesitated because I wasn’t sure if the Wii U was the version I would get the most out of in the end. So, I kept putting it off, mulling it over, doing some research, and just never made up my mind.

Well, Jeromai wrote about the Minecraft: Regrowth mod last week and it got my interest.  The idea of bringing the land back to life through your own efforts just sounds super cool. So I poked around looking at that mod, which led me to looking briefly at other mods. No too much because I wanted to leave some discovery for later. I knew I’d made up my mind. I was getting the PC version.

Chicken in the rain.
Chicken in the rain.

Vanilla Minecraft

I decided I wanted to play and learn about vanilla Minecraft before adding on other stuff. I’m sure there’s plenty of fun in the base game itself, and knew that later I could always expand to something else. I think this was a good choice, because there still feels like there’s a whole lot to learn.

Going into this, I knew just a few things about Minecraft:

  • You mine
  • You craft
  • Creepers are bad
  • Night is dangerous

And that’s it.

So, I fired up the game, set up my first little vanilla map, zoned in and instantly went to work putting together a quickie shelter for the first night.

I’d played games inspired by Minecraft before, and can certainly see where the inspiration touched 7D2D, Starbound and Terraria. So, I had a sense of what I could do and what I needed to do. Thankfully, unlike 7D2D, Minecraft doesn’t have a physics engine that brings things down on your head. XD

I was a little lost at first. I figured out how to make planks the first day and discovered this made the wood I harvested go much further for building. I noticed there was an Achievement section on the main menu, and looking at that, it gave me hints about what I should be crafting in what order.

The second day, I got my Workbench built. But I didn’t know how to use it. I tried everything that other games taught me to do – click it, push “C,” push “E,” etc. It didn’t occur to me to right-click to “use” the item. XD

I’ve also learned that while I tried in the beginning to figure out recipes on my own, I just don’t have the patience for it. I’ve played too many of these crafting games, and most of them don’t require you to put resources in a memorized pattern to craft. 7D2D used to, but now it doesn’t anymore.

That little Minecraft shack everyone builds their very first time.

So, I quickly dumped the crafting exploration for the wiki just so I could make progress. Of course, that didn’t mean I didn’t still have a lot to learn!

I knew I needed iron, for example. But I didn’t know what iron looked like. I just noted that when I mined things with my wood pick ax, I didn’t always get anything from it. The turning point came when I hit bottom and found a lava cave under my house. I found this redstone ore and what I thought was diamond, and neither gave me anything when I mined it up.

So… doing some research, I discovered you have to have a stone pick ax to mine iron! And you have to have an iron pick ax to mine diamond. Oops!

I’m such a noob. XD

First Impressions

The blocky artwork is actually much prettier than I expected it to be. I got used to the style pretty quickly, and it didn’t bug me at all.

I’m having a lot of fun exploring and learning about resources and the world. But daytime seems far too short. By the time I’m starting to enjoy myself and get a little away from my base, it’s turning night! I’m sure there’s a way to tweak that, if I knew how.

I learned from TAGN about the Minecraft Overviewer. I figured it out last night and made a map render of my little world. It seems awful small, though, compared to some of the maps I’ve seen other people show. Is that my settings or is there more map out there, I wonder. I know this is showing me much more than I’ve actually discovered — such as that little village up there. I’ve not gotten that far north yet.

Anywho, I’ve learned to put up fences. I tamed a chicken and I’m growing wheat… so it’s a start! 🙂

I found this floating Island and I really want to go there, but I don't know how!
I found this floating Island and I really want to go there, but I don’t know how!


  1. The world actually only gets written as you explore it. (Though its general layout is pre-determined by the seed value used to create the world) If you saw the snippet of map I posted, there is a great big unexplored hole in the middle of our world. (I wish I could post a copy of our world in that map format, but it is 12GB now, which is too big to be easily dealt with.)

    The crafting takes some getting used to but, as with anything, the stuff you do regularly seems odd at first and then totally natural in about a week.

    Also, I am jealous that you got a Mesa biome so close to your spawn point. Again, if you saw my map, it is nearly a full day/night cycle minecart journey to the nearest one we’ve found on our world.

    1. Ah, so there may be more map out there, I just need to keep exploring. That’s good to know! I wasn’t sure how the map worked since Overviewer mapped things I never came close to exploring yet (that I knew of).

      The crafting isn’t bad – I knew that it required you memorize shapes and materials to make things. But trying to figure out new stuff… well, I go to the wiki. XD

      Thanks for all of your great posts, btw. I always have fun reading about your Minecraft projects! I hope I can be half as creative as your group is. 🙂

      1. There is actually a radius around you which the game loads automatically. I think the default is to load/render/create anything within 10 chunks of a player. (A chunk is a 16×16 block area that goes from bedrock to sky.) So as you wander a narrow path a band of world gets create around you.

        I still have to do a post about Skronk’s Firenze town. It is so intricate and well done. I just to big public works projects most of the time.

        1. That makes a lot of sense — thanks for the info! Glad to know I have a lot out there I haven’t seen yet. 🙂

          Is the mesa biome important for specific things? Or was it just for the color of blocks?

  2. No shame in wikying recipes. I do it all the time still. I think there’s a mod out there that does that sort of thing for you, but meh, I just have most of it memorized after so many years of playing.

    If you want maps in-game, you can actually craft a map that fills in itself (and then take that map and add more paper to zoom it out) to hold in your offhand. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader, but a couple minutes on the wiki will get you there fast.

    I’m also super jealous of your Mesa biome. Hardened clay is colorful and fun to build with. The base variant (the sorta off-red) can be dyed into 15 other possible colors. Plus red sand looks exotic in builds.

    Enjoy the new game smell and exploration aspect though, sometimes that’s the best part of a new game 😀

    1. Thanks for the map tips! I’ll try that out next time I play!

      I also (obviously) didn’t know that Mesa was so special. I guess I better get out there and explore that area some more! 🙂

  3. Oh, one more tip. Day not long enough? Bring a bed. As the sun goes down, place the bed, sleep, then break the bed when you awake. WARNING: this will reset your spawn point to world spawn (where you first showed up) so make sure you know how to get back home after dying, or without dying.

    Tip: F3 brings up a debug screen with coordinates.

    1. I should have thought of this! Duh. I do have a bed at the base, but except for once (since I read you had to sleep in it to make it a spawn spot), I haven’t slept through night. I tend to go underground to mine (habit picked up from Starbound).

      The whole sleeping at night thing was a very nice feature, though. I keep forgetting it exists. Thanks for the tip!

  4. If you want to get to the sky island you can build up to it. Either stairs or if you want to do it quickly – place blocks beneath yourself by jumping and placing (takes a bit of getting used to).

    If you ever do a server – I totally want to play with you.

    1. I took a guess that I’d have to build up to it. I guess there’s no easy way up (and then how to get down?)! But, of course, it reminded me of Zemi’s islands the moment I saw it. 🙂

      I’ve got a lot to learn, but maybe one day I’ll mess around with a server. It depends on how many folks would be interested in something like that (I could imagine making a Wayrift world!) It seems like a lot of folks I didn’t expect are popping up to comment here.

      I’ve had an invite from Talarian above to check out his server sometime, to see how multiplayer works. 🙂

  5. Nice! I’ve almost forgotten what vanilla Minecraft feels like. Dabbling with vanilla first is a wise decision, as there’s already quite a lot to learn, especially with newer versions.

    Rest assured there are mods that help with the pain points of vanilla later. I couldn’t play now without WAILA or NEI.

    WAILA or “What Am I Looking At” places a handy pop up under your crosshairs to describe, well, whatever you’re looking at, so that block identification is less problematic.

    NEI or Not Enough Items is a big inventory UI retweak that can take some getting used to, but lets you search through all available blocks, provides a bunch of utility or cheat tools (optional) and most importantly, an in-game recipe book which can show you both how to make whatever block it is you want, and what other recipes said block is used in.

    Plenty of time for all those things later though! Enjoy exploring the base game, it’s already glorious.

    1. Oh, that’s awesome! Thanks for the mod suggestions. Those sound like they will come in handy in the future. For sure, though, I’m just taking my time and enjoying my first vanilla for now. There’s already so many possibilities for this game!

  6. That’s cool. Minecraft is easily one of my most favorite games. It’s been a while since I last played, but I’m enjoying one of those games inspired by it, Ark.
    Agree with Talarian, bring a bed or build multiple beds to sleep in to make it day again. I wouldn’t break them though, since you can use them to set your spawn in case you die like a checkpoint.
    As for the floating island, take a bunch of dirt or sand, and use the jump and place method up to it, and when you want down, you can quickly break that column back down to the ground safely.
    When delving in caves, always take plenty of wood to make torches, those are essential to prevent spawning and to help breadcrumb your way around. If you are finished with a section of cave, you can probably just clog the entrance or put a block indicating it’s a dead end or something.
    Man I love the game. If you do decide to do a server, I may join the crowd.

    1. Oh, how could I forget to add ARK to that list? I love ARK, too! 🙂

      Thanks for the tips! I’ll see if I can’t get up on that island somehow.

      Also, I do bring torches with me when I delve in caves — so it’s the darkness that spawns enemies? I did have some run-ins with creatures in the cave and noticed they came from the dark section. Good info!

      1. Oh yes, the low level of darkness is where enemies spawn from. There was a debug view or option that would let you see the squares that were dark enough to allow a creature to spawn, but I don’t remember it off hand. So keep your house well lit, like a torch every 10 blocks I think.

        1. The F3 screen will give you the block light level. A level of 8 or greater is spawn proof. A level of 7 or less means if you’re more than 24 blocks away, that square is hostile mob-spawnable.

          I think torches provide light level 13 or something to their square, and it drops off by 1 each square. Either way, if you want a room to be spawn proof, just light it up like whoa.

  7. My son loves Minecraft. I’ve played it a few times and I feel like it’s a game I could really get into, but I haven’t had the time or the inclination to really prioritize it over my RPGs I do want to play in my little spare time.

    1. Minecraft seems like a great game to play with kids. It encourages creativity and thinking, and is not overly violent. For me, it can actually be pretty relaxing, too, just mining away or building something.

  8. I used to play Minecraft a lot I was good at it especially with, it’s combat system. I hope you have as much fun as I did and if you ever make that server I want to play on it every now and then.
    When I started it was in 1.6 beta.

    1. Wow, you’ve been playing for quite a while! I’m still learning a lot, but it seems a number of folks would be interested in a server sometime. I’ll consider it, maybe!

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