The last few days as I've wandered my world in Minecraft, I could only imagine it as some wrecked post-Soviet landscape, scarred by strip-mining, shoddy architecture, bombs, and partially torn-up rail lines. Yes, that's my world in Minecraft.
A few small glorified huts that I call fortresses are the starting points for tunnels deep down, where I've torn apart the earth. Meanwhile ill-fated battles with creepers have done the same up above. If you haven't played Minecraft, creepers are these green things that explode if they get too close. That will dig a small hole in stone walls, but if you're in sand or dirt, it will blast a decent crater.
It is these creepers which have wrecked so much. A farm which I'd built out into the water was blasted by a creeper. The explosion opened up into a cave below, causing a quarter of the dirt to be washed away, disrupting the water flow, and nearly drowning me. A small fort I'd built so I could safely dig a mountain at night was breached, letting in a skeleton who killed me. I lost all my items from that. My most recent building has had a few holes blown in it. Creepers are a blight upon the world.
But the creepers cannot take all the blame. Scarce resources have taken their toll. Rail lines to connect my forts have been cut short by lack of iron. And then torn up to build transportation through mine tunnels. The stone and dirt which help up the rails are left in place, a monument to failure. Along the way, vast stores of gravel have been built up. While not particularly useful by itself, gravel can be placed and re-dug to yield flint, a necessary resource for arrows. But this reprocessing is a slow and boring process, so instead the gravel sits in giant wooden chests, accumulating more and more, like some poorly-rendered parody of nuclear waste.
It was time to end the build-destroy-decay cycle. It was time to build something nice. So I did that. I built something nice. I found a tall hill, hauled a bunch of stone, dirt, and glass to the top, and started leveling an area to use. Lacking a real design program, Excel generously offered to let me pretend that filling cells with grey, black, and brown was a blueprint. Over a few nights of battling skeletons, zombies, and the damned creepers, the walls were built, windows installed, and a front door added so work could continue in peace. It grew up with walls of stone and glass. A ceiling of wood became a floor of wood for the floor above. And that floor would be framed in stone, to limit the spread of fires, a step which turned out to save a great deal of white paint. There is no white paint. But there is wool. After much punching of sheep I had walls of white, a ceiling of white, big, tall, wide windows, and a second floor with wide open, well-lit space. The balcony around the house was eventually demolished after I found that it blocked the sun and encouraged the congregation of skeletons, zombies, creepers, and spiders. A basement was dug out, lit, and watered, to create a fully enclosed farm. The plot isn't huge, but it can keep me alive.
It is a nice house. It is a nice thing. Finally I have a nice thing in Minecraft. Pictures will come eventually, since I must admit that some of the dirt framework still needs replacing.
On a nearby, slightly higher hill, I'm growing a World Tree. Now where are those vials...