You’ll notice within moments of playing Minecraft, that there is a wide gaping hole missing from the experience. You are entirely, completely, suffocatingly alone. Not only will no one be there to hold your torch in the deeps of a cavern, no one will even be there for you to gloat to when you finish your island kingdom.
Aside from the occasional pig, sheep or cross-eyed cow, there are no friendly entities in the world of Minecraft. The endless expanse has no inviting shop-keepers, not a single swashbuckling pirate, and not even a semblance of a friend.
Of course, you could install a mod, like I did, which populates your world with AI controlled humans. Some will build for you, others will build on their own, and some will set up elaborate, self sefficient towns with you. It’s great to populate your worlds, to see that buildings poped up and trees fell down even when you weren’t around. My ‘villigers’ I installed in my world were usefull, they operated my farms, mined my mountains and cut down my tree reserves. Their stoney eyes, however, were a constant reminder of how alone I still was in my game.
I have since given up on flying solo, and have been spending my time in Survival Multiplayer Servers. These servers, usually containing about 60 people at a time, function almost exactly the same way as the single player game. Just like single player, there’s a day/night cycle, monsters in the dark, the first thing you do is punch a tree, and cows are still just as annoying.
However, in Multiplayer, within days the world is populated with the most intense smattering of creativity any videogame has ever had the honour of hosting. Like coordinated termites, the people of Minecraft swarm the landscape, and in the blink of an eye, they carve out statues, fountains, buildings, railways, walls, cities, anything and everything.
I was first introduced to SMP (Survival Multi-Player) with the GodCraft series of videos on youtube. Over the span of 18 real world days, that community had been built, razed in hellfire, rebuilt and then built some more. Some people began their own cities miles and miles away from the core spawn, others opted to building their “humble” abodes straight in the sky. The absolute intesity with which the online masses built with was astounding.
Over the last few days, the web-staff here at SideQuesting have been playing on our own server. The server itself was easy as pie to set up, and runs for free on one of our computers. With just a few of us playing, we aren’t aiming to build a great grand civilization, but instead we’re playing it as we would single player, but now we have neighbours. It’s nice to build a building and know that someone other than you will use it and appreciate it.
The feeling is one of comradery. Like a shy kid, coming out of his shell, SMP is the first place you’ll find anyone in Minecraft who is willing to help you, and the experience is more than worth it. I suggest you learn to get a grip on the game in singleplayer for a few days. Learn the ins and outs, build a home, mine some diamonds. Then, do yourself a favor and take your experience online, where a glowing, growing community is ready to build with you, with open arms.