What Is The World Of Minecraft Like?
Since the days of classic MMORPG’s I’ve craved to find something with a similar feel to it like my beloved Ultima Online.
Minecraft is an MMORPG style game, not unlike old-school sandbox MMOs like UO, EverQuest or Dark Age Of Camelot.
Minecraft has been available for long on PC, and later on Mac. It has been originally released in 2009 and after I downloaded Minecraft for the first time, it brought me right back into the glorious golden age of sandbox MMOs.
Comparison To Ultima Online
You see, Ultima Online was (and actually still is) a game, that allowed you to pretty much do anything you wanted to. When I first discovered it I couldn’t believe all the things you could do. Until then all I’ve known from games was the usual:
- Start Game
- Play Game
- End Game
But Ultima Online was different. You started the game the same way you did with other games, by creating a character. You then entered the World of Sosaria, a magical place where Wizards & Dragons live, Ogres and Trolls roam the woods ready to attack unsuspecting players.
Besides the baked-in game experiences like quests you know from todays MMOs, that are the same for everyone, the gameplay allowed you to create your own adventures.
My First Sandbox MMO Experience
I still remember my very first experience in this new magical world. After creating my character I found myself in the middle of the woods, where I saw another player and we started talking. He told me that he and his friends help new characters to find their way in Sosaria and invited me to his home.
Homes in UO could actually be placed anywhere on the playable map, so it wasn’t unusual to ride around on your horse or “ethereal Llama” and see people in their homes doing chores, decorating or practicing on their Alchemy skills.
So the other player whipped out his spell book, and created a magical gate. I was in awe! I thought wow, the guy actually casted a magical gate, and we can walk through this gate now to go to his home? Awesome!
As soon as I walked through the gate, and appeared on the other side, I saw a group of about 10 other players. All of them had a huge Dragon standing beside them, and all I heard was “Dragon, attack”.
Then everything turned dark, and I was a ghost…
The group was so nice to resurrect me after that, and they even gave me back all my belongings (Which was a candle, a newbie book and a rusty dagger). In UO after killing an opponent, which includes other players, you could loot everything they had on them.
We had a laugh together after this, and they showed me the ropes of the game.
To me this was an amazing experience because of the kind of freedom I never before experienced in a computer game.
You were able to play your character the way you wanted to, there were no levels or classes that limited your character in many ways. You could be a mining magician, a warrior with a knack for carpentry or a thieving grandmaster-smith. You were able to tame dragons and any other animal you would encounter, and many many more things.
From this moment forward I was hooked on Ultima Online and the freedom it allowed me as the player to have.
UO Shards & Minecraft Servers
Minecraft, resembles Ultima Online in a lot of ways. Not graphics wise, or thematically but in regards to the amount of freedom players experience in the game.
Ultima Online has player-run shards (servers), and official servers that belong to EA Games. On player-run shards the game comes in many different flavors as the shard owners can customize the game however they please. So there are shards that cater towards the roleplaying audience, with custom playable races, places and monsters.
And there are other shards that are geared more towards PvP and have custom game mechanics for PvP tournaments and the like.
Minecraft offers the same flexibility, and not just for PC or Mac players, also for mobile devices you can join different servers and make it your home.
Minecraft offers you to create your own Worlds, Realms and Servers.
Lets look into the world of Minecraft and what exactly the differences between the above three methods are.
If all this talk about Ultima Online peaked your interest, you can check it out here: Ultima Online.
UO is available for mobile devices though, sadly…
The Minecraft World(s) Explained
As I’ve already tried to illustrate, Minecraft is a sandbox game that allows you to interact with almost everything in game. Once you download Minecraft, you can permanently change the environment, build unique buildings and really craft whole worlds.
This already begins at character creation, you can choose one of many outfits. Those outfits are purely cosmetic and have no influence on the game itself.
After creating your toon, it’s time to decide how you want to play the game.
There are many options, let us have a closer look at those.
Worlds are kind of “game maps”, but HUGE. Minecraft Worlds can be easily created through the main menu:
Worlds allow you to create your very own game map in which you can play all by yourself and let your creativity roam free. Alternatively you can set it up to allow other players to enter your world, it can be set up to only allow your direct friends or also friends of your friends.
A World is only accessible through your own device, which means other players can only enter as long as you’re online.
Managed Minecraft servers, are called Realms. These Realms are available for a monthly fee and enable you to create multiple game worlds (Currently up to three).
The advantage of Realms is that these maps are saved directly on Microsoft servers, so that your friends can also play when your device isn’t online.
You can also install so called “add-ons” on worlds running in your Realm. With add-ons you can change the behavior of elements in the game, as well as the graphics.
Now Minecraft servers are self-hosted and managed by their operator, you & your team / friends.
You can fully customize the game and even sell items to your player-base for real money. But you can’t charge players for in-game items that affect gameplay though. Best read the complete rules from Mojang regarding monetization.
Minecraft Server Types:
- Classic Mojang Multiplayer Java Edition Server
- You can download Minecraft Java Edition Server
- Then follow a tutorial on how to set up a Minecraft Server
Note that setting up your own Minecraft Multiplayer server requires quite a bit of knowledge about computer networking and server management.
The advantage here is though, that you only pay for server hosting and bandwidth. If you know what you’re doing you can host a pretty big server for a hand-full of dollars per month. (Yeah, that’s about $5)
- Rented Minecraft Servers
- Servers are fully managed by a company
The advantage here is that you don’t have to spend time figuring out the technical aspects of managing and hosting a Minecraft server. You can fully commit your time to build out your own world and give your players what they want.
Drawback is that it cost more than hosting it yourself, and often the packages sold are hosted on a tiny portion of a VPS (Virtual Private Server) that has very limited resources. This can mean lag, slow response times from other countries and so forth.
Connecting To Server(s) From Mobile Device:
This is the easy part. Once you have your own server up and running, you and your players can easily connect to your world by firing up the Minecraft game on your device and then enter the server information:
If you’re not really into the whole idea of hosting your own Realm or server, you can also just play to your heart’s content on someone else’s server.
Let them figure out all the details, and you just reap the rewards! 🙂
Simply bring up the servers tab, and there you see a list of servers available in your area. The bar icon on the right-hand side indicates the ping. The more bars are filled, the smoother your gameplay experience will be.
Playing Minecraft on mobile needs some getting used to, the controls are a bit awkward at first but you will get used to everything.
Left hand controls the joystick that moves your toon forward, left, right and backwards while right hand controls the camera and your toons right hand.
The right hand of your toon is used for digging, attacking and holding usable items like torches for example.
You also have your most used inventory slots right there, that you can operate by tapping on the item you want to use.
With one of Minecraft’s latest updates, dubbed “Aquatic”, allows you to dive underwater and meet some really nice (and other not so nice) sea creatures.
Maneuvering underwater on mobile isn’t easy at first if you don’t know the proper way…
When tapping the forward arrow, instead of swimming straight forward, your toon dives up to catch some air.
To actually swim, and also super-fast, you have to double tap the forward arrow after you sunk under water. To add a little turbo to your swim, sprint (double-tab forward also) while on land, and straight into the water.
This will give you extra speed and you’ll be out-swimming many a dolphin this way!
Fights can end very quick, especially if you’re facing multiple opponents.
The default controls are set up so you only have to tap fast with your right thumb on the screen, you’ll see a small target circle and simply have to tap directly on your enemy to hurt it.
On mobile it can get confusing, real fast, if you’re facing off multiple enemies. Because they have a tendency to not stand in front of you, but to really get in your face. Then you’ll see only parts of their heads sticking out the corner of the screen and it’s much harder to hit anything.
But that makes it challenging, if it would be easy it also wouldn’t be fun.
Digging & Mining
In Minecraft you can dig and mine blocks in the environment, any block you come across can be salvaged, even Trees.
After you’ve finished a block, you often find leftover material in the form of a smaller block which you can pick up.
These will then go in your inventory and can be used later for all kinds of things you can build and craft.
In Minecraft you can combine many materials that you’ve gathered on your adventures to create hundreds of different items.
At first you’re a total dummy when it comes to crafting, you know nothing about it, so your recipe book is empty.
Only after discovering recipes they will be saved in your recipe book for re-use. You discover recipes by randomly combining items that make sense to you.
Or if you’re lazy (like me) you can use a nifty online recipe book that shows you exactly what to combine to receive item X in return.
If you’d asked me if it’s worth it to download Minecraft, my answer would be a singular, Yes!
For the price of (currently) $6.99 for the Pocket Edition of Minecraft, you’ll be getting not just another game that comes with 20 hours of gameplay from start to finish, you’ll get an addictive new hobby.
You will make new friends, play together with your other gaming buddies and create entire worlds just the way you see fit.
But of course you can also opt to create your own Minecraft server that you can share with many others, and optionally even monetize (According to Mojang’s monetization rules of course).
Overall Minecraft comes jam-packed with so many opportunities that it’s hard to list them all, I would say for this low price-tag the Pocket Edition is actually a real steal, one like you don’t often find them anymore.
So go ahead, download Minecraft and meet me in-game. My gamertag is “crachazz”.