Thursday, March 10, 2011

Minecrafty: The Great Fire (New Segment!) which I begin with a tale of tragedy...

Welcome, dear readers, to a new segment I'll be calling "Minecrafty." In it, I'll be telling tales from my corner of the Minecraft world. While I'm not the best or most creative player out there, I can still take part in the game's fantastic and organically created events. Along the way, I'll share any interesting structures that I've made or stories that I took part in. I don't think I'll ever be good enough to create anything rivaling the scale model of the Enterprise D, or the Earth, but I hope you enjoy.

Episode One: The Great Fire

This happened on the first few (in-game) days of my latest playthrough. I had punched some trees, made some tools, and had barely entered into my iron age. In the valley that spread all the way from my simple home to the sea, there were several trees which, after being cut down, still retained their leaves. While in real situations, leaves generally fall to the ground when the tree is removed, this is a common occurrence in minecraft. Gravity affects some things differently than others, and in this case, leaves float in a very unnatural way when their tree is detached. It's generally a waste of time to dispose of each leaf block individually, so most of the time, the leaves will continue to hover above the ground like green, Vogon spaceships. They mocked me with their hovering unreality, a constant reminder that I existed in an imperfect simulation.

They must be destroyed, I thought. But, I had a plan.

Having recently made a firestarter, I walked up to the floating, leafy abominations and lit them ablaze. The fire would quickly take care of the leaves, erasing them from existence. No more unsightly floating leaves in my front lawn. No sir.

The fire quickly spread, taking the leaves with it. However, it spread too quickly, and the trees in the valley were too close together for what I thought was a controlled burn. Almost immediately, another tree caught fire, followed by another, and another. I ran around frantically trying to stem the blaze by cutting down vulnerable trees, doing my best to stop the fire from spreading. But I was too late; I had flicked the first domino and the rest were bound to fall.

Before taking this screenshot, I planted the sapling to add a bit of poignancy to the image.
There was nothing that I could do. I would have fallen to my knees and shouted to the heavens (if that were programmed into the game) but instead, I stood and watched in agony as an entire forest burned down around me.

It was my fault, and for what? A few unsightly leaves, which probably would have eventually died and disappeared. Had the hubris of man destroyed another ecosystem? The screenshot to the left is only a small taste of the extent of the fire. At the peak of the blaze, there was nowhere to turn without seeing the destruction. The fire continued to burn into the night, lighting up the landscape in a bizarre, flickering, twilight. When it had finally burned itself out, all that was left of the forest were hundreds of charred and smoking stumps, looking far more unnatural than any clump of leaves.

The next morning I took a walk to survey the damage. It was heartbreaking. The forest floor was littered with items dropped by the roaming wildlife. Feathers, scraps of leather, and pork, fully cooked by the blaze, were scattered in all directions. Useful items, but also reminders that the animals had burned to death in a fire of my own making. The extent of the damage was enormous; it would take weeks for trees to grow again.

I learned a lesson from the fire, one that I won't soon forget. I destroyed my firestarter (throwing it into a pool of lava) I began to plant trees to replace those that I'd destroyed (the new forest is coming along nicely), and I've decided to pay tribute to the fallen animals by becoming vegetarian in-game (growing wheat to make bread, instead of eating the pigs for health).

And that's don't play with fire.

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