The title for this first section is “Crash and Burn” and it actually has a dual-meaning. Well, no, it means one thing, abject failure, but it has a dual image, because in my mind whenever I hear the phrase “Crash and Burn” I get an image in my head of Jonny Lee Miller (the actor who played Dade Murphy AKA Crash Override AKA Zero Cool in Hackers) and Angelina Jolie (the “actress” who played Kate Libby AKA Acid Burn) - because I think in pictures not words, so when I think of a person I actually SEE that person in my head.
As a result I see the character make the humorous connection with the two names - Crash (Override) and (Acid) Burn, hence Crash and Burn... Ergo Miller and Jolie become the visual images of abject failure. and... Yeah.
The point behind all of that is that for the first 20 minutes or so of playing Minecraft PE I kept seeing the faces of Miller and Jolie every few minutes as I failed to get it. Made mistakes, made awkward actions and basically nearly failed to obtain the basic resources that every Minecraft virgin KNOWS you have to obtain before the sun goes down on your first day.
You need to have the building resources to construct a shelter - whether that is enough sod to build a house or a cave you dig into the side of a hill that you can mostly seal yourself up into, and enough wood to build a Crafting Station - those are the absolute minimum requirements you MUST complete before dark.
Well that and actually building the shelter that you will huddle in, in the dark, miserable and scared, with the only savings grace being you managed to survive your first night in the wilderness of Minecraft without actually being killed and can look forward to better times as you slowly eek out more tools and resources and better your situation.
Yeah, that is the spirit of Minecraft!
So let us examine the controls in the game - controls that are a very different experience than those of any of the previous versions of the game largely due to the fact that the primary interface is a touch screen.
First the Camera - or Point-of-View
The first and most obvious control element is the camera, which is controlled with your finger, simply by sliding it in the screen in the direction you want to look or walk in. Try that a few times and you will see that it is at least partly intuitive, though if you play for more then ten minutes and you are actually holding your iPad it is also exhausting!
Getting used to navigating with your thumb and finger takes work
The move keys for this version take the form of compass-like arrows on the lower left corner of the screen. When you are using one of the cardinal points, the game automatically adds secondary directions to the controls, so for instance when you hold down the top (or north) arrow, two new arrows pop-up on either side that represent Northwest and Northeast (sort of, you get the idea). Because of that and with a little practice your thumb becomes an all-powerful motive force in the game, which means you can hold the iPad in your left hand at the corner and move around all you like, using your right hand and one of its fingers for finer attention pointing.
In the center of the compass is a button that, when pressed, will cause your character to jump. That will come in handy only when the game gets a little confused and refuses to initiate the auto-jump that it normally will do when you approach a ledge, so while it will come in handy every now and then, it should not be a button you use a lot...
Obtaining the bare necessities is your starting point
Crafting in Minecraft PE and the MATTIS System
There is a significant difference between the regular and the Pocket Editions of Minecraft in that the PE uses a different crafting system entirely. Called the Minecraft Advanced Touch Technology Interface System (MATTIS) crafting system, in place of the grid system in which placement of materials is crucial to success in crafting, it instead uses four categories for actual crafting: Blocks, Tools, Food & Armor and Decoration.
When the player taps on each category they obtain a menu for the items that can be crafted under that category, and each item lists the required resources to craft it. As long as the player has those resources in their Inventory, they can craft that item.
Different menus obtain based upon the Crafting Interface that is being used - so Hand Crafting will give the player the smallest set of options, using the Crafting Station provides the larger set, and using the Stonecutter provides them with the menu for making bricks, stone bricks, stone-based slabs, and stone-based stairs.
Dropping an Item
To drop an item you must place it in the Hotbar, and then tap and hold the item in the hotbar in order to drop it. You will know that this is working right because the hotbar button will begin to fill up with green shading, and when it fills completely the item is dropped.
When you use a tool the game superimposes a “target” on the action that starts as a large circle with a small circle at its center that slowly fills in the large circle in white as your tool transfers its effects upon whatever object you are harvesting or destroying. This process is slower when the tool you are using is less effective, and much faster the more effective the tool you are using is on that particular material or object.
Item and Inventory Management
One of the trickier issues is managing your Inventory. That really should not be an issue at all if you think about it, but a fair number of gamers prefer order over chaos, so they are not going to be happy to have the different items in their Inventory scattered among other non-related items, and so they will want to “manage” their Inventory.
This can be accomplished by swapping stacks or items out into Chests (storage items that are placed in the environment) and then swapping them back to your Inventory, since the game automatically places any items or stacks you swap back in the first available open slot in your Inventory. It may be a bit on the awkward side but it will work.
Obtaining better materials starts with basic materials
One of the common elements in the Minecraft games is the issue of materials that are used to create the different tools, and their durability. The way that this works is really simple: there are a set number of tools, each can be made with the different key resources in the game, and the player will need to make tools with specific resources in order to harvest more advanced resources. That is all well and good and you will quickly learn that:
- Harvesting Stone requires a Wood Pick
- Harvesting Iron requires a Stone Pick
- Harvesting Diamonds requires an Iron Pick
And so on... You will need an Iron Pick or higher to harvest Redstone when that is added into the game, but the point - the idea - here is that you understand the basic progression that is used in the game.
And then there is durability, which is the number that measures the times that a tool or object can be properly used to obtain the effect for which they exist. Note that the word “properly” should be emphasized in your mind, because the improper use of a tool or object can (and often does) cause it to take damage FASTER. We will cover that in some detail in a moment, but for now we should address the durability of items when they are properly used.
This number is obtained almost exclusively from the materials that are used to create the tool, and the following table defines the standard durability or number of use for a given tool are, according to the official Minecraft Wiki:
- Wood Tool: 60 Uses
- Stone Tool: 132 Uses
- Iron Tool: 251 Uses
- Gold Tool: 33 Uses
- Diamond Tool: 1562 Uses
But before you assume that the above uses and durability apply across the board, bear in mind that using tools for uses OTHER than the intended or proper use can cause them to take damage much faster. The following exceptions apply:
Using an axe, pickaxe, or shovel on a mob (as a weapon in other words) that is either hostile, neutral or even a farm animal counts as two uses.
Using a Hoe on any mob or animal counts as Zero uses.
Using an Axe, Pickaxe, or Shovel to break a block counts as one use.
Using a Sword to break a block counts as two uses
Using a Hoe to break blocks counts as Zero uses.
When you use a tool for its intended purposes, that always counts as One Use.
The Crafting Table expands the variety of items you can craft
Crafting Items and Expansion
Bear in mind that the items that are available in the game are always subject to change, and with each official game expansion or patch, the odds are that new items will be added. That is how game development in Minecraft works traditionally, so all that the player has to do is wait for more items to be added, and in the meantime, build build build!
Do you remember the 1995 movie Hackers? There is a point to this...