In the early days of my Minecrafting experience, I'd die a couple of times every damn session, either from a fall or a goddamn exploding cactus lurking outside my house. Up until my spectacular fall last time around, though, it had really been a good while since I last died. Maybe I got overconfident; I don't know.
When you die, the stuff you're carrying is scattered around the place you die, and you respawn at the very place you first started the game. If you take too long getting back, your things will vanish. When I was building my first tower, dying was no big deal: my spawn location is right outside the door to my first home. It was a simple enough matter to nip back to wherever it was that I got killed, gather my stuff and carry on carrying on. And that would happen a lot.
This time is a little different. I died falling off a cliff on Epic Island, so I respawn quite a ways away. The only way to get there with anything even remotely approaching speed is by boat, and the boat is, well, on the beach at Epic Island. If I chop down a tree, I suppose I could build a new one, but by the time I got there all my stuff would be gone. So why bother? I've got stuff to do here as well.
It pays to have backup gear at your bases, and before long I'm outfitted with a sword and tools again. Now that I'm back here, I can take this game in a whole new direction. Reaching for the skies with tall towers is all well and good, but to find some of the more interesting things in Minecraft, you have to, well, mine.
With that in mind, one of the first things I did was start digging a main shaft from my first ever base. As I've explained earlier, monsters come out at night, so you have to shut yourself in while it's dark out. That time is best spent mining, and that's what I've been doing.
The main shaft goes down a ways:
The darker tiles there are impenetrable bedrock, impossible to mine or blow up, no matter how many frenzied minecrafters or exploding cacti make their way down here. And nestled among that bedrock, dear readers, is treasure.
Diamond ore! Mine it and you get diamond, the hardest substance in the game. It can be used to make tools, weapons, armor or even your house. But getting at it requires a little engineering.
You see, while you can cut stone with a stone pickaxe, and even mine metal ore with it, diamond is a different matter. Your ordinary wood or stone pickaxe can eventually cut through diamond ore, but you won't get a diamond! To properly mine the diamonds, you need a metal pickaxe: mine metal ore, smelt it in a furnace, and build a pickaxe out of metal and wood. Luckily, I came across some metal ore on my way down, and soon enough, I'm ready with my metal pickaxe.
Sadly there's only one block of diamond ore, but no matter: I've got a diamond! That's one more thing I've seen. In the same shaft, I also found redstone, which you can almost sort of see here:
Redstone is way too cool: it conducts electricity, so using redstone and switches, you can make quite a few things, up to and including a computer. But that's something to ponder later on.
There's still quite a few things on my to-find list, and most of them are underground. I haven't seen a peek of lava yet, let alone gold, and obsidian continues to elude me. Not only is obsidian the second-hardest material in the game, but it's needed for a, well, fiendish purpose that I won't go into quite yet.
After digging another connecting tunnel and extending my elevated walkway further west, I think it's time to head back to Epic Island. Sure, tunneling is good fun and all, but my heart is set on above-ground architecture. Next up: Return to Epic Island!