I started running a Terraria server yesterday. When I came home and logged into the game, I was thrilled to see that a friend was there already, playing in my world!
It was a really interesting feeling, to think that my friends could be accessing my computer at any moment, playing in this world I’ve created for them. At any time, the media server in the corner could be full of life, stories, and character.
I always seem to have trouble organizing a multiplayer game – choosing a game, announcing a time ahead of time, making sure everyone is updated, and then probably playing for an hour or so before someone has to leave and the group falls apart. A server like this is such an interesting idea…the game is always up, people can join or leave as they see fit, and yet we all get to see the permanent changes that have been made.
So, I know about Terraria and Minecraft. Any other communal creativity games that I should think about hosting?
Despite having plenty to take care of, I ended up spending most of the evening playing Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Terraria.
Both games have a similar ability to suck up tons of your time. Looking back on my hours playing games today, I wonder, why am I so easily able to motivate myself to do 10 zipline kills, or forge an iron pickaxe, but it’s so hard to do the laundry, or practice guitar, or read a book on accounting?
The steps are clear.
I don’t need to wonder if I’m doing the right thing. I know what it means to get a crossbow kill. In comparison, when I pick up my guitar or drumsticks, I’m afraid I’m teaching myself bad habits. When I read a book on business, I’m wondering if maybe I should be ignoring this one and reading that other book instead.
After each thing I do, I can load up my goals menu and see that I’ve made progress. Within 15-20 minutes of work, I can finish a goal, and see that visibly checked off on the screen.
Progress is permanent.
I hate doing the dishes or laundry, because I know that in a few days, there will be more dishes and laundry to do. In comparison, the things I achieve in a video game are permanent. Barring the loss of my save file, of course. Other than that, nobody can ever take them away from me. Even if I get beat up and killed a dozen times in Assassin’s Creed, I’ll still have that checkmark next to ‘Kill 5 guards by throwing them into scaffolding.’
In thinking of games that went the other way, The Sims comes to mind. Making progress is a constant struggle; even if you clean up all day, you’ll need to clean up some tomorrow. On the other hand, it’s just easy enough to make permanent progress, improving your job, hiring a maid, or getting a mind-control helmet to make you instantly happy. I think that’s part of what makes it very satisfying.
I don’t know about other players of The Sims, but my goal in the game is self-sufficiency. I want to get enough gadgets and automation for my characters so that they can live their lives without my micromanagement.
I got caught up in playing a few hours of Terraria tonight, and I think I finally understand the great appeal of Minecraft. It’s not so much about the pyramids, the recreations of spaceships, the working computers…it’s about coming to something which is random and disordered, and making something meaningful out of it.
The situation that brought this to mind was just walking off a ledge. When I turned around, I found that the ledge was slightly too high to jump to. So I build a wooden platform, attached it to the wall, then jumped up. I realized then that anyone who hypothetically came there after me would benefit from my work, be able to get up the cliff easily, and would see the randomness of nature changed into something suitable for human use. That’s kinda cool.
So now I have a tower and a mine and I’m figuring out what to do next. Ping me if you want, and let’s start building together.