Minecraft – Creepier Creepers

  By Shamus   Jan 24, 2011   118 comments

I’ve been playing Minecraft in single-player survival mode, with a self-imposed hardcore death. If I die, I delete the world and start over. (I’ve heard there is a feature planned that will do this for you, but I’d rather just play on the honor system. After I die, I like to go back and look the place over before hitting delete. I don’t mind losing the world, but I like to know what I did wrong.)

minecraft_hardcore1.jpg

In survival mode, you begin the game empty-handed and homeless, and you have until sundown to scrape together enough resources to see you through the night, because the monsters will kill your fragile ass if you don’t have fortifications between you and them. You start by punching down a tree (no, really) and using your bare hands to turn the lumber into wooden planks. Then you turn the planks into a workbench. Then use the workbench to make a crappy wooden pickaxe. Use the pickaxe to mine some stone. Use the stone to make a better pickaxe. Find coal if you can, and make some torches. Build a house. You don’t have much time, so a simple shack will have to do. (I’m more of a Hobbit at heart, and I prefer to excavate my first home as opposed to building it.)

minecraft_hardcore2.jpg

By sundown you should have a building to hide in, some lights, and some means of defending yourself. If you’re lucky, you might also have healing items or glass windows.

minecraft_hardcore3.jpg

After the first night, You’ll expand your house. You’ll acquire armor. You’ll get better tools and weapons. You’ll get more torches, which will let you control the monster population. The game starts out brutally hard, and gets gradually easier with each day. It’s a very odd gaming experience.

minecraft_hardcore4.jpg

On Friday I logged in to my hardcore game and and was at a loss for what to do. My building was strong, well-lit, secure, and well-stocked. I had all the armor, tools, and resources I needed. I couldn’t figure out why I’d stopped having fun. Suddenly I realized what the problem was: I’d won. Without realizing it, I had accomplished everything that was important to me and there was nothing left. In this state, I could hold the monsters off forever and everything from this moment on was just item hoarding. It took several tries to reach this point, but I’d done it.

Having logged a lot of hours on hard mode now, I have to say I’m not really impressed with the creeper as a foe. There are four major foes in the game: Zombies, skeletons, spiders and creepers. The first three all have their advantages and disadvantages, and they make for an interesting team. But the creeper so dominates the game that I rarely worry about the others.

minecraft_hardcore5.jpg

The creeper is an exploding monster. If it gets within 1 block of you, it begins a 1.5 second timer. When the timer expires, it detonates, blowing a 4×4 hole in the world and (very likely) killing you. If you manage to get 2 blocks away, the timer will cancel and the creeper won’t detonate.

* Unlike all other monsters, the creeper is totally silent until it attacks. (I read that they supposedly have an ambient sound now, although I have yet to hear it. It must be very quiet compared to the moan of zombies or rattle of skeletons.)
* Unlike the other monsters, it is active during the day. Zombies and skeletons are killed by daylight. Spiders go semi-docile during the day. But creepers are a pervasive threat.
* Creepers are as durable as any other monster with no special combat weakness.
* The creeper is the only monster in the game that can kill you in a single hit. (I don’t think the others can kill in 3 hits, even on hard.)
* Unlike zombies, they can climb ladders and waterfalls.
* Unlike most other mobs, they have more complex pathing that lets them ambush the player instead of performing a mindless suicide charge.
* They are reasonably fast moving, only slightly slower than the player.
* They are the only mob that can destroy fortifications.
* They are green and blend in with grass and trees more than any other foe in the game.
* They can see the player through walls.

A zombie forgets his sunblock.
A zombie forgets his sunblock.

This seems like too many advantages and too few disadvantages to me. In my dozen or so hardcore games, all of my deaths were from creepers. My next leading cause of death is falling. (Perhaps I don’t practice the most safe building practices, but still.) Spiders and skeletons are probably tied for distant third. I don’t think I’ve ever been killed by a zombie. Creepers far outshine the other mobs in terms of danger. It’s like having a bestiary with a rat, a kitten, a peasant, and a Beholder.

I really like the idea of the creeper, and I think could work well as a siege-breaker. It can smash open fortifications so that the other monsters can move in for the kill. But as it stands the creeper doesn’t really need the help and the other monsters never really get chance.

minecraft_hardcore6.jpg

Zombies, spiders, and skeletons are great fun. The sounds they make induce intense paranoia, and encourage the player to seek out the threat, in order to avoid being ambushed. But the creeper doesn’t really create that sort of excitement. If you get ambushed, all you get is, “BOOM! Game over.” That’s more of a let-down than a thrill, and it means the game ends right when it should be getting interesting. I have never been a fan of unexpected instant death. (I Wanna be the Guy is about as far from my area of interest as you can get.) Some players might say this sort of thing makes the game more “exciting”, but that strikes me as a bit of a paradox. Creepers can really only ambush you when you aren’t expecting them – and if you’re not thinking about them then they’re not adding excitement to the game. If you are expecting them, then they can’t ambush you so they can’t be that much of a threat. I’m usually only excited for the 1.5 seconds between the sound effect of the ambush and the appearance of the Game Over screen. For me, every other monster in the game does a better job at creating a sense of danger and paranoia, even though they’re all less dangerous. Perceived threat and actual threat are only very loosely related, and often the best way to increase the perception of danger is to decrease the real danger.

You could suggest making creepers louder, or slower, or having a smaller radius, but I think the best way to fix them would be to make them do less damage to the player and (perhaps) more damage to the environment.

It would be great if you survived a creeper explosion but had to deal with the skeletons, zombies, or spiders now flowing through the huge hole in your defenses. You could even tweak creeper behavior to prevent them from canceling the timer, which would force them to explode against the player’s defensive structures.

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See, a common tactic is to build battlements and shoot or stab the mindless zombies, spiders, and skeletons with impunity. If a creeper gets near, you can play hit & run with it until it dies and it will never detonate. Once you reach the point in the game where you have battlements like this, monsters stop being a threat. The only way you can die is if you accidentally allow a corner of your base to be too dark (so that a creeper will spawn there when you look away) or if you get ambushed by a creeper when you come out at dawn. (Most of my deaths happened during the day from lingering creepers.) This makes fighting monsters more of a daily routine: Scavenge during the day, battle impotent mobs all night. Rinse, repeat. But if creepers didn’t cancel their detonation, then they would blow up against your walls. This would make battles unpredictable and dynamic, forcing the player to construct layered defenses and perform emergency repairs. If nothing else, it would force you to retreat from the walls when creepers got near.

The great Creeper statue on the <a href="http://twentymine.com/">Twentymine Server</a>.
The great Creeper statue on the Twentymine Server.

I know it sounds like I’m contradicting myself: Shamus, you want the game to be harder and creepers to be less dangerous? But I think creepers should be diminished so that other monsters can put up more of a fight. Right now survival mode is basically “creeper mode”, and it makes the game a little too 1-dimensional. Once your Minecraft base is established, the night attacks turn into a shooting gallery. Imagine the battle of Helm’s Deep if the orcs forgot to bring ladders. The monsters just don’t have a great deal of synergy. Making the creeper less of a threat to the player and more of a threat to their buildings would give the monsters a way to break through this stalemate and let the other monsters do their jobs.

A Hundred!18118 comments. Quick! Add another to see if this message changes!


  1. Slothful says:

    The creepers are sort of the most iconic new thing in minecraft, and if the game focuses around building, there has to be something to destroy.

    Creepers can seriously freak me out at least.

  2. Airsoftslayer93 says:

    Agreed, i totally agree, it makes sooo much sense. it’s nice to see you do articles on minecraft again.

  3. Meredith says:

    Wow, just reading about that first day to-do list stresses me out. How many real-life hours does the day/night cycle take?

    I obviously haven’t played, but I like your ideas for modifying the creeper monsters. Making it more of a fortress buster and not a player killer sounds like a good way to have it play better with the other monsters and still be rather annoying. I imagine the game could get quite frantic if they all swarmed past your defenses.

    • Mario l. says:

      I may be wrong, but I think a day cycle is about 20 mins long. So it isn’t that much.

      • Ian says:

        Yep, 10 minutes for day and 10 minutes for night. So, basically, you have 10 minutes to gather what you need and build some kind of settlement. It doesn’t seem like much, but you can get a surprising amount of work done in that time. It might take a few tries before you’re comfortable enough with what you’re doing in order to make it (the lack of in-game tutorials certainly doesn’t help) but after you get comfortable with the game it’s pretty simple.

        When I was a Minenewb, my first “settlement” was literally a 3x3x3 mud box with a hole in the roof so I could see what time of day it was. It got the job done, if nothing else.

        Thankfully, starting out become a little bit easier in the latest patch. You can smelt wood into charcoal, which is effectively coal, so you don’t have to pray that you start near a decent supply of coal anymore.

  4. Milos says:

    It could be just because I never played Minecraft but that creeper statue looks like something else entirely to me…

    I still enjoyed the article. I don’t know why but I like reading about Minecraft occasionally, even though I don’t plan on getting it myself.

  5. Dev Null says:

    I guess I should just go play the game (which I’ve been avoiding, because I can tell its going to eat my life) but… can’t you just build a column, climb up it, remove the ladder, and wait for dawn?

    • Mario l. says:

      You could, but when the sun comes, all the creeper will still be waiting for you at the bottom. Besides, the game is about building things, so if you just make a column it isn’t really that funny.

    • Shamus says:

      Skeletons are archers, and would arrow you to death. Also, spiders can climb walls. Although – can a spider attack you like that? I wonder.

      And I should have made clear in the article, but monsters drop useful crafting items. Spiders are the only place to get string*, which is needed for making bows and fishing poles.

      * Unless you find one in a treasure chest, which rare rare.

      • Tever says:

        Spiders pretty much just have to touch you, so yeah, they could easily knock you off and kill you if you’re high enough.

      • Mario l. says:

        You could still make a little platform high in the air and stand on it, but the problem remains. How would you come back to ground?

      • qwksndmonster says:

        Actually, Shamus, you could build block high walls on your platform to prevent archers from shooting you. You also wouldn’t even need to remove the ladder. Whenever I start a new world, I build a column that goes up to a platform on it. I have never once even come close to dying. One time, a zombie accidentally found his way up the ladder but was stuck on the door, and I wasn’t even up there when he climbed up.

      • Slothful says:

        My first game, I had resolved to turn the monsters off until I could make a bow to defend myself with. Kind of a catch 22 there…

      • Mirthlani says:

        This tactic can work.
        You can build the column by jumping up and placing a block of dirt under you (no ladders needed). Build the column at least about 25 blocks high to put you out of the skeleton range and the agro-bubble. Then build a 3×3 platform (while crouching you will not fall off the edge of a block, makes it safer to build). Spiders can not get around the lip even if they do manage to agro. Also after building up a few blocks, reach back down and dig away two squares so there is a gap in your column. The 3×3 platform also gives you room to drop a workbench and forge. Spend the night crafting stuff. Then in the morning you can just dig yourself back down.
        Staying above the agro-bubble is important, otherwise you might have a crowd waiting for you to come down.

        However, simply hollowing out a 1x2x2 hole in a cliff and filling in the blocks behind you is easier… But enjoy huddling in the dark all night listening to the zombies moaning just outside. *shiver*

  6. Mersadeon says:

    Your suggestion for altering the creepers is exactly what is needed. But I would also like them to be more passive in daylight, like spiders – because, frankly, it’s unfair if you leave your base and all you see are creepers in the hills around you.

    • Spluckor says:

      All I’m imagining now is some epic battle youtube video with some great music and all you see is a minecraft character leave his house and then when you see what’s in front of him it’s just waves and waves and waves and waves of creepers.

      Maybe throw it to some 300 music or something lol.

    • Ateius says:

      My first three tries at Survival mode were like this. I’d survive the first night and peek outside and it was just solid creepers as far as the eye could see. Unable to venture outside I would inevitably run out of resources (wood, basically) and be unable to progress.

      On the third attempt I managed to scavenge together a few swords and spent half the day very delicately balancing on my battlements and whacking creepers on the head until they were all dead. Then I did the same with the half-dozen spiders jumping and hissing at me. Then I rushed out and hacked down the nearest trees before more creepers could appear.

      The following morning I looked out and there were at least twice as many creepers swarming outside my walls as before. Even if I laboriously killed them all – something I no longer had the patience or motivation to do – I would have almost no daylight left to gather supplies.

      I deleted the world and started again on the peaceful (no monsters) mode. I’ve been having much more fun (although I wish they still spawned in the cavern systems to spice up exploring).

      • Mario l. says:

        I think you may have ended up in between some of the updates where creeper would spawn at an alarming rate. It happened at least twice. No matter how lit my cavern were, there were always mobs around.
        I don’t know how it is now, though.

      • Someone says:

        It’s in situations like this is when I remembered Dwarf Fortress and just dug myself out, Bugs Bunny style.

      • Airsoftslayer93 says:

        just go off, keep mining and return about 5 mins later, they will have despawned, its also very easy to just outrun them, once theyre far enough away from your structures detonate them with a lot of control, go onto the twentymine server if you want more advice from very experianced players

  7. Mazzwar says:

    I think I have to disagree with you about the weakness of the other mobs. For me the worst mob is the skeleton due to ranged fire. Also spider pose more of a threat now that they can climb walls. Most creep worries are easily ignored though and the focus quickly becomes experimenting / construction projects.

  8. Kyle says:

    My friend had the idea of on hard mode only, to make creepers home in on man-made structures and detonate; forcing you to protect your base as well as yourself.

    Perhaps give blocks a flag if they were placed by the player, and then set the creeper AI to target clumps of those blocks together as if they were human.

    • Shane says:

      You know, it would probably be simpler to jet periodically run a compare of the level generation vs. the current state of the chunksm. This is because a level will always generate the same way as long as the engine doesn’t change too much, and the level.dat for the world remains the same.

    • theLameBrain says:

      or they could just target cobblestone.
      Most players build with it, and the only way it naturally occurs is when flowing lava hits still water.

      I think mossy cobblestone is another ID#, and that is what is what occurs in monster lairs.

      • Someone says:

        Again, then you could just put 1 cobblestone block, every other tile or so, around your base. What could work is if they targeted glass (which takes precious day time to produce), workbenches or something else you can’t quickly acquire in large quantities.

      • Mari says:

        Not everyone builds a base with cobblestone, though. Personally I only use cobblestone when I’m deep underground on mining operations. I use wood/glass on the surface level and refire cobblestone into smooth stone in cavern complexes between the surface and level 16. Except for my one insanely huge obsidian wall and tower that I built when I found a massive lava chamber while re-reading The Silmarilion.

  9. swimon says:

    I like the idea but what I think minecraft needs the most is a way to choose which enemies spawn and which don’t.

    Personally I don’t really enjoy survival mode, building things is what’s fun to me. That said adding zombies, skeletons and spiders to the building mode adds a lot of suspense and makes mining a lot more fun. The problem is that you can’t really build with creepers around, the thought of your carefully constructed buildings being destroyed by creepers makes this pretty much a non-choice. If you could just “turn of” creepers then the game would be a lot more fun IMO.

    I think you’re right though, the creepers don’t really add all that much and they don’t really make the game more interesting they only add cheap death.

    • Vipermagi says:

      This is already a feature for online play; the server host can choose which mobs to spawn (also goes for neutrals). I have pretty much the same play style and issues as BeardedDork below, so setting up a local server was an almost ideal solution.

  10. BeardedDork says:

    I’ve always thought the game would be more fun if I could toggle creepers. I typically end up turning the monsters off until I can get started in the game. Turn them back on, die by creeper about four or five times then decide I’m not having fun and turn them off again. I know I really want a step between peaceful and constant death by creeper.

    • acronix says:

      Same here. I´d like to have some monsters running around to hack´n´slash, but the creepers makes me play on peaceful until I have built everything I wanted to.

      And then I stop playing because there´s nothing else to do.

  11. Nathon says:

    I stopped playing a long time ago, after beating it like you did. But I built a creeper trap with a deep waterfall and a roof. When I got creepers in it, they’d drown and I’d get some free gunpowder. My main base was only accessible by walking through an iron door and climbing a ladder to a huge platform I’d carved out of a mountain. Above it was more (floating) mountain. On the roof of that, I had a little farm where I grew wheat and trees and kept my stores and furnace.

    My night-time activity was mining for resources instead of fighting. Then I’d build with them during the day.

  12. Vipermagi says:

    It becomes even worse when you get a good amount of arrows. Zombies and spiders are utterly incapable of hurting you (sidenote; spiders can scale straight walls and jump farther than other mobs), and any spotted creeper doesn’t even initiate its explosion since it never gets close enough. Skeletons can possibly hurt you (a little bit), but their accuracy is rather pathetic.

    During the survival fest, ‘the mumble group’ had two forts, and both were more than a day’s walk from spawn. It was surprisingly easy to just beeline through the night. Sure, I usually ended up with 1-4 hearts of damage, but that’s nothing a pig or two won’t fix.

    Also, I find infinite coal hilarious. Since 1.12 or so one can burn a log in a furnace, and turn it into Charcoal. Aside from the name, identical to plain old Coal. Start out by burning one log with a log. Use the charcoal to burn another 8 logs. You now have 7 coal, and all you had to do was punch two trees and get 8 cobble.
    Additionally, skeletons now drop bones. One bone turns into three Bonemeal, which is usually enough to grow two trees instantaneously. No need to wait for those pesky trees to grow, whee?

  13. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by StranaMente, Matthias Haan. Matthias Haan said: @notch Pretty cool blog post about Minecraft survival mode, especially creepers: http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=10470 […]

  14. Corsair says:

    I actually have more trouble with Skeletons than I do with Creepers, although I do find it very, very odd that creepers are able to stop their detonation.

  15. Friend of Dragons says:

    By the way, when the difficulty is set to Hard, creepers no longer abort their countdown if the player moves outside their proximity radius. I’ve heard it argued that this causes Hard to actually be one of the easier difficulties to play on as it becomes easier to safely escape from creepers.

    (At least, I think this is the case. I’m not entirely sure I’m remembering correctly)

    • Kyrion says:

      On Hard the creeper will still cancel its explosion, but the distance from the player that it does so is higher than other difficulties (meaning, for instance, that punching it off a wall can stop it exploding, as it’ll fall out of range, as does jumping off a wall yourself, although that’s obviously less preferable, but on level ground it’s near impossible to stop it)

      • Vipermagi says:

        I haven’t had too many issues stopping the explosion on the server, which was running on Hard. Walk up to it, swing your sword and just run away. Perhaps even before the sword actually strikes. Don’t stop until the creeper stops blinking. Repeat.
        If it does explode, it should be rather far away, causing minimal harm comparatively.

  16. Oleyo says:

    I would like to see the rate of fire for the skeletons reduced, but maybe the speed of the projectiles increased. As it is, they are far more deadly up close than farther away, since the arrows they shoot are rather slow and are easy to dodge at a distance, but up close there is no room for maneuver.

    Their rate of fire seems to be once every second, so they can really pump you full of lead (er, flint?) up close with their dead-on-perfect aim.

    Also, they react instantly, so no-matter-what it seems that if you can stab one from a wall it will always be able to nail you in the instant when they are being thrown back through the air by your sword strike.

    I would rather that they could not fire in the time that they are flashing red and invulnerable, which would stop this behavior and make charging a skeleton archer preferable to being far away.

    I think this would lead to more fun combat decisions:

    Should I run out into the fray to strike down these archers risking being overwhelmed by zombies or detonating a creeper?

    Should I shoot it out with the archers from a distance, which may be more deadly?

    Maybe this mixed with your proposed creeper mods would make the monsters more dynamic.

  17. Sarcastro says:

    Makes me think of Dwarf Fortress. You haven’t won, you’ve just gotten to “engineering crazy deathtrap” content!

  18. Rob Lundeen says:

    The Mo Monster’s mod apparently adds Ogre’s which can smash apart the landscape at will. I think this is a logical next step (including your creeper idea). Everyone feels too safe in their mud houses. Video evidence of Ogres: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PInX8foUSow

    • Veylon says:

      Yes! I installed this mod and forgot about the ogres. That is, until one smashed through my wall like a big green Kool-Aid man. It was distressing but made the night very exciting.

  19. Neko says:

    I think creepers are fine. I hate them sometimes, but they’re a very iconic enemy. The way they creep up to find a hiding place is very clever.

    And I find they don’t always one-shot me. If I’m decently healthy and I’ve got a few scraps of armour on me, they’ll certainly hurt and scare me shitless if I didn’t see them. But it takes a creeper combined with some other mobs, or a group of creepers to kill me. I actually like the thrill of having the landscape explode around me and desperately running for shelter with two hearts left.

    It’s the spiders that do me in, these days. If one jumps at me and pushes me into a corner, their attack speed is so fast that I’m done for. Plus they can lurk above my front door now.

  20. Tever says:

    You play like I do. Every time I die, it’s time to reroll the world. My number 1 death is skeletons, though, with mobspawn rooms in a close 2nd. Those skeletons scare the crap out of me, though. I can walk up behind one and get a sneak attack on it, and that first twang of its bow will still make me jump out of my chair.

  21. March_Wizard says:

    I think that monsters should have some ability that empowers and announces the presence of each other. Zombies die in sunlight, unless a creeper is nearby, spiders are docile unless a skeleton is around. That would simultaneously make them all deadlier and improve their interaction with the player. Suddenly a Zombie attack during the day is possible, and their moaning alerts you to the presence of the silent creeper. Skeletons should ride spiders more often darn it, I’ve only ever seen that once. It ought to be especially potent now that spiders can climb walls. :D

    I think the creeper is the best thing to come out of Minecraft, its just so unique to that game it’s great, like the turtles from Mario or the Ghosts from Pac-Man. I would like to see different types, like a Red creeper that lights an area on fire instead of exploding, or a blue creeper that explodes into water column that dissipates after a bit, that could push you over cliffs or other hazards. a Gray creeper that “explodes” into a pile of gravel, which can suffocate a player to death or create a temporary obstacle.

  22. ccesarano says:

    I’ve had a couple friends nag me about getting Minecraft, but reading about this survival mode is what’s making me consider it (despite having 10 games on Xbox, Wii and DS combined I gotta push through…wait, no, 11, Dead Space 2 releases tomorrow).

    That is, IF they change the Creepers.

    The idea of a group of friends on a server having to build a fort and then hold it against waves of enemies sounds like the best kind of co-op fun. However, I cannot justify the game when I have so much to play through now (especially since I have HORRIBLE follow-through on PC games).

  23. Ian says:

    I can almost always avoid creepers with some fancy footwork (though they are simply devastating in caves), but where their cheapness truly shines is in survival multiplayer, mostly due to their ambush AI.

    My friend and I have had to rebuild the front of our structures countless times due to lag. The creeper would drop down and hiss, we’d run several blocks away, but the explosion would still happen simply because of us having a bit of latency. It’s not too bad for me since I’m running the server on my machine, but it happens to him all the time. It only shaves off a heart since we’re far enough away from the center of the blast zone, but it’s still frustrating.

    Regarding the creepers leaving pits simply to trap players, that happens to us quite a bit, actually. I think it might be due to the difficulty setting my server is on (I don’t recall ever setting it, but it feels like it’s on easy) but the creeper isn’t a one boom kill to us. After surviving the detonation, escaping from the zombies that are jumping into the newly-formed pit is an interesting challenge.

    So, I dunno. If the SMP issues were fixed I wouldn’t have any problems with the creepers as-is. They definitely do overshadow the other enemies, but the other mobs are very good for wearing the player down. I have a much harder time shaking spiders than creepers. At least creepers walk fairly slowly and don’t repeatedly bite you. That said, I definitely think it would be perfectly fine for the difficulty setting to affect creeper behavior a bit more. As it stands right now, it’s not a very newb-friendly mob.

    • Will says:

      Lag isn’t an SMP issue, it’s an internet issue. Good luck fixing it.

      • HeroOfHyla says:

        Poor programming can cause lag too. I don’t know whether this is the case in Minecraft’s multiplayer, but I remember once I was tinkering around with 39.dll (some networking extension) for Game Maker 8. It was incredibly jerky, and I couldn’t figure out why.

        Finally I managed to find the solution from google: The default setting in the dll is to wait to send data until enough is collected in the queue. I had to disable that to get smooth results.

      • Ian says:

        I am well aware of that, thank you very much.

        Read between the lines. The problem isn’t that there is lag, since that’s always going to be a concern, the problem is that there is no compensation for the lag. No mercy, if you will. One lag spike and you blow up. Hardly fair, wouldn’t you agree? The mechanics that are currently in play with SMP simply don’t work well in any network environment because they weren’t designed with any sort of latency in mind.

  24. Ian says:

    Also, regarding winning: when it gets to the point where I have an impregnable fortress on my hands, I typically grab a pickaxe, a shovel, some basic materials, then go far, far away and start over. I wish it were possible to change the spawn location so that I didn’t wind up back at my fortress on death* without having to hack away at the world file.

    *Allowing players to change their spawn location would be a nice addition, I think, but only if it were hard to do, maybe requiring the player to craft something with diamonds and obsidian or, perhaps, diving into the big bad Nether and gathering materials from there.

  25. ima420r says:

    I didnt realize why I dont play much anymore until now. I dont have any more to do. I need goals.

    Building a city would be neat, and defending it. Just me against the world gets boring though, I want more people and soldiers and stuff. And I want to plant trees and other plants and harvest them.

    I dont know whats upcoming for the game but I look forward to more updates!

  26. Epharian (Ben Orchard) says:

    I don’t mind creepers. They are (currently) reasonably easy to dodge, and drop some useful stuff.

    Spiders, on the other hand, almost always end up killing me unless I block them into a location or otherwise trap them.

    For me minecraft is sorta like digital legos with one (two, sorta) and lots of block types.

    Honestly, I think the game would be approximately 5x better if the blocks were 1/8th their current size (eg, 2 layers of 4 each would make the curent blocks). It’d be awesome if blocks defaulted to the current size, but when you mine them they give a random number of the smaller blocks (3-6, say) that could be combined to make the bigger blocks (and in the perverse logic of the game, 9 small blocks would combine to make 4 larger blocks (or something).

    [As a side note you can actually actively act to reduce the amount of cobblestone in the world by mining out a ton of it, converting it to stairs (6 cobble=3 (4?) stairs), then mining the stairs (which drop a single cobble when mined), and repeating. I discovered this while building the giant pyramid made of stairs underground on the twentymine.com server. I also discovered that stairs of this sort don’t block light, so the thing seems to glow.]

    Sadly, I have a feeling this is the sort of thing that would really hurt performance, so it’s unlikely to happen.

  27. Tuck says:

    I got bored with the combat, so I turned on peaceful mode and built this instead: http://pdurdin.deviantart.com/art/Minecraft-Cathedral-189498747

    Only problem is the PC I built it on died in transit (I packed it poorly) and I cannot access the world till I can afford to replace the motherboard and anything else that’s dead. I’d like to put it online for people to download and play with. :(

  28. Ivan says:

    I just had an idea about how to slowly increase the difficulty level in minecraft to level it out more.
    Ok night one, only zombies spawn. Fairly easy to defend against, you just need some walls and you’ll be fine.

    Night two Zombies and Skeletons, you may be better prepared but that doesn’t mean you can just sit on your battlements and stab them in the face all night, they can shoot back now.

    Night three everything previous but now spiders come out, remember how you made your walls higher so that skeletons couldn’t shoot you now? Well spiders don’t care about your walls.

    Night four, Creepers.

    Some tweaks to the monsters would be great too. Like what if spiders could climb upside-down? or even better, imagine spiders making silk bridges that monsters swarm across (the orcs just brought out their ladders)!
    Creepers, i love the idea that they target the structure more than the player, maybe moving towards the player until they meet an impassable barrier and then exploding. This would need some work though cause i can see creepers just randomly detonating and destroying the environment and not your fort.

    Oh another thing, what if the longer you stay in the same relative position, the larger your agro bubble gets? More time = better forts, so more monsters come after them. And if you barely survive the night? Well it’s time to pack up, move on and start somewhere new with whatever supplies you can bring with you.

    • Ivan says:

      Oops, i forgot, the spider silk bridges. They’re flammable, grab a flint and steel and start burning bridges!

    • Airsoftslayer93 says:

      i dnno, its pretty easy to counter enemies on your first few nights as is, making it get progressivly more difficult until it hit the current norm seems ridiculous to me

      • Ivan says:

        True, but i was more concerned with leveling out the difficulty curve. And if The new Behaviors were added like spider bridges and creepers that break your walls to get to you, then i think nights 3 and 4 could end up being pretty rough depending on your fortifications and how well they’re built.

    • Will says:

      The moving thing actually works kind of like that already; monsters only spawn on loaded chunks, so if you’re stuck outside during the night the absolute worst thing you can do is stay still, because monsters will continue to spawn in the chunks around you, snowballing in quantity.

      If you keep moving, you’ll constantly be entering chunks that have only just been loaded, and as such are empty of life.

      • acronix says:

        This explains why going mining at night is so good: You are sorrounded by chuncks that consist either of caves or solid blocks, which means nothing will spawn in the surface to greet you once you go out at dawn.

  29. Aquin says:

    Heck, I’ve never really had a problem with creepers… but I use a lot of fences. Poor little guys never get a chance to come near me.

    Also, I think you can hold down SHIFT or CTRL (can’t remember which) and you’ll never die from falling *ever* again.

  30. Nic says:

    I’ve been thinking of other self-imposed restrictions that could make hardcore survival a more interesting challenge. I haven’t tried any of these, so maybe they just make it more annoying.

    Woodsman – Wooden tools only; can only mine stone if you are following a coal vein.

    Nomad – Every x days, you have to migrate to an unexplored area of the map, taking only what you can carry in your inventory

    Slightly Undead – After the first day, you can only come to the surface at night.

    Morloc – After 3 days, you must go permanently below ground (plant an underground forest for a wood source).

    Pyro – Fire is your only weapon.

    Pacifist / Vegan / Breatharian – all self-explanatory.

  31. Exasperation says:

    Add me to the group that finds skeletons harder to deal with than creepers.

    As a side note: my home in my current world has a nice wide entrance in the front just for mobs to get in through. The catch is that I built my home over an exposed lava pool, and there’s no floor in front of that entrance. So the mobs’ pathing goes something like “Hey, I can get to where the player is, I just have to walk through here and AAAAH! IT BURNS! *poof*”. There’s also lots of glass in the construction, so I have a nice free light source and can watch my houseguests as they enter.

  32. Samkathran says:

    This pretty much sums up why I don’t play much Minecraft anymore. Not the part about creepers (although it was interesting to read your balance proposal), but rather the whole “I win” scenario. It’s pretty easy to set up a decent fort that will protect you from just about anything, then after that it’s just a matter of how big of a fortress you want to make out of it.

    The big draw of Minecraft that initially sucked me in was actually the exploration aspect, not the building. I absolutely loved finding an inconspicuous hole in the ground that turned out to be a massive network of caves and tunnels with underground lakes and lava rivers. Searching every last corner for diamonds is what kept me going when I played.

    Unfortunately, after a week, every cave started to look the same, and diamonds are simply too rare to be a motivator. I also seem to lack that creative spark that everyone else seems to get when they play this game, and so I simply have no desire to create grand structures out of blocks… especially not in single player. So it’s just an icon sitting on my desktop these days, but maybe they’ll add something neat that’ll get me hooked again, or so I hope.

    • Someone says:

      Same here. Got sucked in by minecraft only to abandon it about 2 days later when I felt i’d seen everything the game has to offer. It’s the same story with Dwarf Fortress, except since it so deep and rich with mechanical aspects it usually takes a month or so to get old.

      Why can’t we have both an insanely complex socio-ecological simulator AND purty cubical graphics exploring thingy at the same time? And no, the independent combining projects don’t count.

    • Cyanide says:

      I got bored with singleplayer after I lost my first world and didn’t really feel like starting anew. But that then got me to try multiplayer on the Twentymine server, and trust me, there’s a lot more to do. Working with creative people is great to get ideas of your own. Or, if creative’s not your thing, there’s plenty of more PvP/PvE oriented servers out there.

      • Emtreid says:

        I’ve not got great internet so I’ve never really got into multiplayer, but over the school holidays we’re upgrading. In single I’ve got an AT-AT style fortress on huge legs to protect me 100% from mobs. The grounds contain a huge farming network surrounded by a cactus wall to kill creepers who try to get through and thwart spiders. My AT-AT has several tumors now where I’ve build a lounge, cobblestone factory and tree room! And I’ve even got a defense system I’ll probably never need: several arrow stocked dispensers face every ladder and water elevator leading in, just in case. It feels a bit like I’ve won, but there are a few more rooms I’d like to add, e.g. an egg farm to stock the many cake tables in the lounge!

        Still, the idea of multiplayer intrigues me, I imagine a community where everyone has their own role, a farmer who provides hundreds of pork chops and bread rolls per day, a hunter who gathers bones and gunpowder, a builder etc. In single player I made a little telegraph system so I can send out an SOS which will display on my roof in case of attack. I like to imagine a community communicating long distance without chat but via Morse code! There could be one telegraph system for general information and long conversations and another for emergencies, just SOS or MOBS! I’ll try and get a few mates to join one of these with me over summer!

        Anyway, like I said, mobs are no longer a problem and my main cause of death is falling due to careless roof-farming incidents. I like the idea of specialized creepers e.g water and fire, but I think that if they targeted human structures the game would become a chore, you’d be afraid to leave the house in case you returned to find your farm in tatters or worse, the chest where you kept your diamonds and iron destroyed! Perhaps if this was an option to turn on or off, a creeper toggle menu with three options: OFF, TARGET PLAYER or TARGET STRUCTURES.

        I’d also like the option to “Send wave” where a vast wave of enemies, perhaps a few creeps to open the defenses, then zombies to pour in while skeletons provided covering fire. Something to really test your defenses when you’ve become too strong to be threatened by the usual mob trickle

  33. rofltehcat says:

    Hm… nothing to do after you keep the monsters out? And the first day is the hardest?

    You know this makes me remember a game I played a few years ago. I think is was called Stranded. I don’t know if there is a non-German version of it but you should definately check it out if you are bored with having beaten the minecraft survival mode.

    The game sends you to an island where you stranded. You have to collect wood, stones etc. and build stuff from it like in mine craft. There are lions and other stuff on the island so you have to hide on trees for the first nights. Later you have a comparable experience to minecraft because you can just kill the lions or have a tree house.
    But at least it lets you know when you won (built a boat, left the island) and it is great fun for a few hours worth of game time.

    Other than that I like your analysis of the creeper design. Strange that they put that thing in the game because I think instant death is one of the worst game design mistakes you can make.

    If the creepers were able to identify human-built structures they could even attack them directly. I can definately see a siege with a large castle, a vast army of creeps and several players inside the fortress to be fun.

  34. Fat Tony says:

    Shmaus,Josh,Mumbles & Ruts why not do a seires called
    MineCuthed, eh? I’d watch Redginald Boxbert bunny hopping about with a sword murdering thing it could be like a what not to do in minecraft / minecraft tutorial.

  35. Herman says:

    Re: your Honor System and permanent deaths
    Besides automatically deleting after you die, they should have a “ghost mode” where the player can wander the world but not interact with any blocks. It would be pointless to try to continue playing that way, but you could still see everything you’d done.

    • Tomulus says:

      How about it freezes everything how it was at the last moment before death. I’m imagining the players corpse in mid air, surrounded by flying blocks caused by the fatal creeper attack, while arrows arc in from the skeleton that had distracted you.

      I think it would be cool to see this scene from various angles.

  36. Johan says:

    “Imagine the battle of Helm’s Deep if the orcs forgot to bring ladders”
    Make the creeper into that one guy who brought *gunpowder*

  37. Hal says:

    Oh. Oh god. I Want to be the Guy? Shamus, why would you even mention that here? That is the very epitome of DIAS gameplay.

    I tried it, once. I spent . . . I dunno, 20 minutes? Just trying to see how far I could go. Then I uninstalled it. Then I looked at the forums. People were talking about levels far, far past where I went. Many levels. Many many levels. And I have to wonder . . . just how many hours of their lives did these poor souls sacrifice to that abominable pitboss?

    • Will says:

      There have been several let’s plays of IWBTG, a couple were even blind. It’s fairly common for the LPer to break down into tears and screaming somewhere around the halfway – two thirds mark.

      • Andrew says:

        So long as you don’t play on an absurd difficulty level, IBWTG shouldn’t be a ridiculous time-sink. Checkpoints are fairly frequent. Yes, the game will constantly kill you in stupid ways, but you’ll quickly work out how it’s doing it and how to get past it.

  38. Miral says:

    Just a few corrections: most mobs can see through walls, all mobs can climb ladders (and spiders can climb any vertical surface), and while creepers have no idle sound they do make walking and falling/injury noises. (Just like the player, in fact.)

    I’ve never had much trouble with creepers. Sure, I’ve been jumped a few times, but I usually play so as to minimise the chances of that happening, and even when it does happen I try to always have an escape route in mind so I can just leg it the instant I hear the SSSSSS. I’ve been playing for months and only died a couple of times (and none of those was a creeper).

    Also, armour helps. A LOT. With a decent amount of armour even a right-in-your-face creeper explosion won’t kill you (but you will need new armour).

    The new spider climbing ability has me worried, though.

  39. Slothful says:

    Wait a second…what’s all this?

    Everyone’s talking about the enemies, but there is no mention of Ghasts or Zombie Pigmen?

    Stop talking about winning the game and go back and colonize the Nether!

  40. Mattias42 says:

    Regarding creepers…

    Couldn’t it be so that they’re simple a higher tier enemy of what have been added SO far?

    I mean Notch did hint about adding DRAGONS a couple of months ago…

    • Andrew says:

      If that’s the case, the game could do with some sort of system that upped the challenge slowly, allowing your presumably increased wealth and access to stuff to keep pace with the level of challenge. There are loads of ways this could work: tougher monsters deeper down, specific areas with tougher monsters that you can choose to visit when you’re ready, increased difficulty of spawns each day (to some limit, presumably)…
      At present, there’s no way to avoid Creepers before you’re ready to face them.

      Actually the Nether goes some way to doing this in part.

  41. HeroOfHyla says:

    Shamus, have you tried Haven and Hearth? It’s a free java MMO that has the same kind of concept as Ddwarf Fortress or Minecraft: the players shape the world. It starts out as a simple grassy/foresty area (no deserts as far as I know), and players can gather, forage, build, and hunt to survive. It’s very interesting stuff.

    Death is permanent in the game. If your Hard HP goes to 0, you die. You can make a new character and have him be the descendant of your old character if you want your previous character’s property and 25%-75% of his experience points transferred to your new guy.
    http://i55.tinypic.com/1zya5gk.jpg Every house, fence, etc. you see in this screenshot was built by the players. Specifically, there are around 5 of us living in this little village.

  42. Multivector says:

    Erm, I really don’t agree with all your Creeper analysis there. True, they can one-shot you if they explode when very close, but more often than not they explode a short distance away and do less damage. If you’ve heard the hiss and reacted appropriately you should have put some distance between yourself and the creeper. Also: wear armor.

    Never been killed by a zombie? Really? Then you’ve never met a drop zombie. This is where the zombie falls down on you from an unseen ledge and suddenly you have to deal with a zombie in the face. I get killed by drop zombies/spiders quite a bit.

  43. Gndwyn says:

    Shamus, I think many of the issues you mention are caused more by the way you’ve chosen to play than the actual game balance.

    Zombies, skeletons, and spiders are no threat if you stay safe within your fortress (which is trivially true even on the first night if you do nothing but dig a hole two cubes deep and cover the top).

    But what about exploring natural caverns? When I find a really big cave that branches six ways into darkness with several dark ledges up where I almost didn’t notice them, that scares me even if I’ve got a bow, quiver-full of arrows, full iron armor, and a pockets full of mushrooms soup. Trying to light up a big, branching cave while keeping an eye on all the dark places at your back is still a big challenge.

    For me, the game is not so much about creating a safe fortress as it is about a frontier between light/safety and darkness/danger. Exploring a cavern and expanding that frontier is the part that I find the most exciting and scary. Of course I also love the building and collecting parts which scratches different itches.

    Also, the game is not really balanced right now for start-over-when-you-die hardcore play. For instance, creepers are scary not just because they kill you, but because they put a horrible hole in whatever you’re working on. But the way you’re playing, a successful creeper doesn’t damage your base, it destroys your entire world.

    When you play with respawning, the danger of death is losing your inventory and getting dumped back to your spawn point. No big deal if you just hang around your spawn point building a castle where you store most of your stuff. But if you’re off having adventures and collecting stuff far from home, you have more interesting choices. You can’t just hide in your castle when it gets dark. Do I keep going and risk losing what I have? Do I build a chest to store it some of it? How will I find that chest later? Do I want to risk using my diamond pick exploring this dark cavern?

    And when you die far from home, losing pockets full of valuable stuff, you get the fun of dashing back to find the place you died (assuming you weren’t lost at the time), often rushing nearly empty-handed into danger. That is fun and exciting.

  44. MrWhales says:

    I like the collateral damagae creeper idea. My only problem with it is that i barely ever play singleplayer…..
    i’m usually on The Escapist server(out of habit) and sometimes on Twentymine(just to check in) But creepers are a super problem with me in multiplayer too.. The only reason i don’t keep out in the wilderness more is because every night it seems like more creepers spawn near my building site.

  45. PBNJSandwedge says:

    I agree with this. When I played Minecraft (obsessively, for several weeks), I got SO SICK of creepers. They spawned in huge numbers, and, since my base was a shallow hobbit-type hole as well, they FOLLOWED ME AROUND on my roof, popping up at whatever door I came out of.

    It all came to a head one morning when I punched a hole in my roof to add a skylight and two creepers fell on top of me. I shrieked, “I QUIT!” and then switched to peaceful.

    It wasn’t the damage they did to my base (I rather liked making the repairs). It was the deaths. I died to them at least once a day, and each night, there were more…

  46. rrgg says:

    To an extent I think you’re right, playing on easy or even normal I’ve never really found creepers to be a major threat, in fact, each morning when I saw them outside my first thought is usually “yay, gunpowder”.

    Worst common mob by far is the skeleton, even on easy when you meet them all you can do is run, there is no gain or purpose to fighting them. Using close combat is extremely risky and impossible without losing health while a bow mearly means you’re wasting ammo against an enemy that can respawn an infinite number of times.

    If the game needed to be harder all you would have to do is make it so that skeletons and zombies don’t burn up in the daytime.

  47. Rachel says:

    You know there are mods on the minecraft forums that can give you more or better game play? There are mods that add more monsters, including Ogres that smash through walls! Have a look at http://www.minecraftforum.net/viewforum.php?f=25 It’s worth your time.

    Mine ON!

  48. Shardas says:

    Heres what i always do. For the first day and night i put it on peaceful, then to make up for that i put it on hard for a minecraft week, then revert to normal. its worked really good for me so far and i think its pretty fair.

  49. Dude1314 says:

    Ok so im just gonna give all of you the rundown for minecraft, ive been playing since the day it was made.
    Though creepers are annoying and yes notch comfirmed that they are green d**ks creepers really dont need new types, there abilty to to hid right around the corner has made me laugh super hard. As for the super creeper fans a mod called you are the creeper for beta 1.40_01 that lets you play as a creeper.

  50. ant100vx says:

    i think that creepers should have louder foot steps or have a longer timer you know to get away before the *BOOM* also you could make it impervies to arows so you HAVE to get close

  51. Liamv says:

    i saw a creeper at first time using Minecraft pc gamer Demo getting
    out of a cave when i getting sheeps wool it explode i didnt dead
    my half energy was broken but i gotten one bread and ate it
    thats why i knowed enough of creeper

    From Liamv3

  52. CR4ZYguy says:

    im still wondering where creepers spawn but does any monster spawn only in caves cause i wanna try blocking caves and see the difference with closed caves and open caves see if there are less monsters to fight my minecraft user name is CR4ZYguy and thx for this help

  53. MINECRAFTEIN says:

    I love creepers, they sometimes end up helping me. Like when i go to build a moat around my house they come and blow up the last part of the moat and i’ld say,” Wow…really? Um..thanx.”

    But sometimes there just (words deleted). One time i walked into my home and a damn reverse creeper exploded! Then a bunch of other rascals come in to my house and kill me! ” AAAAHHHHH!! THAT M(unknown language)!!!” The dog i had tamed didn’t make it through the front door! I was collecting them.

  54. rofl says:

    i always stay on top of my tall house shoot monsters with arrows and once i know its safe i get the exp points then a creeper kills me

  55. emilyjade19 says:

    I was on peaceful and seen a creeper and I checked 5 times that I was on peacful and I was

One Trackback

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by StranaMente, Matthias Haan. Matthias Haan said: @notch Pretty cool blog post about Minecraft survival mode, especially creepers: http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=10470 […]

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