Minecraft: Go East

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Feb 22, 2011

Filed under: Game Reviews 58 comments

At first I was obsessed with the peaceful sandboxy building mode of Minecraft. When I finally got tired of that, I discovered multiplayer. Once I got out of rehab from that I played in hardcore mode. And after a few weeks of self-destructive paranoia I discovered Nomad mode. My own Nomad games go something like this:

  • Go east. (I just like east because it’s nice running into the sunrise every morning.)
  • You can go NE and SE if you like, but going west in order to go around mountains or sail around a land mass is a no-no.
  • You can stop for crafting, as long as you do it in the open. (I think I technically broke this rule when I fell into the cave.)
  • Stopping in the middle of the water and waiting for the sun to rise is RIGHT OUT.
  • Tunneling is discouraged but not forbidden. The goal is to see the world, not tunnel under it Bugs-Bunny style.

Here is a video I made of a 5-day Nomad game:

Link (YouTube)

Here is the resulting world map:

Click for gargantuan 1.5MB 12,280×992 image.
Click for gargantuan 1.5MB 12,280×992 image.

In the video comments someone suggested a castaway mode, where you confine yourself to a single island. I haven’t thought about the rules I’d use to keep that interesting. (It would be nice if there was a way to generate the world so that you only HAD one island.)

Nomad mode gave me an idea for Zax mode, where you MUST travel in one cardinal direction, without deviation. This would actually be very hard, especially at first. You couldn’t get wood unless your path led you through or near a tree. Running into stone before you managed to get wood for your pickaxe wouldn’t technically end your game, but the resulting dig would be so tedious it would probably be better to start over anyway. I don’t know if this mode could stay interesting, though.

To be clear, these different “modes” of play aren’t recognized by the game. These various challenges are entirely invented by players and come about through the use of self-imposed restrictions. I’d like to see the game keep track of various stats: Different types of death, different creatures killed, items eaten, blocks placed and removed, distance traveled, etc etc etc.

Another idea is for it to assign titles the way Nethack does, so that you can look at your stats and see various descriptors you’ve earned. If you’ve never killed anything, never eaten meat, and never been swimming, it would show you were a pacifist vegetarian aquaphobe. If you’ve only eaten meat, you’ve never died, and you’ve never worn armor, you’d be a carnivorous immortal nudist. These could lead to other interesting challenges.

I briefly considered playing Vampire mode, where you can’t go into direct sunlight. Except, that one doesn’t seem as interesting if the game isn’t enforcing it. Accidentally breaching your roof and getting a blast of sunlight to the face should burn the crap out of you, but if the game isn’t playing along then it sort of takes the sense of danger out of it. I suppose you could set yourself on fire on purpose, but that’s not really the same, is it?

This damn game. If it wasn’t for this thing I’d probably have written two books by now. Still, I can’t think of another game that’s given me this much for just $15.


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58 thoughts on “Minecraft: Go East

  1. Falcon_47 says:

    I said it in your youtube video and i say it again: that night music and arrow sounds FREAK ME THE RIGHT OUT XD. As for Vampire mode how hard can it be to implement a mod to make you burn much like zombies and skeletons, that or a new idea for a game mode (more like a difficulty extra option) to send to notch. Lets just wait and hope adventure mode brings some nice changes.

    1. Jjkaybomb says:

      Vampire. Hardcore Mode. you START in sunlight, so its extra dangerous!

      1. Falcon_47 says:

        Opps, your’re right, forgot about that. Still it’s not impossible to do i guess, mods are exactly made to overcome such programing obstacles >_<. That actually made me think: are we ever gonna have a vampire mob in the game? The first dracula movie scary kind, not twilight kind, mkay…

        1. Christopher M says:

          I think a vampire mob that inflicts temporary (day-long) vampirism when it bites you (you burn in sunlight, same as skeletons etc.) would be a really interesting thing to add…

        2. Tomulus says:

          On the other hand it can’t be too hard to implement a mod that makes you sparkle in daylight…

      2. AbruptDemise says:

        Considering you start in sunlight, Vampire mode would have to allow some health regeneration in the dark. Otherwise, the first day would be the end of every game, especially for those unlucky players that spawn in desert biomes.

        Unless night and day were reversed, ie the player starts at night, a Vampire mode would take a lot of tweaking (or an ambitious mod-maker) to work properly.

        1. aaron says:

          or it could have the ability to open doors so it could bit you if you got to bed, and you would wake up with maybe a semi-permanent 2 hearts of damage and you need some kind of plant to cure it?

  2. Another_Scott says:

    What a cool idea! I really need to go try this…

  3. Jjkaybomb says:

    This kindve play makes me think that it really would be cool to implement the a rare pigmen settlement spawn into the game. Or just a random house with a bed in it. Maybe make a rule that you can use them for protection for one night, if it is night. Or a rule that you have to ignore them….
    Either way, I think it would add a cool flavor, or at least flesh out the personal narritive. You’re not just wandering across an endless and interesting wasteland, but a mostly unsettled and dangerous one.

  4. Sucal says:

    You paid 15 dollars for it? I only paid around ten, and I’m in australia, land of the ripoff.

    1. Falcon_47 says:

      Thats because you got it (like me) during alpha, beta’s price’s around 15, and i guess i heard somewhere the full prince is to be set at 20, don’t know for sure (although when that happens everyone on the planet will probably already have played the game :P).

    2. modus0 says:

      That’s because the Alpha price of 9.99 Euro is about 15 USD (when Shamus bought the game). The current euro price of 14.95 is 20.39 USD.

      It may be that you got the game during a sale, or earlier than the Alpha release, and thus paid less.

  5. Kasper says:

    Haha I almost sprayed coffee all over my keyboard upon hearing the tweeting cows. They must have a hell of an identity crisis in speedloops.

    Edit: now that I hear them again, they’re actually more like startled guinea pigs

  6. RussellEldrin says:

    Hey, I’m sure this has been asked before, but Shamus, I was wondering what you used to generate that map, I would love to be able to print out my minecraft zones as a before and after, just to see how much I’ve changed a world.

    1. MrWhales says:

      The only problem with a before/after map, is that you would have to fully explore whatever land you were going to use before touching it at all. The game doesnt generate the chunks until you see them first hand, which is why you can plainly see that Shamus went one direction

  7. Strangeite says:

    When I got bored building random stuff, I started my current project. A 1:1 rough recreation of Our Lady of Flanders’ Cathedral of Tournai in Belgium.

    It is tedious. The planning is excruciating and getting materials is frustrating. However there is something surprisingly soothing about the project.

  8. jokermatt999 says:

    Reminds me a bit of Towards Dawn. This guy continually traveled east during the day, and made simple shelters at night.


    (Yes, this actually legit, despite being a random blogspot link in a random post. Hopefully the spambot monster won’t eat it.)

    1. Davie says:

      It’s a great blog. Too bad he stopped updating it,.

      1. jokermatt999 says:

        Haha, he updated today!

        It’s unlikely, but I’d like to think it was connected with me posting that link.

      2. That’s my blog, and I’m sorry I stopped updating. It wasn’t intentional!

        I’ve got Day 41 played and will hopefully get that written up soon.

        Really want it going more regularly again but alas, life keeps getting in the way -.-

    2. wererogue says:

      I really enjoy that blog :)

  9. Chris says:

    There was a Minecraft video series Berticus Heads North, where each episode is a single day of him traveling only northwards. The series was meant to end whenever he died. He spent his nights safely underground (unfilmed) mining ore. Interestingly, he came across several surface-level dungeon spawners during his trip.

    As for camping at night, part of the series took place during the period just after Halloween when the spawn rates were cranked way up, and it became just about impossible to travel outside at night (or deep underground either). The series also took place across the biome update, so there’s a dramatic change in the landscape in the middle of one of the episodes.

  10. confanity says:

    Silly quibble, but in “You can go NW and SE,” you mean “You can go NE or SE,” right?

    That said, I love the site, and your posts about Minecraft have brought me closer than anything else to spending some of my money and all of my time on it. Good luck with the book!

  11. Simon says:

    Have you seen the crazy map generator mods people are making?

    Could make exploring more interesting, and maybe allow you to do that castaway thing, but maybe on an island in the sky instead of the sea?

    Btw you HAVE to check out this blog about making a high-detail procedural voxel-world! It’s got some really AMAZING screenshots and interesting technical details.

    1. psivamp says:

      No. Don’t show me these things. I just bought the OpenGL SuperBible…
      I’m taking a full load of courses and all I really want to do is write unrelated code…

      Translation: This is quite fascinating.

    2. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

      You just booked the rest of my week, thank you!

    3. Jan de Wit says:

      I’m going to work with the current maintainer of the Biome mod to integrate my own mod, which moves the height limit from 128 to 256/512/1024. Then stuff will really get awesome crazy :)

      Shameless plug: http://www.minecraftforum.net/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=178787

  12. SolkaTruesilver says:

    I believe the next step for this game is to have some social generators. Meaning there should be some small tribes of beings spawning here and there that you can meet in your travels. Some are hostiles, some are friendly. Some trade stuff with you, some steal you outright.

    With long ennough, there can eventually have bigger civilisation emerging and gathering tribles in a single city.

    *sigh* on can dream, eh?

      1. SolkaTruesilver says:


        I shall play a Dwarf, and go all Kore-like to genocide all goblins from the face of Minecraft world! :-)

        A man alone, on his quest for blood. Sounds epic!

  13. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Ahh yes, I’ve seen a few of those thought it’s really not my thing to play, I would just stop every couple of minutes and go like “awwwww, such a great place to build something”. Though to be honest I am experiencing a bit of a minecraft fatigue, not regretting the money spent as it gave me many more hours of fun than many of the “big brand” games, but I am giving it a bit of a rest and hoping for some more goal oriented and less sandboxy gamemodes in the future, or at least something to put some growing pressure on the player.

  14. Axcalibar says:

    Here’s your pre-made “castaway” island map. Saw it in a let’s play on Youtube.


  15. Clint Olson says:

    For what it’s worth, there’s a multiplayer mod available for Bukkit (the new server mod system) that enforces the die-in-sunlight thing. Specifically, it generalizes the game’s “monsters die in sunlight” to “mobs in group X die in sunlight”, and yes, that group can include players.

  16. RTBones says:

    I think the proper term for this game is MineCRACK, not Minecraft.

    Bought it just after it went Beta, so I paid ~$20 for it. Have to say, like you, I have not gotten this much out of a game in a long time. Of course, I had only heard of it through your blog, Shamus. The screen captures you posted here were all I had seen. So, being the enginerd that I am, I did a little research. And by research, I mean doing an ever so casual two minute perusal of You Tube looking for videos about the game…which led me to two separate Lets Play series…which I watched back-to-back…which took some time…which taught me about the game…which encouraged me to purchase it…which led me to install it and play it…which managed to somehow eat away at my life – one weekend, night turned into day, and I said to myself,”wait, why is it light out? isnt it…HOLY CRAP!”

    Some random thoughts and observations from a new player:

    — Light up an area of grass with torches, and it will eventually fill with farm animals

    — Leave the door open to your base, and it will eventually fill with farm animals

    — It doesnt matter how hard it was to reach the top of a mountain. If there are torches there, you will eventually be joined by farm animals

    — If you light the entrance to a cave, and leave a way in (presuming you light the cave as you go), you will be joined by farm animals

    — If you drop torch markers to mark your path and revisit them, you will find farm animals at your marker

    — I have heard of both dungeons and slimes, and have yet to encounter either after approximately 5 worlds

    — I havent built a farm, greenhouse, or monster trap yet

    — I think I sometimes dislike skeletons more than creepers

    — Dropping TNT down a deep hole and making it go boom is hilarious…especially if I can hear monsters at the bottom.

    — Cobblestones are great for marking an area underground that is easy to get lost in

    — Signs help too

    — Gravel makes a great elevator

    I have also played somewhat of a nomad-styled game, with a bit of a twist. I build a small base, get some basic resources and a truckload of torches. I then travel as far as I can by day, dropping a “torch marker” (one cobblestone with a torch on top) to guide my way every so often. End of the day, I build a new small hidey-hole and work resources (stone, coal, wood) at night. Next day, I begin my trek again, though not necessarily in the same direction – just not back to the start. Sometimes I try to get to the top of a mountain. Sometimes I try to get to an island. If I build a larger hidey-hole at any point, I mark the area with a “stair step” of cobblestones with torches on each step. This has lead me to build:

    — several small homes I stayed at for a few days
    — one mid-sized tower to so I could learn construction techniques
    — one monster tower (10 blocks above sea level to above the clouds) to say that I had built one. It had an outside “elevator” platform about 20 blocks up for an express route down
    — a “road” directly through a mountain because I was too lazy to go up or around. Literally dug in a straight line until I came out the other side. Got 4 blocks of coal and 2 blocks of iron for my trouble
    — a “bridge to nowhere” with cobblestones, just because I wanted to see what was on an island and didnt want to build a boat.

    Minecrack. Just sayin’….

    1. psivamp says:

      I count myself lucky that I didn’t catch the Minecraft/MineCRACK bug. The tabula rasa mode just overwhelms me. Given the option of doing anything, I can’t think of anything — that and I couldn’t figure out how to do anything.

      The full version sounds interesting, but I’m loathe to pay up before seeing it for myself. And the whole I’m trying to graduate and keep breathing bit…

      1. RTBones says:

        Honestly, I had the same trepidation about not seeing the full game before I bought it. I needn’t have worried. As I mention at the top of my post, this is one of those rare games that has given me back what I paid for it. At ~14EUR/~$20, it works for me. Had this been a $50 retail game, I would never have taken the chance. Additionally, as a former software developer, I’m happy to support a developer putting out a good product – particularly one not working for one of the “big software houses”.

        But that’s just me.

      2. Heron says:

        I felt the same way. Then two days ago my friend gifted me a copy.

        I think he ruined my life.

      3. daveNYC says:

        It’s got more than enough functionality to make it worth the $20. Any more features that get added are gravy.

        Wait until you graduate though. It’s a hellacious time sink.

  17. Airsoftslayer93 says:

    would be interesting to try this as a group on a multiplayer server, on hard difficulty, we did something similar on the twentymine server when it switched to survival once, heading to a building that we knew had arrows, it wasnt to difficult because we all had full diamond armour, but i suppose it would be worse without anything

    1. SolkaTruesilver says:

      Can you hit each other in MP mode?

      There should be some MP contest of “capture the Gem” on the map. No tactics disallowed.

  18. BeardedDork says:

    About three minutes into the video my son needed something so I automatically hit ESC to pause the game and was confused when it didn’t work. Then I felt dumb.

    1. Bit says:

      I found myself awkwardly groping for the “S” key during the Creeper part. OH GOD RUN AWAY RUN AWAY…

  19. rayen says:

    I’m doing my sightseeing thing. I spend my time spelunking and traveling the vast exspanses looking for the cool the weird and the awesome. It’s all natural too. I make my home and then explore, making several smaller homes for protection and supplies.it’s fun and i’m getting cool screenshots. The tech to make these landscapes is awesome and glitches just give it life instead of making it look like a mistake.

  20. Eric Meyer says:

    Speaking of Bugs Bunny, how about a gametype where you try to reach a specific point on the map by only tunneling? Not sure how that would work either (as I’ve been strenuously avoiding Minecraft due to really needing the time that I have)””maybe you stay aboveground long enough to make a decent axe and then start digging””but it could be interesting. Maybe.

  21. Kale says:

    You could try a variation on this where you can deviate from a single pixel line of walking but you have to try as much as possible to remain on the same elevation, whether by building bridges or making tunnels. Call it Trail Blazer or something.

  22. David H. says:

    My only criticism of your glorious adventure is that you should have gone the other direction, called the plan “Go West,” and scored the resulting video to the Pet Shop Boys.

    Still, genius.

  23. BenD says:

    What’s the sorta monolith like thing at 8:56?

  24. Novotny says:

    Excellent vid, Shamus.

    Offtopic: Would anyone be able to suggest a youtube video that would introduce Minecraft well to someone that plays very little video games? As in, my Mum. I think she could love it, but clearly how I introduce it is essential.

    She’ll not buy it without some understanding of what it is. My explanation seemed to vaguely interest her, but she was definitely confused. Thanks in advance.

    1. Chris Robertson says:

      Paul Soares Jr’s “How to survive your first night”:


      He continues from there eventually changing the title to “How to survive and thrive”.

      1. Novotny says:

        Thank you very much – I’ll look it over and email her a link.

        edit:: oh that’s brilliant – much better than I could have hoped. Thank you so much!!

  25. Elilupe says:

    Just wondering, does anyone know what program Shamus uses to get that map of his Minecraft game? I’m sure he has said what it is before but I cant be troubled to look for it.

  26. Maldeus says:

    How are you making those maps? Getting a bird’s eye view of my Minecraft server would be extremely useful.

  27. Tever says:

    If it wasn't for this thing I'd probably have written two books by now.

    No, don’t worry. Speaking from personal experience, you’d have just found something less awesome to occupy your time. Like endless solitaire. Procrastination is an essential part of the writing process.

  28. Tomulus says:

    Now I am VERY tempted to try such a mission. The first ever time I played Minecraft, I didn’t realise that each time I died, I respawned in the same world. It seems I marched out in a different direction from the spawn each time and built a castle whenever I found a nice geographical feature.

    When I finally noticed something I had previously built, I had the greatest fun re-discovering long lost bases. Some I hadn’t seen in weeks!

  29. Brandon says:

    This may interest you: http://mc.42nex.us/

    It’s a tool that you can use to either get the seed from your save file, OR, the cool part, have it modify your level.dat with your location and plop you down up to *ten kilometers* away from your spawn. It changes nothing else.


  30. My favorite gamemode so far is Moleman. When you spawn, you have until the sun starts going down to gather materials. As soon as it begins to darken, you must locate a place to start digging, with the goal to be underground by midnight. Once there, you must never go outside again.

    If you come across the outside while digging, you must block it up and work around it. Trees and crops become rare pieces of treasure, and there’re no livestock to get stuff like ham from.

    After a few playthroughs, the only modification I made is that the initial dig-site must be on, or near, your spawn, so that you can head straight back when you die – but it has to be blocked up again when underground. It’s a lot of fun!

  31. rrgg says:

    I remember when I first started playing I didn’t know that you could regrow reeds (I was expecting books to be a rare and valuable commodity just like in the real middle ages). So I went on long trips at sea around the world searching for paper making materials. I lived off the land and had to set up monster proof camps each night just to stay alive (although sometimes I didn’t stay alive and lost all my stuff), in my mind I would I would be going on adventures and writing these volumes of books about my experiences, it was a load of fun.
    Eventually I amassed a collection of 3 whole bookshelves and I felt like a king until a glance at the wiki ruined it for me.

    I haven’t done it since (to busy) but if you need something interesting to do you could try creating a library using only wild reeds. The only thing I would warn you about is that bookshelves can’t be picked back up once you place them.

  32. Uristqwerty says:

    When I first read this blog post, I started thinking of alternate game modes, and thought of “werecraft”: Minecraft, but with the restriction that certain actions can only be done during the day, and others only during the night. This would be a very flexible limitation to put on top of another way to play the game.

    I just started trying to play, and decided on the limit that actions that remove blocks can only be done during the day, and creating them only at night. Extending that to items means that crafting can only be done during the brief moments at dawn and dusk where both the sun and moon are visible at the same time.

    Currently on world seed 5, middle of the first night, cowering behind a large ring of cacti (seed 5 has a nice desert-mingled-with-grass spawn area, with the desert having a hill with a relatively steep cliff-ish drop on one side, so it was a lucky choice). I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

    Edit: Died on first night: A zombie climbed the 1-block high wall before it grew, I retreated off the back cliff, and suddenly I found myself on the creeper-filled side of what used to be a semi-protective barrier. However, it was rather fun. Will try again on another world.

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