5 December 2011

Minecraft Monday #2: The Little Town of Remedy

Minecraft Monday is a fortnightly feature on Hyp/Arc that documents a playthrough of the hit indie game Minecraft, as well as discussing news and updates regarding the game and the cult phenomenon surrounding it.


In Minecraft Monday #1, we bade farewell to "Alexander Province", the map I played through after the colossal Adventure Update of Minecraft. In this week's installment, you'll be introduced that map's successor, "Alexander County", and the story of the little town of Remedy, a village founded on suicidal peril, sinister clergy, and prison camp architecture!

The Little Town of Remedy, Alexander County

Alexander County is a pleasant place. One could say it's... peaceful. By which I mean, "I started playing Alexander County on the Peaceful difficulty setting so that no monsters would spawn and explode and destroy everything I held dear." I know - it's rich of me, considering that I have previously mentioned how I love Minecraft's horrific wee beasties, but when I'm just starting out, I like to make sure I've got defenses in place so that when I make the jump back to Easy/Normal mode, I have some ability to mitigate damage.

Which resulted in this.

That's right. One of my very first ventures in Alexander County was to immediately navigate towards the nearest village (in the seed I use, "July", there are four villages close together), and build a wall around the entire settlement. Okay, it's a little containment-camp-y, but I had good intentions! You see, the villagers that were wandering about the town seemed rather unprepared for the challenge that was life; they were capable of nothing other than staring, walking, and jumping. These things they did with little critical thinking, often blithely walking down stair-like descents near cliffs without being able to contemplate how to get back up, or else wandering off into the wilderness, so that every so often out of the fog of limited draw distance, I would see the ungainly gait of a villager ambling pointlessly far away from the perimeter of the town. As such, I wanted to make sure none of the villagers scarpered off into the big bad County and happened upon a hole leading down to an unmonitored cave. How could I live with myself if the last thing my bizarre-headed constituents ever experienced was the horrific crunch of their blocky feet colliding with cruel, immovable stone in a pitch-dark cave populated by legions of the dead, before they evaporated into nothingness? Exactly. And that's the same reason why I made sure every villager was locked in their homes until the village wall had been finished and all the exposed mineshafts had been blocked up. Their compulsory quarantine and interminable curfew was for their own good.

The day after the completion of the Great Wall, the villagers were released from their mandatory house arrests and allowed to roam freely(ish) through the town. They seemed rather taken with the building on the left, which was the first house I built when I arrived. The house on the right was my own home, kept shut with an iron door and a button mechanism lest the villagers decide it might be great fun to check out the mineshaft leading down to the bedrock under the property. I also introduced a set of dirt steps on the great wall, for my own purposes - it was to make sure I could ascend the battlements and fend off any approaching enemies with a bow if need be...

Suicide Circle

Unfortunately, I didn't realise that the villagers were dubiously blessed with some rudimentary pattern-recognition in their blocky brains; they were able to understand the concept of "stairs", perhaps as a result of their village containing a number of step-like rises and falls along the paths. I found this out the hard way.
I was walking through the village en route to the swimming pool I had created, admiring the rich tones of the sunset on the horizon, when I saw something...

I paused for a moment, and realised with horror what I was looking at.

One of the villagers, moved by The Wall into a depression that could not be stared away, walked from or jumped out of, had decided to end his life by that self-same wall. I bolted down the twilit road, gravel thrown up at my heels, and talked him down. By which I mean I pushed him back down, one stair at a time.
I believed that it was just this one individual. This one person was granted just enough intelligence to convince himself that he was so insignificant compared to the might of The Wall, that The Wall should take his life.

I was wrong.

Even the town physician was not immune to the siren call of The Wall.

For some, the prospect of The Wall was too daunting - but the abandoned building that housed a set of stairs leading to the roof was more amenable.
Memetic suicide attempts were running rampant throughout my little unnamed village, the Hundredth Monkey effect at work before my eyes. There was only one thing I could think to do.

A fence that prevented villagers leaping to their deaths. I had created a Foxconn-like village where suicide was rampant and visible but unmentionable and taboo. Something had to give. And so, The Wall was ripped up, and The Fence was set down.

The Great Fence Regeneration

The Fence was a two block high enclosure that completely replaced the wall. Villagers could look out onto vast tracts of wilderness and verdant slopes surrounding the village. To improve morale further, a number of new projects sprung up, like the Varonese River Plaza, named after Remedios Varo, one of my favourite painters.

The church, too, was scheduled for demolition. A few days before the wall came down, there upper walls of the church had turned a horrific red, and an ominous glow emanated through the windows of the highest chambers. The priest had taken to peering out of the windows at his congregation, never coming down from the mezzanine room between the belfry and the chapel proper, leading us all to wonder, what's he building in there...?

We didn't wait to find out. A few stacks of TNT and a heap of cobblestone were thrown hither and thither, an explosion occured, and out of the ashes...

...rose the new chapel! The building was given the name "Remedy Parish Chapel", thus finally christening our hitherto-unnamed town "Remedy".

The priest, however, was still content to remain inside his conclave, scrutinising all who passed by with his holier-than-thou snarl and trying to look intimidatingly tall by standing on the pews.

The regeneration of the town continued. The smith had wandered off and gotten lost in the wilderness in the first days of my arrival at Remedy, and so, in his absence, the smithy was given over to a pair of artisans, Varrington and Fihno (named after a number of Surrealist painters, namely Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington, Leonor Fini, and Frida Kahlo).

Given how sinister the priest was becoming, I decided to introduce a mitigating force in the town to oppose his doubtlessly evil machinations - the Remedy Village Mason's society. Their chapterhouse was initially me attempting to make the flat block where I live in Minecraft, but after playing about with it, I decided it'd be much better off as a horrifically intimidating monolith of esoterica. Being that Remedy exists on a Survival Single-Player map and the villagers are unable to lift blocks, I am apparently the de facto Master Mason of Remedy. In fact, I'm the only Mason. Although perhaps Endermen could petition to join, since they can pick up blocks and whatnot? I wouldn't mind sharing the halls of the Chapterhouse with a couple of Endermasons.

And so, we come to the conclusion of our trek through the history of the little town of Remedy. I hope you've had a wonderful time witnessing the near-decline of my tiny Minecraft society due to the spread of suicide memes and the rise of a colossal construction built to house the Minecraft-Mason's society that consists of a whole one Minecraft-Mason!  I haven't yet been able to introduce you all to the Alexander County Deep Earth Society, the Redstone Cross Shrine, the Dali Gallery or Ender Lake, so make sure you tune in two weeks from now for the next installment of Minecraft Monday! Til then -


(Incidentally, my avatar's skin comes from alex_dlc's amazing Conan O'Brien skin, with slight alterations by yours truly.)

NEXT - MINECRAFT MONDAY #3: The Disappearance of Father Scowell »

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