Mining My Own Business

If you know me, you probably know that I’ve been obsessed with Minecraft since back in the days when it was in Beta; I don’t remember the exact version number, but it was definitely earlier than Beta 1.8. Anyway, it’s one of my favorite games, for no particular reason except that I think it’s a lot of fun, and I enjoy building and exploring the worlds. Now I’ve found a game that may rival Minecraft in both its level of addiction and it’s goal of simplicity. Sounds tough, right? Enter Terraria. It’s a computer side-scroller running either 16 bit or 32 bit graphics, by my guess, and I guess the easiest way to explain it is that it’s like Minecraft with more of a goal, a much more refined collection of NPCs, a much better executed commerce system, a hell of a lot more enemies, hundreds more items, ores, gems, treasures, etc., ad infinitum. But at their cores, the games are quite comparable. So this week I’m going to steal emptynight’s specialty and give you a rundown of both games. Pictures will be included.

As most people surfing the Internet know by now, Minecraft is one of the biggest crazes in the computer gaming community. The indie game created by a man who calls himself “Notch” exploded into the mainstream and gained possibly the fastest growing fanbase in recent memory. The point of the game is… well, there really isn’t a point. You have an entire infinite world to explore. You build things, fight enemies, go mining (of course) for valuable resources — coal, iron, gold, diamond, and some other goodies — and basically just enjoy yourself. As the game has grown so too have the options for play; there is the default Survival mode, where after you start you must collect resources starting from scratch — so, wood tools, then stone, until you find more resources — and, as the name suggests, survive in this strange new world. That means staying safe from and/or killing enemies — so you’ll need a sword and a shelter — as well as keeping yourself from starving, drowning, falling from a great height, etc. In Survival, though, dying is more of a nuisance than anything else. On death, you’ll drop everything you were carrying and return to your spawn point. If you know where you died, you can get your stuff back. And even if you can’t get it back, you’ll be pissed at your wasted work, but you’re likely to find replacements for whatever you dropped.

Minecraft Spawn Point
A typical spawn point in Minecraft.

There is also a version of Survival mode called Hardcore, where, if you die, your entire world is deleted. It’s only for really advanced or really masochistic players. Lastly, there is what is possibly my favorite mode of play, Creative mode. In Creative, you can fly, are invincible to all damage no matter the source, and have infinite stock of all items and blocks, including some that you can’t normally get in other game modes, such as the literally unbreakable bedrock block. In Creative you can build massive structures, complex cities, create pixel art out of colored wool — whatever you want to do. It’s a lot of fun, and I’ve spent a lot of time experimenting with things and building cities or big, complex houses just for the hell of it.

The Tardis in Minecraft
My proudest moment — building a massive TARDIS in Minecraft’s Creative mode, with colored wool, iron blocks, glass, and glowstone blocks.

If there ever was game in which you could truly do what you want, Minecraft would be it. Oh, sure, recent updates added a “goal,” as it were — to travel to the dimension called the End (real creative, guys) to kill the Ender Dragon and “win” the game. Which means seeing a very unnerving “credit” roll. I won’t spoil it for you — if you want to see it, go to Youtube. But that’s the only goal, other than the ones you give yourself. The fun is only limited by your creativity.

Now, Terraria plays more like a typical RPG type game. Enemies drop money and items, you can buy different things from specialized vendors after certain conditions have been met, you craft stronger items with new materials (of which there are many), etc. Unlike an RPG, however, it’s totally open-ended. If you’re happy to just use the basic tools you start out with and not progress at all, that’s totally your prerogative. But there’s so much to this game. The mining system is intense, and there are many layers, from the high-up layers of dirt down to the hellish underworld. Players commonly build structures called “hellavators,” which are basically narrow vertical tunnels that run from ground level all the way down to the lowest possible area, the Underworld. Unlike the Nether and the End in Minecraft, there are no alternate realms in Terraria — just everything above-ground, everything underground, and two specialized areas, the Hallow (a blessed area) and the Corruption (an evil area). Both areas harbor special enemies that only appear there, and special blocks that not only can only be found there, but which also act to “spread” the Hallow or the Corruption through the world. In addition to the huge list of items and the vast and varied areas to explore, there are also a ton of enemies to battle, including bosses that you can summon when you’re ready, many of them more than once, by meeting special conditions. In many cases defeating these bosses is the only way to gain access to new areas or new items. So in that sense, it’s a far more traditional game. There’s no Creative mode, though there is a Hardcore mode where the character dies permanently. There are two other settings of difficulty — the character drops money on death, which is the easiest setting, and the character drops items on death, which is, obviously, much harder. When you die, a tombstone will appear which will have the death message on it — things like “[Player Name] was torn apart by Piranha” or “[Player Name] forgot to breathe.” You can later pick up and keep these tombstones, though I don’t think the messages stay. You can, however, put your own messages on them, which is a fun bonus.

Terraria Spawn
A typical Terraria spawn point. Not shown is the invaluable NPC who acts as a guide, giving helpful advice and telling you what you can craft from the items you own.

This of course isn’t even close to all of the content in either of these games, but you can probably get a good idea of what to expect from them. I highly recommend both of them; and while you may, at least to start with, find yourself referring to their respective Wikis often, you’ll also no doubt find that both games are a fun and reward experience.

Oh, did I mention both have online multiplayer? And Minecraft just recently added LAN play? Grab a friend and your favorite pickaxe and start mining! While you’re doing that, don’t forget also to Like us on Facebook and share us with your friends!


Minecraft Official Website:

Minecraft Wiki:

Terraria Official Website:

Terraria Wiki:

13/31 Official Facebook Page:


3 thoughts on “Mining My Own Business

  1. Wow this game seems fantastic I am going to check it out tonight once work is done…question though, are there “levels” in the traditional sense? What are the world designs like?

    I ask because I can’t really think of such an open-ended concept as you’ve described being applied to a side scroller. Even the early Zelda games weren’t technically side scrollers, but from the screenshot you posted it looks like a typical Mario/Sonic game. I’m very interested.


    1. There are no levels whatsoever. Honestly, the best way to describe Terraria is as a side-scrolling version of Minecraft. The worlds generate randomly, and while in a way it does resemble a platformer, it’s most definitely not. It’s a bit difficult to describe, honestly. The best thing to do is to give it a try or at the least watch some videos.


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