Minecraft: inspiration from Hermitcraft

I’ve never really been much of a regular YouTube watcher, and I’d certainly never watched any “Let’s Play” series, but getting into Minecraft has changed that for me.

YouTube was the obvious choice for when I wanted to learn about Redstone or get tips for building. After a while, I realised that there was a big difference between building stuff in Creative mode when compared to Survival mode, and Survival mode was what interested me the most. I started watching some Hermitcraft episodes, and I got hooked in – this was exactly the kind of inspiration I was looking for.

The Hermitcraft server has been going for over five years, but I only started watching it this year. I’m really pleased I found the series and the huge back-catalogue of videos to watch.

Hermitcraft can be considered as the whole community, but fundamentally it is a Minecraft Survival server where around 20 content creators (known as Hermits) work in the same world – mostly producing regular “Let’s Play” video series on YouTube, as well as live streams on Twitch and Mixer.

As I mentioned before it all started with Redstone, I wanted to know how to build some of the contraptions I’d heard about, so I started watching various videos, and I found Mumbo Jumbo.

Mumbo is a content creator from the UK who is well known in the community for his Redstone videos and tutorials, after watching a few of his videos I started watching him play on the Hermitcraft server.

Survival mode is more laborious than Creative; rather than having an unlimited supply of every block variant in the game, you have to go out and gather the resources from the world around you and craft the raw resources into the items you need. You’re also going to need somewhere to store all your stuff (usually known as a “base”) as well as all of the tools, weapons, and armour to be able to survive in the world of hostile mobs, unforgiving lava, and the many stupid mistakes that will happen along the way.

This is how they play on the Hermitcraft server, and this is precisely how I want to play the game.

Mumbo Jumbo may not be the best Minecraft player in the world, but he is extremely entertaining with many endearing characteristics coming through in his videos:

  • He always wants to have a cool (and huge) base
  • There’s always lots of item sorting and storage contraptions
  • He will make way more farms than he could possibly need
  • He never carries a bow with him
  • Creepers will blow him up
  • And he comes across as being honest with his audience and speaking his mind as he plays

(I have to say that I’m always impressed by content creators who take the risk to put themselves out there, but I digress; back to the Minecraft)

After watching many of Mumbo’s videos, I started to branch out to some of the other Hermits including Cubfan, Xisuma, Wellsknight, Scar, False, Rendog and more. Each of the Hermits have their own builds in different areas of the Hermitcraft server, and have collaborated with each other in various ways throughout the years they’ve been playing together.

Between these various players, I’ve got an excellent understanding of what amazing things can be accomplished in Minecraft, as well as the differences in play style between “Builders” and “Technical Players” – and how the lines are often blurred.

Reading between the lines of some of the Hermit’s videos, I’m not sure what the future holds for Hermitcraft. Some of them seem to be suffering from inspirational burnout, whereas others are concerned about dropping viewer counts. (I’d be concerned too, especially with YouTube’s recent monetisation changes…)

Minecraft is more popular than ever, with 74 million active players every month. Hermitcraft will always be a favourite of mine, and I hope the Hermits continue to be inspired and financially incentivised to continue on their creations.

I’ve taken so much inspiration from these creators, and I’m thankful for their hard work. Because of them, I am better at both the building and technical sides of Minecraft, making this hobby even more enjoyable.

Kindle Oasis

I recently got myself a Kindle Oasis to replace the Kindle Paperwhite I got back in 2012. While the Kindle Paperwhite still works, the reason I got myself a Kindle Oasis was not that the old one was defective or broken.

I wanted a new Kindle for one reason: I wanted to read more.

When compared to my previous Kindle the hardware improvements are obvious:

  • The screen is larger and higher resolution
  • The backlight is brighter and much more evenly distributed
  • The device is thinner and lighter, even with the cover on
  • The cover is made of real leather
  • Physical buttons are back
  • The metal construction gives a more premium feel
  • It is finally waterproof

While I didn’t have a 2016 version of the Kindle Oasis, I did think it was a little odd that it wasn’t waterproof. Amazon has rectified the situation with the 2017 model. At last, people can use the Kindle Oasis in the bath* or by the pool.

The cover for me is a big part of what I like about the Kindle Oasis. I enjoy the way it feels. However this appears to be one of the most controversial parts of the device from a hardware point of view; I’ve seen people dislike it because of the magnets that connect it to the back, as well as complaints about the leather being easy to mark.

Personally, neither of these two issues have been a problem for me at all, the way I use the device has never resulted in the cover coming off by mistake, and I love how the leather looks and feels. Your mileage may vary.

On the software side I’m pleased with the new features compared to my previous Kindle:

  • More typefaces
  • Text alignment
  • Better skipping and navigation
  • Improved PDF support
  • Landscape mode and automatic rotation
  • Inverted mode
  • Automatic brightness

Like the hardware, there’s also a controversial aspect to the software too. I have seen comments on the Audible integration not being as good as it is on the iOS/Android mobile apps. Personally, I haven’t used this feature yet, and I probably won’t use it at all. I do use Audible regularly, but I tend to use it on my phone or computer.

Overall I’m pleased with the Kindle Oasis as an eBook reader, and if you were wondering, yes, it has made me read more. It turns out the change in the physical device was indeed the catalyst I needed to change my reading habits.

* I’ve used my Paperwhite in the bath many times over the years, but not so much recently. So I’m not sure if/when I’ll have the opportunity to try it out, but making the device waterproof was the top requested feature for the Kindle, and I’d expect to see it come to the other models over time.

Minecraft: my new favourite game

Later to the game than many, my first experiences of Minecraft were on the Xbox 360 in 2013 and Windows Phone in 2014. By the time the Windows 10 Edition came out I’d started many worlds on both versions, but I hadn’t progressed any of them very far.

At the time my biggest complaint was that there were multiple versions of Minecraft and worlds could not be synchronised between devices. The loss of my favourite world – when installing an update on my phone – made me give up until I could play anywhere.

It was fun, but I just couldn’t put up with the multiple versions and lack of backups.

Earlier this year I took another look at all of the editions of Minecraft available at that time and decided to take a bet on Realms for the Windows 10 and Pocket Edition versions of Minecraft.

Realms are essentially private servers hosted directly by the folk over at Mojang. This drastically improves on-boarding and allows for a seamless experience in-game. The world is hosted behind the scenes in the cloud, rather than on devices – resolving my biggest complaint with the game and allowing me to connect from mobile and PC.

In the summer of 2017, I created a new randomly generated world inside Realms and called it Scrumptious Kingdom with the intention of having a long-term space for my future wife and I to play Minecraft together.

We built a dirt hut on a hill right next to the spawn point, and since then it has progressed into an always-improving house with multiple rooms expanding out to the infinite world around it.

Scrumptious Valley comparison, June and November 2017:

I picked this version of Minecraft because I knew it had a future – the Windows 10 and Pocket Editions have since been unified into single codebase (Bedrock) and updated to all work together seamlessly (Better Together).

Now I can play in my world on my phone, tablet, PC, and Xbox One – instantly appearing wherever I left off.

Having consistency is exactly what I wanted. Now I have a world worth investing time in, improving the house, mining for resources, crafting new items, and taking on new challenges to progress the game.

Recently we defeated the ender dragon and gained access to more freedom with Elytra wings and more storage possibilities with Shulker Boxes. (Organising in-game items! Bliss!)

Every time I play this game I am impressed by what it has to offer and I’m excited about what is going to come in the new Aquatic Update, due Spring 2018.