Minecraft XBLA Tips And Tricks

Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition
Mojang / YJ Studios / Microsoft Studios

Now that Minecraft is on XBLA a lot of people are experiencing the game for the first time. We have some tips and tricks to common questions and problems that first time players will come across. Here are the Minecraft Basics:

Use World Generator Seeds

When you start a new game you are asked if you want to use a seed. Seeds in this context refers to having the game load specific worlds instead of letting it randomly generate one for you.

This lets other people all start out in the same world. Of course, as we all know, even if everyone starts in the same world, it won't be the same when everyone is finished. Some examples of seeds include (caps sensitive and without the quotes) "gargamel", "Blackest Hole", "Notch", "Orange Soda", "Elfen Lied", "v", and "404" just to name a few good ones. You can use literally any words or phrases or numbers you want in the generator - just remember what you used so you can share it with your friends later if you find a good one.

Set A Goal

Few other games let you just set out into the world and do your own thing. Really just Skyrim and Fallout 3 and Dead Rising on the Xbox 360. For many players, open world games are a dream come true since they let you do anything. For some gamers, though, not having clear objectives takes them out of the game and they find it hard to enjoy it. Our advice with Minecraft specifically is to set goals for yourself.

Randomly wandering around and digging won't get you anywhere. Instead, pick a site and start making a real mine. Pick a site and start building something awesome. Choose a resource you need - wool, sugar cane, flowers for dyes, etc. - and set out to find it. If you give yourself specific goals it is much easier to get into the flow of the game rather than wandering around with no structure.

Use Crouch!

You know when you're wandering around and a creeper jumps out of nowhere and you panic and accidentally click the right stick in (and occasionally the left stick, leaving you fumbling around in third-person mode for a few seconds) and your guy sort of leans over but it doesn't look like it actually did anything? That little "lean" is the crouch, and it is one of the most important things you will use when you start building stuff. The crouch lets you basically hang off of cliffs without worrying about falling. It is impossible to fall when you're crouched. It also has the benefit of letting you step out into almost open air, which gives you the correct angle to place blocks when you want to start building horizontally while you're way up in the air or your butt is hanging off the side of a cliff.

Find Diamonds

Finding diamonds makes everything else you do in the game much easier since it lets you build the best weapons and armor. Diamond tools last though mining hundreds of blocks before they break and also mine faster then any other tools. Once you get diamond tools you'll never want to use anything else. Finding diamonds is the tough part, though. They only appear down in the depths of the world between level 1 and 15 above the bedrock (which means down as far as you can go underground).

A good rule of thumb is that when you hit bedrock in your mine, go back up 3-4 layers and then start digging horizontal tunnels 4-5 blocks high. You'll hit diamonds eventually. Just be careful you don't fill your tunnels with water or lava, so keep blocks to stuff up those holes handy before it does too much damage. 

Keep Monsters From Spawning In Your House

You return home after a long day of mining and go to sleep only to be awakened shortly afterward by a zombie or skeleton in your supposedly safe house! What the flip? To keep this from happening to make sure you do a few things:

  1. Don't put your bed on dirt/grass.
  1. Always put a foundation and floor under your house a couple layers thick (this protects you in the off chance you built on top of a cavern or something).
  2. Make sure you have plenty of light inside the house. A torch in every corner and multiple torches along longer walls will keep the monsters out.
  3. Don't put your bed next to a wall. Put it in the center of the room instead.

Don't Be Too Proud To Play On Peaceful Difficulty

Gamers have a weird pride thing about not playing on "Easy" difficulty levels. In Minecraft, though, even "Easy" can be quite challenging and nothing sucks more than spending hours and hours building something awesome only to have a creeper show up and blow a huge chunk out of it. Playing on Peaceful lets you build all you want without having to hide at night since the mode has no monsters. If / when you need materials from the monsters (bones, string, gunpowder) you can always bump the difficulty up the next time you play. If you want the Minecraft survival horror experience, by all means, keep playing on higher difficulties. If you want to build stuff, though, peaceful is the way to go.

Taming Wolves

You can tame wolves wandering around the world by giving them bones. The game doesn't make it clear, though, that it usually takes more than one bone to tame one. Keep giving a wolf bones until hearts pop up over it and it has a red collar on. It will then follow you and fight monsters for you.

When Pigs Fly

Perhaps the trickiest achievement is getting a pig to jump off a cliff while you're riding it.

This is a two-part challenge because you first have to find a saddle, then jump a pig off a cliff. The first part is hard because you can only find saddles in chests in dungeons (Dungeons are usually connected to caverns and are easy to identify because they are the only places in the world where cobblestone will appear without player intervention. If you see cobblestone you didn't place there, you know it is a dungeon. Each dungeon has a monster spawner and 1-2 chests filled with goodies.).

Once you have a saddle, then you have to find a pig. Find a pig on top of a cliff somewhere and then put the saddle on and ride it. You won't be able to control the pig, you're just along for the ride, but what you can do is punch the pig which makes it jump a little bit. Punch it while you are riding it next to a cliff, and the pig will most likely jump right off, giving you the achievement.

You've Played Minecraft A While But Still Don't "Get It"

If you have given Minecraft a try and still get what the big deal is, we have one piece of advice - Start building something. The mining is, admittedly, pretty dry and boring. But the mining is a necessary evil because it gives you the tools and materials you'll need to start building stuff. If you have the time and patience, you can build practically anything you want. Huge castles and fortresses. Awesome houses. Statues. Giant pixel art of your favorite 8 and 16-bit videogame characters. You can spend all day just building stuff and it is some of the most fun and satisfying utter pointlessness you can possibly do in a videogame.

Make Sure You Plan Stuff Out Ahead Of Time

Building stuff is awesome, but do a little engineering before hand. You don't want to just randomly lay out a foundation for your dream house only to find the dimensions are all screwy looking and uneven hours later. One tip is to make sure your dimensions are odd numbers. This will make it easier to center windows and doors and make sure the roof lines up right. When you plan things out ahead of time it also makes it easier to implement crazy design features like lava (behind glass so you can see it glowing) or waterfalls underneath or fountains or anything else you can dream up. And don't be afraid to do a little terraforming to make things look just right. With time and effort even the highest mountains can be flattened.

Save Often

You know that little icon that pops up in the corner of the screen like the game is autosaving? Well, it isn't actually saving like you expect. It is saving what is in your inventory (in case you die so you'll be able to return to the spot of your death and recover your items) but it is not saving your actual game world. Make sure you go in the menu and save regularly or you'll potentially lose everything you've been building.

Share Screenshots

You can share your screenshots of the game, but you have to have a Facebook account to do it. All you have to do is pause the game and press "Y" on the menu. The game will then let you share whatever you're looking at on Facebook. We recommend making a second Facebook account for this so you don't spam all of your friends and family with a million Minecraft screens.

Splitscreen Only Works on HDTV

 If you buy Minecraft XBLA hoping to play split screen multiplayer, keep this in mind: It only works on HDTVs. If you still have an SDTV, you can't play split screen Minecraft. Though we don't know why you'd be playing Xbox 360 on an SDTV these days when HDTVs are pretty darn cheap, but apparently, there are still some folks out there stuck in the bad old 4:3 standard definition days.

The Game Will Be Updated

Currently,  the XBLA version of Minecraft is based on the 1.6.6 beta PC version, which means quite a few features in the PC beta and retail version are not included. Yet. The game will receive a handful of free updates over time that will add features and bug fixes. As PC Minecraft players know, these updates can dramatically change the way the game plays, so XBLA players can look forward to an evolving experience that will keep getting better and more interesting. The Minecraft XBLA that you're playing in May 2012 won't be the same game you'll be playing six months or a year or years from now. Not bad for that initial $20 (1600 MSP) investment.

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