Xbox Live’s ‘Minecraft’ Tips and Tricks

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.

Minecraft for Xbox 360 graphic

Use World Generator Seeds

When you start a new game you are asked if you want to use a seed. Seeds in this context refer 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. 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):

  • gargamel
  • Blackest Hole
  • Notch
  • Orange Soda
  • Elfen Lied
  • v
  • 404

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, 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. 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 through mining hundreds of blocks before they break and also mine faster than 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 to 4 layers and then start digging horizontal tunnels 4 to 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! To keep this from happening to make sure you do a few things:

  • Don't put your bed on dirt/grass.
  • Always put a foundation and floor under your house a couple of layers thick (this protects you in the off chance you built on top of a cavern or something).
  • 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.
  • 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 that it usually takes more than one bone to tame a wolf. 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.

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.

Make Sure You Plan Stuff Out Ahead of Time

Building stuff is awesome but do a little engineering beforehand. 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 upright. When you plan things out ahead of time it also makes it easier to implement crazy design features like lava or waterfalls underneath or fountains or anything else you can dream up. 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? It isn't actually saving like you expect. It is saving what is in your inventory but it is not saving your actual game world. Make sure you go to 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.

Split Screen 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. We don't know why you would 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.

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