I mentioned back in May that I was experimenting with creating a Minecraft adventure for my boys to play through. Well, I finished the adventure map and the boys have played in it. I watched them play an hour at a time, Saturday and Sunday, over a few weeks. They didn’t actually finish the adventure, and I’ll have to explain why.
First, I found a world seed for a good wilderness area. I placed three villages, each a little different from the others. One is larger, (the main and starting area), and has lots of villagers and food and supplies. Another is smaller but has different food and a magic book shop. And the third is medium-sized with different supplies. I paved a road between two of the villages, but I left the other off the trail so it would have to be found by exploration. I also placed a few little “hermit houses” hidden in the area that could be found. The hermits sell various potions. Basically, I wanted the boys to be rewarded for exploring the environment, not just the dungeon.
I then created a large castle/tower in the center of the area, central to the villages.
The above-ground parts of the castle, right up to the top, I filled with tricks and traps to test the boys’ puzzle-solving and team-working skills. These puzzles can only be passed by two people working together. For instance, there are buttons that open secret areas or passages in another location — one person can push the button, but the secret door will close before he can run to the opening. There are traps that can only be escaped by someone else pulling a lever or standing on a plate in the floor. There are only a few monsters, (some zombies and spiders), in this part of the adventure, and none of the traps are by themselves deadly. I wanted them to learn how to work together well before going down into the dungeon proper and facing real dangers and troubles.
After successfully navigating through the upper part of the castle, they bought better equipment, (armor, weapons, food), and were excited to delve down below the castle into the dungeon. The below is three separate levels. The first level is 20-some rooms designed like living areas for the former castle staff and guard. There are many monsters and a few puzzles, traps, and tricks. They navigated this level pretty well, working together, but Calfgrit12 was showing his bossy side.
Calfgrit12 wanted to be the leader of their two-person team, and he often complained when his little brother didn’t do exactly as he was told. Now, Calfgrit8 never did anything bad or wrong. He just didn’t want to always be ordered about.
Even though there was some serious arguments here and there, they mostly played really well together. But a couple of times I had to end the adventure time because of serious arguments. I was surprised at how heated their arguments got. One boy would cry and the other would get angry. I was stunned. But then the next time I let them play, they’d laugh and shout in excitement, and afterwards tell me that was the best time they’ve had playing Minecraft. There were no mediocre times; it was all either fantastic or awful.
They eventually finished the first dungeon level under the castle, and then made their way down to the second level where more and tougher monsters and challenges awaited them. This level was bigger than the one above, and they’d separate often to go in their own directions. This going different ways caused them to get killed a few times. I tried to warn them that they needed to continue working together. Calfgrit8 would urge caution and want them to leave the dungeon to heal and re-equip more often. Calfgrit12 wanted to keep pressing forward, leaving CG8 to go back to safety on his own. This would inevitably cause CG12’s death, and he’d get angry at his little brother for not helping him.
This all started to get very frustrating for me. I didn’t want to guide them on this adventure — I wanted them to do this on their own while I watched. But I kept having to defend CG8’s decision to play safer against CG12’s push for more dangerous activity. He actually was playing the wisest, and his older brother was going a bit crazy with wanting to just go everywhere and see everything without caution.
Eventually CG12 got stuck in a trap off in some back chamber while his brother was leaving the dungeon to repair his equipment. Being stuck mad him angry, and he blamed CG8 for not being there to help him. He couldn’t do anything until CG8 came to rescue him, and CG8 told him to wait while he finished his errand back in the village. Things got pretty heated, and I had to break up the argument and end the game at that point.
Geez! Really. They’d go from laughing excitement one minute to hating each other the next minute. It was more than I could stand, and it made me hate this adventure I’d built for them. So I not only ended that game session, I told them that was the end of the adventure.
I was terribly disappointed in it all. It depressed me so much. I’d put a lot of work into that whole thing, and I was so excited to see them play through it. They’d had some really great fun at times, but the really bad moments killed the good feelings.
A few weeks passed with them just playing their normal Minecraft survival and creative games, and then Calfgrit8 came to me and asked about the adventure game. He asked if they could play it again, and if they couldn’t play it together, maybe he could play it without his big brother. Knowing that it was dangerous to explore the dungeon alone, he asked if I would play it with him. That touched my heart.
Later and separately I asked Caflgrit12 about it. He said it was too hard and he wasn’t interested in continuing the adventure.
So I may just end up finishing it with my 8 year old, the two of us. That could be cool.
Here are some screenshots from the dungeon delve: