The Minecraft Experiment, day 13: Creeper Country

Tom Francis at

Minecraft Diary - The Scaffold

When I first started playing Minecraft a few months ago, I played with a rule: if I die, I have to delete the entire world. Then, I decided to go to hell and back.This is the thirteenth entry in the diary I kept of that experiment - the first is here.

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World 10, deaths 9

I have discovered shall we say 'some' obsidian. It's about six times as much as I need to build a portal to hell. But it's not proving easy to extract - it takes about five thousand pummelings of my steel pickaxe, then pops into nothingness. Also there's lava underneath.

I'm pretty sure I need a diamond pickaxe, but even if I knew where to get one, it would only succeed in ejecting a cube of obsidian into the lava below.

I feel like there's a way to use science here.

This stuff formed when a waterfall hit a lava lake. Since I can pick both substances up with buckets, there's no good reason I can't make my own series of single-block lava lakes and pour my own series of mini waterfalls onto them. In other words, I could cast a portal rather than having to mine the materials for one.

I want to make my portal at the bay above ground, so I make a few buckets and load up on lava. Water's not going to be a problem. It'll take a few trips, but that's OK - I have lots more of this cave complex to explore on the way. Really, the only problem would be if the outside world turned out to be completely swarming with Creepers and then some of them followed me back down when I ran away and oh God.

So I'm not going that way. But it's day time, I do want to get back to the surface before it gets dark again. I dig up in the opposite direction, a separate staircase branching off from the main one near the surface.

I come out in a forest, far from the- oh no there's one. Two. This is getting ridiculous. Instead of running back down, I just build up: I've got hundreds of blocks of cobblestone from my mining, and very quickly I'm completely out of the blast radius of any possible Creeper explosions. In fact, I can see my beacon in the bay from here. Hmm. What if I do this?

It's ridiculous, and ugly in a whole new sense of the word, but it does get me back to the bay. The Creepers there are nowhere to be found, so I build a rudimentary mould where I want the first bit of my portal, and start doing science to lava.

Experiment 1: Pour in lava, then pour in water. Result: water. The lava vanishes completely. Hmm.

Experiment 2: Pour in water, then pour in lava. Result: lava. The water vanishes completely.

Experiment 3: Perhaps if I pour both onto opposite sides of the mould, they'll flow in and meet at the same time? Result: they do, there's a loud hiss, and they produce cobblestone. The most common and useless block in the world.

Experiment 4: Fill mould with lava directly, then pour water on the side of the mould. Result: the runoff water hits the lava, and hiss! Obsidian!

By this stage it's actually getting pretty late, so I dig some holes in the sand to store the rest of the lava and head back down.

When I get to my workbench and furnace, about halfway down, I find I have an old friend waiting for me.

On Wednesday:facing the Creeper problem.