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Gathering Resources and Getting Around in Minecraft

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This chapter helps you familiarize yourself with your tools and surroundings in Minecraft so you can gather materials, build shelter, and understand your inventory.
This chapter is from the book

Minecraft is filled to the brim with all manner of resources, and gathering them is the first step toward getting the most out of the game. In Chapter 2, “First-Night Survival,” you put together a pack of essentials sufficient to last the first night, but this is really just the smallest prequel to the real game, and describing how to find, create, and use other types of resources forms much of this book. This chapter is about building the foundation you can use to launch into the rest of the game. Your focus is on a few key points: build an outdoor shelter, find food to stave off hunger, improve your collection of tools, and build a chest to safely store items. This solidifies your position, making your base more impervious to attack, allows you to do all sorts of Minecrafty things more efficiently, and sets yourself up for longer excursions both above and below ground.

The good news is that you already have a base, so you can explore during the day, try not to lose your way, and head back at night. However, you still need to avoid at least some of the hostile mobs that persist during the day.

Introducing the HUD

Before we start, let’s take a look at the Heads-Up Display (HUD)—that collection of icons and status bars at the bottom of the screen. Figure 3.1 shows the HUD as it appears in Survival mode with all possible indicators displayed. (The Creative mode HUD only shows the Inventory bar.)


FIGURE 3.1 The HUD provides key status indications. Health is all important, but low hunger also leads to low health, so keep a close eye on both.

  1. Armor bar
  2. Health bar
  3. Experience bar
  4. Oxygen bar
  5. Hunger bar
  6. Inventory quick access

Each section of the HUD provides a key nugget of information about the health or status of your avatar:

  • Armor bar—The armor bar appears when you’ve equipped your avatar with any type of armor and shows the current damage absorption level. Each armor icon represents an 8% reduction in the damage you’ll take, so a 10/10 suit of armor reduces the damage you take by 80%, whereas a 1/10 suit absorbs only 8%. Armor becomes less effective the more damage it absorbs, although the rate at which it deteriorates also depends on its material—leather being the weakest and diamond the strongest.
  • Health bar—You have up to 20 points of health available, represented by the 10 hearts shown. Each heart disappears in two ticks. Health and hunger have a complicated relationship. You can read more below starting at “Hunger Management.”
  • Experience bar—The experience bar increases the more you mine, smelt, cook, kill, and fish. Your current level is shown in the middle of the bar. When it’s full, you move to the next experience level. Experience isn’t generally important until you start enchanting and giving additional powers to items such as swords (see Chapter 10, “Enchantments, Anvils, and Brewing”). Unlike other role-playing games, experience in Minecraft is more like a currency that you spend on enchantments, so it waxes and wanes. But all experience gained counts toward the final score shown on the screen when you die. Killing a mob drops experience orbs that either fly directly toward you or float to the ground waiting for you to collect them, and you can also gain experience by smelting certain items in the furnace and carrying out other activities such as finding rare ores. Dying causes a substantial drop in your current experience level.
  • Oxygen bar—The oxygen bar appears whenever you go underwater and it quickly starts to drop. You can probably hold your own breath for longer! As soon as your oxygen level hits zero, your health starts taking a two-point hit every second, but it resurfaces for just an instant if you hold down the jump key until you’ve reached air once more. Diving isn’t that big of a deal in Minecraft, at least not for completing the core game, but you can use the ability to do interesting things like building an underwater base. An example is shown in Figure 3.2, and I’ll show you how to build your own in Chapter 8, “Creative Construction,” as well as sharing with you some other underwater breathing techniques.

    FIGURE 3.2

    FIGURE 3.2 Underwater bases are impervious to mob attacks, even when built from glass, but you’ll need to watch your oxygen bar carefully to ensure you don’t run out of air while building this type of structure. By the way, the only mob that spawns underwater is the friendly, curious squid. Can you make out the one shown here? He’s now part of Elysia’s first private aquarium. Say hello to “Ceph.”

  • Hunger bar—You also have 20 points of hunger available, as well as a hidden value called Saturation. Like health, each hunger bar icon holds two points and can reduce by half an icon (that icon is, incidentally, a “shank,” or the lower part of a leg of meat) at a time.
  • Inventory quick access—These nine slots represent items you can select with the mouse scroll wheel or by pressing the 1–9 keys. Press E to access your full inventory and to change the items in these slots. The white number next to some shows that slot’s count of stacked identical items. A durability bar also appears under each tool’s icon in green, gradually reducing as you use them until the tool actually breaks and disappears from your inventory. You’ll have some warning of this because the bar turns red when it’s close to zero. See “Improving Your Tools” later in the chapter to learn more about the durability of different materials.

In multiplayer, your HUD also displays a chat window in the bottom-left corner. Press T to expand the chat window.

Toggle the entire HUD display off and on by pressing F1. Press F3 with the HUD turned on to view a much more detailed HUD debug screen (see Figure 3.2.)

The coordinates shown in the debug screen are based on the world’s origin where x=0 and y=0. (z shows your current level above bedrock.) Take a note of the current values. If you become lost before you have had the chance to build a bed and reset your spawn point, you can always find your way back to your original spawn and, presumably, your first shelter, by facing in a direction that will bring both x and y back to those noted values. If you do sleep in a bed and reset your spawn, turn on the debug screen and write down the coordinates shown before you head out.


FIGURE 3.3 The Debug HUD provides a lot of cryptic information but can also help you navigate home.

  1. Your location in blocks east of your original spawn point. Blocks west are shown as a negative.
  2. Your current vertical height in layers above bedrock.
  3. Your location in blocks south of your original spawn point. Blocks north are shown as a negative.
  4. The current biome type.

When you need to return, and I should warn you that this can take some experimentation and a little practice, turn and take a few steps while noting the change in values of your current coordinates. Your goal is to shift those x and y values back toward the coordinates you originally recorded. You’ll probably wander around a bit, but eventually you’ll get there.

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