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The Ultimate Player's Guide to Minecraft: Gathering Resources

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It might not look like it on the surface, but each Minecraft world is rich with resources. Making the most of them is the next step in getting the most out of the game. This chapter from The Ultimate Player's Guide to Minecraft, 3rd Edition shows you how to build an outdoor shelter, find food to stave off hunger, improve your collection of tools, and build a chest to safely store items.
This chapter is from the book

It might not look like it on the surface, but each Minecraft world is rich with resources. Making the most of them is the next step in 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 a foundation you can use to launch into the rest of the game. The focus is on a few key points: building an outdoor shelter, finding food to stave off hunger, improving your collection of tools, and building a chest to safely store items. Mastering these processes solidifies your position, makes your base more defensible, allows you to do all sorts of Minecrafty things more efficiently, and helps you set yourself up for longer excursions above and below ground.

The good news is that you already have a base, so you can explore during the day (trying 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

Let’s start by taking 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 hotbar.)


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. Hotbar

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. While the HUD shows only 10 armor icons, each represents 2 points, making 20 points in all.
  • Health bar—You also have up to 20 points of health available, represented by the 10 hearts shown. Each time you endure damage—such as from hunger, spider bites, zombie slaps, a fall, being under water too long, and so on—half a heart or more disappears, accompanied by a distinctive click noise. Health and hunger have a complicated relationship. You can read more about this later in this chapter, in the section, “Hunger Management.”
  • Experience bar—The experience bar increases the more you mine, smelt, cook, kill hostile mobs, trade with villagers, and fish. Your current level is shown in the middle of the bar. You move to the next experience level when it’s full. Experience isn’t generally important until you start enchanting and giving additional powers to items such as swords (see Chapter 10, “Enchanting, Anvils, and Brewing”). Unlike in 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 since your last death, even experience you spend on enchantments, 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. You can also gain experience by smelting certain items in a furnace and carrying out other activities such as finding rare ores, breeding animals, fishing, and more. Dying, however, drops your experience level to zero, although you can rebuild it a little by picking up your own experience orbs (seven for each level you’ve attained) after you respawn if you can make it back within five minutes.
  • Oxygen bar—The oxygen bar appears when you are underwater and quickly starts to drop. You can probably hold your own breath for longer! (The world record, at an impressive 22 minutes, is held by Stig Severinsen.) 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. There’s no danger with deep dives, either. You can use this ability to do interesting things like building an underwater base. Figure 3.2 shows an example, and you’ll learn how to build your own in Chapter 8, “Creative Construction,” along with some tricks for staying under longer than Stig.

    FIGURE 3.2

    FIGURE 3.2 Underwater bases are impervious to mob attacks (but watch your oxygen while building one). In fact, the only mobs that spawn underwater outside of the huge ocean monument structures are squids, which pose no danger to you.

  • Hunger bar—You also have 20 points of hunger available, as well as a hidden value called Saturation. Like armor and health, each hunger bar icon holds 2 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. You’ll learn more about hunger later in this chapter, in the section “Hunger Management.”
  • Hotbar—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 a slot shows that slot’s count of stacked identical items. A durability bar also appears, in green, under each tool’s icon, and it gradually reduces as you use the tool until that 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. Finally, any item you are dual-wielding shows up as an icon to the left of the hotbar.

In Multiplayer mode, 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 3.3.)


FIGURE 3.3 The Debug HUD provides a lot of cryptic information but can also help you navigate home. It also provides information about your system, available memory, and more.

  1. Your location in blocks east of your original spawn point. Blocks west are shown as a negative value.
  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 value.
  4. The direction you are facing and how moving forward will change the current coordinates.
  5. The current biome type.

The coordinates shown in the debug screen are based on the world’s origin, where x=0 and z=0. (y shows your current level above bedrock.) Take note of the current values. If you become lost before you have a 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 brings both x and y back to those noted values. If you sleep in a bed and reset your spawn, turn on the debug screen and write down the coordinates shown before you head out. This is particularly useful if you plan to use the teleport cheat (/tp xxx yyy zzz).

Incidentally, just so we’re clear: Cheating in Minecraft doesn’t carry with it the negative connotations of cheating in most other contexts. If you have enabled cheats in the game menu, type a forward slash (/) followed by the cheat text to customize the running state of the game. Make sure to press Enter or Return after you type your cheat to submit the command to Minecraft.

When you need to return to those earlier coordinates—and I should warn you that this can take some experimentation and a little practice—turn and take a few steps and note the change in values of your current coordinates. Shift those x and z 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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