When eight guys who are normally friends temporarily turn against each other in the name of competition and entertainment, what is the result? Mindcrack: Ultra Hardcore.
The Mindcrack gang – BdoubleO100, KurtJMac, PauseUnpause, W92Baj, Guude, Etho, Docm77, and VintageBeef1 – duke it out in a last-man-standing contest of awesome proportions, with all players recording and posting footage to their respective channels (the links provided point to each player’s Episode 1). The show has now reached Series 3, and it was at this point that it went pretty much viral within Reddit’s /r/Minecraft community.
The eight combatants are placed randomly within a 2,000 x 2,000-block world, and they must do almost anything to be the last one left alive. There are restrictions: no strip mining, and no alliances. One thing they are allowed to do, however, is use F3 to get their location within the game.
A special mod, programmed especially for the series, makes the whole thing so much harder:
- A full hunger bar never regenerates a player’s health… but they will still lose hearts if they starve;
- The only items which can replenish their health are Healing Potions and Golden Apples;
- The recipe for Golden Apples requires eight ingots of gold to go with an apple, rather than eight nuggets (nine times harder than the normal recipe);
- Glistering Melons require a gold block, rather than a gold nugget, to be surrounding a melon at the crafting table (a whopping 81 times harder!).
The other change that the Ultra Hardcore mod makes is that when players press the Tab button to view all the players on the server, it will show everyone’s present health level – handy for finding out just what they’re up against.
With such difficulties imposed, what strategies will the guys follow in order to come out on top? Should they play it safe and wait for the others to make fatal mistakes – or should they take a more aggressive line, and risk death in the pursuit of glory?
OK, so right here and now, I hope you’ll forgive me: I’ve not previously watched any of the Mindcrack team’s adventures before, although I have heard of Mindcrack, and some of the people in the team (specifically Guude, BdoubleO100, and PauseUnpause). I simply haven’t had the time to watch, and it’s a shame, because Mindcrack: Ultra Hardcore has, by and large, had me gripped – thanks to Kristal’s insistence that I should watch it (thank you, Kristal! :D).
Even though I’ve watched almost everyone’s first two episodes (still got Guude’s to go), and some of their respective third episodes, it hasn’t felt like a slog, even after watching nearly ten hours of video – at the time of writing, most of the players had released three episodes each. The very nature of the contest makes for some intense gameplay, and the various players handle it in rather different ways, which in itself keeps it entertaining. Of course, this will most likely be of no surprise to those of you who are more familiar with the guys’ exploits, hence my apology at the start of the paragraph.
One of the most amusing players so far has been W92Baj – he chose to characterise himself as “Baj Grills”, a parody of the infamous English adventurer Bear Grylls. I don’t know for sure if he’d chosen this characterisation before playing, or if it was a consequence of how his adventure played out2, but his delightful parody did turn what could have been incredibly boring footage into something rather special. You’ll have to watch his episodes to find out what I mean – no spoilers from me!
The episodes, titled with Sixelona’s fantastic artwork of the gang, have been garnering 27,000-45,000 hits on YouTube each, and deservedly so. Just about every single episode I’ve watched has been highly enjoyable – helped, of course, by the fact that they’re great Minecrafters with entertaining commentary styles. Even the opening episodes, which often tend to be slow-going in regular LP series because of the resource-gathering involved, were a heck of a lot of fun to watch.
My problem is this (if you can actually call it a problem): As I watched each player in turn, I selected players that I wanted to focus on, after I’d watched everyone’s first couple of episodes… if they survived beyond those episodes. But because the players are sending terse (and occasionally cryptic) progress reports via chat, I’ll see something that a player has typed, and think to myself, “I wonder why that happened to them?” – so, of course, I’ll want to make sure that I watch things from that player’s perspective, so that I don’t miss out. I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m going to be watching every available episode, in spite of myself 😉
The other thing is that I really wanna play this, too! I even started formulating a strategy, of sorts – that’s the lasting effect that watching Mindcrack: Ultra Hardcore has had on me… Mind you, aside from the fact that I’m not that good a Minecrafter (especially compared to these fine gents), I’ve still not yet got around to practicing video-editing – and I’m sure that, if I was mad enough to compete in an Ultra Hardcore contest (since the mod is freely available for anyone to use), you’d want to see exactly how I perish, right? 😉
Anyway, enough of my whimsical dreaming about fighting to become top dog – go and watch some Mindcrack: Ultra Hardcore, and see eight gentlemen actually doing the fighting 😀
1 Who, incidentally, has one of the most awesome Minecraft usernames I’ve ever seen 😉
2 Baj’s choice of skin suggests the former…