Regular readers will know I love Dwarf Fortress. Its free-form gameplay and insane levels of complexity make for a quite brilliant and absorbing game.
But there is a new obsession in my life - a game which takes elements from Dwarf Fortress, throws in a bit of Rogue and adds a generous glug of 3D Dot Game Heroes - and it’s called Minecraft.
You begin the game plonked in the middle of a vast randomly generated world and you are then completely free to do what you want. Every item in the world must be created from scratch, but you better be quick, because when night falls, the nasties come out to play.
You start by chopping down trees to get wood, which in turn can be used to make planks and tools. It’s vital to find coal as soon as possible which can then be combined with sticks to make torches. When night falls, evil zombies and other nocturnal creatures will keep well away from the bright lights.
A crafting bench, storage boxes and a furnace are next on the list, while combining sticks and stones makes more robust weapons and tools.
While exploring during daylight hours, animals can be farmed for food and skins - the latter are used to craft armour. But when the light gradually starts to disappear, you’ll want to get home quickly to avoid the prowling mobs.
Finding your way back to your base and closing the door on the inky blackness is always a welcome relief. And when you hear the zombies moaning outside your door, you’ll be glad you are safe and sound.
I’m currently in a great place, and the pictures here are all my own. Some of them show my fledgling mountainside home - complete with natural lava flow - while the others show a zombie burning in the morning sun, snow on the hills and the inside of a natural cave.
By mining deeper and deeper, you can find gold and diamond, which again are used to craft armour and robust weapons.
To make windows, you need to build a furnace, chop some wood, then add sand. As you can see, I've used glass around the entrance as well as using it to create the windows in the rock face.
The work I've done here took me the best part of four hours, but I'm quite pleased with the results. Long way to go, though.
The game is currently is alpha testing and it costs around £8 to buy. A free browser based version can be played, although it lacks many of the features of the paid-for version, while you can't save your progress.
New content is poured in every week and there are huge plans for the game as the months and years go by.
Over the past few weeks, snow, boats, cacti and cows have been added - so who knows what will appear later today.
For more info about the game, visit the official website. And if you want to dig even deeper into the game, the Minecraft Wiki is essential reading.