I have a wife. While that is not uncommon, it is not neccessarily common that one’s wife goes playing Minetest with you. Yesterday I introduced her to the server I had set up for us and today I got woken up by her screaming “The cow reappeared and it is eating our crops!! What do I do?”.
Until yesterday, she had found Minetest rather dull and uninviting, having learned the basics in Wuzzy’s great Tutorial and then she jumped directly into MTG (short for MineTest Game). MTG is the standard game shipped with Minetest. It has the very basics of most features, but lacks next to every interesting mechanic. No mobs, only basic farming, few biomes and no idea or explanation what to do with it. There are way more games than only MTG, but you have to find them, download them, install them and start them. Also, you have to select one of those games over MTG. Which one? We’ll cover games in a futures post. Also, we’ll have a section monitoring the completeness of games and we’ll bundle Minetest with a selected few of these games for you to download, so you don’t have to make your first steps in Minetest with MTG.
Still, most games and servers use MTG as an excellent basis and build upon it. Want to set yourself a home? Comes from MTG. Wanna ride in a cart? Comes from MTG. And much more. On the other hand: Having features doesn’t make something automatically appealing, especially to those who come into contact with the Minetest universe by themselves, compare Minetest to other games they could play and then leave, because they weren’t properly introduced. We’ll compare Minetest to similar games in yet another future post. My wife was introduced to Minetest by me, but she is an excellent example of a new player who would have turned their back on the Minetest universe without digging deeper, never to be seen again. If she was into voxel games in general, she might have ended up in a more appealing direct competitor, if not … well, nevermind.
Currently, a new player most likely MUST dig deeper, if they wish to enjoy the game. What can one do? Either one can join a preconfigured server, go through the trouble of finding a game that they like or make a game themselves, list non-exhaustive but in ascending order of difficulty, at least in my opinion. Also, each option has other benefits and drawbacks.
Finding a nice server is as easy as finding the “Join Game” button and making up their mind which one to try. We’ll cover different servers in a category, hopefully looking at server properties like the owner, the history or the playerbase. Benefits of joining a server include more people to play with, some already existent buildings to look at (and draw inspiration from) and a hopefully well balanced selection of mods (the Minetest name for plugins). Those mods provide players with the ability to tame mobs, go farming, fighting or mining or just stroll around to gaze at whatever the other players have already built with them. These other players are a adouble edged blade: They can really get on your nerves, especially on pvp servers. But they can also provide valuable help and consultation. I experienced the latter far more often than the former on the servers I joined. Other drawbacks are that you need to take additional steps to safeguard your constructions against those who would tear them down for fun and that you don’t “own” your building on your local computer. Server gone, building gone. Internet gone, server not reachable, building (at least temporarily) gone. Servers are discussed here on the Minetest forum.
Finding games is only slightly more difficult than finding a server to join. As of 5.1.0, you go to Content, click the “Browse online content” button in the lower left and select the “Games” category in the upper right. The difficulty is finding a game that works and that is to your taste. If you are brand new to Minetest, you may want to attempt the Tutorial by Wuzzy. If you like something Minecraft-y, you can go for MineClone2 also by Wuzzy. If you feel like experimenting, you may want to try any other game, but keep in mind, some may be work in progress or utterly failing to entertain you. Games are also discussed here on the Minetest forum.
Making a game or setting up a server yourself is more than half a paragraph, so we will not cover it here. I already set up a server, so there will be definetely something about that somewhere in the future, but I never created a game. Maybe when I get my hands on a game creator, they can answer some questions.
When I started with Minetest, there was no one to teach me. To make it easier for those who want to start, this fanpage exists. At least if you are not as “lucky” as my wife, who got dragged to Minetest by someone who already fell into some of the potholes and guided her straight through them. Today, we spent a nice afternoon farming and mining and looking at the basics of crafting. We even got three cows and two sheep and I died from a Dungeon Master and my wife saved my mine-life from another. I will use her as a lab rat. Muhaha.