I hate Minecraft. I know, I know...some of you are probably wondering about all those blogs I posted about the game where I gush about how amazing it is while claiming it's one of the greatest games of this generation for its brilliant design and clever innovation...and how I've spent countless hours here lately digging ditches, building structures and hunting creepers, when I should be hunting aliens in X-COM or fighting cassowaries in Far Cry 3. All true. Before I explain why I hate Minecraft, you have to understand the scope of my relationship with the game.

I hated it.

I played it (Xbox 360).

I loved it.

I played it (PC).

I hated it.

Early in Minecraft's development cycle when it was only available on the PC in the alpha or beta stages and you could buy a license for the $5 or $10 bucks that is supposed to get you lifetime access to patches and upgrades, I hated the game. Yes, I unfairly judged it by its rudimentary graphics and non-standard game play. I didn't even consider playing it much less actually spending any money on it. But my son was fascinated with it and bought the game. I remember him telling me how you could chop a tree down, use the wood to create planks, use the planks to create sticks and use the sticks to create tools. My simple mind thought it sounded archaic, like a step back to the Stone Age. I never understood what the attraction was, but occasionally I would hear him shriek in terror as a Creeper would detonate and injure (or kill) his character while destroying anything else in close proximity. I was not even remotely interested in playing the game much less giving it a chance. But I did chuckle every time the dreaded Creeper came to visit.

I remember when it was revealed Minecraft was headed to the Xbox 360, but I didn't give it much thought. Since I didn't care about the game I guess you could say I was indifferent. But then one day both of my kids were off work (which is extremely rare for their off days to coincide) and gaming together in the living room. When this happens, I usually relocate my blogging efforts to the living room so I can watch them play. Well, this particular night, they just happened to be playing Minecraft. I acted like I was going to leave given their game selection, but they pleaded for me to stay and watch.

So I did.

I didn't make much progress on the blog that night, because shortly after I sat down, my daughter got up to make herself some dinner and I took over duties holding the controller. I claimed a little chunk of real estate on their map and started experimenting with the game. I was hooked fairly quick - like that night. I managed to convince my daughter to let me keep playing, and in the coming weeks and months my son and I played the game exclusively together.  I never played without him, and he never played without me (at least "our" map). It's during this season of the relationship with Minecraft that you might've heard me prattle on over the game and blog about it so profusely. This marks the era of me loving the game.

But then something happened. Christmas came and I got a gift card for Minecraft on PC.

I didn't load it up right away as I was in the middle of playing a few other games AND because I wasn't too keen on abandoning all the time and energy spent on my Xbox 360 map. But my son convinced me we could still play it together and therefore should give it a try.

It took a little bit to get the game up and running. I had to download the server application so we could host our own local server...that was kind of cool. It's been a number of years since I ran dedicated server but it all came back to me...I even got the opportunity to drop down to the command prompt and do the ole IPCONFIG to get the IP address for the server. Good times. I'd say it took about 45 minutes to get the server up and running and both of our PCs connected, but most of that was troubleshooting an audio conflict on my son's PC. After that...Minecraft on PC time!

Like many of you, I'm not a fan of change. And Minecraft on PC is quite a bit different than it is on Xbox 360. I didn't say better, but I didn't say worse either.

The first thing I noticed was the Xbox 360 is far more user friendly than the PC. The Xbox 360 practically holds your hand whenever you need to construct an item and has a number of functions made simple with the click of the button. Minecraft on PC doesn't even show you how to craft an item, so I had to (technically I didn't have to - I chose to) download an app for my phone that shows me everything I need to know about crafting. At first I was annoyed, but now I think it has its own cleverness to it. Sure, it's more challenging, but it adds to the intrigue and atmosphere of the game.

But that's not why I hate the game now.

With the game loaded my son and I ventured out into this new world and I was surprised just how much different the game was on the PC. The region I started in was a snowy mountainous region. Not a great area for settling down and building a home, at least not my preferred choice. I'd prefer a flat, sandy beach on the water. So, my buddy and I ventured out and walked down the coast hoping to find an ideal spot to commence construction. In the console version, you can walk across the map in minutes.

Well, we walked...and walked....and walked...and the terrain didn't change. This went on for a few (in-game) days before I came up with a bold plan.

Go West Young Man!

Since we had been walking down the coast we decided we were going to construct some boats and cross the ocean heading west. A few minutes later we were sailing the ocean blue. To say the PC version of Minecraft is bigger than the console version is like saying Kratos has anger management issues or that Gordon Freeman is a man of few words.

To give you an idea of how big the world of Minecraft is, and how long our little trip took...consider this.

Using the keyboard to steer the boat west requires you pushing down and holding the W key. Simple enough, wouldn't you agree? During our trek, we'd pass an occasional shallow spot and some rather small uninhabited islands. Certainly nothing you could settle on. So, we would continue on. It took two full day and night cycles before...

Land Ho!

Now, from what I've read, a day / night cycle in Minecraft is 20 minutes. So for 40 minutes I sat there holding the W key down travelling between land masses. Everything in Minecraft is built in terms of blocks, and I can only imagine how many hundreds of thousands (or millions?) of blocks of water we passed over.

But we finally were on solid land. We started exploring the region and found ourselves in a dense jungle with huge trees, vines and tall grass covering the landscape. While trying to traverse the heavy vegetation, we literally stumbled into an abandoned mine shaft fitted with a partial rail system, passages lit up with torches...and tons of resources like coal and iron ore. We agreed to make this our home base and after a few hours of clearing out the monsters, building beds, crafting tables and ovens...we were ready to venture out to the unexplored areas of this mineshaft.

That initiative took a few days (not at once of course) as we discovered subterranean cavern after cavern, some so large you could put our entire map from the Xbox 360 world into it and have room left over. You just can't comprehend how large this game is, and after filling our inventories with hot commodities including gold, diamond and red stone, we had no other choice but to surface back to our home base. We've gone back a time or two, recovering more resources, and still haven't fully explored the network of shafts and caverns.

My son recalled from his previous exposure to the game you can create a map, and once you have a map you can continue crafting it to make it larger and reveal more of the world. Well, our map is now as large as it gets and we are a mere speck in relation to the totality of the world.

And then the unthinkable happened.

I was out exploring the surrounding areas in search of a suitable place to build, and well the sun started going down. I thought I had enough time to get back to home base in time, but during my trek home, I got lost. It was pitch black, there were monsters everywhere and I could not for the life of me find my way back to our base. I was getting a little panicky and then the monsters attacked. First it was a zombie here and a skeleton there, but then the entire spectrum of monsters converged on my location. And I died. I dropped everything I was carrying in the bottom of a crater from the Creeper who finally took me out.

Just as frustrating, I re-spawned and tried finding my way back to the location where I died to collect my belongings and I couldn't find it. You have like five minutes before your belongings de-spawn, and I ran back and forth trying to find my junk, and never did. It was gone.

The map...it's just too big. It's like this game is on steroids.

I hate you Minecraft.

You overwhelm me as I stand there feeling small and insignificant...and lost. How are you even possible, you and all of your blocks?

This game has to have the biggest landscape in the history of gaming. Sure, games like Far Cry 3 are large open world games, but they pale in comparison to the landscape and terrain found in Minecraft. If you've played it on Xbox 360 and thought it was huge, you ain't seen nothing. Forty minutes, in a boat, heading west.

Psst. Hey Minecraft, don't tell anybody but I forgive you...can we play now?