There is a very human compulsion to throw good money after bad. Once you have invested in something you are likely to continue investing even if it's a logically bad thing to do because you're trying to buy your way back up to zero and mitigate your losses.
Suddenly you go from trying to make money to trying to make sure you don’t lose as much. It can also easily destroy a day if the currency you are investing is time.[break]
Do I have to? Maybe I can find what I need outside instead?
I’ve been quasi-bullied into joining a Minecraft server running the Tekkit mod. For the uninitiated, Tekkit introduces all kinds of technology, fuel, power, new ores and a smattering of magic to Minecraft’s block-based multiplayer world and facilitates the building of things ranging from automated quarries, mining lasers, personal jetpacks and nuclear reactors. In order to build this fantastical machinery, like many of the niftier things in Minecraft, you are required to mine vast quantities of some rather hard to find materials.
There's a Tekkit server for Bit-tech readers, incidentally. Details here
The rule is of course, that the better stuff is deeper underground, so down you go digging a great big hole.
Deeper depths also bring an increased risk of getting mobbed by a cave’s worth of monsters, blown up by an errant creeper miles beneath the surface, falling into lava or causing lava to fall into you, or just simply getting utterly lost and unable to happily return to the surface.
Minecraft is a gambling game. You are gambling your safety for the chance of finding gold, diamonds and more.
Exciting iron and something white that I'm not so sure about.
Any one of those dangers, especially the lava based ones, have the potential to wipe out hours of time by either destroying your inventory of just killing you somewhere that you have no hope of finding again. Every world generated by Minecraft is immense above and below the surface and the hope of finding your way back to some remote underground cavern is going to be minimal at best.
That doesn't mean you won't try of course. I lost the better part of my Sunday trying to find my lost inventory. I had got turned around whilst on a hunt for some rubber trees (needed for making insulated wiring of course) and wandered miles away from home, initially north, but possibly eventually south.
Over-confident, I was travelling by night with limited torchlight and a growing train of zombies, skeletons, spiders and exploding creepers on my tail. As the realisation of being lost hit me, so did one of said creepers.
Hey! That creeper is making the same face as me!
Hastily hitting respawn, I realised the only thing I could really remember about where I had died was that there was water and trees nearby.
The better part of a day later, I did find my kit up a hill and behind a tree. Even with it there in front of me I had no recollection of being in that location. I had made my way back to zero, but at a great cost of my time.
The hunt was all consuming. It would have been quicker to start from scratch, but logic is no friend to the drive to recover your losses, to try and cover up your mistakes and make it look like you never screwed up in the first place.
Falling into lava could actually be a blessing in disguise here. It forces you to restart and begin from scratch. When there's a hope no matter how slim of recovering your losses, for many people it will be irresistible.
I think I know how this is going to end.
The daft thing is that starting from scratch in Minecraft is actually a lot of fun. It's probably my favourite part of the game. It's like a Friday evening as you leave the office with a weekend full of promise and potential stretching ahead of you. Although losing your stuff is more like the Sunday evening of regret that you've misspent your weekend, you are only a mental shift away from recapturing that overwhelmingly positive feeling.
I would be very interested to hear if people find damage control takes a significant proportion of their Minecraft time or indeed gaming time in general. Fighting my way back to where I started seems to be a fairly common fixture in my gaming schedule.
I don't mind Minecraft being a time-sink when it's going forwards, but having seen my tendency to take two steps back for every two forward, it has been enough to temper my enthusiasm for heading back to the server.
That, and the fact that a friend of mine sheepishly informed me of a "nuclear incident" that happened near my beautifully crafted outpost a couple of days ago...