Game Theory: The Mystery of Minecraft’s Haunted Discs (Minecraft)

Since the beginning, there’s been (glitchy voice) Herobrine. One mystery long unanswered in the world of Minecraft. (static) One set of game design decisions so creepy, so- (glitch) disturbing that they feel like they come from a completely different game. It’s a riddle that once- (static) solved, exposes more of the hidden lore that’s buried deep inside this world. Today we’re we’re covering the mystery of the broken discs “11” and “13”. (screaming) (Windows error sound) Hello Internet, welcome to Game Theory! Can you dig it? So, last Minecraft episode we started an epic quest. Well, everyone else gets to play around with their giant meatballs and deadly skyboxes, here we are doing the important work. Solving the hidden lore that’s buried inside this game. Because it is there! I started to prove that last time and it is just waiting to be unlocked by us. I asked all of you to send me your theories and you did. The response was overwhelming. With hundreds of new theories posted in the comments, as well as over on the Game Theorist subreddit. Everything from the origins of the Pigmen to the literally burning questions of the Nether. Keep them coming guys. In full transparency, I’m still reading through them, and I’m working on compiling all the information to see where we go to next. But today, I actually wanted to tackle a Minecraft mystery that always bugged me personally, and one that I didn’t see many theorists actually talking about when I made the call for theories. Today, I want to talk about the music discs. For those of you who don’t know, music disks are unique items found randomly in chests that can be played in jukeboxes, to, you know, liven up what’s otherwise a very quiet, serene game. (cat meows) No, not that. The music disks are something to really set the mood. (funky music) Uhhh, wrong mood guys. (“13” from Minecraft begins to play) Perfect. These discs can also be dropped by Creepers when they’re killed by arrows shot from either a skeleton or a stray. It’s an odd spawn mechanic, but alright, we’ll just go with it. Let that beat drop, Creeper. Literally. Creeper, let it drop. You don’t even have hands! How could you be holding this thing in the first place? Other than that, though, there’s really no other way to obtain them. It can’t be crafted after all. Now all of that isn’t particularly interesting right? But where this goes from just being another item to a full-on gaming creepypasta is right here. Discs “11” and “13”. You see, most music disks in the game have fairly innocuous names and music, like “Blocks,” (“Blocks” plays; upbeat music) “Mall,” (“Mall” plays; serene music) and “Cat,” (“Cat” plays; bright, synthetic music) one of the first two music disks ever added into the game. But, along with “Cat,” there was one other, simply titled “13,” and unlike all the other ambient, chill-out music, this one was, well, it was unsettling. Outside of it not having a name and also being numbered after what many consider to be an unlucky or evil number, so much so that airplanes and hotels don’t even have 13th rows and floors — Fun fact. Check it out next time you’re in a hotel or an airplane — “13” also cuts off abruptly right in the middle of the track. (“13” plays; ambient music plays, and is then cut off) And when it comes back, we’re suddenly hit with echoey otherworldly noises leading many people to assume that this was a record left by the alien-like Enderman. But then the mystery got even deeper. When version 1.0.0 came out, nine more music tracks were added to the game, with yet another disk going unnamed. This time, it was disc “11.” And where number “13” was mildly unsettling, “11” outright screams to us that we’re not in the Overworld anymore friends. Starting right off the bat with desperate running, heavy breathing, and coughing. (“11” plays; running, coughing, and breathing) And here all along I thought that Minecraft was for kids. Can you imagine finding this as a child, playing this game, putting it on the jukebox, being excited to hear what you just found and then, what? You suffer from PTSD because of what you hear. Actually, I probably don’t even have to ask you to imagine this sort of thing. I’m sure many of you watching probably had that exact same experience when you were playing the game as a kid. Bring in the cuboidal nightmares. [The Heavy Weapons Guy]
I fear no man. But that thing, it scares me. [MATPAT]
Adding to the mystery, “11” is broken. Shattered to pieces. These two discs led many people to conclude one of two things: either they were documenting someone who was attacked by Enderman, or they were of someone being chased around by Herobrine, the ghostly glitch that many say haunted the games code in the early days of mining and crafting. But that’s largely where the discussion of these things stopped — guesses. To my knowledge, no one has truly taken a scientific look at analyzing these two discs to try and uncover the mysteries that they contain. So, today, I am doing exactly that. Using a combination of audio analysis, visualization tools, metagame analysis, and just good ol’ logic to try and end the childhood nightmare that was these two discs. And in the process, I’m hoping that what we find continues to unravel the mysteries of the deeper lore hidden within this games files. Now before I get into any deep analysis of the audio itself, I want to start by actually analyzing these soundtracks visually. As many of you may remember from my video on the Fortnite Season 5 ARG, it’s relatively easy to hide clues within audio files. But sometimes those clues aren’t necessarily ones you’re going to hear. Often times they’re ones that you’re going to see. They’re called spectrograms, visual representations of the frequencies that you’re hearing in a sound file. It’s a technique that we’ve actually used a lot when creating clues for our Game Theorists ARG; weird sounding audio files like this: (garbled noise) that when changed into a visual format, give you everything from web addresses to secret passwords like this. Wait? What is this? What’s this code? I wonder where that could lead to? Yeah, yeah, that’s it, 7v7… No way. No way. I can’t believe it! New back to school Game Theory merch?! Wow, this stuff looks perfect for any mining or crafting adventure. Forget diamond armor, the only thing I want to be wearing around is this heavy duty theorist backpack, perfect for storing school books, laptops or cubes of dirt, or a pickaxe apparently, since I told Chris to buy some props for the shoot, he instead purchased real pickaxes. As opposed to, you know, Minecraft-y toy ones. And that’s not all. We’ve got ourselves a hardshell pencil case perfect for keeping your favorite art supplies sharp, organized, and intact. Take my emeralds, please. And speaking of pens and pencils, there’s a brand new hardcover journal where you can start putting them to use, drawing your own fan art, crafting your own theories. Heck, it even comes complete with notes and illustrations from past Game Theory and Film Theory episodes, including Bendy and the Ink Machine and Harry Potter. It’s all available right now by diggy digging a hole in the top line of the description. You don’t need a safety torch to find that one. Go now, since, unlike, in Minecraft where everything is unlimited, here we have a limited supply, and once they’re gone we can’t craft anymore. Now, where was I? Oh, yeah. Discs “11” and “13.” Discs “11” and “13”, well, they are certainly creepy sound files, they’re not filled with the types of sounds that would make me immediately think to put them through a spectrogram. However, there was one finding that I wanted to put to the test for today’s theory, ’cause I was kind of skeptical about the results that they had. A French Minecrafter named BSIdro supposedly made a spectrogram of the sound files and said that he found both a Creeper face and the numbers 12418 hidden inside. It sounded like a lot of fake news to me and the screenshots that were circulating the internet just felt a bit too perfect. A bit too photoshop-y feeling for me, so I redid the whole spectrograph test using my own tools, and this is what I found. It was 100% true. This wasn’t just a bunch of karma fodder, something cool that someone made up to try and get people’s upvotes. The images are actually there, hidden within the sound file. Then what does it mean? Well interestingly enough, the numbers appear to be a secret signature inserted in there by the music’s producer. Minecrafts’ music was produced by a man named Daniel Rosenfeld, better known online as C418. And, wouldn’t you know it, but the numbers, one, two, 12, and hexadecimal code, or hex code, translates to the letter C. Thus we have 12418 actually being a code for C418, his online name. The Creeper face, meanwhile, well, it’s a Creeper face. Maybe these tracks are less made by the Enderman and more a product of our little moss bombs. To know for sure, though, we have to keep digging. To continue being good little AV Club members here, we’re gonna need the A(udio) to go along with the V(ideo) that we just analyzed, hopefully giving us a clear picture of what exactly is going on. So, let’s play this thing, starting where it all began, disc “13”. Here’s a copyright neutral clip. (“13” plays; ambient noise) Okay, so obviously this takes place in a cave. We have sounds that are echoing, reverberating with wet dripping sounds and chimes. But we don’t just have to speculate about this. What we’re hearing in disc “13” are very clearly cave ambient sounds. The ones specifically programmed into the game to play when you’re in a dark eerie underground place. Here’s a moment from disc “13,” (“13” plays; chimes) and here’s one of the matching cave ambience tracks, (high-pitched chiming) But it goes even further. Nowadays in Minecraft there are nineteen different cave ambience tracks. But back when disc “13” was first introduced, guess how many there were? Thirteen. Thirteen isn’t just a spooky number here, it’s a reference to the number of cave ambient sounds that existed in the game. But what else are we hearing here? Well, at 1:43, there’s the faint sound of a Creeper hiss and explosion echoing through the cave. Here’s the clip: (soft hiss, followed by explosion) And here’s that iconic sound as we usually hear it in game (hiss, followed by explosion) It’s immediately followed by the sound of someone falling into water and then staggering out. You can almost hear their footsteps. (footsteps and water sloshing) But it seems to suggest is a caver exploring a cave, running into a Creeper, and then having to jump into a pool of water to avoid the ensuing explosion. He gets out slightly injured and then tries to find a place to hide. But there are two other audio clues here that are worth mentioning. The first happens at the 1-minute mark. You can actually hear faint sounds of arrows being shot. Here’s the audio: (whizzing noises) And here’s the sound effect in-game: (pronounced whizzing) But while we hear two arrows being shot, we actually only hear one of them land in the ground. The other one remains silent, which suggests that it hit its target. Now, what mob is found in caves and also happens to fire arrows? Skeletons. Now, remember something that I mentioned before: the music discs are found either in chests or via a very random mechanic of a skeleton stray arrow going on and killing a Creeper. And what do we have in disk “13?” In this one audio disc, we have a Creeper exploding, and a mob firing arrows at us. The reason Creepers drop music discs when hit by skeletons or stray arrows: It’s a reference to disc “13” The last thing worth noting, here, is the cutoff that I mentioned earlier. The disc stops abruptly after the arrows fire, and picks up as the Creeper starts hissing. It’s a cutoff that’s not only unsettling, but one that, wouldn’t you know it, it also happens at exactly 1:30 in to the track. One, three. Disc “13.” Oh, yeah. And, wouldn’t you know it, but the Creeper starts to hiss exactly thirteen seconds after that cutoff. Slow clap, Daniel. Slow clap. You use that number “13” to its fullest, here. So, those are all fun little Easter eggs, but why is it cutoff? What are we missing? Well, for that, let’s turn to disc “11,” which is, quite honestly, a bit more straightforward. Somebody is running on stone, (footsteps and heavy breathing) uses some metallic object that clicks, (clicking) then uses a paper object, based on the rustling we hear, (rustling) before finally running away, first on stone, and then either on dirt or gravel. (footsteps) (footsteps and crunching) Throughout the audio, though, we have a disturbing addition: coughing and heavy breathing. Human coughing. Sounds that feel very out of place in our perfect little block world. And then it just cuts off. No words, no music, no explanation. Just cuts off at the 1:11 mark. Um, one minute and eleven seconds, you don’t get a second slow clap. But seriously, it’s no wonder these things became a creepypasta in their own right. To throw something like this into a game that has a massive audience of nine-year-olds? And suddenly this becomes a complete horror show. Even as an adult, this feels like it belongs more in my creepy Film Theory episodes than in the realm of Diamond Minecart and CaptainSparklez. But, okay. Let’s start working on identifying some of those mysterious sounds. It turns out that the easiest way to narrow down what we’re actually hearing isn’t audio analysis, it’s game analysis. We know the metallic clicking has to be flint and steel by process of elimination. Disc “11” was officially added as a music disc on July 30, 2010. Other metallic objects were actually added later, like the compass, which was introduced later that year in September, whereas flint and steel has been present in the game before it even had a numbering system. The same is true for the paper object. It can’t be a map, since maps didn’t appear in the game until much later; April 27, 2011. A full year after the disk was introduced, meaning that our caver would have to be using either paper or a book of some form. So, he lights himself a fire and presumably starts writing on the paper or book. Almost as if he’s keeping a journal. And, wouldn’t you know it, but throughout Minecraft’s extended lore, we have ourselves multiple instances of historians who document their findings in this world via journal of some sort. My last episode on Enderman, for instance, talked a lot about the the Mobestiary, which was one such book written from the perspective of an explorer in this world. And more recently, in July of 2019, we got ourselves Minecraft: The Lost Journals, A novel, which literally has ripped torn pages from an explorer named Nicholas who finds and gets trapped in locations like the Nether. Perhaps this person that we’re hearing in the audio files is Nicholas. There’s no really solid evidence to that, but it could very well be. Or, perhaps, any of the authors of any of the journals that exists in the Minecraft extended universe– we can’t quite be sure who it is. But we can be sure that these two disks connect with each other. They’re telling the same story. Despite there being less reverb in disc “11,” we know that it’s also taking place in a cave based on the types of blocks our adventurer is running on. Dungeons contain cobble and mossy cobble. Strongholds didn’t exist back then, and we’re not hearing ourselves any grass. Only stone and dirt. Meaning that probability says it’s most likely a cave. Could it be the same cave that we heard back in disc “13?” Well, when you look at the events, it seems to continue the story that was set up in disc “13.” Disc “11” slots in perfectly at the breakpoint that we hear in disc “13.” Our cave explorer gets attacked by arrows from a skeleton at the beginning of “13.” The audio breaks, but when we pick up back in disc “11,” we hear him running away, presumably escaping the arrows to a safe area where he can light a fire and record the findings in his journal. However, he’s caught off guard by a Creeper — a Creeper that causes him to get up and run away, and, as we hear back when disc “13” picks back up again — explodes, resulting in him jumping into water at the last minute to avoid the explosion. We end our little vignette here with him trying to find some place to hide and dry off. Heck, perhaps that’s why disc “11” is shattered in the first place. It broke during the explosion with the Creeper. Or during our caver’s fall. And that, my fellow miners and crafters, seems to be the story of disc “11” and “13.” A story of Creepers and skeletons, and why music disks spawn that way. A story of journalists who are lost underground in caves. A story of broken records and hidden visual Easter eggs. But what’s most interesting of it all is that it confirms a part of my last theory. The belief that there was an ancient civilization of builders present here in these games before we arrived. People who came before us. No, these disks weren’t created by Enderman, but perhaps more unsettling, they were made by men men. Humans, who aren’t here any longer. A race of people who tried to explore, document, and understand the mysteries of this world, but didn’t survive long enough to pass their knowledge on to us. Their journals are lost, their records are broken, their structures are left empty. Sure, discs “11” and “13” might not be as creepy as we once believed them to be when we were younger playing this game, but they allude to something much more dire, an existential dread. This cave explorer is gone. Without a trace. His people are gone. Vanished into thin air. And now, we’re here. Alone, putting together the lost pieces of this civilization. Could the same thing that happened to them happen to us? But, hey. That’s just a theory. A Game Theory! (whispers) Thanks for watching. (whispers) New merch. (whispers) Top of the description.

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