Minecraft and The Guardian Farm

I mentioned at the end of a previous post how Aaron walled up and drained the area around an undersea monument.  Impressive stuff.

Dry monument

Dry monument

As it turns out, he was not done yet.

I had not been paying attention to his monument as I was off in my usual routine of base building in an attempt to populate a bit of the great northern road.  So it came as some surprise when he dropped us an email about his ongoing efforts with the monument.  (Screen shots provided by him, shrunk a bit by me as they were very large.)

First he decided to trade out the sand wall for a glass wall around the monument.

Monument with an undersea view

Monument with an undersea view

According to Aaron, the original effort with sand required about 8,000 blocks of sand in order to wall off the whole thing, plus some additional sand segment the whole thing up in to sections to be drained.

On the bright side, he then has plenty of sand on hand to convert into glass blocks, burning through 15 full stacks of coal in the process. (There was no handy source of lava I gather.)

Once that was done, the “what next?” question struck.  After pondering just moving in and living in the monument, Aaron decided to strip it away.

The monument stripped back a few layers

The monument stripped back a few layers

That completed, he went to work and built a monument guardian farm in the space where the monument used to reside.  More work and more glass.

Guardian farm complete

Guardian farm complete

And there it was.  I had to visit this new structure… though it took me a bit.  It is as impressive in person as you might imagine.

The guardians spawn in the large tank then eventually fall through the porous bottom… made so by signs… into a flowing water that drives them over the edge and through a layer of lava.

Dropping through the lava layer...

Dropping through the lava layer…

The lava is also held in place by wooden signs which, unlike all other wood in the game, fails to catch fire when in close proximity of lava.

The fish then drop onto the killing floor where the expire through a combination of burning and the blunt force trauma of the fall.

Flaming fried fish

Flattened flaming fried fish

Below that floor is a series of hoppers that route the remains to a sorting machine that drops the resulting items into appropriately labeled chests.

All sorted out for you

All sorted out for you

You end up with fish, prismarine crystals, and prismarine shards.  The shards appear to be the most common, followed by crystals and fish.  The shards and crystals can be combined to create sea lanterns, though you need five crystals and four shards, which means you have a lot of excess shards.  But the shards can be used to make prismarine bricks as well, a blue-green block that I will have to build something with at some point.

I addition, the whole thing is located on a chunk that spawns slime at night as well.

Slime visitor

Slime visitor

Some trivia provided by Aaron about his structure:

  • Once torn down, the materials which made up the monument fit into roughly 5 or 6 double chests.  Temple in a box for Christmas!
  • The first filter of the farm alone is comprised of 1,296 signs – which took 702 chunks (~11 stacks) of wood to make.
  • I’m not sure what my “sand blocks used” tally was before this started, but presumably it wasn’t much in that I’d only used sand for the glass to the roof of my home base.  Now that number sits at over 44,000.  The “times mined” number is within a hair’s breadth of 60,000.  (Yes, I went through a ton of shovels.)
  • The interior volume of the spawn chamber is 25,920 blocks.
  • The initial length of the “fall damage” section of the kill unit was too short and I ended up quickly accumulating dozens of guardians bouncing around on the hopper pad.  This meant I had to extend the fall column while it was occupied and new little friends were dropping in at a horrible rate.  That was fun.
  • By the time that was done, I had to dig down another couple levels (sadly stopped by bedrock) in order to expand the storage at the end of the sorter because the drops were come in too fast.
  • During demolition, I found that there was a pretty sizable chamber wrapped around 3/4 of the perimeter of the temple with no entrance or egress – which means I totally missed it during my initial drying-out of the interior.  Man, were its occupants pissed when I finally broke in.

And then he also made a beacon, which required him to spawn and defeat a wither to acquire a nether star, and then put the beacon on top of a pyramid of material blocks.  In his case, he went for blocks of emeralds, having farmed his villagers for the materials.

Beacon, deep within his base

Beacon, deep within his base

The beacon itself shoots a beam of light into the sky that is about the most visible object you can create in the game.

Beacon lighting the sky

Beacon lighting the sky

So that is what he has been up to.  At some point I will have to write something about his base, which includes a slime block based elevator that almost never kills anybody anymore.

EverQuest Phinigel Server – A True Box Progression Server

The EverQuest team is prepping another nostalgia run with a new progression server, which will mean that there will be a total of five such servers in play with Fippy Darkpaw, Vulak, Ragefire, and Lockjaw still chugging along.

The nostalgia is strong in Norrath.

Named for Phinigel Autropos, the last known knight of the Kedge, this is going to be a special progression server according to Daybreak.

Phinigel awake...

Phinigel awake…

The Phinigel time locked progression server is aimed at addressing some of the more common complaints about the past round of servers, specifically Ragefire and Lockjaw.

To this end, you will only be able to log into the server with one client from a single computer.  Multi-boxing a pile of characters from a single computer will be blocked.  As the Daybreak team put it, if you want to multi-box you will have to do it the old-fashioned way.

A Computer for every client

A Computer for every client

(Real old-school would have had a half dozen scrounged 15″ CRTs.)

In addition to this, the whole open world raiding log jam will be addressed by having both open world and instanced versions of the big bosses.  From Daybreak:

The big raid targets from each expansion will be instanced. While bosses like Lady Vox, Lord Nagafen, and (/cough) Phinigel Autropos (hey, THAT’S where we got the name!) will still spawn out in the world, groups of players will ALSO be able to have these targets available to them via Raid Instances.

The instanced raids’ targets have an account-wide 6.5 day lockout and will have the same difficulty as the non-instanced version of the raid target. Note that raid bosses on progression servers have had their difficulties increased since the launch of Ragefire.

So the bosses will be out in the open if you want to compete for them and hidden away in an instance on a timer if you just want to raid and not deal with external guild drama. (Internal guild drama is still on you.)

And, finally, voting will be dispensed with and expansions will unlock on a regular, 90 day schedule.  People can just be angry about that schedule being too short/long rather than claiming vote fraud.

So what will EverQuest players find to complain about in the forums this time around?  I have no doubt they will find something.  Recruit a friend is always popular.

All of this kicks off on December 9th.  We’ll see if the tradition holds and Daybreak has to open up a second server, though with all of the multi-zone instancing work they have done, I hope they can keep the population on a single server.

And, as always, in order to play on the Phinigel server you will have to have Daybreak All Access active on your account.  I’ll have to see how I feel when the launch date arrives.  I am currently not playing any fantasy MMORPGs at the moment and it is strange.  Of course, Gaff is now trying to get me back to LOTRO, so we shall see…

In Which We Blob

The purging of Cloud Ring continues, though mostly while I am asleep.  Waffles and Pandemic Horde changed their vulnerability widow to be during AUTZ, so the Entosis Link ops have been left to Lemba’s Korean’s in DOKDO and Arsehole squad, the AU/NZ time zone SIG in The Imperium.  So I wake up in the morning and can see the fleet pings that went out overnight.

While The Mittani’s optimistic six day forecast now seems… well, optimistic… the purge doesn’t seem to be in doubt.  The desired end state though… I’m not sure what that is.  We don’t want any hostiles living in that region, so we are purging them.  But we don’t want to take the sov ourselves, so we didn’t, for example, drop a TCU in W-4NUU after we killed the Pandemic Horde TCU, which allowed them to drop one and take the sovereignty right back. (Though reset to 0, so the system is easier to take/retake.)  And we have seen that our only friend in the region, Fweddit, can’t hold the whole region by itself, so I am not sure who we expect to come live there.  Who wants to live next to us?

Anyway, there has been day by day coverage over at The Nosy Gamer under the Kickstarter War tag.

Having avoided Cloud Ring completely, I did get into one fleet over the weekend, once that ended up in a fight.  There is a story about it up at TMC that I find a bit confusing.  The copy makes it sound like the whole thing was a surprise when, in fact, there were pings out for a “max dudes stratop” nearly 24 hours in advance.  Maybe I have misunderstood.  I guess we did pour in over time.

Anyway, the pings were out far enough in advance for me to get down to our staging system in Pure Blind and be online and ready to go.  Well, mostly ready to go.  I ran down in an interceptor and wasn’t keen to buy a doctrine ship off contract until I knew what fleets were going up.

When the ping for fleets went out, the initial options were Tengu fleet or Harpy fleet.  Later Cawk fleet was added to handle all the people piling into the system and trying to get into a fleet.  I opted for Harpy fleet because, if nothing else, a Harpy is cheap and warps faster than a Tengu and looks better as well.

Harpy out and flying about

Harpy out and flying about

Also, with three Basilisks lost already this month, I might be past my limit on reimbursement.  No need to risk losing a Tengu or a Basi.

Anyway, I got into fleet and immediately began looking forward to the next Reavers deployment.  It has been a while since I have been in the main fleet during an op.  Somewhere around 500 of us showed up, got in fleets, and starting flying towards some distant destination, leaving time dilation and tasty stragglers for MOA in our wake.

We reached UMI-KK about an hour after I joined the fleet, a system where I had both a jump clone and a Harpy standing by, so if I had known I could have saved myself the first part of the journey and the price of a Harpy.  The cost of op sec.

We didn’t have to go the whole way by gates.  We did take one jump bridge.  When we arrived there, the guy who said he had a three day timer before he could take a jump bridge and was told we would be taking one, again announced his timer issue.  I suppose he expected us to all slog an additional half dozen gates to keep him safe.  We took the jump bridge and let him fend for himself.

We left one Harpy behind

We left one Harpy behind

From the far end of the jump bridge it was a few more jumps through tidi until we finally arrived at MR4-MY in Geminate.  Our FC was hurrying us along at that point, as it sounded like the fight was going to end soon.  Sure enough, things certainly seemed to be in progress when we got there.

Fight in MR4-MY

Fight in MR4-MY, many bubbles

After some mucking about just out of range of all of the fun, our FC pointed us at the two biggest targets on the field, the two Archon carriers supporting the NCDot fleet.

The prized on the field

The prized on the field

Everybody loves a capital ship kill.  And certainly everybody seemed to get on those kills.  There were 741 involved parties on the first carrier kill, and 717 on the second.  I also managed to get on the kills of a Proteus, a Damnation, and a Devoter.   But that was about it.  After that, the field was clear and it was time to head back home.

The battle report shows 865 of us blobbing 121 of them, inflicting 43 billion ISK in damage for about 5.5 billion in losses.  That is the old CFC way.

And then it was another hour getting back to our staging system.  The whole thing went a little longer than three hours, so at least we got two participation links for the effort.  But it was a reminder of what big fleet fights can be like in the main fleet, with time dilation, hours of travel, uneven levels of skill, and coms that made me hide in the “no chatter” channel.  After that, a Reavers deployment feels like a vacation.

The Fountain War – A Video Documentary

Scott Manley has put together a video about the Fountain War, going through the players, how the war came about, and how it played out. (Direct link)

Of course, this coincides with the struggling Fountain War novelization Kickstarter campaign.

Reinforcements bridge in

The fight at 6VDT-H

And I have my own tales of the Fountain War, collected here, from which a number of the assets for the video were drawn.

War in Cloud Ring and Beyond

In some ways, this is the same old story of war in null sec.

A group on our boarder… and in my time that group has been White Noise, Raiden, Northern Coalition, AAA, TEST, Northern Coalition, and Northern Coalition… they do come up a lot in our wars… has made it clear they want a fight.

This is null sec in EVE Online, it is what we do.  And so there will be a war.

And, in some ways, this is a new story of war in null sec.

In past wars our enemies have held sovereignty, have lived on our boarders, and thus have presented us with a target… as our systems have presented them with a target… to attack.  Victory equaled conquest.  If one side took the other side’s systems, they won.

Under Fozzie Sov, holding systems isn’t as easy as it once was.  You have to actually live in the systems you want to hold if you want them to be defensible.  Various groups responded to this change in different ways.  CVA and the rest of the Providence Bloc, which has long actually lived in their, went on pretty much as before.  The Imperium reduced its holdings to a more defensible perimeter and began actually encouraging people to rat and mine, things that raise the ADM of systems.  And some groups, like Northern Coalition, got out of the sovereignty holding business almost completely.

At one point one third of null sec systems were part of rental empires, with Northern Coalition holding vast swathes of space as part of their Northern Associates subsidiary.  If you go back and look at the sovereignty map from a year back, they are a giant brown stain on the south end of null sec space.

Today Northern Associates is out of business and NCDot themselves hold just four systems down in Delve.  And I am not sure they would shed a tear if somebody took those systems.

Northern Coalition null sec holdings...

Northern Coalition null sec holdings…

Instead, they are living out of low sec space near our boarder and ranging into our territory.  As Noizy put it, a vision of the Roman Empire in a way, with barbarians of no fixed address raiding established lands.

Actually, that is the SECOND part of the coming war.  As The Mittani announced in his State of the Goonion address yesterday (available here on Twitch), the first part is purging Cloud Ring of hostile parties.  That should be the comparatively easy bit.  The region itself, which has earned the nickname “content ring” of late, is already half in the possession of The Imperium or socially friendly elements already.

Cloud Ring - November 20, 2015

Cloud Ring – November 20, 2015

J4LP, whom I am going to refer to as Fweddit, since that is the corp that holds the sov (and their chicken logo is the best thing about their organization) was formerly in the CFC and remains an ally; they hold 14 of the 40 systems in the region, while Imperium member SpaceMonkey’s Alliance holds another 6.

So we just have to clear out the rest.

We can bring our weight to bear on that sort of mission, the whole thing being pretty much in our back yard.  It is something we know how to do.  I am not sure if it will be a mere six day campaign, but there will be timers and events and obvious points where we can bring our advantage in numbers.  We don’t want the region, but we’re not going to suffer hostiles living there either.

After which will come the difficult bit.  We will be heading into low sec in a punitive expedition to hunt down our foes living there.  We will have some leverage to bring people to fights.  We will be destroying any structures we can find, so more timers.  But outside of that, our ability to influence events in order to force our foes to battle, barring any sort of days long hell camp, runs out fairly quickly.  This could very well turn into chasing Pancho Villa around.

Also, low sec is an area where we traditionally do not operate and where the rules change, with gate guns and security status and no warp disruption bubbles and people fitting warp core stabilizers.  It is bizarre.  So much so that we require a new doctrine in order to face this challenge, one based on the Proteus strategic cruiser.  More skills to train.

And finally there is the narrative, which our foes have largely represented as The Mittani being angry about various things.  In listening to his speech, he sounded more tired to me.  It was not an inspiring presentation.  He said all the usual words, but seemed to lack the martial spirit required to make them stick.

And so it goes.  We shall see how this plays out.

My own first action of the war was to jump back to high sec and buy the skills I needed for the new doctrine, so that I might be trained up enough to fly during the low sec phase of the war.  I got the skills, injected them, set up my queue, and then something in the back of my head said, “You know the Proteus is the Gallente strategic cruiser, right?”  I had bought and injected all the Amarr skills.  So I bought and injected all the Gallente skills, redid my queue, and am now waiting for my jump clone timer to wind down so I can return to null sec.

Quote of the Day – Let’s Not Talk About Money

I am tired of having my conversations with players be about the money. I want it to be 100% about the game.

John Smedley, Twitter

I can buy that… so to speak.  I’m tired of games constantly reminding me that I need to buy things.  And a lot of people seem to be jumping on Smed’s post about not going with the F2P model after being such a proponent of the business model.  SynCaine, Keen, and Massively OP all went there pretty quickly, each with their own take. (Oh, and I missed Jewel somehow.)

Not that Smed has ceased to be a fan of the model.

I still think F2P is a great model, but for the reasons I stated we’re going in a different direction.

John Smedley, Twitter

Sure.  Certainly some companies have made it work very well.  It is hard to argue with success.  But I am not sure where to go with this next quote.

too many people not related to development end up having a lot to say about the monetization part of games and that sucks shit.

John Smedley, Twitter

My gut response to that is, “Good.”  Part of me is glad that making the decision to bring real-world money transactions into a game so that they are pretty much a constant and intrusive part of the experience doesn’t come without cost to the developer.  I don’t know if he is more concerned about marketing, accounting, senior management, investors, or the customers, or all of the above, but when playing the game is about revenue, as opposed to just buying the game or subscribing to the game, then of course it becomes a focus all around.

Another strike against anybody arguing that business model is somehow separate and distinct from the game itself.  It ain’t, not for the customer, not for the company, and, as we now see, not for the developer either.

And some day Smed will actually have a game to talk about, now that we’ve beat business model to death… though if it ends up not being $20, expect more NGE-level rage! Hah!