Daily Archives: June 22, 2015

Father’s Day Minecraft

For me, yesterday was just about the perfect Father’s Day.  My wife made French toast and bacon for breakfast, there were burgers off the grill and milkshakes and a movie for dinner (we pulled The Increadibles off the shelf… hard to believe that it came out in 2004…), and in between there was plenty of time for video games.

For that part of the day I did the usual garrison patrol in WoW, a few missions in War Thunder, and a little more time in EVE Online for Burn Amarr.  But my daughter said she wanted to spend time during the day playing a video game with me, and none of those games are really on her list these days.

So I asked her what we should play.  There were a number of options.  But she went straight for her current passion of the moment, Minecraft.

That gave me a moment of pause.  I’m not anti-Minecraft so much as the difference between my daughter and I in Minecraft ability and knowledge is such that I wasn’t sure we could actually play together in a way that wasn’t frustrating to both of us.  She wanted to run off to one or another special server that had various mods or offered PvP or whatever, while I was pretty much at the most basic, vanilla level of ability.  I could move around, dig stuff up, but hadn’t really done enough to have much in the way of Minecraft knowledge.

So my suggestion was that we start our own server with survival mode set so that she and I could play together and she could help me along without having other server residents coming along or confusing the issue.

I went to the Minecraft site and logged in (I’ve actually owned a copy of Minecraft for a couple years at this point and, surprisingly, remembered my account name and password) and grabbed the Windows version of the server.  That was simple enough to get going… at least once I figured out that I needed to open up the EULA.txt file and edit change the entry “eula=false” to “eula=true” in order for it to run.

We then both logged in and started our journey.  My daughter, well versed in the mechanics of the game, immediately dug us out a shelter and built a furnace and crafting station as well as some torches.  Then we harvested resources while the day lasted, then hid in our shelter as night came.  Impatient with that, she built us each a bed which allowed us to “sleep” through the night cycle.  Still, the monsters sometimes linger and I managed to wreck a part of our shelter when a creeper jumped me in the light of day.  I managed to hit him and run away, avoiding the explosion.  However, it happened right next a farming plot my daughter was preparing, digging a big hole where it was setup.

So she decided we needed to move.  We were in a hilly area where monsters could sneak up on us easily.  She ran off to a flatter area to setup shop and I promptly got lost trying to follow her.  Her statement that she was on “the big plain over here,” yelled across the house, wasn’t all that helpful.  She eventually found me and brought me back to our new shelter just as darkness fell.

The next morning I sat around reading a site about crafting in Minecraft and harvesting materials that she needed while she assembled a farm on the roof of our shelter… and built a tall spire with torches all over the top to guide us home as darkness fell if we wandered too far and got lost.  That happened to both of us, which made me feel a bit better.

Our farm

Our farm

We ended up with a mass of chickens and more eggs than we could ever use.  However we needed the eggs, along with the pumpkins (big orange row at the far end) and the sugar cane (green bamboo-like plants in the near distance) in order to make pumpkin pie for food.

I spent a lot of time underground as I mined out huge areas under our shelter in search or iron ore for improved tools.  I wore out a lot of stone tools along the way.  I also chopped down a lot of trees and planted a lot of saplings that dropped in order to maintain a series of replenishing groves.

Eventually my daughter got tired of our venture.  She went off to try and build us a “proper” house, for which I harvested materials.  However it wasn’t shaping up the way she wanted and she was losing interest in our simple world, so she opted to leave and ran off to some of the more exciting worlds online.  We never quite got the house set.

I kept pottering away for a while.  There is a relaxing aspect to just mining away or tending the woods.  Crafting still seems a bit clunky, though I figured out some of the shortcuts.  And, of course, inventory management, always a problem.  What to do with excess eggs, beside throwing them at things.

Eventually I shut things down as the time for dinner approached.  I enjoyed it enough that I took a peek at some Raspberry Pi 2 server options that I could just stick on the network and leave running so that either of us could drop in and continue taming the world whenever.  I’m not sure we’re into it enough to buy a dedicated piece of hardware for it, no matter how cheap.  It might be a better idea just to move the server to my wife’s computer and have it launch as a service.  She leaves her machine on all day, while mine is powered down when I am not home.

We will see if we even end up returning to our little world.

Steam, What Have You Wrought?

Things that are not supposed to happen over the course of a Steam Summer Sale; have your Steam Left number go down.

Before the Steam Summer Sale 2015, my count was:

74 days would get me through the summer...

74 days would get me through the summer…

Here, at the tail end of the sale, with the counter running down, my tally is:

I played some video games

I played some video games

Somewhere in between the start of the search for the summer game and now, I played 12 hours and didn’t buy anything.  And I am not even sure how I played that much, as the only game on Steam I played much of was War Thunder.  Well, time adds up.

Meanwhile, things like Steam Left and the long list of games in my Steam library has trained me over the years to not buy games unless I am going to play them right then and there.  And so I ended up buying nothing from the Steam Summer Sale.

Not that there were not things on sale, often at very attractive prices.

Steam Summer Sale 2015

Steam Summer Sale 2015

There were a number of items on my wishlist that I had my eye on.  Earlier in the year Cities: Skylines seemed to be the rightful heir to Sim City, given the praise it got.   Likewise, Project CARS seemed to be the driving sim of the year, getting high praise from those who purport to know best, with both local and online play available.  Something to replace the soon to depart Need for Speed World maybe?

But I wasn’t on the edge of my seat ready to play either title and the discounts, while good for somewhat recent releases, were not too good to pass up.

Not that discounts levels sold me on anything either.  I had one game on my wishlist that was marked down to $1.24 for the sale… and I didn’t buy it.  I guess that means I ought to take it off my wishlist, since I don’t think it will ever get any cheaper than that.  To be fair, it did have mixed reviews and I put it on the list more to remind me to look into it again than because I was going to buy… but still, at $1.24 you think I’d just buy it.

Apparently not.

Then, of course, there was the sea of titles that interest me a bit, but which are not really my thing.  I am tempted to get Alien: Isolation because I have heard such good things about its atmosphere… and it was 75% off at various times… but in the end it seemed likely to just sit in my library unplayed.

And I always get excited when the Traveller’s Tales LEGO games are on sale… until I remember that they really play like crap on the PC unless you have a game pad… and even when you have a game pad it still feels like an awkward port.  The definitive experience for those games is on a console, in your living room, with a controller.

So I ended up here, at the end of the sale, having purchased nothing.  Which is fine… I hardly needed any more unplayed games in my library.  But it is amusing to consider how things have changed, how the Steam Summer Sale used to be such a big deal and how I would buy things just because they were priced so damn attractively.  Steam has trained me over the years to hold off and only buy things that I am sure I will play.