This started when, amongst his pile of advice, my pal Xyd mentioned that I should not venture back into the nether without flint and steel to hand.
I wasn’t even sure what flint and steel was, how I would make it, or if I would even be heading back to the nether again in any case.
But, as I have mentioned previously, lighting is a big deal and Xyd had also alluded to alternate lighting options beyond putting torches on every surface in sight. I had seen glowstones in his world, so decided I should look into those. Of course, those appear to source from the nether, so clearly I needed to figure out the whole flint and steel thing.
That was quickly done thanks to the web and soon I had combined a piece of flint with an iron bar to somehow create a flint and steel. But I wasn’t quite sure what it did or why I would need it in the nether.
Of course, I figured fire would have something to do with flint and steel. I have something similar at home for starting a fire when you lack matches. My minimalist nod to survivalism, I’ll be able to make sparks as the world burns.
So after making flint and steel, I decided to see what sort of sparks it would make and managed to immediately set myself on fire. It turns out that it is more like “flint and steel and some lighter fluid” when it comes to how it actually behaves. I could point it at stone and cause a flame to appear and persist for a bit. So I decided to take my new toy outside to see how it worked on things more flammable than stone… besides me, that is.
So I went outside a lit a tree on fire… and it burned!
In fact, it burned so well I started to be a bit afraid that maybe I had started a major forest fire just outside of my castle.
Sure, that would clear out some landscape and deny the skeletons a place to hide during the day, but I didn’t want to have to go out and start cutting fire breaks to control this blaze. So I monitored the burn.
And while it burned along merrily, it did eventually go out.
Satisfied that I wasn’t going to wipe out the landscape… I started setting fire to more trees. Trees that were hanging over my mine cart line, the remains of trees after I had cut down the trunk, and the occasional tree that just looked at me cross-eyed.
I rolled back and forth tossing flame out of my mine cart like a heavy smoker on a country road.
Soon a satellite view of the square mile where I live in Minecraft would have shown many little fires dotting the land.
Eventually I tired of setting random trees alight and went back to what I had planned to do, which was head to the nether in order to find glowstones. But I had already moved my operations to my new encampment, so decided to build a portal to the nether there in order to begin my exploration.
Fortunately we had enough of the materials left from when my daughter built our first portal, so I was able to haul the ten blocks out and assemble a new portal in what I hoped was an appropriate portal containment unit.
I put it all together and then was just staring at a frame of blocks. Clearly I needed to do something. Then I recalled that Xyd had later told me that the reason I never wanted to be without flint and steel in the nether was that sometimes mobs can essentially turn your portal off, and flint and steel is how you reactivate it if it is down. So I clicked my fire throwing device at the portal and it went live!
Off I went to the nether.
And I caught fire again as soon as I entered. There was some burning netherrack right there at the portal. I put some cobblestone down on top of that to put it out so as not to repeat that performance. Then I smoothed out the area around the portal, just because that is the way I am, and put some torches around it for good measure. Then I remember somebody mentioning that netherrack burns… after all, I had just seen it burning right there in front of me… so I gave that a try with my flint and steel. Sure enough, that starts a merry blaze. So I collected some netherrack to bring back with me, but then went back to my glowstone idea.
Glowstones look to form on what I might call the ceiling of the nether, for lack of a better term. And the ceiling was a long way up from where I stood. So I started looking for a way to get up there.
I could have, theoretically, just built some stairs. However, I was a little nervous going up that high just on some stairs I was building as I went, and doubly so over the ocean of lava. Don’t want to fall in! And all the more so since I realized later I still had 20 diamonds in my inventory. Note to self: Check inventory before you go places like this.
I ended up digging my way up to the top of a high point on the terrain, from which I managed to build myself a platform to try and get at the glowstones.
As I got within range, I smacked one with my pick… and it shattered like glass. Uh oh!
However, it left some glowstone dust behind which, a little research showed, could be used to create new glowstones. Once I completed my harvesting I made my way back to the portal and stepped through… only to find myself at our original portal. Somehow the new portal I made was linked to the old one. I could step into either surface portal and end up in the same location in the nether, but from the nether portal I would only land at the original.
I gather, from some quick searching, that the two portals might be too close together. But for now I have essentially instant travel back to our original base. I just have to make sure I keep a mine cart with me for the trip back. (Which takes just under two minutes, leading me to believe that mine carts travel at about 17.75 MPH.)
So I got to drop off some flaming netherrack to brighten up the front yard of the castle.
Then I rode on over to the new camp and put together a glowstone… and was unimpressed. Sure, it glows, but it isn’t as bright as all that. Flaming netherrack though, that puts out some light, and it is dynamic too. I just have to remember not to put it next to a wooden structure or in a building under a wooden ceiling or near a tree. Also, if you just put a block of netherrack on the ground and light it, it will set fire to passing wildlife… and possibly yourself. Put it on top of another block.
Now I have another… if somewhat hazardous… light source to play with. And glowstones. I think I must be doing something wrong with the glowstones. I’ll have to work on that. I came back with 120+ glowstone dust, so I can make a few to experiment with.
Also, one final oddity. I noticed later that places where I had set fires and then left while the fire was still burning… which included several spots along my rail line… seemed to retain the glow of the fire after the fire had burned out.
I am not sure if this is a bug or a feature… well, okay, it sure feels like a bug… but it makes my mine cart trip between bases much brighter at night.