As I mentioned, with the move to a hosted server, my old pal and some time co-conspirator Xyd was able to join me in playing Minecraft. Once set up, he spawned in and began working on his own homestead.
This was actually something of an opportunity, as it allowed me to see how somebody else approached life and structures in the game. My daughter started by building a house, and I took that and stepped up to a castle. Then I moved to a new base and stared on a larger base in something of the model of the Kremlin, a walled area with towers and buildings inside.
I have to keep mining just to have enough cobblestone to finish the walls.
Xyd on the other hand seemed to prefer a more subterranean lifestyle. He hollowed out some area in a hill, made some living spaces and a workshop and an underground garden.
And, of course, he had dug down to level 12 to start mining. His idea for travel down to that level was a little different than mine.
From level 62 in the world, level 12 and the optimum mining zone is way down there.
That speck at the bottom is a one block wide, two block deep pool of water that will keep you from going *splat* at the bottom. Down there is his mining operation, with a ladder back up to the top. The ladder was a hazardous climb for me because the shaft passes through an open cave system at one point and the tourist in me wanted to look, which meant I almost fell off the ladder a few times.
But in addition to all of that, he has a portal in his lair. And being wise in the ways of the nether, he had gone down there through our original portal then used the “divide by eight” coordinates method and built a portal in the right location in the nether so that it would link up correctly with his new portal. This was a change from my own situation where I had two surface portals that linked to a single portal in the nether.
When I went down to see what he had done, the first thing I noticed was how much he had built up in constructing his portal.
While he had lava to contend with, which explained the viaduct, the portal itself was in its own bunker, which seemed a bit of overkill. Then Xyd showed me around the area, including a path to other portals he had built and off to a nether fortress he had discovered.
Along the way we ran into a ghast, the large floating fireball spewing mob that shows up all over the nether.
This encounter encouraged me to follow Xyd’s example and start hauling cobblestone to the nether as I expanded down there. The nether is mostly made up of netherrack which, in addition to its propensity to burn, is also somewhat unsubstantial. It barely takes any time at all to mine and, when the fireball of a ghast hits it, it tends to disappear or catch fire. Encountering a ghast tends to mean leaving all sorts of flaming holes in the terrain.
Cobblestone, however, is more substantial. Ghast fireballs have no effect on it, so far as I can see, so it is safe to run on or hide behind as you try to shoot the ghast down with your bow and arrow. I think I have killed one so far.
Actually, the statistics page says I have killed five, but they don’t leave much behind and I tend to want to get away from the area in any case, paving flaming holes as I go, so I haven’t really been counting.
So I began to pave my way through the nether. I found the spot that aligned with the portal in my new base, built a portal there in the nether, and successfully got them linked up. And then I built a bunker around the site.
Doing all of this… and surviving… made me a bit more confident down in the nether as well. And, of course, laying down cobblestone also made it easier to find my way around. The nether is dark and mostly just netherrack, flaming netherrack, and lava, so that it can feel quite featureless. In this environment some cobblestone is almost a shining beacon, a visible path that is easy to follow.
Given the distance differential between the nether and the overworld, where one step in the nether is eight above, it also seemed like an opportunity to explore via portal. So I headed out in the opposite direction that Xyd had started exploring… where he had thrown up a portal to a deep ocean and a distant forest… to see what I would come up with.
My first portal got me something new. I came up in a desert biome, where I built a little outpost and dropped some supplies.
I will never lack for sand again. Glass for everything. also, some cactus for the farm.
The desert biome was also adjacent to a savanna, so I got two new biomes for the price of one. I harvested some acacia wood and brought back some saplings to plant back at my base. (You can see cactus and an acacia wood fence in the picture of my base above.)
I built a nice path to the new portal, built a bunker around it in the nether, and marked it appropriately.
Having marked that for later exploration, I went further afield, managing to kill myself in some lava by tunneling too aggressively at one point… lava is fast in the nether… until I reached what seemed might be another likely spot and put up another portal.
This time around I came up in a canopy forest, with lots of tall oak trees. Not as new and exciting as the desert or savanna, but another place to explore from. I built a shelter there with some supplies and then made things exciting by planting some netherrack outside the shelter and lighting it, which managed to start a pretty wild forest fire.
So while I still spend most of my time in the overworld building my base… and mining for resources in order to keep building… the nether is a little bit more accessible to me now, and future exploration will likely start at portals put up in the nether. But I’m still staying in my bunker when I hear a ghast.
Also, I read somewhere that if you put down a bed in the nether and try to sleep, the bed explodes. Such a place!