Back to Minecraft at last.
Despite the war in Providence in EVE Online, I’ve still probably played more Minecraft in the last two weeks than internet spaceships. Minecraft lends itself to shorter play sessions. I have seen Xyd pop in to mine during the short interval while his kids brush their teeth and get ready for bed.
And there is always something to do in Minecraft. And, after the great outage of last week, the list of things to do including rebuilding our infrastructure in the nether. I still am not sure why that did not restore correctly while the overworld restored just fine.
Xyd and I have both been down there, dodging ghasts and building roads between our re-established portals while generally ignoring the local residents, the tribes of zombie pigmen that wander about the nether.
Up to this point I have generally left the zombie pigmen alone. Occasionally one will wander in through a portal and I’ll slaughter him, but my daughter told me that they are what we used to call “social mobs” back in TorilMUD, meaning that if you attack one of them, the rest in the area will join in the fight.
At one point I was down in the nether having logged in and hit my portal to continue on the infrastructure work, only to find that I had yet again neglected to check my inventory. It was full up, so I wasn’t collecting up any netherrack.
Among the items cluttering up my inventory were a couple of stacks of eggs. Eggs are annoying in that they only stack to 16 (though pumpkins stack to 64, which is both silly and makes the creating of pumpkin pies a bit more arduous that it might otherwise be) and that it is pretty easy to inadvertently pick them up because chickens leave them laying about all over.
So, down there in the nether, I did what I often do with excess eggs; I threw them.
Some of them will hatch into chicks when thrown, which will then grown up into chickens, so in a way I am helping spread them further about the world or, in this case, the nether. I have even seen some chickens wandering our area of the nether, including one being ridden by a zombie pigman child.
Following my usual practice, I just turned to the side and launched the eggs into the middle distance in quick succession without really aiming or even looking where I was throwing until the eggs were in the air.
Of course, my eggs were headed towards a band of zombie pigmen, and a couple managed to strike one dead on.
There were some angry grunts and the lot of them began running towards me. I immediately fled.
The chased me to the nearest portal and knocked me out of it before it could move me to safety, so I ran off to the next one down the line. As I ran, I noticed more zombie pigmen joining the chase. A group blocked me and killed me just shy of the portal to my desert outpost.
As it happened, that was the last place I had slept, so I came back to the game in the desert. Now to go back and get my stuff.
Here is where I started to really learn about zombie pigman aggro. It seems that they don’t forget. I came through the portal into the nether only to hear their grunts of anger. I ran off toward another portal, leading a parade of pigmen behind me. I spotted my stuff, but kept running as the pigs were in hot pursuit.
They caught me before I could escape and so I died again and was back in the desert.
However, I seemed to have led them all far enough away that I was able to jump back into the portal, run to where my stuff had all dropped, gather that up, and hoof it back into the portal before the mob caught up with me again.
Then it was time to look up zombie pigmen on the wiki.
It seems there is a timer you have to wait out without killing any of them before they stop hunting you. But if you step out of the nether, and nobody else is there to keep it active, the timer stops. The suggested method is to have somebody else who isn’t aggro in the nether for the minute or so that it takes the pigs to calm down, after which everything will be cool again.
Or as cool as things get in the nether, where water evaporates the moment it touches anything.
I had to get my daughter to log in and hang out in the nether for a bit until the timer elapsed. Then I cautiously went back through the portal. I found that the zombie pigmen had resumed their general indifference to me. I was safe to work and travel in the nether yet again.
So on I went, avoiding throwing things at them as a general rule.
Still, mistakes will happen.
As I was building a platform for another portal, I ended up in a running fight with two ghasts. As I came out from cover, aimed my bow, and loosed an arrow at a ghast, a zombie pigman crested the hill between the ghast and myself and caught the arrow straight in the chest.
At least I knew what was going to happen this time.
I headed for the closest portal, but saw a group of pigs in the way, so I veered off and started heading towards the next one down the road. This one too had enough pigs around it to cut me off, so I headed off towards the last one down the path, which happened to be the portal to my desert outpost again.
I got there ahead of the piggy mob, but rather than jumping through the portal I decided to just block up the door.
That worked. I could hear the pigs outside the door but was safe inside… or I was safe inside until a child zombie pigman came in through the window and attacked me. It turns out that they can get through single block openings if they can get to them. So I had to slay him, which didn’t make anybody outside any friendlier, and then blocked up the windows as well.
There I was, in my little bunker, safe from the zombie pigmen, listening to them and wondering when they would go away.
They did not seem inclined to leave.
Eventually I broke open a block in the doorway so I could see what they were up to. I took out a block two high above the ground to avoid a repeat of the baby pigman incident. That let me see the tops of their heads and the points of their golden swords. They seemed to be piling up outside the door and keenly interested in what was going on inside.
I waited a while longer, but they did not budge. In fact, more pigs showed up.
I got out my bow and shot at a couple of them, which again didn’t make anybody any happier, but I though that maybe, just maybe, if I killed all the witnesses, everything would be cool again. But I couldn’t consistently hit the same pigman repeatedly and the bow wasn’t enough to one-shot them.
I changed over to my diamond sword, which had the Smite I enchant on it, and stuck that out the hole and started hitting the pigs.
That worked much better. I slaughtered them. But more showed up, so I slaughtered them too. And the ones that showed up after that.
Every once in a while things would get quiet outside. I would unblock the door enough to get out, and collect the loot and experience globes that had collected on the front step.
But inevitably, after a little while outside, I would hear the angry grunts of hostile zombie pigmen again and have to run back to the bunker and block up half of the door. So I remained pretty much trapped in the bunker.
It appears that zombie pigman aggro doesn’t really degrade so long as you remain in the nether. I sat for 5-10 minutes at a stretch, leaving the pigs alone at my door, only to find them as hostile as ever.
Eventually, as before, I had to leave the nether and somebody else had to go hang out there for a couple minutes, after which the nether was once again safe for me to travel, with the zombie pigmen ignoring me as they climbed over everything. (They do seem very interested in the things we build, just not us.)
This did change my building style in the nether. Up until this point, most of my portal buildings had large, double high windows to allow me to take shots at ghasts as they floated about. Now I am going for smaller doors and one block high windows that are up far enough to keep baby pigs from jumping in should I have to bunker up.
Life in the nether.