Category Archives: Minecraft

Major Minecraft Setback with NetherByte

I was in the office this morning and got a note from Xyd about the Minecraft server having problems.  I was able to log into the admin console from the office and saw all sorts of errors of this sort:

[Server] WARN net.minecraft.server.v1_8_R2.ExceptionWorldConflict: Failed to check session lock for world located at ./world, aborting. Stop the server and delete the session.lock in this world to prevent further issues.

That is never a good sign.  The server had shut itself down, so I left it like that, opened a ticket for NetherByte about the problem, included a long stream of the error output, and went back to work.

NBopenticketWhen I got home from work I went in to the server admin page again to run a backup, just in case, then went in with WinSCP to copy it down to my local machine only to find the backup was just 1Kb in size.

My server directory was down to the bare minimum of files, what you get when you first start a Minecraft server.  No world to be seen, no nothing, just the logs and jars directories and the eula.txt file.  And I literally had to go set that to “true” again, one of the first steps of a server setup.

Meanwhile I had not seen a peep back in response from NetherByte, so I started looking around for server outage or other notifications from them.  My work on that front left me with the belief that NetherByte hasn’t updated anything since around March of this year.

So I am not sure if they are really a viable, ongoing concern at this point.

Needless to say, I am in the market for another hosting service unless I hear something substantial back from them, like why they wiped my directory.  Suggestions are welcome.

But things must move forward.  I happened to have copied the Monday night backup of the server to my local system.  I do that about once a week, and a good thing too as all the daily backups were missing from the server along with everything else.  So I set about restoring that.

I also went back to the default Minecraft server jar file.  We’ll stay away from mods for the time being I think, until things settle down.

So that went well enough.  Everything was set back to Monday night, but that wasn’t too far back.

And then I went to the nether and found everything gone.  All that paving of the nether I mentioned, it is no more.  A giant mass of cobblestone has gone missing.  All that was there was the original portal, right on top of that burning spot that set me on fire the first time I arrived there.

So all of that work was undone, highways of cobblestone going too and fro, all gone.  My little outpost in the desert, will I be able to find it again?  And I have no idea why the backup of the world-nether directory wasn’t in sync with the main world directory.  They both get backed up into the same .zip archive.

On the bright side, Skronk and Enaldi, who joined the server this past weekend have been away all week… and have never been to the nether… so at least this won’t impact them.

Addendum: Finally got a response from NetherByte, the sum total of which was, “Have you installed any malicious plugins recently?”

No response, on two tries, in asking why they wiped all my data.

As always, you get what you pay for.


Minecraft and Dungeon Making

The other day on our Minecraft server I mentioned to Xyd that one of the things the game really needs is the ability to carry a lit torch to provide light.  That ability would really allow one to get a real dungeon-like feel.

And yes, I know that there are a number of Bukkit compatible mods (which means they will work with the Spigot server I am running on our hosted world), but I am a little down on the mod idea after playing with one over the weekend and ending up having some problems afterwards.  Also, which one to choose?  But that is beside the point right now.

The torch idea came up because I had discovered my first actual dungeon in Minecraft, pretty much underneath where I had started my new base.  It was a pretty cool find for me.  I moved through the corridors searching for whatever treasures the place might hold.

In a dungeon... torches added by me

In a dungeon… torches added by me

I did find a chest, though there was not much of interest inside of it.  Of more interest was the mob spawner and the end portal that lay behind it.

This is the end... or the way to get to the end...

This is the end… or the way to get to the end…

I had to call my daughter over to identify what I had found, and she was suitably impressed.  The end portal, once activated with enderman eyes, will send you to The End where you fight the Ender Dragon.   My daughter described this as the end game for Minecraft, and not just because of the over use of the word “end” in conjunction with the whole thing.

She actually described slaying the Ender Dragon as “game over,” though she clarified that was more a metaphorical than literal statement.  I was worried that the game, and the associated world, might shut down or otherwise be done.  But it is more the ultimate PvE combat achievement in the game, and she went on about how I we would have to equip ourselves in order to face the challenge of the Ender Dragon.

That challenge is out in the future currently.  I am not prepared… yet.

However, the whole dungeon thing was interesting in and of itself.  It suffered from the defects one often associates with procedurally generated, with oddly placed doors, holes in the floors, and other awkward aspects.

Not sure this room came together quite right...

Not sure this room came together quite right…

And then there was the whole library in the air part I found, which I was later told was an indicator that an end portal was nearby.

Tough place to store books

Tough place to store books

Of course I found the portal first and the library much later on, because that is how these things tend to go with me.

But it was still pretty neat and got me thinking about dungeons in general, and table top dungeons laid out on graph paper from the days of my youth in particular.

Minecraft, being all blocks, seems perfect for the translation of graph paper dungeons into something of a 3D rendered video reality.  So I started wondering what I could use as a model.  In digging around my office, the first thing I came across was my well beyond 30 year old maps from the original WizardryThey look something like this, just not quite as neat:

The first level

Wizardry: Proving Ground of the Mad Overlord – Level 1

So on my list of projects for the game is to see how practical it would be to dig out a map of the game so I could walk through it.  There is a question of scale.  Since doors are one block wide, it looks like I might need to make corridors three blocks across, with walls a single block wide.  There will definitely be a bit of conversion work to get the scale of the game to translate, but since everything is on a grid, it seems like I could manage that.

Maybe if I get that work I can find my copy of The Howling Tower and try converting that.

Which makes me wonder again about mods.  In addition to the torch mod, has anybody done a server mod that lets you take a map… made up in creative mode for ease of generation… that can be used to then play Dungeons & Dragons or some other role playing game?

Meanwhile, I should look into a torch mod… once our server is running again.  A note from Xyd seems to indicate that something has gone wrong at NetherByte.  We were both on fine last night, this morning he reports that things are not working.

Minecraft and Another Vision in the World

Last week I mentioned how having Xyd along for the ride on the hosted server was interesting in that I got to see how somebody else approached the game, built things, and, in his case, dealt with the nether.

Late last week I managed to get Potshot to buy into Minecraft and come take a look at the world in block form.  I got him whitelisted as Skronk on the server and met him at the spawn point.  From there I walked him around some of the basics that I thought would have helped me had my daughter not been rushing ahead and assuming I knew what she was talking about.

For me that included some of the basics of moving and equipping things, the whole “right tool for the job” mantra that permeates the game (which is a very Y chromosome thing for me, the whole “sure, you could use an adjustable wrench, but it is really best done with a pneumatic torque wrench!” view of the world), the need to eat, and why you need to go inside at night.

Skronk learns about skeletons

Skronk learns about skeletons

That was quickly done and, after a tour of the house my daughter built way back when we started (which is still the most practical structure I’ve seen in the game so far), we picked a direction that had not be explored or exploited that I recall… which was south… and headed out to look for a likely location for a new home.

After running into what felt like the wilderness, well out of sight of anything I had built or explored, night started to loom.  However there was a likely hill ahead of us which Skronk decided to claim as his own.  We built a shelter there, I did a briefing about crafting, sent him a link to a page with recipes, started a mine, threw torches around, made a couple beds, then had to log off, leaving him to his own devices.

A even put up a sign

A even put up a sign

I got up the next day to find an email from him indicating that he was clearly into it because he stayed up late working on his new home.  When I logged in I was surprised to see just how much he had done.

Skronk's home that next morning

Skronk’s home that next morning

That was actually around the north side of the mountain.  What started as a shelter the day before was now the side entrance to his new vision of Ironforge.  (That guy up top makes it feel more like Kaladim to me, though I was impressed either way.)

Visit Spectacular Kaladim

Visit Spectacular Kaladim in Butcherblock

Seeing that he was clearly invested in his new location, I went back to the spawn point area where we started off and began yet another public works project, building a cobblestone road, straight as an arrow, to his fortress.  Little trails of torches and such are fine, but I prefer a nice, straight path to follow to keep me headed in the right direction and to minimize the whole “up and down every hill” along the way.

And, of course, once I had dug and then laid a two block wide road to just outside his compound, I figured I might as well used some of my hoarded iron to build a mine cart track to make the trip quick and easy.

Railroad south

Railroad south

So when he got back on I was able to add “riding the rails” to the list of things he had done.

Through the long tunnel

Through the long tunnel

After that he went back to work on his domain, carving out the interior, digging a tunnel out to the small train station I built, and even revising his whole front door to accommodate a change of vision.

Minecraft Kaladim v2.0

Minecraft Kaladim v2.0

And now that I had a rail line it was easy enough to measure the distance he had gone from the spawn point.  His dwarf fortress ended up being about a half a kilometer from the spawn point, which is not all that far.

As somebody noted in the comments previously, the close horizon, along with the accelerated day/night cycle does mess with your ability to judge distances.  Add in a forest that obscures your view at times and there often being a lack of distinct terrain features and you can travel a short distance and still feel like you are way, way out in the boondocks.

How close that was became apparent later on.  Skronk managed to hit a pocket of zombies at died while searching out a nearby cave system for iron.  Iron is forever in short supply.  I had to go back to mining after having expended the iron to build the latest addition to our local transit system.

I ran over to help him try and find all of the stuff he dropped when he died.  Again, lots of iron at stake.  The search was fruitless and eventually he took it as a loss and a lesson and went back to work.  I had logged off down in the caves and when I came back decided to give the area one more look, not being sure how long things persist in Minecraft.  Sometimes items on the ground seem to vanish quite quickly while at other times I have found things… especially experience globes or saplings from a cut down tree… where I left them a day later.

Anyway, in doing this I got well and fully lost.  Add into that I was running out of torches and my pick was nearly done in.  Fortunately I was left with the usual option when lost underground, which was to simply dig up and out.  I found a high spot and started to stair-step my way to the surface, emerging on a hillside.  Looking in one direction I could see Skonk’s keep in the light of the setting sun.

The epic figure gives me direction...

The epic figure gives me directions…

And looking the other way I could see the village back where that sheep stole my mine cart, which really put the whole location into perspective.  I could have, I suppose, just extended the village rail line and hooked up to Skronk’s home, though that would have meant moving along a diagonal line in a world that really doesn’t like that sort of things.  A large “L” shaped track from the village to Skronk’s would have probably used as much rail or more as the line I already built.

So there is Skonk in his own area yet still in the neighborhood.  He even has some donkeys in the vicinity to tame, the first ones I had ever seen in game.

Donkeys stuck in a hole

Donkeys stuck in a hole

Now though I am a little worried about the village.  I went to visit it and found that the number of villagers seemed to have decreased rather dramatically.  There were 8 or 9 villagers running around before, but I could only find 3 when I went over.  I suspect that the cave mining operation is close enough to the village that it is seeing night time spawns that could be killing them off.  I’ll need to go over and light the place up more thoroughly.  My daughter also suggested sealing up the village completely, dispensing with the doors I put in the walls, left villagers wander outside the compound after dark.

Something else to work on.

But now I get to see another person’s approach to building in Minecraft.  Xyd, so far, has been mostly underground and very practical in his efforts.  Skronk is also hollowing out the earth for his home, though on a much more grand scale.  And I continue to build almost exclusively above ground, descending into the earth only to mine or tunnel paths for travel.

The upshot of which is that I am always running out of cobblestone while Skronk complains of having an excess.  There might have to be a trade agreement on that front.

Then on Saturday evening Skronk’s wife, in the guise of Enaldi, joined us, though she insisted on picking a suitable skin before logging in.  Princess Leia ended up being her pick.  She caught up on the basics, road the mine cart track, and will no doubt be making her own mark on the world in the days and weeks to come, another vision to see.

Which is one of the interesting aspects of Minecraft as a multiplayer game.  Given the freedom offered, people will end up stacking blocks in their own way.

Paving the Nether

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.

Cubby de Xydd

Cubby de Xydd

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.

The new base at night

The new base at night

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.

Safe from... zombies

Safe from… zombies

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.

Hrmm, mind if I think about that?

Hrmm, mind if I think about that?

From level 62 in the world, level 12 and the optimum mining zone is way down there.

Is that water I see?

Is that water I see?

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.

Portal to Le Cubby de Zydd

Portal to Le Cubby de Zydd

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.

Not the same ghast, but a ghast

Not the same ghast, but a ghast

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.

Replace your divots!

Replace your divots!

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.

Because I can hear that ghast from inside...

Because I can hear that ghast from inside…

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.

Desert Outpost

Desert Outpost

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.

Desert Biome - This Way

Desert Biome – This Way

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.

This is what I was afraid would happen when I started playing with flint and steel

This is what I was afraid would happen when I started playing with flint and steel

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.

He's out there... I know it...

He’s out there… I know it…

Also, I read somewhere that if you put down a bed in the nether and try to sleep, the bed explodes.  Such a place!

Minecraft and the Hosted Life

The profusion of Minecraft server hosting options out there speaks to just how popular this game has become, and how much people want to play with their friends, acquaintances, and random people on the internet.

Guess what?  Me to!

In fact, I started poking my nose into the idea of a hosted server about a week after my daughter and I started in on the whole Minecraft adventure.

My daughter was also keen on the idea, though she was more about having crazy mods and running her own public server.  My vision was more of a vanilla Minecraft server with some friends able to log in, maybe the instance group, and a whole world to explore.

Sounds easy right?  Nothing special needed, just my home server available to those outside my house.  In fact, my first idea was just to host something locally and use port forwarding and white listing to accomplish this.  However, I had just dumped the only likely candidate, an old Dell CPU, off at the e-waste collection, so my easy option was out.

For a short bit I considered trying to run the whole thing on a Raspberry Pi setup after reading this article.  I still might do that some day, but wasn’t really into it at the moment.

And so I started looking for Minecraft server hosting… and ran into the profusion mentioned in the first sentence.

There is, of course, Minecraft Realms, the official Mojang hosting service.  Supposed to be safe, secure, stable, and reliable, but when you read about what they offer, also a bit dull and limited.  I don’t necessarily need all the bells and whistles, but I wanted a bit more than that.

So I started plowing through various recommendations and forums and blah blah blah looking for who might offer what.

MCProHosting came up a lot.  As a service it hosts some of the bigger servers and has a ton of options.  I recommend just digging through their before-you-order options list to see what is out there.  They offer up various server options mods.

Mod Packs listed...

Server and Mod Packs listed…

I did not know that Pixelmon, a Pokemon themed mod, was even a thing.  It was an eye opener.

They also offer a variety of pre-made worlds in addition to the standard random world options available with Minecraft.

First few choices on the list...

First few choices on the list…

But I also came across more that a bit of hostility directed towards them online.  Not that they do anything bad.  Nobody has anything negative to say about their service.  It was more a matter that they charge more than other services when it comes to the actual nuts and bolts capacity.  They also sponsor a number of Minecraft streams who sing their praises, which caused a little bit of grumbling as well.

In the end I did not go with them.  Running through their sizing, estimating maybe 10 people total playing at the high end of my optimism, they were recommending a plan that offered 1.5GB of RAM and ran $15 a month.  That is the price of an MMO subscription, something I have shown a willingness to pay in the past.  However, I had read a number of places that if you plan to use any mods or have more than a few people playing, you ought to go with 2GB of RAM, which would have booster the monthly cost to $20 a month.

The plan list

The plan list

As a side note, nearly every hosting service I ran across used the same sort of naming scheme for their various hosting plans.  It is just a Minecraft hosting thing I guess.

Anyway, that was more than I wanted to pay per month.

So I started sifting through other options.  As I noted, there are a lot of choices.  My criteria became a hosting plan that offered 2GB of RAM, hosted someplace near the west coast, that had reasonable pricing and no serious dings on its reputation.

That still left me with a pretty wide-open field. Amongst the hosting companies I looked, according to my notes, at were:

It was one of those things where the more I looked at hosting sites, the less sure I was about which site to choose.  There is a not a lot to distinguish many of the sites… how “fast is a fast SSD, does a hosting site in LA necessarily beat one in Phoenix or Seattle, should I pay extra for DDoS protection or go with another service that includes it… to the point that some looked to be sub-tenants of the same larger hosting service with just a logo change over the same interface, while most plans included most of the same features.

So eventually I just chose the one that had a coupon.

I hat put down in my notes that the NetherByte hosting service included a code for 30% off the price of your hosting plan.  Their hosting plans were already at the low end of the price range, with that 2GB server just $8 a month.

Again, same plan level motif...

Again, same plan level motif…

But with the coupon code “30OFF” that price dropped even further.  In fact, a six month run with a 2GB server ended up being $22.50.  That was cheap enough that I said, “Sure, whatever” and ordered it.

So I had a hosted server.

Their control panel was simple enough.  I created a world with the press of a button… there were no fancy world options, just the default vanilla Minecraft settings… then jotted down the domain name/port number and was able to log into the server itself to see what I had wrought.

There I was on a small island in the middle of a deep ocean with no trees, two pigs, and not much else.

Lonely Island

Lonely Island

Yeah, okay, the skin on my avatar is Captain Jack Sparrow, so ha ha funny joke, but it still seemed like a less than ideal start on a new world.  (My daughter made me change my avatar skin right away since she says the default just marks you as the FNG, though she didn’t actually use the term “FNG.”)

I was on the fence about creating a new world anyway.  I hadn’t invested too much time in the world my daughter and I started way back on Father’s Day, but I had grown attached to it.  On the flip side, if I was going to convince friends to join, I thought a fresh world would be more of an enticement.

Then I got a crap starting world.  Yes, I could have just rolled another one immediately, but that was just enough to make me want to move over the world on which I had been working.  After all, a Minecraft world at default size is freaking huge.  The short answer on world size, from the Wiki, is about 8x the size of the surface of the earth.  Plenty of fresh pastures for new players to explore outside of the approximate square mile of the overworld that I have touched.

The control panel has an FTP option built into it, but it is horrible. (The control panel is the Multicraft default which, as I understand it, is what most hosting sites use.)  But most web-based FTP options are horrible.  Fortunately they also give you direct FTP access and I have a copy of WinSCP installed on every system I have to touch regularly, so renaming the original world and moving my own over was a snap.  After that and a server restart I was back in my old world, now hosted remotely.

Then it was time to get somebody else on and playing.  Potshot had shown a bit of interest here during the summer hiatus, though has yet to bite on the whole Minecraft idea yet.  But there was my old pal Xyd, who has been showing up here to comment on Minecraft posts.  He seemed keen to peek in and see what was going on.

After a few hours elapsed from his first attempt to log in, he was able to get onto the server.  As it turns out, while you can “add” players to your server through the UI in the hosting control panel, you still have to go into the console and type “whitelist add <player>” to get them on the approved list.

He spawned in and set off a ways to start his own camp, not too far from my castle, but far enough away to avoid all the holes in the ground I left.

Cubby de Xydd

Cubby de Xydd

So now I have multiplayer online Minecraft.  Only three people play so far, myself, my daughter, and Xyd, but the option is there is the instance group or any other close friends want to come and play.

Minecraft and the Gift of Fire

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!

Tree on fire!

Tree on fire!

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.

The fire seems to be spreading

The fire seems to be spreading

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.

Still burning that night

Still burning that night

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.

Finally cleared that bit above our house out

Finally cleared that bit above our house out

I rolled back and forth tossing flame out of my mine cart like a heavy smoker on a country road.

How dare you grow near my rail line!

How dare you grow near my rail line!

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.

Not that I completely stopped burning trees, but I slowed down some

Not that I completely stopped burning trees, but I slowed down some

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.

Authorized personnel only

Authorized personnel only

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.

Getting closer to glowstones

Getting closer to 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.

Netherrack enhanced lighting

Netherrack enhanced lighting

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.

All that was left of the sheep was a fading "baa," some wool, and a bit of cooked mutton

All that was left of the sheep was a fading “baa,” some wool, and a bit of cooked mutton

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.

The magic glowing birch tree

The magic glowing birch tree

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.

July in Review

The Site

The site got its 25,000th comment back in June, which I mentioned on Twitter at the 24,999 mark, and then totally forgot to follow up on.

So now, a month later than anticipated (if only by me), I can declare that the 25,000th comment was left by Silverangel of Kitty Kitty Boom Boom who left a tangential comment about the size qualities of .gif files on a post about 64-bit gaming!

But that is the way blogging frequently is.  You can write 2,000+ words on a topic, include one sentence about a some unrelated item, and THAT sentence will be what gets a comment.  I find this phenomena hilarious, though I must also admit I am frequently that person as well, making the essentially off-topic comments on a post because something catches my eye.

Anyway, there is no prize for this, just a hastily created achievement unlocked graphic.

Because achievements!

Because achievements!

Of course I saved in .gif format.

One Year Ago

There was a site put up by eBay about game return on investment.  Unsurprisingly, it indicated that used games are a deal in that regard, so you should go buy some on eBay.

There was the passing of yet another Steam Summer Sale.

SOE forgot to pay their domain name registration.  Meanwhile, Landmark was available for a deep discount after the Steam Summer Sale, leading to speculation about its future.

SuperData Research was listing out the Top Subscription MMOs while not defining what they really meant by the term.

Anarchy Online introduced a PLEX-like currency, GRACE.

The community manager for LOTRO was busy telling raiders and PvMP players that they weren’t getting any new content because they added up to less than 10% of the player population.

I finished up Pokemon Y on the 3DS.

In my attempt at the loremaster achievement in WoW I ran through Desolace, Feralas, and Thousand Needles one week, Felwood and Un’goro Crater the next.  Then it was Winterspring, Swamp of Sorrows, and the Blasted Lands, the Cape of Stranglethorn, and the final bit of the Eastern Kingdoms.  I was on a roll.

in EVE Online we were commuting to Delve, where maybe there was going to be a war, and chasing Brave Newbies around (then getting pipe bombed) when there wasn’t anything going on.  That was back when we owned Delve.  Fights went on sporadically for a while and many a Rupture was sacrificed simply try a fresh doctrine.  So many Ruptures.  Apocs did better.

Meanwhile the Crius expansion hit New Eden, making industry better… it did get better, right?

In EverQuest, on the Fippy Darkpaw Time Locked Progression server, the vote to unlock the Underfoot expansion failed, making it the second expansion ever to get voted down, the first being Gates of Discord nearly two years before.

With that I was wondering what other MMOs might go for the retro nostalgia server thing.  Not WoW, that is for sure.

I was also on about housing in MMOs, what has really worked for me and what has fallen flat and why.  This included some projection as to what garrisons might end up being in WoW.

Our epic game of Civilization V saw expansionism and direct conflict with the Aztec empire.

Five Years Ago

The late Paul the octopus created the largest page view day ever in the history of the blog, later to be surpassed by Cats playing Patty Cake and Alamo.

I was told I write like Cory Doctorow… or maybe Ian Flemming.

My daughter was Banned from Club Penguin.  Tears were shed, lessons were learned.

EverQuest II Extended, the free to play EverQuest II, was announced.  I wondered whether trying to play it without paying at all would be a challenge in and of itself.  Meanwhile, there was some evidence that EQII accounts had value.  That stunning news no doubt got them going on the authenticator they announced at Fan Faire this year.

I completed 100 levels in The Agency: Covert Ops.  I was unemployed, what can I say?

StarCraft II launched.  I still haven’t bought a copy.  I’ll wait for the battle chest in a couple of years.  It isn’t like I am going to be very good at it this time around.  I was barely adequate at the original.

Hulkageddon III ended, and it even had a video wrap-up.  And then PLEX was made transportable in space.  I wonder if they waited for Hulkageddon to be over for that?

In another Summer hiatus season, the instance group started another run at LOTRO.  This time it was Bung who was out, having the dual issues of moving and having a new baby to care for.  Those of us in Middle-earth hung out with old friends.  That put off deciding who my main character was, by letting me roll another one!

Blizzard gave up on some of their RealID plans thanks to much public kvetching.  Shortly there after, the ESRB came out against Real ID as being bad for consumer security while proving they too were bad for consumer security.

Blizzard revamped Parental Controls again.  As much as I have griped about them, they are better than any comparable controls I have seen, even in games that offer that as a feature.

World of Warcraft Magazine issue #2 showed up.  Issue #4 would arrive 9 months later.  No word on issue #5 as of now.

And, finally, somebody was trying to make yet another flying car that failed to live up to our expectations.  Have none of these scientists ever seen The Jetsons?

New Linking Sites

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogrolls, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in July

  1. The First EverQuest II Progression Server Polls and Some Details
  2. SOE Finally Gets a REAL Server Status Page
  3. A Call for Space Carebears
  4. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  5. Next WoW Expansion to be Announced August 6th, Just After Subscriber Numbers Get Released…
  6. Learning to do the Fozzie Sov Shuffle
  7. Quote of the Day – The Dreaded Rear Admiral
  8. Quote of the Day – Smart Money
  9. Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime MMO Ennui Blues
  10. EverQuest II Time Locked Expansion Servers Today
  11. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  12. Sheep Stole My Mining Cart

Search Terms of the Month

angles of attack audiobook torrent
[Don’t be that person]

when will flying drop in wod july 2015
[I’d say you answered your own question]

amateur money porno
[I think that is one of those “pick two” situations]

empires and allies zynga scew up
[Yes indeed!]

eve online horrible
[Well, yes, but it is shared adversity experience]

EVE Online

Fozzie sov came and New Eden began to burn… or sizzle… or whatever it is that happens when you turn on an Entosis Link module.  Pulsating within a little green circle?  Anyway, there are a lot of systems in play according to Timer Board. (400+ as of the moment I am writing this.)

Reavers have been out hitting distant regions to test the new system while Pure Blind has been an ongoing fight due to the fact that almost nobody in The Imperium lives there.  Still not sure if the sov changes are better or are simply going to make more alliances collapse in exhaustion.

EverQuest II

The Time Locked Expansion servers opened up, and I rolled up on the PvE flavor, Stormhold.  So far, so good.  It isn’t the old days, but it is different enough from the Live servers to be an experience unto itself.  There is a lesson in this.

Anyway, I have a level 11 SK in Freeport, am having a good time, and am looking for a guild, since there is no way I am going to create one myself.


Minecraft remains a thing I have been playing.  There is, as I mentioned, a certain peacefulness to the game.  My daughter stopped playing and now only watches me over my should now and again, until it becomes too frustrating to bear, then she has to walk away.  I don’t do things the right way.  That is what it is like being 13.

War Thunder

This sort of slipped off of my rotation.  I think Minecraft and EverQuest II ate up the bit of time that I had been devoting to the game.  Also, I was motivate by the daily prize thing for a bit, as at Day 25 there was a possibility of getting something useful.  Instead I got a gambling token thing that was pretty much no value.  My gut response was a bit negative.

World of Warcraft

I haven’t logged in since the week that the 6.2 patch went live, so I should probably take WoW off of my “Games I Play” list and move it to “Games I Watch.”  There hasn’t been any frustration or a wave of “I’m so sick of this game!” or anything, just zero motivation to log in.

Coming Up

Activision-Blizzard results for Q2 2015 will be announced on August 4th, followed by the next WoW expansion on August 6th.  The subscription numbers they report will likely determine whether or not Blizzard felt they needed some immediate good news and/or a distraction in August rather than waiting for BlizzCon.

And it is a good thing that is coming, because next month is also Blagaust and we’ll need stuff to post about, and those two dates will be grist for the blogging mill!  We can’t count on Derek Smart to keep us entertained all the time!

Meanwhile, a friend at work has been talking about Diablo III, so I started poking my nose into that a bit.  We’ll see if it goes anywhere in August.

And then I have some new projects coming up at work, my daughter goes back to school in the middle of the month, and I have been summoned for Jury duty as well, so it might end up being a tough month for posts.