Category Archives: Minecraft

Minecraft and The Guardian Farm

I mentioned at the end of a previous post how Aaron walled up and drained the area around an undersea monument.  Impressive stuff.

Dry monument

Dry monument

As it turns out, he was not done yet.

I had not been paying attention to his monument as I was off in my usual routine of base building in an attempt to populate a bit of the great northern road.  So it came as some surprise when he dropped us an email about his ongoing efforts with the monument.  (Screen shots provided by him, shrunk a bit by me as they were very large.)

First he decided to trade out the sand wall for a glass wall around the monument.

Monument with an undersea view

Monument with an undersea view

According to Aaron, the original effort with sand required about 8,000 blocks of sand in order to wall off the whole thing, plus some additional sand segment the whole thing up in to sections to be drained.

On the bright side, he then has plenty of sand on hand to convert into glass blocks, burning through 15 full stacks of coal in the process. (There was no handy source of lava I gather.)

Once that was done, the “what next?” question struck.  After pondering just moving in and living in the monument, Aaron decided to strip it away.

The monument stripped back a few layers

The monument stripped back a few layers

That completed, he went to work and built a monument guardian farm in the space where the monument used to reside.  More work and more glass.

Guardian farm complete

Guardian farm complete

And there it was.  I had to visit this new structure… though it took me a bit.  It is as impressive in person as you might imagine.

The guardians spawn in the large tank then eventually fall through the porous bottom… made so by signs… into a flowing water that drives them over the edge and through a layer of lava.

Dropping through the lava layer...

Dropping through the lava layer…

The lava is also held in place by wooden signs which, unlike all other wood in the game, fails to catch fire when in close proximity of lava.

The fish then drop onto the killing floor where the expire through a combination of burning and the blunt force trauma of the fall.

Flaming fried fish

Flattened flaming fried fish

Below that floor is a series of hoppers that route the remains to a sorting machine that drops the resulting items into appropriately labeled chests.

All sorted out for you

All sorted out for you

You end up with fish, prismarine crystals, and prismarine shards.  The shards appear to be the most common, followed by crystals and fish.  The shards and crystals can be combined to create sea lanterns, though you need five crystals and four shards, which means you have a lot of excess shards.  But the shards can be used to make prismarine bricks as well, a blue-green block that I will have to build something with at some point.

I addition, the whole thing is located on a chunk that spawns slime at night as well.

Slime visitor

Slime visitor

Some trivia provided by Aaron about his structure:

  • Once torn down, the materials which made up the monument fit into roughly 5 or 6 double chests.  Temple in a box for Christmas!
  • The first filter of the farm alone is comprised of 1,296 signs – which took 702 chunks (~11 stacks) of wood to make.
  • I’m not sure what my “sand blocks used” tally was before this started, but presumably it wasn’t much in that I’d only used sand for the glass to the roof of my home base.  Now that number sits at over 44,000.  The “times mined” number is within a hair’s breadth of 60,000.  (Yes, I went through a ton of shovels.)
  • The interior volume of the spawn chamber is 25,920 blocks.
  • The initial length of the “fall damage” section of the kill unit was too short and I ended up quickly accumulating dozens of guardians bouncing around on the hopper pad.  This meant I had to extend the fall column while it was occupied and new little friends were dropping in at a horrible rate.  That was fun.
  • By the time that was done, I had to dig down another couple levels (sadly stopped by bedrock) in order to expand the storage at the end of the sorter because the drops were come in too fast.
  • During demolition, I found that there was a pretty sizable chamber wrapped around 3/4 of the perimeter of the temple with no entrance or egress – which means I totally missed it during my initial drying-out of the interior.  Man, were its occupants pissed when I finally broke in.

And then he also made a beacon, which required him to spawn and defeat a wither to acquire a nether star, and then put the beacon on top of a pyramid of material blocks.  In his case, he went for blocks of emeralds, having farmed his villagers for the materials.

Beacon, deep within his base

Beacon, deep within his base

The beacon itself shoots a beam of light into the sky that is about the most visible object you can create in the game.

Beacon lighting the sky

Beacon lighting the sky

So that is what he has been up to.  At some point I will have to write something about his base, which includes a slime block based elevator that almost never kills anybody anymore.

Finishing the Great Northern Road

Previously I mentioned my latest construction project in Minecraft, the Great Northern Road.  I started out with a bridge heading south from the Mesa biome… just because I wanted to build a bridge and that looked to be just about the right stretch of water to build it across.

Mesa Biome Channel Bridge

Mesa Biome Channel Bridge

With a bridge to nowhere it seemed only right to try and link it up with the rest of our works, so I began paving a path southward.  Soon I got far enough away from a portal that I had to start harvesting my own supplies in what became something of a feast or famine routine.

When you have a long stretch you want to pave, you always need more cobblestone.  Then you hit a mountain range and begin to tunnel through and suddenly you have more cobblestone than you need.  At that point I tended to build a supply depot to store materials.

Forests, on the other hand, were not much of a problem.

Flint and steel solution...

Flint and steel solution…

And lighting fires kept away some of the monsters who otherwise tended to interrupt progress through the night time cycle.

And during the day in the shade... on Halloween...

And during the day in the shade… on Halloween…

And so I drove south, clearing a path two wide and three high, digging tunnels, bridging chasms, and so forth… right up until I ran out of food in the middle of nowhere.  Ah yes, you need to keep yourself fed in survival mode, and there is a definite correlation between how much you are doing and how much food you need to consume… and building a pan-continental highway single handed gives you a healthy appetite.

By that point I had made it about two thirds of the way down towards my destination, which actually put me within reasonable range of a nether portal outpost I had built some time back.  That used to be the far north before we made it to the mesa biome.

So I headed west toward that, finding it on the first try, and used the portal to get back to my mountain base.  Once there and re-supplied with a stack of yummy baked potatoes, I took a look at the latest rendered map to check the progress of the road.  It looked like the road was lined up to pass right by my base, so I decided to just start at the south end and build north.  I didn’t actually have the coordinates, but I eyeballed it on the map and started where I thought it might hit.

Of course, my base was on the edge of another expanse of water, so it was time to build a new bridge.  The great northern road would have a bridge and each end.  To contrast with the polished granite look of the northern bridge… and because I used up all my granite on that… the southern bridge would be in polished andesite.  Sort of a Bay Bridge to the north end’s Golden Gate Bridge, to frame it in terms of the local bridge population.  I even put in the extra span.

Bridge at the south end of the Great Northern Road

Bridge at the south end of the Great Northern Road

From there I pressed north, burned gaps through a few more forests, dug a few more tunnels, pressing on until the two roads joined together… almost.

Pretty close... right?

Pretty close… right?

The two sections of road were off-set in both the vertical and horizontal, so I have to build what essentially amounted to an adapter kit.  Then I put up a sign to commemorate the completion of the Great Northern Road.

Then I had to head back to base to grab a horse and actually travel the road.

It runs about 5.5km and, riding straight through, it takes almost exactly a full game day to get from one end to the other.  If you start at the south bridge just at dawn, the moon will be rising as you finish crossing the north bridge.  And if you stop and idle along the way, you will either have to ride in the dark or stay at one of the rest stops along the way.  They all have a bed and I put up a hitching rail outside of each, so bring a lead for your horse to tie it up for the night.

Horse rail at the north end of the bridge

Horse rail at the north end of the bridge

And, the best news; I only hit my head once on the whole ride… so I had to stop and fix that.  But otherwise the road was horse compliant.  Then I had to a likewise horse compliant tunnel through my mountain base so it hooked up to the roads leading to other bases.  Thanks to some work by Skronk, you can now ride through and hook up to his own south desert road.

Now to build some attractions along the road.  Skronk says that his own work involves removing the mesa biome, block by block, to build his own base, so we’ll eventually need something else on the road.

The work of Skronk and Enaldi

The work of Skronk and Enaldi

I still have to figure out how to do that work justice in a post.

Meanwhile, as I was working on the road, something else appeared on the map.

A great big hole in the water

A great big hole in the water

On the list of things previously mentioned was Aaron’s blocking off and draining an ocean monument.  Since then he has taken that a step further and, with the help of a lot of sand, has walled off and drained the entire area around the monument.

Dry monument

Dry monument

I’m still not sure how he got all the water out… except “very slowly.”

Another angle

Another angle

So we now have that to explore as well.


Also, somebody made a house out of melons in the jungle.

Andrew Melon joke goes here...

Andrew Melon joke goes here…

October in Review

The Site has failed to get me riled up yet again this month.  Nothing to rant about on that front I guess, so I will just shake my fist in general annoyance at some of their “improved” features that I still manage to avoid, like that new editor… how I hate it.

Where I am headed...

Where I am headed…

Other than that is was a modest month here at TAGN.  I was away for a few days for EVE Vegas, but managed to keep up with the post-every-weekday schedule.

One Year Ago

The SF Giants won the World Series for the third time in five years.  I was just happy when they won it once in my lifetime.

I was wondering about guild progression and whether they should have levels.

I was disappointed at Trion installing HackShield on my system and only deigning to notify me of this after the fact.  That got their Glyph launcher off my system for good.

EA put a new twist on insta-level by introducing a limited 12x experience bonus offer that would essentially let Star Wars: The Old Republic players level up via just their class story, without indulging in the myriad side quests the process would otherwise require.  Basically, you could play just the good bits of the game.  Imagine that!

The strategy group was doing city assaults, river crossings, and ambushes in Total War: Rome II.

At EVE Vegas there were development plans for the coming year, which included Tech III destroyers.  Jump fatigue was also announced.  But at least we were also getting a much longer skill queue. (Limited to 50 skills or ten years of training, whichever you reach first.)  That was much on my mind as I crossed the 130 million skill point mark.

The Reavers, a group within The Imperium dedicated to living in hostile territory and attacking enemy infrastructure, formed a year ago this month.  Our inaugural operations went to Insmother , where we blew up plenty of stuff, and then to Feythabolis.

Closer to home there was a capital brawl in our staging system.  That was part of some battles with Black Legion, where they would visit us and then we would visit them.  Or blob them.  I also experienced one of the classic EVE mistakes for the first time.  People seemed anxious to use their capital ships before the Phoebe expansion changed everything.

In World of Warcraft I summed up my summer campaign for the Loremaster achievement.  It was not a success.  I did get my Sha’tari Skyguard reputation to exalted though.  More mounts!

Meanwhile, the WoW 6.0 patch dropped and the count-down to Warlords of Draenor began in earnest.  I was looking at the new features in that.  The instance group also stirred in anticipation of the new expansion, mostly finishing off Mists of Pandaria.

Finally, Planetary Annihilation arrived at last, and proved once again that recreating past fun isn’t as easy as it should be.

Five Years Ago

I had some hopes and expectations for BlizzCon.  They were pretty much unmet.  But Blizzard had already announced the Cataclysm ship date, so what else did I expect?

I asked if people ever look at the items in the blog side-bar.  People mostly do not.

I finished building my new computer.  Windows 7 64-bit was the wave of the future… unless you wanted to take that LOTRO survey.

The EVE Online screen shot contest wrapped up, winners were declared and prizes were sent out.

I was playing Lord of Ultima innocently enough and then somebody attacked me! Oh noes!

I was suddenly determined to “catch them all” and finish the National Pokedex in Pokemon SoulSilver.

The instance group was playing in LOTRO, which had been live as a Free to Play game for one month. In-game, we were subjected to the disturbing habits of some of the residents of the Lone Lands, while I indulged in one of my own habits, the mid-game character swap.  And then I made one post completely unreadable by making anagrams out of all the proper nouns.  I had to repost a corrected version.

I bought Civilization V, which like every Civilization launch, had issues with my current computer.  The unwritten rule of Civilization is that you need to upgrade your machine in order to play.

My daughter and I were drinking new and interesting sodas. and was really hoping that the SF Giants could make it to a World Series victory.

New Linking Sites

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

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Read Posts for October

  1. LOTRO and the Great Server Merge
  2. EverQuest II Server Consolidation Plan Announced
  3. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  4. When is WoW Legion?
  5. EverQuest Announces The Broken Mirror Expansion
  6. Quote of the Day – The Problem is You Not Buying My Stuff
  7. Mineserver – A Minecraft Hardware Solution
  8. Minecraft and the Great Northern Road
  9. Quote of the Day – Statements Least Likely to Secure My Cooperation
  10. Multibuy – A Vanguard Feature I Totally Underrated
  11. Costly Castles in Crowfall
  12. Leaving EVE Vegas

Search Terms of the Month

they added up their ages (32+7) and what happened next…wow!
[It came out to 39… Jack Benny’s age!]

demographic cliff
[The fate of many an MMO]

the vortex pinnacle is missing from my game
[Are you playing WoW?]

eve plex for wow token
[THERE is a budding entrepreneur!]

Best Spam Comment Name

brain injury attorney
[Basically, you if you click on that link, you are probably suffering from a brain injury.]

EVE Online

We have been having ongoing content in Cloud Ring and Pure Blind.  There was also a “Reavers and friends” deployment to the south to pick some battles with TEST, which carries on.

The big deal was EVE Vegas however and meeting people and the announcements of what CCP has planned.  That took up a good four days and I have been digesting things from it ever since.

Something I only barely grasped however was that EVE Online had a holiday event in-game.  That’s what the Crimson Harvest event was, right?  CCP giving us a Halloween event?

Diablo III

I carried on through Act V of the game, which wasn’t as long as I expected, and then started in on Adventure Mode.  My goal is to get my crusader up to the level cap.  He is at level 65 currently, so just a ways to go.  I am not sure I will carry on after that into paragon levels however.


The shared world continues, with each of us on our various projects.  At one point my daughter saw Skronk and Enaldi’s Italian city and was inspired to come back and start playing.  I think that lasted for about two hours, but it was a happy two hours.

Coming Up

So the big item on the November calendar has to be BlizzCon and what Blizzard will say about the WoW Legion expansion.  Expectations about things like release dates will be high.

But I suspect that before we get to BlizzCon we will hear the Activision-Blizzard quarterly report for Q3 2015.  At least we will if the WoW subscription numbers are down, otherwise that would rain on the BlizzCon parade.  If the numbers are stable or up, they can come during or after BlizzCon because nobody will care.

Then November will see expansions for games that start with the letters “eve,” including EverQuest, EverQuest II, and EVE Online.  Now if we can just get Ever, Jane on board we’ll be set.

On my return from EVE Vegas my daughter, hearing about the Signal Cartel “space hippies” and that people role play in New Eden (and Provi Bloc in particular), has decided she wants to try EVE Online.  I suspect hilarity will ensue.  At a minimum I will have to blog about her reactions.

Soon enough we will be into the rapid pace of the holiday season, destined to spit us out in January dizzy, with a big credit card bill, and wondering what in the hell just happened.

Minecraft and the Great Northern Road

As I mentioned in a previous post, we all seem to have different things we like to do in Minecraft.  It is the nature of a sandbox game which allows us to focus on projects we enjoy.

Exploring is one of the things I like, and I have wandered quite a ways, leaving a trail of little bases, flaming netherrack, and the occasional burning forest behind me. (Don’t put the flaming netherrack too close to the trees.)  Between all of us, we have expanded our borders and filled in a lot of the empty bits on our map, which now runs about 14km north-south and about 8km east-west.

Our world on October 20, 2015

Our world on October 20, 2015

You can compare that with the state of the world back in early September.

But I also like to build infrastructure.  When I go to a place I have the urge to build a road there so that I can get back easily.  I actually like to lay down minecart track too, but that requires such a large investment in iron that I put down track sparingly these days.  So I tend to focus on roads.

I did, however, get it into my head that I wanted to build a nice bridge.  I just needed to figure out where I ought to build one.

Eventually, looking around the map I decided that I should connect the mesa biome in the north with the landmass to the south of it.  There was no real good reason other than it looked like a decent stretch of water, about a half a km across in an area where we had a portal hooked up to our nether roof transport system, so I could get there easily.

Well, sort of easily.

It is still quite a haul through the nether, even on a mine cart.  And then the point from where I wanted to build the bridge to the portal was a bit of a stretch over rough terrain as well, so before I built my bridge, I had to build a road to the bridge.

Then I had to build a little construction office where I could hunker down at night and store supplies.  Once I had that, I started hauling materials, including stacks and stacks of stone brick and polished granite blocks.

Finally, I could set in and start building.

My building technique is a bit haphazard.  I tend to eye something, figure things look about right, and start laying down blocks.  If the preferred method is “measure twice, cut once,” in Minecraft I am more “start cutting, size things up a bit, finish cutting, see what happens, then claim that was what you wanted all along.”

Still, I am not unhappy with how my bridge ended up.

Mesa Biome Channel Bridge

Mesa Biome Channel Bridge

It has a bit of Golden Gate Bridge to it, thanks to the use of polished granite for the structure.  It is well lit, just about symmetrical, and connects things nicely. (Though looking at the picture, I see I left a block out and now it is going to drive me crazy until I fix it)  I used some excess material to build a diorite tower at the southern end of the bridge.

I also put up a nether portal at the south end of the bridge.  I dug out the location in the nether and built a portal there.  On stepping through I was surprised by my luck, as the over-world side of the portal was up on the surface and not deep down in some cave.  No need to dig myself back to sunlight this time.

All of which took me considerably less time than I thought it would, and also left me with a bridge to no place in particular.  Time to expand the project!  So I bit the bullet and decided that this bridge would be the end of the Great Northern Road, which would run north from the spawn point and the would be navigable on horse back the entire way, which meant any tunnels needed to be three blocks high and two blocks wide.  That is about six km in a straight line, but likely more if I wanted to route things along easier terrain.  I didn’t want to have to tunnel through yet another mountain range.

I quickly ran out of material from my initial batch of supplies and, as I started getting further and further from the portal at the south end of the bridge.  When I hit another water crossing, I settled down and dug another construction base, then proceeded to mine there to build up supplies of cobblestone to build the next stretch of the road.  It wasn’t as nice as the bridge, but it gets the job done.

The long crossing...

The long crossing…

Now that I have crossed that I am edging closer to a small base, complete with a portal, that I set up on a previous expedition.  Just another forest, grassland, swamp, and a mountain range to cross to get there… about a km from the end of the causeway.  Then from there it will be a drive to spawn point.  We’ll see how long it takes to get there and what I will see along the way.



A Couple Days Left for the Mineserver Kickstarter Campaign

The Mineserver Kickstarter campaign is coming down to its last couple of days. As I mentioned in a previous post, this is a home hardware solution allowing you to run and maintain your own Minecraft server.


This project has my interest because of my somewhat less than stellar success with Minecraft hosting services. They have met the basic requirements of being able to have a shared experience, which I enjoy very much, but haven’t lived up to their performance promises.  And the price of an established hosting service definitely puts the rent vs. own equation back into play.

The specs for the servers are reported as:

Both are ARM-based. The Mineserver™ has a four-core processor running at 1.5 GHz, one gig of DDR3 and eight gigs of SSD. The Mineserver Pro™ has an eight-core processor running at 2.0 GHz, two gigs of DDR3 and eight gigs of SSD.

The campaign itself is well past its base goal of $15,000, meaning it should close successfully, and currently shows pledges for over 260 standard servers and over 30 pro servers.  The Kickstarter wraps up at approximately midnight Pacific time on Tuesday (it actually ends two minutes into Wednesday) after which we shall see if this project can fulfill its promise of a fast, inexpensive, and easy to manage home Minecraft server… delivered before Christmas.

Addendum:  And it is done.


We’ll see if/when/how post-Kickstart sales kick off soon I suppose.

Minecraft – Under the Sea

A little while back the ever industrious Aaron declared that he was going to go after one of the many under water ocean monuments that dot the oceans.  I have noticed a few these temples in my own explorations, but haven’t done more than wave in passing.  I have managed to make water breathing potions, but haven’t actually used one yet.

Then this week I rendered a copy of the world into the map format and, in looking around, found where Aaron had apparently started on his project.

Island with underwater link

Island with underwater link

He said he had put a portal to the location in our portal network in the roof of the nether, so I went out there to see what he had done.

As it happened, I wandered through the nether and into the portal just in time to catch a sunrise over Aaron’s project.  Very pretty.

Such nice colors

Such nice colors

Of course, this being an Aaron settlement, there had to be some PETA-enraging animal practices in the vicinity.

Crowded chicken farm

Crowded chicken farm

Anyway, after noting his use… efficiency… I went on to see what he had done with the ocean monument.  The entrance was nice and dry.

The top of the Ocean Monument

The top of the Ocean Monument

The glassed in top section gave it an airy feel, and you were still able to observe the guardian fish that are found around such sites.

Who's a big,mean fish...

Who’s a big,mean fish…

They were actually able to zap me when I was outside of the structure, but inside and behind the glass, all they could do was leer at me.

Inside was also quite spacious, and well lit by sea lanterns and torches.

Inside the Ocean Monument

Inside the Ocean Monument

It was quite a sight.  Later, when I caught Aaron online, I had to ask the obvious question: Was this whole thing full of water when he started?

As it turns out, yes, the whole thing was filled with water and, after building the retaining wall around the top, he drained the whole thing.  He described the process as “a bit of a chore.”  The large rooms were reported to be especially fun.

He did say that if he got really bored, he might wall off the whole structure so we could farm it for materials.  Right now doing so runs the risk of the sea rushing back in.

So that is our new vista in Minecraft.  I’ve been on something of a Diablo III binge for the last week so haven’t been on the server as much as usual.  But I still have some projects in mind.

Friday Bullet Points Return Again

It is Friday and I have a few small items that I couldn’t bring myself to make full blog posts out of, so here they are in what for me passes for abbreviated form.

  • Tunnels & Trolls is here!

About two and a half years back, according to my Kickstarter record, I backed a campaign to produce a new Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls tabletop RPG rule book for a variety of nostalgic reasons.  Well, it has finally arrived.

Tunnels & Trolls Deluxe just out of the shipping box...

Tunnels & Trolls Deluxe just out of the shipping box…

Actually it arrived a few weeks back, but I haven’t gotten around to posting about it as yet.  There was a release party for it which Silverangel of Kitty Kitty Boom Boom attended.

The book itself is much bigger than the 1979 predecessor that I still have on my bookshelf.  Now to find some time to do what I always do with tabletop rule books these days… read through it and imagine all the great campaigns one could run without ever actually playing.

The book should be available directly from Flying Buffalo at this point as well as in digital format from DriveThru RPG.

  • NetherByte is Gone

The dying Minecraft hosting service NetherByte appears to finally be gone.  Having jumped ship a few weeks ago, I removed the whitelisting controls and let a few people wander around to see what was going on.  Over the weekend the dashboard and FTP access went down and, as of last night, what remained of our Minecraft world there is no longer accessible.

  • Asher and Boat

The Asher Hour podcast this week features that staple of null sec, Dabigredboat.  Asher and Boat discuss null sec, how fleet compositions have evolved and how life has changed in null, who the most overrated alliance is, favorite doctrines, and what ought to change.  A good listen and Boat barely goes into any long stories about the good old days.  Download it from Soundcloud, as Asher doesn’t seem to be keeping his old shows around, so it might not be there in a couple weeks.

  • Pirate’s Little Helper

Also on the Asher Elias front, a while back he brought up a utility that you can use in conjunction with EVE Online called Pirate’s Little Helper.  It runs on top of the game and gives you an analysis of targets within your system, so you can tell who is the noob flying around helpless and who is the cyno-bait waiting to drop his buddies on top of you for a gank.

You can also enter pilot names into the web site just to see what comes up.  My own report isn’t all that impressive, though it is accurate enough.  I haven’t done enough to earn a tag.  In space, nobody knows you’re a blogger.  A few examples from the site:

Also, Gevlon and The Mittani both appear to favor HML Tengus with faction missiles.

  • Trade Goods for Vegas

Largely due to my wife, I am going to be at EVE Vegas this year.  She will be there too, though she does not play EVE Online.  She will do something else during the panels, but has a ticket for the Chateau party.  That she will do well at.

She also felt that I ought to have something to share with friends and foes alike, and so ran some TNT buttons for me through Wacky Buttons, which turned out to be a pretty cheap, quick, and efficient service.  The buttons, 1 inch in diameter, look pretty good.



I will have a pocket full of those, plus some Reaver Bee buttons should I run into any of my fellow jacket pals in Vegas.

While we are getting to Vegas a day early to hang out other commitments, along with the vagaries of the Southwest flight schedule, means us having to leave mid-day Sunday.  Since the EVE Vegas schedule just got posted, now I can see that I will be missing quite a few panels.  Well, maybe next time.