Category Archives: Minecraft

Minecraft and the Long and Winding Road

Every big Minecraft project I take on eventually arrives at that point where I wonder if I have bit off more than I can chew.

Somewhere in my drafts folder I have a post about the various stages of every big project.  They include the initial optimism, vague goals, and the eventual smack in the face by reality when the actual scope of the work becomes clear.  Happens every time I take on something beyond simple structures.

All of which brings us to the latest road building project, which is my attempt to create a marked overland route from the mansion in the far north and the infrastructure of our core settlement.  I knew up front that this was going to be a long slog, made all the worse by some of the terrain I would have to cross.  Jungles are… well… jungles.  TNT goes a long way there, but you still have to clear the remains.

My thought was to try and mitigate the effort by simplifying things.  I wasn’t going to make a paves road or a railroad, but just a single stripe of cobblestone leading from the mansion back south to the nearest outpost on the great rail line.  Cobblestone is easy to find, you can even create it from a machine.

So I set out to build the road.  And I actually have made some decent progress.  It helped that I was sick one weekend and when I wasn’t napping all I did was sit at my desk, listen to audio books, and play Minecraft.  Building the road doesn’t require deep thought, just effort.  As a result I am about six kilometers closer to my destination.

Progress so far

Progress so far

North/South is measured on the Z axis in Minecraft, and for some reason North is negative.  That is the sort of thing I would expect from an Australian and not a Swede, but whatever.  The the value is the number of blocks from the initial spawn point and each block is 1 meter, so I have managed to build a little over six kilometers of road so far.

Actually, I am probably past the 8km mark due to a good deal of going East and West along the X axis in order to avoid terrain obstacles… like the minor sea I ran into just south of the mansion.  That required a wide detour, as did a mountain range that cropped up as well.  The idea was to follow an easy path through the world rather than fight the terrain by digging long tunnels through mountains or long bridges over water.

But winding around things takes a toll of its own, and I do still have quite a trek between my current position and the eventual goal.

Oh, yeah, that is quite a ways

Oh, yeah, that is quite a ways

Of course, in its way, this project is more about the journey than the destination.  Nothing gets you out and seeing the world better than having to scout the path ahead, finding landmarks, setting up forward bases, and tending to the most obstinate horse in existence.

He does this just to annoy me

He does this just to annoy me

I previously mentioned his apparent need to jump in the nearest body of water.

Earlier he was up a tree, now he's in a pond...

Aqua horse!

He is a very special horse.  It was suggested previously that I secure him on a lead. However about half the time I leave him thus secured I come back to find the lead on the ground and he has run off to find the most awkward position he could find.  I once dismounted on a bridge to fix something for just a moment and he immediately jumped off the bridge into the water.

I suspect by the end of this I will have to do a picture postcard post of all the places I have found him.

So when I end up at a base where I plan to spend some time collecting resources and building up supplied for the next road segment, I usually take a minute to fence in a patch to contain him.

Horse at my desert temple outpost... I found him some diamond armor there

Horse at my desert temple outpost… I found him some diamond armor there

The fencing usually keeps him in check, though occasionally he simply disappears.  I know he is in there, I bump into an invisible horse when I walk through his corral, I simply can’t see him or mount him.  The usual solution is to open the gates and let him wander out.  He seems to go visible as he leaves to make a run for the nearest water.

Anyway, the horse and I carry on building the road.

December in Review

The Site

I was going to write a happy note about and their new stats page, which I have studiously avoided since it came out as its layout and information seemed to me to be a step down from the previous version.  I will admit though that it make things easier to see in the scope of a calendar year or a month.  It had that going for it.

And then on the winter solstice killed the previous version of the stats page and now forces users to go to the new one.  Dammit.  Among the things missing with the new page are the two page view charts I use for my anniversary posts.

Also, the new stats page is broken for me for approximately one third of the day.  I think this is due to my blog running on UTC… which was the only choice back when I started it… and my local time being UTC -8.  I never bothered to swap the blog time to match my local time, but seems to know my local time and simply stops showing me stats between 4pm local and midnight local.  Nice job there!

The Stats are a Lie

The Stats are a Lie

Fortunately, one of the early versions of the stats page… not my favorite, but one that at least has the right data… is still accessible.  Also, the mobile app shows the right stats regardless of time.

Oddly, hasn’t done their “year in review” option for blogs yet.  Usually that is up right after Christmas.  They appear to have given up on that for individual blogs and now have a year in review page for the whole family.

And speaking of stats and years, if somebody could click on that random post link on the side bar or some similar action about 2,500 times, the blog would totally have a nice round number for page views in 2016.  Just do it before 23:59 UTC.

One Year Ago

Thanks to The Force Awakens coming out, George Lucas was in the news and rationalizing his “Han didn’t shoot first” change.  I wasn’t buying it.  There were certainly other things he could have changed.

It was December, so I had to go over the usual posts, scoring predictions, looking back at the highs and lows of the year gone past, looking forward to what I might play 2016, and something about the inevitable Steam holiday sale.  I also made a chart to show what MMOs I was playing in 2015 because everybody else was doing it.  I totally forgot to make that chart again this year.

There was the Operation: Frostline expansion in EVE Online.

In New Eden I got blow up trying to slip a Caracal out of Fountain.  It happens.  On the other hand, I did get my first kill mark on another solo op.  I also hit 150 million skill points, an achievement soon to be made trivial by skill injectors.

The much reviled Fountain War Kickstarter was finally cancelled, as it was clearly not going to get anywhere close to its $150K target.  But was that going to bank the flames of the brightly burning Goon hate? (hint: no)

The recently rebranded Imperium was taking its plans to low sec, either to generate content or display its arrogance depending on who was describing it.  We were also waging a war in Cloud Ring.

Turbine finally got their head screwed on right when it came to insta-levels in Lord of the Rings Online.  I was stomping around in the Mirkwood expansion trying to see in the dark.

In Minecraft I was building a prismarine outpost along the great northern road.  Aaron and I also killed the End Dragon.

On the EverQuest front, the Phinigel “true box” server opened, a retro progression server that was supposed to keep people from multi-boxing groups.

I summed up five years of Raptr tracking my game play with my top 20 played games.  There was LEGO’s somewhat nonsensical online name policy.  And I was playing Monument Valley on the iPad.

Five Years Ago

There was the usual looking back at the Highs and Lows of 2011.  And, hand-in-hand with that, there was the look forward at games I might play in 2012.

One of those games was Diablo III and another Torchlight II, while Path of Exile represented a dark horse third. They were all vying for the mantle of successor to Diablo II.  So I tried to define the essence of Diablo II.

I also had some demands for 2011 and had to look at how that worked out.

I was back in EVE Online and I began my journey into null sec appropriately, by killing myself.  Then I saw titans, lit cynos, and got blown up.

But hey, a ship blows up every six seconds in EVE Online.

There was a war on, and it was announced we were going to be driven from Deklein.  And there was something about ganking tourism and three flavors of ravens.  Also, pretty new nebulae.

Meanwhile, in the bigger picture, Hilmar Pétursson, CEO of CCP declared that the era of the Jesus Feature was over for EVE Online.

There was the end of Star Wars Galaxies, though people were saying it had been dead for years.

Star Wars: The Old Republic went live, completing the changing of the Star Wars MMO guard, for all the lack of actual change that brought about.

EverQuest II and its free to play twin, EverQuest II Extended, were merged into a single fighting force of extraordinary magnitude or something.

Richard Garriott de Cayeux went a little nuts talking about his Ultimate RPG, his great fondness for EA, and the failure of Tabula Rasa and Ultima 8.  He seemed to try to be getting EA to join with him by talking to the press… and not to EA.  And then it was the Mayans.

Closer to planet Earth, the instance group was in Rift running the Realm of the Fae.

Toril MUD was still alive and had just added nine more zones to the game.

Playboy Manager the MMO.  Never ended up being a thing.

And I proved my laser tag prowess against a bunch of little girls.

Ten Years Ago

The short-lived Massive Magazine, dedicated to our chosen niche video game genre, put out its first issue.  I bought a copy.

I told a Christmas story from 1977 about video games.

I followed up on my initial Stellar Emperor post with one about how I won the game.

My daughter and I were chasing Rudolph across the Frostfell zone in EverQuest II.

Digg starting listing podcasts and there was a call to help Digg some of the MMO related podcasts. These days I am surprised when I see that Digg is still a thing.

The Commonlands in EverQuest got a make over. The two zones also got combined into a single zone.

I compared the Butcherblock chessboard in EQ and EQ2. I was also running around Runnyeye with Gaff.

I correctly predicted the venue for that year’s EQ2 expansion, Kunark, which I will never let anybody forget.  I was also wondering about SOE’s trajectory given the changes that came in with Echoes of Faydwer and The Serpent’s Spine.

And in World of Warcraft the instance group did Gnomeregan and started in on Scarlet Monestary.  I also noted that gold spammers were using in-game mail in WoW.

I also had five features I wanted WoW to steal from EQ2.  I think we got one of them in the form of the WoW Armory.  But no, housing was not on the list.

Derek Smart came up as a topic for the first time on the site.

Finally, in a bit of EVE Online history I didn’t write about at the time, though I was vaguely aware that it had happened, the first titan built, an Avatar named “Steve,” owned by Ascendant Frontier, became the first titan destroyed when it was lost to Band of Brothers in C9N-CC on December 11, 2006. The pilot, CYVOK, logged out with aggression, was probed down, and the titan was destroyed.

The Wreck of Steve

The Wreck of Steve… also, 2006 UI

There is a memorial wreck in the system to mark the event.

And, finally, just to make this section even longer, the top ten best selling games on the PC in 2006:

  1. World of Warcraft
  2. The Sims 2: Open for Business
  3. The Sims 2
  4. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  5. Star Wars: Empire at War
  6. Age of Empires III
  7. Civilization IV
  8. The Sims 2: Nightlife
  9. Guild Wars Factions
  10. Zoo Tycoon 2

That was back when Sims ruled the list.  I had forgotten that Guild Wars sold as well as it did too.

Most Viewed Posts in December

  1. Claim Your Daily Yoiul Gifts in EVE Online!
  2. What Happens When They Buy EVE Online?
  3. A New Broom at Daybreak?
  4. Top Five Problems with EVE Online
  5. New Eden For Sale?
  6. A Standing Stone Gathers No Momentum
  7. Make My Alpha Clone
  8. Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered
  9. Losing 600 Billion ISK on Your Own Cyno Beacon
  10. WoW Legion Sales Numbers Stacked Up Against Past Launches
  11. In Which I Ramble About Being All Things to All People
  12. The Steam Winter Sale 2016 Begins

Search Terms of the Month

is warhammer return of reckoning safe?
[It better not be!]

stellaris is everything that civilization
[should be? hates? rejects? eats for lunch?]

eve online sex
[If there is anything EVE prevents, it is sex]

sto female elf
[Now you’re trying to cross the streams again]

eq dwarf hate purple armor
[Dwarf should buy some dye]

flying mount business model
[Sell them for money?]

EVE Online

It was all sorts of explosions in New Eden at the start of the month, but with the holidays and family and commitments, I wasn’t really able to set aside much time for internet spaceships.  I only logged on in the latter half of the month to do some Planetary Interaction stuff and poke around a bit.

EverQuest II

As with New Eden, I started off the month strong in Norrath, but then that tapered off as the holidays hit.  Only so much time in the day.  I am still up for further exploration of the new-ish content.


I actually spend a lot of time in our world as the month progressed.  With a big project lined up, it was easy to drop in, do a bit of work, and log back out as I had the time.  The road has been moving southward, though there are times when I look at the progress I have made relative to the work left to be done and I wonder if I have bit off more than I can chew.  And once I get that next bridge done I have another jungle to blast through.  Time for more TNT.

Pokemon Go

I even slowed down some on Pokemon Go as it started to rain in our corner of California.  It is an outdoor sort of game, so my daily walk around the work campus (which has 6 Pokestops) tailed off as water fell from the sky.  I did manage to catch a couple of Santa Hat Pikachu, but Ditto continues to elude me.  And I did a last minute lucky egg for double XP and evolved myself to level 25 last night.  Also, I hatched a Magby, which is number 240 in the Pokedex, which indicates that we’re getting new Pokemon with the new year.

All alone at the bottom of the list

All alone at the bottom of the list

End of month stats:

  • Level: 25 (+1)
  • Pokedex status: 106 (+7) caught, 134 (+5) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Ditto
  • Current buddy: Kadabra

Pokemon Sun & Moon

Again, I seemed to have put down the Pokemon Sun for the last week or so as the holidays blew through.  I made it through the third island and the interlude afterwards, but now need to pick up the story, get to the final island, and get Nebby to stay in the damn bag.


I actually bought a few items during the Steam sale, and am eyeing at least one more, so there will no doubt be a post-sale posting to discuss that.  I will say that at $2.99, Dirt 3 offers some pretty decent driving fun.

World of Warcraft

I let my account there lapse, and will probably set my daughter’s to lapse as well, as she hasn’t been logging in either.  After a busy summer and fall in Azeroth it feels like time to let that simmer while we do other things.

Coming Up

2017, and the sincere hope that it ends up being better than 2016.  Probably not going to happen, but one can always hope.

Tomorrow is the first of the year and will feature my usual predictions post.

In New Eden war is coming and the Imperium is deploying to join in.  I have to find a convoy out there so I can join in.

EverQuest II has a double XP weekend going through the new year, so I feel like I should take some advantage of that.

I want to finish Pokemon Sun then go back and work on the Pokedex.  I have been moving slow to fill up as much of it as possible, but it hasn’t been a determined effort as yet.

And then there is that list of potential games for 2017… though a lot of them need to finish development first.

A Christmas Gift in Minecraft

I have to admit that I have a serious blind spot when it comes to redstone automation in Minecraft.  It isn’t that I try it and fail or can’t figure it out, but that it never even occurs to me to bring that sort of thing into my projects.

Of course, that may be related to the type of projects I choose to take on in our world.

I am always the guy building roads and paths and laying mine cart track, all stuff that keeps you in motion.  When my last base gets inconveniently far from the current location of the work I just make a new one.  The old gets left in my wake, a rest stop for other travelers and maybe an attraction for tourist, but generally a place that doesn’t see much more practical use.  The inevitable building, mine, lava fueled auto-furnace, farm, and corral will mostly sit idle once I am out of range.

So redstone likely doesn’t occur to me in part because it isn’t mobile.  I would leave behind anything I built and just have to remake it at the next base if it were useful.  And since I tend not to use it, I don’t even think about building redstone devices.

And doubly so when it comes to my current road building project, which will be about 18km as the crow flies, but more like 40km when one takes into account the twists and turns I make to find a path across the world without having to build multi-kilometer bridges across oceans.  I’m now just 2.5km from the Mansion starting place but have built at least 4km of road that has snaked around mountains and seas alike.  This is going to be a long project.

And my plan for the road to have a continuous strip of cobblestone the whole way (interrupted only by lighting) so you’ll never lose it and will be able to find it by crossing over it (and maybe some day that will be a rail line) slows me down as I need to quarry stone along the way.  Sometimes I get it as part of digging out the path forward, but sometimes I just have to tear into the nearest hill to get some.

But the day after Christmas I logged in and went to my forward base along the road to find a gift.  Skronk had been asking how to get to the road and while I was away, had walked out and set something up for me; a redstone cobblestone generating machine.  He had dug out a big more of the small base to set it up and put up signs to guide me.

Machine this way

Machine this way

It uses a piston driven by a redstone clock mechanism to push cobblestone created by the interaction of lava and water out with a furnace at the end to stop the cobblestone from going too far in the limited space.

That seemed to turn out cobblestone at a respectable rate.  The problem was that I was about ready to give up on that base as I moved forward.  It was already quite a ways from the end of the road.  But Skronk had foreseen that.  The machine is fairly simple and so as part of his gift he put together a set of parts to build another one.



It looked much better at Christmas when all chests were wrapped up like presents. (See here.)

So as I moved further down the line I eventually copied most of his design and setup my own cobblestone generation station at the next big encampment, which also happened to be an NPC village on the coast where I was going to have to build my first long water spanning bridge.

Cobble creation inside

Cobble creation inside

I setup and harvested some there, then had a thought.  The building was still a walk from the bridge site, maybe I should get it even closer… like right there at the bridge.  I was also curious too see just how far a piston would push the cobblestone.  So with visions of automated bridge building in my head, I setup another generator.

Right at the bridge

Right at the bridge

I quickly learned that a piston will only push 12 blocks, so I wasn’t going to be able to sit back and watch it cross the sea without me.  But having it right there was still very convenient.  I could harvest a couple of stacks and run out and build some more of the bridge surface, then come back and harvest some more.   So Skronk has given me a new option for resources.

The only real issue is the speed of harvesting.  With a diamond pick and a huge seam of stone, I can harvest cobblestone much faster than the machine can generate it.  And while the machine is right there so I don’t have to haul the cobblestone very far, it can seem a bit slow.  I have been tinkering with the timing on the clock to see just how fast I can get it to run.  There is clearly a threshold where the piston moves too quickly and does not give the cobblestone time to form.

Meanwhile, the road work goes on, though I have to take a break and run back for supplies.  My bow broke, my last flint got used up, I’ve run out of iron, and while standing at the end of the bridge I accidentally threw my diamond sword into the deep sea and wasn’t able to find it again.  The hazards of construction work.


A Blast in the Minecraft Jungle

I have been hanging around the forest mansion I made my way to a while back.  I set up shop there, starting building resources and infrastructure and exploring the local area.  I found several herds of llamas close by and so tamed some and brought them back to hang out.

All my llamas dressed up

All my llamas dressed up

I like how they all line up to follow when you put one on a lead, which made it easy to transplant them.  I haven’t penned them in or anything, letting them wander the nearby hills.  Every once in a while I just put one on a lead and run him around to collect all the rest up and reset them at a central spot to wander again. (Aaron, on the other hand, is running some sort of llama eugenics program and breeding super llamas in his lab.)

It was all the usual things I do when I settle down in a location.  I have a farm now and I am wondering if I can somehow leverage the mansion into some sort of super indoor town for villagers.  I could hand a lot of doors in there and let them all roam about on the roof or something.

But for me, Minecraft always cries out for the big project, the huge public works sort of effort, roads, railways, canals, and that sort of thing.  I explored the local area and tinkered with a few ideas.  I thought about a touring rail line or maybe a roller coasters.  However, the obvious project kept reasserting itself in my brain.  I was going to have to build a overland road back to the main settlement area of our world.

Let me remind you again how far north the mansion is from the main settlement.

Aaron, straight west, me, northish...

Aaron, straight west, me, northish…

My mansion is more than 26km from the spawn point.  It is almost a 10 minute mine cart ride to get out to its portal from the transit hub in the nether.  Overland that would be a ride of over an hour were I to lay rails.

But I decided not to lay rails.  Not yet anyway.  Instead, the plan is to create a road, three blocks wide, back to the nearest point on the great rail line, which would be the Desert Temple station.  That means I don’t have to get all the way to the spawn point, but there is still a good 18km of road to build to get down there.  And, to make sure the route is visible, the center set of blocks for the entire route will be cobblestone.

I also want to light the way as well as I can.  I started out with a couple of stacks of sea lanterns from the guardian farm placed every so often, but I am not sure how long that will last.  It might be torches most of the way.

The whole thing started out easily enough.  I had a stockpile of cobble, I was collecting dirt from high points in order to smooth out low points along the road, and the sea lanterns were still in healthy supply.

A path through some grasslands

A path through some grasslands

The early route was easy, passing through grassland and low mountains.  The abundance of horses near the mansion makes me think that I should collect up some saddles and build stables about a day’s ride apart at some point.

And then I came to the first obstacle, the jungle.

I haven’t really had to clear a path through a jungle biome up to this point, so when I saw all those trees and underbrush I figured flint and steel would solve my problems.  I have cleared great swathes of forest in our world by merely setting them alight.

However, as it turns out, fire is not nearly as effective in jungle biomes as it is in other wooded areas.  The fire will burn for a bit, clear out a bit of the foliage and maybe burn a bit of a tree, but it won’t spread very far and it goes out rather quickly.  I think the jungle vines suppress it.

So while I had chosen a narrow bit of jungle to pass through, it looked like it was going to take be quite a while to hack my way thought it.  Jungles are also surprisingly hilly under all that growth, so digging out/filling in a level road bed was going to be a chore on top of that.

I was bitching a bit about the tough slog through the jungle on chat with Skronk when he suggested throwing TNT at the problem.  That seemed like an idea to explore.

I had never gotten around to playing with TNT in Minecraft up to that point.  I knew about it, and had actually been saving up gun powder in order to make some one day.  I ran back to one of my bases where I had been storing it up and brewed up almost a stack of TNT and brought it out to the jungle.

As it turns out, TNT is an excellent way to essentially bore a hole for a path through a dense jungle biome.  I had to experiment with placing it right.  If you put it too low, you end up having to fill in much of the resulting hole.  But placed correctly I was able to stand back, shoot it with my flaming arrow bow, watch the explosion, and simply police up the debris.

I was able to put the TNT to good use and got through the jungle biome much more quickly than I would have otherwise… and a good thing too, because my damn horse kept wandering off and getting stuck.

Earlier he was up a tree, now he's in a pond...

Earlier he was up a tree, now he’s in a pond…

That got me through the jungle, though I do not have much TNT left now.  I did find a jungle temple along the way, the first one I have seen.

In the rain

In the rain

But other than that, the jungle was behind me.

I am going to have to scrounge some more gun powder… just in case.  The next segment of the road runs along the coast of a hilly taiga biome, so I should be able to clear any path I need with flint and steel again.

Of course, the big challenges are still ahead.  Much of my overland trip out to the manions was actually over water.  If you look at the map, there are some wide ocean gaps to deal with still.  I will need to scout those out to find a way around… or collect a lot of cobble to build some very long bridges.

November in Review

The Site

I got another achievement this month.

A thousand of you hit that button

A thousand of you hit that button

In the context of, a follower is somebody with a account that follows your blog so they can view updates in the reader.  This surprises me both because I am not all that fond of the reader and because I muted notifications about new followers a while back, so wasn’t really keeping track at all.  Also I turned off that little floating thing that has the “follow” button, so I am not sure how people even do the follow thing here at this point.

But now I have accrued 1,003 followers in the last 6 years, which is when “follow” became a thing on  If you know how, you can find a list of all of your followers.  Mine is 51pages long and full of people I don’t recall.  But my third follower ever was Stargrace.  She has been pretty busy of late.  And follower 1,000 was Adam Harkus, who is a guitarist and travels.

Of course, a thousand isn’t all that many people and this month has actually seen another drop in page views.  The previous time I mentioned it, Google was the reason.  There was a date after which referrals from Google dropped by about 25% daily.

This month however Google has remained steady.  Instead the drop has come from referrals from other blogs and related sites.  I don’t know if the election and its aftermath has everybody otherwise occupied or if I am just wrote dull stuff this month… I certainly did not write much about WoW and haven’t been in a war in EVE… but on average a good 100 people a day simply aren’t clicking on links that lead to my site.  Life in blog lane.

One Year Ago

The launch of Fallout 4 caused a dip in porn viewing on the internet.

Nintendo announced they were re-releasing Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on the 3DS Virtual Console.

BlizzCon was approaching and I laid out a “need vs greed” list of things I thought would happen at the event.  But before BlizzCon there had to be the Q3 quarterly results.  The big news was that World of Warcraft held steady and had 5.5 million subscribers.  However, Blizzard said they were not going to talk about subscription numbers any more.  They would be talking about Candy Crush Saga though, having purchased King for 5.9 billion dollars.

Then BlizzCon came and I had to score my list.

It also slipped out a bit early that the WoW Legion expansion would not hit until summer 2016, September 21 being the last possible date listed, which seemed a long ways off.  I wasn’t yet ready to return to the game.  I used gold to grab a WoW Token for 30 days of play time and spend the most of it just earning that money back running missions in my garrison.

I dipped my toe back in Lord of the Rings Online for a bit.

Still playing Minecraft, I finished up the Great Northern Road and highlighted the guardian farm that Aaron built.

In New Eden, the Parallax expansion was released, the last named monthly update in Syndicate to be released.  From then on names were reserved for big expansions while monthly updates were simply know by their date.

There was also the start of the ill-fated Fountain War Kickstarter campaign, which was plagued by hubris, gaffes, bad ideas, and “Grrr Goons” hostility.  Not that it didn’t deserve some of the latter as it was a clusterfuck and was not winning fast enough.  It was finally cancelled before the clock ran down, but it left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth.

There was also a Fountain War video which was better received… but then nobody was asking for $150,000 to produce it.

Meanwhile, another member of CSM X got cut.  Not a Goon.

CCP Quant took his EVE Vegas presentation and made it the first of the monthly EVE Economic reports to be publish.

And actually in the game, the Reavers were down in Wicked Creek to spar with TEST.  We were not there long, but it was one of those deployments that generated its own legends in the SIG.  We were called back because a small war was brewing in Cloud Ring against some foes, old and new.  Some had no sov and were hitting us from low sec.  We fell on them when we could in what was being dubbed the “Kickstarter War.”  Herein lay some of the seeds of what would be called the “Casino War” and, later, “World War Bee.”

Over at Daybreak, EverQuest II got the Terrors of Thalumbra of expansion while EverQuest got expansion number 22, The Broken Mirror.  There was the Phinigel “true box” progression server coming up for EverQuest.  The EverQuest II server consolidation was wrapping up, on Stormhold the Kingdom of Sky expansion was voted down, and the game turned 11, all of which I covered in a single post.

Daybreak also shut down Dragon’s Prophet, which lives on in Europe under another publisher.

Smed, gone from Daybreak, wanted to stop talking about money when it came to video games.

And finally, I had a test… a Star Wars test… for those wishing to date my daughter.

Five Years Ago

I looked back at the Star Wars Extended Universe novel Heir to Empire, which turned 20 years old. That might be my most coherent piece on the site.

In EVE Online, the upcoming Crucible expansion had a chance to remove the Incarna stink from the game. Oh, and ship trails were back. And Hulkageddon V was announced… about six months early it turns out.

I reviewed my 2011 MMO outlook. Rift appeared to be the unlikely winner, while DCUO had already gone F2P.

Speaking of going F2P in under a year, I had my first peek at Star Wars: The Old Republic in the beta. Pre-NDA drop, I used Star Wars Galaxies to describe the game as nothing new. Then the NDA dropped and I bitched some more. I did not find the game fun, cancelled my pre-order, and went back to Rift.

And then there was EverQuest II going free to play on all servers, which made me wonder what else in the SOE line up might follow suit.

Then, suddenly, Vanguard started showing inexplicable signs of life.

On the Fippy Darkpaw server, the Scars of Velious was complete and the Luclin expansion went live. Also, breaking the retro aspect, Fippy Darkpaw players got the same new hot bars that all EverQuest players got with the new expansion. They actually worked like hot bars in other games.

In Rift, we made it to Meridian and then faced our first boss while learning the rules of their LFG tool. Oh, and the damn Yule rifts were up before Thanksgiving. I swear, it gets earlier every year.

We learned of the real money auction house in Diablo III. An auction house focus for the game? I’m sure that will work out great.

And also on the RMT front was the Guardian cub pet in World of Warcraft. I did a couple of price checks on those, but somebody should probably go back and see how prices look a year later.

Oh, and WoW had lost 2 million subscribers. Remember when that was a big deal?  But it was still insanely profitable.

Torchilght II was delayed because we had other things to play, right?

AOL shut down That doesn’t mean what you think.

I announced the winners of my Azeroth travel poster contest.

Google was pissing me off by changing up Google Reader. I am still annoyed by some of the features they axed, but at least they fixed the layout so you could reduce the huge amount of white (read: wasted) space in the new default layout.

And we said farewell to LEGO Universe.

Ten Years Ago

Our World of Warcraft Saturday Night Permanent Floating Instance Group finished up Blackfathom Deeps,The Stockades, Shadowfang Keep, and started in on Razorfen Kraul.

In EverQuest, I picked up The Serpent’s Spine and tried running a new character though some of the new level 1-70 content.  I also set out a minor goal of taking screen shots to compare Faydwer in EQ and Faydwer in EQII that lead to posts about Kaladim and Kelethin.

And in EverQuest II, the Echoes of Faydwer expansion came out.  Once I found a copy and got past the patching process and into the game, I made a fae swashbuckler and went to town.

the Revelations expansion hit in New Eden, my first expansion update in EVE Online.  I followed the general wisdom and made sure I had a long skill training the night before.

The Wii and the PlayStation 3 were both released in the US.

And the maker of the ubiquitous ZMud client announced a replacement product called CMud.  I tried the demo version, but since ZMud continued to work for me, I stuck with that.

Most Viewed Posts in November

  1. Make My Alpha Clone
  2. Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered
  3. EVE Online Passes 50K Players Online Again
  4. Election Night in Fountain
  5. The Demise of BattleClinic
  6. WoW Legion Sales Numbers Stacked Up Against Past Launches
  7. EVE Vegas – Like Finds Like and Other Things
  8. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  9. Pondering That Legion Level 100 Boost
  10. Projecting on BlizzCon 2016
  11. Ascension Day in EVE Online
  12. Scoring My BlizzCon Projections

Search Terms of the Month

why isn’t torchlight 2 more popular
[There is probably a long post in that. For me, it just wasn’t as compelling as Diablo III was]

eve online goonsquad war even when “alpha clone” -state
[I really want to know what they were looking for]

minecraft 1.11 were do you find the new woodland mansion
[I think I actually answered that one this month]

swg source code download for private use
[They try to limit that to just scoundrels]

Spam Comment of the Month

Thank you for sharing superb informations.
[I just like the plural at the end there. Give me all your datas!]

EVE Online

I did not end up playing very much EVE Online this past month, which is odd, because we got the Ascension expansion. That was a big deal, with Alpacas and new explosions and such.  But it was also a month where the Imperium was mostly at peace.  I went on a couple of ops into Fountain where we take pot shots at The-Culture.  But otherwise Delve has been pacified, Querious filled, and anybody who wanders into our space gets caps dropped on them.  Since I often only log in for strat ops, quite times can often lead to low play times.


The surprise entry this month, as my activity there of late had been rather listless.  But it too got an expansion which spurred an exploration drive as I sought out a woodland mansion of my own and then worked to link it up with the rest of our infrastructure.  It is a game where having a project can make all the difference.  Now what to do with that mansion?

Pokemon Go

The double experience holiday event helped push things along for me, as have the new daily first and seven day streak bonuses.  And I got a Snorlax from a 10km egg, which is now my highest CP Pokemon, ringing in currently at 2,185.

Current end of month stats:

  • Level: 24 (+2)
  • Pokedex status: 99 (+20) caught, 129 (+16) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Ditto
  • Current buddy: Ivysaur

Pokemon Sun & Moon

A new game for the core Pokemon RPG fans.  And a pretty decent entry in the field, as it walks the tightrope path between sticking to the core essentials and bringing new things to the franchise… besides new Pokemon.  My daughter and I have been playing it, though I think she is up on it because a couple of her friends at school play Pokemon as well.  My influence wains, but I’ll take any play time I can get with her.  And at least one of her friends has said it is so cool that her dad plays Pokemon too.  Hah!


I started out this month gangbusters on Stellaris.  And then I got past the hump and figured out the early game, only to fall into the abyss of the mid-to-end game that can really drag on as empires settle in and wrestle with each other over the scraps, form federations, and then stare at each other while the victory conditions remain way out of reach.  The Civilization end-game problem writ on a galactic scale.

World of Warcraft

Azeroth has been rapidly falling out of favor around here.  I certainly played less WoW than any other game I called out this month, and at least one I did not. (I played some Age of Kings at one point.)  Part of that has been something of a reaction to the pre-flying achievements needing mythic dungeon runs or a crazy rep grind, depriving me of the sort of longer term goal that might keep me going.  And then Blizzard has been breaking things.  I was getting back into pet battles, right up until a patch broke the PetBattle Teams addon.  Without that, sorting through 500+ pets to make a team for a given fight is just too annoying.  And for some reason, I can no longer send things via email to my alts, breaking a crafting thing I had going on.  So WoW may be on its way out for me very soon.

Coming Up

The final month of 2016, the year that will be that year for some time to come, looms.  There is still time for and additional disaster and a few beloved celebrity deaths.  But still, there is limited time left, though I am still predicting some sort of horrible New Year’s Eve ball dropping fiasco that will take out Anderson Cooper, Kathy Griffin, Carson Daly, and Ryan Seacrest live on national TV.  Guy Lombardo never faced such peril.

Otherwise, what have we got for December?  Probably a Steam holiday sale, even though we just had a Steam autumnal sale.  Steam sales have lost their edge.

I’ve got the usual five posts to write, looking forward and back, reviewing predictions and making new ones, and generally wrapping things up for the year.

There is a rumor that Pokemon Go will get new Pokemon in December.  No Man’s Sky is supposed to get an update to make things better, though the current $60 price makes it too pricey for me to gamble on just yet.  There will likely be the usual EVE Online monthly update, maybe with a holiday event.  Holiday events will be going on in all the usual games.

And for some of us it will be wet and cold out, which will give is a fine excuse to stay inside and play video games.

More Minecraft Mansion Fun – Tunnels, Fires, Explosions, and Llamas

I kept on working around the mansion I had found last week over the weekend, both to make it more livable and to connect it to our nether transportation hub.

Livability meant expanding my farm, exploring a bit, marking trails, and taming some of the local llamas.

They look so festive when festooned

They look so festive when festooned

The latter was the larger effort.  As noted previously, I was into the nether and up into the roof after a couple of mishaps, but that still left the long dig to the nearest station or terminal on the nether rail line.  Just looking at the rendered map of the rail loop and dividing by 8, the portal and rail terminus in the nether for the Mesa Biome Station seemed to be my best bet.

The question was how many picks would I go through in order to make it there.

In dying and respawning far from home, I was well away from the Zombie Pigman harvesting machine which can be used to collect gold as well as experience.  Tools with the mending enchant on them can be repaired via experience gain with that machine, so tools rarely break for me as I just go top them up when I get low.  Or I do when I have access to it.  Now I would have to dig to get there.

I wore my enchanted diamond pick down to the very nub, eating through netherrak and an impressive pace, then stored it away to be repaired later, and started digging with the two diamond picks I had been able to make.  I had about 2,000 blocks to go southward, and another 200 westward to hit the portal if my calculations were correct, and my tunnel was 3 blocks high and 1 wide.  So a minimum of 6,600 blocks of netherrack to remove, though that number is low because I had to dig out waypoints along the run to store the netherrack.

As with every such infrastructure project I have done, having to run back and forth from your staging base begins to eat up more and more of your time the further along you get.  So I had a stack of chests with me (no shortage of wood up an the mansion) and would dig out rooms at points to put down a chest to store the netherrack when my inventory got full.  And then, once the second diamond pick was gone, to store the iron picks which wore out quickly and dug much slower to boot.

Eventually though I hit the point where I thought I needed to turn west.  Just two hundred meters to go.  And, as it turned out, my calculation was correct.  I hit the northeast corner of the room where the Mesa Biome portal and rail line were located.  But if I had cut west just two blocks earlier, I would have missed it completely.

That done, I rode a mine cart back to the hub, repaired my tools via the Zombie Pigman machine, and started scrounging about for material to make rails.  I had excess rails all over the rail loop, but remembering exactly where was a bit of a chore.  Once I had filled my inventory though, I rolled back out to the Mesa Biome portal and began laying track in the nether back along the tunnel I had dug.

Laying track goes quickly if the path has already been dug, though it helps if you do not forget to bring along the redstone torches necessary to light up the powered rails that actually propel mine carts down the line.  There was still some running back and forth and I eventually ran out of rails and excess iron, but Aaron said I could tap into the stock he kept at his base.  That was enough for me to finish the run.  As with the ride out to Aaron’s mansion, riding out to mine takes nearly 10 minutes by rail through the nether.  Still, much better than walking overland.

Aaron came out to take a look at my mansion, as it had some rooms his did not.  He also found a secret room on the second floor that I had missed.  But neither of us could find the secret location I knew existed.

In order for me to use the map tool to render a map of our world into Google map format, I have to download a backup of our world from Minecraft Realms. (And if I have to pick the best thing about Minecraft Realms, aside from price, it is the fact that they back up your world regularly with no fuss about disk space.  And you can roll back to a save pretty easily.)

When I download the backup from Minecraft Realms, it goes into the Minecraft saves directory, where it acts like a local world.  I can log into the save and tinker with things if I want, though I usually don’t.  But after I had burned the woods around the mansion, carefully keeping it from catching fire, I wondered what would happen if it did catch fire.

So I went into a recent local save, got out my flint and steel, and ran around the mansion setting it on fire, then let it burn itself out to see what remained.  Here is what I ended up with.

As you can see, fire is not efficient at spreading.  While it burned plenty of the mansion away, it still left odd gaps in the middle of otherwise quite flammable wood.  It also burned away part of another secret room, the one I was looking for when Aaron arrived.   In the burned out mansion on the save I found the key elements of it, which were a trapped chest with two blocks of TNT, one on either side.

Trapped chest

Trapped chest

Being in a destructive mood… I had just set fire to a mansion… I stood back and fired a flaming arrow into the TNT, which ignited the fuse and set off the charge.  *BOOM*

That was the end of that... sort of...

That was the end of that… sort of…

The charges broke the cobblestone blocks below the chest, which turned out to be infested with silverfish.  When freed from the blocks, they came straight for me and I had a running fight for a bit as I tried to slay them with my bow while keeping some distance between myself and the attacking mob.

I survived, but the chest had been obliterated.  I didn’t note down the coordinates, but recalled the general area of the chest and the fact that it was on green wool of all things.

The wool set me off in the wrong direction as close by where the chest room was there lay an Illager statue room, the statue made of wool.  I thought the chest might be buried in the giant head that fills much of that room.  So when Aaron arrived I had already been fruitlessly digging through the illager’s wool brain.  I mentioned the room to Aaron, but neither of us could find it.

Later, I went back to look at the screen shots I took of the burned mansion.  The picture of the chest exploding showed the area to be in a corner of the mansion.  That, along with the wool, had put me in the statue room, which was in a corner of the mansion.  However, the other picture showed a cobblestone wall, which gave me the bearing I needed.  The mansion had a notch so that there were two corners at the back of the mansion, one at the statue room and then another behind a cobblestone jail room. (You can see all the room types on the wiki.)  The wall in the picture with the chest had to be the back of that room, so I dug through the back wall of the cell and found the room.

Another chest with explosives

Another chest with explosives

Now, of course, the question is how to deal with this.  How to deal with TNT that has been placed is a long discussed topic, however many of the threads I have seen are somewhat vague and often so old as not to be trustworthy anymore.

So the chest abides for now, though I think I will go in and clear out the silverfish blocks one by one before I try anything.  No need to have an explosion AND get mobbed at the same time.

Meanwhile, back in the village where I spawned my cartographer, and where I went to collect rails and other materials once the nether tunnel was complete, I found that a second cartographer had been spawned in my rush to breed some new villagers.  I stuffed him with paper and compasses and, thus sated, he offered up for sale a map to a third woodland mansion, this one in the southeast.

The third map

The third map

I sent out a note to everybody about the map, placing it in a chest in the nether transit hub if anybody wanted to go off on their own mansion hunting adventure.  We shall see if Xydd or Skronk take the bait.

A Secluded Mansion in Minecraft

With the Ascension expansion in EVE Online and Pokemon Sun & Moon having landed last week, I was perhaps a bit surprised when I ended up playing more Minecraft than anything else over the weekend and since.

Of course, there was a Minecraft update and Aaron’ mansion adventure to inspire.  After that I decided I wanted to go find one as well.  That meant getting one of the new cartographer villagers to spawn, since each one only sells a map to a single woodland mansion.  I headed to one of the villages I had walled in, lit, and tended to, added a bunch of additional doors (as the number of doors dictates the maximum population of a village) and started feeding the current villagers their favorite things to get them to produce new villagers.  I managed to get a cartographer on the second try and, after he grew up and I stuffed him full of paper to encourage his trading, he offered me a new woodland mansion map.

The maps are somewhat generic looking, giving you a general sketch of the area where the mansion is placed.  It also puts a little marker representing the hold, which shows your position relative to the destination.  The marker gets bigger when you get close, and once you get on the actual map grid, it begins to fill in like a regular in-game map.  I forgot to take a screen shot of my initial map, so here are a couple of samples from the wiki.

A cartographer with woodland mansion and ocean monument maps

A cartographer with woodland mansion and ocean monument maps

Map in hand, I put together some supplies… a full stack of food, a set of tools, four stacks of torches because I like to light things, flint and tinder for when I really want to light thing up, a boat, 10 obsidian blocks, and a stack of wood.  I didn’t have any wool handy from where I set out, so I took a pair of clippers along as well, hoping to shear some sheep as I went.  That actually worked out well, as sheep were plentiful at various points.

My map showed the mansion I was seeking was northeast of where I was (Aaron’s mansion was to the west) so I set out to find it.  I left our explored area north of the prismarine bridge on the rail line.  North of there is ocean, so I was hoping to travel as far as I could by boat, which is both fast and doesn’t require you to stop at night.

And, as it happened, I did manage to make much of the trip by boat, though I did have to cross stretches of land at times, including the last stretch.  I moved northeast when I could, trying to get my little marker to move.  Eventually I found myself lined up on the east-west axis, and just had to travel north.  After a couple hours of travel I eventually found myself on the map grid and closing in on the mansion.  My path was a little more wandering than Aaron’s, as a render of the world after I arrived shows.

Aaron, straight west, me, northish...

Aaron, straight west, me, northish…

I was up past the -26,000 line on the x axis, though still lined up with our core area on the z axis.  But I had found the mansion.

The mansion in the woods

The mansion in the woods

Following Aaron’s example, I built a small house outside the front step of the mansion.  There was plenty of wood to hand, being in the middle of a canopy forest, so I was able to build all the amenities.  I also setup a furnace, fueled by wood, in order to turn wood into charcoal to resupply my torch supply, which had run short.  And even still there was so much forest about that I started setting fire to it just to get a some sky above me.  Slash and burn exploration.

Burn baby burn... also my wood hut

Burn baby burn… also my wood hut

I did managed to not burn down the mansion by removing trees that were up against it before I started setting things alight.

The mansion amid the burned woods

The mansion amid the burned woods… the remaining wood is easy to harvest

With more light shining everywhere, I was feeling better about diving into the mansion.  Aside from the usual monsters that spawn in the dark, there were some vindicators and evokers, the new “illagers,” to take care of.  Both seemed susceptible to ranged fire, so I stood back with my bow and killed them.  The vexes, summoned by the evokers, were the most difficult to deal with.

The mansion cleared, I explored its various rooms and stowed away my loot… including five totems of the undying.

That done, I was there, more than 20km from the nearest outpost, with a big mansion and dwindling supplies.  The mansion was a great place but, when it comes to the usual real estate litmus test, it failed on the top three items, “location, location, location.”  I was sort of stuck.

I did manage to pick up some additional supplies.  Along the way I found a desert temple, which I setup as a living station.  On clearing that out, I obtained some watermelon seeds and a saddle.  I also picked up a potato somewhere, probably from a zombie.

The saddle came in handy, as there were a lot of horses in the fields not too far from the mansion.  A lot of horses.  I think they must have really upped the spawn rate for horses.

A few of the horses within sight of the mansion

A few of the horses within sight of the mansion

I took the seeds and my one potato and started a farm to build up my food supply.  One potato became three, three became seven, and so on until I had a couple of rows growing.

The horse hanging about the farm

The horse hanging about the farm

I also had to dig the usual mine, so I began to tunnel down to level 12 in order to start collecting iron, diamonds, and cobblestone for the next project.  The next project was, of course, setting up some sort of link to home.

I had dragged along 10 blocks of obsidian in order to make a nether portal.  My idea was to do what we did with Aaron in reverse.  I would portal into the nether, get up into the roof, and start a transit tunnel headed south for the main hub.  That seemed easy enough.  I just needed a bunch of cobblestone for a tower up into the roof.

So I built the portal in the foyer of the mansion, lit it, and stepped through carefully.  It came out on a flat outcropping of netherrack, high up, but not too high, over the usual lake of lava.  I build a building of cobblestone around it, leaving a hole in the roof to start my climbing tower.

The tower went along easily enough, my main problem being cobblestone supplies.  I had to go back and mine more in the world.  And then I got to the roof of the nether and began to feel a bit of anxiety.  I didn’t want to bore straight up through the netherrack, lest I hit a lava patch and have it pour straight down on me.  So I expanded my current platform a bit and tried digging at an angle, just to poke up into things.  I was at about level 95 and I only needed to get up to around 119 to be level with our transit hub.

And, of course, I hit a lava bubble.  It wasn’t bad.  It was pouring down the side of my tower, all I had to do was plug it up.

And I missed.  And missed again, and then panicked as the lava flowed towards me, then dropped into the tower and plugged the top to keep any lava from pouring straight down into my portal room.

So now I was in a bit of a fix, with lava pouring all over my work.  So I got myself up on the roof of the portal building and started building a repair tower to get myself high enough to re-route and plug the lava leak.

Lava pouring down

Lava pouring down

After a couple of false starts, I was doing well getting up the side when I heard the cry of a ghast, followed quickly by the sound of it launching a missile at me.  I had fought off a couple of them already, but I was standing in a precarious spot at that moment and its shot knocked me right into the lava flow.

I quickly jumped out and off the side tower, heading down into the portal room and through into the world, hoping to be able to jump into the little pond by my farm before I died.  I did not make it, and my gear was strewn about the foyer as I died.

On the plus side, my gear was safe and close to hand.  On the downside, all my levels had disappeared, and with them my ability to repair my diamond pick, which was already showing yellow on its wear bar.  Levels are used to repair things, and without them my having the iron for an anvil and diamonds to the repair job were not much good.

Still, I was at least together.  I got back up on the repair tower and eventually plugged the lava flow at its source, then finished more drive up into the roof of the nether.  I hollowed out a room and moved the portal up there, by which point my diamond pick was into the red for wear.

I took some time to ride around and see if I could scout a good overland horse path to the ocean, from which I could sail back to our explored area.  That still might be viable, but it will take some time.  It will still likely be quicker to tunnel through the nether to our transit hub and then lay rail.  It just looks like I might end up doing it with iron picks, which mine slower and wear out much more quickly.

So there I am, stuck far from home, building a new one and a road in between the two.