Category Archives: Minecraft

An Hour on the Road in Minecraft

Having finished the road, it was time to ride the road from end to end.

I had horse travel in mind when I was building the road, and it offers clearance at least 3 blocks high and 3 blocks wide its entire length.  While there is variability in the speed of horses in Minecraft, most are as fast or faster than a mine cart, with the fastest horses going almost 60% faster than the 8 blocks a second that a cart travels.

As I built the road I had with me a fairly fast horse, the one that kept trying to escape from me.  My plan, once the road was complete, was to ride him back north the whole length of the road.

Attempting to escape me by jumping down a well

Unfortunately he was the victim of one of those Minecraft accidents before I got around to the ride back north and all that was left was his saddle and diamond armor.  That left me sitting at the Ankh/Desert Temple station on the great rail loop, which also marks the southern end of the road, without a horse.

As it was, I knew I had horses at the other end of the road.  So I took the rail line to the next station, which was the Mesa Biome station, where there was a portal that linked up to the nether transit system.  From there I was able to take a ride through the nether to arrive at the portal I built at the mansion.

There I picked up one of the horses I had stabled in order to start my ride.

On my horse in front of the forest mansion

At that point I hit the ESC key and went to statistics to note the number for distance ridden on a horse.  I then returned to the game and started on down the road.  The time had just changed to 7:52pm local on the Windows task bar.

One of the purposes of the ride was to figure out just how long the road really was.  I already knew that it was at least 20km by just checking the coordinates at the start and finish points.

More than 20km between the two points

However, that was the direct route.  When building the road I often went around obstacles in the terrain or avoided building long bridges over water preferring, at least in the beginning, a more scenic land route.  At the end I was more inclined to bridge the last ocean gap, if only because the way around the ocean would have sent me a long ways off course.

Bridging the last gap

The horse seemed a bit slower than my old mount.  I will have to build one of those red stone devices to measure the speed of your horse at some point to quantify my mounts.  Maybe I can put it on the road as a speed trap.  Anyway, I kept on with the horse since even early into the ride I didn’t want to start over.

It was sunset when set out, which quickly turned to night as I road through the early portions of the road.  A lot of that went through forests and jungle biomes, areas that I often cleared by fire, an act that often leaves behind an eerie light.

The glow remaining from burned trees… also, spiders!

One of the things I noticed on the ride, which I have probably mentioned already, is the abundance of horses on the plains I passed through while making the road.  I believe they upped the spawn rate for horses, as I have never seen so many hanging about in the fields of our original core territory.

Wild horses along the way

I passed into daylight and through again into night as I rode on down the road, passing various camps and bases I made while building the road.  I tried not to spend a lot of time building structures as I worked on the road, and so there are a lot of simple doors stuck in the sides of hills or cliffs, each a simple rectangular room with a chest or two, a crafting table, and a bed.

In order to avoid spending time building, I attempted to use villages and other spawned structures along the route as bases.  Of course, that occasionally led me to route the road in specific directions to hit a village rather than taking the absolute shortest route forward.

And, of course, I couldn’t help but try to “fix” villages that were spawned awkwardly and often found myself spending quite a bit of time improving and building.

A fixed up village with a non-essential lava trimmed tower because I got carried away

Villages were far and away my favorite stopping points and I must have fixed up at least a dozen, including a couple that were not strictly on the path south.

As the road moved south, jungle and forest biomes gave way to savanna and desert variations, which let me use desert temples as way points and bases.  There were a few of those along the way.

A desert temple with corral, anvil, and jungle trees planted in the background

There was also a point along the way where I rather insisted on building wooden bridges across gaps of water rather than bland cobblestone causeways.  Of course, the proximity of a lot of wood helped out on that front.

Crossing a wooden causeway, village ahead on the right

Once the terrain was mostly desert water crossings went back to all cobblestone affairs.  I might go back and spruce some of them up later, but for now they are all simple 3 block wide paths with a 1 block lip on either side.

The day/night cycle is 20 minutes long in Minecraft, and I was passing through the third night as I started getting into some of my more recent locations.

The desert hill village at dawn

Then it was through the desert, across the last, long causeway (and the ocean monument that is currently being cleared) across a bit more desert, some savanna, and back into desert and the end of the road at the desert temple where the rail line passes.

The station at the end of the ride, horse in the corral

Upon reaching the end of the road I hit the ESC key again, went to statistics, and grabbed the current reading for distance ridden on a horse.  I subtracted the first number from the second and ended up with 25.82km.

That is almost 6km of zig-zagging as the road proceeded south.  The time was 8:50pm, so the trip took just shy of an hour.  That also makes the speed of my horse just about 26km per hour, a bit short of the 28.8km per hour that a mine cart travels when boosted to full speed.

Then again, riding is a bit of a manual process, steering isn’t perfect, and along the way I places nearly two stacks of torches to further light the road in spots where it was dark.  But I did try to stick diligently to the cobblestone path, which is unbroken the full length of the road save for a few points where I was putting sea lanterns into the center line in order to light the way.  (I ran out of sea lanterns long before I ran out of road, so it is mostly lit by torches.)  All of which may have added a bit of time to the journey.  Still, I want a faster horse.

Now that I have been down the road I built, the inevitable “what next?” question arises.  There are still some villages along the way that I could spruce up.  I might want to improve some of the bridges, or at least make them look like they obey physics in some way.  I have a few very long unsupported cobblestone causeways out there.  I also want to collect up some saddles, tame some horses, and stock some of the corrals along the way.  But maybe I will work on that horsey speed trap first.

Then again, I might eschew horse travel altogether and run rails down the whole thing.

While I consider that, here is the tale of the mansion and the road it spawned:

Finishing the Mansion Road in Minecraft

I have finished the road north to the mansion at last.  I have been working on that since November in bursts, but now it is done.  I have linked the mansion up with the rail loop via a road that covers 20km as the crow flies and probably closer to 25km in actual travel due to zig-zagging around terrain obstacles.

More than a 20km gap

If you compare that to some of the earlier maps in this series, you will see that the route I took up was a very narrow path, but when building the road back I had to do quite a bit of exploring in order to find a path south that would not require too much effort to pave through.

The road itself is, much of the way, just a single thread of cobblestone, widening out when needed.  That was my goal, to have a one-block wide band of cobblestone that went unbroken all the was from the front of the mansion all the way to the great rail loop I built last year.

In crossing that last couple of kilometers I faced a fairly wide gap of water.  Rather than trying to find a way around, and creating yet another zig or zag to lengthen the road, I opted to just bridge the gap, using a couple of islands as anchors.

Bridging the last gap

While building that long bridge meant mining a lot of cobblestone and building a base nearby (mine and base are on the northern island) the actual work wasn’t a bother.  There is something relaxing about just doing essentially repetitive block placement at times.  I just turn on a podcast or an audio book to keep part of my brain occupied and start placing blocks.

This has led to some odd associations, where I will ride back up the road to get something or get to a portal and will recall what I was listening to as I pass certain landmarks.

The bridge itself is pretty plain, with the road bed three blocks wide and a cobblestone lip to either side, making the whole thing five blocks across most of the way.  However, it does have a couple of features.

Half way across the southern span there is an ocean monument.  It is nice and close to shore, so I may go back and clean it out.  There is plenty of sand close to hand to drop on it.  The bridge is tall enough that if you ride a horse across it, you won’t notice the monument, but if you are walking you will get a 5 minute mining debuff that will make breaking stone very annoying while it is on you.

I also lost two horses while working on the bridge, but not in the usual way.

One nice thing about working on a bridge is that it is pretty safe to work at night, so long as you light it up as you go.  So I let my horse wander, and it promptly fell off the bridge.  This was a new horse, one I had tamed and road up from the south, not the obstinate old horse I have been using most of the way. (I still have that horse.)

The a thunderstorm came up and, as far as I can tell, the horse got struck by lightening and spawned a skeleton trap, a troop of mounted skeletons.  This happened in the water down below where I was working, so I never saw the skeletons.  But later, when passing over in daylight, I saw the remains.  The skeletons fell by the wayside in daylight eventually, but their mounts are not harmed by the sun, and were bobbing in the water below the bridge.

Swimming skeleton horses

While I didn’t see any of this happen, I remember the thunderstorms while working on the bridge, I am missing two horses, and there are two groups of skeleton horses bobbing in the water under the bridge, so logic dictates what must have happened.

Now I just have to figure out how to tame them.  I read something about needing to hold a golden carrot while taming them, but it hasn’t worked yet.  I can’t tell if I am doing it wrong, being in the water is a complication, or if they are just stubborn and take a long time to tame.

So that is on my list of tasks.

Also on my list is to actually ride the road from end to end, mark down the actual distance, note how many bases I have made along the way, and ensure that I did not leave any gaps in the cobblestone along the way.  So I still have some tasks, but the main building aspect of the project is set for now… unless I decide I really need to run a rail line all the way north as well.

Meanwhile, the server itself has seen a bit more life of late.  The original crew has worn themselves out for the time being.  That happens.  But a couple of members of my corp in EVE Online have been building away and my daughter suddenly had the urge to get on and play a bit over the weekend, so things are still happening.

March in Review

The Site

It can be a bit of an issue, writing a gaming blog focused on MMORPGs when you are not playing very many such games.  Or only one such game, which in my case is EVE Online, and all the more so when you’re off doing something you’re not supposed to blab about.

MMORPGs just feel more conducive to daily posts than single player games like Pokemon or even shared world games like Minecraft.  Those are good for one post a week if I feel like I have actually done something worth posting about.

Also, I have to take Pokemon screen shots with my phone, and they look like crap

That led to me simply not writing as many posts this month, and many of them were focused on game news and updates and wider industry items.  Those are solid posts, things I like to go back to in a year to see how things really turned out.  But they don’t tell my own story, which is the focus of the blog.

One Year Ago

Daybreak announced that they were giving up on EverQuest Next.  That left me wondering what the future looked like for Landmark.  It wasn’t going to have PvP.

I also wrote up a post about all of the SOE/Daybreak MMOs and their current (mostly closed) status.  Things still looked pretty good for EverQuest at 17, though I wasn’t sure how experience injectors were going to play out in EverQuest II.

Also in EverQuest II the PvP version of their retro nostalgia server, Deathtoll, was getting folded into the PvE version, Stormhold, due to lack of interest, thus ending open world PvP in the game outside of that Russian server.  I was looking for nostalgia on the Stormhold side of things again.

Voting kicked off for CSM 11 with Xenuria on the official Imperium ballot.  How things change.

The monthly EVE Online update introduced Project Discovery and made it so you had to be mutual friends in order to track somebody’s online status in your contact list.  The month’s blog banter wanted people to imagine other games based off of the EVE Online IP, so I went with something akin to Diplomacy.

There were a bunch of little EVE Online things, like server upgrades, downtime compensation, and skill injector fun that I put into one bullet points post.  I like those posts when I do them, I hate them a year later when I want to do my summary.  It is easier when each topic has its own post!

Fighting was going on as the Casino War widened.  Some of the coalition was staged in Saranen, which meant flying quite a ways to defend territory on the far side of Tribute, including an unfortunate event with a Higgs anchor rig on my Guardian.  There were things going on in several regions, including a really good brawl in Fade.

Then the weight in numbers began to tell as we had to fight fires on several fronts.  I wondered if we were going to have a last stand at VFK-IV.  The plan, however, was not to waste ships against the superior numbers arrayed against us.  Instead we gave up territory, announcing the abandonment of the Vale of the Silent region, occupied by Lawn and Bastion, with one constellation owned by Circle-of-Two.  CO2 decided to leave the Imperium over this in order to save their territory, which would soon be the front line in the war, betraying us even as the fight was still going on in M-OEE8.  Once the war was over their new friends turned on them and took their territory anyway.  Who says there are no happy endings?

The M-OEE8 fight was still a big one and got CCP some press.  That is one thing null sec is good for, bringing attention to the game.

Black Desert Online went live and much bitching about the cash shop ensued, so I couldn’t resist jumping on that bandwagon yet again.  The cash shop is a necessary evil at this point.

I was poking fun at VR, which is still struggling for relevance.  Meanwhile EVE Valkyrie and Gunjack went live with the official Occulus Rift launch.

Minecraft 1.9, the Combat Upgrade landed, giving us shields.  I stopped wearing one of those ages ago, as you can’t read maps, among other things, if you have one on.

In Minecraft Aaron’s zombie pig farm was causing MC Pro Hosting to lag out on us.  But we made the switch to the much more reasonably priced Minecraft Realms hosting option, which solved that issue.  Premium pricing was not getting us premium service.

In Diablo III I was chasing the Season 5 set dungeon.

And, finally, things looked grim for WildStar, with China cancelled, layoffs, and dwindling revenue.

Five Years Ago

The family and I went and visited the USS Iowa while it was docked up in Richmond.

April Fools spirit hit a little early.

It only seemed like Zynga was desperate back then.

I took a quick peek back into Need for Speed: World.

Raptr said I could be the top WoW player they tracked… if I just played another 18,999 hours.

I also rolled a new character on a new server in LOTRO because… why not?

In EVE Online voting commenced and The Mittani won the chairmanship of the CSM 7 by a large margin.  And then he named names during his alliance talk and was removed from CSM 7 and banned from EVE for 30 days.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, we were being taunted by a LEGO Rifter that we were doomed never to see and Derek Smart was telling everybody DUST 514 was doomed to fail.  Well, he got that one right I guess.

Meanwhile, the war in the north was heating up again even without The Mittani.  The CFC was picking up systems in Tenal as bases of operation for the upcoming offensive.  Then there was the bloodbath at C-J6MT.

In Rift, we had a couple of runs at the Foul Cascade.

EverQuest turned 13 and went free to play.  That saw more than a few of us run in to give it a try.  Fall nostalgia in the Spring.  We ran the tutorial, tried out mercenaries, and created a guild.  I am not sure what became of our little group.  Nostalgia is like that.

It was also announced that Vanguard would be going free to play as well.  While on the Fippy Darkpaw server, LDON and LoY went live… I think.

Then I was trying to find another blog name that used the TAGN acronym as a setup for an April Fools joke.  That totally fell flat.

And, finally, I attempted to bring together as many memories from the early days of Air Warrior as I could.

Ten Years Ago

In EverQuest II, my swashbuckler Blintz became my highest level MMO character at the time, hitting the level 50 mark.  I was also going on about the pain of the alchemist trade and offline selling in the game.

Meanwhile, I was still griping about the rise in the cost of Station Access, but at least I got something of an answer as to how my Station Access dollars were allocated.  SOE was having problems with their email marketing though.

In World of Warcraft the instance group, after a couple attempts finally finished up Uldaman in one of the more memorable fights of our time as a team, was then coming to a temporary stopping point at Zul’Farrak. Work would keep Earl too busy to play with us for the next few months. Meanwhile, a load of my other friends in WoW disappeared due to server splits.

Proving that random grouping has been a problem for a long time, there was a discussion going around about being able to rate people with whom you have grouped.  That option doesn’t seem to have come to pass.

CCP was whispering in my ear about resubscribing for their Revelations expansion.

EverQuest turned 8 years old and the blog itself hit the six month mark.

And, finally, I had a comically large arrow stuck in my head.

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. Quote of the Day – CCP Picks Winners
  2. Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered
  3. YC119.3 Update Brings Rorqual Nerfs and Bubble Decay to New Eden
  4. Burn Jita Returns for 2017
  5. PLEX Shattering Proposal for New Eden
  6. The Ongoing Tension Between Solo and Grouping
  7. Oscar at Peace
  8. Pondering That Legion Level 100 Boost
  9. Nostalgia for a Virtual Spaceship
  10. Minecraft and Coming to the End of My Road
  11. The Coming of Refineries in New Eden
  12. Reflections and Postcards from Burn Jita 2017

Search Terms of the Month

cleric spell syntax torilmud
[c ‘full heal’ meclin]

twitter vanhemlock
[Not as amusing as the blogging or podcasting vanhemlock]

how to make a charged creeper farm survival
[Aaron did that already]

eve how to get places faster
[Jump clones? Interceptors?]

hussein althumani buffalo
[I don’t even know how that string got you here]

EVE Online

The first half of the month was fairly quiet.  We got the monthly update, I did some ratting, but not much exciting happened.  For the second half I have been on a deployment, but I do not write about deployments until they are over.  A post about that will come as soon as we are home.  I did do my first combat probe scanning, though if you look at my kill board, I only had simple targets in mind.


I continue to work on the long road.  With less than 2km left to go, I should be able to wrap the project up.  Then I will have to ride it end to end to see just how long it takes to go 20+ km on a horse.  Meanwhile, a couple of people from my corp in EVE Online have joined our server, so more people are building things in our world.


I went to town with Pokemon Sun, wrapping up the main story line and the post story activities and finishing the Alola Pokedex.  However, that really hasn’t sated my Pokemon playing binge, so I am wondering what to do next.

Pokemon Go

The rainy weather abated in California in time for the Water festival in Pokemon Go.  That actually let me catch a number of new Pokemon, though I did not get nearly enough Magikarp in order to evolve a Gyrados.  Playing it gets me to take a walk every day to pick up a few of the nearby Pokestops.  My basic stats this moneth:

  • Level: 27 (+1)
  • Pokedex status: 149 (+21) caught, 172 (+19) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Final evolution of any of the starter Pokemon
  • Current buddy: Hoothoot, who earns a candy every kilometer.

Coming Up

It is April Fools tomorrow, so prepare for the few funny, and the many unfunny, attempts to play on the theme of the day.  There are already some items out there, like the Reddit post about Brave Newbies disbanding.  Be more skeptical than usual through the weekend.

We should be getting a lot more EVE Online news next week, as Fan Fest runs April 6-8.  We will also learn who will be sitting on CSM XII.  And we should get the usual monthly update as well at some point.

Our deployment in New Eden seems likely to wrap up soon-ish, so I will post about those adventures, such that they were.

I will likely finish the long road.  Then it will be a matter of what to do next.

We will also hit the 10 year anniversary for Lord of the Rings Online.  I have to imagine they will have somethings planned for that.

And I have to our income taxes and make our property tax payment.  The joys of adulting.

Minecraft and Coming to the End of My Road

The end of the road is in sight, and I mean that literally rather than in some sort of gloomy metaphorical sense.  My long term project to build an overland route between the Forest Mansion I found last November and our central surface world rail network is about 90% complete.

In December I started on the road project to cover the 20km gap between the mansion and the nearest mine cart rail stop.

Status back in January. Oh, yeah, that is quite a ways

As of this week only about a 2km gap remains between my current forward location on the road and the nearest base and rail stop.

So much closer

The road has taken a while largely due to logistics.  Given an infinite supply of cobblestone in my bag, I could have completed the road in a few sittings.  Having to manage a limited inventory, finding or creating resupply points as the road moves forward, and having to deal with the day/night cycle and the hostiles that spawn after dark make for the challenge of the project.

Also, it allows me to indulge in one of my favorite tasks, which is base building.  In order to not totally bog down the road building effort I have tried to limit my major bases to NPC villages, desert temples, and the like so that I have some structures available to set up in.

A Desert Temple base on the road

Desert temples make good bases, so long as I have some wood on hand to make a few doors.  I go in and loot the treasure in the basement, then set off the explosive trap down there, running away before it blows.  That opens things up so I can mine cobblestone easily.

Villages however tend to tie me down for a while.  While showing up at one gives me shelter, the Minecraft algorithm for placing them seems to just drop them on the terrain rather haphazardly.

A desert village on the only hill in sight

This leads to me spending time “fixing” villages. After I have picked a house to setup in, placed a bed and some chests for storage and built a corral for horses, I can’t bring myself to move on until I level out the paths and make sure all the buildings are accessible.  Placement often leaves a few buried up past the doors so you cannot get in or out.

And once I am doing that I also light up the village with lots of torches, straighten up the pathways, and add a bunch of doors to get an iron golem to spawn to defend the villagers.  If the village is far enough from the previous portal, I put up another nether portal to connect to the nether transit hub and maybe build a tower to make the village more visible from a distance.

A fixed up village with portal and tower

So every village becomes a new side project.  I suppose I have a vision of them being used as bases by other people, though at the moment there is scant activity on our server aside from my own work.

I did try to expand my working hours by keeping more tamed wolves around me in order to fight off hostile spawns at night, to the point of breeding a pack.

Happy wolves looking to be fed, also an iron golem and the back of an auto-furnace

Wolves can be fragile however.  You have to keep them healed up by feeding them, and securing a supply of meat to feed them led to breeding a flock of sheep.  And still I was losing them pretty regularly.

Damn dog, I am busy over here with slimes!  Slain by a spider

That was all becoming a more effort than it was worth, so I gave up on any illusions about working through the night in order to keep pushing ahead rather than wasting time traveling back and forth from the nearest camp to sleep.

So progress has been made and the end is in sight.  At this point I think it might work best for me to head back to our core territory and build the road northward to link up with what I have build already.  That will give me the advantage of drawing from already established supplies.

February in Review

The Site

I think is calling me a freeloader.

A bit back changed their revenue scheme.  Previously they had an array of ala carte and package deals to get various features.  The list was a bit confusing, mostly because it was a chore to get things you wanted while avoiding things you did not want.  And, of course, it changed every year, which means that after more than a decade writing on their platform, I can never remember what I signed up for the previous year because the option is often renamed, gone, or rolled into some other package. decided to simplify all this by wiping away all previous options and going with three plans.  Well, four plans, since “free” is a plan.  It is the plan they tell me I am on despite the fact that I gave them $30 for features last year.  The non-free plans are Personal, Premium, and Business: plans - February 2016 plans – February 2016

The problem for me now is how to get what I want.  I current have a comb-item that gives me access to modify the CSS, which allowed me to remove that annoying floating “follow” button that puts on your site by default, and removes ads.  If you visit my other blog you will see ads under the pictures.  I don’t get any revenue from that.  Here you see none.  I pay to keep them away.

The new plans cost, in actual amounts you have to pay:

  • Personal: $35.88  $15.84 / yr
  • Premium:  $99    $78.96 / yr
  • Business: $299   $279 / yr

You can see all of the features of the plans here.

To get No Ads as an option, I can go with the personal plan, which would actually save me some money at the current discount. (They have been discounted since announced. We’ll see if they ever go up.)  It also gets me more storage space for the copious screen shots I upload, though they seem to have forgotten the space taken up by the first 10 years, so only currently show me using less than 4% of my allocation. (They said I was at 78% back in September.)

But I do not get access to CSS.  To get that I have to go to the Premium plan.  That boosts the price per year considerably and doesn’t get my anything else I want.  I have no illusion that the ability to put ads on the site from which I would get revenue would make up the difference in price.

And then there is the custom domain that comes with both plans.  I don’t want one.  The dumbest thing a site can do is change its domain, and I have had for more than a decade.  Yes, I know that will map to the new domain.  But I still don’t want it, as some day I will stop blogging, or at least stop paying, and I will lose the domain and, at least theoretically, break any links to my blog using that domain.  People do still link here once in a while, I swear.

I have a couple months until my current package expires, but I wanted to get a start on deciding what is really important.  I think No Ads is important, but I am not so sure about the annoying floating Follow button.

What is important to you, the reader?

One Year Ago

We were in Hawaii for a few days for my wife’s birthday.

I was wondering about MMOs and their middle age problems.

I was on episode 80 of the Couchpodtatoes podcast, where we reviewed Daybreak’s first year.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens was announced, and it was even going to be available on the PlayStation 3.  Lucky me.

Pokemon turned 20.  To celebrate there was a re-launch of the classic Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on Virtual Console, special legendary downloads every month, and the announcement that we would be getting the next installment in the series, Pokemon Sun & Moon, for the holidays.

Daybreak announced the splitting of H1Z1 into two games; H1Z1 – Makes Some Money and H1Z1 – Gets Ignored.

I was making the case that Blizzard should continue to talk about WoW subscription numbers, even if they were down, as they were at least more concrete than MAUs, which have no correlation with revenue.  Of course, times have changed.  I was able to pre-order WoW Legion with a 20% discount thanks to Amazon Prime.

The shut down date for CCP’s DUST 514 was announced.  The end was nigh.  They also announced they were shutting down EVElopedia, thus creating dozens of new dead links on my blog in one fell swoop.  Some days I just hate the internet.  But at least the company’s financials seemed okay.  Not bankrupt yet.

In EVE Online we had the Madi Gras release that introduce skill injectors/extractors and the skill point economic boom. Of course, it became about penis size right away and somebody had to inject enough to train up all the skills in game.  You can buy your way to the top now, a pity it doesn’t actually make you any smarter in real life.

The EVE Online Blog Banter was about road maps for the game.

The CSM 11 election season was warming up, with CCP Falcon spreading bullshit in an attempt to cover the “no Sions” rule.  Sion Kumitomo was boycotting the CSM 10 Winter summit as it was the only agency he felt he had.  But at least CCP Falcon and CCP Leelo were off the CSM detail, with CCP Guard and CCP Logibro taking their places.

In space there was the last flight of the Reaver Ravens and a final fight down in Querious before returning to the north.  Then it was Yacht Fleet and the war between SpaceMonkeys Alliance and the RMT tainted I Want ISK in what was already being called “The Casino War.”

And then there was a call to go play PlanetSide 2, which seemed ill timed considering the war.

In Minecraft I reviewed the state of our automated farms… which were mostly Aaron’s.

And in Diablo III I was giving season 5 a run, running first through story mode and then going after some of the seasonal objectives in adventure mode.

Five Years Ago

I made a video celebrating the first year of the instance group, which formed up back in 2006.  It was focused on what was essentially vanilla WoW and had a serious nostalgia vibe to it.  It got some views.

Then I made a video about Sunken Temple in the same vein that pretty much nobody watched.  That instance always got mixed reviews.  (And my video of the EVE battle at EWN-2U was more popular than both combined.)

Somebody stole our guild on Lightninghoof.

And Blizzard was making money, optimizing clients, and selling new mounts.

In EVE Online, the war in the north had gone kind of quiet.  There were some big battles over tower (e.g. EWN-2U, which was my first epic fleet battle, and 92D-OI), but the sov grind had not begun.  There was some fun around VFK.  I also noted that a “green” kill board seemed to be the norm for individuals.  Meanwhile, CCP was making money and giving us the occasional fun statistics about the game.

Trion gave us actual loot pinatas as well as a check box to turn off exp in Rift.

And, probably most importantly, we got standardized build templates for common rolesRift’s soul system is still deep and complex for those who want to theory craft, but for mere mortals it became possible to just get a workable build and go play.

As a group in Rift we made it to the Darkening Deeps.

I also figured that, due to the way Rift was progressing, it wouldn’t go free to play unless WoW did.  Wrong on that in the long term I guess, it went free to play ages ago now.

On Fippy Darkpaw, the Planes of Power expansion opened up.  For many the PoP expansion marks the dividing line between what counts as “classic” EverQuest and what is considered “the new crap.”

And EverQuest Mac was saved from the chopping block, going free for… as long as it stays up I guess.

Ten Years Ago

I wrote a lot of posts.  Not the 59 posts of the month before, but 41 is still a lot of posts.  Half of them seem to relate to stages of heritage quests in EverQuest II.

Back then Kendricke (remember him?) dropped by with the news that Sony Online Entertainment applied for a trademark for “EVERQUEST II RISE OF KUNARK,” thus confirming my guess from December that Kunark would be location of the EverQuest II expansion due near the end of 2007.

A quick check of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office site shows nothing on my guess for this years expansion. (Return to the Planes of Power FTW!) The USPTO does show that SOE at one time had the trademark for, “EVERQUEST: THE DEMISE OF ARADUNE,” which is mildly ironic from a Vanguard point of view. I wonder what they had planned for that title? (Aradune = Brad McQuaid, for those not completely immersed in EQ history and lore.)

Of course, SOE also announced a price increase for Station Access shortly thereafter, always a buzz killer. This was immediately blamed on Vanguard and calls for the demise of Aradune were literal.

I also started off in the Lord of the Rings Online open beta which eventually lead to the instance group spending the spring and summer in Middle-earth before returning to Azeroth.

And speaking of Azeroth, a year ago we were just starting to get into the fun that is Uldaman. And somewhere along the line I swapped out my rogue Blintz for my paladin Vikund, who has remained with the instance group ever since.

I also compared how long it took me to level a swashbuckler up to level 40 in EverQuest II versus how long it took me to get a hunter to the same level in WoW. 

Also, Gaff got flight form in WoW and was really happy with it.  There is flying in WoW, and then there is druid flight form, which is in a league of its own.

I listed out five insane MMO things I wanted, which were not all that insane.  Includes the first time mentioning that I wanted EverQuest redone using WoW’s engine.  I was also on about people picking famous names for their characters, how WASD was messing with my typing, and something else about modelling stealth.

I was looking into the distance to see what Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising might offer.

Peggle launched.  Do you remember Peggle?  It was from PopCap.  Do you remember PopCap?  The game was all the rage on the GFW Radio podcast.  Do you remember the GFW Radio podcast?  Do you remember GFW?  How about Jeff Green?  You know I met him once, way back when he covered modems for MacWeek.  Anyway, it all ended up at EA, including Jeff.

And, finally, my wife got me a Wii for Valentine’s day that I couldn’t use until Easter!

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. Burn Jita Returns for 2017
  2. EVE Online Multiple Character Training Deal
  3. Time to Log into LOTRO
  4. Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered
  5. Pondering That Legion Level 100 Boost
  6. At Loose Ends on the Fantasy Front
  7. Top 25 EVE Online Corporations Graph – The End Number
  8. High Noon for Asheron’s Call
  9. Landmark Shut Down
  10. I Passed the Half Way Mark on the Road South in Minecraft
  11. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  12. Moving Day Again

Search Terms of the Month

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[Pretty obscure I would guess]

subaru kv3 thermostat malta
[Ummm… I have no idea]

eve online terms brick tank
[Look up “alpha” next]

ship colors caldari navy
[Pretty much gray and olive drab]

money talk porno
[Sounds like a winner to me]

EverQuest II

My interest in Norrath waned late in January, so I don’t think I have logged in more than twice over the past month, leading me to cancel my All Access subscription.  Everything will just have to wait for the next burst of nostalgia.

EVE Online

There was something of a quiet gap in February where I didn’t mention New Eden very much, something even Asher Elias mentioned to me on a fleet op, and then things started to happen, with fleets getting called up and Burn Jita.  If nothing else, I got some nice screen shots and all the fleet participation credit I needed.


I continue to plug away at the long road south, having passed the half way mark.  Still, it took me from late November to now to get that far, so I have a lot more time left on that project.  The distance left looks so small on the map render.


I went on a Pokemon Sun binge during the big storms out here in California.  The storms caused a series of mudslides that blocked the road to work, so I worked from home for more than two weeks.  That meant I was sitting at my desk all day working, so by the time I had time to play a game, I wanted to go somewhere else. (This may have helped feed my fantasy MMO malaise.)  The Nintendo 3DS does have the benefit of being portable, so took it out to the couch and finished the main story line, then started working on completing the Alola Pokedex.

Pokemon Go

This month finally saw the arrival of second generation Pokemon to the game.  A few had been available from eggs since last month, but they are finally out and about in the wild now, which boosted my interest in catching for a bit.  Then, of course, it became clear that around our neighborhood at least Spinaraks and Natus have become the new Pidgeys and Rattatas, while 3K CP Blisseys seem to own every gym.  Still, new Pokemon are lurking out there if you can find them.

  • Level: 26 (+1)
  • Pokedex status: 128 (+16) caught, 153 (+16) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Final evolution of any of the starter Pokemon
  • Current buddy: Wartortle

Coming Up

In EVE Online the CSM 12 elections will commence with all the brouhaha and complaining that entails.  I’ll dive into that with a Blog Banter post tomorrow.  The promised March patch has some proposed changes that are causing eye rolls and/or gnashing of teeth, such as further Rorqual nerfs.  Also, something with d-scan.  I’ll cross that bridge once I get to it.

On the Daybreak front, EverQuest will be turning 18.  An adult game at last, I suppose.  There will no doubt be an event for that.  They also have a big event planned for King of the Kill.  The question is, will Just Survive survive?

In Pokemon Sun & Moon a new global event launched yesterday, though I couldn’t register due to server issues.  Having reaped the bounty of festival coins that were showered on participants in the last event, I am going to sign up and make some effort to do it.

There is a non-zero chance that I will log into LOTRO.

Oh, and Nintendo is releasing the Switch on Friday.  Will there be another chronic supply issue like past console launches?  Well, past launches save for the Wii U I suppose.

What else will March bring?

Anyway, laissez les bons temps rouler, as today is Mardi Gras!

I Passed the Half Way Mark on the Road South in Minecraft

Work on the long road south continues.  For those needing a reminder, this is the overland route I am building from the Forest Mansion I found back to the nearest connection to our main settlement.

This means clearing a road 3 blocks wide and at least 3 high in tunnels for about 20km.  I’ve been working on this for almost three months now, off and on.

And, just to be a stickler, I decided that the road would be marked by a strip of cobblestone running its whole length.  Since the blocks are 1m cubes, that means 20,000 cobblestone blocks… or more, really, since I haven’t been able to take a straight path and I do need to build bridges now and again.

Anyway, since the setbacks of last post, I have pushed ahead.

Progress so far

Progress so far

After improving my way point village… and then another village along the way, because I just can’t help myself… I had a good straight and mostly level into a mesa biome.  This was one of three mesa biomes I have discovered on the way to and from the mansion, and this one was generated since the 1.10 update, so is full of abandoned mining tunnels.  They are visible all over as you travel through the biome.

Visible are rails and the tell tale spider webs that mark mines

Visible are rails and the tell tale spider webs that mark mines

One interesting item is that in that bundle of webs there is a cave spider spawner.  I have not run into one in a place that gets direct sunlight before. (They don’t spawn when list and are usually in deep, dark places.)

Spawner visible, as are wooden tunnel supports

Spawner visible, as are wooden tunnel supports

There are some exploration opportunities here for anybody who wants to settle down in the area.

Mesa biomes themselves are a bit of a pain when it comes to building a road.  There is no straight path through unless you want to build up one side and down the other of every mesa in your way.  To keep the effort under control I had to zig-zag a bit and build some bridges between mesas.  But it wasn’t a huge biome, so I hit the other side eventually.

Scouting ahead I chose to exit into a swamp, which offered a decent stretch of flat going for road building.  There was also a pack of wolves near by, so I ran back to grab some bones I had stored away and managed to tame a pair of them.  They are good to have around as they will defend you from zombies and skeletons if you work past sundown.

Two new pals

Two new pals

Unfortunately, like the AI for most NPCs in the Minecraft, the tamed wolf AI isn’t very good at keeping itself safe.  I had the pair of them with me when I was out ahead and burning down a path through a canopy forest to clear the way, only to get the message that one of them had died.  I turned around to see the other one standing in a fire and die as well.

Dogs will be dogs I guess

Dogs will be dogs I guess

And it was night time and I had to fight my way back to my nearest camp.  I tamed a couple more, but left one at my camp and took the other one with me as I started building my road through the swamp only to get another death message.



I do not know what happened there.  One moment he was running around, the next moment he was dead.

Still, I have one more in reserve.

All happy back at the camp

All happy back at the camp

The road ran past a witches hut at the start of the swamp, so I converted it to camp, complete with a corral for the horse.  I haven’t lost the horse yet, despite his propensity to run off the moment I am looking the other way, and I aim to keep it that way.

And so the road south carries on.

Setbacks on the Road South in Minecraft

Work on the long road southward continues.

In the last post I had reached a village out in the plains that I planned to make a new base/waypoint on the road.  I was already well beyond a day’s ride on a fast horse from my previous such base, so it seemed about right.

Village on the plains

Village on the plains

Setting up a base, including a nether portal to serve as a link back to our main transport hub to allow access to supplies I might not otherwise find easily, was going to take some time of course.  However, I ended up spending quite a bit more time there than I thought I might.

One of the first things I wanted to do was setup a mining operation, which generally involves digging down to level 12 in the world to give myself a chance of finding some diamonds along the way.  In an attempt to shorten the digging down process, I decided to check out the cave close by the village, which is the dark half-circle just above it on the map.  It certainly had potential to save me time getting to a lower level… as I walked in to a dark section I fell right through a hole in the floor… a hole that was positioned right over a pool of lava.

Lined up just right

Lined up just right

Walking up to it, it just looked to be a step down, with the floor continuing on, but then I was falling and in the lava, where I died of course.

Swimming in lava

Swimming in lava

I tried to make it to the edge of the lava pool, but the game clearly had it in for me.  You can see, in the background of the death screen, there are two creepers sitting at the edge of the lava pool just waiting for me to get in range so they can explode, killing me, should the lava fail.

That is enough to induce some paranoia.  Later on, when I was digging a path for the road, I fell through into another underground cavern.  Only I missed the pool that time… and it was a pool of water… which would have saved me… but I was literally one block off from hitting it.

At least I got all my stuff back that time.  Swimming in lava solves all of your immediate inventory management issues because everything in your inventory is gone.

I had started to setup shop in the village, so there were some things stowed away there, including a stack of iron ingots, so I could at least make some tools.  But going back to plain iron when you’ve been playing with enchanted diamond stuff for a while can be a bit of a drag.  Time to resupply indeed.

I had some diamonds stored away up the road, so it was back on the horse and back north to collect things.  Once there, I decided to head to the nearest nether portal so I could ride the rails a ways and setup a new one close to my new supply base.  So off I went to dig some netherrack and setup a new portal.

Unfortunately, in my calculation of coordinates, I transposed a digit (my 10-key skills have atrophied over the years) and rather than ending up with a portal just outside of the village, I ended up with one at the top of a tree in the jungle a ways off.

You can see it from quite a ways away

You can see it from quite a ways away

Once I got back in the nether from the jungle canopy and checked my math, I moved along and setup a portal in the RIGHT location, which popped it up right outside of town as planned.  I then pulled in some supplied dug myself a mine from the surface on the other side of the village from my previous lava experience, setup an auto-furnace, and cleaned up the paths in town because when they’re messed up they bug me and I am like that.

The village, some time later

The village, some time later

I even found out that the mine was in a chunk that occasionally spawns slimes, so I was able to make another lead for me horse… Minecraft logic is apparently that a lead is a rope with sticky on each end so you can stick your mount to something to make it stay, something my horse seeks to disprove rather regularly… as I lost the one I had been using as part of the lava incident.

Slime peek-a-boo

Slime peek-a-boo

Eventually I was well supplied and ready to strike southward again.

Along the way I ran into a lone wolf intent on slaughtering the local sheep population, a population I had been encouraging and breeding because it is nice to have a wool supply handy.  However, I happened to have some bones with me, so I managed to tame the wolf.  Tamed wolves become dogs, because of course they do.

Me and my new pet

Me and my new pet… and dressed in diamond gear again

Having the dog with me was a bit of a boon at times.  As I started building the road south again, I moved quickly along the plains and ended up spending time out in the dark, during which the dog would help defend my work site from encroaching skeletons and zombies.

While he seemed to have a knack for getting in the way, he traveled with me for quite a stretch as I scouted ahead, looking for the best path.  I found he would even get in a boat with me when I was scouting.

Me and the dog go boating

Me and the dog go boating

Since the update that fixed boats they also have two passenger spots.

Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that if you shoot a bow and arrow in a boat, it hits your passenger.  As I was approaching shore one evening a skeleton loomed out at the spot I was going to land so I opened up on him with the bow and killed the dog.  It was a sad moment.

I suppose at least he isn’t standing where I want to put a block any more.

Anyway, the road continues to move southward.  By the next update I will have probably passed the half way point to hooking up to out main settlement rail system.