Category Archives: Minecraft

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.

Seriously?

Seriously?

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.

January in Review

The Site

I remain mildly stunned that WordPress.com decided to forego their briefly traditional yearly summary report for people’s blogs.  So I’ll just take last year’s main chart and update it for the year.

2016trafficsources

Top Traffic Sources in 2016

Oddly, that list is almost all EVE Online driven, save for Reddit.  The majority of the Reddit traffic came from repeated links to my homage to/preservation of Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!

That aside, I do have more tangible WordPress.com issues to complain about.  The new stats page is still broken as I indicated last month.  Furthermore, comments have been acting oddly for a while now.  I will get a notification that somebody has left a comment on the blog, I will be able to see the comment on the admin page, but the comment won’t actually be visible on the post in question for quite some time.  The comment count on the post will take even longer to update.  And the comment in question won’t show up in the Recent Comments list on the side bar for ages, often only showing up when somebody else leaves a comment, which then follows the same routine.  Ah well.

And then, as the month went along, WP.com did another revamp of the UI, which made things tangibly worse for me.  But I can at least still find the old (and reliably functional) editor and most of the functionality I am used to hidden away under a menu at the bottom of the list.

Sanity is under WP Admin

Sanity is under WP Admin

They also changed up their subscription packages in a way that is going to complicate things for me, but I will get into that in another post at some point.  No need to spend all my anger here!

My blog did hit a record high number of page views this month… not this blog, my other blog.  CCP Phantom used a picture from the blog and linked back to its source in an EVE Online news post, which led to a spike in traffic yesterday.

350 views in one hour, when 3 views is the norm

350 views in one hour, when 3 views is the norm

As it so happened, traffic here was down… skill point posts are dull, I understand… leading to the first time ever when daily page views for EVE Online Pictures exceeded the page views here by 81.  Usually the ratio is something like 8 -20 to 1 in favor of TAGN.  Strange times.

On the bright side, at some point Google finally mumbled something about how they changed the G+ API and WP.com dragged themselves over to update that bit of code.

google-plus-logo-640

That connection broke just about a year ago for me, causing posts to be shared, but only with myself.  Not all that useful.  All you have to do to make it work again is disconnect G+ from your blog then connect again and it seems to start working again.  So now the five people who both follow me on G+ AND still actually use G+ will get spammed by my posts yet again.  Blame

One Year Ago

I had 16 predictions for 2016. (Results for those who need to know.)

I was also included on some sort of MMO info page thing.

It was the end of another Steam Winter Sale.

I was wondering what Early Access should really be.  I was also checking out which MMOs made PC Gamer’s latest list.

Smed was going to Kickstarter for Hero’s Song.  It got cancelled before I could finish the post about all the problems it had.  More than a bit of foreshadowing in that I guess.

People were troubled by a potential paywall in Rift.

The price for the Occulus Rift was announced, which led to quite a sum if all I wanted to do is play EVE Valkyrie.

In EVE Online I ran my first incursion boss.  We also got the first of the “no name” monthly updates.  Karma Fleet turned one.  CCP told us about skill extractors. Blog Banter 71 was about spaceships.  Also, there was some sort of conflict going on between I Want ISK and SpaceMonkeys Alliance.

In space we reinforced a tower and ran about in Typhoons and Jackdaws.  At the end of the month Reavers headed south to Wicked Creek to tangle with TEST.

Outside the game Battle Clinic, long a staple of the EVE Online third party universe, was set to shut down while the election process for CSM XI was kicking off.

Daybreak announced that they were going to port the five year old DC Universe Online to the XBox.

I went in to Diablo III to try out the Season 5 content.  I ran through the story quickly, but there was more to do.

I wrote a bit about The Force Awakens.

Finally, I was marveling at all the movies from 1986 that I remembered.  Aliens! Top Gun!  Platoon!  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!   It was a hell of a year for movies.

Five Years Ago

I asked 12 questions for 2012. Some of those questions are still pretty legit.  I also did what was for a while the annual LEGO minifigure round up.

I updated the About Page to its “Infrequently Asked Questions” format.  Has it really been like that for five years already?  It is probably due for an update.

There was that whole SOPA thing.  We still live in peril of its return.

I struck a couple of games from my watch list, as it seemed I would never go back to play them again.

I bought an iPad for our cats… judging by the pictures.

LEGO Universe joined the ever increasing list of departed MMOs when its free to play conversion failed to save it from extinction.

SOE gave us the subscription matrix for the EverQuest free to play transition.  As part of that conversion, EverQuest Mac was targeted for extinction as well. (Spoiler: It survived… for a while)  Meanwhile, somebody had an EverQuest cocktail shaker on eBay.

Prompted by comments from others, I asked why those who sought an old school MMO experience were not out playing Vanguard.

Blizzard said they were going to be too busy in 2012 for a BlizzCon.  Speaking of Blizzard, I hit level 85 at last in WoWAnd then there was a panic about Diablo III maybe launching in February. (It didn’t)

Turbine announced that their fall LOTRO expansion would be Rider of Rohan.

There was an odd divergent current about Star Wars: The Old Republic, with some declaring it dead already (one month in) while others were still in “best game ever” mode.  My favorite (now deleted, but still on the Internet Archive) angry post called it a hate crime.

I was starting to moan… more loudly… about how free to play makes an MMO focus heavily on cash shop content… to the detriment of the game in my opinion.  This was prompted, no doubt, by those wings.  Smed, on the other hand, was very happy about free to play.

In EVE Online the war against White Noise came to a close, leading to a quiet time in the north.  But a conflict with Raiden was looming.  during the lull, I recalled my first PvP death in EVE and celebrated that Garde drones now actually went *pew* *pew*.  Boring no more!

In Rift, the instance group was kicked off its server.  We regrouped on a new server.  We were also warming up and starting to work as a group again in the Iron Tombs and the Darkening Deeps.  That last was a struggle.

The Type 59 tank was pulled from the cash shop in World of Tanks.

And, finally, there was Pop Muzik.

Ten Years Ago

I wrote 59 blog posts, which remains a monthly record here at TAGN.  Of course, that was before Twitter, so I was more likely to do shorter posts.  If I had the patience I would track the average word count per post per month over the life of the blog to see how I changed from short posts to more of a long form/long winded approach.

I gave a brief recount of 2006 in what I find is my first high/low post on the blog.  I had forgotten that I had done that post.  I also uninstalled some games I was no longer playing.  I was also looking forward towards Lord of the Rings Online.

The MMO blogesphere starting talking about generations of MMOs, and I asked if we had even gotten past the first generation, then quoted Wikipedia’s take on the generation debate.

The instance group in World of Warcraft finished up the Scarlet Monestary and rolled through Razorfen Downs.

Blintz, my fae swashbuckler in EverQuest II was just digging into Zek, The Orcish Wastes, one of my favorite zones in post-cataclysm Norrath, as well as hunting for Blood Talon in order to get my dwarven work boots.

Scott Hartsman described some of the goals for the EverQuest II expansion that would eventually become The Rise of Kunark.  I also discovered that Sony slipped a promo for the Transformers movie in with the Echoes of Faydwer installation.  That was back when SOE was under Sony Pictures.

I played in some of the Vanguard open beta, once I got it downloaded.  The team was still working on a lot of polishing and features. The launch date was announced somewhat late, but when the game actually launched (on the same day as the much maligned Microsoft Vista), I declined to buy the box even though it was on Station Access.  I thought one of the game’s potential flaws might be the inability to make a “hot” character. A female half-elf was the best I could manage.  The character models were not pretty despite a profusion of sliders and options in the creation process.

Blizzard launched The Burning Crusade without the usual first day disasters that generally accompanied an expansions back in the day, though I couldn’t figure out why I bothered to buy a copy.  I was wondering how long it would hold its $40 price tag.  It stayed at that price for quite a long time.  These days we get a discount before a game even goes live.

Given that expansions were on my mind, I was wondering what the best timing for expansions really was.  EverQuest was still doing two a year back then, while Blizzard took more than two years to get to its first one.

I gave a brief review of Massive Magazine issue #2.

And I found that SOE had provided the industry standard definition for the word “soon.”

Most Viewed Posts in January

  1. I Will Play Candy Crush No More Forever
  2. Daybreak Doomsaying
  3. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  4. The End of Landmark Foretold
  5. Would You Rather Fight Than Switch?
  6. Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered
  7. 2017 – Predictions for Another New Year
  8. Opening the New War at F4R2-Q
  9. Falling Back in Catch
  10. Too Fast Through Tristram!
  11. Steam Winter Sale 2016 Results
  12. Seagulls Stop it Now!

Search Terms of the Month

what does dellmon mean
[Been asking what he means for years]

pretty alien sto
[The one in Kirk’s quarters]

everquest imperfect diamond
[Summed up correctly]

what is vanilla wow
[A unicorn we all want to find or slay]

Broadband Advertising Church
[Our Latency of Perpetual Round Trip?]

“pantheon: rise of the fallen” pipe dream
[So you may think]

Diablo III

The 20 year anniversary event, The Darkening of Tristram, got me to patch up and log into Diablo III again.  It was an interesting little distraction, some additional content, but beyond superficial graphical tweaks, it had about as much to do with 1996 as Twitter and the iPhone.  It did get me to go find the soundtrack from the 15 year anniversary, which is available on iTunes.  But I got the bulk of the achievements and the pet all the same.  I am just not sure that the event is something that will necessarily be a draw for people every year.  Anyway, if you want to see it this year, you had best patch up and try it, as it is supposed to go away soon.

EVE Online

I started off with a bang in New Eden around New Years, with the battle over the two Fortizars.  But then it was back to work where I caught the flu that was going around and I found I didn’t really have the stamina for ops at that point.  I joined in the return from Catch, but that was about it.  Once I was better I started getting my carrier together to see if I could join in on the promised training ops.

EverQuest II

Somewhere along the line I fell off the wagon when it came to Norrath.  The single quest chain I was able to find wasn’t thrilling me so I was just logging in daily to do a couple of crafting writs and maybe just enough harvesting to get the daily loyalty token reward.  I have about 500 of those and have yet to spend a one.  I haven’t unsubscribed yet, but it seems likely to happen before the next billing cycle.

Minecraft

While I was slacking off elsewhere, I was putting a bunch of my free time into Minecraft.  Not only do I have a big project under way, but I was ill for a week or so and Minecraft is conducive to playing when you’re not feeling well.  The long road hasn’t reached the half way point yet, but I moved the end of the road forward several kilometers over the course of the month.

Pokemon Go

Bad weather and illness kept me from playing very much… though there was at least one evening where you could have seen me leaving the house past 10pm to get in the car in order to drive the half mile to the nearest Pokestop because dammit, it was Day 7 of my streak and I wasn’t going to give up on that big payoff just because I wasn’t feeling well.

  • Level: 25 (+0)  Almost to 26, but not quite.
  • Pokedex status: 111 (+5) caught, 137 (+3) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Anything second generation
  • Current buddy: Nidorino

Pokemon Sun

As with a couple of other titles, I fell off the Pokemon Sun bandwagon for a good stretch of the month.  You would think that Pokemon would be a good game to play when you’re sick, but for some reason whenever I picked it up, I fell asleep.  Late in the month I did finally get back on track and finished up the final trial on Poni island, finished the main story line, and made Nebby get in the goddam bag for the last time.  On to the Pokeleague and then endgame activities.

Steam

For once the Steam Winter Sale actually distracted me from other games.  I bought a few budget titles and actually played through them.  Train Valley probably got the most attention.  I did start off in Stardew Valley, but wasn’t really in the mood to get through the inevitable initial hurdles any building/farming sim puts you through.  I will get back to that later.

Coming Up

The Activision-Blizzard 2016 financial report ought to be rolling in next month.  While the first rule of subscription club remains “don’t talk about subscription club,” I do look forward to seeing what I can divine from whatever clever number arrangements and MAUs charts the company puts out.

There is the inevitable monthly patch headed for EVE Online.  Also the CSM 12 candidate period will be in full swing and we should know by the end of the month who will be on the final ballot.  Then there is the Winter War in the south and a plan for another Burn Jita, though no final date has been set for the latter yet.

There are some things afoot with Lord of the Rings Online… something about a horse… while their partners at Daybreak will be putting and end to Landmark.  And, as I mentioned in the post earlier today (I am writing this before I have written that post, so I hope I didn’t forget to write it!) there is some distant rumor that we might hear something later this week from Turbine about the final fate of Asheron’s Call... something besides “bye!”

Also, wasn’t the EverQuest II Race to Trakanon server supposed to close in January?  I haven’t seen an announcement yet.  Was the team was too busy with server issued this month?  Maybe that will be something for February.

Also, after writing a ranty opinion piece about an EverQuest successor, I suddenly feel like I should got back and revisit a few other opinions.  Maybe.  My writing has strayed from opinions towards reporting on what I am doing over the years.  It might be time to update some views that may have been altered with the passage of time.

And, in a final question, when did my month in review posts start passing 2,500 words on a regular basis?

Southward in Minecraft Village by Village

Since my update last week I have managed to make some decent progress on the long road project, covering an additional 2km on the path south.

Where I stand today

Where I stand today

That puts me about 8km along the way to my goal.  Given that I started about 20km from my destination, I am not even at the half way point yet.  But I am getting there.

For this last burst of road building I have been trying to go straight south as much as possible so as to maximize my progress towards my eventual goal.  For the first 6km of southward progress I estimate I built an additional 2-3km of road that moved along the east-west axis, and so brought me no closer to our core settlement.  I did that in order to not spend time trying to fight the terrain.  However, in hindsight, looking at the map as I have moved on, I ended up spotting paths that were slightly more difficult but which would have saved me a lot of bypassing to east or west.  That has led me to try and scout more thoroughly, though I am not sure how I could do this scale of a project at all without being able to render out the map of our world so I can study it for paths south.

One thing I will go at least a bit out of my way for is villages.  I like to put them on the route as they make natural way points for rest and supply.  My recent 2km run was in part lined up to hit a village along the way, which I named Basin City as it was on a hill that ran down to the water in something of a semi-circle.  Also, Frank Miller.

Basin City

Basin City

The down side of villages along the route is that I feel the need to stop and improve them.  I have to level out the paths, fix the buildings, add new doors, light them up, add a horse corral, put up some signage, and work with some of the villagers if I can.

In the case of Basin City here, I also had to thin out the trees as it was in a roofed forest biome, which meant that skeletons and zombies were in the shade when day came, so the sun wouldn’t kill them off.  I cut a fire break around the village, then burned some of the forest beyond the break just to open up some land.

And, since this was going to be a supply point… in order to keep going straight south I was going to need to build a few cobblestone bridges from there to carry on… I started in on a mine, which itself yielded a bunch of iron ore and coal, so I build an auto-furnace and so on.  It is now a nice little place that you could base out of.

Villages have actually become a bit more interesting.  The Minecraft 1.10 update made them a little more diverse, so that the building materials match the biome they show up in.  So, for example, this village I came upon in a savanna biome is made of acacia wood, the local tree type.

In the savanna

In the savanna

That village was also interesting because it turned out to be a zombie village.  Another change with 1.10 was that villages have a 2% chance of being zombie villages, which means that they have no torches placed, no doors, and are populated by zombie villagers.  It took me a bit to figure out what was going on, but once I did I ran off to fetch some weakness potions and a few golden apples in order to convert some of the zombie villagers into normal villagers.  I managed to convert three, one of whom was a nitwit, a green robed villager who has no profession, which is also a recent addition.

You can see by the render of the village above that I lit the place up with torches and supplied doors for the buildings.  Those are birch wood doors, as I happened to have come through a birch forest on the way there, so had a lot on hand.  I tend to prefer oak or jungle wood doors, as they have windows in them so you can see out, but when you just have a stack or two of birch, you use that.

That was sort of a mid-point village, so I didn’t go through the effort of converting it to a full on supply base, but I still had to straighten things out and build a corral.

As I drove the road further south I ended up scouting ahead and found that after I built a nice wooden bridge… I don’t want every water crossing to be a cobblestone causeway, though the continuous cobblestone strip that defined my road still runs up the middle… I was facing a series of hills.  I could go over or through them to keep the the “go straight” plan, or I could veer east and go around, which would also let me pass through not one but two more villages.

That seemed like the obvious plan.  More villages!

Bridge and a turn to two villages

Bridge and a turn to two villages

However, as I scouted that after starting off towards the second village, I saw that the far side to the south went straight into a jungle biome.  And, honestly, I have had my fill of trying to build a road through a jungle biome.  You can’t burn the trees down, the hanging vines suppress fire, so you have to get out the TNT and blast your way through.

So I stopped my effort in that direction, though I did put up some signs about the villages so people can visit if they want (I also “fixed” a good deal of the first village, because me), and checked what lay to the west from the bridge.  I would have to go further to bypass the mountains… more road not getting me to my goal… but once there I seemed to hit plains.  Plains and another village.

Village on the plains

Village on the plains

While I had to bore through a bit of the end of the mountain range in order to head south again as soon as I could, after that it was into a long stretch of fairly open terrain, so road building could go quickly.

Of course, then other issues started to crop up.  By the time I hit that village I was already a day and a half ride on a horse from my last major base, “major” being defined as one where I put up a nether portal.  That connection to the nether becomes important as my logistical tail stretches out behind me and I need to do things like repair tools or I find a need for supplies… like potions and golden apples… that I don’t necessarily keep on hand.

So, while I have pushed past the village a bit, I may need to go back and set that up as another stop on the long rail line connected to our nether transport network.  But that is part of the challenge of doing a project like this, and the challenge is what makes it worthwhile.  I still have another 12km to go and a couple of wide ocean stretches I will need to figure out.

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 WordPress.com 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 WP.com 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 WP.com seems to know my local time and simply stops showing me stats between 4pm local and midnight local.  Nice job there WP.com!

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, WP.com 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 WP.com 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.

Minecraft

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.

Steam

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.

DIY Kit

DIY Kit

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.