Category Archives: Minecraft

Two Years of Minecraft

Two years in and my general reflections on Minecraft haven’t really changed.  As I wrote last year, as a game it does scratch the exploration, building, and persistence itches, yet is often falls flat on the purpose front.

And so I do not spend much time building castles or villas or other grand living spaces, as once built there isn’t much you can do with them.  Instead I thrive on overland infrastructure, blazing trails, building roads, bridges, and rail lines, and making practical rest stop and production areas along the way.

This approach has led me to the inevitable laying of track along the north mansion roadway that I spent several months building.  Happened with the last road I built as well.

A new rail stop along the way

A fast horse is faster than a minecart for travel, and can go where you want, but you don’t need to manage a minecart.  A minecart doesn’t wander off… mostly… doesn’t need a corral, and won’t die in the middle of nowhere leaving you to walk home.  You just make another minecart or keep it in your inventory and when it is time to travel you put it on the rails and off you go.

So I am laying tracks.  Tracks require resources… iron mostly, of which I am perennially short.  But among the improvements I have done along the line at every rest stop is dig a mine and an auto furnace.  That can be slow going, but at many of the stops I piled up an excess of iron because I was mostly interesting in getting cobblestone to lay down the road.  So I have some resources to draw on… and Aaron gave me a few stacks or iron blocks, which got me quite a way down the line.

It does keep me logging in, which is the ultimate test.  As I have noted in the past, what I say I enjoy doesn’t always line up with what I will actually do, so I have to side with my actions as opposed to my intentions.  If I keep building road and rail projects, that must be what I like!

Not that the last year hasn’t delivered new things.  There were three updates to Minecraft which delivered  polar bears, llamas, and parrots… among other things.  They were:

All of which added things to the game that extended my play time with it.  Not bad.

So another Father’s Day has passes and I am still playing… and on the same world.  That means that my stats for that world are pretty much my overall stats for the game.  As I did last year, I’ll put up a few stats (after the cut) just to mark where I stand.

Continue reading

Minecraft Grand Unification Theory

I do not pay much attention to E3, primarily because it tends not to focus very much on my genre of choice and what it does generally focus on is consoles and console titles from a few large companies.  Not really my thing.

So I let the news from E3 flow by.  I watch is stream past on Twitter and glance through the headlines in Feedly, but do not it much mind except when somebody does something silly. I think I posted about Sony’s PlayStation 4 demo and how they tore into Microsoft’s Xbox One demo the day before on topics like price and used games.  But used games were a burning issue back then, until the industry admitted aloud that being able to trade in used games at GameStop was likely inflating new games sales and so benefiting from the arrangement despite all their bluster about used games being morally equivalent to theft.

This year a tidbit of info actually caught my attention.  Microsoft actually had something to say about Minecraft.

Microsoft has owned Minecraft for a while now, having paid creator Notch $2.5 billion back in late 2014.  This got them the two branches of Minecraft, the Java version, the original, which runs on PCs and which allows you to host your own server and has mods from here to the moon and back, and the console, pocket, Win10 version, which only got shared server hosting relatively recently and which makes money via a cash shop for special skins and such.

Basically, there is the “would have been amazing and lucrative if they had just stopped there” Java version and the “OMG! The cash shop train has no brakes!” money machine console branch.

Microsoft seems to have pledged to unify these two branches into a single product line.

New World Order

This has me a bit concerned.

I would have been more concerned a year or two ago, when the console version was nowhere close to feature parity with the Java version. Microsoft seemed to be heading towards “we’ll just cripple all the hosting and flexibility and mods you love” path a while back with its Windows 10 version of Minecraft.

The two branches have grown a bit closer since then, but it is still an open ecosystem of mods and server types versus a controlled cash shop ecosystem, so Microsoft’s.   So when Microsoft says that the basis for this unification plan is the XBox Live service it is tough not to cringe.

I wouldn’t mind some improvements to the PC version of Minecraft.   Being written in Java gives it flexibility, but also hinders it on the performance front.  And optimized version written in C++ with better file handling would be a good thing.  But if the price is giving up all mods and the ability to host your own server and create things like Wynncraft and such, I would probably stick with the Java version and its stone age file structures.

Fortunately, despite that splash screen from their presentation, the single unified Minecraft platform seems to be well off in future, if it is actually planned at all.  The early reporting I saw from sites at the presentation said Microsoft would be pulling “all versions of the game” together.  I don’t know if that was bad reporting, a bad presentation from Microsoft, or sloppy terminology somewhere along the line, but the statement on the official Minecraft site seems less dramatic.

Over there the line is that they are unifying all of the versions sharing the C++ code base, shedding all of their various names (e.g. Pocket Edition, Win10 Editions, Xbox) and renaming them all as just Minecraft, while the original, open version on PCs will now be called Minecraft: Java Edition.

The official site also indicates that the coming graphics upgrade will also skip the Minecraft: Java Edition, leaving us to our classic look, though there are enough graphical mods out there that you’re pretty much covered if you want fancier views. (The PlayStation versions seem to be in limbo on where they will end up though.)

Of course, that tilts worry the other direction.  Is Microsoft putting the Java platform version of the game out to pasture?  Is it better to be on the neglected track or to have Microsoft unifying the Java platform?

Either way, nothing is likely to happen any time soon.  We just got the 1.12 update for the Java version, so we’re still in that waiting period where all the mods and special servers have to work to catch up. (Even though our server doesn’t have any mods, I am waiting for Minecraft Overviewer to catch up so I can render updated maps.)  I am more likely to get my Mineserver delivered before anything drastic happens, and once I that happens I need never upgrade versions again.

Still, for a little while I was intrigued with the idea of being able to use the iOS Minecraft Pocket Edition on the iPad to log into our server.

Minecraft 1.12 World of Color Update Goes Live

While I haven’t been all that active on our Minecraft server of late, the Minecraft team has pressed on with new features for the PC version of the game, releasing the 1.12 update, called “World of Colors” yesterday.

World of Colors indeed

The high level change log list is this:

  • Added Glazed Terracotta blocks
  • Renamed Hardened Clay to Terracotta
  • Added Concrete Powder blocks
  • Added Concrete blocks
  • Updated base color palette
  • Added advancements
  • Added recipe book
  • Added Knowledge Book item
  • Added Parrots
  • Added functionality to save toolbars in creative mode
  • Added text-to-speech narrator
  • Added new sounds for the Note blocks
  • Added commands relating to recipes and advancements
  • Many minor fixes and changes
  • Removed Herobrine

As to what the bullet points mean, you have to go to the wiki for some of that.

Color is certainly the theme, with the new concrete and glazed terracotta blocks.  Mentioned a bit further down the list is that beds now also come in colors.  The default bed with the red blanket is gone, the blanket will be the same color as the wool you use to make it.

Black wool and white wool examples

Beds are also now springy, so you can bounce off of them.  This bounciness negates some falling damage and a player can fall as far as 41 blocks onto a bed and not die.  I made the two beds above and jumped off the top of my forest manor a few times to test this.  You do indeed bounce off of them and take much less damage.

Advancements have replaced achievements in the game, which means you get to re-earn essentially the same set of achievements all over again.  There are some differences, the idea of advancements being to help guide new players, but many of them are the same.

I killed a creeper with a bow and got these two…

There are also new hints as to how to play which show up when appropriate.

When I first logged in…

Technically, that isn’t correct.  You move with W, A, S, D, and your mouse, as in a first person shooter, but whatever.

Probably one of the bigger changes in this release is the introduction of a recipe book.

What can I make?

This brings the PC version in line with the Windows 10, console, and Pocket Edition versions of the game.

The book shows you the items you can make, adding recipes and you obtain items that can be used to craft.  For example, I picked up an iron block out of a chest and it added the anvil to my recipe book.

I already have a few, but thanks

This should be a great help to new players, as the recipes in the crafting system can be somewhat arcane and you either had to memorize them or look them up online.  When you select a recipe while at the crafting station, the game will populate the materials for you.  Clicking it again will give you two copies and so on.  If you’re missing ingredients, the ingredients will be highlighted in red… though it would be nice if only the missing ones were.  And, if you step away from the crafting station to fetch your missing ingredients, items left in the crafting station won’t fall on the floor any more.  They will now go back into your inventory.

Of course, after all of that, the reason I had to log in last night was parrots.  Found in jungle biomes and tamable with seeds, that was my quest for the evening.  And I had to look for quite a while before I found one. (Though I saw a lot more ocelots than I usually do, so it seems like their spawn rate got tweaked.)  Finally, after trekking through the jungle, I spotted one, fed him some seeds, and tamed him.

My green parrot

They come in five different types of plumage, fly around while following you, and land on your shoulder when then can.  Also, they die if you feed them a cookie.

Anyway, more to explore with Minecraft, the game that keeps on giving.

 

May in Review

The Site

Not much changed here and WordPress.com didn’t add anything that particularly annoyed me this month, so pretty much the status quo.

As it is May I guess I can talk about my other blog, EVE Online Pictures, the one-time experiment that became an official EVE Online fan site.  It turned nine years old this month.  Next year I will devote a whole post to its anniversary.  This year I will just post the usual page views per month chart.

EVE Online Pictures – Page Views per Month through May 2017

You may need to click on that to see if full size in order to make it legible.

Anyway, that is the page view tale.  You can see the sudden drop off when Google changed how image search worked in February of 2013.  Traffic to the site can be very much peaks and valleys.  There is a fairly regular group that hits the site on the three days a week that I post a picture.  At that rate after nine years the total post count is just past 1,300.  There were times when I was just posting twice a week, and a month stretch during the Fountain War where I posted every day.

But then something will happen and boost stats suddenly.  During January and March CCP Phantom used a picture for the EVE Online week in review post and linked back site.  That prompted a couple of spikes, including the highest page view count in a single day back on January 17th with 939.  That was quite a jump for a site that generally has 25-50 page views a day.

And sometimes a person will show up and scroll through the whole site.  The theme I use there lets you page down while it keeps loading content, so you can browse all the pictures without needing to click.  I will log on and see a spike of 50 page views, but only two unique users have hit the site.  So while the uniques to page views ratio for this site is about 1.5, for EVE Online Pictures it runs from 2.5-4 most days.

Anyway, my time capsule of pictures from New Eden carries on, there waiting to be browsed.  There are some 2006-ish classic graphics all the way through to whatever is current.  New stars was the latest thing and I have a few of those up already.

One Year Ago

Overwatch went live.  Still haven’t played it.

DUST 514 went offline.  Never did play it.

Landmark’s official launch date was announced.  Never did buy it.

There was word about Pokemon Sun & Moon, Civilization VI, EverQuest II prestige servers, the tribulations of WildStar, and the WoW Legion Beta, all in one bullet points post.

In EVE Online I saw my first citadel.  Now they’re freakin’ everywhere.  There was also a free weekend on Steam that got a lot of accounts created, but which still faced the wall of the new player experience.  There was a Blog Banter about Project Nova and that brief experiment with recurring opportunities that granted skill points. There were also details from the CSMXI election and that whole 85% thing, which did not add up for me.

In space the Casino War was still a thing.  We were huddled up in the back room of the Quafe Warehouse in Saranen plotting ways to strike back and keep the war going.  We threw industrials at sovereignty.  That got us a foothold back in Fade for a bit.

Mostly though it was battles in low sec.  Asher led us out to battle in his Phantasm, we squared off against capitals, blew up some fax machines.  There were battles over structures in Saranen and we managed to anchor an Astrahus to face the citadels arrayed against us.  Lots of shooting, but not much changed.

Oh, and SynCaine joined KarmaFleet.  I even saw him on an op.

Outside of New Eden Blizzard could only talk about MAUs after renouncing discussion of subscription numbers.  Given the whole Nostalrius situation I was wondering what Vanilla WoW really was.  And the Warcraft movie was approaching.

In Minecraft I was planning a rail line and finding a path for it to run.  Aaron’s project of the month was a facility in the nether to make the collection of Ghast tears easier.

I was also momentarily nostalgic for Starsiege: Tribes… or for what I could remember of it.

And in TorilMUD the elves were no longer restricted to the isle of Evermeet until level 20.

Five Years Ago

I played Portal finally.  Now Zoidberg makes the cake joke!

I wrote about camping rare mobs and how this all came from the fact that MUDs used to crash pretty often.

There was the start of the first Newbie Blogger Initiative thing.

On the Fippy Darkpaw server, The Gates of Discord unlock vote shut down that expansion.  This caused some hard feelings.  And then it failed the vote again.

38 Studios went tits up due to managerial incompetence.  Not how you run a start up.  But the myth of what greatness might have been lives on, fostered primarily by those whose reputations would benefit from such tales.

The instance group was clearing out King’s Breach in Rift.

Diablo III came out and… error 37.  Then error 75.  And installer problems.  High expectations, huge sales, its always online nature, and memories of past Diablo games probably doomed it the eyes of many.  Still, we played it a bit.  I compared it to the beta version of Torchlight II, its primary foe in the click to kill genre.  I moaned about atmosphere and the influence of WoW on it.

And then I complained about talent trees.  Most people seem to like them more than I do.

But mostly I was on about EVE Online.  There was a summary of the first Burn JitaHulkageddon V came and sort of went.  There were spoils from the war in the north to be handed out.  OTEC actually got out there, putting aside differences, to defend its financial interests.  We blew up an IRC CSAA in Cobalt Edge.  There was a question as to whether PLEX was cheating.  I mined in null sec for the first time and didn’t know where to put stuff.  There were stats about Escalation and Hulkageddon and just ships being blown up in general.  And I made a post around John Smeldley’s tweet about Drakes and new missile graphics.  He dropped me a note in reply.  Turns out he is not only a huge EVE Online fan, but was in the CFC as well.  As Mittens would say, one of us.

Ten Years Ago

The then common discussions were going around, what made WoW so successful and what games might contend with WoW?  Some of the so called “contenders” were pretty silly picks.

Speaking of Blizzard, they also announced they were going to back to the StarCraft franchise with StarCraft II.  About time indeed!

The instance group was focused on LOTRO for the first time.  I had things to complain about, especially the state of the economy.  And, only a month in we spotted a level 50 player.  That must have been some hard work, as the game sort of petered out at about level 35 back then.  Still, Middle-earth was a pretty place.  It even had rainbows.

Vanguard was heavily in the news.  Sigil fell and SOE stepped in to pick up the pieces, though I wondered how long before the many problems with the game became attached to SOE.  I was also wondering about the impact of the game’s system requirements.

I was wondering how many more expansions EverQuest would have, while pointing out that you could get the game and all the expansions for only $15.

The owners of Allakhazam, long a staple of EQ knowledge, sold off their gold selling RMT wing, thus removing that taint and a host of gold selling ads from the site.

SOE officially announced the Rise of Kunark expansion for EverQuest II, keeping the game firmly on the nostalgia train.  Meanwhile, I had a suggestion for the new Arasai race.

Finally, there were some podcasts I thought people should listen to again.  I am not sure you can get most of them any more.

Most Viewed Posts in May

  1. Day One of New PLEX
  2. Pokemon Lycanroc event at GameStop
  3. Who is Backing Ashes of Creation?
  4. The EVE Online YC119.5 Update Brings PLEX Changes and More
  5. The EverQuest Agnarr Progression Server to Remain Locked in Time
  6. Visiting the Blood Raiders Shipyard
  7. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  8. EVE Online Turns 14
  9. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  10. Fighting the Blood Raider Menace or How I Rat
  11. Return to the Land of the Ten Dollar Horse
  12. A Return to Form Reinforces the Blood Raiders Shipyard

Search Terms of the Month

cash and carry price list daybreak
[I think you and I are talking about different Daybreaks]

how fast travel eve
[Clone jump is about it, and you leave your ship behind]

show me the planets in the world
[I don’t think it works that way]

nes classic in 25 years
[That’s about the wait to get one]

www pngporn.com
[I don’t even know how this got you here]

EVE Online

I don’t feel like I have played all that much… but then I look at my list of participation credits and I guess I did go on some fleets.  Reavers have been out and about and blowing things up.  We killed four Astrahus citadels in one evening.  I just tend not to post about that until the deployment is done.

There was also the first Blood Raiders Shipyard event, which turned into a bit of comedy in the end.  At least I got to go out and see a bit of the battle.  And, having bookmarked the spot, I was able to guide Mark726 out to it so he could do a post about it on EVE Travel.

Minecraft

The Minecraft server remains pretty quiet.  Aaron has been back a bit and must be working on something.  I have been logging on some myself and wandering up and down the north mansion road and doing improvements to some of the villages and other rest stops along the way.

Pokemon Sun

I have been slowly but surely trading away at the GTS in order to expand my National Pokedex coverage.  I am close to finishing up the first two generations.  I also signed up and tried the May International online tournament.  I battled six people and lost to five of them.  Three of them beat me with the same pair of Pokemon using the same moves.  I’ll have to write about that.

Pokemon Go

There was an event this month that made rock Pokemon more common for a week, as well as reducing the distance required for your buddy Pokemon to earn a candy.  That actually got me a couple of new Pokemon this month as well as helping me level up to 28.  I also managed to finally evolve one of the first generation starter Pokemon to its final form, getting an Venusaur at last.

My basic stats this month:

  • Level: 28 (+1)
  • Pokedex status: 166 (+11) caught, 187 (+9) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Gyrados
  • Current buddy: Magikarp… only 230km more to get enough candies for a Gyrados

Runes of Magic

Runes of Magic was sort of the guest host game for the month of May.  I jumped in at the start of the month and was pretty much done with it by the time we got to the last weekend.  It does still feel like 2009 in Taborea… though you’ll have to decide for yourself if that is a good thing… even if the screen has gotten a bit more cluttered since launch.  I think they have hit the limit for the number of icons around the mini map.  I won’t say I am done with it forever, but I am done with it for the moment.

Coming Up

Steam Summer Sale?  Summer is just twenty days away in the northern hemisphere, and said sale usually starts right about then.  A price break might get me across the threshold towards buying Rimworld.  Been on my wishlist for a while, but “early access” is a red flag to me these days.  SynCaine seems positive about it though.  And Zubon seems happy with Mini Metro, another game that has lingered on my wishlist for a while.  Maybe I will buy some stuff.

I also need a replacement for Runes of Magic to fill the fantasy MMORPG void.  Actually, I might have a replacement lined up, and those with a keen eye for detail might be able to tell what it is.

My daughter says that I must play Pokemon: Magikarp Jump on my phone.  We’ll see if that warrants a post.

In New Eden we remain deployed, which means more ops to go on and fights to be had.

The Ashes of Creation Kickstarter campaign winds up in a couple days.  That is closing in on the $3 million mark, so the question is just which stretch goals will be achieved… and what the post-campaign fund raising will look like.  Star Citizen has proven that you should never stop asking for money.

Otherwise, I am not sure what the next month will bring.

April in Review

The Site

It has been a bonus moth for blog, with page view seeing a 50% boost over the previous month.  It still isn’t back to 2012 numbers… and never will be… but it was interesting to see the numbers jump up a bit.  Of course, I know why the number jumped up.  It was for the same reason the blog gets something of a bump every April.

I posted about April Fools at Blizzard.

A look at the list of most viewed posts this month tells the tale… sort of.  I generally don’t list the main page for the blog on that list, because it would simply be the top entry most months.  But this month it would be in second place, pulling in about 40% of the page views of the April Fools post.  Google was very nice to me for April Fools.

Still, it wasn’t as good as last April.  I did not get nearly as big of a bump from Google last year for April Fools… like 15% of the page views… but I was writing about the Casino War in EVE Online last April, something that stirred passions in a few.  And then there was the drama about WoW, nostalgia, and the Nostalrius, which was enough to carry the month to 40% more page views than this year.  Life in the page view lane.

Also I hit another meaningless milestone, crossing the 700 follower mark on Twitter.

I first started on Twitter back in 2010, so at this rate I will hit 1,000 followers at some point in 2020… provided Twitter doesn’t purge inactive accounts, as that would probably reduce my followers by half.

My Twitter feed combines the output from this blog and my EVE Online Pictures blog, along with occasional direct comments by myself.  The screen shots from the other blog are far and away the most likely to get liked or retweeted.  Even CCP Seagull has been known to retweet some of those screen shots.  There is probably a lesson in that.

One Year Ago

I wondered about the concept of the last good day in the context of MMOs.

The whole Blizzard versus Nostalrius issue blew up when the company sent the private/pirate server a take down notice.  Blizzard actually responded to things, but those hoping that they might actually get an official nostalgia server remain disappointed.

We did get a ship date for WoW Legion.  And, for once, nobody complained about Blizzard targeting a competitor with their chosen date.  At least not that I heard.

The Casino War was going badly for the Imperium.  I mean, sure, Dinsdale Pirannah was predicting a Goon victory, but he was in a small minority.

The Mittani held a state of the Goonion and logs documenting CO2’s betrayal were released, but that didn’t stave off black Thursday in Tribute as TNT’s holdings got steamrolled.  The war was getting serious.  First SMA and then FCON left the Imperium.  FCON showed up in Immensea soon afterwards while Darius Johnson tried to take advantage of the war by attempting to restart the original GoonSwarm.

There was a short Russian complication in the northeast that threatened to widen the war, but which eventually blew over.  No relief for the Imperium was to be found on that front.

There was to be no last stand at VFK-IV.  We pulled back to the Quafe Factory Warehouse in Saranen and attempted to fight back against the tide while I wondered what would constitute a victory.

There was some talk of names for the war.  I did not like the names coming from either side and stuck with Casino War, the name which Nosy Gamer coined and which went straight to the heart of the conflict.

Outside of the Casino War, I took a look at two books about EVE Online.  There was a Rooks & Kings video from the Serenity server. The Citadel expansion was released, bringing Upwell Consortium structures to New Eden.  There was a Blog Banter about what the most important announcement out of Fan Fest was.  And Xenuria made it onto the CSM at last.

Outside of New Eden, I gave Pokemon Blue a try and was surprised to see how fully formed the first versions of Pokemon really were.

Google was telling me that pretty much every game was dead.

And there was, as always, April Fools at Blizzard.

Five Years Ago

April 2012 set a daily page view record.  What is it about April?  I know you are going to say “April Fools,” but the record was actually set because of the Burn Jita event.

Yeah, the Burn Jita event.  It made for my most popular YouTube video ever.  And it lead right into Hulkageddon V and its OTEC connection.

Elsewhere in EVE Online, the LEGO Rifter got 10K votes, the War in the North seemed to be winding down with RAZOR back in Tenal and six fleets stalking Venal. Raiden managed to lose a bunch of sovereignty, by accident, which finished that up.  All that was left was to say we didn’t want that region anyways.  We also made conga lines, experience time dilation, and followed DBRB through high sec to kill some super caps.  And Seleene became the chairman of the Galactic Student Council.

I was also syndicated occasionally on EVE News 24.  I don’t think I got paid for all of that.

I made a list of small features I wanted other MMOs to copy.

Lord of the Rings Online hit the five year mark.

Potshot and I were wandering around EverQuest again, looking for lost dungeons.  We were not buying any $25 bags though.

In Rift, the instance group was driven out of King’s Breach.  But Trion added in fishing, so we could do that instead.

And it was April Fools at Blizzard.

Ten Years Ago

Back in April 2007 we were wondering what was going to happen with Sigil Games Online after their less than stellar Vanguard launch. (*snort*) I threw out a few paths that the game might follow going forward, one of which proved to be correct.  Soon we would be free from the rambling posts of Aradune.  There was a failure of vision to be corrected.  But I bought a copy all the same.  It was marked down.

Meanwhile, Microsoft Windows Vista, which launched the same day as Vanguard, was facing failures of its own, with Dell having to reintroduce Windows XP as an option for customers.  I know my own company was buying XP systems until Windows 7 came out… and became the new Windows XP.

In EverQuest II Gaff and I visited Emperor Fyst, I ran around in Nektropos Castle with the Everling clan, and complained about experience in Splitpaw.

While our WoW group was winding down for the summer, with Earl off to Broadway, the remaining four of us went off to Middle-earth with the launch of Lord of the Rings Online.  We had been playing in the beta, but eventually it came time to buy the game and sort out the founder’s options.  I had my first impressions. Titles were a thing!

I answered the musical meme question, “Five Reasons Why I Blog.”  Remember when those were “memes?”  Also, that seems awfully early in my career to be answering that sort of question.

I was also on about the pros and cons of player wipes, the requirement that one be able to solo in MMORPGs, and the problem of translating mechanics between games.

Van Hemlock was leet.

Nintendo launched Pokemon Diamond & Pearl in North America at last.  The EU would have to wait until July to get their copies.

Our Wii finally came out of the box.

And, finally, I had a problem with a video card that eventually had to be RMA’d, which sounds a lot like this April. I hope this won’t turn into a yearly thing.

Most Viewed Posts in April

  1. April Fools at Blizzard 2017 – Not Much to Talk About
  2. April Fools at Blizzard – 2016
  3. EVE Online CSM 12 Winners Announced
  4. WoW Dance Battle System!
  5. A Barrier to My Eventual Return to Azeroth
  6. Corpses in New Eden
  7. Null Sec Outpost Conversions and the Great Asset Recovery
  8. The Fall of Club Penguin
  9. A Decade on the Road to Mordor
  10. The Ongoing Tension Between Solo and Grouping
  11. Null Sec – We Rat and We Mine Things
  12. Nintendo and the NES Classic Edition

Search Terms of the Month

lord of the rings rambling large
[I ramble larger than most!]

eve online dying 2017
[EVE Online has always been dying. So have I.]

terry pratchett was more successful than rowling
[Only for very specific definitions of “success”]

how many hours does a heroic character save everquest
[In my case, all of them]

EVE Online

After Reavers came back from camping in Impass at the start of the month I haven’t done too much in game.  TNT and Space Violence are deployed to Catch, and I have a pilot out there, but the ops are almost exclusively EUTZ, so I have been on exactly one.  So I have taken my ops where I could find them and ratted a bit.  Even Ishtar ratting adds to the might total of null sec bounties.

EVE Fan Fest was the main focus of the month, with people happy or disappointed about what CCP did or did not say.  The usual story, everybody feels their part of the game is the most important and if only CCP would focus on the right thing then New Eden would flourish and time would roll backwards and the PCU would skyrocket.

Minecraft

I finished the road to the north Mansion, which covers 26km as it winds its way northward from the rail loop.  That done, I stated fishing about for the next project.  I began work on some upgrades around the north Mansion and even laid the ground work for the horse speed tester I wanted to build, but haven’t really done much when it comes down to it.

Pokemon

The Pokemon binge continued this month as I picked up a copy of Pokemon Omega Ruby from the online shop and ran through that.  I finished the main story, caught Groudon, and am working on other legendary Pokemon.

Pokemon Go

I have been somewhat low key with Pokemon Go over the last month.  The high the level, the bigger the gap to the next one, and I have only made about half way to the 250K exp needed to get to 28.  And that progress has been primarily due to the first catch of the day, first Pokestop of the day, and seven day streak bonuses.

My basic stats this month:

  • Level: 27 (+0)
  • Pokedex status: 154 (+5) caught, 179 (+7) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Final evolution of any of the starter Pokemon
  • Current buddy: Noctowl, who earns a candy every kilometer.

Coming Up

It is May tomorrow, which means May Day/Loyalty Day (the latter is causing people to freak out because they think Trump is somehow responsible for that nearly 100 year old non-event of a day), Memorial Day (which will mean a B-17 flying around the neighborhood), Mother’s Day, the start of the summer movie season, and FanimeCon here in Silicon Valley.  My daughter wants to go to that with some friends, while I will people watch and get street passes observing on the periphery.

On the video gaming front, this month’s patch for EVE Online has a couple of big changes, including the PLEX revamp… and… is anything else happening?  Hrmm…

I have been looking about for some new game to hold my attention, even going back to World of Tanks just to see how that has been faring, and to remind myself how bad I am.  I think I might have found something to occupy me for a bit, but we’ll get to that in May.

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.