Friday, December 31, 2010

Not Much and Redstone

I haven't done much of anything significant over the past two days. That's because I'm starting to get into that slump where I don't have any desire to play anymore. Here is what I have done:

First, I went south to explore some new land. Eventually I ran into a huge, snowy and mountainous biome. When I stopped I looked at the map on Cartograph and discovered that the southward walk was three times longer than the northward expedition.

Then I got curious, and wanted to know how much area I've explored. Notch has stated that in the game, each block is a meter squared. I put my brain into action and tried to find a way to calculated how many square meters my map is. I found my answer by going into the folder containing my map's chunk files and counting them. The chunks for the Nether are included in here but I didn't want that so I subtracted it from the total count, and came up with 15,627 chunks. Multiply this by 16, the size in square meters of a chunk and I determined my map to be 250,032 meters squared, or just over 250 kilometers squared in size. This didn't seem very big to me.

I went on the Internet to see how that compares to real life nations on Earth. As it turns out, 250 km^2 is really small. There are 25 political bodies smaller than that. Most of them are little island states dependent on other nations while the rest are just really tiny countries.

The other noteworthy thing I did was to act upon a thought I've had for a while. Part of my goal with Minecraft, if I ever go for it, is to make a world of nations. They would have a sort of electricity, in the form of redstone. Yet, as a sort of back story, redstone is so rare and difficult to acquire that people don't simply lay down torches and wires for their own houses. Instead, just as our world has electrical plants, they rely on a city's electrical plants, and have wires. I made a mock up of what I hope will stand in as our electrical poles.

First I built a pillar of six planks (but eventually decided to reduce it to five; I wanted the height to be the same as a six-block, two-floor building) and put cobblestone on it. Then I counted off 16 blocks and built another one of these, then built a cobblestone "wire" connecting them. After that I laid down a redstone torch and wiring. On top of the second pole, as expected, the wire would not work. I replaced it with a redstone torch and made another pole. However I believe this one is a block or two too close. It's a rough design right now and I need to read up on how redstone works. I also need to keep in mind that huge redstone circuits are limited in a way. If the source of the redstone signal/power is too far away - the commonly mentioned number is 300 blocks - then the entire circuit fails, because the source has been removed from memory. Also, the setup I have right now isn't really good because I don't use repeaters, just more torches. Even if my intended source is not delivering power, there will still be power flowing through the wires, and that's not what I want.

In addition, I've also done brainstorming on what a power plant would be like. Granted, power would really come from redstone torches but I also have a sort of RPG element to my proposed virtual world which requires imagination and doesn't follow the physics of Minecraft exactly. Furnaces would be the power sources and thus the cores of power plants. So far I've imagined up two types of power plants: ones that get energy from burning fossil fuels like coal and wood, and a more advanced one that requires a lava core and draws energy from it. For buildings, the power would be turned on or off by switches and be for well, whatever needs the power, such as lighting or mechanisms. I've come up with a standard for the system. Every pole will have a repeated on top of it, one as minimal as possible, and up to 15 blocks between them - or as many as the redstone signal will go. However, in areas that are not as likely to be seen by the common person - say a stretch of highway, a barren desert, or underground, the 15 block rule still exists but towers can be more sparing or nonexistent. What I would like to know is if there's some way I can overcome the 300 block limit. As in, is there some setup I can use that preserves the original signal so that even if the source is unloaded from memory, the game still knows what state the signal source was at the time of unloading? I believe this to be possible using strategically placed memory cells that are either part of the power wiring or parallel to it.

I've also come up with a role play job occupation: the redstone engineer. Here's the impromptu description: The redstone engineer works in a role that is innovative and also somewhat dangerous. His job revolves around understanding redstone logic and circuitry; designing power systems for settlements and buildings; constructing and maintaining redstone power poles for both residental wiring and long-distance wiring. In the latter case, it might mean building long-reaching systems that span deserts or systems that reside in tunnels dug under bodies of water. The calculating of power circuits and logical systems is the innovative part. The danger comes in constructing and maintaining the systems, which may require them to go high up or deep underground.