Saturday, December 25, 2010

Bridge Builder

Today I was doubly inspired while visiting an SMP server. I was trying to find an area that wasn't extensively built upon so I could survive relatively uninterrupted and I noticed what appeared to be a huge cobblestone aqueduct like what the Romans built. However, when I pillared to the top I discovered it was in fact a very long railroad bridge. I followed it down and passed a minecart before reaching the train (or minecart?) station, and kept going. Sadly, I was exploring some new parts of the map and the server was lagging like crazy so they told me to stop. I teleported to the place of one of the people who were there. This person had a floating island structure he was working on, which had a sign that read "Welcome to Heaven!" this inspired me to perhaps build something like that. For the longest time I could not find my way down and said I was about to jump and hopefully land in water. The person then suggested I just take the stairs... which I noticed a few seconds later.

I got to my own world and decided to experiment with making a bridge over the relatively big ocean separating my island from another one. Over the course of an hour I build a cobblestone bridge and laid tracks on it. On the first attempt, I discovered the minecart went pathetically slow. Then when I browsed the wiki I discovered something about using other minecarts to boost the speed. I implemented a simple system and so far it only sort of works right. I have no problem getting the speed. I just need to figure out how to get into the minecart and get it moving before it gets the speed boost. I don't know if there's a trick to that.

I also spent another night shooting from my sniping platform and downed a few more mobs. While collecting the drops I noticed a nice semi-underground gravel vein and mined it out, getting some gravel. Being an archer can be quite expensive when you go through arrows like me. I don't want to use an inventory editor and load up on arrows that way. I am seeking for this game experience of mine to be as close to proper gameplay as possible. Even using Minutor to spot dungeons is pushing it for me. I may go into the tunnel complex underground and clear it of whatever gravel I find, in order to get flint.

Also, I'm using a second piece of software, which is probably going to replace Minutor for my common mapping: Minecraft Topographical Survey, or MTS for short. I used to have its shoddy Java version, which lacked the features of the C version, because I didn't have a good enough computer. Now I'm more than set. I'll probably still call up Minutor for more dungeon searching. Minutor also allows me to see the x-y coordinates of where I am and where blocks are, which enables more precision.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Sniper-Archer

As I said in a previous post, one of the things I want to do is be an archer. Why? Well, let me tell you a little more about myself. I have had experience in games like Halo and Call of Duty, both first person shooters. And there is an element of FPS in Minecraft, in the form of sword combat. Also, I enjoy real-time strategy games such as Age of Empires and Star Trek: Armada. The problem, though, is this: especially in FPS games, I get an adrenaline rush that makes me quite shaky and easily startled by the game. While most enjoy this adrenaline rush, I don't. I don't like what it does to me, so I can't really play any of those games.

But! While I'm not a front-line soldier, I do have a combat talent. At the Town Boys' and Girls' Club I went to as a preteen and young teenager, there was a multiplayer paintball game in the computer room which I eventually got hooked on. There I discovered that I have amazing aim and can easily compensate for how projectiles tend to arc in their trajectory. I also had a weakness, though. I couldn't avoid incoming stuff for the life of me; my reflexes weren't fast enough. But when I found a decent hiding place or at least knew where the others were courtesy of a radar display, I became hard to beat. I could patiently wait in one spot and in a matter of seconds take out players that others would have trouble with. In short, I'm a natural sniper.

I decided to use this to my advantage. Part of the reason I wanted to find dungeons was so I could collect string to make a bow. String only comes from spiders, but I was avoiding any form of combat. I found string, made my bow, and started collecting what I needed to make arrows.

In the past 3-4 in-game days, which has been about one day IRL, I've been perching in my sniping platform located in a small desert near my home, and at night setting the difficulty to easy and trying my luck at hitting the mobs who come around. The creatures don't come near me, meaning I have to use my knowledge of arcing paths. I also lose most of my arrows but during the post-dawn collection I recover enough to make more.

In my first night alone, I killed 2 zombies and 1 creeper. In the following nights I have killed 1 skeleton, another creeper or two, and a spider. I may have to build an archery range for myself so I can improve my aim. In the last night alone I used up 65 arrows, and by daybreak all of them had disappeared. Granted, some of them had been used hitting mobs but the vast majority were on the ground for so long they simply despawned. Still, this is excellent progress for me, as beforehand I was nervous to even spend one in-game night just watching the mob activity around me.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Is This?

I've seen many of the Let's Play videos, where people upload in-game videos to YouTube. Instead of doing one of those, I have chosen a format that better suits my personal skills... a blog. With this I can highlight more important parts and omit or very briefly mention less noteworthy parts.

Although I forget exactly where it took place, I came across Halkun's full-size Enterprise model during my Web surfing. I watched the video and my jaw dropped as he presented it. After seeing that I thought to myself, "I want this game!", found out its name and website.

My first experiences in Minecraft were in Classic. I went to many servers and was never particularly stuck to one. For a brief time I wanted to try and do a "restoration project" on the now gone Fatima server, which was completely unmoderated and nothing short of a total mess. But before I could start it went offline.

Then I found World of Minecraft and have been using that for my Classic adventures. Finally, I acquired Alpha, which is now Beta. My main goal with Minecraft is a lofty one: build a multinational, multicultural world. Being a person of faith, I've sort of put references to it in the naming schemes. For example, several of the nations will be aligned in a political body called the Christus Kingdom. These nations retain their independence but work together, somewhat styled after the German Empire of the late 1800s. The nation which is the center of activities is Yusaria. Its people are called Yusarians and the capital is Yusarian City. They are a society of archers. I don't have the nerve or desire to do direct combat with mobs, so I instead prefer using bows and arrows.

So far, the main problem is this: in the four or so square kilometers I've explored, there is very little usable flat land which I could build even small villages on, unless I were to build on sand and coasts. I thought at one point there was a rather large continent near my island but so far it's only shown to be a huge peninsula.

I also have other things that go along with this. I want to try and build a computer like what others are doing. Actually,  most of what I intend to do is really just mimicking others since as the blog says, I'm only sort of creative. :D

Right now, I'm in the process of raiding dungeons for whatever goodies they have. I was originally going to spend lots of time underground but I don't know if I'll continue doing that. Honestly, I'm trying to find myself some meaning for playing this game at all. It could be that I just haven't defined my goals well enough, but everything I want to do just seems a little too out of reach for me to accomplish...

Out of the Cave System

For the past two or three real life days, I've been stuck deep down in a massive cave system spanning most of the 64 underground levels. Literally each turn I took seemed to lead me to another tunnel which ended with more tunnels and/or a lava pool or waterfall. I originally came down here to raid dungeons I had located with Minutor, the software I  use to map and explore, however I got massively sidetracked.

While exploring another cavern I look up and see that the limit of the fog is inside a cave overhead. I am able to get up there using mostly the blocks, which form a rough path, as well as a couple lucky jumps where I turn in the middle of the air. I've done that before aboveground while ascending mountains. This time it was a little more risky because there were no blocks for me to land on for several levels.

At the top, I notice the ceiling is made completely of sand! There are some iron blocks which I collect, as well as coal blocks but I ignore those. I've been trying to get out of this cave system since yesterday but at this point I was hopelessly lost. During my walking yesterday I somehow fell a couple levels and couldn't get back up. This would be my escape!

Yet, I stop to think. If there's one thing I do, it's think. There's no guarantee that this sand ceiling will be my way out of here. For all I know this could be underground sand, if such a thing exists. Or, as I don't know where I am, it could be the bottom of a body of water. Water flows seven blocks from its source, but if it goes down a block it resets that number. The path I went up was pretty steep so opening up an ocean floor would turn the place into a huge waterfall.

I didn't want to at first, but I bring up Minutor. Minutor is a niftly little program. It generates a map of my world quickly and also has a slider which lets me look at whatever of the 128 levels I want. I don't use it to find ores or whatnot, just dungeons and my location. I jump the map to my location and pull the slider until I see yellow squares, which are torches. I'm just a few levels from the surface!

This knowledge acquired, I create my plan. If you destroy one - just ONE - sand block of a sand ceiling, the entire thing comes down. If I'm underneath that ceiling when it falls, it will probably kill me - not something I want to happen when I'm holding 70+ iron ore and 10+ gold ore, not to mention 8 diamond. I step a couple blocks away from under the sand, pillar up, and hack at the dirt and stone under the nearest sand block to me. After a few uses of my diamond axe, I've loosened up the sand.

It all comes down, and I'm safely out of the way. I walk out of the cave system and onto a small desert. I'm in the middle of my home island, which I haven't named. It's a fairly large island similar in shape to Australia. My home is west, so I go in that direction. There I find the cobblestone building known as my base and begin processing what I've collected.

There are three floors in my house. The bottom is the original part, now with a floor of wood planks. It has two large chests and a workbench. I've outfitted it with two windows and a nice painting. The latest addition to the house, directly past the chests, is the lava room. Here I keep a two-block-wide lava pool to dump useless blocks like cobblestone, dirt, and sand. On the opposite end of that small room is an infinite water pool. If I get set on fire by the lava, I can just break that open and I'll be good.

The second floor is the Tool/Armory Level, which has excess tools, weapons, armor, and items needed to craft those in chests. There's not much. The third floor is the Pantry Level, where I keep foodstuffs. Since I play on peaceful, I've yet to need any of this.