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.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The past few days have been lackluster, so here's an overview.

On the large land mass to the left of my island, there's some flat space. I figured I would go over there and clear out some trees to start my settlement. I actually began the corner of a building before I realized I had hardly planned out what I was going to do and stopped.

The next time I logged on, I got lost again but eventually made it to my house. I stocked up on pickaxes and shovels, and started digging downward in a stair formation. Usually I would end  up in a cave eventually but this time I made it to about the 4th layer, since I ran into bedrocks. I had read a thread about smart locations to mine for materials, like diamond, and went up to what I estimated as the 12th layer and began an extremely long strip mine. I ran into plenty of caves that time which I explored. I've started a new rule for myself: torches will be put on the right-hand wall of any cavern I explore. My sense of direction stinks in this game. Anyway, I kept the mine going for a very long distance... it's somewhere around 500 blocks long. Only when the diamond pickaxe I made during the mining expedition got used up did I return home, with almost 100 iron ore and a new total of 24 diamond collected.

I also realized that I stink at designing stuff. I have a Classic singleplayer level floating on my hard drive which I use to sort of free hand stuff. I tried making a house, and it was really blocky. I can't seem to think in terms that aren't cubical. x.x Must go on YouTube and the forums to get inspirations, perhaps borrow designs.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Free Time, Gravel, and a Portal

Today, there wasn't much for me to do. I went to church but it was shorter than usual because there weren't as many people there as usual. This meant more time for me to play Minecraft! I really didn't do much, since I was watching some people on LiveStream again. However, here is a recollection of what was done:

I decided to go into the massive tunnel complex and raid it for the flint. I absentmindedly got on a boat and traveled to where my mob trap was, then went down through the sand pathway I broke open a few days ago. While collecting flint I failed to keep track of where I was going, and got lost again. After spending lots of time trying to find a way out I finally decided to just dig vertically upward. I was confident I wouldn't dig into a body of water and eventually made it to a different, smaller sand patch. Luckily it was near my mob trap and I rode my boat home, with a nice amount of flint. I also put a sign in the huge chamber where all the caves met up, calling it the Cave of Eternity.

Much later on I returned to my mob trap to collect the lava and water inside it and plug it up. It had done no good in getting mobs to fall in it and burn. If I make another one, it'll be much closer to my house.

In the evening, after having watched several hours worth of LiveStream, I decided to build a portal. I made a basement for my home base and discovered that there is an underground lake under my house. I plugged up the parts that were expelling water. Then it was time to turn lava into obsidian. The first lava used was the material collected from the mob trap, then what was inside a "warp core" imitator outside my house. These didn't net enough for me though, so I went to some lava pools I found early in my exploration, converted one to lava, and grabbed about 6 units of obsidian. Since I already had used the obsidian from earlier to construct a half-way done portal, I stopped with six and returned home.

I completed the ring, lit the obsidian and... nothing. Upon checking the wiki I discovered I made it too wide. I thinned it by one block and lit it again. Instead of a dramatic coming to life, the portal simply activated. I turned on game sounds so I could hear what it was like and as I teleported I decided the noises weren't worth having to hear, and subsequently turned them off. I jumped between worlds a few times to collect some Netherrack and put a sign on the Netherside portal.

The Nether opens up plenty of possiblities. It effectively doubles the amount of space I can explore, although it's not very appealing to me right now. Perhaps the best thing about the Nether is that, relatively speaking, it provides near instant teleportation and makes it even easier to go long distances on the overworld. Inside the Nether, there is no day/night cycle. Time effectively stops. If you arrive in the Nether when it's noon in the regular world, then no matter how long you stay in the Nether, when you come back up it's still going to be noon. Also, the amount of distance you travel in the Nether is multiplied by 8 compared to the overworld. This means that if both worlds were completely flat surfaces, then if I build a portal on the overworld, step out of the Nether portal, and build a portal in the Nether 10 blocks away from the other, then when I stepped through that new portal I will be 80 blocks away from the original overworld portal. Since I've only explored a roughly 4 kilometer squared area of my world, I would only need to walk for about 125-150 blocks in the Nether and build a portal, and I would end up in unexplored land.

The main problem with trying to use the Nether for exploration is the fact that I'm not very directionally inclined in the game. My compass doesn't normally point in a true direction, since I'm typically east of my spawn point. Inside the Nether, there is no north or south or west or east. The compass needle spins around randomly. I'm sure there is a rule to how I'm facing when I spawn in the Nether but it would still be very easy for me to get hopelessly lost unless I used some sort of markers.