Monday, December 30, 2013

Small Stone House with Depth

This house took about 90 minutes for me to put together. It's a small demonstration of the depth skills I have picked up so far. I first made it in Creative mode, and liked the outcome.

It begins with a simple, L-shaped layout with cobblestone walls.

Applying what I call the "canvas technique," I divide the walls with stone brick and light blue stained clay. This brings a layer of depth and forms little sections of the walls I can decorate later. For the top of each section I choose stone brick slabs and stairs.

Bam, more depth to it. With the basic elements of the bottom floor in place, it's time to start decorating. First is a trick I found online. When putting in windows, make the top and bottom block of the window a stair block, and use glass panes. (I add the glass later.)

Let's decorate the sections. Leaves are a good way to decorate the walls. It would act as good contrast to the primarily blue theme to the house.

This last picture is the left side of the house. It's the longest part of the build but it's also kind of flat. Cobblestone walls fit the house's theme and don't look too bad. I'll add those. While I'm at it, I also add cobble walls to the back of the house too.

So the bottom looks nice now, but the top might benefit from decoration as well. I could do some more walls, but I feel like mixing things up a bit. I settle on doing cobble walls for some, and stone brick slabs for others. Variety is the spice of life.

Those are just kind of floating, though. Wouldn't it be nice to give them some support? Fences are quite adept for this part.

Great! Now we're done with the bottom floor. Let's get started with the second floor, which is a single room. Put up the walls:

Before going further, I want to finish the first floor's roof. It's kind of a modern-themed build so there's no need for crazy arched roofs. A flat one will be good, with a small raised portion for detail and depth.

See that middle fence? There was a stone brick stair over it but it looked out of place, so I replaced it with a full block. Now onto the second floor's roof. Again, a flat design seems fine for it. I use stairs in a square formation.

While examining the right side of the house, I find that this newly added second floor gives an opportunity to add a bit more detail.

The outside is finish! A quick walk-around.

Interior decoration is kind of my Achilles' heel. I threw together a few things that look like they could fit in the house. I also gave the second floor an actual floor. You can see the nearby river.

And that's that!

Friday, December 27, 2013


Over the last three years I've gotten better at choosing block palettes for construction, as well as giving my builds some more variation in shape. There's still one thing I kind of suck at: depth. It's the latest thing I've been trying to get good at.

I have a basic understanding of depth. Back when I did a guide to making things look good, I mentioned adding curves to houses, forming alcoves and whatnot. There was also the little awning I added over the front entrance. Those are pretty basic. There are a few areas I will look into right now.

Canvas Technique

My experience indicates the key aspect of adding depth is what I call the "canvas technique." In it, you take a wall and around its perimeter, adding support beams on the top and sides.

Let's compare the one on the right with my standard build style.

The one on the left, my typical style, doesn't look half bad. But on the right I have moved the blocks out an additional unit. Granted, this required squeezing the smooth sandstone blocks in (so there's only a tiny space inside the right one) but it is rewarded from the new level of depth shown here.

I call this the canvas technique because with the log support pillars, it creates a sort of "canvas" we can then decorate. There are tons of way to do this. Foliage seems to be a popular and logical choice.

You might also use fences, fence gates, and the cobble/mossy cobble walls. After some quick experimentation, I find fence gates to be rather nice looking.

This kinda fits here. A nice technique I came across was using stairs above and below windows. I imagine this doesn't work as well if the stairs don't match the blocks making up the wall.

You can expand the support buttresses as far as you think is appropriate. Nice touches can also include stairs, fences lining them, half-slab awnings, and so on. This picture right here is probably the most depth-laden piece of work I've ever made. If you add a wooden button on each of the smooth sandstone blocks that aren't covered by a fence gate, it adds a little extra.

Roof Design

A long time ago I wanted to put together a tutorial on making roofs. It would have been as useful as me as for anyone else. Roofs are surprisingly good for adding depth. The most basic measure of adding depth is extending roofs outward. Here is what I mean. Consider the roof module on the left, and the one on the right. The right one adds depth and in my eyes, is very nice.

One on the right is a bit more festive, wouldn't you say? You can also add the extra stuff like fences and whatnot to a roof unit as well, for added depth and detail.

Put It All Together

I went ahead and tried making a house using the depth techniques I've mentioned here. It could probably benefit from having a door, but this is stuff I'm still new to.

Others' Work

A really good way to get better with depth is to mimic the works of others. There are many Minecrafters out there who seem to have a natural talent at depth. Try watching their stuff and recreating their builds yourself. Add a little variation if you can come up with one. This will give you hands-on experience in depth and detail. This in turn will give you a feel for it and you'll be able to reproduce the skill.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Thoughts on Multiplayer

I was so excited when I first got onto a multiplayer server. Finally being able to interact with others! People would see my work, and possibly contribute - or destroy! Either way, it would be fun to collaborate or restart when I was griefed or robbed.

The odd thing I've found since then is that multiplayer isn't all I thought it would be. In some ways I've really found it to be more of a hassle than anything else. It's fun to meet friends and look at others' creations first hand, but there are a few problems I have noticed along the way.

One of the biggest nuisances for me is the lack of control over the day/night cycle. I don't like building at night. This is probably because I don't generally light up areas when I settle in them. So every night when I'm playing on a server, I need to try and round up people to get in beds. And this frequently is not possible. Therefore I end up spending 10 minutes waiting for the sun to rise. It's really quite annoying.

The other is how I don't have control over what version of the game they're using. There are a set of mods that I use for my singleplayer world which don't get updated at the same time as Minecraft. Indeed, between versions 1.6.2 and 1.7 there were enormous changes to the code. So much that needed things like the Minecraft Coder Pack still has not been updated. As a result, many mods are still stuck at 1.6.4 at the latest. Since my laptop practically demands Optifine, that means my single player stuff can't go beyond 1.6. Servers are typically in the 1.7 range. That means no mods, getting lost easily, and it's a general inconvenience to me.

Plus, servers are more unreliable than personal maps. A server can go up or down at any time without your knowledge or approval. Due to damage or game updates the map might get reset, thereby deleting all of your works right out of existence. Seems kind of pointless to me to build stuff, only for it to later be destroyed like that. Luckily there are some sites and servers which provide map downloads, so you can finish your projects. But even then I don't think it's quite the same.

On the other hang, SSP offers you a lot more control. The sun goes up or down at your will. You delete it only if you so desire - or if it's utterly unplayable due to game updates. My pride and joy creations have always been on singleplayer maps.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Redstone Project, Continued

It's been a while since I mentioned the redstone network project I've been working on. Here's an update.

The most critical change has been the addition of the redstone clock system, which acts as the "heart" of the automatic portion. It's a big open controlled mess of redstone.

This morass of redstone technology tells the sugar cane farm to harvest every 10 minutes, and the wheat/potato/carrot farm to launch every 2 hours. So far everything works pretty dang well.

Underground I have expanded the item sorter and storage system. It's getting pretty long.

And the triple farm itself. I took the stuff from the redstone village I was previously working on and put it to work here. I've yet to have an issue with it.

The most active part of this whole thing is a hopper clock that fires once a minute. To some that might be annoying. I find it quite fun to let the game run in the background on low volume, and hear the pistons fire rhythmically. Eventually I want to make another one of these setups, but underground. In my main room I want to be able to hear the main piston firing, so I might place it underneath the chamber or something.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Acacia and Wool House

This is my first build of Minecraft 1.7. It uses the new acacia wood blocks. Personally I find the logs to be good, but acacia planks are iffy. I was able to use them in the flooring nonetheless. This house sort of has a "modern architecture" feel, which I'm alright with.

Modular design wasn't explicitly used with it, but you can easily make three modules out of it (entrance, bedroom, and storage). I think I lucked out and put a good amount of detail into it, yet kept a fairly simple design.