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April 29, 2012

I said to the man, “Are you trying to tempt me?”
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 08:29 AM * 270 comments

One of my pastimes is playing Minecraft.

For those unacquainted with the phenomenon, it’s a computer game that starts with the player awakening at dawn, empty-handed, in a wilderness. There isn’t really a goal, but it’s advisable to spend some time and effort acquiring materials, making tools, and building some kind of shelter before nightfall. Because that’s when the monsters spawn: creepers, who come up hissing behind you and then explode; skeleton archers; giant spiders; zombies. It’s also a good idea to acquire some food, because if you’re hungry you don’t heal from injury, and when you’re really hungry you lose health.

Beyond those basic goals, it’s a game about living in an uninhabited world1. People do different things with it: some build magnificent edifices; some delve deep and collect treasures; some make electronic devices with redstone, the in-game magical equivalent of electricity. YouTube is full of videos of the things they create, including many variations on Rule 352.

My pattern of play is to start a new world and spend a bunch of time building up food security3 while living in makeshift accommodation. Then I build a pleasant-looking house. Then I do something spectacular: hollow out an entire island, build a replica sailing ship (which the game mechanics don’t allow to move), or cut a vast arch all the way through a mountain. And then I grow bored, among my chests of wood and diamonds and multicolored wool, and start all over again on another world.

But this most recent time, when things got dull, I decided to become a nomad. Minecraft creates the world as you travel through it, so it’s as infinite as your hard drive can handle. There are wonders to see: vast falls of water and lava, mountains and deserts, forests and grasslands. There are surprises, like the sandstone water temples that appear to be generated alongside the natural features. I have come upon perfectly circular rooms6 deep underground, and watched shoals of squid swim at sunset far out to sea.

But I’m finding this mode of play surprisingly difficult. Not because I’m struggling to feed or defend myself, but because it requires a completely different attitude toward things. The game has an encumbrance model, meaning that I can only carry so much. Everything I keep, necessity or luxury, reduces what else I can pick up. I have had to reconsider my entire way of interacting with possessions in the game.

It turns out to be really hard for me to walk by a seam of coal or iron and not mine it, though I have more of each than I’m going to need for some time to come. When I cut down a tree to get the apples its foliage turn into, it’s not easy to leave the wood on the ground. This impulse to thrift comes from both early in-game shortage and real-life training. And playing in a world of abundance (which Minecraft is) makes the problem worse in many ways: there are so many opportunities to acquire. There is so much to hoard.

Also, accumulation is a hard goal to replace. The joys of travel pall after a while: the quest for novelty itself grows old. On a solitary world, there aren’t the other riches we seek in real life, the friendships, love, knowledge, and wisdom that aren’t accounted for in the inventory popup.

One outlet has been to return to Christo-like gestures: an entire hill covered in torches; a fountain taller than the trees around it. But even that activity is transformed: not only do I have fewer resources to make things with, but when I’m done with them I walk on and leave them behind7. I am collecting the experience of having made them and the memory of the sight of them receding into the unrendered mist behind me. In a finite world, I think I’d disassemble them.

The challenge of playing this way makes me think of the conversations we were all having a couple of years ago when the bubbles started to burst, about moving to a post-growth economic model. As we pass peak oil (and peak plastic, and maybe peak cod, and possibly peak dirt), it’s increasingly believable that leaning forward and running to keep up is an unsustainable way to live in the ecological equivalent of a brick-walled house. Perpetual growth is impossible; eventually we run out of atoms.8 We need a new model, something closer to a steady-state universe than a big-bang one.

But living in a new paradigm, coming from the old, is even more difficult in meatspace than it is in a virtual world.

Substituting non-acquisitive goals for acquisitive ones is difficult but not impossible. Our society already does that, whether people are collecting photos of themselves in exotic locations or status in whatever communities matter to them most. Measuring wealth in whuffies makes deep sense. After all, aside from fetishists like Scrooge McDuck, who really wants to swim in gold coins and light cigars with $100 bills for the pure aesthetic pleasure of it? People do these things to be seen to be doing them. Beyond a certain level of necessity9, money is mostly a counter of monkey-status.

More difficult is the other engine of growth and acquisition I’ve been running into: security. It’s difficult to pass up usable resources, even if I already have a good store of them, because I know I will run out eventually. But it’s easier to walk by this vein of coal if I can trust that I’ll be able to find another one to dig out when I need it. Minecraft’s abundance is consistent and reliable. Sadly, though, the real world contains unfed hunger and unmet need. There is always competition for resources, and real penalties for failure. There are visible losers in the race for everything necessary and useful to human life, from clean air up.

Growth is the promise of future plenty, and thus a mental escape hatch from zero-sum thinking. Make the pie bigger is the standard communitarian, non-competitive advice to someone trying to take a bigger slice of a limited resource. I don’t encounter competition for resources on my solitary server, but shared servers address the matter the way that the United States did in the 1800’s: geographic expansion. Players range further from the spawn point to find unexploited territory. Again, they tap into the unlimited abundance of the virtual world.

Here in the real world, we seek growth partly because that’s our headroom for surplus. And surplus is our present peace and our security against future need.

There’s an ongoing conversation in the SF and futurist communities about “post-scarcity” societies. I first encountered them in the Culture books by Iain M Banks, but there are plenty more examples in the literature. It’s more than a little unclear how such a society could come about. But absent its advent, I’m struggling to see how we could move to a post-growth economy.

  1. There are also shared servers where one can cooperate with other players, as well as a creative mode with no monsters or physical demands and unlimited resources.
  2. For every internet phenomenon, there will be a My Little Pony mashup.
  3. I’m a vegetarian on Minecraft (even though I am not one in real life)4. This makes this cycle markedly more difficult, because wheat takes time to grow, it’s hard to find the kinds of mushrooms one needs for soup, and one has to chop down a lot of oak trees to get enough apples5
  4. No, I don’t understand it either.
  5. The Minecraft developers are not botanists.
  6. As circular as a world of cubes can make, anyway
  7. It’s true that the “build a world, get bored, abandon it” pattern is a larger example of this behavior, but it’s different to do it within the same world.
  8. Particularly while remaining only on this planet.
  9. I’m aware that this is a big handwave, eliding, among other things, Sam Vimes’ boots.
Comments on I said to the man, "Are you trying to tempt me?":
#1 ::: paxed ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 10:29 AM:

Ah, Minecraft. I haven't yet gone all nomad yet, mainly because I'm still trying to survive. I Haven't gotten to The End and haven't killed the Enderdragon yet.

The two times I made it to the Nether, I got killed, first because the portal was generated floating on top of a giant lava lake and a ghast fireball pushed me off the ledge, the second time because I was trying to kill a ghast and accidentally hit a zombie pigman, and was mobbed by a horde of them...

And yes, I play on hardcore, so the world is gone when I die.

#2 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 10:43 AM:

One possible alternative to acquisition as a life-goal is restoration: taking, for example, a worn-out piece of land or an old house or a failing school system and rebuilding it. Particularly with land, this can take generations, but with visible progress even on a weekly timescale. See for example A Sand County Almanac.

#3 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 11:45 AM:

The problem of getting from here (zero-sum limited resource civilzation) to there (post-scarcity, or even just post-growth civilization) has always reminded me of those topological nightmares (see John Horned Conway)with two endpoints, and an infinite labyrinth of twisted paths in between. You can see the destination from the start, but there's a vast expanse of unmapped road between one and the other. So far, every utopia ever conceived by humans has proved to require as inhabitants perfectly spherical zipless humans capable of perfect rational thought (paraphrasing Charlie Stross), and those are sort of thin on the ground.

One large obstacle to getting to post-growth is that for such a society to be stable most (preferably all) of the population has to be secure in the belief that there really is a safety-net that works for everyone, and that in some way a mostly fixed set of resources can be used in a positive sum way, so that all boats really do get raised, rather than those without the bridge-raising fees getting their superstructures smashed in the bridge understructure1.

1. I needed a somewhat strained metaphor to justify at least one footnote2.
2. Of course, given the topological metaphor, a recursive footnote might be appropriate2.

#4 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 11:58 AM:

One of the fascinating things to me in multiplayer Minecraft is that, even with a very small number of people on a server--I believe I'm up to four on mine--the matter of space becomes an issue well before resources as such. Not just "Can't build my house there, someone else did" but "Could you leave this valley alone? I'm building a fishing village and want the bay to stay pristine-looking" or "Well, if you want to plant that many reeds, you'd better move further out because you're going to run into my racetrack..."

And then the further out you get, the harder it is to reach other people, because it takes time to travel between point A and point B, even with railroads. (Servers that have teleportation enabled aside, which, come to think of it, is another way of dealing with potential resource scarcity.) So there ends up being this sort of negotiation back and forth. How much built-up vs. wilderness-looking do we want close to the spawn point? Which spaces are reserved for people? Are we all willing to invest in making sure people can reach other things easily, if we've asked them to move far away to build? (The answer there has always been "yes" because building railroads and switching stations is fun.)

#5 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 12:03 PM:

#0: Abi, that's a interesting musing. The biggest issue confronted by modern civilization is in fact that we have explored the entire world, and exploited most of it. No more new lands to conquer and loot, few virgin forests (and those often defended), and so forth. That's the ultimate "bubble", and it's bursting.

#6 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 12:26 PM:

Sounds like a monty-hall game. Like being the king of Fillory or a character in a Philip Jose Farmer book.

#7 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 12:36 PM:

David Harmon #5: Note that anthropgenic climate change is just another facet of "no more new skies"....

#8 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 01:20 PM:

The history of the Soviet Union, explained musically with the help of Tetris.

Resource-exhaustion and climate change will surely start to become real for everyone in a way that they haven't been so far as their effects begin to cast a tangible economic shadow. We have a pretty good idea of what houses are going to be doomed in a few decades' time by regular-as-clockwork homewrecker floods that will render then either uninhabitable or uninsurable, and this will feed into property prices: you think you bought the freehold to your house but actually it's a 40 or 50 year leasehold that will expire when your nice bit of Norfolk sinks under the waves. (Hmm, I'm saying that the market will sort it all out, or at least that it will send an unmistakable signal to rational economic actors. Ho hum. But in Britain nothing's real until it starts to affect property prices.)

Are there any computer games that make a really decent fist of modelling a real economy—finance, manufacture, the lot—as realistically as a good flight simulator models flight? Or underneath the gloss are they all as simplistic as this?

#9 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 02:02 PM:

Minecraft players who wish to become deranged with envy may click here.

(They followed up by going to Minecon in Las Vegas last fall.)

* * *
A turn from appeal-through-price to appeal-through-quality would be a Good Thing.

Yesterday I plucked what appeared to be a brand new blender out of the trash. While soaking the glass jar and fittings I plugged in the base. The motor roared and the little screw on top spun furiously. Yea! Fancy new blender!

Then I realized that a part was missing. The little screw on top of the base was supposed have a plastic fitting mounted over it.

A similar fitting on the base of the jar would engage with this and in turn spun the blade.

The lower coupler must have broken and been tossed, and in turn the whole blender was tossed when the owners moved.

I checked online. Black & Decker sells a variety of parts, but not the fitting I needed.

So the entire blender is only fit for the trash, unless I spend a lot of effort looking for another broken blender to salvage the part from.

I determined, while looking for the part, that the blender sells new for $20. So there isn't a lot of pressure to actually do the searching, or to fabricate the new part.

This does not strike me as a sustainable model.

#10 ::: Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 02:11 PM:

I guess I'm the only one who was expecting this to be a post about Potent Smokables after the "head full of Zombies"/"Den in Bombay" echoics of the title.

Fortunately, I was mistaken. Which leaves me to note, pace the final pargraph, that there is a significant (if not necessarily large) portion of the world who pretend we are in a post-scarcity economy and are therefore driving toward post-growth.

#11 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 02:22 PM:

I've been playing Terraria, a sort of 2d side-scrolling Minecraft, and enjoying it a lot. I've seen Minecraft but never been able to get into it the same way I do Terraria. Terraria has more of an escalation to it; you start with small monsters and eventually summon bosses. I'm facing the choice of whether or not to fight the Wall of Flesh, which permanently invokes hardmode. My biomes include forest, jungle, snow, desert, ocean, underground things like hell, and corruption, but with hardmode comes the hallow and both it and corruption will spread.

I'm not sure I want that. I already want to go through the world and plant more forests, terrace the mountains so trees grow more readily, pry up all the fallen meteors, and somehow stop wasting all the materials I have to throw away because I ran out of room to carry them. I don't want to unleash spreading biomes that I will then have to contain, especially if simply maintaining them will be difficult. This is my world to take care of, and I named it Garden.

Meanwhile, back home, I haven't weeded anything and there's pruning that desperately needs to be done. But it's interesting how much my real-world mores play out in video games-- they enable me to be the person I want to be.

#12 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 02:53 PM:

A steady-state society that has all of the technology that we think we deserve is difficult to imagine. An agriculturally-based steady-state society might be more possible, but who'd want it? Éamon de Valera suggested one as late as 1943:

The ideal Ireland that we would have, the Ireland that we dreamed of, would be the home of a people who valued material wealth only as a basis for right living, of a people who, satisfied with frugal comfort, devoted their leisure to the things of the spirit – a land whose countryside would be bright with cosy homesteads, whose fields and villages would be joyous with the sounds of industry, with the romping of sturdy children, the contest of athletic youths and the laughter of happy maidens, whose firesides would be forums for the wisdom of serene old age. The home, in short, of a people living the life that God desires that men should live.

but it didn't catch on, indeed caused some embarrassment even at the time. Similary Chesterton's three-acres-and-a-cow fantasies of self-sufficiency.

#13 ::: Christopher Wright ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 02:53 PM:

I misread the first line as "One of my pastimes is playing Minesweeper" and I was both intrigued and terribly confused for the rest of the article. :D

I eventually figured it out. That said, the thought of watching shoals of squid swimming out to the sunset in a game of minesweeper is very striking.

#14 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 03:22 PM:

#9 ::: Stefan Jones :

I have a notion that work for money being taxed (and more skilled work generally being taxed at a higher rate) and using matter not being taxed has something to do with it being so cost-effective to throw things away rather than repair them. Reasonable?

I'm using Firefox, and my personal information evaporated for this new thread.

#15 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 04:54 PM:

Stefan Jones #9: That sort of thing is a consequence not just of our technology, but of how we manage production of things.

Multiple companies competing, mustn't tread on each other's patents... too bad about standardized replacement parts. Brands squabbling for shelf space means no room for such parts, especially sets from all the different vendors. And low-margin sales with tight inventory control, means storing and shipping a part is comparable to the cost of the appliance.

#16 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 05:13 PM:

Christopher Wright @13:

I think you win the thread there.

In other news, my peregrinations today have brought me to the fabled Mushroom Biome, where the dirt is topped with grey-brown fungal growth instead of grass, and all that grow are tree-sized mushrooms, brown and red-spotted. Among their pale trunks gambol mooshrooms: red cattle, each with three mushrooms on its back.


#17 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 05:24 PM:

In addition to a coupler for a Black & Decker blender, I'm also looking for the beaters for a Sunbeam stand mixer, which was left in its box (marked "FREE") out by the dumpsters.

I think I've done my due diligence in visiting three Goodwill stores for beaters . . . those are available in abundance, but with so many models the chances of finding the right ones are small. Fortunately spare parts are widely available online. Almost free stand mixer!

#18 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 05:26 PM:

Steve with a book @ 12:

Actually, most of our current technology is horribly inefficient in terms of generating and distributing useful energy and controlling it so as to get the most efficient use of it. The materials we use for construction, for instance, are very far from the physical limits of strength versus weight, the conversion of chemical to kinetic energy in our transportation systems is far less efficient than it could be1, and we use rare substances like copper and gold for conductors (both heat and electricity) when silicon and carbon are much more common (and will eventually replace them, as soon as we can manufacture them in the proper forms cheaply enough).

The real challenge is to keep things running with a constantly increasing population until we can bring more efficient technologies on line.

1. Proof in principle: There are prototype micro-engines (both steam and stirling-cycle) that could be scaled up by ganging large numbers together. There's no reason in physical law why they could not be shrunk in size so that a few trillion even smaller engines, each burning a molecule of fuel at a time, with a cycle time on the order of hundreds of nanoseconds, could burn as near as matters 100% of the fuel cleanly, and convert the chemical energy to kinetic with perhaps 70 or 80% efficiency.

#19 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 05:26 PM:

Diatryma @11:

My kids play Terraria. (That sounds dismissive. It isn't. They're the ones that got me into Minecraft.)

Does the world continue to update when you're not in the vicinity? I'm finding that one of the disincentives to making improvements to the places I pass in Minecraft is that only my immediate region is updated by the program. So if I plant a seedling and leave the area, when I return it's still a seedling. It reduces the urge to do long-term things and move on.

Basically, there is no place in Minecraft for Johnny Appleseed. (Though as a member of a family heavily involved in the California Native Plants society, I'm obligated to disapprove of someone going around introducing species anyway. Just on principle, you understand.)

It reduces one's feeling of being the shepherd of a world, rather than just one's settled island.

#20 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 05:56 PM:

Bruce Cohen #18: chemical-to-kinetic nanomachines are still 20 years ahead, and may always be. Just for starters, consider that Stefan's discovery of his unrepairable appliance applies even more so to the individual nanomachines! We are making progress, but entropy is an unforgiving referee.

#21 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 06:00 PM:

abi #19: That may be a measure against doing quick sweeps to create huge forests, then going elsewhere to do other stuff while they're growing.

How big is the "vicinity" involved?

#22 ::: Samatha C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 06:04 PM:

Can you create a cache of food or metal or other things on a regular route, to return to? Or perhaps use a beast of burden to go all Mongolian nomad with a yurt?

This game sounds very interesting. Do I need another time-killer until SimCities the new version comes out? Hm.

#23 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 06:08 PM:

David Harmon, 'Entropy is an unforgiving referee' is too good! *stuffs it into bag of proverbs, clearly marked "Harmon, D."*

#24 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 06:10 PM:

I have noticed in recent years that I'm at least as interested in collecting experiences as I am in collecting things (with the notable exceptions of books and beads). Some notable experiences I've collected in the last few years include:

- Participating in the Art Car Parade
- Touring some of the Western national parks
- Riding in a sailplane
- Going to Disneyland*
- Crystal mining in Arkansas, and making jewelry with stones I dug out of the ground and cleaned myself

I wonder if this is a natural consequence of getting older, or whether it has something to do with my attempt to get a handle on my pack-rat tendencies, or both.

* Yes, I know it's a cliche. But I'd never been there, and now I have.

#25 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 06:12 PM:

David Harmon @21:
That may be a measure against doing quick sweeps to create huge forests, then going elsewhere to do other stuff while they're growing.

Actually, I think it's a coding hack designed to reduce the amount of processing the system does per interval. It's not the most efficient bit of programming anyway: running it chews through battery like nobody's business, and requires the fan to run pretty well constantly on my MBA.

How big is the "vicinity" involved?

Something in the region of a 10-chunk radius around one, where a "chunk" is a 16 block square vertical "plug" of world. (The world is 256 blocks deep.)

It's much less than a Minecraft day's journey.

#26 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 06:16 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers)@18: as-good-as-possible energy efficiency is great, but I don't think it guarantees sustainability. It might mean that everyone's able to do terrible things with maximum efficiency. In the hypothetical steady-state hi-tech society, there must surely be a strong imperative to avoid causing trouble with technology out of ignorance or malice, and there are no tech fixes for these. Running out of fuel is only one of the possible disasters in front of us.

#27 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 06:20 PM:

Samantha C @22:
Can you create a cache of food or metal or other things on a regular route, to return to? Or perhaps use a beast of burden to go all Mongolian nomad with a yurt?

There aren't beasts of burden in Minecraft, but I could certainly create caches. But I don't particularly want to, because one of the pleasures of this peregrine life is not knowing where I am. That, too, is something I've let go of.

I have more than enough carrying capacity for everything I need. The challenge is making the distinction between that and...not even want, really, but just see and pick up unthinkingly.

It's rather like going to the fridge to graze, rather than eating when hungry and stopping when satisfied.

(And yes, you may very well want this game.)

#28 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 07:10 PM:

Arrgghhh . . .

Dear Sunbeam Appliances:

Why can I order a RIGHT beater blade for my stand mixer, but not the LEFT beater blade?

#29 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 07:21 PM:

David Harmon @ 20:

I wasn't saying we're close to developing efficient nanomachinery, just that it's physically possible to do so (just like Drexler's designs for nanotech are proof of principle to show that the laws of physics don't prevent them). Whether and when we can build them is quite up in the air, and I have some doubt that we can build them before we run out of resources we need to keep civilization going.

Steve with a book @ 27:

No question, technology isn't the gating item for establishment of a steady-state civilization (or for that matter, for survival of the human race until we can establish one). We somehow need to convince a large part of the human race that

  • a) steady-state is possible without subjugating or enslaving some portion of humanity,

  • b) steady-state is desirable for them personally even in the relatively short term, i.e., that they'll get something out of it, and

  • c) their own long term benefit and that of their descendants is dependent on creating a steady-state society.

#30 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 07:38 PM:

Stefan Jones:

I hope this isn't too hlepy, but have you tried They're generally good for parts for things like blenders (I've bought Cuisinart parts from them for less than Cuisinart sells them), and I know they do carry Sunbeam parts.

Standard Rant: It seems that the internet has killed off the local small appliance parts and repair stores. There used to be three of them within a short drive from my house, and all of them seem to have folded up and blown away. Not cool.

#31 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 08:16 PM:

More generally, I think we're getting a society where if you want to buy something the least bit unusual (don't get me started about that cell phone charger), you have to buy it by mail order.

This seems weirdly regressive-- isn't it like being in one of those isolated farming communities where Sears Roebuck was a big deal?

#32 ::: little pink beast ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 09:41 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers)@30: I don't think it's the internet that's done that. Modern appliances aren't nearly as repairable as older things - even toasters have microchips, things are plasticwelded together, everything is really tiny and integrated. Small shops just can't get the tools and skills needed to work on so many specialised items - iPods, flatscreen TVs all the sleek little modern things. Look at how cars went from things that the village blacksmith could fix, to requiring special diagnostic computers... that's happened to appliances, only more so. Lots of things are even designed to be specifically hard to repair - repairing them doesn't get the manufacturer money like selling a new one does, and warranty things can just be handled with replacements.

That's another thing we're going to have to work on for sustainability - getting companies to stop making planned-obsolescent, hard-to-repair items just to boost their short-term bottom line. Even recycling is much less efficient than repairing and continuing to use, and that's less efficient than making things to last in the first place.

#33 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 10:41 PM:

@Bruce: Thanks . . . that's one of the places I looked. It IS a very comprehensive source, but they're in the same boat at many of the other parts outlets I searched through. They have the RIGHT beater, but not the left.

#34 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 11:33 PM:

Getting back to Minecraft:

I can't find it now, but there's an interesting graphic out there comparing the sizes of various fictional worlds, including the Ringworld and such. As I recall, the Minecraft world was huge, a flat plat bigger than Neptune.


In an interview at Stumptown Comic Fest yesterday, Peter Bagge described "walking" through the once-hot Second Life secondary world. It is apparently a virtual ghost town . . . but a glorious one, full of huge and elaborate buildings created by players. The ephemeral nature of virtual worlds is a impediment to my playing in them.

#35 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 12:16 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 34: I was at Stumptown Comics Fest yesterday, too. I got some great books, and after meeting Nate Powell and Greg Rucka, I'm an even bigger fan than I was before.

What I thought was funny is that I had several people compliment me on my jacket, and refer to Wolverine. The fabric is slashed in an artful manner, but I'm pretty sure that the designer was not thinking about comic books!

#36 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 12:46 AM:

Abi, Terraria does update some things-- I once planted a hill with trees and then was sad they didn't grow, but it turns out they'll grow in a few game-days if you actually know where to plant them. Partly inspired by this post and not actually wanting to fight the Wall of Flesh and invoke Hardmode, I've been working on a skybridge/meteor shield. So far, it stretches across all three of my sky islands, but there's still a lot of world to go. Some plants have already popped up on the bridge, and I plan to put trees on it as well. Then I'll terrace and smooth out parts of the world I tend to get stuck in, and plant more trees.

So yeah, plants will grow. No domestication except of NPCs, and they don't count.

And I don't think 'my kids play that' is dismissive at all. I am not a Minecraft person. I can't make sense of the visuals. Terraria is much easier to follow, plus it has a goblin army.

#37 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 02:18 AM:

Stefan @34

The averages mean that actual connected players are spread pretty thin in Second Life, and there seem to be some limits to the total they can support without problems.

Much of the place is, at any particular time, just empty of people. And some of the places which are busy can be of quite limited appeal.

Raglan Shire is one of the more active spots, very friendly. They also have a presence in the rival InWorldz virtual world. They're good people.

#38 ::: Doug Burbidge ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 02:53 AM:

Stefan Jones @28: can I suggest you email Sunbeam and ask? (Because I'm thinking it can't be intentional.) If the answer is interesting, you may wish to report back.

#39 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 04:12 AM:

Stefan's mixer troubles remind me that I should probably find some way to link this writeup to my effusion a couple of years ago on the topic of Deep Value.

Look, I just did.

#40 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 09:18 AM:

The joys of travel pall after a while: the quest for novelty itself grows old. On a solitary world, there aren’t the other riches we seek in real life, the friendships, love, knowledge, and wisdom that aren’t accounted for in the inventory popup.

ObSF: this post reminded me, for no good reason, of the Langford short "A Land of Sand and Ruin and Gold"...

#41 ::: Kate Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 10:34 AM:

I find that the games where I have certain goals and once they're achieved, the game starts losing appeal are the games where I don't have any trouble leaving tempting resources behind. The games where I feel like my little avatar is alive and needs to plan for the future are the ones where I have a tendency to hoard resources.

Slightly tangentially, I used to play an online game called Ultima Online. It's long gone now*, but I've always wished they'd release a standalone "build a house!" version. It was a pretty standard fantasy-world game where you could fight monsters to get gold (or mine for ore or chop trees for wood or kill deer for leather, etc). But you could also build a house to keep your stuff in, which at the time was really unusual in online games.

At first the houses were standard; you paid a certain amount of gold, found a spot big enough, and generated the house. Then they introduced customized housing, and it was AMAZING! They had all kinds of wall types, roof types, floor types, foundation types, different staircases and windows, even grass and dirt tiles you could lay down to make courtyards and gardens. When you finished the house, you could decorate it with all your stuff--and UO was full of stuff, from furniture carpenters could make to hanging herbs that thieves could steal from certain in-town shops.

It really was an amazing game-within-a-game that I miss far more than anything else about UO. I haven't been able to get interested in any other online game since, mostly because I want to play house as a major component rather than defeat bad guys and monsters. Minecraft sounds fun, but the screenshots I've seen of it make it look blocky and not very appealing visually.

*As far as I know. I don't like to think about its demise so I haven't looked online to find out for sure, but I was 27 years old when I played in the beta and I'm 42 years old now, so I doubt very much it's lasted that long.

#42 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 10:58 AM:

Kate Shaw: You should look at "Vanguard, Saga of Heroes". You can level in crafting independently of beating things up, and there's player housing that can be crafted by players. It's nifty.

#43 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 11:43 AM:

Kate Shaw @41: The Sims might scratch that itch for you. It's playing dollhouse, with some rudimentary AI on the part of the dolls (and attached 'questy' goals to give you something to do if you run out of ideas).

A lot of people have come up with independent things to go for, outside what the game suggests; once they let your Sims have kids that would grow up to be adult breedable sims, people started playing 'Legacy challenge' games, where you start with one base-level Sim and take it through seven generations, keeping track of 'scoring' achievements like how many of the different career paths you finished, how many different ways your player-character sims have died, etc. Then on your seventh-gen PC when they get to a certain age you stop and grade yourself. :->

#44 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 01:40 PM:

On the question of a post-scarcity society: I think there's a potential for a legacy-motivated society, once we get past survival and acquisition. Or maybe, as the way in which we get past survival and acquisition, and also as a continuing drive going forward.

#45 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 01:40 PM:

Kate Shaw @41:
Ultima Online appears to still be there, if I can trust search engines. (Doesn't prove it isn't a ghost town.)

#46 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 03:21 PM:

> Minecraft sounds fun, but the screenshots I've seen of it make it look blocky and not very appealing visually.

I had this reaction the first time I saw it. My take is that one might benefit by spending a few minutes gazing at Mondrians before playing for the first time. For me, it wasn't long before I came to appreciate how nice it was to see a square sun, rising through the clouds, over a blocky archipelago, many chunks out to sea.

p.s. I play hardcore vegan. Yes, I have had my world end because I accidentally injured a wolf and couldn't run to safety. No, I still haven't made a nether portal yet.

#47 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 03:26 PM:

I should also mention that the Minecraft Wiki has an interesting page on Alternative Experiences for the game.

#48 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 08:59 PM:

j h woodyatt #47: Gaah, i got wikitranced, and I don't even play Minecraft!

#49 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 10:06 PM:

Kate Shaw @41: And here's a link to the Ultima Online homepage -- they brag about being one of the earliest and they appear to still be adding material. The front-of-site page is at least somewhat active (and they appear to have a free-play-for-a-while option).

#50 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2012, 11:30 PM:

#32, #30, on small appliances now being so disposable:

All the things I buy from Switzerland are remarkably user-maintainable; they (left-handed ergonomic pruning shears; pressure cooker; etc) come with an exploded diagram with parts numbers. Now, this may be because these objects are Vimes' Boots, but I don't know any consumer objects in the States that do this.

I've been checking for the limits of take-back laws in Switzerland, but haven't found them. Of course, US states have trouble holding to take-back for electronics, so I don't know how we'd get there from here anyway.

#51 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2012, 12:12 AM:

I dug through my drawer of kitchen gadgets today and came up with two sets of beaters that didn't fit my current hand blender (or the salvaged Sunbeam stand blender).

Which reminds me that:

I burned out TWO previous hand blenders. One was from a thrift store. The other, a cheap $10 "brand name that used to mean something" model purchased at Walgreen's. I killed them mixing cookie dough, as I recall. It simply doesn't pay to get cheap.

The Oster I have now seems to be built to last.

I'll add the beaters to the stock at Goodwill.

#52 ::: B.Loppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2012, 12:20 AM:

Glitch ( is a game you might be interested in if you like open-ended, sandboxy games. It's an MMO but is not conflict based in any way - no fighting monsters in the game environment or other players. It is played in your browser and is free to play but some of the vanity upgrades cost money - although nothing that affects gameplay is requires money. Everyone plays in the same world, and there are some limited aspects of the world that players have control over - like what trees are planted where. Your changes persist in the world until someone else changes them to something else.

In some aspects, it's an experiment in community building in a post-scarcity situation where the only way to modify other players' behaviour is to talk to them or block them. There are no real quests - most of the quests are either little games or aim to get you to learn to use a new skill or equipment. It does now have customizable housing, including a front yard that's open to everyone, your house, and a back yard that for you and keyholders you designate alone.

It's also adorable, but also aimed at a mature audience. It's quirky - there are both eggs and chickens in the game, but you squeeze the chickens to get grain and pluck the eggs from egg plants, which only grow in the dark. Milk is harvested from butterflies, but only after massaging them properly with butterfly massage lotion. It's also a side-scroller, so the movement is like play Mario rather than 3D like Second Life.

The game is (back) in beta and is about to undergo a significant transformation in a basic game mechanic, but two weeks from now is probably an excellent time to start playing.

#53 ::: Wrenlet ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2012, 09:12 AM:

Ahhhh Glitch, holder of most of my free time lately. There is one slight fighting aspect to it, Rooks are designated "enemies of imagination" and will periodically launch an attack against a street, players can cooperate to defeat them. But unless the devs are feeling frisky1 your chance of wandering into an attack are fairly low, players who have the Rook-fighting skills cobbled together an alert system so they can teleport wherever they're needed.

Players can form groups for different purposes and change up the gameplay for themselves and others, Sandbox has been a little quiet lately but they'll seed random places with notes about "secret missions," and sometimes band together for public activities, flash-mob style. Screenshot-based scavenger hunts are also popular.

The new housing mechanism has changed the dynamic a bit. Your house used to be tied to a physical location in the game, your "address," so there was a time and/or energy cost to go home if you'd left a needed tool or supply there. The new houses are accessible from anywhere, without the teleport energy drain or waiting period, so there's less incentive to carry everything you even think you'll need on your person. And house ownership is now automatic; one of the challenges as a new player was balancing the need to buy more inventory slots, vs. saving up for housing, and houses with different features and resources available had different costs.

But even with periodic engineered scarcities -- Zilloween happens about every two months, and everyone wants fireflies for their lanterns -- it's definitely a world of abundance. Much like the Minecraft alternate experiences, you can choose to, for instance, never learn the cooking skills and only consume raw harvestables, or never buy/use a house, or intentionally keep your mood low so you don't gain XP and rarely level up.

The upcoming game switch -- from XP to spendable imagination -- is liable to toss some gameplay strategies out the window. Fun ride :)

1 One of the regions used to be "half-imagined" and marked on the map as having a high risk of Rook attack, most attacks used to happen here. Then when the devs were ready to have players build out that region and another new one, Rooks launched simultaneous attacks across the face of the game, 3 attacks at a time, new attack as soon as another one was defeated, for... an hour? Hour and a half? A long time, it was kinda nuts. Then we got street projects to help build the regions.

... I know too much about this :D

#54 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2012, 08:32 PM:

I was amused by the juxtaposition of Bruce Cohen's 29, 30 - first talking about nanomachinery being possible, then (page down, forget who posted previous comment), "Have you tried"

#55 ::: Kate Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2012, 08:53 PM:

Oh. My. Gawd. UO is still around. terrified I'll take it up again and have no time left to do anything else. :)

#56 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2012, 01:39 AM:

I found a source for beaters for my salvaged stand mixer. ""

This is the only source that sold the pair of beaters together . . . which appears to be the only way to get the left beater.

The shipping was nearly ten bucks, but they appear to be the only place that had them. Searching for the part number brought up this site, plus lots of those automatically generated sites ("you have found your 115969-23 at").

#57 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 12:08 AM:

clew @50:
Some used to. I think many used to at one point; I grew up with a remarkable number of household items coming with parts diagrams, schematics and such, although it was clearly dying out under the relentless onslaught of the disposable society by the time I was a teen.

#58 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 03:20 PM:

I often ponder pre-Cook Australia as possibly the most technically advanced human society on the planet. I mean, there's a lot to be said for being able to get through you day with nothing but* the stuff growing around you, a knife and a stick or two you carry with you, and the songs your elders taught you that tell you how to get from here to there.

* I am doubtless displaying mortifying ignorance of the realities of un-Europeanized Aboriginal culture.

#59 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2012, 07:01 PM:

little pink beast @32: That's another thing we're going to have to work on for sustainability - getting companies to stop making planned-obsolescent, hard-to-repair items just to boost their short-term bottom line. Even recycling is much less efficient than repairing and continuing to use, and that's less efficient than making things to last in the first place.

I've been thinking for a while now that we'll probably have to start regulating this at the point of production: where will the item go when its service life has ended? Like the regulated deposits on soda bottles in some states.

I also speculate about the notion of open-source, modular design for non-virtual widgets. The whole 3D stereolithography strikes me as being a really luscious solution still searching for problems.

#60 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2012, 12:28 AM:

Today's trashure:

I'm donating it all.

#61 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2012, 03:50 AM:

Also relevant, via BoingBoing: photos of people living off the grid.

The people in the middle group of those photos make me realize how many of my values in this area stem from the time my parents seriously considered dropping off the grid themselves, in a cabin in the Northern California mountains. Somewhere in those years, I learned to hunger for something that wasn't being advertised in between Saturday morning cartoons.

#62 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2012, 09:00 AM:

clew @50, geekosaur @57:

Re: parts diagrams. More than a year ago I bought a rowing machine[1]; the manual included an exploded parts diagram with numbered parts which referenced a parts list. Some assembly was required, and the instructions for each sub-assembly was illustrated with its own exploded parts diagram with the parts labeled by number.

There were instructions for contacting customer service for replacement parts if any parts were missing or defective; replacement parts would be provided for free within the 90 day warranty period.

After some months, I thought a pair of the plastic bushings were getting worn[2], and called customer service to see about getting replacements. As I was outside of the warranty period, I expected either: a) parts would not be made available, or b) they would be ridiculously priced — on the 'car parts' model, I half-expected to be quoted a price of $35 for each of these bushings. Instead, they were only $1 each; and they didn't make up the difference by adding inflated shipping and handling costs either.

[1] Made by Stamina Products. Springfield Missouri is the address given for the company, although I believe the rowing machine is manufactured in China (doesn't say so in the manual; maybe I read that in one of the reviewers comments on Amazon)[3].

[2] The machine was making 'cloncking' sounds I thought were attributed to wear on the bushings. Once I had the replacement parts on hand and took the machine apart, I found the original bushings were not worn. Tightening up various bolts was all I needed to do to resolve the problem.

[3] I would have preferred to buy the machine locally even if I ended up paying more for it, but none of the stores which Google suggested carried it actually had one in stock.

#63 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2012, 10:06 AM:

Jacque @ 59

I've been thinking for a while now that we'll probably have to start regulating this at the point of production: where will the item go when its service life has ended? Like the regulated deposits on soda bottles in some states.

Doesn't Germany do that now?

It does seem to me to be a good idea. (I've argued for a long time that the motor oil system--sell it, and you must take it back and dispose of it properly--is the best for items that are harmful if improperly disposed of.)

#64 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2012, 02:05 AM:

Bill Stewart @ 54:

Appliances that small are very hard to find in the kitchen gadget drawer.

#65 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 04:44 PM:

Abi, I want you to know I blame you for getting me into Minecraft... at least, even though I'd been hearing about it for a while, you explained it well enough for me to realize it's exactly the sort of game I was looking for. :-~

It took me three or four games to get a groove going. (One game started me in the middle of the ocean! I actually did survive, but kept losing my hard won equipment by dying in screwy places.) In my current game, I started on a beach a jungle biome, giving me godawful resources, and I've been doing pretty well. I've so far:
* Gotten to iron armour and tools.
* wood-mined some massive jungle-trees.
* Tamed an ocelot.
* Gone exploring along the coast.
* Built a wheat farm, prepping for the next item (but yeah, I'm stockpiling bread).
* having realized I didn't have any chickens locally, I went a ways down the coast (different biome!) and brought some back.
* Built a pen for the chickens and some cows (I probably shouldn't have put it on my roof, but I haven't cleared much space. Again: jungle, beach.)
* Finally acquired enough strings from spiders (!) to make a bed. (No sheep locally either - haven't seen one yet.)
* And now, finally found some Redstone Ore -- nearly a stack of dust! It may be a while before I can play with it too much, though....
* I may actually wait until I have enough strings for another bed (I'm getting better at fighting the spiders), but next up is... the Sheep Quest!

In all of this, the Minecraft Wiki has been invaluable...

#66 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 05:05 PM:

David Harmon @65:

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Also, welcome!

The scrub in the jungle is oak scrub, even if it has jungle-tree blocks in it. Furthermore, leaves die if they're not in close proximity to wood. As they decay, a certain proportion of them turn into saplings, and another proportion of them turn into apples. The practical upshot of this is that you can get more apples than the Pevensie kids rediscovering Cair Paravel by chopping through scrub to the wood blocks and harvesting those, then waiting for the surrounding leaves to decay.

Don't use a tool to chop through leaves -- it'll wear it out without gaining you any advantage in terms of effort. Use a block of wood, or an apple, or any other thing that doesn't wear out.

I had not known that you could make wool from string. I'll remember that when I'm sheep-short, or haven't yet found iron for shears (veggie, remember, but I'll still kill hostile mobs).

I remain tempted to start a Making Light server. As though I don't have enough to do.

#67 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2012, 07:57 PM:

Abi at #19
Does the world continue to update when you're not in the vicinity?

There once was a man who said, "God
Must think it exceedingly odd
That the juniper tree
Just ceases to be
When there's no one about in the quad"

#68 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 09:18 AM:

abi #66: And of course, after posting that I died inaccessibly twice in succession: Way down in the mines (and couldn't get back there in time), and again in deep water (you'd think I'd learn:-( ).

Interestingly, I died at night and the bed (unlike the base spawn point) didn't wake me until morning. Regardless, deep-diving the area didn't pick up any items, like last time.

Time to make some new iron items (again :-( ) -- I'm going to be out of iron, but I know where to get more thanks to my deep-delving. And I just did a sugarcane farm, so now I'll have a map and... well, no logbook -- the Wiki mentions it, but apparently that needs a development release of the game.

Now waytheheck along the coast with a new map,collecting wool from the local sheep and mining near a scary-deep ravine (I can see water *and* lava way down there, and already had to fence off a couple of hazardous edges.)

#69 ::: David Harmon been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 09:18 AM:

not sure why, written in haste.

[A comma with no space following it. -- Perverin Iseult, Duty Gnome]

#70 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 05:32 PM:

BTW, Minecraft has made walking the dog slightly more surreal... the main dog-walking field has¹ several species of tall grass that are strikingly reminiscent of MC wheat and grass, neighboring a wooded area whose shapes recall the MC jungle scene.

Weirdly, today in that field I found a dead fish. Perhaps 6 inches long, gray-and-black tinged with red -- I got a photo, but was fairly preoccupied with keeping Gracie away from it. (Though in fact, she didn't seem to have registered it as a potential meal.) Possibly this was a side-effect of the work they're doing to reroute my local creek (said work being staged from a a hundred feet or two away away), but I'm still having trouble figuring how that would work.

¹ Well, yesterday they mowed *and apparently harvested) most of it, but there's still tall grass around the edges. They did this at least once last year too.

#71 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 05:50 PM:

David Harmon, re rain of (one) fish, I think a likely explanation is that a predator dropped it there. Otters, raccoons, ospreys, snakes, snapping turtles, the occasional cat, herons, egrets, etc. are all quite capable of removing a fish from its habitat, and then dropping it when startled or attacked by another predator who'd like a free fish. (I myself have startled a red water snake into abandoning a fish it was, rather optimistically, lining up to swallow on the bank of the pond in one of our local parks.)

Also, small children have been known to catch fish and sometimes abandon them. I used to throw them back, but hey.

#72 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 06:34 PM:

abi @ 66: Would it make me a Bad Friend if I made big hopeful eyes at the very thought of a Making Light server for Minecraft?

Theoretically speaking.

#73 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 07:14 PM:

David at 70, unless she was quite hungry, I suspect she would not recognize a dead fish as food. A dead fish is mainly a Glorious Smelly Thing upon which a dog may roll, and which may be Played With in any number of wonderful ways, which may or may not require the participation of humans.

(My fish. MY fish!)

#74 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 09:38 PM:

Current game: Dammit, another pair of deaths¹, falling into the ravine ². Another full set of iron equipment gone, plus my maps. I still have a lot of wood and other raw materials, and most of this forest, (plus the adjacent desert) but I've mined a lot of the more exposed iron, it's going to be a PITA gathering enough for armour and sword (24 ingots for armour, another 2 for sword, then 3 more for pickax if I hope to get the advanced minerals.)

Also, I'm having real trouble with filling up my inventory... too many different drops, blocks, and other stuff.

¹ I'm noticing a pattern here, of getting killed while trying to recover my equipment... thus losing my second-best equipment.

(at least once,I'm pretty sure my pet wolf pushed me :-( )

#75 ::: David Harmon, gnomed again ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 09:38 PM:

Oy vey....

#76 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 09:57 PM:

If you played this game in groups rather than solo, would it be a gemineshaft?

#77 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 10:08 PM:

clew at #50:

Somehow the idea of an exploded view of a pressure cooker sounds dangerous.

#78 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 10:13 PM:

Erik Nelson at # 76: If the publishers used it in a scheme to charge the players more, it would be a gesellshaft.

#79 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2012, 01:50 AM:

Ob Bob Newhart:

If the game was run by a bunch of monkeys with typewriters it would be a gesornemplatz.

#80 ::: Omri ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2012, 09:48 PM:

Adapting to a post-growth economy should not be all that hard. That's what we were living in until the Industrial Revolution. Entire religions formed that represented the world in a steady state, and even the linear-progress-towards-an-eschaton view in Christianity is oen that Christians can set aside pretty easily.

We got used to talking about growth because of the Great Depression. It was a time when the advent of the oil age made growth possible, and therefore any period when it wasn't happening was one that was caused by social dysfunction. So it became a legislated part of the function of government to measure economic output, and take action to fix things when output wasn't rising.

Now we're at the oil peak. From now on, a lack of growth is not a sign of dysfunction. I think we can wrap our heads around that notion.

#81 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2012, 11:47 AM:

An ML minecraft server would be neato keen! Especially since I'm pretty sure I had a life1 before abi led the way to iniquity with the tweets and posts talking about it.

It is just freaky the way when a zombie bangs on my front door at ground level, I hear it as right in my ear when several levels down. I haven't tamed anything yet; I saw an ocelot but spiders have been scarce, so no string, and so no fishing pole to catch fish. It'd probably just knock me off a cliff, too.

But I did make a boat! And set sail in a new morn for a better island, passing cliffs where zombies caught fire and burned.

This is a weird game.

1 OK, maybe lying a little here.

#82 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2012, 02:52 PM:

Omri @80

The people running things are the ones who have been benefiting from growth, and thinking themselves fine fellows for doing so. Yes, with all their expertise, the things they plan grow no faster than average, and their increase comes from stealing growth from others.

I can see growth ceasing, a steady state, a time of wealth and power and freedom, and I can see the robber barons of today stealing it from the rest of us. After all they are the people who obviously deserve what they get.

Sometimes it is no fun seeing the future.

#83 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 03:48 PM:

pericat #81: It is just freaky the way when a zombie bangs on my front door at ground level, I hear it as right in my ear when several levels down.

Yeah, but they are louder when it's from inside your fortress!

I gave up on that last world after YA expensive death, but my new game is going even better!

Started in a forest... with open ravines all over the place, giving easy access to the underground. Lots of iron and coal about! I fenced off the entrance and depths of one of those for my lair... then it turned out that said depths offer access to some sort of Epic Abandoned Mineshaft. I mean seriously, this thing is sprawling through the underground, on multiple levels. No chests yet, but I haven't come near clearing the whole thing.
And then that opens into what has to be an Epic Cavern -- the base of a world-splitting ravine, close enough to bedrock for redstone, diamonds, oh yes, and lava.

Of course, there have been distractions -- mostly travel (taiga next door on the west, barren jungle way to the south, mountains to the east, sea ice to the north) and farming (wheat and chickens first, but I got sheep from the taiga). I've been using bone meal a fair bit: for jungle saplings (2×2 for a giant tree), and farming Huge Mushrooms (that was tricky -- it's also how I got a zombie inside my fortress, by leaving a dark closet next to the dim Mush Room).

And now, I just made and mined enough obsidian for an Enchantment Table and Nether Gate. Fooling around with buckets in the Epic Cavern showed me where to get more too.... I didn't even get myself killed while doing it! ;-)

I'm even learning to avoid carrying non-essentials into the field, notably by field-bootstrapping from wood chunks or planks to Crafting Table, which lets me make crates and tools on the spot. I've died a few times, but only one of those was really annoying, and by that point I could easily afford to replace the iron equipment.

#84 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 03:51 PM:

Can one swim in Minecraft? I've died a few times now by falling into a river or lake and simply being unable to get back out.

#85 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 04:46 PM:

> Can one swim in Minecraft?

Yes, the same way as trying to jump. One may also dig while underwater, as long as one hasn't run out of breath yet, which is measured by the little blue bubbles over the drumsticks.

#86 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 05:23 PM:

Huh. I couldn't jump out of the water. I tried repeatedly, in two different worlds.

#87 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 08:00 PM:

David @ 83: Damn, you're doing tons better than I am. I may need to just pick up stakes and head for a new island, one with chickens. I want feathers; I like using bows much more than swords.

Carrie @ 86: you swim by holding down the jump button. Took me a while to figure that out.

#88 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 08:33 PM:

I will arise and go now, and get on the internet
and a small cabin build there, of virtual materials made...

#89 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 06:51 AM:

Carrie S. #84: Amending JH's comment: digging blocks while completely underwater is very slow, and for anything but sand and such, you may not finish before you run out of breath. Jumping out of the water... you need a water-level or 1-lower block to jump onto, and you also need to move forward while jumping.

pericat: Yeah, and of course you need bows to actually kill creepers, instead of just running away from them. (The area around my base still looks like a minefield from all the creeper explosions.... I just moved my goodies into deeper rooms for added safety.)

For chickens, remember that holding wheat will make them (also cows, sheep, pigs) follow you, and the chickens especially will happily follow you in a boat across water (just don't outrun them).

I'm doing pretty well now, but it did take me several games to get the hand of it, and possibly a "good world".

#90 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 07:56 AM:

You can kill creepers with a sword, if you're cool-headed about it.

Strike the creeper, then take a step back. It'll bounce backward, hiss a little, and not explode. Then it'll advance again. Strike and retreat again. Four blows and you've got yourself some gunpowder.

Alternatively, lead it into water. Then you don't have to retreat, because it bounces that little bit further back. Just keep treading water (jumping) with no direction button pushed (so you're not swimming).

Also, this is a useful piece of Minecraft culture (if it's to your taste).

#91 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 08:04 AM:

The quality of the world really does matter. The boy's roommate was playing Terraria at the same time I was, and his world was terrible-- metal was hard to find, he had only the minimum number of sky islands, and he just couldn't get the monsters to drop rare items. My world had every biome, including snow, the maximum number of sky islands, and I ended up with a lot of random interesting things-- I've picked up two top hats from the Groom and I ran into Dr Bones very early. The roommate at one point planned to flood Hell to get rid of the lava, but he didn't have enough water... and my oceans are easily big enough. But my plan has been to pave Hell rather than flooding it. I don't want to cause that kind of ecological mayhem.

#92 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 12:33 PM:

David Harmon@84: To dig underwater, bring along a door. Place it on the bottom of the water. You get a 1x1x2 high block of air, which you can stand in, and dig at normal rates, and not worry about drowning. It's how you build things underwater.

The obvious way to build under water would be to put up walls around the area you want to build in, clear out the water, build your stuff, and then take down the walls. Unfortunately, Minecraft water isn't smart enough to cope... my ocean has a huge hole in it now, with what SHOULD be an underwater base sitting dry at the bottom.

#93 ::: Craig ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 12:43 PM:

Just started my first game of Minecraft... you evil, evil people :-)

Wound up in a large tundra/taiga biome, walked in one direction and hit a jungle. Neither one has any iron, even after digging 30 steps deep in my hidey-hole. Lots of livestock, fair bit of coal, no iron. Grr.

#94 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 01:18 PM:

mfgates @92:
Unfortunately, Minecraft water isn't smart enough to cope... my ocean has a huge hole in it now, with what SHOULD be an underwater base sitting dry at the bottom.

You, grasshopper, need to master the Art of the Water Bucket. I can't guarantee that you can fill your underwater base with still water, but you should be able to fill it with water.

#95 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 02:51 PM:

mfgates #92: Cute... Have you tried waking it up with a Redstone Torch?

#96 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 02:55 PM:

I need to learn how to make glass, so my house can have proper windows, and then I'm going to start carving out my mountain-palace. I think there's going to be at least one Mines-of-Moria-esque hall with pillars and stuff.

#97 ::: Carrie S. has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 02:56 PM:

Why thank you, I will have some tea.

#98 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 03:32 PM:

By the way, returning to the original post:

an entire hill covered in torches; a fountain taller than the trees around it. But even that activity is transformed: not only do I have fewer resources to make things with, but when I’m done with them I walk on and leave them behind

You can also record their coordinates and share the save file...

#99 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 03:48 PM:

Carrie S @96:

You make glass by smelting sand.

#100 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2012, 04:22 PM:

Diatryma at 91: I just spent some delightful moments gazing at the wall (instead of the computer screen) ruminating on the ecology of hell. Thanks for the break!

#101 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2012, 08:52 AM:

Last night I mined my first ever diamond. I did this by digging a spiral stair down to the bedrock and working outward.

I have two diamond bits now. Which is not enough to make a pickaxe so I can mine obsidian which I need to make a Nether Portal so I can get the glowstone I want to decorate my great big hall.

This game is going to kill me.

#102 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2012, 10:42 AM:

Carrie S. #101: You don't need diamonds to make a portal. When water falls upon a lava source, the latter is converted to obsidian. Therefore, you can use this procedure:

  1. Obtain at least one bucket (requiring three ingots of iron); more buckets will save trips to haul lava.
  2. Find a lava pool (all caves which reach a sufficient depth will terminate in such) or otherwise ten lava sources.
  3. Repeat the following steps to construct the form of a portal (the interior of the obsidian ring should be three blocks high and two wide; corner blocks are not required):
  4. Use any blocks to create a box to keep the lava from flowing where you don't want it. (This is not strictly necessary.)
  5. Use a bucket to pour lava exactly where you want the obsidian.
  6. Use a bucket to place water where it will fall onto the lava from above. (Do not click on the same place as the lava is, as this may replace it.)
  7. Remove the water and the casing blocks.

Here's an adequate video of the process (no affiliation, just found from a search). Contrary to the narration, you only need 10 blocks, not 14, but you can do it that way if you like the look better.

#103 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2012, 11:08 AM:

Huh, I hadn't thought of doing it that way--basically casting the obsidian in place. I know where to get lava. Thanks!

#104 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2012, 11:44 AM:

I never tend to last long in the Nether. I've never made it back with any glowstone. In the end, I've given up and use Jack O'Lanterns (face turned inward) for my glowing blocks of light.

#105 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2012, 11:49 AM:

Abi @ 104... I never tend to last long in the Nether


#106 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2012, 02:47 PM:

Carrie S. #101: While I've tried quarrying¹ the lower depths a fair bit, I've gotten way more redstone than diamonds that way. I think you actually do better just exploring the underground and looking for "exposed"² veins. Diamonds are still vanishingly rare, though.... I had a diamond pickaxe and sword for a while, but then I got lost (and eventually mobbed) in said underground. :-( I haven't replaced them since, but I've accumulated a handful of diamonds since, so I might redo the pickaxe at least.

I did bring home almost two stacks of obsidian before that little misadventure, though! Tip: still lava turns to obsidian under water, while flows turn to cobblestone. Lava lakes tend to be still lava, and that's a lot of obsidian! Especially if you wanted to cross them, or just neuter them, anyway. You can also fill lava buckets from still lava, but that will make much of the surrounding lava start flowing.

I haven't had the nerve to hit the Nether yet, as I'm still feeling distinctly threatened in the Overworld's underground. I've only occasionally managed to make Abi's creeper-fighting method work, even....

Tips for the underground:
*If you're seeing little motes in the air (like the bubbles underwater) you're close to bedrock.
* Watch out for rivers winding up out of sight, they can be conveyor belts for monsters spawned in many levels of darkness.
* Slimes are good XP, and they only spawn in certain chunks. When you find such a chunk, feel free to hollow out some big rooms to farm them.
* Don't get greedy: If you can't reach it safely, don't try. A lot of problems can be handled -- dam or flood the lava first, or build someplace to stand -- but hanging out by cliff edges is a good way to lose your prize equipment.
* Sit your wolf or cat when you're working near a precipice or lava. They do shove....
* And, of course, don't dig straight down. ;-)

¹ Defined as methodically excavating huge amounts of rock in hopes of finding ore.

² Including anything that was under/behind dirt and/or gravel, which are way faster to clear away than rock. You still need to watch out for sudden gaps, water or lava flows, and such.

#107 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2012, 11:51 AM:

#106: Nitpickery: Whether lava is visibly flowing has nothing to do with whether it turns into obsidian.

Every fluid block is either a source block, or is flow off of a source block. Source blocks can be picked up with buckets, and lava source blocks turn into obsidian when wetted; all other blocks act "not there" to a bucket. A source block acts as a block with the highest possible fluid level.

The visual flowing effect on the surfaces of fluids is only determined by the relative fluid level between two blocks. Example 1: If you have a still lava pool, then removing one block will cause all the neighboring blocks to flow into it, so they will all have flowing surfaces, while still being sources. Example 2: any fluid block with symmetrical surroundings will be still on top, because the flows cancel out.

When you find a lava lake, every single one of the blocks in it is a lava source which you can convert to obsidian. However, when you have partially emptied it the remaining flows can make it unclear which ones are source blocks.

#108 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2012, 01:43 PM:

Lava and water don't behave the same.

Case in point: you can create a perpetual water source by creating a 2x2 container and putting a bucket's worth of water in two opposing corners. The water surface will go level and still, and you can take buckets of water out forever.

If you do the same thing with lava, it doesn't go still. And you can only take two bucketfulls out: the two you put in in the first place. (Sometimes the lava doesn't go away after you take both bucketfulls out, but it's flowing lava and can't be used to do anything other than destroy stuff or make cobblestones.)

Also, you can't pick up flowing water in a bucket.

Although lava and water share some visuals (the flowing/still dynamic, the way they look as the fall over surfaces), they don't share bucket behavior. I suspect they don't share code, either.

#109 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 12:24 PM:

It looks like the seed that formed my current world has stood everything on end. I don't seem to have passages to explore, but instead chasms, and the land masses are tiny pointy islands poking up from deep water.

I know is deep, cos I died on a boat last night, luring pigs from one island to another. (I was in the boat because I'd left it somewhere and wanted to bring it back as well. I am sometimes too tidy.) I think a squid hit me. Luckily not far from my spawn point, so I was able to get most of my stuff back going down to the limit of my air supply, but a lot sank too far too fast, alas.

Maybe it's just this one area.

#110 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 06:31 PM:

Kevin #107: I stand corrected on the lava point.

pericat #109: Yeah, that's the thing -- If you can find a more "present" continent and make a bed, you can use that as a spawn point. In fact, I'd suggest making a couple of (widely separated) beds and using both, so that you have a backup spawn point in the new location. I spawned in the ocean once -- nothing in sight but a few dots of sand. I just swam until I found a continent, then continued there.

Current news: I built a Nether gate (and yikes, that's a big spooky landmark) and poked my nose through -- I brought back a bit of netherrack, but it looks pretty scary, so I'm not messing with that just yet. I want some fire-resistance enchantments. In that vein:

I'm currently building an experience farm, a "Compact Mob Trap" -- out at sea, so it doesn't shadow 450 blocks and tower over the landscape. This is a covered area 19 blocks on a side, with canals between the spawning pads. Built 22 blocks in the air, channeling spawns to a 22-meter drop which should reduce them to 1 HP for one-hit kills.

Oh yeah,the other reason to build it at sea is in case of falls.... The base of it is a cute trick I picked up on the wiki... dump a bucket of lava onto a lily pad. (You can just do it from a boat without getting burned). Retrieving the lava block is trickier -- the first time, I used a block bridge, but this time, I just made sure my stomach was full, ran onto the lava to grab the block, and hopped off into the water. (I do have a staging area to stash my stuff -- a fishing stand that was the first time I used this trick.)

#111 ::: David Harmon's been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 06:31 PM:

Might've been sloppy with punctuation?

#112 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 06:40 PM:

PS: I'm currently getting some fishing in while I wait for the lava-island to cool, and night to fall so I can set my spawn point to the island. The glow is just visible on the horizon from my fishing stand. These come out circular, 9 squares across. I picked a shallow spot in case I need to work underneath later.

#113 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 07:01 PM:

abi #108: Yes, the behavior that a space on a solid surface adjacent to two water sources forms a third water source is unique to water. If I implied that lava and water behave identically in all respects, that was unintentional and I am sorry for writing unclearly.

Both fluids interact with buckets exactly the same way, and determine the apparent flow on their surfaces in exactly the same way. Here are some counterexamples to the claim that stillness directly corresponds to pick-up-ability:

  • Pour water on the side of a hill; the water you place will appear to be flowing downhill, but you can pick it up.
  • In a trough, pour two water sources separated by an odd number of blocks. The midpoint will be still, but it cannot be picked up.
  • Attempt to construct a one-block-deep still lava pool; you will find that flows are eliminated not by pouring lava over them but by pouring lava in the block they point towards.

In general, the flow direction of fluids is the gradient of the fluid level of the neighborhood of blocks; this flow determines how the water pushes objects within it, but does not directly relate to how water propagates itself.

(I hope that the information I am providing helps in Minecraft engineering, but I admit that I am primarily speaking up from the motivation of Someone-Is-Wrong-On-The-Internet. If I am being annoying, please do let me know.)

#114 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 07:35 PM:

David Harmon - I haven't responded directly, but I am reading your accounts with lively interest! i made a similar (in purpose, though not so effective) exp farm, underground. I was mining, and found unexpected mob presence, so hollowed out a cavern with one darkened corner. Above and to one side is a glass-walled room with doors to a walkway running round the sides of the cavern. So now I can snipe creepers, and slip down to do for skellies and zombies. Finally got some gunpwder.

For a base, I'm dug into a hill, reinforced, but with a nice view of the western ocean. Currently engaged in clearing away enough of these bleeping trees so I don't get snuck up on so much. Also carrying around raw fish, in case the local ocelot shows up again.

#115 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 08:40 PM:

pericat #114: For a base, I'm dug into a hill, reinforced, but with a nice view of the western ocean.

Lucky you -- I settled into a pre-existing cave complex, but the entrance was wide open into a valley with another cave/ravine¹ opening there too. I fenced off the latter, and have been progressively fencing off my valley, reinforcing the entrance, and lighting the whole area. I've got several back exits too, but they all come out near the farm/stock pen, and I'm currently working in another direction.

¹ The upper parts of the complex open into ravines several places. There's one place where I swam up a stream and came out into the ocean! I marked the exit spot with a jack-o-lantern and a door.² The lower parts are a second route to bedrock territory, which I haven't fully explored -- there's both lava and water streams in annoying places....

² I've got a fair number of jack-o-lanterns lighting up the seabed. Also a tower of glass panes (those also provide air space).

#116 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 11:37 PM:

So, I've finished the dropshaft and spawning floor -- I only need to add the water and roof it over.

Also, I need to figure out something for external access -- currently I'm using a ladder up the dropshaft, but that comes out near the middle of the floor -- I've got a choice between having it come up in one of the canals (the current location) or at the corner of one of the spawning pads. The former has me coming up into a current two squares upstream of the dropshaft, the other makes trapdoor placement problematic, and both will be entering seriously hostile territory once that roof is up.

I'm thinking of setting a lava source off one of the edges, then using water to convert the stream to stone (not sure if this will work), then transfer the ladder to that. Failing that, if I have to, I can just pillar-jump (or stack gravel?) up from the seabed....

BTW, I'm finding several things to appreciate about this game -- despite the blocky landscape, vistas are pretty awesome -- and in particular, steep heights are impressive -- enough to trigger my (normal, not phobic) fear of heights!

Also, despite the fact that I keep getting myself killed, I can't say the deaths are unfair -- I can usually point out what mistakes I made. (A couple of times I seem to have died of program bugs, though. :-(

My big problem is with the effects of death -- It would be nice if the experience loss wasn't total (which is where this project started), and there's been a couple of cases where I thought my stuff really should have been there and wasn't, but now that I've learned to stash stuff and keep a "go chest" with spare equipment, things aren't so bad.

#117 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 03:53 AM:

Kevin Reid @113:

Your phrasing edges on the annoying, particularly the word "claim". "Hypothesis" would have been a more neutral term.

But the information is interesting. My mental model was clearly not sophisticated enough.

David Harmon @116:

despite the blocky landscape, vistas are pretty awesome

Yes, they really are.

My big problem is with the effects of death -- It would be nice if the experience loss wasn't total

If you get back to your death spot quickly enough, you can retrieve some of your XP. But you have to be pretty fast, which means being near spawn or your bed.

As for me, I died in my nomad world, and respawned near my tower. And decided I wanted to go nomad from the start. So I made another world, and only stayed put until I could make a bed. Since I spawned in a jungle with sheep, and found iron as I mined through the first night, that meant only one night in shelter.

I've left a box with some urgent necessities in that overnight shelter -- a little wool, some extra timber, an apple, and a set of tools. And the shears.

Wandering this time, I ended up in another of those perfectly circular rooms, but this one was floored in lava! Wandering around there also got me all the "deep" minerals I could want, except perhaps diamonds.

By the way, has anyone made a water-harvested farm? When I live a settled life, I tend to do that. You create a permanent water source upslope from the farm, and put fences at the bottom. Then, when all the wheat is ripe, just open the sides of the water source and let the flowing water wash all the wheat and seeds out of the ground. The fence will stop them from getting away (or you can do it on a flatter surface and just farm only the extent of the water flow).

#118 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 08:53 AM:

abi #117: I have not done the water-harvesting yet, but it sounds like an idea. Currently I've just got one of those 9x9 wheat farms with a pool in the middle. I plant it solid, because I'm usually not waiting around for it to grow anyway, so I hit it when I have time. I might replace it with a water-harvest when I take a time to redesign my farming area. I assume I'd need to re-till the flooded area?

The animal farms are trickier¹ -- even when I'm not holding wheat, cows and sheep are pushy and generally uncooperative. I finally dug their area two blocks down, with a stair to the gate, that to a secondary pen (w×2) outside-- that helps manage them a bit.

The chickens are hardly better, but I manage to get by with a simple double gate for them. (about that vegetarian thing... no arrows? (Or only what you can get off skeletons?) Yikes! I had a pig, but it kept escaping -- presumably I need double-high fences for that guy.

Food is complicated by the point that the four-pip foods (currently beef and briefly mushroom stew) are actually too much... generally I want to eat before I get four pips down, and if I do wait that long in the field, it leaves me vulnerable.

The experience farm: Solidifying the lava stream didn't work (but my new island has a nice hill). However, just sending a water stream over the edge works OK. Climbing is a bit slow, and I do need to make sure I'm swimming up the edge of the stream so I can breathe. (The distance is just barely too far for the air gauge.) Now to finish the canals, and test it at night before I roof it over.

I might also start rigging pistons to slabs over skylights, just so I have a cut-off option....

Any idea on how to fix current-scars on the ocean? Just dumping water at the center doesn't seem to help.

#119 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 09:08 AM:

abi #113: Thank you for the feedback. My apologies again. I rewrote that bit (to not have a "you" in it) but evidently could have done better.

Yep, fluids are complicated. When I was doing some editing on Minecraft Wiki I got quite dismayed to realize that there are three different attributes that can justifiably be, and have been, called “flowing” (having a current, being other than a source block, and being in the process of changing direction/level).

David Harmon #118: Dumping water at the center is essentially what you need to do; the problem is that full buckets target the volume in front of a solid block, so you can't place them in mid-air, or mid-water. The best trick I've heard is to place a block just above the surface of the water, then aim the bucket at its bottom side. In order to place that block, if there are no structures to build from nearby, place a lilypad on the surrounding ocean and build from that. (Lilypads can be placed on source blocks only.)

#120 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 10:06 AM:

Kevin Reid #119: Aside from my lava trick, how to you build from a lily pad? I can't seem to place normal blocks on one... or do you mean that will let you put the block that much higher?

Well, the dropshaft is a little too long (my guess is one space). Also, I'm going to need to rig up some pistons to collect the drops.... Time to rebuild a bit. First raise the floor and test that....

#121 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 10:44 AM:

David Harmon @ 116: My big problem is with the effects of death -- It would be nice if the experience loss wasn't total (which is where this project started)

Saw this bit just now, as I opened browser window. Took a minute to remember this was the minecraft thread. :)

This ties back to what abi said originally about playing as a nomad and learning to deal with what resources you have available in that place, rather than stockpiling. I'm not there yet; it's all still very new. Yesterday was caught out in a thunderstorm, and dug down just a little ways, put up a torch, plugged the hole, and realized I was actually good there. I was still lost, one of my tools had busted and two more were redlined, but I had torches and wood, apples, some coal and stone, and was safe from lightning. It's not like I had to survival-creep to town before I could heal & restock.

#122 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 10:44 AM:

Water-harvested wheat sounds fascinating! I hadn't actually heard of that one, but it makes perfect sense. And also means that I don't have to set up my farms so that I can access all the wheat easily without trampling any, if I'm doing bulk harvesting like that.

(It occurs to me that I could probably use monster-harvesting techniques to do rapid pig or cow processing, but my brain rebels at that. Even if, unlike cows, there's no real reason to keep pigs except for their tasty post-death byproducts.)

#123 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 12:26 PM:

David@118: I figured out the "current-scars" problem by solving my "huge hole in the ocean" problem. Make a pad of dirt, one square below sea level, covering the area you need to fix. Use buckets to cover the pad with water. Then dig out the pad.

The surface is left nice and smooth, but the water UNDER the surface is all "riptide"-- it doesn't look any different, but it's all flowing down. NOT safe for diving.

#124 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 12:27 PM:

Hmm. Still not getting many drops by moonlight, and some of them are dying from the fall. I'm experimenting a bit...

A couple of notes: First, this is using up most of my immediate reserves of cobblestone and dirt! I'll need to start hauling more up from deeper spoil chests.... Second, I'm really glad I put this out at sea -- it is totally shadowing the area, and as it is, it's still visible from the beach I started out from.

#125 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 01:51 PM:

mjfgates #123: replacing a visible annoyance to boating with an invisible hazard to swimming? No thanks! I guess in theory you could work your way up from the bottom, but that seems an excessive amount of effort.

My exp farm is now covered and working! It's not perfect -- occasionally a spider drops healthy (presumably having climbed down), and some mobs are still dying (aside from falling spiders, who are supposed to.

Also, collecting drops is a little tricky -- instead of messing with pistons and Redstone, I put strategically-placed trapdoors into the drop floor so I can dash in between drops to grab stuff that lands on the middle square. It's not as fast as I expected (probably a good thing), but I've already matched my highest exp level of 11.

Also, I still need to light the top, as I was reminded by a skeleton outside the trap. I think I'll use some of that netherrack I brought back....

#126 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 04:36 PM:

OK, this does seem to be more-or-less working. Some stats: A solid day of real-time play, allowing for the usual interruptions. Some 32 stacks of cobblestone and dirt, mostly in the top section. If I want to add a level to boost the output, it would use another 20 stacks. (It would also involve adding ladders to the inside top of the dropshaft -- eek!

The thing looks like a giant Huge Brown Mushroom, towering out of the sea. :-)

#127 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 06:44 PM:

OK, I just spent a diamond on something silly... my trap gave me a music disk (from when a creeper gets killed by a skeleton's arrow). So, I made a jukebox.

#128 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 09:52 PM:

I tried a variation on the water-harvesting: I scooped up the water in the center of my 9×9 fenced field, filled the hole, then dropped it again. When the water had finished spreading, I scooped it up again and gave it its little pit back. A quick zip around the perimeter, and I was set... didn't even have to re-hoe! Just one plant in each corner remained.

Also, I've been harvesting and re-growing jungle trees -- amazing how much wood I went through on the expfarm project, given I wasn't actually building with it....

#129 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2012, 10:21 PM:

A thought! What happens if you send a minecart out of your update region?

#130 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2012, 02:58 AM:

Wah! Evil persons have evilly hooked me on evil game evil with evil sauce!

So simple an idea, so awesome and fertile the execution.

#131 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2012, 08:44 AM:

How to find Diamonds gives a recipe for methodically quarrying the bottom 16 layers -- it's a bit long (40 minutes) but shows the whole process from spawning to Straight Down.

On the other hand, I also found a duplication glitch which works on diamonds in SSP, allowing a much quicker multiplication of the first few diamonds you find. I've confirmed it works on Linux. The video titles I saw suggest this has persisted through at least two prior minor revisions, but no guarantees....

1. Chg qvnzbaq(f) va gbbyone
2. Guebj vg ba gur tebhaq, fnir-naq-dhvg jbeyq gur hfhny jnl.
3. Ybnq jbeyq, cvpx hc qvnzbaq(f) naq cerff "R".
4. Juvyr gur vairagbel fperra vf bcra, pybfr gur Zvarpensg jvaqbj -- guvf jvyy (nccebcevngryl) nhgb-fnir gur jbeyq, ohg gevttre gur tyvgpu.
5. Eha vg ntnva, tb onpx gb lbhe jbeyq, cvpx hc gur qhcyvpngrq qvnzbaqf.

#132 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2012, 09:11 AM:

David Harmon #120: Lily pads can be built against just like most other blocks. One possible catch is that since lily pads are a very thin layer at the bottom of the cube they occupy, you can't jump and place a block under you, because you won't get enough height to clear it; you have to be not occupying the space where the block will go. Standing on another lily pad helps.

It is also possible to place a block against the side of a lily pad, but you have to aim at the really, really thin edge of the black highlight box. (This trick also works with torches and redstone dust and so on — very handy for building diagonally.)

#133 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2012, 06:35 PM:

Hmm. A game-day or so at the farm seems to get me up to level 10 or 13. to reach higher levels, I'll need to add more layers, but also more facilities at the bottom. Notably, if I'm going to keep dashing into the chamber for drops, I really need to add some trapdoors above me for protection, but that means learning a bit about Redstone circuitry.... Even better would be a way to sweep the drops from the chamber, but my piston ideas founder on that middle space in the 3×3 chamber. Maybe go mine for a bit first.... (I'm not really comfortable with the duplication glitch. Unlike the exp farm, it breaches the gameworld rules....)

#134 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2012, 07:16 AM:

I came up with a variation on that water-harvesting for the drops -- with a couple of pistons and a bit of Redstone, I can now pull one lever and open both a water source and a drain, sweeping all the drops to a catch-basin.

This involved building up the island a bit more and changing the windows so I'm now attacking from above instead of below. This seems to work pretty well so far, and no more dashing into the dropshaft needed! I already got the ladders at the top of the dropshaft (easier than expected, especially since I already had a ledge in just the right place), so I suspect I can add that extra floor as soon as I can come up with the material for it.

#135 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2012, 11:19 PM:

Thanks to the diamond-mining video David Harmon found, I changed my mining approach and now have not only several diamonds but also more redstone than I could shake a cube of dirt at. So ta, David!

I did start a new world, this time using a seed to get me a relatively normal area with a village near my spawn. I spent my first night hiding out in a house with an NPC, who occasionally got up in my face while I was crafting tools and trying to ignore the zombie at the door, to such an extent that I gave in and sallied forth to whack at it with a sword from the blacksmith's chest and good intentions as armour. A few nights of that, and I had my own place built and so could spend nights, if not in peace, at least free of disapproving stares.

The village has loads of wheat already planted, also apple orchards, and you should see the looks when I harvest any. A creeper surprised me while I was smelting using the blacksmith's furnace, so I "recycled" the remains of the smithy, and the looks I got! I tried to explain how it was all part of my plan, but they weren't buying it. I'm planning to set up a water harvester there, will probably get me off everyone's birthday card lists.

The one thing that really bothers me in minecraft is that the monsters have no facial expressions. It seriously freaks me. I can deal with knocking through a wall and backing out fast when the lava pours through while plying the water bucket, and with the genuinely scary aspect of a dim cave opening, and the vertigo I feel when negotiating a cliff face, but coming face to face with an entity possessed of volition (in a game sense, anyway) but with a blank mask for a face, makes me want to scream. Does that part take anyone else in the same way? Back in my Diablo 2 days, I had the same reaction to the Tal Rasha revenants in Act 2. Gave me the willies.

Speaking of cliff faces and drops straight down into the unseen depths, I've finally found a use for gravel! Old hands know this one, I'm sure, but I worked it out on my own and so am chuffed. You get a full load of gravel, and sneak out to the edge of the abyss, and place gravel against it. It will fall, but it doesn't bust up, so... keep placing gravel, and by and by you see it rising to meet your level. When it does, ooch out onto it and go to work with your shovel, and pretty quick you're down, and safe as houses.

Works with sand too, of course, but sand has real value otherwise. Gravel's just mostly in the way.

Current house is as unplanned as previous homes, but with more unplannyness. From a simple mining hut guarding a way deep shaft, I've added a tower keep, a courtyard with a stocked pond, and today a large underground storeroom. I don't have much to store yet, but I have a room and that's a start.

#136 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2012, 01:31 AM:

Have any of you seen this? It's an awesome house made of giant mushrooms. I think I'm in love.

#137 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2012, 08:12 AM:

O-kay! Mined enough diamonds for a set of armour and sword! (Contrary to prior reports, I didn't actually lose the diamond pick, it was stashed.)

Now to enchant them. Unfortunately, that exp farm isn't working quite as well as I'd thought. What do you folks think of the propriety of changing difficulty levels midgame? This seems iffy to me, but is explicitly permitted by the game, and appears as hints in several places (including switching to peaceful to evaporate monsters!).

#138 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2012, 09:29 AM:

Oh, this is amusing! I was headed out to a newly-found cave opening, and discovered another of my earlier lava-on-lilipad experiments... still partly lava! I must have left it to cool and not come within update range since until this new cave.

#139 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2012, 10:29 AM:

Catching up with the chat:

Kevin #132: Still not managing to deal with the current-scars.

pericat #135: No problem -- that video's helped me too. I haven't been able to implement the full pattern, because I keep hitting lava with the downshafts, but I've been quarrying from several previously-explored caves, with decent results. Several of my delvings are starting to join up... I need to be careful with my signs, "Exit" is no longer sufficient info!

The gravel trick is indeed standard, but kudos for reinventing it. It will even fill in water and lava below you. I've been wary of using such methods for ravines, partly because pillar-jumping (the inverse) is not a great escape option if you get mobbed.

I still haven't seen an NPC village or a desert (or a Mushroom Biome, but those are supposed to be quite rare), and I've filled in most of my original map. I do believe I shall go exploring.

Oh yeah, that side cave branched into several ends, mostly featuring sandstone. Didn't go to the depths, but there were a few dirt and gravel floors I could dig up sometime.

#140 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2012, 11:50 AM:

David, I regularly change difficulty levels, especially when I'm trying out an idea and want to concentrate. It's not like you can clear an area; the monsters just keep coming.

Carrie S., awesome house!

#141 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2012, 01:01 PM:

Carrie S.: Flashy, but looks easy to fall off of. Clearly not built in a day, at least not a sunny one. :-)

Clarifying my #139: I haven't seen a desert this game, but have never seen a Mushroom Biome or NPC village. Nor a proper dungeon, the cave spider spawners in the mineshaft didn't have any chests or mossy stone. (Also, I'm not even trying to farm those guys!)

#142 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2012, 02:49 AM:

The seed I used for current world is 21632872650739401, if you want to see an NPC village. This one is just a little place.

#143 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2012, 12:03 PM:

Thanks, but I'd like to find one in my own world. Unfortunately, the parts I've seen so far are just too mountainous.... Lot's of great views, though! Yesterday I had one just as my Mom was visiting for errands, so I showed her: I'd just come over a jungle mountain, and got a vertiginous view down to a valley lake. She got the "yikes!" feeling....

Gaining confidence, too... the first time I tried to make a new map, I muffed it (twice, actually) ¹... so I went back to where I'd seen some sugar cane and spread it around some more, then retreated to the back of my cave-camp and ran a 1×3 borehole for redstone and iron. Took a couple of game days, but I slept through some of the nights. Worked a charm.

Going back to the thoughts of the original post, Minecraft's abundance does have some Malthusian limits -- ore is proportional to rock volume, which imposes risks and limits. The biggest generosity is food: Crops and animal farms are limited by surface area, but for single-player, food is remarkably cheap and efficacious, especially bread. My 9×9 farm currently delivers 76 wheat whenever I bother to harvest it -- that's 24 bread (many days supply) and a few for breeding animals. Wood can be pretty cheap too -- initially it depends on your biome, but once you get some jungle saplings and bone meal, you're set.

¹ What I'd forgotten was that if you use Shift-Click to get a map off the crafting table, it clones your first map. It's good that you can always recover the data from your first map, but still, that's a user-interface botch!

#144 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2012, 10:29 PM:

It's true, three or four harvests and you have more than enough noms to see you through. Also, apples fall regularly when harvesting wood, if I remember to whack the foliage. I enclosed a pond next to my house and can sometimes get fish. It's not as fast as fishing in the ocean, but on a rainy day...

You know how water pools one level up will drip? I found out today that lava does the same thing. I am rather glad that minecraft does not feature sudden cave-ins.

#145 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2012, 05:58 PM:

My main mining shaft, under my house, where I dig for diamonds, turns out to also be a slime generation spot. In any other context, this would totally suck. In minecraft, though... w00t! Slimeballs!

#146 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2012, 07:43 PM:

pericat #144: You know how water pools one level up will drip? I found out today that lava does the same thing,

Yep... pity it only does it from above, as a lot of my quarry shafts have been ending in lava, and once it killed me (fumbling at the keyboard). I'm taking a break from redesigning the death chamber for my experience farm, and exploring again. Jungle mountains are rather difficult to traverse, especially since some of the foliage is wel up the mountainsides. I'm currently dug into one of those mountainsides for the night -- I'm approaching a map corner, and I may make one despite heavy overlap with another map. Still looking for a desert....

Back home, I've also been dyeing sheep. Not only do they regrow in the new color, but the sheep I dyed pink had a pink lamb! ;-) Need more room for the sheep pen, but my compound is already big enough that I'm thinking about laying down tracks (I have lots from that abandoned mineshaft), and I'd need to clear out even more of the forest.

#147 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2012, 09:41 AM:

An amusing discovery while settling a post in my Frozen West: When a big cave system opens to the surface, it can form a trap for local animals. The cave I picked for my map base turned out to be just one branchlet of a complex that hollows out much of the mountain, opens to sky in several places, and includes several dungeons and shafts. Sheep, as it turns out, will happily jump down 2-block ledges that they can't get back up, and the initial population I saw seems to be filtering down into the depths.

#148 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2012, 10:06 AM:

Exploring last night (now that I have a map), I discovered an 8x10, one-block-deep pool of lava on the surface. I didn't have a bucket with me, but now I know where it is. Obsidian without having to go spelunking!

Can one actually plant small mushrooms? I've tried several times now in an attempt to grow them into giants, and they just won't go into the ground. Light levels don't seem to make any difference, since I tried at night.

#149 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2012, 05:10 PM:

Carrie S. #148: Yep, I've found surface lava a few times -- lakes in taiga and "arctic", plus a few high falls in surface megacaves (both "arctic" and jungle).¹ The lakes often show on the map as orange sparks. I dunno what's up with your mushrooms -- they should plant on dirt and spread (to other blocks as well) at anything under light level 12 -- no torches within 3 spaces. To bone-meal them into hugeness, you also need sufficient room for them to grow: 8 high and 7x7 area (watch out for intruding ladders and torches) should always suffice.

I just did some hasty food-prep, as my original supply was running low. I had to move the wheat farm indoors because of snow and monster hazards, but it does seem to be ramping up well enough. I used some of the first results to round up some pigs from down the coast, too. I even managed to fill in my new map a bit, but so far nothing but more icy mountains. Once I've got food supplies settled, I'll look around some more. I've already cleared out two dungeons (spider and zombie)... I've got five saddles! (Yeah, I'll take a pig for a ride.)

¹ Really now, most of the mountains around here seem to be hollow! My current base is utterly un-securable -- I've been lighting everything I can reach, but there's just too many and too big openings to outside. Anything can wander in, and does. :-( And seriously uneven, with hazardous drops everywhere.

#150 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2012, 10:35 PM:

Oh, good grief! The entire left side of my new map -- all the new territory -- is frozen wasteland and blasted-looking mountains. Lots of floating islands, and others only tenuously tied to the ground. I'm heading back to base, then I'm going to supply up the arctic base, and drive west until I do find something different.

#151 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2012, 08:55 AM:

Carrie S. #148: Small mushrooms are slightly confused: they will not plant in locations where it would be too brightly lit if it were daytime. You'll have to plant them under a roof of some sort (or find a rare Mushroom Island where mushrooms live in sunlight).

(Technical explanation: The game calculates the propagation of light from the sky (which, incidentally, is completely independent of light from block-based sources like torches) and stores that, and then applies a multiplier later to obtain the light you actually see at any given time; mushrooms are not using the multiplier.)

#152 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2012, 09:07 AM:

Kevin Reid #151: Hah! That explains a fair bit, thanks!

#153 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2012, 09:14 AM:

Kevin: Thank you, that makes sense. I guess I shall have to build a mushroom-growing roof. Or explore around till I find a mushroom biome to harvest mycelium from. My exploring keeps being constrained by finding lava pools, and then I have to hole up for a few days to mine out all the obsidian. Dunno what I'm going to do with it all, though a huge, intricate, snowflake-like tower is a serious possibility.

I am sorely tempted by the mushroom house, but I'd have to cut down a lot of trees to make it happen; my base is in a jungle biome.

I have all 16 colors of sheep! I should think of something neat to do with all my pretty, pretty wool.

#154 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2012, 11:17 AM:

I play on peaceful, as I find the killing creatures bit the least interesting part of the game. I also find Creative Mode dull -- what I like is, well, the mining and the crafting.

I had a small classic world several years ago called Aglarond which I mined out completely -- it was entirely hollow, and I found the True Walls and True Floor all around. Bedrock, that is.

I now have a world I've been playing in for a year or so called "Dreams of Glass" -- so named because Aglarond had been very short of sand. In "Dreams of Glass" I have a large number of awesome mines, all of them going down to bedrock, and twelve large castles, all different. They are all connected with three level Vasari corridors, some of them with rails, all of them lined with pictures. They cover a total area of four maps, and I am always expanding them and building new castles and exploring new areas. Some of the castles have mundane names like "Goldcastle" and "Redflower Lake" and "Halloween Gulch" and some of them have literary names like "Nigh To Deepness" and "Mistfall Manor" and "Square Moon Rising". The Vesari corridors look great when seen from a distance, especially with the sun setting behind them, like huge pillared aqueducts.

I have a Minecraft backstory, which goes back to my original game -- I am a shipwrecked dwarf, at first merely surviving but later mining and building greater and greater monuments because it's the only way to make a mark to show that there ever was one sentient being on this world that has so many animals and natural wonders but only occasional ruins to show that anyone else was ever there. I am building tomorrow's ruins, for the next time a spaceship crashes on this world, in however many generations. All my castles and all my mines have chests that have tools and treasures, for those who might come after me.

I have died twice, both times by falling in to a burning ring of fire. Both times I woke up safe in bed and it was all a dream.

I find Minecraft very soothing.

#155 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2012, 11:58 AM:

Jo, that description actually makes me want to play the game.

#156 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2012, 04:40 PM:

Carrie S. #153: I have all 16 colors of sheep!

Yow! Do you keep them in one big corral? I'm having two problems with animal farming: One is that they crowd the pen, push me around, and keep trying to bolt -- I've had to put in double gates to all my corrals, and dig most of them two blocks down. (But my corrals are somewhat small, because I was fitting them in between a hill and other miscellaneous stuff.) The other is keeping them separate -- if a sheep gets in with the pigs, it's not at all clear how to get just the sheep out....

I've produced most of the dyes (I'm still looking for cactus green), but haven't deployed all of them because of limited space for sheep. I did start dying the sheep around my arctic base yellow (and more recently red), and I've been using the yellow wool to mark my bases and especially map-generation squares.

Jo Walton: Cool! I assume you know about Minecraft's early ties to Dwarf Fortress....

#157 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2012, 05:09 PM:

David: Yep, they're all in one corral, with a double-gate sheeplock for me to get in and out. I don't have any pigs, and just the one cow for milk; she's in with the sheep.

I need to make the corral bigger if I want to have more than one of each color.

#158 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2012, 08:39 PM:

At this point, I've dyed more loose sheep than fenced. Since the last visit to base, I've added blue to the palette. Another quarter-map of icy mountains....

I'm taking time out to fix up the arctic base a bit -- fence off the more appalling drops, roof over more of the entrances, etc. I brought in some jungle saplings, so wood is no problem. I'm short on dirt and cobblestone, but that can be fixed....

#159 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2012, 01:17 AM:

I made a large courtyard, four blocks high mostly, to enclose the chickens. Within is even a small pond, in which they disport frantically. Access is by ladder. I started with three birds, and now have about six to eight after the daily Slaughter Of The Chickens, which event follows closely on the Reverend Moon Grand Mating Breakfast. This nets me an average of 36 arrows at a time, though I'm at my wits' end to know what to do with the carcasses.

Chickens are all I can stand to keep. If I need a cow for something, they're just over the ridge, and there's scads of (many-hued) sheep and pigs between me and the village.

My main mine feels just about worked out, so I'm going to have to get out of the house and try to expand my sphere a bit.

#160 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2012, 10:35 AM:

if a sheep gets in with the pigs, it's not at all clear how to get just the sheep out....

Fishing rods can be used to yank animals toward you, and snowballs to knock them away. Despite appearances, neither causes any damage (other than fall damage as applicable).

If you stand on a block next to a fence and grab an animal with a fishing rod, then pull just as it's at the top of its reaction jump, you can pull it over the fence — I just tested this out.

#161 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2012, 11:07 AM:

pericat @159: Having opened several tabs for different comment threads, I managed to start reading your comment while not noticing this was the Minecraft thread. And also missed the first comment about blocks. Which meant that for a very strange moment, I thought you were talking about a new livestock handling method in your own backyard.

And then my brain went, "Wait, arrows? Who shoots arrows at chickens, even if they do want to eat them?" and I picked up context again.

#162 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2012, 11:23 AM:

Kevin Reid #160: Oh, cute idea! I'll have to try it, though I'm not sure how it'll play with my sunken pens at Main Base. Might be helpful for pulling them out of awkward situations, too -- I found a cow trapped at the edge of a shaft, it took a bit of experimentation to discover it didn't have room to turn around.

#163 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2012, 01:53 PM:

Okay, it's official: An entire map, full of icy mountains and icy plains. :-( Time to start exploring in other directions....

#164 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2012, 08:25 PM:

Fade @ 161: Yikes! That would be awesome just terrible. Especially the part where each morning I gather up all the eggs and chuck them at the ground.

I have established an outpost in the frozen west, accessed by a bridge that looks like a giant cobblestone raygun when viewed from either end. Eventually it will be a tracked bridge, but for now it is a walkway above the swamp and hopefully high enough to discourage interest from the undead. Maybe I'll find an abandoned mine, would certainly save some trouble.

#165 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 07:38 PM:

Back from my northern grasslands base ("Blue Base") to trade enchantments for spare iron. The Extreme Hill grasslands are confusing enough that I resorted to a giant colored-wool arrow (with torch), pointing at my base... at jungle-tree height. That sucker's visible from the next couple of hills over!!

I still want to go back and fill out the north map, but after that, it looks like I'm set to return to the Nether! I won't be wearing my whole set of diamond armour, but the helmet got Fire Protection I and the boots got Feather Falling II! And this round didn't even involve the exp-farm (the last one barely did) -- exploring is getting me pretty good leveling, when I can keep from getting myself killed!

#166 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2012, 09:23 PM:

Jo @ 154 I play on 'peaceful' mostly - keeping the monsters active tends to make me frantic after not very long, and my partner objects to frantic me. Also, lava and heights and pushy passive mobs are hazard enough for most days.

But today had adventure! Was heading out to new cavern as I found five diamonds there last night, also lava in! my! face! Not sure how I got out of that (obsidian) trench before said lava covered my toes, but I did, and later found diamonds nearby, so was going back for more. I exercised what for me passes for forethought, and left most of my gear behind, barring a couple picks, shovels, water bucket, torches and a few blocks of wood.

Halfway to the cavern, it's all of fifty meters from the hut, but halfway there I got distracted and went haring off after cows to poach their hides for a nifty leathern suit. Twenty-four hides later, I looked around at a completely foreign landscape, and no clue even which direction I should try.

I picked the wrong one, of course. Several times. After a lot of wandering, I was thinking I'd have to give it up and load my backup, because I'd been so silly as to come out without a compass. Which is not all that hard to make, I then remembered. Iron ingots and redstone, both of which are easier to get than... well, they're not hard.

So I picked a nice spot and dug down, stair steps in a straight line, and not thirty meters down was an abandoned mine! Chock full of spiderwebs, too. The mine was full of stuff I could use to repair my tools, and the cavern below had a redstone block out, and so I marked the entry on the surface and headed home.

Right now I'm building a walkway from the mine to the hut, it's quite a distance, hanging out by my toes on the edge and watching the life of the world play out under me. The wolves really do go after the sheep - I saw one harry a sheep into a lake and drown it. Ran out of stone partway, which I expected, so am now holed up in a hilltop and quarrying more. I feel like I'm getting the hang of things, of figuring out what I need wherever I am, and how to get that out of whatever's nearby. It may be quite a while before I decide to poke my nose into the Nether, or anything involving the End.

#167 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 10:17 AM:

I'm currently waiting out an OS upgrade (Ubuntu, 10.10-> 11.10). Still have wifi and iPad, though.

I try not to lean on the "wild" farm animals, at least until I've got a breeding population in case I hunt them out. I've hardly bothered with leather armour, but my home bases never had more cows than iron. (if I'd spawned someplace like the grasslands I'm currently exploring, it might be different.) Also, I was rather annoyed to find that even tame wolves go after sheep... I gather it's the same with tame cats and chickens.

And yeah, abandoned mineshafts are way cool. Is yours sprawling and humongous like mine? Watch out for the cave-spider spawners!

#168 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 03:50 PM:

I think the 'wild' ones re-spawn. In any case, I tend to deal wholesale slaughter well away from anywhere I hang out, and feed the locals. But I haven't bothered to enclose any but chickens, and those as they're so twitchy to chase down.

I have spent all morning finishing the walkway to the mine; it is quite far from base and took several chests' worth of stone, but will be eventually railed. Is long-term project. But now can see about seriously exploring the mine itself, and gutting it for track. My initial tunnel down into it actually broke in at an end with a cave spider spawner, but as I was on peaceful my reaction was mainly yay! string!

#169 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 04:03 PM:

I finished building my raised sheep-pen, and now have to wait until grass works its way up the dirt steps before I put any sheep in it. Once I move my flock I'll have enough room for more than one sheep of each color and also not have to listen to baa-ing all the time.

#170 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 06:17 PM:

Briefly playing despite no sound :-(. Quarrying from my grasslands base found another mineshaft! With gold accessible! :-)

#171 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2012, 11:29 PM:

And... Yesss... a full map-width north and half that west of my spawn point, a little scrap of desert! And now, half a stack of cactus back in base. Soon: green sheep. :-)

And for a bonus, it has a miniature NPC town -- a desert well, one under-furnished house, a small plot of wheat, and one solitary glaring NPC. I left him with a bit of furniture and a chest with a few miscellanies....

#172 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2012, 10:32 PM:

And now... Back on the iPad as the upgrade deteriorated. Trying a clean install... Gah. Before the system problems, I did manage to get the first half-dozen diamonds out of the grasslands mineshaft.

#173 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 10:17 AM:

That's the thing about penning animals close to home - they're chatty. And stompy. I had to extend my chicken courtyard way out to get any peace.

David, sympathies for your Ubuntu issues. That sucks. How are you managing with the iPad version?

Down in the mine, the story is all lava, all the time. The mine tracks cross and re-cross through caverns at several levels, and the lava pours from way above to the floor below, as well as rising from below. Visibility's pretty good, but I really have to watch my step. :)

Gravel, I find, is also useful for filling in lava pools.

#174 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 04:57 PM:

No no, I'm not running minecraft on the iPad, but it gives me Web and E-mail capability. Upgrade: I tried replacing the upgrade with a clean install of 11.10. That got me no sound (it had been glitchy), and I got bombarded with popups "suggesting" I upgrade to 12.01. After the 6th or 8th of these, I have in and did so, and now I'm back to glitchy sound.

My grasslands mineshaft is lava-heavy too -- I've only broken through a couple of times (though one could have cut off my exit if I hadn't moved fast), but there are lava "drips" all over the place, often from gravel, plus several pools and streams (not all in the mineshafts proper, as the shafts open into caverns beneath). Plus a cave-spider spawner that promises to be a PITA for me to reach, but is nevertheless exposed enough to release spiders on at least two sides, and I'm not playing on peaceful!

I've also been mugged by groups of undead a few times (being "deaf" doesn't help), so I'm wondering if there are dungeons back there too, or if I just got unlucky with normal spawning.

#175 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 05:15 PM:

You do know that milk (use a bucket on a cow) helps against cave-spider poison, yes?

#176 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 06:21 PM:

Abi #175: yeah, and I am carrying it, but in previous encounters, milk was too slow to use in the fight, and by the time the spiders were dead, it was just as easy to retreat, perhaps eat, and heal up.

#177 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 12:52 AM:

Another cave spider room and a zombie dungeon -- I'm getting better at dealing with these, but I keep getting distracted at intermediate levels. I do want at least one cocoa bean (to complete my set of sheep), but I also want more diamonds....

I think I'm stalling on the Nether... I did build another Portal, but it was too close to the main-base one, and went to the same Portal in the Nether.

#178 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 08:36 AM:

I led a brown sheep home--at sheep speed, it was a two-day walk--rather than screw around with cocoa beans. In theory beans grow on jungle trees, or at least so the wiki says, but I've never seen any.

#179 ::: Craig ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 12:52 PM:

Well, after a few weeks of being able to play for 10 minutes at a time before my computer chokes and dies (I'm still running 32-bit Windows XP on my desktop), I finally got a mouse for my laptop and started playing continuously there.

Started in a giant jungle on mountain-tops, managed to work my way down the mountain to the river (I think it's a river, might be a large misshapen lake -- the one time I set off in a boat, it started to rain so I went back). Lot of ocelots, but I have no string to make a fishing pole :-( No spiders encountered yet, tho I did get plinked to death by a skeleton standing in the shade when I went for a swim.

#180 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 04:28 PM:

Carrie S. #178: In theory beans grow on jungle trees, or at least so the wiki says...

Not yet they don't, that's a feature in development snapshots, being tested for version 1.3. None too soon for me, it's just screwy that brown is the hardest dye to lay hands on.

Craig #179: Have you been working on leather armour? You should have plenty of cows in a jungle, especially after you get some wheat growing. Jungles can be rough neighborhoods -- lots of shade, and tricky terrain for a fight. Lots of cover, though!

#181 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 08:08 PM:

OK, found cocoa beans (skeleton dungeon) and diamonds (once I got some lava out of the way). Running out of excuses not to hit the Nether....

#182 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2012, 03:02 PM:

Okay, I went back to the Nether. My experiments with portals seem to have spawned a second portal at home base (the original was inactive the first time I went from grasslands to Nether and then back to home base).

I've now achieved "Return to Sender", picked up a couple of Ghast Tears for later, and mined most of a stack of Glowstone dust! (Hint: that ceiling is closer than it looks.) Also, I found some open space... part of my problem the first time around was being perched on a cliff near the edge of my Nether-cavern.

Next order of business: locating a Nether Fortress.

#183 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2012, 09:28 PM:

I have spent the week and more deep in the abandoned mine, scavenging ALL THE THINGS – fencing, track, wood blocks – and digging out as much iron, gold, and even some diamonds as I could find.  I've signposted most of the tunnels and stoppered up a bunch of water- and lava-falls. Yesterday noticed that the chests I'd set out for storage were full, so time to resurface and look at laying track back to base. 

According to one of the videos on youtube, to eke out as much power as possible one only needs one powered rail every thirty meters of flat travel, and that worked out fine for just me in one minecart. Might need more if I want to push a storage cart. But it still took nearly all the iron I had on top of what track I got out of the mine, to track the walkway from the mine to home. I calculate it is close to two kilometers altogether, and I just finished about an hour ago. I called my partner up to see it for the first full trip, I was so chuffed.

But supplies! depleted! So it'll be back to the mine for me, though I will take some time out to do some fishing, beat up some chickens, shear sheep and so forth. Maybe turn monsters back on and practise whacking them without getting lost in my trackpad's skyward bent. I could hook up a mouse, I suppose.

#184 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2012, 10:07 PM:

pericat #183: Wow! I haven't completely cleared out either of my AMS's, and they're underneath their respective bases. How much food did you go through? And two kilometers of track? Eep!

#185 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2012, 11:01 PM:

I went through no food – you don't eat on peaceful, which is kind of annoying. But trying to fight using a trackpad is more handicap than my poor skills can deal with, so the monsters stay off till I can see how stuff works with a proper mouse.

I expect there are closer abandoned mines, but this is the one I found and I wasn't about to give it up for being too far away. Hence the transcontinental railroad. I bet Grant felt the same way about California.*

* Or Mackenzie. Those guys, with their east-west dreams and stuff.

#186 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2012, 11:28 PM:

Because of you guys, I searched "minecraft parody" on YouTube, and found this lovely parody of TikTok (which song I first became familiar with through this Star-Trek-vidded version and this ASL-signed version).

I hope you're all happy. :->

#187 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 09:38 AM:

Pericat #185: Oh yeah, peaceful mode. Which is also why you were able to just clear the place out, because you don't need to worry about ambushes from the dark places.

#188 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 10:00 AM:

David: well, yeah. I like building, planning, finding and crafting. Not so keen on adrenalin.

Elliott Mason: fun!

#189 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 03:56 PM:

OK, got killed in the Nether. Lost some diamond equipment, including the fire resistance. (I'm starting to wonder what's the point of equipment that's too expensive to replace?)

#190 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2012, 08:44 PM:

Oh, no! That sucks, all right.

It does seem like the approach to the Nether may involve a ton of stockpiling. Also, I know gold armour is kind of not-as-good, but doesn't it enchant to a pretty high degree? Might be better off to use stuff like that, and save the diamond gear for the End assault.

#191 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 08:02 AM:

Well, gold has both protection and durability between leather and iron, but I haven't got nearly as much gold as iron, and other things I need gold for (like powered rails). And since I had the sense not to dash back there like an idiot, I've had a chance to realize a few things:

(1) AIUI, the Nether chunks unload immediately when you're not there, so there's actually a chance of recovering some of my stuff (not much, given the Ghast fireballs, but some chance). And time in the Overworld doesn't count. (2) The fire-resistance I was so hot on is a false lure -- general Protection is actually better. (3) I'd totally forgotten about my cobblestone stack -- I should have been building impromptu shelters on the spot.

Before the Nether trip, I did get my mine-shaft railway to the point where it can lift me-in-cart to the ladder up to my bedroom (I skipped the old stairs that ladder replaced). (This involved building a water-clock in front of the mineshaft entrance.) Getting chest-minecarts up those stairs there seems to be tougher. I may work on that, and the improvements to the exp farm, before I go back.

#192 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 03:23 PM:

After fixing up my railway (most of my gold supply -- this isn't transcontinental, but it's up a long stair -- way too steep for powered minecarts), I went back to the mineshafts -- and was well rewarded, with a fair bit of gold, most of a stack of iron, and almost enough diamonds to pay for the stuff lost in the Nether! yay! Next, fix up the exp form so it's safe enough for hard mode.

#193 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2012, 10:28 PM:

And now my experience farm is fixed! The original dropshaft and 3×3 hard-landing floor now opens into a covered canal which feeds the monsters into a killing slot one block deep and two wide, so now I can use pistons to push the drops into reach. (Three pistons in a row are remarkably hard to power when there's water above their backsides.) I even tweaked the original flooding system to wash stray drops from the HLF into the canal.

And best of all, no more skeletons taking shots at me on the way down, or creepers catching sight of me at the wrong angle!

#194 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2012, 01:22 PM:

And further exploration pays off again, in this case bucketing and fencing inconvenient water and lava flows at the far end of my main-base mineshaft. Less than a day's work got me a stack and a half of iron, half a stack of gold, and a half-dozen diamonds. (My main-base stores of iron just passed a stack of blocks.) There's still more iron down there at least, and I didn't even bother with more than a stack or so of the coal.

Tying back to the original point: These supplies will make quite large projects possible, not to mention backing the Nether exploration. And I have a couple of thoughts of my own for intercontinental railroads....

Also picked up handfuls of redstone and lazuli, an Ender Pearl, and a few ink sacks. ("Wait, ink sacks? in caverns?" At least two of those torrents opened to the sea, and stranded a few squid to prove it. I managed to light the inlet to one of them. ;-) )

The biggest (at least, tallest) lava flow I saw turned out to be something of a paper tiger: It starts way too high for me to reach, but it just falls straight down its dropshaft without actually blocking anything. Once I managed to get around to the other sides of the shaft, I was able to warily snag the gold that shaft has been teasing me with for days.

#195 ::: David Harmon has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2012, 08:01 AM:

Now I've been laying down track inside the mineshafts -- since that's mostly level, I'm using powered minecarts. Extending the rails into Valuta Caverns would likely be tougher, but odds are good they'd eventually come up on the next continent. ;-) Those caverns have continued in richness, but are also opening into way-too-many dark spaces and mob delivery chutes. I've been killed once, but thanks to my "go chest" (and the shortcut ladders I've been working into my base) I actually managed to sprint down there and retrieve almost all my stuff! (I did set up a private room and bed there afterwards.)

I note that once you start "fixing bridges" -- bucketing floods, flooding lava, clearing gravel, adding stairs and ladders -- the caverns more or less all seem to connect. I think this mineshaft and the complexes coming off it extend over at least half my map's height, if not more! Underground intercontinental railroad really does look like a possibility, though monster attacks will certainly be an issue.

#196 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2012, 08:19 AM:

BTW, Minecraft continues to make dog-walking surreal. They're re-engineering the creeknext to my development. So far, they've put down floors of Wooden Slabs (or perhaps Planks), and they've got Stone Blocks and Gravel lining the banks, between expanses of Dirt. Of course, they have to use big machinery for all this!

A cute show project for some multiplayer server would be Inventory Hill -- made of as many blocks as a character can carry in their inventory, arranged to show off various types. (The avatar can carry 36 stacks of blocks, each with 64 for a 4×4×4 cube. This despite that the avatar themself fits in two blocks....)

#197 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2012, 08:21 AM:

And it looks like my name got left with the gnomes a couple of messages above....

#198 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2012, 01:32 PM:

Ambition pays off: My current cave complex has a big breach from the sea above it. In one place, it forms an impressive wall of falling water, but the surround was a little precarious, so I didn't try to climb it there.... but I ran a ladder up the edge to where I found (and expected) the edge. Then I went to stash my goodies, and water-climbed from another location to mark the breach with a jack-o-lantern. Coming down could have taken me all sorts of unfortunate places... but in fact, what do I see looming out of the darkness but my ladder?

And as a sharp warning: As I was coming back from marking the new opening above my ladder (ladders block water), a squid fell to its death on the ledge next to me.

#199 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2012, 02:00 PM:

I do believe I've found a bug... Standing on a ledge, looking up at the roof to the side of that ocean breach, I was startled to see what looked like twinkling stars among the barely-visible ceiling blocks. These were blue-white pixels that flickered on and off as I turned in place. Clearly not Minecraft's own stars, which don't twinkle, and I could see to the side that it was day... hey, wait a minute!

Those pixels look bright because they're against the dark roof, but they seem to be the same hue as that sea-filtered sky. And on examination, they're all at edges or corners of the roof blocks. I suspect that the renderer is somehow letting a few rays slip between the blocks....

#200 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2012, 10:17 PM:

David@199: Yup, the renderer lets light through places it shouldn't now and then. My personal favorite out of that class of bugs is that if you set up a lot of dynamite and look down from above it as it goes off, you can see through the rock below the area that gets blown up. I'm not sure how deep the effect goes, but it's at least eight or ten squares, because that's how much rock I had to dig through to get to the underground ravine I saw behind the big explosion.

In other news, digging down through the ceiling of an underground ravine is a bad idea.

#201 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2012, 03:37 PM:

mjfgates #200: In other news, digging down through the ceiling of an underground ravine is a bad idea.

Ouch... You know the rule, "don't dig straight down!" ;-) I've also read about more overt glitches -- apparently, if you can get your head to occupy the same space as almost any "solid" block (including leaves, which may be less harmful than most), you get a sort of X-ray vision. "Tree glitch" involves standing right next to a sapling when you insta-grow it....

#202 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2012, 01:48 PM:

And now I feel dumb, having just (re-)discovered the ease of creating Golden Apples. And now I have enough gold to make them! Enchanted Golden Apples look like just the thing for a Nether run, but those are "upcoming" in 1.3, which probably will be released early next month.

Also, the underground railroad I wanted might have to wait a while -- the big ravine is in between me and the jungle shore, and digging up from the bottom is likely to be a Project, given it's tunnelling into unexplored underground. ;-)

#203 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2012, 07:37 PM:

Actually, tunnelling a staircase to the surface was surprisingly uneventful. I made it 2:1 slope for eventual rails, but haven't laid them down yet. Unfortunately, since it emerges in a jungle, marking the surface opening is non-trivial -- I'm tempted to put down enough lava to show on the map. I think this complex may be mostly tapped out -- there's a bit of room for quarrying though, as the ravine floor is at level 13.

#204 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2012, 09:44 PM:

Back from vacation! I've got monsters back on, now that I've found a mouse to use. Control is much, much better with a mouse than a trackpad. Been trying to upscale the nearby village, adding a couple houses, extending walkways, to see if that encourages the existing villagers to multiply. Their houses were backed up to a hill, which may be inhibiting their AI from spawning more, so will also try levelling the area a bit and see what that inspires. I like watching them, they're so gormless.

#205 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2012, 11:22 PM:

Well, I got the new rail more-or-less working, despite "help" from my new cats. I can understand why the creepers want to leave, those guys are annoying!¹ Also, there's a really spectacular bug that shows up when a cat (or wolf) settles into a minecart -- they keep trying to teleport to you and getting yanked back, leaving a trail of images.

Since I'm out that way, I decided to do a new map east of my base. The old map got lost in some death or other, and I can't find the minibase I used to make it, so I've picked out an island hill that I'm going to hollow out and mark properly for a map base.

(BTW, the lava marker didn't really work out... but the clearing I did to prep for it shows nicely on the map! The jungle exit is now promoted to a minibase. ;-))
¹ In fact, all the animals are too noisy and pushy, but the cats are also actively obstructionist. I've had to put glass panes over all my new chests (some already had them from my first round with cats). Besides sitting in minecarts, they're prone to blocking the tracks.

#206 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2012, 01:46 PM:

YA mineshaft underneath the new map base -- they're everywhere! And while exploring, I saw more mine supports down a hole most of the way to the edge of the map. Given prior experience, those may well be part of the same complex.

The new base now has a bed, plus the beginnings of a wheat field, and pumpkin patch (I found some wild pumpkins in the jungle). Also I'm stocked up on wood and found a bit of iron. (I'll need more soon....) And mapping is progressing....

#207 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2012, 10:55 PM:

pericat: I bet a trackpad was tough! I use a trackball myself, easier on the wrists. Re: The villagers, the wiki says their spawning is limited by the number of "doors", with a definition there of what counts (you need an "inside" and an "outside"). Making buildings with ordinary doors should work. They do need level ground to found the village, but I don't know if that affects them afterwards.

Going way back to your prior comment about expressions: A lot of them do, but they're just fixed, and that does bug me. Villagers glare, creepers stare, and that's all you get from them. For most monsters, you can't even tell if they've seen you until they move to attack.

Domestic animals similarly: They squeal and run if you hit them, but otherwise show no effect unless they die in a puff of smoke. Only dogs even show whether they're injured (tail angle). The same for sound -- with a couple of exceptions¹, the only thing a monster sound tells you is that there's one within 16 blocks. Dogs bark and cats mew continuously and without meaning.

¹ zombies banging on doors, chickens laying eggs. Oh yeah, ghasts have an attack sound too.

#208 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2012, 12:07 AM:

I've found a Thing that Doesn't Work! I was looking at the description of an underground mob farm using a spawner. "Cool!," I thought. "Can I do this on the surface?" As a test, I carved a huge bowl-shaped valley in a desert, then placed water around the rim so that anything in the bowl would naturally be pushed down to the center.

Unfortunately, it seems that monsters don't spawn on wet squares unless there is a spawner. I did end up with a lovely ampitheater for troupes of performing frogs or mermaids, so it's not a total waste.

#209 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2012, 05:54 AM:

mjfgates #208: Monsters normally don't spawn on water (or other transparent blocks, including partial blocks like single slabs). An actual spawner, however, can and often does create its monsters in midair. Indeed, a torch on the spawner may not actually be sufficient to disable it; I find I need to light the walls high enough to cover its vertical range. In fact, I think I'll go add that to the wiki.

#210 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2012, 10:44 AM:

The trackpad has no actual buttons, it's all registered through finger taps. Normally works very well, but not with Minecraft, at least, not combat. It maybe the combination of Java and Bluetooth, or not, but especially the right-click for actions like shooting bows or eating did not trigger unless I also held down the cmd key, and I spent far too much time keeping my viewport level during a fight. Other right-clicks worked fine, so dunno.

The villagers are increasing! First an adult woman, then a child, appeared. I know it's the doors that are key, but I don't want to just slam in a lot of doors, so am adding more buildings. Be something if they built some for themselves.

I am using a texture mod that makes stuff less blocky; it also varies the monster skins slightly so they are not quite so expressionless. They still freak me out, so I am not up to doing actual mining except on peaceful. I just don't want the nightmares.

#211 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2012, 11:07 AM:

David@209: Yup, I see that... sigh. I'd still like to farm on the surface though, because setting up a farm underground is NOT safe, and I'm in hardcore mode. I'm contemplating the possibility of a huge field of trapdoors OVER flowing water... do mobs spawn on trapdoors?...

#212 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2012, 05:24 PM:

mjfgates #211: Nope, trapdoors are another partial block. They also block water. I've eventually done pretty well with the Compact Mob Farmer (link in my previous mention). I can generally get 15 or so levels in a game day or so. The spawner part is four 8×8 (2 high) "spawner pads" separated by canals leading to a central dropshaft. (I did use trapdoors there, but those were for my own safety in getting from pad to pad -- I left them up when I closed it off.) Then I worked out a secondary canal at the bottom, to pile the monsters into a shallower killing zone (this last based on the video of the Let's Play farm, linked from the wiki page). The trickiest parts were powering the various pistons to wash items off the drop floor (some of the monsters do die on impact), and then push them into reach down below. Wiring redstone underneath flowing water is not recommended, especially when there's also more water beneath you!

Do read the discussion; besides my own comment there (as MentalMouse42), there's a bug that will slow and stop generation after a while. The workaround is to take a quick jaunt around the area to wake up the neighbouring chunks around your usual zone. (I built mine at sea, so that's not much of a problem.) It also helps to light the caverns underneath the area, so your farm is the only place to spawn.

#213 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2012, 08:23 PM:

Clarifying me #212: the bug I mentioned would apply to any mob-spawner, regardless of details of design.

#214 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2012, 01:05 AM:

There are now two or three more adults than there were ( The village started with three, very small) and more children. The kids have the dress and features of their adult occupations and selves - I was bemused by a miniature grandmother with spectacles and grey hair in a bun go zooming past me at double-speed this morning as I was finishing the last building. I don't know what her job description is, but I'm done adding buildings for now. I want to see if the AI does anything to support the illusion beyond increase population.

I've gone back to the abandoned mine I found, to create an exp farm featuring the skeleton spawner I found awhile back. It's quite involved, as I want to douse the lights when I loose the flood, and vice versa. It is all very tricksy and I keep thinking of stuff that I want to hang onto it.

#215 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2012, 06:47 AM:

pericat #214: AIUI, without Redstone Lamps (which need glowstone), the only way to do "switchable" lights is using sticky pistons to move slabs or other blocks to block a light source, usually in an alcove.

The thing is, it may be safer to just have a dark room feeding into a lighted one, with provision to seal off the dark room. I'd use one set of piston doors, with a regular set for backup (out of creeper range from the first -- they blew up my early collection zones way too of often). And some blocks handy in case I needed to just wall the area off. ;-)

#216 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2012, 09:55 AM:

Sticky pistons are exactly how I'm revealing/hiding lights. I'm trying to set it up so the monsters can't see me, which should keep creepers from going off. But will just have to see how that works in practice.

#217 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2012, 05:04 PM:

OK, this is sort of new -- a ravine with mineshaft trappings visible at the bottom. Just what I wanted, a mineshaft with monsters dropping on me from above. :-~

My map base is pretty well complete, with various farms and supplies laid in. No diamonds or obsidian -- I've been taking the Hoover approach to the mineshaft, so I haven't gotten too deep. (On the other hand,a lot of those cleaned-out corridors still end in gravel facings.) I may come back here and delve deeper, but first I'll finish the map edges and head back to Spawn Base for some enchanting. I'm pushing my record for levels (currently 17), and I haven't been anywhere near my exp farm!

#218 ::: David Harmon has been gnomed. ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2012, 05:06 PM:

Have a slice of cake?

#219 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2012, 08:35 AM:

Okay, map completed, with a number of excellent sights... notably, the most "extreme" mountains I've seen yet, including an awesome lavaflow that had some 25-30 meters of hillside to flow down and spread (it showed three red pixels on the map).

The newly named River Base has been offering me gifts to tempt me into staying -- a zombie dungeon, actual caverns (picked up another Ender Pearl), and the unique experience of seeing two cats blown up by a creeper. (They had it cornered. Bad Idea. But then, I've seen at least three cats try to walk though fire or lava.)

Nevertheless, it's back to Spawn Base for me. I'm just shy of level 20, and it's time to enchant some stuff.

#220 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2012, 10:23 AM:

pericat, how does one turn off monsters? I have a friend who would like to do all the building/mining/exploring stuff without having to deal with the monsters, and he can't work out which setting to fiddle.

I have yet to find a single Abandoned Mineshaft--the perils of random numbers, clearly...

#221 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2012, 05:03 PM:

Carrie S. #220: how does one turn off monsters?

Switch the Difficulty to Peaceful -- all hostile monsters will despawn ASAP, no new ones will spawn. I believe size-1 slimes are an exception, since they can't directly hurt the player, and the player might need slimeballs.

And yeah, the world variation is uncanny. At this point, I've mapped a 1500-2500 meter radius from my base in various directions, and found barely a scrap of desert, with a single NPC watching it. An entire map was frozen landscapes, most of my current one is swamp and river intermingled (dratted lilypads!). But mineshafts everywhere....

#222 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2012, 02:39 PM:

Back at River Base, still exploring the mineshafts and connected caverns. River Base now has and enchanting room. Looking forward to next month's update, with cocoa plants and emeralds.

Annoyingly, it looks like the upcoming Emeralds will be mined only from River and Extreme Hills biomes. Annoying, because I'm sitting in a confluence of those... but they're already generated, so I won't get any ore unless I map out yet more territory. Of course, you can trade for them, but I'll probably have to build out my mini-NPC Village to get some trading partners....

#223 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2012, 05:40 PM:

Definitely getting the sense of "bored amid my stacks of stuff". Part of that might be helped by joining the forum community, but also, I need to get to the nether because at this point, that's the next big challenge left (that's available to me, anyway). Also, I need the fast-travel feature if I want to explore much further....

#225 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2012, 05:28 PM:

I gave up on the wandering -- only so many times you can see the same blocks in different combinations before the journey gets wearing.

So I decided I'd like to explore, and preferably adapt, a large crevasse system. I created a world hoping for one (seed: "That's how the light gets in", obLeonardCohen).

I spawned on a large hollow rock formation in grassland, and thought I'd just inhabit that. But I went for a wee walk, and found a nice hollow hill a little ways away. Cleaned it up and closed in in for safety, started an underground farm, and found that one space was large enough and dim enough to make giant mushrooms. So I have food for the forseeable future.

I was harvesting lumber when I came across a hole that went down, down, down into some abandoned mineworks. I carved a staircase down and went adventuring, and for once did not die before I got the treasures back to the surface. And better than treasures -- I caught a glimpse of a huge underground crevasse.

I've explored it (or rather, them: it appears to be a crevasse system!) a good deal. I think I've been along the entire length of the three parallel cracks now, mostly at floor level. Now I need to consider if I want to do some major engineering: open up the roofs, create terraces along the walls, maybe even move into a house with a tall glass wall that runs all the way from ground to lava.

I might not. My hollow hill is awfully pleasant, and I've got all kinds of paths laid here and there.

David, if you're serious about wanting an online server, I know of a fairly good one. Hard difficulty, mine it all yourself, but I've interacted with the sysop some and he seems to be a good guy. My mother's on it too. If you're interested, I'll get her to remind me of the server ID and you can see about hooking up.

#226 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 08:21 AM:

Abi #225: Thanks for the offer... I certainly won't be ready for that within a few weeks (I'm prepping for a vacation next week week, then I'll likely be exploring version 1.3's options for a while. When you say "mine everything yourself" -- how is territory and property and such handled? E.g., what if I sink a shaft and quarry around my original spawn point, and run into someone else's base?

I actually did something very specific to SSP lately -- after yet again trying to fix up the exp farm, and yet again getting its base blown up, I broke down and switched to Peaceful mode to fix it, including replacing most of what had been dirt with cobblestone. Dealing with monsters hailing down the shaft, while trying to plug it, was getting to be Not Fun....

I'm not sure why the Nether scares me so much, but at least part of it is that having more-or-less mastered the Overworld's dangers, I'm back at the wrong end of a painful learning curve. It does not help to have Ghasts shooting at me from well beyond my vision range. (Switching to Far render distance drops me to 25 FPS, even if it would help. :-( )

#227 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 11:30 AM:

Just blew 2 stacks of arrows without taking down either of two ghasts. I didn't get more than a few steps past my portal shelter, but I didn't get killed either (despite being set on fire several times). i suppose that's progress of a sort.... (Oh yeah, that's why I'm scared of the Nether!)

So far "paving hell" seems to be the most viable strategy, but I don't know that I have enough cobblestone for that....

#228 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 08:26 PM:

Abi #225: Yeah, once you've settled in, moving house is a PITA, especially once you've started accumulating stacks to move. (The upcoming Ender Chest may help, but you need to have gotten Blaze Rods from the Nether to make one,) Not to mention that taming a major ravine is a lot of work! A thought: The upcoming Book with Quill is going to revolutionize rail shipping in multiplayer servers -- people can include manifests, requests, even price lists in a BwQ that they can stick in the chest with the goods....

I just tried lighting some of the high ledges at the beginning section of my ravine. this has been an interesting experience, but a lot of effort, what with pillar-jumping and edging around precipices. From the height, I could see that it is in fact forked. Getting shot at by skeletons while climbing a water ladder, not so fun, but I've marked another entrance from the sea. And this is after I'd gotten it fairly cleaned up on floor level, bucketed and flooded lots of lava, and lighted umpty caves emanating from it.

#229 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2012, 05:49 PM:

So, a while back I noted the coordinates of a cave near my (main) base, so I figured I'd go check it out. Went over as evening fell, picked up a wolf who'd wandered in from the nearby taiga, then took longer than I'd expected to get there, and had to fight a bit while I located the spot... then I fell into the cave. Ow. But hey, this leads off in several directions, looks like a whole complex, cool! So, throw around a few torches, put up a pillar and ladder, and head up to fence the hole off. While I'm doing that, my cat wanders off somewhere, and a creeper proceeds to blow up my wolf, leaving me unhurt... and opening a new staircase into the same cave.

The new area is insanely complex, with all sorts of tunnels leading off above and below -- I kept getting lost, and once actually dig a new stair to the surface. It opens into yet another ravine (haven't found the floor yet) and a big scary area where I spotted mine supports before retreating. Yep, yet another mineshaft, or perhaps a continuation of the others. And the upper levels at least are so rich, I've pulled out a stack and a half of iron without really trying. Of course, lighting all those tunnels that emerge several blocks above floor level is going to be a PITA -- I've already gone through a couple of stacks of torches.

And all this was sitting just over a couple of hills from my base, when I thought I'd undermined the whole area.

#230 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2012, 03:13 PM:

And found yet another cave complex off to the south, with gold. Also, I'm past a dozen Ender Pearls.

#231 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2012, 03:16 PM:

P.S. I've been putting off smelting all this stuff because in the upcoming version, you get experience for that.

#232 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2012, 09:03 PM:

Bah, looks like the new version will have several really cool features... And a performance hit, when I'm already running at 40 fps. I'll back up my world before upgrading....

#233 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2012, 12:24 PM:

Startling incident: I'd finally picked up some more wolves, and had them parked outside. Cue thunderstorm... and 3 flaming wolves reappearing around me.

This also tells me what happened to half my sheep a while back.... Time to start glassing over some pens.

#234 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 06:29 PM:

Well, this thread seems pretty dead, but I thought I'd add a bit of closure. I did get back to the Nether, and got a lot more comfortable moving around, even purposely creating a gate to the river base (also to a new base, more below). Unfortunately, that was the only existing base whose coordinates I've been able to reach, as the Nether has been remarkably uncooperative about exploring long stretches of it. And no sign of a Nether Fortress....

Given the amount of territory I've explored that would have been improved by the new version, I think I'm going to retire this world and start a new one for the new version (1.3), which is being released tomorrow.

#235 ::: David Harmon has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 07:32 PM:

Chicken-salad sandwiches?

#236 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 09:29 AM:

Well, this is an interesting situation! Apparently for some time there's been a scammer who was running a fake site purporting to give people Minecon Capes, in exchange for watching a few ads. These add-ons to your avatar are tightly controlled, AFAIK you get them only by actually attending a Minecon).

This scammer has just posted an utter and complete apology and walkback on his actions. Now, on the one hand, he does have an obvious motive for this --as he says, he'd about to turn 18. As he doesn't say, that will mean he could be prosecuted as an adult for this....

That said, his apology is a nice example of Doing It Right: Regret, Repudiation, Reform, Recompense (the ~$100 he made, he gave to the EFF), and he's even offering the domain to Mojang.

Other Minecraft catchup: The game is now at version 1.7.4, with snapshots poking at 1.8. (Many of the new changes are controversial, but when haven't they been?)

However, I'm mostly ignoring that, because I've jumped over to the mod Thaumcraft, which is still based off 1.6.4. TC offers various magical crafting abilities, which I've lately been deploying against my Minecraft bete noir: The Nether. I realize that nasty Nether entries actually are favored by the game mechanics, but even so, I've gotten positively aversive about getting there over my last few games. However, while Thaumcraft does need Nether materials for advanced magics, it gives me enough pre-Nether to make actually dealing with the Nether much more practical. (Despite the extra monsters TC added to harass Nether-goers.)

So far I've used TC methods to controlled-enchant some Fire Resistance armor, and to make a sword which grants limited flight. Between those I should be able to establish a more secure portal and get a first round of Nether resources (which will unlock a bunch of nifty magic).

#237 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 11:47 AM:

My problem with magic is that, being a Minecraft vegetarian, I can't do it. It requires books, which now require leather.

I've flirted with writing a mod that allows one to laminate paper into a substance that can substitute for leather. While I was at it, I'd make charcoal a workable black dye and have chickens occasionally drop feathers instead of lay eggs. Then I could have writable books as well.

I was waiting for the mod API for this, but I'm coming to the conclusion that it'll be ready shortly after the heat-death of the universe. So I should probably either abandon the idea or do it the hard way.

I do like the multitude of flowers that we have now, though, and the ability to color glass. Though my stained-glass installations haven't generally pleased me as much as I'd hoped.

(I've given up on the Nether. I died too many times.)

#238 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 02:38 PM:

abi #237: (I've given up on the Nether. I died too many times.)

With no armor enchantments, yeah. Notice how that Fire-resistant armor is key to my plans -- besides reducing damage, it shortens the time you burn when set on fire. MC Vegetarianism seriously limits your options, and that's going to be worse with Thaumcraft, because all those animal drops and products thereof also feed into the research system. (In particular, research uses a lot of ink.)

I assume you'll be unbothered by the upcoming nerfing of iron and gold farms. :-)

#239 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 02:41 PM:

That's the most annoying thing that I've ever heard about Minecraft.

#240 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 03:47 PM:

Xopher #239: Well, Minecraft is balanced as a whole, and if you choose to use only a subset of its resources, that's going to seriously affect the game.

In this case, the weaker food options are the least of it -- you can always just carry more, and cooked potatoes especially are cheap and plentiful (once you get the first one to multiply). More significant are that (1) as Abi notes, leather is needed to make books, which are needed for enchanting, and (2) feathers are needed to make arrows, the only real ranged weapon. You can scrounge a few arrows from skeletons, but unless you build a farm around a skelly dungeon, (or a more general mob farm) that's going to be strictly scraps.

I can't imagine playing without a proper arrow supply or enchantments -- I'm pretty sure it involves way too much running and hiding for my taste. But if that's Abi's thing....

#241 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 04:11 PM:

Actually, once you have enough iron for iron armor, it's mostly just a case of using good cover till you can get close to the skeleton to use a sword on it. Or just charge and take the damage (bring lots of food to eat and heal with.) And creepers are easy: strike, retreat, strke, retreat, strike, retreat, strike, collect gunpowder. Or lure them into water so they don't do any damage when they explode.

The main challenge when I start a world is still food security, though the giant mushrooms in the forests have reduced that problem a lot. But I do like having carrots and potatoes to grow.

(I had one world recently where I spawned near a village that was over a crevasse with a mine in it. I took refuge in one of the village houses while getting enough iron to make shears, shear a sheep, and make a bed. Over the first three nights, the zombies went from house to house and killed all the villagers. I took up residence in the ghost town and named it Sunnydale. But I did have lots of potatoes and carrots in my rather creepy isolation.)

#242 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2014, 07:19 PM:

Abi: Over the first three nights, the zombies went from house to house and killed all the villagers.

Ouch, that's why I don't like spawning in a village. I'd normally respond by getting a couple of hundred blocks from spawn to set up my initial base, unless I had the makings of a bed basically within sight. (These being the spawn chunks, they won't unload, but at least the zombies despawn more quickly.)

The thing is though, I wrote a lot of the wiki section on village-defense, and I was still ready to smack myself when someone else pointed out that the lampposts have wool! (Of course, there aren't always lampposts....)

(Monday-morning quarterbacking: The mine probably had string which can make wool. If you could get down there safely to harvest it, without being crunchy and good with ketchup.)

#243 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 09:19 AM:

I meant that it's stupid to make all that a consequence of something called "vegetarian." I'm a vegetarian and I own leather shoes and clothing, have hide drums, and would not object to using feathers.

A complete refusal to use animal products of any kind for any reason is an extreme position well beyond vegetarianism. Even 'vegan' doesn't cut it, because that's still about what you eat.

That the game is structured so that all books are bound in leather and books are essential to magic, that indicates to me that whoever built this game thinks vegetarians are stupid and crazy, probably from exposure to stupid crazies like PETA.

In fact not all of even the people who take the no-animal-product-usage position are PETA fanatics, many don't push this philosophy on anyone who hasn't asked, and some of them do magic quite nicely, thank you (OK, the real-world kind, not the magic-arrows kind).

Is it also true that all writing is done with quills? Does that mean all vegetarians are illiterate?

The designers were clearly trying to drive real-life vegetarians away from their game. The fact that abi plays it successfully in that mode would probably annoy the hell out of them.

Or maybe I'm wrong and it's just an esthetic echo of Minecraft's low-rez world. In that case I'd expect choosing 'religious' to make you spend all your time picketing funerals, because that's what a tiny group of extremists do. But that only would happen if the game designers were as ignorant about religion as they were about vegetarianism.

Before anyone says it, yes, I know it's just a game, and just one setting in a game. I said it was the worst thing I'd heard about Minecraft, and the above is why. As such things go it's not so bad. If I were otherwise inclined to take up Minecraft (not much of a gamer), this wouldn't stop me. I've generally heard very good things about the game, and have several friends who enjoy it a lot.

In fact I'd go so far as to say that if this is the worst thing about Minecraft, it's doing pretty well.

#244 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 09:36 AM:

Whoa, whoa, Xopher! You're reading a lot into a situation that really doesn't have that in it.

There is no "vegetarian" setting. I'm using the term as shorthand for "I, personally, choose not kill anything that's not trying to kill me". Since one hunts or gathers one's own things in an essentially pastoral and isolated environment (because I don't play on shared servers), that means that, barring predation, I cannot obtain the following things:
* leather
* beef
* pork chops
* chicken meat
* fish
* black dye (ink from squid)

This means I cannot make the following things, intra alia:
* books (leather covers)
* leather armor
* writable books (book + quill + black ink)
* a pet cat (you tame an ocelot with a fish)

I don't, personally, object to using animal products in-game. If I find a leather saddle or leather armor in a treasure chest, I'll use it. If I kill a skeleton (hostile mob, so I can), I'll collect and reuse its arrows. But I, personally, do not enjoy walking up to a cow or a pig and whacking it with a sword, so I don't play that way.

But this is my choice. It's not the game designers', except insofar as they've made the products of non-hostile mobs the raw ingredients in certain things that I would otherwise like to use.

#245 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 09:39 AM:

Um, actually, the "vegetarian" thing is not part of Minecraft itself, it's a voluntary challenge taken on by some players, including Abi. (I note that the Minecraft Wiki sniffs at such challenges, mostly because pages discussing them tend to be troublesome.)

The terms of the challenge evolved a bit on various forums (while the term for it presumably stuck on the simple, familiar, term), but the upshot is that merely not eating meat isn't much of a challenge! Food is plentiful, and the remaining second-tier foods are more than enough to run a game on. As I said above, it's the usage restrictions that make it a non-trivial challenge.

And BTW, there are people who try to exclude all the leather and such from their real-world lives. They've a right, but I might ask if they've figured the water and other environmental costs for the alternatives, especially if plastic is involved. I'll also point out that leather (harnesses) put an end to humanity's first age of slavery....

#246 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 09:44 AM:

I see Abi replied too, covering different territory. I'll also note that including fish in the vegetarian challenge qualifies as an ELIZA effect -- fish are not actually creatures within the game, only items. You cast a fishing line into water, and pull out fish (in recent versions, you get other things as well). The existence of live fish is only implied.

#247 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 09:55 AM:

I don't do it as a formal "challenge", and I've never read the Wiki pages on it. It's simply how I play.

#248 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 10:11 AM:

I stand corrected.

I still don't think 'vegetarian' is a good name for 'won't kill anything that isn't trying to kill me', but I know how these shorthand innacuracies can develop.

Makes the magic stuff even dumber IMO. If I'm understanding this correctly, you can't do magic without making leather-bound books?!?!?

#249 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 10:16 AM:

And thanks for the correction. I'd thought very highly of Minecraft, was irritated, and now think highly of it again.

#250 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 10:17 AM:

I guess I'd say that vegetarianism is one side-effect of not being willing to kill anything that isn't trying to kill me. And if I come across a piece of meat (say, a wolf has just killed a pig), I find that I'm not willing to eat it. So I'm also a vegetarian, perhaps. But I don't really know what to call the other thing.

#251 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 10:28 AM:

Magic in vanilla minecraft is purely a subset of crafting -- it just lets you enchant tools, armor, and such for improved and special effects. But yes, books are needed for the enchanting setup, probably as a pacing factor for the early game. (Basically, you need to both mine the most advanced materials, and build at least two sorts of farm, before you get to enchant stuff.)

Thaumcraft does have a few devices that use magical power directly, but still heavily favors crafting of various kinds (it adds a few kinds), and it's likewise balanced on the assumption that the player is using all the resources presented by the game.

#252 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 10:34 AM:

And while I didn't misspell 'inaccuracies' on purpose, or notice that I had done so until now, I'm very amused by it and will probably do it deliberately at some point in the future.

#253 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 02:37 PM:

@244 abi

This means I cannot make the following things, intra alia:
* books (leather covers)
* leather armor
* writable books (book + quill + black ink)
* a pet cat (you tame an ocelot with a fish)

I know zero things about Minecraft, so I'm just wondering: how malleable is the game? Because in real life, you could make books with wooden covers, ink from certain vegetable matter, and a writing implement from a sharpened reed. Because no one here is talking about doing it that way, I guess the game won't let you?

For the armour and cat, alas, I have nothing.

#254 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 03:00 PM:

Cheryl @253:

The crafting part of Minecraft works with recipes, which are basically certain elements placed in a certain relationship to one another in on a workbench.

Making a writeable book (as opposed to a book purely for ornamental purposes) goes as follows:

* Paper: 3 pieces of sugarcane (being treated as papyrus) set out in a horizontal row = 3 sheets of paper
* Book: 3 sheets of paper and 1 piece of leather (obtained by killing a cow)
* Writeable book: book + feather (obtained by killing a chicken) + ink sac (obtained by killing a squid)

You can't vary these recipes; if you don't put the right things in, often in a particular configuration, you can't get the final product out.

The only way to change that is to hack the program (make a mod), which is fine with the development team. There are lots of mods around, of highly variable quality and reliability, many of which break when Mojang issues an update.

I am tempted, in my copious free time [pause for laughter] to write a mod that would allow me to make books. I was thinking of adding the following recipes:

* Wheat paste: Put wheat in a furnace (it would look like like sticky balls that you get from killing gelatinous cubes, but cream-colored rather than green). Note that wheat paste could be used wherever sticky balls are.
* Laminated paper: 1 sheet of paper, 1 wheat paste, 1 sheet of paper in vertical array This could be used wherever leather is used, for instance, in armor.
* Book: 3 sheets of paper and 1 piece of laminated paper
* Writeable book: 1 book, 1 feather (program modified to allow chickens to drop feathers sometimes instead of laying eggs), 1 piece of charcoal (made by burning wood—this exists already)

Using sugarcane to make a reed pen would also work, but I'd love to have cruelty-free feathers for arrows as well.

#255 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 02:30 AM:

@254 abi

Reading about Minecraft here, it seems to me that I would probably find it both cool and frustrating, in equal measure.

Thanks for the info.

#256 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 09:54 AM:

Minecraft is one example of the class "Stuff I really enjoy hearing people who do it talk about, but have no interest in doing myself." Along with most of Vernor Vinge's fiction, actually. :->

#257 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 10:56 AM:

Cheryl #255: it seems to me that I would probably find it both cool and frustrating, in equal measure.

Yes. Note that I got hooked into it by way of the wiki -- way up at #47-48 in this thread.

#258 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2014, 11:30 AM:

abi #254: I can kinda see why using the slimeballs themselves to laminate paper (or directly, the sugar cane) would be problematic, but wheat paste (a cheap craft) shouldn't be able to substitute in general for slimeballs (a common but hostile drop).

You could also use wool (carpet?) for a "cover".

#259 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2014, 10:34 PM:

Just wanted to add some general comments about Thaumcraft: It seriously changes mid- and late-game balance, generally toward the player. In particular:

* It effectively removes the "diamond ceiling", where you end up with armor that's too expensive to take into danger. It does this by providing a new metal called "thaumium", which produces tools and armor comparable to diamond. However, thaumium is not mined -- it's made in a crucible (new tool) from iron and Praecantio essence, the latter of which can be refined from the two TC-specific sorts of wood. So it's much more available, at least once you get essentia distillation happening.

* The thaumium tools can also be promoted to "special tools" granting some very cool abilities. (This needs the next level of magical crafting, an infusion altar.)

* The infusion altar also allows controlled enchanting, pick your enchantment and apply it using various essentias and symbolic or (in a few cases) costly objects. Unfortunately for Abi, while this doesn't need books, it does need Goggles of Revealing, which themselves need leather.

* For the thaumium and special items, one of the enchantments available is Repair, which makes them heal over time (while being carried). This means they effectively don't wear out unless you really abuse them without taking a rest (did I mention the tools' special powers are fueled by durability too?). You get to have powerful tools that don't get used up! (This has been a topic of contention on the forums, between the people who think a powerful tool that doesn't wear out is Against the Law of Balance, and folks like me who figure if you're putting that much resources into one tool, you deserve to keep it!)

* That said, getting to this point is non-trivial. In my current TC game (my third), I'm well past the technology/resources hump and working toward building the most advanced devices. But that's taken a lot of play-time, and a lot of time with the research system. (The mod developer promises that the next version will have a less cumbersome research system.)

* Magic takes resources too!
** Instead of crafting, my diamonds are now going towards enchanting -- each level of Looting/Fortune costs a diamond, as does creating one of the "special tools". Even with heavy use of Fortune II, I've got less than 20 diamonds in stock.
** I'm also using a lot of iron: Counting the ore-multiplying effects from the advanced tools I've recently achieved, I've produced enough iron for at least two stacks of iron blocks, but after all the enchantments and crafting, I've got less than half a block-stack in store, in a fairly advanced world. I've spent well over half a block-stack just on Repair (costs an anvil per level) and a fair bit on lesser enchants (many of which need 1-3 ingots per level). Some is going for thaumium too, or for various bits of magical infrastructure.
** Gold becomes actually precious, as it gets used in a lot of magical crafting. It's possible to recover some by rendering essentia from golden armor (loot from monsters), but that's small change given all the stuff that uses it. I've got well under half a stack of gold ingots in stock. I could breed maybe a dozen more ingots from the essentia I have on hand, but I'm saving that for more, um, lucrative pursuits (Fortune/Looting enchants use the same type, as do some golems).
** There's several new ores too. While amber and cinnabar/quicksilver are underused, "aspect shards" come in 6 elemental "aspects" (air/earth/water/fire/order/entropy), and for most uses, a particular aspect is required. And the frequency of the different aspects varies by biome....

* Advanced magic makes horses obsolescent. ;-) The Thaumostatic Harness gives flight; Boots of the Traveller can likely outrun the horse (might need the new Haste enchantment), and more controllably to boot; and the Travelling Trunk laughs at donkeys. Also, breeding horses would be competition for gold....

#261 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 09:48 PM:

Spotted via reddit: The first Minecraft discussion thread (the first post is May 17, 2009). Even starting out with four blocks and barely any mechanics, right from that beginning you can see the basic themes and interests of Minecraft appearing.

#262 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 10:01 PM:

I've been playing again and I keep having the urge to write things up like the journal of a castaway. It's kind of odd.

#263 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 09:59 AM:

The mod Botania looks interesting, it's described as a tech mod with a "plant based" mechanic, using plants to generate mana and using that for various things. The tech tree looks pretty intimidating, but there is an in-game manual. Making that needs a book, but you can break a villager bookcase for that. Later, there is a transformation recipe for rotten flesh->leather, I don't know if they have anything for feathers.

In my own play, I've done the Enderdragon in my Thaumcraft world, and have lately been playing with Mystcraft Ages. (I'm glad I waited for those, they can be a serious balance-breaker for Thaumcraft, or vanilla for that matter.) I made a brief foray into the Twilight Forest first for technical reasons, I'll go back there some more when I get bored of Ages.

#264 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 10:01 AM:

PS: Just confirmed, in Botania chickens do drop feathers while still alive. Other mobs drop things too, including villagers dropping emerals.

#265 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2015, 10:59 PM:

Dave Harmon, which version of Thaumcraft is current? The latest one I can find only goes with MC 1.7, and it seems like the latest is 1.8.

#266 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2015, 08:44 AM:

Carrie S. #265: The current version is Thaumcraft, for Minecraft 1.7.10. This and all prior versions are available on the mod's Minecraft Forums thread. Azanor is currently working on a 1.8 version, with occasional comments/complaints about the process.

Unfortunately, there are several "pirate" sites which claim to offer "compatible with 1.8 (etc)" versions of mods, without regard for truth: Obviously, you don't want to go there.

The best places to look for mods are the Minecraft Forums' Mods section and the Mods on Curse site, both official and backed by Mojang. (I've found one community site which looks fairly legit, but is not official, so qualifies as "out on a limb".)

There are also specific locations for key base mods:
* Minecraft Forge is the Mojang-backed base for most mods. Go for the "recommended" version for your MC version. Only if an official mod post, or discussion on its MCF thread, indicates you really need something else, should you upgrade past that.
* Liteloader is a lightweight base for mods that don't need Forge, because they only affect the graphical interface. Individual mods will tell you up front if they need it.
* Fastcraft is a specialized mod that doesn't affect gameplay, but backports some of the 1.8 optimizations to 1.7, for a major speed increase. There have been a very few reports of conflicts with other mods, but mod authors tend to deal with those ASAP.
* Optifine provides graphical optimizations. It can greatly speed up and improve the experience for vanilla Minecraft and some mods... but it's also infamous for "not playing well" (graphical bugs and crashes) with many other mods: Basically anything which itself adds glowy stuff or other fancy graphics. (Thaumcraft does glowy stuff, so I don't use it.)

#267 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2015, 11:23 AM:

Oh, great, thanks. I think I'll have to wait till the 1.8 version comes out, but that's OK.

#268 ::: Cassy B. sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 12:24 PM:

@268 finds Minecraft too complicated, and full of spam...

#269 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2015, 06:40 AM:

And a new link between Minecraft and here, or at least one of our regulars:

A modder on another mods's forum just discovered UrsulaV's comic Digger. His response was: Steve is a wombat! A Wombat, I say!.

#270 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2019, 12:17 PM:

Wow. One unintended dividend of spam is that it can prompt a rereading of an old post.

This one seems...timely. Though I guess issue of plenty and expansion are probably timeless.

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