Minecraft's "Redstone Update"

A new snapshot came out for the next coming edition of Minecraft -- version 1.5, the Redstone Update.  (Snapshots are pre-releases of the game in progress put out by Mojang for dedicated fans who want to play around with the new features, and help identify bugs.) Docm77, one of the YouTube minecraft players I follow, released a video of him and some of his friends playing around with the new features:

Cool stuff that I'm really looking forward to:

  • Light sensors.  These could plausibly be used for a sunlight based mob sorter, by turning the system off at night so it doesn't drop zombies and skeletons down the creeper hole.
  • Hoppers.  I haven't played with these in Feed the Beast yet, but I am nonetheless thrilled that they are being added to vanilla minecraft.  Having something to pick up blocks that are dropped, for one thing, sounds awesome.
  • Redstone blocks.  Because storage.  (I wonder if, when they come out, you'll be able to send a signal to shut them off?)
  • Trapped chests. Because awesome.

Stuff I'm less excited about:

  • The new stuff in the nether.  Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that they're developing the nether further than they have so far.  But I'm not that impressed with the stuff they came up with, and I'm looking forward to the (hopefully someday coming) day when the nether and the end have complex biomes just like the overworld.

Long story short:  I'm thrilled about the features of this update, and I look forward to its coming out.  Also: It will be funny when the new redstone logic breaks all of Etho's stuff.

Feed the Beast: a Minecraft mod pack

I like the Technic Pack Minecraft mods, so I've not been very happy about the fact that they're several versions behind.  It's a little bit about new vanilla features I like, but mostly it's about the little functionality tweaks that, now that they exist, are hard to play without.  Like, it's no fun to lose the ability to shift-click armor on and off. But a new pack has come out -- the Feed the Beast pack, which comes with a load of awesome mods -- like ExtraBiomes XL, Buildcraft, Industrial Craft, and two dozen more.  It's up to date with 1.4.2, which is 0.3 updates behind, but it's still a lot better than 1.2.5.

I'm very busy today, so I was only able to spend about ten minutes playing it, having told myself it was justified because I was going to blog about it.  So, I didn't get to do much that wasn't familiar to Vanilla -- mining new kinds of ores isn't hugely more fun than mining the vanilla ores, and the biome I spawned in (Green swampland) wasn't a huge departure from the normal biomes.

But I am super looking forward to when I have more free time and I can spend a decent amount of my free time building a massive lab.  I'm thinking my first long-term goal is to build an array of nuclear reactors powerful enough to make enough uu-mater to craft a diamond a minute.  (That's one thing I'm a little disappointed about -- it looks like Equivalent Exchange hasn't been updated to the new edition, so no insanely powerful magical stuff-generators.)

My favorite show right now

One of my favorite hard-to-track internet statistics is the ever-increasing rate of hours of video uploaded to YouTube per minute; as of January 23, according to Reuters, it was at 60.  If you enjoy as much as a quarter of a percent of that content, then YouTube provides content you would enjoy at a rate faster than you could possibly have time to watch it. I have no idea what percentage of YouTube content I would like.  There are vast depths of YouTube content that I wouldn't have the first clue about how to find, nevermind which parts of that content I might like now, or that I could learn to enjoy if I became invested in the genre.

That said, I'm subscribed to enough YouTube content that I could get by without any other avenues of entertainment, and there are channels I know I'd like, but that I don't follow because it's just too much stuff.  Every micro-genre of content I follow has loads of channels producing content that I don't bother looking into, because every single one puts out enough content to last me a lifetime.

One of the many implications of this is that I have a new favorite show pretty frequently.  Like, I really liked Harry Potter and the Ten Years Later, and Crash Course: World History is still one of the highlights of my Thursdays.

Lately, though, the show I look forward to watching the most is Modded Minecraft with Docm77 & Monkeyfarm.  It's part of the Minecraft Let's Play genre, videos of people who play Minecraft and talk while they're doing it.  I got into the genre watching Etho's tutorials, and subscribed to Docm77 when he started the new World Tour videos.

This particular series features Docm77 and Monkeyfarm (a Minecraft YouTuber I don't follow) playing together in a Minecraft server that features mods approximating the Tekkit pack, a popular massive expansion to the functionality of Minecraft.

The decline of high-production value blockbuster content is one of the great laments of the digital era, and it's going to create weird new relationships between people and entertainment.  Twenty years ago it was fair to assume most people would be in touch with the same set of references as you.  Now, it's possible that most of the people you meet are cultural foreigners.

Minecraft 1.3 out today

I'm over 8 hours late on this news, but Jeb tweeted this morning that the new edition of Minecraft, 1.3, came out today.  I can't wait to make sandstone stairs... I'm starting off my first trial game checking out all the new world generation options.  That means I'm turning on cheats, setting it to Large Biomes, and giving myself a bonus chest.  To balance things out so it's remotely fair, I'm also going to set it to Normal difficulty and not use too many cheats.

Day 1: When Jeb says large biomes, he is not kidding.  I'm lost in a jungle, and it's outright terrifying.  Starting with a wooden axe was great, but it's nearly broken, and I've already got myself more hungry than I have food to handle.

Night 1:  I died.  Hunger and fall damage.

I'm looking forward to playing this more, but it's tough on the computer I have access to right now.  I'm looking forward to the LAN part -- I don't have a server with my friends anymore, and I miss playing with other people.

Minecraft: SkyGrid Journal 3

I played some more SkyGrid today, because I had two hours to blog and I have no sense of personal responsibility, so here is the picture tour of today's attempts to survive the death grid of blocks everywhere.

This is my stuff as I left it last time I logged out.  I forgot to take a picture, but I got an enchanting table, and a tree farm with a single tree.  The enchanting table is useless.  I hope it'll all go better when I have passive mobs to kill.

I didn't mean to build my base in a snow biome.  It was a while before I noticed, because it hadn't snowed, so I had no idea why my water kept freezing.  (I'm kind of dumb sometimes.)

I'm building a roof above my portal in the nether, because there's a lot more lava here and I want my portal to not be covered in it.

I spent some time trying to get this chicken spawner to work.  I built my base on top of this spawner, because it seemed like a good way to get food and feathers.  As it turns out, I have no idea to make passive mob spawners function.

This is the project I worked on for most of the time I was playing.  It's surprisingly difficult to do, actually, but I want to build a new base up at the top of the map,l where there's no chance of random lava pouring down all over my stuff.

Minecraft: SkyGrid Journal 2

SkyGrid is so much better when you have a cobblestone generator and a bed. Today's Minecraft play started with me trying to build a sandcastle in a Creative game, because I'm working on a longer post that involves an extended metaphor about sand structures.

It's that pile near the river.  SkyGrid stuff below the fold.

It's great having a chest now, for reasons I think should be obvious.  My recommendation for SkyGrid players:  First chest you find, take the chest with you.  (Yes, I did forget that it's possible to build a chest. I totally had enough wood.)

What I did for most of today's play was find lava sourceblocks and drop them in that stream of water to make a portal.  The waterfall is an awesome feature, by the way.  It's how I get back up to the base every time.

Got to the nether.  I knew that it was going to be SkyGrid style, but as I understand it the End is not organized this way.  So, that's my goal:  Get to the End, make a home that is remotely safe.  I am aware of the irony.

It didn't last long, though.  I died almost immediately upon trying to move around in the nether.  It's probably a good thing, too -- I barely brought any supplies, and I really need to build a roof over my portal, in case some lava decides to register as a fluid block.

Minecraft: SkyGrid

I made a proper attempt at playing SkyGrid today, during a break.  I'm actually doing okay this time.  By which I mean, I have somewhere to stand.  Pics below the fold.

Just starting out, at this point I was trying to gather enough iron to make a bucket.

I hadn't realized, starting out, that a cobblestone generator was a good idea.  I'm glad I watched SethBling's video. (As you can see, I had water ready to make the generator, then, fortunately, some extra water fell out of the sky.)

Minecraft Gameplay Tour: May 3rd

Since there's nothing I'm supposed to be doing tonight, I decided to kill some time playing Minecraft while watching the new episode of Crash Course: World History twice. I know I'm not finished with the tour of my game world, but I wanted to get some regular gameplay time in, so I decided to go caving for some iron.  Adventures below the fold.

The first thing to do was drop off my inventory and get some real equipment.  So I had to head out across the sky bridge.  I promise I will explain that floating island that's sort of visible in the background later.

This is my current base of operations, which will be the focus of my next tour.  It's a tower that extends down to a stronghold deep under the surface.

This is a room in the stronghold where I left a bunch of stuff.  I'll explain later.

After that, I went to find a cave.  There was a lake that had more ice than water, extending over an exposed cave.  It looked interesting, and there was visible iron, so I decided to start there.  You can see in the background where there's a service ladder up to a turn in the sky bridge.

I was trying to get down this cliff, using ladders.  Ladders are super-useful.  Always go caving with ladders.  But when I was about to start building, I turned, and saw a creeper.

There was a ceiling there.  On the other hand, this armor rocks.

I'm afraid I failed to take any good pictures for the rest of the time I was caving, but let me tell you, it was exciting.  There were skeletons, and some really cool fights, and I even found a dungeon.  (I'm a terrible photojournalist.)

Finally got a picture of the front of Sad Creeper Tower, though.  You can see the whole Creeper face on the water floor, too.

And here are the spoils of my adventure.  Is it just me, or do zombies drop a lot of helmets these days?

My Minecraft Tour: The Nether

Yesterday I started posting a tour of my friends' and my Minecraft server.  I covered my buildings in our initial setting.  Today, I'm going to show the nether. Picture tour below the fold.

I've started from a recognizable point from the last tour.  From the enchanting room, you can get out by climbing down a tree off the side.

I took another picture here because it's a good view of my garden, and I figured it was a good place to point out where I get most of my food.  Although, lately, I get most of my food either from the watermelons in my stronghold build, the zombie flesh from one of my grinders, or by killing animals wandering around.

Off the cliff past the garden, there's a ladder that leads down to the nether portal.  I made it with a mold as soon as I hit lava, so we had a portal to the nether before I'd even finished the grinder above.  It was a while longer, though, before I actually built anything in it.

Construction within the nether was a group project.  Three of us cobbled together enclosed pathways from the portal into a safe space while fending off the attacks of ghasts and accidentally agitated pigmen.

And this is that enclosure.  As you can see, in the nether we build more for practicality than aesthetics.

Here's the outside.  Great thing about the nether: Zombie Pigmen, unlike Zombies, don't attack your wooden doors.

Behind the stone shed that is our nether home, there are a series of cobblestone obelisks that lead to the only nether stronghold we've found so far.

Nether strongholds are kind of ugly, aren't they?

There were two blaze spawners, but we destroyed one of them.  This one I converted into a blaze farm, based on the design posted by itaest on /r/minecraft.

The only other thing I've built in the nether is this portal, which is positioned on a lake of fire directly corresponding to the location of the End portal I found.  The resulting nether portal on the other side is, eh, pretty close.

My Minecraft Tour: Capitol Settlement

I play on a whitelisted Minecraft server with a few of my friends, and I'm pretty sure I'm the one who spends the most time on it.  As it's one of my new blogging requirements that whenever I play Minecraft I have to publish and explain at least one screenshot, I thought I ought to give a tour of my stuff, for context.  And since I've built quite a lot of stuff, the tour will be in a series of installments. Today's tour is of the area I just now termed the Capitol settlement, because it's where most of us set up when we first started the server.

Picture tour below the fold.

This little shed was my first house on the server.  There are a few deeper rooms below it, leading down to a staircase which reaches my first branch mine.  I haven't shown any of the branch mines, because I figured that would be excessively boring.

This, my first project on the server, is directly on top of the house above.  It's a mob grinder based on Etho's design from his LP series.  It's eleven stories tall, and uses lava blades to burn the mobs to death in the small cobblestone boxes under the stacks.  Streams of water then bring the drops down where they land in the middle of my front room.

We do not want for gunpowder, bones, arrows or zombie flesh.

This is Sad Creeper Tower, my base in this region of the map.  It originally started as a storage shed for all my extra stuff.  Then I kept building on top of it.

This is the aforementioned storage shed room.  The railroad leads down into the aforementioned branch mine in the basement.

This is my brewery, which is the next floor up from the storage room.

This is my enchanting room.  It used to be in a field, and the front entrance to Sad Creeper Tower (which I forgot to take a picture of) leads up to here.  I wanted to make sure my friends had access to the enchanting table.  The levers raise (in two separate sections) blocks of sand that adjust the levels of enchantments.  I go the idea from this post by SpaceMonkeysJTV on the Minecraft subreddit, though it's not actually the same design because I just remembered the idea, not the design itself, when I went to build it.

This is my furnace room.  There's also a ladder behind me in this picture -- you need to use the ladder to progress, the floor that the stairs leads to is a dead-end.

I got this design, too, from Reddit, but I can't find the post I got it from.  It's where I store my lava source blocks, using nether fence to hold them in while keeping them accessible by bucket.

This is what's above the concealed ladder in the furnace room.  I feel this room's purpose is self-explanitory.

This is my bedroom in Sad Creeper Tower.  It's just under the cloud layer, and apart from my bed there's nothing particularly interesting in it.

This is just above my bedroom, and is a special room with holes in the sides, to let the clouds through.  And also so they wouldn't be floating through any rooms that have a use.

This is the porch, where wooden paths above the cloud layer lead to various other areas on the map.  The one I'm looking at now leads to one of my friends's tower.

I will either tour the nether or the stronghold tower next.  I haven't decided.