Over the last week I have managed to gather enough shards to purchase the three pets, the shade touched doodad, and the trinket that turns me into a rogue skeleton. Basically I have managed to get everything I wanted from the event other than the mount. As a result, I have spent the last few nights mostly outside of Rift, to take a bit of a break.
Minecraft has been an obsession for a long time now. At it’s core the game is basically Legos on crack, and you would have to be living under a rock at this point to have not at least heard of the game that has exploded like a creeper over the last year. I wrote a review for the gaming blog Polygamerous some time ago titled “Minecraft: Better Than The Hype”. I figure this is as good as any to do a post with a gratuitous amount of screenshots.
Starting Out Alone
Like everyone I started with Minecraft Single player. I learned to hide in fear from the barrage of skeletons and zombies, and scurry out during the daylight to gather everything I needed to keep going. One of my friends, calls me the “game pusher”, and true to the name it was not long before I had started hooking various friends on the game as well. So alone in our own private worlds we built, meeting up on Ventrilo to swap stories.
One friend in particular, Rylacus, and I started swapping screenshots of our creations. It became a tradition to have new shots of what we were working on ready to talk about as we waited around on voice before raids. Problem is, other than swapping worlds, there was no way for us to actually build together. I had toyed around with a private server, but my connection simply was too weak to support it.
Enter the Stalwart Server
A good friend of ours, Valkkon, had hosted his own websites and utilities on a leased connection. With very minor bits of persuading, he installed and set up a new server for us. Ry and I abandoned our single player empires and pushed our way out onto a new frontier. Above is a zoomed in image of the area that Rylacus, his Son, his Daughter and I share. In addition to this area there are between 20 and 30 other players with their own areas.
Being able to build together has been a blast. For the most part each of us has our own territory, but the most interesting thing has been the way each of us have chosen to link into the others areas. For example on the above map you can see a number of paths leading off of the main city area. This gives the server a very ‘Sim City” feeling, in that each player controls their own settlement.
Founding of Belgarde
Some of the players have focused on individual buildings. We have towers, castles, pyramids, cottages and caves of all shapes and sizes. However I wanted something different, I wanted to build an entire town. I named my town Belgarde, and set out trying to build the seat of power of the Stalwart family. I kept to the House Stalwart color scheme, since I spent 6 1/2 years with that, and green is my favorite color. You can also see a large number of the “Stalwart Crosses” used throughout the buildings.
The general idea was to try and replicate buildings that would actually be needed to support a town. To keep my citizens safe from monsters, I encased my town in a giant wall. The above image is the wall that started it all. I call this the “lava gate”, and it leads to the courtyard that is shared between myself and the area of Rylacus. The original inspiration was the wall between Hillsbrad and Arathi Highlands in World of Warcraft. While this wall is no way as big, I feel it has a similar feel. The addition of the lava was mostly there as additional lighting.
Some Additional Shots of Belgarde
Temples of the Elements
Early on, one of the structures that Rylacus first built was this obsidian and lava structure. Since Ry has an affinity for using lava various creative ways, we dubbed this first structure the “Lava Temple”. Over time of calling it this, the idea of an elemental fire temple started to set in. Across the courtyard from it I decided to build the polar opposite. I had a blank wall that needed filling, in our quest to make sure every corner of our realm was safe from monster spawns.
The above two images are the main water temple entrance, and what I have begun to call the “water shrine” on the backside of the main temple. Since the lava temple was build out of obsidian and lava, I chose to build this out of the color palette opposites in sandstone, lapis lazuli and water. The water shrine area has a reservoir, which I tried to juxtapose with the lava area on the side. As I describe it, I am wondering if I maybe over thought things, but nonetheless the lapis and water mixture make it feel like there is flowing streams of water through out the structure.
The Wind Temple
Zoom ahead to last night, I decided that I should continue the theme and build a wind and earth themed temple to add in to the mix. Problem with wind, is there is no real block in the game that represents it well. As a compromise I decided to rely on large amounts of glass, to make a see-through structure. What I wound up building is a tall spiral staircase surrounding a column of glowstone, leading up to a round glass and glowstone structure on top. Just to add visual distinction, I decided to stream some water down from it to give the feeling of a rain cloud. I think the jury is out on whether or not it worked.
The Earth Temple
To do the Earth Temple, I decided to build it across the boardwalk from the wind temple. This mirrors the placement of the lava and water temples in another area. I started by burrowing out a path that leads down into the earth. From the beginning, I decided that I need to build this as a dug out structure since this is supposed to represent the terra-firma. I went with sandstone, glowstone, and dirt for a color palette. In the center of the structure is a lava shrine, tying the structure back to it’s aligned element of fire. I like this end result here far more than I do with wind temple. In the future I plan on burrowing additional chambers out from within the temple structure.
The Smugglers Hold
When I was building the boardwalk area I discovered a natural cave system. The cave structure went from under the boardwalks, out to my wall traveling underneath it and coming out on the other side. Rylacus and I had avoided this tunnel system and close one end off just to keep from having to deal with it. In the back of my mind, I always wanted to go do something cool with it. Above is an image of the entrance to what I am dubbing the Smugglers Hold.
In theory since Belgarde is a heavily protected structure, there is more than likely going to be a thriving black market that smuggles things in from the outside. As a result, this enterprise would need a way of doing this easily. Above is an image of the storehouse, which is the main chamber of the structure. The walls are lines with storage for the various items being smuggled in or out of the city.
The storehouse leads its way to a second dock outside of the city walls. My theory is that items would arrive here and make their way into the tunnel structure to be distributed and sold in the bazaar in the city. Items being smuggled out of the city, would be stored in the chests on the dock until transit arrived to take them on to other lands. One of my other friends, Shadoes built this pirate cove off the coast of my city, so this all fits in well thematically with that.
To carry this theme even further I decided to experiment with sponge and build a searoad to secretly connect the outer dock, and Shadoes pirate cove. Working with sponge has been extremely interesting. When you place a sponge block, it will remove a 5×5 block of water with the sponge at the center. I leaned on my go to glowstone, to provide the lighting. From above it gives this cool effect of a stip of light deep down in the water.
I completed the path, and connected up to the pirate cove, creating a path that now connects Shadoes area into the hidden tunnel structure. Since the smugglers need a hideout, I built a shiplike structure on the bottom of the ocean, that connects up to the searoad. In the basement is another storage room where the very precious contraband would be stored.
I’ve Shown You Mine, Let’s See Yours
Now I have shown you my insane little world crafted inside of Minecraft. Funny thing is, on the Stalwart server there are a dozen other players that have equally intricate and story rich worlds they have built up for themselves. We all exist in this general tapestry, all add up to a shared narrative of the server. While I don’t play Minecraft nearly as much as I once did when it was fresh, it is still my go to game when I need a break from someone else’s world. I get to escape into one I have built up for myself, one I have control over.
Minecraft is one of those games, that is only as good as you make it. Just like building with Legos, you can make this world be anything you want it to be. Personally, I chose to craft an epic realm that protects its citizens from the roving zombie hordes. But I have seen players build space ships, sports arenas, and just interesting sculptures. If you have not experienced Minecraft yet, I sincerely suggest you pay the ludicrously small price and join the legion that fears the hiss of the creeper.