Tunneling Addiction



I think we need to talk.  I have a significant problem on my hands… and that problem is Minecraft.  What I mean by that is that I have been obsessing about the game since Christmas day, and wound up staying up until 1:30 last night.  I apparently was digging more tunnels that never seem to end… and just when they appear that they might… I find a way to start a new one.  I’ve said before how my bases in Minecraft tend to be more a complex of interconnected tunnels and underground areas than really anything big and above ground…  and in truth that is happening again in a big way.  The project I happened to be obsessed with last night, however was my treasure room.


When I play Minecraft, it is less that I am willfully building structures and more like discovering them in the existing land.  I almost always start out exactly the same way… which is burrowing into the side of a nice large hill with the purpose of creating a temporary shelter to survive that first night.  However what inevitably happens is that I then use that cave as a sort of starting point for burrowing deep into the hillside and connecting up a bunch of disconnected areas.  Then it is almost as though I am uncovering a lost civilization… and connecting up pieces to create a former empire or something.  Which lead to the thought that I really needed a proper warehouse/treasure room… and where better to put it than deep under the ocean.  I have a dock of sorts and off of it is a large building hovering out over the water… which then leads to my obsession of the night which is a large stairwell shaft that leads down into the water and underground beneath the ocean finally ending up in a room with tons of chests for storage…. and then apparently I dug a shaft back up to create a skylight of sorts.


There was then a point last night when I realized that I had no real way of getting back out of my tunnel system other than jumping from one of the many bridges I have built.  As a result I constructed this entrance point of sorts that leads out onto the mainland…  and being me I then apparently started off a whole new tunnel complex to the left of the above screenshot.  Now my previous tunnels had quickly ended up in the ocean… where I built some sort of an outpost.  One of which literally is a staircase that goes deep down into the ocean and all the way down to bedrock.  That was a bit of a challenge to build and I ultimately flipped on creative mode since I had to be underwater for large chunks of time during its construction.  It is cool however because as you are going down the staircase I have windows that allow you to see out into the ocean and it is really cool when the sun is coming up and the water is swarming with squid.


This new tunnel project however that has consumed most of today… is apparently going off in a direction where there is nothing but land and mountains.  So as a result each time the tunnel has broken free of the mountain briefly I have created a little outpost or at least an exit into whatever area happens to be surrounding it.  There are roughly five of these… and another that I discovered yet another ravine while tunneling, so I took time to build a ladder all the way down to its floor.  The problem with my tunneling obsession is that I have zero clue where exactly I am going or if I will ever reach a point where I consider it “done”.  This is ultimately the challenge I face each time I boot back up Minecraft, is that I get caught up in a project that I never quite know when it is going to let go of me.  However since it had literally been a few years since I last built anything in the game… I am guessing I had a lot of tunneling pent up inside of me.

Christmas Basebuilding



My friend Grace calls today Super Xmas…  or the day that you get to chill out and rest after the manic running around that happens around attempting to make everyone happy on Christmas and Christmas Eve.  This absolutely used to be the case for me, but over the last few years Christmas has become a much more low key affair.  I’ve talked a bit about the concept of an anchor household, but for me most of those are now gone.  Instead we have to sort of make our own new traditions, and one of those recently has consisted of going out to dinner on Christmas Eve with my folks, and then coming back to our house and doing gifts together.  For years there used to be a strict schedule of… my folks and mothers side of the family on Christmas Eve, and my Dads side of the Family early early Christmas morning…  then my wife’s family for Christmas lunch and eventually another gathering Christmas evening.  Over the years deaths in the family have taken the corner stone of each of those gatherings to where there really isn’t a whole lot going on during the holidays on either of our families.

There were of course a few options…  one of which was the household that introduced me to the term “titty milk” a few years back and we opted out of that one.  Instead for the most part we just chilled out at home and enjoyed the fact that it was freaking 70 degrees outside for Christmas.  In the afternoon between thunderstorms we went out for a walk, which is something I need to start doing every day in an attempt to get myself prepared for all of the walking that is going to happen at Pax South.  As far as gaming goes… I spent a lot of time not actually gaming yesterday but more in an extended state of transitioning between games… as I checked twitter and surfed the web.  I did play a significant amount of the Sparrow Racing League, but largely playing remotely through the laptop.  I am getting surprisingly good at dealing with the input lag that comes from playing PS4 via PC, so much so that it actually takes a bit to get adjusted to using the real console again.  I am now in this place where I need two items to hit 400 light…  Ghost and Heavy.  I’ve since gotten two Exotic Heavy Engrams… but both of them decoded to 399 light instead of bumping on up to 400.  This seems like a massive bug because every engram seems to decode at 399 rather than giving me what is usually a level bump.  As far as the ghost goes… I tried some more forge only to have it bug out on me with the waves sitting at 100% for 10 mins and then eventually failing out without actually spawning the boss.


Another thing that happened yesterday is that I fell into a giant Minecraft shaped hole as we hung out and watched some shows on demand.  It has been several years since I had legitimately played Minecraft and as a result I went back to pure vanilla for the moment at least while I get my bearings.  Before long I was back into my standard operating procedure which is digging a big hole and then eventually erecting some large structures.  I decided to have my main base out over the open water with a big tunnel leading from what is ultimately turning into my quarry.  I used the seed “BelChillingChristmas2016” and wound up with a pretty cool spawn.  My original cave opened into a giant chasm underground and I have been building the infrastructure needed to explore it more properly.  I wound up digging down into the rock and laying a bunch of ladders as I went which ultimately allowed me to create a shaft straight down to the chasm floor.  I have a hut of sorts down at ground level that lets me get down there in relative safety and at least see what monsters happen to be around.


I plan on building a dock of sorts under my base that should allow me to launch boats easily for exploring new areas, and I also plan on building another big land bridge/tunnel to the other nearby coast giving me access to new areas.  Right now a lot of my time has been spent simply quarrying cobblestone and hollowing out the mountain side for that purpose.  There is a bunch of gold in the chasm, but I don’t really have much need for it yet.  I have not seen any of the more useful materials like Diamond or Red Stone so at some point I am probably going to have to do the whole dig down to bedrock thing and start some branch mining.  At this very moment however I am trying to expand my base of operations and make more safe space for me to travel in.  Minecraft is one of those games that triggers my base building instinct to the extreme, and I am ultimately falling back into the familiar patterns I do when I always play this game.  In truth I should be playing Diablo 2 since we plan on recording the game of the month show this coming week… but for now I am indulging myself in a little bit of structured madness.

Bel’s Big Adventure

Posting Late

Today I am getting an extremely late starting in getting my “morning” blog post out there.  At this point it is almost 2pm as I sit down to write this.  There are a lot of reasons behind that, in part because video takes a really long time to render.  Not to mention the fact that somewhere between streaming and now we also went out and ran errands.  Blaugust is alive and kicking and I am still shocked and amazed at the turnout.  My wife has even spawned her own version of it within the Math blogosphere without really meaning to.  I think it is pretty awesome when the spirit of Blaugust spreads to communities that were not a part of the first year.  As of this morning I had eighty four bloggers signed up and tracked on the list I am keeping.  I am still trying to catch up on day one honestly because that many blog posts…  is an awful lot of reading.  This is absolutely an amazing problem to have.

If everyone managed to make it through the entire month with a post for every day… that would mean 2604 posts pending we don’t keep picking up more people along the way.  This is really the idea is to get out there and get started on creating more content for our community.  One of the things that keeps coming up from time to time is how blogging is dead, and I love it when we can prove every single one of those naysayers wrong.  There is something magical about putting your thoughts on the page and sharing it with the world.  For me personally it is deeply cathartic to share my thoughts and feelings.  Over the years I have learned to open up more and share more of myself, and as a result my bonds with my fellow bloggers has gotten stronger.  In many ways this community that you are part of is a big support group, because every time I have struggled there has been someone out there to help pull me back to my feet.

Bel’s Big Adventure

javaw 2015-08-02 08-57-29-15 There has been a thing I have wanted to do for awhile.  Some of my favorite Minecraft video series have been adventures with a very simple premise around them.  When I play Minecraft however I tend to be a base builder.  I craft these extremely intricate underground structures, and never tend to move around much as a result.  As a way of combating my instincts, I am going in a completely different direction and starting a series of videos called “Bel’s Big Adventure”.  The idea is simple… only keep what I can carry in my inventory and keep moving North.  Each time I make camp and reset my spawn point by dragging along a bed, workbench and a furnace.  Each day I have to find the resources I will need to make it through to the next day.  Today I streamed for roughly two hours, and I am editing these into smaller videos, the first of which is about thirty minutes in length and involves my hitting the first major obstacle… a big ocean.

The Minecraft version I am using is 1.8 and I am using the GLSL Shader Mod 1.8 combined with SEUS v10.1 to produce the nifty more realistic appearance.  As for the Texture pack I am running Chroma Hills which is known to work fairly well with shader packs.  Finally I have the Mapwriter mod running largely to keep me pointed northward, because it shows an Arrow in that direction.  Other than these largely cosmetic mods I am using the stock Minecraft 1.8.3 that I freshly installed this morning.  It has been well over a year since I last played Minecraft, and as a result there is a lot of stuff in the game that I have not seen yet.  For example… I had no clue that there were Bunnies in the game until I came across a black colored one.  Similarly in what will likely be in episode two I encountered something bizarre that cursed me so that I couldn’t mine anymore.  Most of today has been spent either recording, editing or rendering the video so that I could embed it in today’s post.  Hopefully someone will enjoy it, but if not I at least enjoyed the adventure.  If I find something really interesting in my journey I might stop and set up a more permanent camp in order to explore better.  Since I spent the bulk of my day so far working on this side project, and will likely spend a good chunk more I plan on cutting this post a bit short.  Let me know what you think of this idea, and I am also open to other objectives for me to look out for along the way.

Shaders in Minecraft

Modding State of Mind

The other day I decided to try and mod Fallout 3 to look like a series of images that I had seen… and it seems to have opened up a rabbit hole that I am still falling down.  Yesterday I decided to try and get shaders working in Minecraft.  For some time I have seen videos of minecraft that just look insanely detailed for what is essentially the blockiest of games.  I would do a small bit of research and pretty much halt when I heard that it involved a modification to the game.  Granted I have applied a ton of mods to minecraft, primarily adding in a minimap to make connecting tunnels up easier.  Ultimately this involved me configuring something called the “Magic Launcher” to mod my game JAR file on the fly.

Once upon a time you used to have to open the JAR file in 7zip and manually replace individual files inside of the archive.  This was tedious and also involved a lot of trial and error as you were ever quite certain what order you had to load the files in with.  When I started down the path of trying to figure out shaders a long while back… this was still the method of getting them to work.  However a wonderful invention seems to have sprung up in the Minecraft world called Forge.  Once installed it essentially allows you to fiddle with mods on the fly from within the game itself, and gives you a “Mods” directory to dump things in.

Shaders in Minecraft

javaw 2014-07-15 22-45-12-519 So while this process is a bit of a pain still… as you can see from the above photo the end result is very worth it.  It feels like a bit of an understatement, but this completely changes the feel of the minecraft experience.  So many things just feel better from the way fire reacts, to the way spider eyes glow out in the instance of the night… to the fact that the day night cycle actually feels like something that is more predictable.  When you get close to evening it starts to feel like maybe you better duck in for the night as the light begins to significantly dim as the sun nears the horizon.  Granted you can install shaders without the use of a custom resource pack, but I decided to take the advice of SonicEther the creator of the shader preset I am using and go with the ChromaHills texture pack.

javaw 2014-07-15 23-37-30-476

I mean everything about Minecraft is still very much a blocky game, but for some reason adding realistic lighting makes everything immediately feel that more real.  There are little touches that I think are adorable like the fact that at this moment I had just gotten into a fight with a skeleton.  You can see the shadow of all of the arrows sticking out of my head as I prepare to fight a zombie that has caught fire and is still lumbering towards me. But I have to say the place where it gets most impressive is underground, giving an entirely different feel to moving about in the long tunnels I am prone to build.  When you are down there it feels like you are playing some updated version of Doom or Wolfenstein 3D and not really a building game.  I would imagine that bow sniping in this mode would be extremely fun.

Faffing about with Blocks

Last night I streamed some Minecraft for roughly an hour mostly to show off the shaders in action.  The true effect really only hits you when you see it in motion, with the depth of field and the way the shadows and lights work.  My primary project of the night was to work on my tunnel system and try and burrow out far enough to get somewhere interesting.  Legdur one of the other users on the server at some point during the night came over and gifted me an insane silk touch diamond pick and thats when the construction really kicked into overdrive.  I go over this in the video but basically I started out in a small cave and then built out from there over top of the water forming my first “base”.  Instead of abandoning the cave I opted to simply connect it to the tower.

javaw 2014-07-15 22-42-53-996 One of the things I have learned about myself thanks to Minecraft, is that I am most comfortable when underground.  As a result instead of building pathways on the surface or roads… I end up building deep tunnel systems that get me where I want to be.  Primarily I think it is that when I am underground I have more control and am ultimately safer because I can control my surroundings.  As a result I have three main tunnels that lead out of my initial base.  One of which leads back to the spawn point and I have crafted a little hut of sorts to mark the entrance to my territory.  Think of it almost like a subway terminal or the Dragon Age deeproads.  Another tunnel I simply dug until I broke ground in what is a nice secluded valley.  I have not actually done anything with this path but I intend to have it be another intended place of expansion.

javaw 2014-07-15 23-01-03-563 The tunnel that I built last night, or completed last night connects up to this building that I am currently working on.  Ultimately it will be significantly larger than the island tower I initially built primarily because I have a hell of a lot more resources stockpiled right now.  It is nothing terribly special yet but I am working on it slowly.  Essentially right now it is spider proof and generally monster proof and hopefully I can use it as a way to lure some chickens down into my complex.  Animal husbandry is one of the things I dig about Minecraft and sooner or later I always develop an underground farm that allows me to harvest and breed animals for food.  I try to generally place said farm as far away from my main area as humanly possible… because the looped sounds of chickens, cows and sheep will drive you to drinking.

Installing the Shaders

javaw 2014-07-15 23-39-11-272At this point you may want to follow me down the rabbithole that is modding Minecraft and installing these spiffy shaderpacks.  Like I said yesterday one of the things that has always frustrated me about the modding community is how arcane the directions can be, and how it is generally a fairly exclusionary group by nature.  You have to have a certain level of knowledge of the inner workings of a game before anything that folks are saying on the forums will make any sense at all.  Here goes my attempt to explain how the installation process works so that my readers can follow along in this journey.

Downloads Needed

So after collecting all these bits you should have a handful of files…

  • forge-1.7.10-
  • ShadersModCore-v2.3.18-mc1.7.10-f1179.jar
  • SEUS-v10.1-Ultra-DOF.rar
  • ChromaHills-64×1.7_1.0.8.rar

Creating the File System

So for this part of the tutorial… I will admit I am a windows user.  I realize that Minecraft can run on a Macintosh, but I have no clue how that works.  I have a Macbook 1440 sitting in the closet, and that is the last time I have used anything vaguely resembling the Mac operating system.  So if you are not a windows user you are pretty much shit out of luck.  My steps might make sense to you, and if so hopefully you can follow along enough to make sense of what you actually have to do in your file system.

First we need to make sure we have the directories that we are going to need for this to work.  We have to navigate to our minecraft directory, and to get there the easiest way is to use the hotkey [Windows Button] and [r key] at the same time.  This should bring up the run prompt.  I pretty much do all filesystem navigation by typing in directories that I want to go to in the run prompt.  As my friend points out regularly I am a “power user” but quite honestly I have no clue how to get to this directory through the file system without typing it in.  Basically in the run prompt you want to type “%appdata%” without the quotes.  This is a windows shortcut that gets you to the application data roaming directory.  Inside of there you should see a “.minecraft” directory.  This is where your system actually has minecraft installed.

We will need to make sure your folder has three directories.  If they are not there then you need to create them.  All of these directories are lowercase names, and I am not sure if that matters but since Java is a language capable of case sensitivity…  I would suggest you just save yourself some hassle and name them lowercase as well.  Create/verify that you have the following directories…

  • resourcepacks
  • shaderpacks
  • mods

Setting Things Up

Now we get to the point where we actually have to do some things.  First you need to install forge-1.7.10- and if Java is configured correctly on your system… you should just need to double click this file to install it.  Accept the defaults and this will install forge and create a profile called Forge under your Minecraft installation.  Next we are going to need to copy the appropriate files into the right directories.

  • Copy “ShadersModCore-v2.3.18-mc1.7.10-f1179.jar” to the “mods” directory
  • Copy “ChromaHills-64×1.7_1.0.8.rar” to the “resourcepacks” directory
  • Unzip “SEUS-v10.1-Ultra-DOF.rar” to the “shaderpacks” directory

If you do not have a way of unzipping a RAR file, then I highly suggest you check out 7zip for all your archiving needs.


If you open the Minecraft launcher you should now have a profile in the drop down called “Forge” go ahead and log into Minecraft and hit the play button for that profile.  If everything went correctly with the installation of Forge, you should now see a [Mods] button on the front menu for Minecraft that looks a little something like this.

javaw 2014-07-16 07-03-37-476 Now we need to turn on the shader which should be possible if the Mods button is showing up.  To get there you click [Options] and you should see a new option called [Shaders] appearing there in Options Menu.

javaw 2014-07-16 07-05-02-861 When you click shaders you get a menu system that looks a little something like this.  Make sure you have selected the SEUS-v10.1-Ultra-DOF option.  I have a few more things in my menu than you will have if you have followed this guide.  There are lots of different shader packs out there that you can play with, but that is for another day.

javaw 2014-07-16 07-06-05-677 Finally we want to turn on our resource pack.  At this point your menus will look a little different because I have the ChromaHills pack already turned on when I am recording these screenshots.  But to get there you want to back out to the Options menu and select [Resource Packs].

javaw 2014-07-16 07-08-37-326 Again I have another resourcepack in my list that you will not have if you are following the guide to the letter, but the important thing here is that you want to make sure ChromaHills is on the right hand side of the screen meaning that it will be used.  When you hit done, your system might freeze for a bit but this is completely normal.  The game is essentially unloading all of the textures and reloading the ones from the resource pack which includes the various menu textures as well.

If Everything Went Right

javaw 2014-07-16 07-12-00-259 Then BAM! You’ve got shaders.  If you have any pointed questions about the process let me know, but I tried to make this as straight forward as possible.  If you have specific questions about the various items, I posted both the webpage link and the actual download link.  It is possible that at a later date some of the download links I posted may not work.  If that is the case refer back to the webpage link because they have probably iterated the version of whatever the item is.  So far I am loving Minecraft with more realistic lighting, and hopefully you will too.  Happy digging!


Tunnel Works

Hurry Up and Blog

This mornings blog post is likely going to be a quick and abbreviated one as we need to get on the road soon.  The wife and I are going off to Oklahoma City today in search of the illusive Half Priced Books store and my mission for the day… lots and lots of Cash America pawn shops.  Last weekend I managed to pick up some amazing deals on used PS3 games at that chain, and there are far more of them in OKC than here in Tulsa.  Basically I am cheap, and I would love to pick up more PS3 and Xbox 360 games… but I only really want to pay $5-$10 for them.  I had a blast playing Fallout 3 on the PS3 even though I had played it countless times on the PC, so I would be interested in visiting lots of titles I had played on the PC as well.

In part because playing on a console is so easy… you pop the disc in and go.  The negative however is that you can never really improve the experience.  Example here is a modded up version of Fallout 3 that greatly improves the look and feel.  Seeing this yesterday pretty much guarantees that I will play through the game at least one more time on the PC as well.  Another prime example of better living through software is the whole Skywind project, where they are completely redoing  Morrowind using the Skyrim engine.  These things will never be able to function on a console, but I have to admit there is something nice about the simplicity of just pressing play.  My only complaint right now is that I wish the modern generation of consoles would allow me to install the disc to the hard drive and then not have to worry about having the disc any longer.  That is the thing I like the most about my PlayStation Plus titles, the ability to have lots of them “on tap”.

Tunnel Works

2014-07-12_07.52.34 Most of last night was spent working on my extensive tunnel network…  or what will soon BE an extensive tunnel network.  Across a bridge from my main building is the first area I started out that I am using as some what of a stone quarry.  At base floor I started a tunnel to see just what I might intercept digging in a straight line.  Generally speaking I dig 3×3 tunnels because they feel about right, not too closed in and not too open.  After quite a ways of torching every 7 blocks I came out on the other side in what appears to be a riverside valley.  There is a cobblestone wall there so I am not sure who has been building in the area.  Hopefully I am not impeding on someone else’s land too badly, but I like as many entrances and exits from my area as possible.

2014-07-12_07.54.35 I built up a really simple fenced in area so that hopefully I won’t end up with too many creepers lurking there.  One of the interesting things about the lockette mod we are using is that supposedly if you lock a wooden door it makes it so that zombies cannot beat it down.  Traditionally I have used fence gates to bar entrance into my areas, because villagers cannot open them and zombies cannot break them.  However I have started trying out the whole locked door thing to see if it works.  I am not purposefully really trying to keep people out of my stuff, but more that I don’t want to come home and find everything full of mob spawns.

Cactus Shield

2014-07-12_07.55.51 The other thing that I worked on last night was redoing the approach to my house.  I ended up extending the path to make it far less likely for me to kill myself trying to leave it by hitting lots of cactus.  This almost happened a few times as I seem to be unable to walk a straight line.  Essentially I started the dual tier row of cactus a block further out so I have a 3 block walkway to get in and out of my area.  I might add a third row of cactus because I actually managed to have a creeper make it through earlier.  Granted the creeper only took a single hit to kill after being chewed up pretty badly by the cactus to get to me…  but this in part was because some of the cactus has not fully grown to 3 block height yet.  The creeper was able to hop up onto a single block height one and use it to make his way in.


Now that I feel like my base is fairly defensible, it is just about time for me to start back working on the “mine to bedrock” project.  Essentially in every build I have done in Minecraft I eventually create a tunnel network that goes all the way to bedrock and start branch mining for diamonds.  It is my hope that I picked a decent spot to mine, because so often you get down to bedrock and struggle with lava.  Right now the project has been derailed in that I hit a fully enclosed cave system, but I need to build my way through it and continue digging.  So far I am finding playing on the Alliance of Awesome server to be fun and refreshing, since more or less I am having to play legitimately again.  If you are interested ping Zelibeli and she can get you white listed… but of note this is open to existing members of the AofA community and its requisite groups.

Base Building and Wormholes

Zombie Shamble

This morning I am shambling around the house in a zombie like state.  For whatever reason I seem to have not slept well last night.  I remember waking up at many moments to either kick the covers off or freezing and cover back up.  My wife has wondered if she is coming down with something, and I am honestly starting to wonder if this is something more than just allergies.  All I know for certain is that I could not seem to regulate my body temperature last night, and the constant pile of cats didn’t really help with the ability to get comfortable.  I generally had one pinning my legs down and another stopping me from rolling over, while a third fought for control of my pillow.

I enjoy the hell out of my wife.  She can fall asleep without any preparation and tends to sleep all the night through.  She can fall asleep at like 8 pm and then transfer to the bed and continue sleeping the rest of the night through.  I wish I could do that, but if I take a nap it completely destroys my ability to sleep that night entirely.  Additionally I never can seem to functionally get more than four to six hours of sleep in any given night.  The result of too much sleep is pretty much the same as not enough sleep for me, resulting in a morning much like this one where I have trouble stringing contiguous thoughts together in my head.

Base Building and Wormholes

2014-07-10_22.11.32 Last night I spent most of the evening plugging away on building my base on the Alliance of Awesome server while watching season four of Farscape.  I had a simple mission last night, to figure out a way to protect my base from invaders that all too easily could drop down from the cliff above or jump across from the trees nearby.  As a result I harvested copious amounts of wood surrounding the cliff to remove the ability for them to perch on top of the trees and drop down from above.  The main mission of the night was to find some cactus.  The area the spawn is near is a mixture of heavy forestation and to a lesser extent swamp land.  While we have an ample supply of cows and horses there was no readily available desert biome.

As a result I started going on these daytrips out as far away from my base as I could before eventually teleporting back using the /home command at the last possible moment before nightfall.  While the majority of these were mostly futile it did allow me to stockpile the various things you can get from killing animals and I have a 50 stack of steaks that should hold me for some time as well as a lot of chicken and ham.  In fact I brought home so much of it that I had to break down and build several more furnaces so that I could cook each meat at the same time.  During my evenings in game I would work on harvesting out the hillside quarry that links up to my fort out on the water.

Cactus Finally

2014-07-10_20.59.04 On the four trip out I was getting to the point where I thought maybe just maybe there was not a convenient desert adjoining the biomes in any direction.  I had crossed every other imaginable biome, except maybe deep jungle when I started to stumble into what looked like a savannah.  Then on the far side of that I started to see some sand dunes.  I was starting to get a little edgy however as the sun was extremely low in the sky, which mean I did not have very long at all to harvest any cactus I happened to find.  So as night fell I wandered around the desert gathering up whatever I could get.  A warning for anyone who heads to that desert… it seems to almost entirely be spawned with endermen.

I gathered up around 30 blocks of cactus and ported out of there with the /home command.  I wish I had taken more screenshots but I was in a rush to get the resources I needed and get out of there.  In the Savannah region there was what looked like an abandoned safari hut.  I would think it was a player creation, but there were absolutely no torches anywhere and it was completely open up on one end.  I am wondering if this is a new type of prefab since I last played the game.  There were no resources in it other than a crafting table that had been embedded into the floor.  That is one of the things that I find most interesting is that since I have not played much minecraft in a long time, there will likely be a ton of things that are new to me.

Defensive Position


As you can see in the above photo I installed a row of cactus as a defensive barrier to stop things from either being able to scale the sides of my base or drop down from the cliff above.  It doesn’t stop the spiders from trying, because every night there is at least one that suicides down on the cactus dying well before they make it into the base.  Right now I have a pier or sorts that connects the door into my base to the landmass and I am thinking about putting a line of cactus there as well.  It does an amazing job of blocking bad stuff from getting to your base.  Right now I am also trying to tunnel towards the spawn so that I can hopefully have a route to get back there if needed.

2014-07-10_22.28.19 I’ve started my mine down to try and harvest some diamonds, but that plan fell apart completely when I broke into a rather shallow cave complex.  There is still a ton of iron and coal that I need to harvest out of that at some point and sure up the stairs so I can continue to go down past it.  Like any Minecraft session I have more projects that I have focus to complete them.  At some point I want to expand the main tower structure to go up into a lighthouse of sorts.  In order to carry that off I am going to need either some lightstone or some netherrack…  which both mean a trip into the nether.  Which also means that I need to find plenty of diamond, and use it to harvest obsidian.  There is quite a large amount of surface spawn lava nearby so that shouldn’t be a huge ordeal to safely harvest obsidian.  In any case…  I seem to be obsessing about Minecraft again.


Return to Minecraft

When it Rains…

The old euphemism “when it rains it pours” is fitting today because it is absolutely drenched outside… and additionally we have been dealing with all sorts of issues this week.  Over the weekend we had to deal with my wife’s vehicle and the tensioner going out in a rather dramatic way.  For those that don’t remember we were driving Sunday and the bolt essentially sheared causing pretty much every light on the dash to come on at once and us to barely make it home before the engine overheated to the point of no return.  Monday during the day we got that issue fixed and it was a rather simple mistake that lead to it.  I thought we were done with our auto troubles for the time being, but reality seemed to have other ideas.

Yesterday over lunch I ran to Target to pick up cat food and while I was out something to eat.  When I started up the jeep there was a very loud mechanical whirring noise that I didn’t recognize, but otherwise the vehicle seemed to perform fine so I tried my best not to think about it.  As I was heading back from lunch and entering the edge of downtown I noticed that the red battery light had come on.  At this point I am not really sure what to do… I’ve had a few alternators go out, and generally speaking that light combined with the whirring noise I heard earlier probably meant mine was dying.  I parked in the garage and went into the building calling the shop to see if they could work me in.  Sure enough they could, so I thought I would try and make my way there, hoping I did not get stranded along the side of the road.  I mean we have AAA so in theory there was never really the chance that I would truly get stranded…  but I crossed all my things in hope that I made it through successfully.

When I got out into the jeep I turned everything off that could possibly be drawing power.  So by the time I made it to the shop I had a rather sweaty windblown hairdo that I am sure was extremely attractive.  Thankfully the shop we use is around the corner from my house so I could drop the vehicle off and walk home.  Just about the time I walked in the front door my phone was ringing.  They had been able to assess the issues and said it was in fact the Alternator, that the bearings were bad and it would need to be replaced.  About three thirty they called back letting me know the vehicle was ready for pickup.  It is probably a bad thing that the girl behind the desk addressed me by name when I walked through the door.  That means we have been in there entirely too often lately.  Good news is that my Jeep appears to be fine now, and since both of our vehicles are paid off… I guess paying a car payment a piece worth of repairs is not too bad in the long run.

Return to Minecraft

javaw 2014-07-10 06-26-05-352 A few days ago Zeli mentioned that she would be setting up an Alliance of Awesome Minecraft server so that her child could have a safe place to play the game.  It is a whitelist based server, and since my Minecraft name is pretty easy to remember I asked her to go ahead and set me up.  Last night I finally got around to logging in and playing.  For some time House Stalwart has had a Minecraft server run by a member, and at this point we have conquered pretty much all of the land surrounding the spawn point for a few days worth of travel. While this huge sprawling city is awesome to behold, it doesn’t leave much room for you to go out and tame the wilds.  So I opted to start fresh on a brand new server, since really the “taming the wilderness” phase of a new server is the most enjoyable for me.

Zeli started us off with a stack of steaks, a steel pick and steel sword, which is a pretty good toolset to gain a foothold in the wilderness.  I however squandered this horribly.  Having been so long since I played on a server, I forgot about all of the controls like /sethome and wandered around at night for awhile and down into a cave managing to get myself killed… and as such losing all of the nifty baubles that I started with.  I really had no clue where I was in relation to the spawn point, so I pretty much set out to start fresh.  We have a village near the spawner, and I managed to find it… which means that we also have the village trackstar zombies at night spawning near us.  It took me a lot of deaths to finally get to a place where I had enough tools to defend myself.

I did not get terribly far, but right now I have the start of a mine dug into the side of a hill, with a bridge extending from it out into the water where I am slowly building a tower of sorts.  I figure the mine will feed my need for resources and the tower out in the middle of a pond will give me plenty of defense.  Just going to have to come up with a clever way to get in and out of said tower.  The area I am in for some reason has a couple of golems spawned near me, which do a fair job of keeping the baddies away at night.  I am guessing someone spawned the golems at the spawner and they just wandered off.  Additionally there are mass amounts of horses and cows where I am set up at, meaning I have eventual transportation and a ready source of meat and leather.  This time I did remember to type /sethome.  Right now I am very much in the “locking things down” phase, trying to create something that will protect me entirely during the nights.


farscape_characters While playing Minecraft last night I opted to hang out downstairs and watch Farscape.  This is one of my favorite television shows, but I have not actually made it all the way through the series.  I was at the very tail end of season three when Netflix lost the license to the show the first time.  For awhile I was having them ship me individual DVDs but that process got rather frustrating.  I could have of course gone out and found the episodes otherwise, but I got sidetracked.  At some point in the last few years they managed to get the licensing set up again and all of the episodes are now ready for streaming in all their glory.

The thing I love the most about this show is that it actually has some pretty diverse aliens that are both a member of the crew and ones that you encounter along the way.  The claim to fame of the show that it was done by the Jim Henson creature shop, and because of this the aliens that are brought to life by master puppeteers just have a realness to them that you cannot get with CGI.  Dominaar Rigel feels like a real character and not a small puppet, and because of this the show has held its production value, whereas most science fiction feels cheesy a few years after it is made as our graphical standards keep increasing.

At this point I have just finished season three and am ready to start the fourth and final season.  If minecraft continues to hold my interests, I will probably spend a few more nights watching Farscape and building away in the Alliance of Awesome server.  In fact I think that is what I did last time I watched Farscape…  build away on the House Stalwart server.  Minecraft and watching television seem to go hand in hand for me.  If you’ve never seen Farscape I highly suggest you check it out, as it has this whole Buck Rogers meets Star Wars feel to it.  I pretty much like all of the characters except for a late addition to the crew … Jool.  It is not that I mind her character, it is that I mind the sonic assault that is having her in any sort of action situation.  When she gets freaked out she emits this high pitched scream that drives me up a wall.

Rebooting Minecraft

Guild Meeting

I have an exciting evening planned that I have been looking forward to for a few weeks.  One of my long time House Stalwart guild members is here in town, and tonight we plan on having a board game night.  Dallian/Doctor Hannah appeared on Episode 5 of AggroChat, and we mentioned the upcoming visit there.  He lives in the Little Rock area which makes him a neighbor of ours as far as the internet is concerned.  I always think its cool when I get to meet someone in the flesh that I have gamed with for ages.  I think the plan tonight is to play loads of Munchkin and eat pizza at Rae’s house.  We’ve tried to invite several of the locals to meet up, so it should be really fun.  I am contemplating bringing some magic starter decks, but that might be a little too involved.  We’ve been talking with a co-worker about maybe trying to play some magic over lunch soon.  Apparently his wife is super into the game and would probably even come up over lunch to play it.

chickenandtots I don’t really do this sort of thing that often.  I guess the last guild member that I met up with was Lummox who happened to be about fifteen minutes away from where I happened to be staying in Albany.  It is always interesting to see how someone is in real life verses their in game persona.  For the most part, a lot of the people I have met have been fairly similar.  I have to say the closest was probably Urcasio and Ravener, who were pretty much exactly the people I would have expected based on in game interactions.  Since I generally find it easier to meet over food, Dal and I are meeting up before this evening for lunch.  For years I have been talking about how amazing Ron’s Hamburgers are, and more importantly their hot and spicy chicken and cheese tots.  So we are meeting up at my favorite location today around 11ish.  I would love to somehow steal him to town like I managed to do with Rae.  I feel like I am trying to build this little gamer community, one person at a time.

Rebooting Minecraft

Last week one of my new friends Missysmojo decided to try her hand at playing Minecraft. I joked with her that she would end up losing the next three months of her life.  She opted to stream a little bit, and it got me thinking.  It has been years since I have played Minecraft with any regularity.  There have been a few times I patched up my client and connected to the guild server just to see what folks were doing, but I had felt like I had “beaten” Minecraft for some time.  In this last year there have been significant changes in the game, and probably even more before that I really never noticed.  So I thought I would start a brand new game and play completely legit.  No mods, no helpful minimap… just the vanilla client and a texture pack (because yeah that is necessary).  The above video is the results of that process last night.  I am not really sure yet how often I will be streaming Minecraft, but I expect to continue where I left off each time.

For starters…  I am really not used to the game any longer.  I kept trying to “suck in” blocks and drops like you do in Trove.  The low performance of the game frustrated me, because I am not used to it “chunking” and loading in parts of the game slowly freezing my client momentarily when it does.  I am sure this is something I can tweak, because I probably just don’t have enough memory flowing to the default client.  There used to be a tool called Magic Launcher that handled a lot of the memory allocation for me, so I might look into that.  Another dumbass move is I totally thought I was on “survival” mode for the first little bit, running scared from potential monsters… only to find out that I actually was in peaceful mode on the client.  Once I noticed that and changed it things started to get interesting.

For starters, it seems like the creeper spawn rate is insane.  I maybe saw one or two zombies and skeletons the first night after flipping it to a normal mode, but I saw what felt like half a dozen creepers.  I managed to trap four chickens inside my base and I dug a pit like I often do and have them down there for a constant source of eggs, feathers and meat.  At some point I want to try and drag a couple of cows and pigs in there as well so I have all of my livestock needs handy.  Most of the video involves me setting up “base” as I hollow out a mountain, search for coal and finally start digging down into the earth in search of steel.  I encounter a cave with a skeleton spawner in it… and have a pretty epic battle trying to break the cave and torch it off.  I had quite a bit of fun, or at least more fun with Minecraft than I have had in ages.

Bunny Doom

Hex 2014-05-15 23-48-43-201 I love everything there is to love about the Shin’hare, and the fact that they exist makes Hex so much more enjoyable than Magic the Gathering ever could be.  It’s an entire race of adorable evil samurai bunnies…  you could slap that into ANY game and I would play it.  As a kid one of my favorite comic book characters was Usagi Yojimbo… so everything about this deck feeds my enjoyment.  Not to mention that my favorite deck combination in Magic the Gathering was Green and Black… and the Shin’hare are exactly that…  Life and Blood aka Green and Black.  In some ways it reminds me of playing my thalid deck circa Fallen Empires.  I would constantly use that deck to feed my black “sacrifice or I feed” cards.  While I am lacking some of the cards in Hex to make this work really well, the starter deck mixed with a few cards I got from my packs seems to be working okay.

Last night I got in and played a few hands against the AI, mostly because it was getting late and I didn’t want to deal with people.  I am anxious for when trading comes into play, because of my group of friends I think I am really the only hardcore bunny player.  I should be able to help some of them out with cards they are looking for and bolster my bunny army.  My all time favorite card is still the Uzume, Grand Concubunny.  Not only is the artwork adorable, but the card is insane when you get it out into play.

When I first read this card, I assumed it would start dropping the 0/1 battle hopper tokens that the other Shin’hare cards do on the table.  While that would have been good enough, considering the normal concubunnies you have to expend resources and tap them to get this effect.  The real effect however is so much better, in that it summons a random non-unique bunny card into play.  This can be ANY card, even ones you don’t currently have in your deck.  It is literally generating cards for you, but the problem is this makes the card and insane aggro magnet.

I need to formulate some ways to protect the card, because really it is too damned valuable to not have it on the board for more than a few turns.  Hopefully soonish I can get together with my other friends currently in the closed beta and play some actual matches.  I feel like Kodra is in a completely different league with me, and like to play a style of magic that I do not… but this will not stop me from attempting to beat him.  He royally kicked my ass in hearthstone, but it didn’t stop me from coming back for more.  These type of games for me are about the moment to moment play and not whether or not I win.  In fact that can pretty much be said with any game I play, I am just not that competitive.  It is about the journey not the win conditions.