Monday, March 12, 2012

Minecraft - The beginning of The End

It has been a long time since I wrote in this blog and thought that today would be a good time to update it. While the guys are busying playing Mass Effect 3, I keep plugging away at Minecraft, oh and I did put in 100 hours into Skyrim, which is a great game in itself. But as always I keep coming back to Minecraft, I guess it's because no matter how immersive a game like Skyrim is, I actually can shape the world of Minecraft like no other. Now add in some questing and some of the depth of Skyrim and I'd never stop.

Anyway I have been spending a lot of time and effort in my quest to defeat the Enderdragon and "beat Minecraft". It has been a long journey, numerous adventures underground, the creation of a vast castle to house my farms and goods, adventures into the Nether taking on hordes of Blazes so that I could create potions (which I never use), and then my hunt for the stronghold housing the portal to The End. At this point I'm working on collecting Ender Pearls so that I can open the portal up and face The End for the first time. I'm not really sure what to expect in the end boss fight, I know that there will be a ton of Endermen there, so I have crafted myself a set of diamond armor, enchanted with extra protection. All in all a lot has had to happen to get to this place in the adventure.

In order to obtain the needed XP for the high level enchantments I got lucky early on and found a skeleton spawner near my home castle. Originally I was excited to get unlimited arrows but shortly after setting it up I realized that I was going to need to start farming XP for the future. So I went to work on expanding the XP trap, I opened up a room 24 blocks away that would funnel mobs to me in addition to the skeletons so that I could earn even more XP. But the flow was more like a trickle, I needed something bigger. At first I went to work on a separate machine, but it was an utter failure. I'm not totally sure why, but I know that it didn't work as I intended so I gave up on it and went to work on expanding the trap that I already had. Plotting out the corners to the room below I started adding floors to the trap one after the other, funneling mobs down the levels until they ended up in the kill location. Now complete with 4 1/2 floors and the added monster AI from the latest patch, I'm raking in XP levels at a time. I'm really happy with the final results.

At night now my goal is to hunt down Endermen, their rarity as made it so that I have actually seen more spiderjockeys in the last couple of days than Endermen. I think I need another 3 pearls to open the portal, so next time I get on it will be grind XP during the day and hunt for Endermen at night once again, but I'm getting close.

I have also been playing a bit with my son on our server. Built myself a nice little X-wing, and we're working on the Ewok village in one of the new jungle biomes. He is really excited to play with me on the weekends, I only wish that he wouldn't get all weird after playing for extended periods of time. It looks like we're going to need to go back to limiting his time online a little better. It's amazing to me what he has been able to create himself and how he uses the wiki to look up other formulas. Essentially he takes a look at what I build and then he copies the design and expands upon it. I'm really proud of him when he gets creative and is willing to play by himself (both in RL too). But as much as his creative skills have gotten good, I've decided that it's time to take his skills up a notch, I've built a zombie arena in our world so that he can take them on as practice for the future. He needs to get used to the idea of fighting them where he could get killed. But with a full set of iron armor, a diamond sword, and damage set to peaceful, I don't think there is much danger. To him it will be a great confidence boost, first we take on Zombies then Skeletons and Spiders, in time he'll be ready to play with monsters, then we can have some real fun.

Anyway I needed to update the blog, just because. Not sure how much gaming there will be in the future with the move coming up so here it is.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Minecraft - Back at it

So after playing Skyrim for a month, I've decided to dive back into Minecraft, what in my opinion is one of the greatest games ever made. It may not be for everyone, but the gameplay for me is just too good that I keep coming back with it feeling like a fresh experience over and over again.

This time around I'm just playing, not doing the Let's Play thing, I could again at some point but for now I'm just playing and enjoying it. And the way I'm playing it on my 1.0 world there are easy entry points if I want to. I've gone back to my old rule set of modified hardcore where upon death I have to randomly spawn myself in the world and essentially start over. By doing this it means that my world will endlessly grow as I play and explore, not to mention that I've have castles spring up around the world that will give the world a nice feel. Who knows one day I could use the world as a multiplayer world, that would be kind of neat. I'm only running one mod and that is Millinare, it's a fantastic mod that adds villages to the game (yes there are villages in the normal game, but... well yeah.)

In my new world I've set up shop in a nice plane area, it's flat and has a huge cave system under it. Not to mention that I found a skeleton spawner within a short walk from my castle, now that is luck! Of course arrows aren't as great as they used to be, but they are still useful for sure. I'd be curious to see the monsters online and see if they still have the melee delay that they used to, which meant that you had to use a bow to fight them. Anyway my castle is taking shape, I have my wheat farm, I've also set up a nice ranch of cows for limitless steak. I'm in the process of making a wall around the perimeter of the castle so that it will truly be a castle. The area around the castle is lit up with hundreds of torches, it's so well lit that I am even able to do construction at night, picking off the random mob that makes it through the lights.

I don't really care about the changes that have been made to combat, normally I'll find a mob let them run up to me and I'll just beat them to death, like I used to. Skeletons are a little more interesting since I have to close the ground on them, dealing with cliffs and those guys can be interesting. So far I haven't taken on any Endermen, I know they hit hard and take a lot of hits so I'm just avoiding them for now until I get my diamond sword. Speaking of diamonds, they are a bitch to find now, I haven't found one yet in this map, but in fairness I haven't gone deep enough long enough yet. I really want to get that diamond pick and have enough left over for my enchanting table, I'm already level 17 so I can't wait to use the system and see what I get. The fact that you lose levels when you do it is kind of lame, but I guess there should be some sort of balancing cost. My son and I did it on our peaceful map with his level 1 character and it's kind of neat, so I'm looking forward to it.

The goal this time, is just to progress and see where it takes me. If I end up killing the Ender Dragon all power to me, but I don't really think that I will. But that will be the path that I'm on, eventually I'll get to that point one way or another. Which brings me back to why I really love this game, I can finish it, or I can just choose to ignore it and do my own thing. I like having a little bit of structure just as much as I like having limitless freedom. And Skyrim is a great game, with tons of freedom and a great story that you can just immerse yourself in, I highly recommend it. But while it might be the best game of 2011, Minecraft to me is one of the best of all time, which is why after 60+ hours of Skyrim, I'm back to Minecraft.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Skyrim - Not Oblivion

The highest complement that I can bestow upon Skyrim is that it's not Oblivion. Oh sure it's obviously similar, but the depth and natural flow of the game are just so much better that it's hard to overstate. Walking from point A to point B (I rarely use the speed travel option) will always have something happen that keeps you wondering what is coming next. And while playing Oblivion kind of felt like I was checking off quests on a list, this time around it just feels like I'm being gently pushed in different directions to experience the game.

Since I got it I haven't been able to put it down as I have dove head first into my roll as a one handed bow assassin. My style is to sneak around and use my bow to take out as many bad guys as I can and then finish them off with my sword and board technique. Having learned how to actually block now has given me a huge advantage. But there is nothing like hiding in the shadows with the bow drawn and letting it fly into the chest of some unsuspecting victim and seeing that little 2X damage text pop up. So many great sniper moments that it's impossible to pick just one, but a highlight for sure was taking out a guy on the top of a tower and watching him fall into the river below, thing of beauty.

When it comes to highlight moments, Skyrim has them to spare. I have two favorites so far, one of those coming last night while I was making my way to the greybeards and I just happened to catch a red dot moving on my radar, it was a saber cat about to attack. I readied my shield and blocked his initial attack and then while he was off balance I got a critical animation where I one shot the bastard, kicking him from sword, it was a really, "take that bitch." moment. I'm only level 14 so I felt pretty proud.

My other big moment was the random frost dragon fight I came across while just wondering around. I did a quick travel to get to a cave that I thought I had left some stuff in and instantly see a dead horse on the ground, which hadn't been there before. I look around a little bit and see a dragon flying around overhead. There are a couple of guards armed with bows firing at the dragon, naturally I pull out my bow and go join the fight. I stay back a bit and pluck away, I see no reason to go make myself the main target, and I watch the guards fight the dragon. In the distance I see the dragon pick up one of the guards in it's mouth and shake him around, finally tossing him aside with weapon and shield flying haphazardly away as well. I start thinking that if I want to take this dragon out, I better move in before all of the guards are killed. I go to melee and as I'm hacking at the hindquarters of the dragon, it picks up the last of the guards and throws him aside too. Now the dragon turns towards me, frost breath blasting away. I do what any paniced adventurer would do, I run for it. The dragon giving chase blasting away at me, I realize that if I keep running I'm a goner, even popping potions. I jump behind a rock the dragon still closing in blasting away at me. I use the rock as a shield and fire some arrows back in his direction, trying to dodge his very fast frost blasts, all the while him continuing to close in. Knowing I can't run, I run up to just behind the rock with the dragon on the other side blasting away at it (sure the AI should have gone around, but I was kind of pinned down too, it seemed believable, even as I remember it it does.) My screen enveloped in white as the frost surrounds me and me poking out between shots to get an arrow in. After a couple blasts from the dragon I get my killing blow in and the dragon collapses in a lump, me staring down at it's now lifeless head. My son gave me a high five after the fight too. It's hard to describe how epic that battle really was, to me it's like it played out in some movie as I can imagine my character racing away through the field and then cowering behind a rock. And while that was a great moment, there have been several that were awesome as well.

Another thing that sets Skyrim apart from Oblivion is that the extra trade skill actions actually have a purpose and make sense. In Oblivion I had no idea how to do any of the enchanting so I just left it alone, here I'm improving my armor, mixing up countless potions as I try and figure out what everything does, I enchanted my sword so that it is now the ultimate weapon of destruction, it's just soooooooo much more intuitive this time around. And it makes sense too.

Character skills are also a welcome change, now instead of picking a class you just play how you want and you level up accordingly. This is the BEST system ever created!!! I have hated the idea that you ARE one type of character, now you just do what you do and you get better at it through your skill points. Again it just makes sense. If only they could make a balanced MMO that played like that, oh my I'd just collapse in happiness. I guess AC was kind of like that, but this is more advanced. It really goes back to the reason why I love Minecraft, the game just lets you play it, there is freedom in everything that you do in the game and it makes for a really enjoyable experience.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Minecraft - Making movies

I've really taken to making my Minecraft movies, sure no one is watching them outside of Ayden, but that's ok, it's more a fun thing to do. Every video I hope gets a little better than the last one, and to help that along I went and bought Sony Vegas yesterday.

I have to say that my initial thoughts on Vegas aren't that good. Having used the Windows movie maker which is very easy to use, going to Vegas was a lot more involved, especially considering that I had to pay money for that one. I was hoping for more flexability and a simpler method for adding edits and features, instead it looks like I got a lot more windows and a lot more minor things to play with that I really don't care about. As an indication on how I feel about it, I went into movie maker and made my title screen because after messing with Vegas for 30 minutes I couldn't get it to do what I wanted, but I could in movie maker in about 2 minutes. But that is my day one impression so who knows, I'll keep playing around with it and I'm sure that I'll get the hang of it.

The real problem through all of this though has been the audio. I have been fighting with that issue since day one. Vegas does have some nice features to help eliminate the feedback from the mic, but it doesn't totally solve the problem like I was hoping. That means I'll probably need to go spend some more money on a decent mic, but not knowing if that will make a difference really keeps me from wanting to go spend yet more money on my little hobby. So far I've spent about $100 on everything so a mic on top of that seems a little crazy, considering that I'm only getting about 20 views per video and I can't even be sure how many of those are just me visiting my page.

Another factor that is discouraging is that to make what I consider to be a good 15 minute video it takes me about an hour of editing. My thought is that if I'm going to make the video, better to make it the best that you can. Which again leads to the mic decision.

But saying all of that, I really do have fun with it. Sure I'm probably ages older than most of the kids out there making videos, but I figure I'm just late to the game. =) So it's a little silly to be making movies about playing a video game, but then again what else am I going to do, besides it might open up for me to do some other stuff with home movies. Or it might get my son fired up about doing something creative like this.

Speaking of my son, he loves the movies, heck he tricked his mom the other day into thinking that he was sick so that he could stay home from school to watch the last 2 in the play series. Now he wants me to show him how to make movies as well, we'll see how that goes, who knows, maybe he'll be the internet superstar I secretly wish I was.

The thing is, I think the videos are pretty decent, but I don't really know how to get people to watch them. I've been trolling the boards to self promote and been cross promoting as much as I can, but I don't know, I guess it's like anything, you just have to keep working at it. And for all I know, maybe the videos are just terrible and I'm looking at them with rose colored glasses.

In the end though it all comes down to one thing, and that's not the number of views or the number of subscribers (although it helps) it's about enjoying it. Right now I am enjoying making the movies and sharing my game play. It's the same reason that I started this blog and after a year am still plugging away at it. Well sort of anyway, been a quiet October.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Minecraf - Let's Play

Finally working on my Let's Play series after talking about it for months. There is a link on the right sidebar.

It's a work in progress as it's season 0. Figure I'll work out the bugs and get my audio adjusted before starting the Season 1 Hardcore with 1.9 (official release). If you end up watching it, please feel free to comment (aside from, this is lame), would like suggestions on how to make a good LP.

The LP itself is like this blog, mostly for me. I like writing about playing and I think it would be fun to make some movies of my adventures, at least I'll have lots of pictures now for my blog. If someone watches it and finds a little bit of entertainment value, cool. But I'm not looking to make any money from it with ad revenue.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Minecraft - Game in a game

So I'm talking to my brother and the guys about buying TOR when it comes out, but the nagging feeling that I have is that if I do, I'll be wasting my money because I'll probably still only want to play Minecraft. And then it hit me, I think watching the development of the game is just as much fun as playing it.

I'm the type of person that goes all in on something when I find something interesting. I played as hardcore as I could on WoW back in the day, I'd read the forums, I'd watch youtube videos, etc... A movie that I like is coming out, I'll go looking for clips, I'll read up on back story, essentially if something I think is cool is coming, I'll go dive into it, hell read my Lost blog! It's the same thing with Minecraft.

Before Minecraft I thought Twitter was one of the stupidest things I had ever seen, I don't care if some famous person is going to tell me they're taking a dump. But now I'm like an addict constantly refreshing my phone to see if there has been a new post from Notch or Jeb with some new feature that is coming in the next MC update. "Oh wow, Snow Golems!", "Ravines!!!", "XP? Fuck you Notch!" =)

While I enjoy the adventure on the screen, the entire development has become an adventure in it's own right. What will be coming, how will the latest additions work into the way that I play the game? I can honestly say that I have liked 99% of all the additions, thus with each coming patch I'm excited to see what is next, it's like a little MC Christmas everyday.

I can't remember another game where the development of the game has been as open as this has been. Sure there are betas, but then there is the MC beta which is essentially the transparent development of a major game (sorry it's not indie anymore) over the last year plus. Other games you hear a rumor about some feature, or some big announcement of a single item (live cash AH in Diablo 3) and the gaming world goes into an uproar. With MC there is an uproar everyday on the forums as haters hate and fanboys.... er fan...

What gets me is how Notch and Jeb keep their cool through all the "feedback" that there is on the interwebs. Maybe it has gotten to them and whatever comes next won't be in such open development, I guess we're too close to the end at this point to pull it all back in house, besides I can only imagine the pitchforks and torches that we'd see in Stockholm if that happened.

Not knowing how the future development at Mojang is going to go, I can say that I am enjoying the ride that I was able to get on board for, it's a daily adventure much like the MC world where I never know what is going to be over that next mountain or in the next tweet.