Monday, February 28, 2011

Minecraft - Modtastic!

Since the guys haven't been on in what seems like forever I decided to follow the lead from the videos at and get all mod happy with the single player experience of MC. While I couldn't get the exact mods because of 1.3.02 coming out and breaking some of the mods, I was able to add some extra spice by adding Humans, RPG, and NPC Builders.

The results of the three additions have been mostly positive, but there are a couple negatives to each of the mods, the biggest being that I don't think the mobs interact with each other enough (i.e. fighting) Basically I was looking for kind of a warzone that I was going to have to survive through, but it's not quite that intense. It does add flavor don't get me wrong, I think I was just expecting a 10, much like TOR, but I got a 7, which is still very enjoyable.

The mod that is both the most impressive but with it's flaws is the NPC builders. First off I don't want to knock any of the mod builders all their work is super impressive and I have the highest respect for what they have done. My only real problem with the builder mod is that some of the buildings are just strange, personally I'd like more conventional buildings, I can disable the ones I don't like, but as of yet I don't want to make any changes without seeing the long term lasting effect of what the landscape will look like over time. But watching little dudes go around and place building and torches all over the place is kind of cool, it makes the area that I live in look more developed compared to the wilds that surround me. It's a nice change.

I get mixed up on what is the Human mod and what is the RPG mod with the number of different guys that are running around on the map so I can't really pick out either as being better than the other or note which one has drawbacks. They both add a nice element of random violence to the world that I like mixing it up. Especially the random creeper explosions in the night, I've learned to build into the rock because shit is going down.

The final mod that I want to add is the mo creatures mod that adds in a whole bunch of new mobs to the world, but that one isn't up to date yet. I'm not really interested in any mods that change the gameplay or add formulas or different ores, my goal with the modding is to add to the game without really changing the core of the game. While adding NPC's is a big change it's a welcome addition that I find refreshing.

The only major problem that I have with all of the mods is that it's too easy to get free loot drops. The builders can make building out of wood that I can then harvest into materials for free, and the humans fighting everywhere drop loot like candy out of a pinata, so getting a full suit of armor mearly means walking outside and picking it up. Now this might change as I venture into the depths of the world and I'm confronted with new challenges down below that bring more balance back to the game, I have died three times since installing the mods so that is a big change that maybe it is working as intended, but it still feels like those deaths were more from my stupidity rather than challenge, we'll see.

While I might seem to be bashing the mods that I wrote about, don't misunderstand, they have been a lot of fun and I'm enjoying them as part of my game.

One final note, installing mods is hard the first time. It's a very good idea to watch some youtube before doing anything.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Minecraft - Updated Castle Pics

I thought that it was time to do some updating to the castle last night. For awhile I've wanted to add the lava pillars to support the death tower so that it didn't look like it was just hanging top heavy over the rest of the castle. After that I thought that I needed to take the dye and get a little personal with the castle, by writing my name in it. It's not the greatest I get that, but I think it looks pretty good. The dirt on the other levels seems a little out of place now so I might go back and black out that. I spared no expense on that name plate though, that's obsidian up there encasing the purple letters (purple, color of royalty I might add hehe), oh and it's "epic".

Since my minecart track has been so successful in getting from point A to point B, there really isn't a need to make another large base, instead I'll just make carts to all the other places that I'll go and set up little bases (larger than outposts, but smaller than castles). And after I think I finally finished that cave which took a week to explore completely, if I even did, I have more iron than I can imagine what to do with it. I'm looking at 15 stacks of iron that could take me all the way to Drus if I wanted, but I'll let him build half of the transcontinental railroad if he wants it. It's not that I won't build a line out there, that would be downright huge, but I don't want to burn all my iron unless he's going to contribute to it. Heck I'd build the whole thing if he supplied the iron for it.
Not sure what I'll do next, probably do a couple more touch ups to the castle, and then I'll have to find a new area to branch out into. The Western outpost still has a lot of area to explore so that will most likely be where I look around. Building a rail line past the outpost might be tricky due to how I put it in there, but I'm sure I can if I see a reason to do it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Minecraft - .jar

I am an idiot (If you've been reading this you already know that) last night I needed to update the server to 1.3, simple enough right? wrong?

Having just upgraded the computer there are a couple things that I'm still aren't sure are working correctly so if I have a problem finding the root cause of it can be a bit of a problem. Last night was an example of such fun. After downloading the new server windows kept asking me what program that I wanted to open it up with, which in turn I kept picking java, yet nothing happened.

Next I tried to download the jar file off of the website, but that only launched the server and I never saw that it was getting loaded on to the hard drive, hence that doesn't work either.

Next I went to the website and downloaded both the 32 bit and 64 bit versions of java hoping that maybe I just have a corrupt file or something, nothing.

Eventually after an hour of trying pretty much everything that I could think of, I just decided that I'd add a .jar to the server file. Guess what?! Presto! it worked, and yes I am an idiot for not looking at that sooner.

So after getting everything going, the server is running like a dream. The 64 bit version of java makes a huge difference, I was able to ride the subway with the distance set to far and didn't see one chunk error. Plus the game screams, I'm averaging well over 100 FPS, even when loading up 300+ chunks at a time.

One thing that I was kind of mixed on was the new lighting. It looks great but it doesn't play well because it's just too dark when exploring a cave, so you can't really tell if something is lit or not.

Picked up another 4 diamonds in the never ending cave. Seriously this thing is just insane, I got lost in it last night so I had to dig a new hole out of it, naturally underwater, but it was only a couple blocks so not too bad. I was thinking last night that I really want to finish this cave so that I can move on. I mean I could just move on, but I'd feel like I didn't finish it so it must be completed!

I think the boys have stopped playing, so it looks like I'm alone again. I'll keep the server running though, never know.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

8 Squared = 64 bits of Awesome!

Last night I finished up the upgrade to my system, all 8 megs of RAM ramming and all 64 bits of whatever they are biting. I was so tired from the night before that I didn't spend too much time playing, more just testing it out and updating a couple more drivers to make sure that everything will be in tip top shape for the next time I really get to play with it. So here are the results of the upgrade and how it handles MC and running the server.

The first thing that I tried was pushing the draw distance up to Far from the normal that I normally play on. Turns out that we're not going to see any improvement there, which is disappointing because that was one of my major goals. Anyway pushing it to far still created a lot of world holes while riding on the subway, they weren't save file errors thank God but I have to believe that holes are a precursor to the errors developing, so I switched it back to normal. I'm wondering if the issue on the world holes is a processor issue since I'm only running a 4 year old duel core. I'd be curious to see it on Crash's computer once he gets it, but I have a feeling that isn't going to be happening, I've been getting the feeling that Crash and Drus are losing interest in the MC.

The next thing that I checked out was just how the game played on normal draw, and it was awesome! At it's highest point I think that I was reading over 300 FPS and I was averaging around 170, which is up from the normal 60 to 70 that I was getting before, especially during large chunk loads. Even with 100+ chunks uploading the FPS never dropped below 150, so performance on my side was rocking.

I may try one last test with the far distance on the server after updating my video card drivers, it's a long shot, but it's worth trying.

So the total cost of the upgrade was $178 for the 8gb of RAM. Another $120 for an external hard drive that I needed anyway. And I bought a newer version of Norton in my haze Sunday night for $70, my wife told me that I didn't need it, but I wasn't in the mood to try and find the old anti virus in the old files and try to get it to work and I didn't want to leave the computer exposed so oh well.

Looking forward to the next chance that I get to play and really see if I notice a difference.

In other news my single player maps are lost someplace in my back ups, if I ever play on the single player again I'll just start fresh. my son might miss his world, but it's cool we can just start over looking for more irons and coals. =)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Minecraft - One of the best ever

Maybe it's because I only got 4 1/2 hours of sleep last night, or maybe it's that I haven't had a chance to play it in a couple days, or maybe it's because I've been talking to Crash so much about TOR, but it occurred to me today at lunch that Minecraft, really is one of the best games ever made.

Now that is a very bold thing to say. Many times games come out, look awesome and then poof within a week or so they are gone to the scrapyard of wasted time. Minecraft for me is different, and while this might just be me, the game has made me think differently about games as a whole, to me that is revolutionary.

Now I've been playing games for 30 years, all the way back to the Atari 2600, and since day one I have been enthralled by them, and through the years have been many games that I would say were exceptional, that I HAD to play. The original Zelda, Ultima 5, Final Fantasy, Civilization, Asheron's Call and WoW, and now Minecraft. And that list isn't complete, it's just a short list of some games that I remember being addicted to over the years. To me each game brought something new to the table that I had never seen before or was never hopelessly wrapped up in, just like Minecraft.

So why is Minecraft so amazing? I stated it 3 months ago when I first picked it up and I'll restate it now. The freedom allowed in the game is just amazing. Sure it would be nice to be able to make a plane or something big that can move, but I don't hold that as a negative against MC because without what MC is today, you'd never be asking for that in the first place. And that is the big thing, MC has me asking for more in my games, it makes me want them to go to the next level. The simple structure of MC is part of it's charm and fantastic gameplay, the highest complement to the game is that you never know what is going to happen next. Oh sure you know if you go exploring you will find a cave and dig for materials, but never knowing the structure of the cave, or when stuff is going to jump out at you and attack, that's fresh. The ability to make basically any structure and give it functionality has never been done before in my opinion, sure you can build a house in Sims, but it's just not the same.

Reading the forums for the game it's funny to see people come up with countless features that could go into the game, and then say oh it's boring because it doesn't do (something). To me that's one of the best complements ever, what else can this toy do? And that is what it is, a toy, a game that you play for fun. I've done years of grinding out levels and items in MMO's but the whole time it really felt like a treadmill, for some reason I don't mind going looking for materials in MC, I guess because it's never as simple as go there, click there, presto materials. Maybe it's that there isn't a leveling system (ok stone, iron, diamond if you want to be picky) but it never feels like you're doing something to boost your stats, because there aren't any, so you can't waste time in the building of a character, you build a world instead.

I'm pretty loopy today but I was just thinking about it and wanted to post it here, it's a great game and makes me look at gaming differently, hopefully the industry the copy cat that it is is taking notice. How awesome would it be to play a single player campaign where the quests were randomly placed around the world, along with the buildings and stuff? Would that bring Oblivion to life knowing that it's your world?

And MC is the reason that I question TOR now. I don't want to play WoW again, I want something awesome. To me MC has changed everything, and I'm not alone, PC Gamer UK named it game of the year, and it's in Beta. Over a million people have bought it. In a couple years when something from a AAA developer comes out that just blows the industry up, know that it started here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic

And you thought that this was only a Minecraft blog. In part because I like having crap to talk about and in part because I really don't want to prepare for the audit that I'm working on, I thought that I'd take a couple minutes to bring up something that is really bothering me.

Crash and Drus are all over TOR like shit on rice waiting for it to come out whenever that will be, but the more I look at the game the more I'm worried that it's going to be a steaming pile of crap. I mean I want it to be great but seriously I'm worried, and seeing the Flashpoint movie really drove home my fears, this is Star Wars WoW!

WoW is and was a great game. I spent 5 years playing it and I enjoyed most of my time with it. It's a great game that took the MMO thing and flipped it on it's side. It had quests that were purposeful and could get you to the end of the game, that you could do either alone or with friends. Being able to play the MMO solo was a great thing for me personally because my friends were around but I didn't HAVE to play with them. I mean for anyone to say that an MMO should require you to play with other people is just fucking stupid for two reasons. First no game should tell you HOW to play it, it's a game, a toy and you should be allowed to enjoy it the way you want, the more ways that you can enjoy it the better the game in my opinion. Granted no game can be everything to everyone, but the more it allows you to do, rather than tells you to do, the better. The second reason is that MMO's kind of simulate life in another world, well if we were using the RL example then say I want to go to the market for a gallon of milk, by the strict MMO model, I'd have to bring a friend with me every time, just lame if you ask me.

Either way games are supposed to be fun, I enjoy the MMO aspect where everyone is around doing their thing in the world that I'm playing in regardless of if I decide that I want to interact with those people. Seeing people around doing stuff brings it to life in a way that no single player game is going to be able to do with programmed NPC's, case in point Oblivion.

But that's all great and not what is bothering me about TOR. Now TOR is being made by Bioware so it's going to be a good game, they don't make crap, much like Blizzard. But everything that I see just tells me that they are using the WoW model and just polishing that up, maybe throwing some story elements to it. You know what? I don't want to play WoW, and when I mean WoW it's not the story, it's the game itself. Lorewise I'd play WoW for that element, I have no problem with that, it's the gameplay, it's the find an NPC with a ! over his head and then go kill 10 something to return to NPC with a ? to get a reward. It was fun, it was rewarding, it was a grind that I enjoyed, but come on is that all there is?

My fear is that TOR is going to only be quests, I mean I don't have the answers on how you make a more compelling MMO, but I'm not a developer either so I don't have to come up with an answer. The point is that TOR is going to be WoW, just prettier, but at it's core the gameplay of doing quests and raising a character looks similar. I said similar, I haven't played it or seen it, so it's speculation at this point.

The other thing that bothers me, a lot. Is the Flashpoints. I watched the trailer and I was seriously disappointed, oh wow you have an NPC telling me the backstory on why I'm doing an instance, big whoop! I also read that if you do certain sub-quests in the "instance" then it will change the boss fight, again so what? Once the best method is found, every instance will be ran exactly the same, just as in WoW and any sub-quests will become required by any PUG group. There will once again be a right and a wrong way to play the game, and don't even get me started on character builds in WoW.

It's time for a revolution to take place, we need the next generation of MMO's to hit, not more retreads of WoW. Maybe TOR will blow me away and I'll have been worried for nothing, but as of now I haven't seen anything that says the gameplay is different than what we've already got in WoW. Again it will be better than WoW because it will take the story telling to the next level and that's cool, but if it has ! and ? NPC's in it, have we really evolved to the next generation?

On my wish list, is a game where I'm in a world playing my game and everyone else is playing the game too and at times our online lives will intersect. I want to see other people playing and know that stuff is going on without me, but what is the dynamic that is going to make it awesome? Maybe it's just me, maybe I've outgrown gaming as it exists today. I think we're at a point where a game can deliver a unique story to each individual playing it where you can't just go on youtube or wiki and find out how to do it, maybe not.

I'll use MC as an example. The three of us play the game on our server and pretty much do our own thing, but we still interact with each other from time to time. Our experiences in the game are unique to us, it's impossible for one of us to do the exact same thing that the other one did, unless of course that we want to. The game even in multiplayer is about our individual experience, better yet what we do has effects on the world around us. You can't do that in an MMO because it would be constantly changing for anyone joining. Or could you???

If the framework was established for a server couldn't the world be left to do it's thing while the rules of the world were established by the software, thus expansions and patches would be made to the gameplay itself, not so much the world? Imagine say 10 MC servers with 100 people on each of them (yes I know I'd have to add a lot of 0's to those totals) but each world would evolve differently with governments forming, the landscape changing as time went by, add in player programed NPC's and vendors and you have the most dynamic online world ever imagined. Again I'm not a developer so I don't even know if it's possible realistically, but we can dream. Otherwise it's back to the treadmill.

Let's imagine a grander MMO.

Minecraft - The never ending cave

I have pictures, and eventually I'll stop playing the game and upload them. Anyway I've been playing in what has to be the largest cave ever. Yes that is a bold and over used claim, but I'm telling you this place that I found is huge. Oddly enough I've been exploring in it for 4 days now (usual caves are about a day to two days) and just last night I found the only natural entrance to it. The way I originally found my way in was just messing around in the Western Outpost, just digging down and I found a way in.

The cave is so big that even after 4 days exploring it I have a lot of darkness left, and that's not from lack of effort or getting side tracked. The yield so far has been 6 stacks of iron, a stack of gold, countless coal, and so far 12 diamonds. With all of that iron I could make a line out to Druz's place, naw...

Speaking of the rail line, it turns out that that thing is a lot more useful than I had originally thought it would be. I've halted construction on the Western tower because there just isn't a need for it since I can zip around on my train with ease and very quickly, all I need is a little outpost for storage, which I have in the Western Outpost. So this tells me that where ever I end up exploring next, I'll probably just create another rail line to it and connect it to the rest of the transit system.

This weekend I'm going to attempt to upgrade my computer to 64 windows so that I can utilize the 8gb of RAM that the computer now has, hopefully that goes alright.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Minecraft - Megamind

"Can we play Megamind?"

Yes that is what my son calls MC, don't know where he got the name, but around the house MC is now known as Megamind.

So for the brief moments that he was being good this weekend we fired up the game so that he could get his "fix". At first I showed him my massive rail line in the online game and then thought that it would be best if me and him did our own little world free from latency issues, me needlessly losing diamonds, and free of monsters.

So we fired up a new world, and I have to say it's a pretty good one, personally I think that the multi world that we're playing on kind of sucks compared to what I have seen generated but oh well, too late for that now. So in our new world I tried to let him direct our actions as much as possible, I'd tell him we needed wood, so he'd tell me what tree to cut down. I'd tell him we needed coal for torches (no monsters but it still gets dark) so he'd tell me to go find a cave. So I was doing my best to let him direct the play.

He decided that we needed to build two houses, one of them near flowers so that we had a front yard, then we also needed to make a train... So this is where it gets interesting, I tell him to make a train we need to go find iron, and presto he gets the concept of the game. If you want to do A then you need to do B first. It's like getting a job to make money to buy toys, too bad he hasn't figured that part out yet.

We do some cave exploring, with him every five minutes reminding me that there aren't any monsters, and we end up finding a good deal of "irons" and "coals". We were able to make a pretty good little roller coaster right next to our house, it's nothing crazy, but considering how quickly we were able to make it, it's pretty good.

After the roller coaster we decided that we needed to go exploring and look at some of the cool mountains that we had in the distance. On one of the mountains we found sand all the way up at cloud level, it was pretty awesome. Another mountain had a nice lava pool about midway up, but he wanted us to get away from it worried that we might die.

The crazy thing was that in one of the caves we found a Zombie spawner. The spawner itself wasn't spitting out monsters but it was there with the zombie spinning in the middle of it. The cool thing was that the chests were there, so we got a couple buckets and a couple saddles. Now saddles are pretty cool, just to ride a pig, it's fun. But now imagine that in the eyes of a 4 year old... He thought it was f'n hilarious!

With the buckets he then wanted me to make a stream in our house, I convinced him that it would be better to make a pool in the backyard. That pool eventually ended up being his name written out in water, actually looks pretty cool.

One other fun thing we did was put a yellow flag on our house.

Our final project for the night was that he wanted to make a maze, go figure it's all he ever wants to do on the white board. So he directed me to find a flat area to start making it, but time ran out so we didn't get to really get going on the maze, I guess that will be our next project, if he's good. We also told him that if he wants to play on the computer then he needs to play soccer as well. Playing games on the computer is ok in moderation, but he also has to stay active, we're going to set that ground rule right now.

I took some pictures, but they are at home, so I'll edit them in later.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Minecraft - Falling apart

I guess Deathwing is visiting our little Minecraft world trying to take Drus back with him. The number of world errors is growing and that is bad news for me considering that I'll need to go in and make the corrections.

Here is an example of an error.

As you can see the land just looks out of place, not to mention that it was out of place because there was a coast line there just last night before the error occurred. Here is another example of render problems

The coast here is just a long cliff that marks the edge of the blocks, but they don't mesh with the rest of the map. Now these were like this when I found them, and they aren't the only "fault lines" that I have seen just a very large example.

The fault lines themselves aren't as big of an issue, they look odd, but wha the heck I can go with it, it's the errors in previous chunks that are an issue.

The other night we had a major error in the starter area that took two of Crash's chunks and redrew them with giant holes in his buildings. The first thing that I did was pretty much shit my pants in panic. First I knew that Crash would be pissed, second if errors like this were happening then maybe the world was falling apart, third if we had a number of errors the guys might quit, and lastly, WTF was I going to do about it?

Jumped on the Wiki and found that editors can find the id of a chunk, so simple enough figure out the chunk id and then copy and paste it back with an old save file. At first the editor wasn't working and it was quite frustrating but eventually I got it going and was able to reinstate the chunks from the first back up I did back in mid January. Since then I've been doing a lot more saving.

The holes in Crash's buildings were the second time that I had seen devastation from an error, the first being the lighthouse, which at the time I had no idea how to fix, so I did it by hand. The pictures above are just examples of what is happening. Hopefully the cataclysm won't happen to our little world. To prevent that, I think I'm going to take my computer apart this weekend and boost it up with more RAM.

Don't know what the future is going to hold, but damn not cool.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Minecraft - Exploration

This is about a week ago now but I finally have a second to talk about the recent exploration that has inflated the world size up to 85 megs.

One night Drus got lost coming out of a cave with his 8 diamonds in tow, and like usual he was lost in the middle of no where because he doesn't carry a compass with him. After wondering around forever and finding all sorts of very cool cliffs he ended up running into the Creeper border patrol and they demanded his 8 diamonds for trespassing on their territory. Drus didn't feel like parting with those precious gems so instead he parted with his limbs as he was blown to pieces.

The outcome of this was that he found some awesome cliffs that he could build upon and told us that he was making a new base out there in the middle of no where. Keep in mind that he had a hard time finding his way back and at some point after I had found it, I needed to escort his drunk butt back to it. =)

And I have to admit I think that he found the coolest looking set of cliffs in the game, lava and water pouring from the top, it's actually quite awesome. But to find his new home I had to go out on a little adventure of my own to the East to find it. All I had to go on was that it was 2 days East of my outpost and that it was in a cliff that had water and lava coming out of it. I like a good challenge so I loaded up on gear and set out to find it.

At first I thought that it wasn't going to be out there as far as he was claiming it was, I mean he gets lost all the time who knows if he might have been going around in circles? From Beta station I set out East into an area that I had been to before when I came looking for my cactus, but once I got past the dessert, I was in mans country. The rolling hills broke into a patchwork of small checkered caves within them that will need to be explored on a future date, and the land led to a large ice covered expanse of water right at sunset, thus I decided that this would be a good location for Gamma station.

When day broke I set off across the water looking for his "awesome cliffs" I didn't find his place but I did find a massive cliff structure that was a real "oh wow" moment. I was thinking that his place was going to be in that structure because it was pretty awesome, or at least near it, but after a lot of searching and a minor bit of cave exploring it was getting dark so I climbed up the near mountain both for a better view and shelter for the night. Delta station was founded and it's above the cloud line, way the heck up there.

Day 3 and still I haven't found the lava in the cliff that I was looking for. I continued East thinking that maybe I hadn't gone far enough. The mountain range was huge and the peaks gave way to giant valleys, but still no sign of a lava flow. After a lot of looking it was time to hold up for the night yet again, this time thinking that I had probably gone too far to the East and that I should double back in the morning. So Epsilon station was established for the night.

On day 4 I headed back West thinking I was either going to find it or give up. My thought was that it had to be close to where the cliffs near Delta were so I was going to give that a look. And there it was, I have to admit seeing that wall of water pouring down the cliff (which I think was a natural flow) was pretty amazing. I wasn't able to figure out how to climb up there, so I took a look and then headed back home.

After heading out to the East it was time to find a nice area that I could make a little expansion for myself, so I headed to the North from my tower thinking that I would find some land up there. Boy was I wrong, apparently Drus had already been up that way because every cave that I saw had a torch poking out of it. That bastard!!! He had explored everything within a day from the lighthouse so if I was going to go expanding I was going to have to really go North. But I had another idea, but it's a secret.

Minecraft - Where have I been?

Things have been crazy busy at work and home with the weather so there hasn't been a lot of time to post pictures up on the blog from my adventures. I keep meaning to and then get side tracked, so I'm sure that one of these days there will be a gazillion pics all at once.

A lot has been going on too, Drus has gone off to BFE, Crash has been MIA, the fortress is done and has a nice tree error and now I'm working on a secret project. All of the mines near our areas are all cleared, thanks Drus! And we had a major world error that I needed to go in and replace using a back up and an editor. Good times!!!

So while I won't go into depth right now, but I will come back and tell all about each of them since each thing is topic worthy. Here are some pictures of pumpkins on pikes.