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The Ocean Monument

25 Jul

The picture you see is the inside of an ocean monument in Minecraft.  The thing to note is the interior of the monument didn’t look like this when I found it; take away the patterns in the floor and all the lights that you see… then imagine, if you can, this entire space filled with “debris,” for lack of a better word.  Let me set the stage for ya…

Those of you who play Minecraft probably know about ocean monuments and, if so, you also know how hard they are to find and how hard they are to get to since they’re sitting at the bottom of the ocean and, in Survival mode, patrolled by guardians who pretty much kill anything that gets close to the monument.  I can’t say for certain but I know that when you create a new world, you can count on at least one of these things being present somewhere and I’ve seen up to three of them in one world.  In Creative mode, you can easily find the one closest to you – just invoke the /locate monument command and it’ll provide you the coordinates and you can teleport yourself there or, since you’re in Creative mode, fly to the coordinates.

The monument has a distinctive look and even if you happen to stumble across one while rowing a boat in the ocean or, gasp, bouncing along the water on your way to dry land, you can, at the least, see the sea lanterns at the very top of the monument.  Getting down to it is gonna be a problem if you don’t have the right stuff on you to prevent yourself from drowning – special potions and enchantments – and don’t forget that unless you’re in Survival/Peaceful mode, those guardians are waiting to fry you with… lasers.  Yeah, Minecraft is pretty much a low-tech kind of game except for the guardians’ weapon of choice.

The monuments, externally, are all the same; texture packs can change the way they look and, here lately, there’s a room at the top of the monument that seems to change its configuration and depending on the texture or world pack you’re using.  What’s the big deal?  Well, I’m glad you asked!  One of the monumental tasks (and, yes, the pun is intended) you can undertake is to make the interior of the ocean monument look like the picture I’ve provided but there are some things you gotta do, oh, like get rid of all of the water surrounding the monument, uncovering the monument to free it from all the debris it contains and is surrounding it, then restoring it to its former glory; what you do with it after you’ve done all of this is up to you and the picture tells you what I’ve been doing with them.  Other players have done some pretty cool things with the interior of these things and even I’ve thought of a few things I wanna try somewhere down the road.

“Okay, I see what you’re saying… what’s the problem?”

It’s simple:  In Survival mode (and not Peaceful), chances are that you’re going to drown, die, and wind up respawning again before you can erect a wall of some kind around the monument.  Some who tackle this use glass, glowstone lights, or sea lanterns and even whatever stones they can find… but whatever you use to build the containment wall, you’re going to need a lot of stuff to accomplish this while avoiding guardians and drowning which is why I’ve never attempted to drain one in Survival mode.  Minecraft purists would say that tackling an ocean monument in Creative mode is taking the easy way out but I can tell you that even in Creative mode and having access to every material the game has to offer, it’s not easy to do this and takes a lot of time to finish.  As an example, some folks that are on the game’s Facebook forum report that it takes them months to expose the monument to air; since I’m retired, I can spend a lot of time doing this (and provided I don’t have something else I need to do) and it takes me days to get the monument looking like the picture you see.

The first time I did this, I found myself overwhelmed by the task at hand; it looked “easy” but proved to be otherwise and even though I eventually finished the task, there were many times when I wanted to abandon it.  One of the things needed to do this is patience and another is perseverance.  Every time I decide to do this – and after I initially said I wasn’t gonna ever do this again, mind you – I take a deep breath and say to myself, “Okay, let’s get to work…” and begin the arduous task at hand.

First, I gotta examine the monument to see what kind of shape it’s in, particularly its support columns.  I recently discovered that those columns are 16 rows long from the bottom of the interior “ceiling” to the “floor”, completely trashing my thoughts that the columns were only six rows long.  So, the first thing is to dig down at every column until I’ve exposed the 16 rows and while I’m at it, restoring where the columns are missing its prismarine blocks.  As I dig down, I’m also digging out away from the monument to establish both a walkway and the point where I’ll start building the containment wall, which will go from the bottom of the monument to just above the surface of the water.  I recently expanded the walkway from two blocks wide to three, starting the containment wall at the fourth position; I have an idea for this extra space but actually haven’t worked it all out and compared to what’s next in this process, it’s insignificant at this point.

Building the containment wall literally takes thousands of whatever I’m using to create it – and maybe now you understand why I do this in Creative mode and not in Survival; there’s no way I can carry all that material and, in most cases, the monument is located in the “middle of nowhere” and without any land nearby.  I could use the material I’ve dug out to make the wall but even doing this initial work generates more material than I can carry; the good thing about Creative mode is that I can dig for days and not pile up material in my inventory.  The lights you see in the picture are sea lanterns and along with becoming the containment wall, they also provide light; again, Creative mode lets me use a potion that will “light up” things and they are needed because, as you might expect, without light, it’s pretty damned dark down there.  Every time I do this, I’m always trying to work out a more efficient way to create the wall but it’s still time consuming just the same.  Once I’ve located all of the columns and restored their outline on this one side (four across, sixteen down) as well as exposing the walkway and where I’ll start the wall, I’ll start laying down the sea lanterns on all four sides until the wall is level with the area just above where the columns begin.  Once I’ve built the wall to this point, I will fly around the monument and use sponges to seal off any gaps that lead to the interior of the monument; by doing this, it makes it “easy” to contain whatever water is inside the monument and, here lately, that’s not been a whole lot of water because it seems since the latest updates to the game, every monument I’ve come across has been filled to the top with garbage (I’ll get to this part in a moment).

So… the containment wall has been built to a certain point and gaps closed with sponges; the next step is to close the gap between the containment wall and the monument with sponges which seals off the bottom of the monument from the rest of the water.  Once this is done, I remove a corner sponge and “dive down” into this space, replacing the sponge I took out… and now it’s time to get rid of the water that’s been trapped in this space.  Using sponges makes this easy but it’s still a bit of work to keep flying around the monument and sponging up the water; the game’s creators have improved the physics the game employs, i.e., the water has currents and it “moves” and this alone can make getting rid of the water interesting because it keeps pushing me out of the way and other annoying things.  It might take me, oh, maybe twenty minutes to soak up all the water in this space but once it’s done, I now have a dry space to work in and it’s on to the next step: Cleaning out the interior of the monument.

This can take days for me to do and more so since, as I mentioned, all the monuments seem to be be filled to the brim with junk and there’s no easy or simple way to get rid of it outside of maybe a command you can use; I know it exists but I don’t know how to use it.  That means clearing out whatever’s inside the monument the hard way – one row of junk at a time.  It is monotonous work; not only do I have to clear out all of the junk inside, but I also have to remove all of the junk that’s in the five rows between each column to expose them on all four sides.  At one point, I though about using TNT to get rid of as much of the junk possible… except, um, I have a tendency to use more TNT than I need and the last thing I wanna do is do any more damage to the monument than already exists.  To keep from putting myself to sleep with this repetitive work, I’ll section off areas, cutting a huge area of junk into more manageable areas and whittling them down until there’s nothing but clear floor and all columns are fully exposed.  Next, restore all of the columns.

This is kinda/sorta easy since they’re all made out of the same material – those prismarine bricks I mentioned but it’s time consuming to fly around each column and replacing whatever’s there with the bricks; while I’m doing this, I’m thinking about the floor and what I want to do with it.  My latest thing is the pattern you see in the picture but once the floor has been fully exposed, you’re only limited by your imagination when it comes to how you want it to look.  As I restore each column, I’m also adding the lights you see on each column, as well as lights along the ceiling; the “see in the dark” potion only lasts eight minutes (and I usually go through about 100 of potions just doing this part) so the lights become a necessity.  Once the columns have been restored and lights placed, it’s time to work on the floor and in whatever way that’s come to my mind; compared to everything else I’ve done to this point, doing the floor is quite easy… but there’s still a lot of work to do.

After the interior has been done to my liking, it’s time to leave this dry and lighted space and go swimming to finish the containment wall – but taking a moment to go to one area of the monument and seal it off with sponges.  To break the monotony, I’ll actually seal myself inside this rather large and maze-like space so I can sponge up all of the water inside; that can take an hour or more and employ the use of thousands of sponges.  Getting rid of all the water in this interior space is a pain in the ass… but not even as bad as the next step:

Getting rid of all of the water trapped within the containment area.  Some of the other players who tackle this use sand to sop up all the water in this space and I even thought about using sand myself… except what you’re really doing is replacing all of the water with blocks of sand that, eventually, will also have to be removed.  It’s too much of a pain for me to calculate the volume of water to be removed; oh, I can do it and I know the math involved… it makes my head hurt so I try not to think about it.  By using sponges, I don’t have to fill the whole space with them (and like I stupidly did the first time I did this) and I keep working on more efficient ways to use the sponges so that I get rid of all the water but makes removing used sponges not so much of a chore.  My latest thing is to quarter off the top area of the monument by creating walls of sponges; from there, it’s a matter of laying down rows of sponges in an area, slowly but surely lowering the water level and removing used sponges – it’s easy to get rid of them as I go along than to leave all of those sponges in place and cleaning them up later.  It’s almost painfully time consuming and the water isn’t making it easy to move around as it buffets me here and there, making flying around underwater not so easy.  To remove all of the water from the four sections can take hours as well but the way I do it, for now, seems easier and less painful that filling this huge space with blocks of sand.  Now, in Creative mode, I’d never run out of sand… but if you can, try to imagine how much sand you’d need to fill this space that’s maybe sixty rows high on all four sides and maybe fifty rows high and above where I’d already sealed off the bottom of the monument.  Do the math – I refuse to but trust me when I say this is a lot of space to fill and even more sand that has to be used, recovered, and reused until all of the water is gone.

As much as I want to see exactly how much sand is needed to do this, nope, no frigging way I’m doing that; it just makes a hard thing to do even harder in my opinion.

It takes me days to do this in Creative mode; in Survival mode I don’t know – or want to know – how long it would take me but, like I said, some Facebook forum members report that it takes them months doing this because, of course, they don’t have the time to constantly work at this due to work, school, and other things.  The bad and maybe even funny part is that every time I do this, I tell myself that this will be the last time I work a monument and, indeed, as I explore the world, I might run across another monument; I’ll see it, remember what I just went through doing the other one, and just pass it by.  Even when I create new worlds I don’t go looking for them any more but, um, sheesh, if I happen to stumble across one, fuck, why not – let’s work this one anyway; maybe I can think of better ways to uncover one that won’t take three or four days to complete.

Other than making oceans of lava disappear, I think this is one of the hardest things one can undertake in the game and especially in Survival mode.  It makes battling the mobs of bad guys look easy and carefree and the only places in the game that I think could be a lot worse are the Nether and the End World.  Getting to the Nether is easy – just build a portal… and then hope that once you step through it, you don’t find yourself plummeting to your death, which has happened to me more times than I want to admit to.  The End World isn’t so easy to get to; first you have to find a stronghold – which may be under a village or not; you have to navigate the stronghold and it’s a maze and even when you find the End Portal, you need certain items to activate it and those items aren’t easy to come across in Survival mode.

But those last two places are for another discussion.  Why go through the hassle of exposing an ocean monument to air and doing other stuff with it?  Because it’s there.  It will test your patience and your ability to stick to the job once you’ve started it and while there’s no Xbox achievement for doing this, I tend to get a great sense of accomplishment doing this.  I currently have 44 worlds I’ve created and have messed around in and I’ve not bothered to work at least one monument in every world because, um, I’m not that patient and, really, if you’ve done one of them, you’ve pretty much done all of them outside of whatever additions you might make, like as you see in the picture.  I actually have a video of one monument I completed with the help of my son-in-law; while I was working the inside parts, he was building additions to the monument that, honestly,  I never thought about doing.  Sadly, WordPress won’t let me include the MP4 video in this post, which is a damned shame because the completed and modified monument is, in my opinion, spectacularly pretty thanks to my son-in-law’s work.

Still, as much as doing this can be a major pain in the ass, I actually find it relaxing as I methodically do the work; I’ve done this so many times now that I’m not really thinking about what I’m doing outside of the logistics of getting it done and, yeah, a downside is that it can be so monotonous that I’ve found myself starting to nod off from time to time.  As I work, I do think about some stuff, like, how many blocks really make up the containment wall and, at the least, thinking about the math required to compute the exact volume of space inside the containment wall; I think about how many bricks actually make up the columns including the blocks on the inside; the columns are actually “solid” blocks of prismarine bricks; each row contains 16 blocks and there are 16 rows down to the floor and, if memory serves me, there are 25 columns – again, if you wanna do the math, be my guest.  But as I’m thinking about stuff like this (and refusing to do the math), I’m methodically getting it done and I always seem to surprise myself to find that I’m done doing something.

Those of you who play Minecraft and have done this know what I’m talking about; those of you who don’t play the game, well, um, if you ever choose to play it – and I’m not saying that you shouldn’t play Minecraft (it’s actually pretty addictive), if you ever come across an ocean monument, ya might think twice about tackling one and more so if you don’t have the time or the patience to do so but, then again, if you need to work on being focused and being more patient, this’ll be the thing you wanna try to accomplish…

Provided you don’t drown first or get killed by guardians, of course – I did mention this earlier, didn’t I?

 

 
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Posted by on 25 July 2018 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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