Yep, it’s that time again! Still working away in Minecraft and the thing that got me thinking that it’s time for an update was something I spent four days doing:
Getting rid of oceans of lava. Some folks play this game to battle the mobs of bad guys who like to come out at night and wreak havoc on the unwary and with updates to the game, there are some mobs that’ll get after you during the day so, yeah, the thrill of the hunt makes playing this game fun for many.
Some folks are amazing builders and spend their time transforming a world in some pretty spectacular ways, from original designs to fairly accurate replications of real world structures up to and including entire cities. Some folks take on this task solo or create/join a realm where other players around the world can come in and add their distinctiveness.
Some folks are miners, always on the hunt for the things they’ll go through a lot of like iron and coal while constantly on the hunt for lapis lazuli, gold, redstone, emeralds and the king of materials, diamond. Nothing makes you feel safer in a world than to be encased in diamond armor and packing diamond weapons and tools. Some miners are builders in that they will create amazing mines, complete with minecars and creating devices that can sort things out and put them in chests; I’ve seen some that are just amazing.
When you mine, chances are good that you’re going to encounter lava at some point so it’s always good to learn how to get rid of it, that and where there’s lava, there can be diamonds along with iron, coal, etc.. Getting rid of lava is easy: All you need is some sand and/or gravel… and lots of it because while the method of lava removal is simple, working at removing it is anything but and as evidenced by the fact that it took me four real-time days to get rid of what even I thought was a stupid amount of lava.
As a kind of recap, the way I dig a mine is, I guess, simple: Pick a direction to dig in and start by hacking out steps that are, usually, four wide – why this works for me is kinda hard to explain except to say that you want to expose more stuff as you dig down and four wide just makes sense to me although I’ve dug shafts with steps that are three and five wide.
Then it’s just a matter of hacking out the steps, removing 16 blocks of stuff for each step down toward bedrock which tends to be around y-axis 5 or so; then I literally carve out a room that’ll reveal all kinds of good stuff… and lava. What makes this fun, interesting, and challenging is that you don’t know where the lava is going to be and you can encounter it before getting close to bedrock.
Of course, one must be careful doing this while playing in one of the Survival modes that isn’t Peaceful; fall in the lava, get burned to a crisp and have to respawn without all the stuff you were carrying because the lava’s burned it to a crisp as well. You can die in the Peaceful setting but, man, you’d have to fall into a very deep pool of lava and be in there for a little while and even if you manage to escape, you’re still on fire and could die so, duh, you learn real fast to be careful around lava because even if you don’t fall in it, it spits “embers” all the time and one can land on you – and now you’re literally running around like your hair’s on fire.
For me, lava disposal is not only necessary for my mining but I find it to be relaxing as I methodically get rid of it… but four days ago – and in a world as well as a mine where I thought I had gotten rid of the lava I had encountered, I discovered that I hadn’t. No biggie – I’ve got plenty of gravel and it’s probably just an isolated pocket that I just didn’t run into.
Yeah, right… sure it was. What I found was more lava than I’ve ever seen in any of my 41 other worlds and spread out over such a large area that not only did I realize it was going to take a lot of time exposing and eliminating it, because I was finding it in huge quantities and along all three axises, I had to keep very firmly in my mind how to get out of the mess I’d gotten myself into – it is oh, so easy to get lost and find yourself spending hours trying to get back to the point where you first encountered the lava.
Oceans of it. From being one block deep to as much as fifteen blocks deep in some places. It’s not just the lava you can easily see – it’s also the lava that’s hiding behind and under blocks and there’s a way to tell by looking for blocks of material that doesn’t have a block immediately under it which, really, doesn’t mean a whole lot at times because under the second block could be lava.
I started out attacking the lava that was, from my perspective standing at bedrock (y-axis 5), sourced at y-axis 14 – I had to carefully dig upward and creating detours around more lava until I found the source of the lava… and everything went to shit after that. I’ve done this so much playing Minecraft that I’ve learned there a pattern to hacking out the blocks and uncovering more lava so I can put my mind on autopilot and get to hacking. Now, usually, when I run into a good-sized lake of lava, eh, it’ll take me a couple of hours to make it go away – longer if I have to recover the gravel – but this isn’t something to worry about when doing this in Creative mode – you’ll never run out of gravel or sand and to avoid confusing myself, I use red sand.
For one, the only place you find red sand in the game is in the desert so deep underground, nah, not gonna run into it when you’re not working a desert biome. The red sand is also a marker for me; if I hack into an area and see red sand, I’ve been there already. Now I’m gonna tell you what was really fucked up about this.
When I find a really cool world seed, I’ll create two worlds – one Survival, one Creative; my son-in-law taught me the value of doing this because you can use the Creative world to do some prospecting for the Survival world which, duh, makes sense since the two worlds are identical… or they should be.
Doesn’t seem to be the case for me this time. You see, I was working the exact same area that I had done in the Survival version but, somehow, the Creative version of the same world had more lava. I thought I had missed something in the Survival version and went back to it and to the coordinates where, in the Creative version, I had dug up my own version of Hell… and there was no lava there.
What the fuck…? Okay, don’t know what’s going on here but I’ve got some work to do and that lava ain’t gonna go away by itself. So I get to work, shifting my mind into lava removal mode while working on how I’m going to section things off instead of stupidly wandering all over the lava field. As I tossed in block after block of red sand – and while uncovering yet even more lava, I thought about something my daughter was saying the last time I played the game with her and her husband – she hates lava and doesn’t want to deal with it and will leave it to her hubby to fuss over.
We were laughing at her because she knows, just as we do, that when you’re digging the place up, you’re gonna run into lava so it just makes sense to learn how to deal with it… but just a couple of hours into my task, yeah, I can understand why she hates lava so much.
There was so much lava that I kept getting frustrated; everywhere I dug, there was more lava and at one point – and the point where I said, “Fuck this – I need a break!” I had dug up so much lava that it was everywhere within my field of view and a lot of it below bedrock, too. It was above me, below me, all around me; in one spot alone, I dropped twenty blocks of red sand – twenty! – and throughout all of this, I was wondering how many blocks of sand I’d used; I know the game actually keeps track of that… in Survival mode; how many blocks of stuff you’ve dug up and how many you’ve used.
I guesstimated that in the four days it took me to get rid of all that lava, I used millions of blocks of red sand. I got to the point where I had decided that, fuck it – I’m not gonna keep going after every damned drop of lava – just fill it in, move on to the next area… but, you see, there’s something I learned about this and as it applies to how I dig my mine caverns: At some point, I’m gonna run into this lava anyway so, shit, it’s best to just man-up and get rid of it.
And I make this harder than it has to be because it’s not enough to just make the lava go away; no, I gotta fill in every damned place until the area I’ve dug up is consistently level so that when I finally get out, it’s all quite nice and neat. Nothing rubs me the wrong way faster than having unfilled holes especially in the floor and, yeah, I know, it’s just a fucked up way my brain works and something my daughter and son-in-law tend to laugh at me over. It’s just that in Survival mode (but not Peaceful), you can wind up with some very deep holes in the floor of whatever level you’re working on – and you can die and lose all your stuff… and you only have five minutes to hustle from wherever you respawned back to the place you died so you can get as much of your stuff as you can.
Good luck with that. But that’s also why I dig my first mine very close to my respawning point and, here lately, I’ve taken to creating my dwelling around the initial spawn point – the point where you enter a brand new world and that initial mine shaft is inside the dwelling so if I fuck around and get killed, I’ll respawn inside my house and now it’s just a matter of running back into the mine or the cavern I unearthed and to the spot where I foolishly met my demise.
So, late yesterday afternoon, I’d finally placed my last blocks of red sand; I’d spent so much time and focus being determined to rid this place of all lava that after the last block was placed, I hadn’t realized that I was back at the starting point of the mess I had created for myself, which was a good thing – it meant I didn’t get lost in my own mine but even for this, there’s a method to my self-induced madness: You expose all the lava you can and work backward and similar to how you’d go about mopping a floor – start at the farthest point and work back toward the room’s entrance.
The trick is always keeping your starting point in your head and even being smart enough to leave something at certain areas that will take you back toward the beginning – no matter what mode I’m playing in, I’ll use a series of torches or other light sources to mark such places and in a way that there’s no mistaking that this is the area I need to work backward to – usually three light sources that won’t be confused with the many other light sources that’ll wind up all over the place.
What I don’t know is why the Creative version of the Survival version had much more lava but, if nothing else, it teaches me something about how the world generator does its job and even to the point where using the same seed number can still generate a lot of randomness, oh, like a hell of a lot more lava that the Survival version didn’t have, for instance.
In between kicking my own ass over the lava situation, I started playing “We Friendly Few,” a game that’s gotten some rave reviews since it’s release… and this game is, well, crazy and more so since you really gotta figure out how to play it… while you’re trying to play it and, at least for me, there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to figure out what the hell you’re supposed to be doing; playing this game made my lava removal project look easy – I know how to get rid of lava.
I’m getting the hang of it… but it’s a wacky game and I can see why it’s so popular and the best part of this? I get to play the game for free instead of having to buy it thanks to my Game Pass membership.