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Xbox One Gaming: What I Built

I figured it out but I still have to get in touch with the OneDrive support group and get them to answer some questions for me but, here’s a top-down view of the structure I tried to describe yesterday! For reference, the front of the building is to the right. This picture doesn’t really show the details so much, not like you could see it being in the game.

Man… I do so love the roof on this place and especially the middle section which, again – and in the first version of this structure – it took me a while to figure out how to close it up. Imagine, if you can, if that middle section wasn’t there and the four side “extensions” weren’t there and the structure is just a straight “line” kind of thing. Without them, closing the roof was easy but when I added the middle section and created the four side extensions, yeah – I was racking my brain trying to figure out how to make it work.

I had taken a screenshot of the interior and uploaded it to OneDrive… and it’s not there even though my Xbox said it was uploaded. I’ll try it again later and show it to you but, yesterday, I was standing inside the place and wondering what else I could do with it and added some “arches” that appear to support the crossbeams I’d put in – they look pretty cool, I think.

As I stood there, I found myself being kinda awed at what I’d created. I’m no master Minecraft builder by any stretch of the imagination but I realized that this was the largest structure I’d ever built and the most detailed one. Now, the first big structure I built was supposed to be a castle of sorts… and it turned into something other than that (I’ll try to screen print it and show you that one); it took several iterations before it got to it’s final form and I can build one in about an hour and compared to the three days it took me to build the first one.

It took that long because I had to make a mountain disappear. Anyway, I’m on the inside, taking in the latest change I had made and I was “reliving” how I was flying around all over the place to build the roof, adding the crossbeams and the “chandeliers” needed to light the inside as much as I could without it looking overdone.

And I thought, “I built this…” and, without getting a big head about it, well, I was impressed over how a dream about a column turned into what you see in the picture. But I’ll let you in on something. When I built the first iteration of the structure you see, it pretty much wore me out because, again, I not only built the place but I had to landscape the ground it sat on. If you look at the above picture, I can tell you that it wasn’t as flat as it looks and you can see, along the top edge of the area, where it looks like I cut out a section like a piece of cake. There were huge holes in the ground, many filled with water that I not only had to cover up but fill in with sand first.

Learned a lesson about that in the last build of this. If you look at the edges where the water is, much of the ground you see had to be added and filled in with sand so that accidentally digging up a block of the ground wouldn’t send you on a swim so the outside edges along the water were made to be solid. So after building that last iteration – it required much more landscaping than in the one you see above – I told myself I wasn’t going to build another one.

And then I built the one you see here… and I started building another one in a different world but in a different texture pack. Those who Minecraft knows about the many texture packs available; the one you see is called “ChromaHills” and is now my favorite pack. The one I started is built in a texture pack called “BD Craft” which I found works very well with building one of these things.

As I started laying out the base for the new structure, I asked myself, “What are you doing?” and more so since I have to remove a huge – hill? – that’s blocking what I want to see when I look out of the front door. I got one side of the structure set down but there’s a lot of ground I have to fill in to level things out and set the borders and it’s going to take me hours to get this done. It is painstaking work and to answer my own question, I’m building another one because I don’t really have anything else to do but it also tests my patience and focus; going through all of this serves the purpose of not allowing me to think about the neuropathic pain I have left over by my stroke that still lives with me.

It’s also a memory test since I can’t go back and look at the last one as a reference. Well, I could – but that means exiting that world and opening the last one – and I’d still have to remember what I went there to look at but to me, eh, that would be too easy – the challenge is to remember how I built the last one without having to look at the last one.

Some method to my apparent madness… and it is madness in a way given the way I’m going about reshaping the land and doing things that I really don’t have to do… but if I’m gonna do it, I feel compelled to make it as perfect as I can. As I set to work on the new place, I was already thinking about the roof which, admittedly, is the hardest part to construct and, just as I did with the structure you see here, I started to abandon it; you’d have to try to build it in order to get an idea how much of a pain in the ass it really is.

Oh, yeah… I tried to write down how I built this place and that proved to be more difficult than actually building the place. My son-in-law suggested maybe creating a video of myself building it and putting it on YouTube and it’s a good idea albeit one that made my brain shut down since I have no idea how to do that and understanding that anyone who’d be crazy enough to watch it would spend a lot of time watching it given how long it takes to build it. I could do a video capture on my Xbox… and I’m sure it would exceed the limits imposed and such a file would be stupid big.

Still, I will try to write it down but I can feel my mind balking at this just to think about doing that. I’m pretty sure my lady thinks – or continues to believe – that I’ve lost my mind because I’m sure she can hear me talking to myself as I go about the build and even when I have nothing to say to myself, I’m sure she can hear the controller clicking away as I’m doing stuff.

Shit… I keep scrolling up and looking at that top-down shot… and I’m so in love with the roof and its pattern – and I still wish you could see it from the inside (damn you, OneDrive). Compared to my first big build, this structure is easily twice as big if not bigger.

My next trick, if I decide to do it, is to build this structure in Survival mode which will call for acquiring a shitload of materials and creating many, many more. I haven’t figured out how to build the middle section of the roof without falling off and dying and I’m thinking that even if I figure it out, it’s going to take a very long time to do it. I have nothing but time on my hands but there is a limit to my patience. I haven’t bothered to do the math for how many blocks it actually takes to build the base and the twenty fully built columns.

In my head, I know it starts on the left and, again with a nine-block square and as I write this I know it’s a repeating pattern of nine, four, eight – just for one column. Then 23, 9, 4, 8, 11, 11, 23 and continuing this pattern until all twenty columns have been placed. The math is easy – I just don’t fucking feel like doing it. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many total blocks it takes to build thing and, as an aside, if there was a change to the base game I’d recommend to Microsoft and Mojang, it would be to have the ability to see how many blocks used to build something… and I wouldn’t want to be the one who’d try to code this.

Cobblestone, two types of glass, granite, stripped wood. In Survival mode, I would be scavenging a lot of materials, which would call for a lot of mining and cutting down a shitload of whatever trees to get the wood I’d have to strip for the crossbeams alone… and then replanting the trees since in some locations, there aren’t that many trees starting out or, as I’ve seen, the kind of wood I’m looking for just isn’t in the immediate area. The only saving grace is that I’d do this in Peaceful mode – there is no way in hell I’d do this in any other mode and find myself fighting for my life while trying to do all of this.

Minecraft purists might say I’m a pussy for using Creative mode… and I’m just gonna be a pussy and besides, it’s my game and I’ll play it the way I want to.

So there you have it. I’m now going to crank up the Xbox and get back to work on the new structure that I really don’t need to build – but I’m gonna do it just because I can. While this structure pales in comparison to those I’ve seen other people – including my son-in-law – build, I am unashamedly proud of what I’ve built.

Oh, here’s a link to a view of the structure from the front and from above: https://kdaddy23.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/share-external-1.png

 
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Posted by on 22 March 2020 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Minecrafting

I wish y’all could see what I’ve been working on in Minecraft; for some reason, my console allows me to send screen captures to my OneDrive accounts but when I do that, the capture isn’t there so I don’t know what’s going on with that. But, let me start from the beginning…

I had a dream about a new structure – no, seriously, I did – that came about after I was messing around with an underwater temple and, in particular, doing something with its support columns. I’ve already built one of these things on dry land but the columns got my attention so I went about designing and building something based on the support columns and how I had modified them.

The first iteration actually turned out well even though I really had no idea what I was building. I created the column I dreamt of – and just one – and from there I spent the next several hours building something from that one column and, wow, it turned out pretty good if I may say so myself. After I got it finished, I started thinking about how I could not only do it faster but improve upon it as well as making it a good place to live when playing in Survival mode – and the first version was built in Survival mode and, to my credit, I managed to build it without falling off of it and killing myself.

Lemme see if I can put the build into words. The column starts with a nine-block square at the base; I then added four blocks to the center of the nine-block square, then at the third block from the bottom, added a nine-block top to the column. Going from left to right, I laid down 11 blocks and put another column at the end of it and repeated this process until I got back to where I started. I then climbed on top of the first column and at the fourth block I had placed, ran a line of blocks across the entire top until, again, I got back to where I started. Now to put a roof on it.

I wasn’t going to settle for a flat roof so I climbed up on the top row of blocks and began to essentially build a giant triangle shape to form the front side of the roof. Got down, went to the back side of the structure and did the same thing and, wow, they were pretty high up and to the point where had I fallen from the top, I would have died and have to respawn. Next came a crossbeam to connect the front and back sides of the roof’s frame.

Hitting the B button to crouch down – and so I wouldn’t fall off – I laid a line of blocks from one end to the other which was slow going. I then went to the middle section and using the B button again, created a bunch of blocks as steps to make a connection to the main crossbeam, then repeated it on the other side. I got done with this, took a huge drink of water and asked myself, “Okay… now what?”

To complete the roof – and starting at the top of the structure, I started to lay down blocks of glass across the entire top; the next row was all cobblestone and I continued this pattern until the roof was completed. Now it was about filling in the sides in a way to create windows that formed a pattern – and that was the easiest thing I did. Once that was done, now it was time to replace the grass and dirt with a “real” floor so using granite and stripped birch wood blocks, I laid down a geometric pattern which took quite a while to visualize and lay down and – voila – my newest creation was complete… and immediately not good enough.

I have since gone through four iterations of this building. I changed the basic shape of it by adding a middle section because, when looking at it, it just made sense and it would expand the building sideways as well as lengthwise. Now, I did this both in Creative and Survival modes; the challenge was to be able to build it in Survival because doing it in Creative is way easier since you can float around up high. It took longer than the original building, of course, but once I had the basic concept in mind, it wasn’t that bad where time was concerned.

I wound up doing something different with the flooring which, again, took me a bit longer to visualize and execute but, in the end, I was very happy with the results… and not so much. Looking at the new structure, I saw that it could be bigger overall and more so when, by creating a middle to it, well, bigger just made sense. At this point, I had been thinking about making it a storied structure with two or three floors but I thought that in Survival mode, I was gonna die and I hate dying in that game so instead of building up, I used the middle section to dig downward; added steps and dug out rooms on both sides. Other versions of this version had me digging out multiple rooms to serve as bedrooms since, occasionally, the family will pop into my game and needs a place to sleep so outfitting the place with some necessities also made sense.

I was extremely happy with the new configuration and especially the different geometric patterns I could make with the floor… but it could be bigger and better. Which led to the first “supersized” structures… and now things get funny. Building things in Minecraft seems to work best when using an uneven number of blocks, like, a 10x10x10x10 base doesn’t lend itself to symmetry like a 11x11x11x11 base does. So for the supersized version, I thought about some sections having 11 blocks and some having 22 blocks, the thought here being to make the structure twice as big… and making a very rookie mistake.

In order to build the bigger versions, I needed a large, flat space which found me literally spending hours landscaping shit until it was as flat as I needed, from tearing down huge hills to filling in deep holes. My daughter has a things about cutting down trees and not replacing them so I had a good time laughing about the fact that I was mowing down trees left and right and not bothering to replace them since the world I was creating the building in weren’t going to be used to play in Survival mode.

Yeah… I told her about that and she wasn’t happy… but back to the mistake.

I’d spent a few hours landscaping the shit out of a world I could work with, laid down the base by doing 11 blocks between some columns and 22 blocks between others but when I went to put on the roof which, by the way, went from the original simple version to something a lot more complicated due to the middle section, I spend long minutes trying to figure out why the “triangle” wasn’t ending in a single block and as it should.

Um, it was because I used 22 blocks at both ends… instead of 23. I’m not even gonna say a whole lot of the several supersized versions I screwed up because I miscounted blocks, okay? But with the structure I was now working on – with the base already completed, shit – I wasn’t going to start over in a new world, not after it took me three hours to sculpt the land they way I needed it, leaving the only real choice to pretty much tear it all down and put in the right number of blocks for the long sections – 23 instead of 22… while all the while kicking myself in the ass for making such a stupid mistake in the first place.

But I got it done and checked my work by flying up and looking down on the frame and seeing that all 20 columns – yeah, 20 of them – were lined up properly. Now to get to work on the roof. The original roof design was easy; the expanded version with the middle section had me confused because with the way the roof is constructed, the middle section doesn’t match up with, say, the front and back sections although they are the same height. So I had to figure out how to make the roof work… and that took at least two hours for me to figure out.

Oh, I wish you could see the completed roof! It is absolutely beautiful and it’s geometric shape is so comforting to the eye. Still – and this is where it gets even funnier – I had a big issue with the supersized version of the large roof; for some reason, I couldn’t figure out how to get it connected so that it looked like its predecessors. Well, I figured it out; the earlier versions of this roof were built from the bottom up – this roof had to be built from the top down and once I realized this, the rest of the roof went quickly.

With the 23-block areas, I wanted to turn them into rooms so I could use the middle section for storage and an enchantment room and doing that wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Every iteration of this building has a lower crossbeam and I use it to connect it to the top of the building with fenceposts – it really looks cool – and I could then hang lanterns under the crossbeams to provide lighting… but the supersized building present a problem at this point – not enough light so I had to come up with an additional way to light the place with lanterns and not resorting to torches. Additionally, and keeping with the original design, that lower crossbeam has stripped wood blocks in between the cobblestone blocks that are used to support and connect the lower crossbeam to the roof.

Yeah… this place is getting very complicated now but I’ve committed to finishing it even while questioning my sanity in building it in the first place. So to put things into perspective, I started this supersized version two days ago… and I’m still not completely finished with it. I got the inside done including yet another design for the floor. I chose to surround the building with leaf blocks… then frame whole areas with a double row of leaf blocks to keep the frigging animals out, which is a waste of time since the game just spawns them every- and anywhere, like the four horses I had roaming around inside the building. I replaced all the grass on the outside with green cement powder; those damned sheep really piss me off eating the grass and leaving brown spots behind… but I realized that using the cement powder tends to cause sea turtles to show up. Oh, well.

I had to do some additional landscaping since I more or less want all sides of the enclosed area to be equal. I had to add outside lighting; I had to create a more textured area for the flat sides that support the roof by using steps – then, into the face of each flat side, carve out a space using a 1-3-5-7-9 thingy to put in windows at the top, which is pretty cool since looking through those windows – and you can only do it in Creative mode – you can see the lower crossbeam and the “chandeliers” I constructed on each of the “beams” that connects the lower crossbeam to the roof itself.

I wound up creating eight rooms in this structure and after I kill the chickens that are squatting in them, I have to put in beds and stuff as well as create a floor pattern for each room. I know it’s probably hard to envision this so I’m gonna invite anyone who has Minecraft to friend me on Xbox Live – my gamertag is Smartkdaddy (and I hate that tag, by the way) and come take a look at what I think is the best thing I’ve ever built in Minecraft since the system doesn’t seem to want to let me share the screen prints I made. I tried taking a picture of it with my phone and iPad… but it’s not a good picture so if you want to see it, come pay me a visit.

And I’m online right now and will be finishing my work on the supersized place.

 
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Posted by on 20 March 2020 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Minecraft

So… playing Minecraft can get pretty boring at times; create a world, start doing stuff to survive in it, survive, whatever. Or start a world in Creative mode, build some cool-looking stuff, build some more stuff, bleh.

Because of the world generator, I can’t begin to tell you how many different worlds can be generated within the 17 or so different biomes the game has to offer – and I know there are 17 of them because I wound up getting an achievement for finding all 17 of them.

While it’s easy to get into Creative mode and set up an area to play in and outfit the area with everything you’d ever want or need, the challenge is to do this in Survival mode so what I’ve been doing is creating a bunch of worlds and setting them up “from scratch” – while in Peaceful mode because even after all this time playing the game, I just do not like trying to do something to survive while being attacked by mobs – and especially those sneaky-assed Creepers.

Nothing ruins your Minecraft day than getting blown up by a Creeper that you never saw or heard coming – and having to respawn if, by chance, you didn’t get around to outfitting yourself with some decent armor.

So, I create a world, mark the spawn point and get to building a place using dirt at first, then eventually replacing the dirt with cobblestone, granite, whatever will stand a chance of withstanding a Creeper attack when I eventually put the game into Survival/Normal mode. My task is to build the place in the way I want it to look like instead of starting out “simply” and then trying to figure out how to add on more space – it’s not always as easy as it sounds.

So what I want to do is to build a place that will have a room for the Enchantment block and an additional room for more storage chests outside of the ones I’ve already placed in the “main room.” Place a crafting block and a furnace; start hunting animals for food and especially sheep – making a bed is so very important and more so when you’re in a mode of play that will get Phantoms visiting you if you don’t sleep for three game-days.

The additional trick or task I’ve given myself is to build on the spot that I spawned in and no matter what the terrain is; I might spawn on a flat spot, up on the side of a hill or cliff and the only change in this is when, inexplicably, the game spawns me high up in a tree.

And with no safe way down without getting killed. This is aggravating for a few reasons but for me, it changes the spawn point; if I get killed or if someone comes into my world, guess where you’re gonna show up?

So now, the real reason for this scribble. One goal is to find world seeds that I think my son-in-law and his gang might be interested in working and the world I’m working on now is one that he found to his liking and I even insisted that he check it out because of the features I found while digging a mine shaft down to bedrock and establishing my usual mining area.

There are a lot of caverns along the path I dug; not unusual but that’s not what got me scratching my head – it’s all the fucking lava I stumbled across before I even got the mine finished. It was so bad that I actually copied the world and put it in Creative mode so I could find out what I had to deal with… and it’s a motherfucker and one of the worst situations I’ve seen since playing this game.

The lava, itself, isn’t the problem: I long since learned how to work among the lava without falling in or otherwise getting burnt to a crisp – it’s the amount of gravel and sand that, in Creative mode, I saw was going to be needed. Starting out, I hadn’t found much gravel, the usual stuff used for getting rid of lava – but I had spawned above a beach with a lot of sand and I actually prefer sand over gravel because, when I go to recover the sand, I get nothing but sand where gravel doesn’t always give you a block of gravel – you get flint and except for one use, it’s pretty useless.

I’ve needed so much sand that I’ve almost stripped the entire beach of it down to the water line. To put this into perspective for you, I could walk out of my house and going downward, there was nothing but sand starting a few blocks down. All of that sand is gone; I gathered up so much sand that I had to stop and figure out how I was going to get back up to the top, both to my house and where I found an entrance to a cavern.

And to make things worst, as of yesterday, I’ve run out of sand and gravel. I’m now in what I call a recovery mode which, simply, is me going back and collecting up all the sand and gravel I used to sop up the lava in the first place… and as I go about this really mind-numbing but necessary task, I’m still finding huge lakes of lava that’s making my recovery even harder.

There seems to be no end to it and some of the sand and gravel I’ve used cannot be recovered so easily without digging up the floor at the bedrock level, something I really don’t like doing… but unless I can find more sand/gravel, I won’t have any choice but to do this – and there might be even more lava below bedrock – and bedrock is the one thing in the game that, in Survival mode, you can’t do anything with.

Folks, it got so bad that I re-opened the Creative copy of the world and really started getting after the lava, working with what I’d discovered in the Survival world and once I’ve sopped up the lava, taking all of the blocks of sand out down to bedrock so it will resemble the Survival world, which is one really big mess and I’m a “weird” kinda of Minecrafter in that I don’t like messy stuff all that much. But it is what it is and I just gotta deal with it.

I’ve almost given up on this… project a few times but in my head, setting this world up for Survival/Normal mode isn’t going to be complete until I get the mine squared away and ready for mining… and I can’t do that until I deal with all that fucking lava that is on three of the four sides of the mine proper – that would be the point where I reached bedrock and started carving out the “room.”

The trick to dealing with oceans of lava is to be as methodical about getting rid of it and working only one area at a time which makes sense… when you’re not literally surrounded by the stuff. It’s not only around me but it’s below me – and below bedrock – but it’s above me as well and I don’t recall ever feeling so… overwhelmed than I do at this point. I get an area sopped up and begin recovery – recall that I’ve pretty much stripped the beach of sand to the water line already – and while I’ve found “huge” patches of gravel, it isn’t enough, making the recovery process a very necessary one but also revealing even more lava that’s impeding the recovery process; I can’t reclaim some of the stuff I’ve ready put down until I’ve gotten rid of the new lava I’ve encountered.

It’s part of the game but the real challenge for me is to not make this world a Creative one; it just defeats the reason why I created it in the first place. I could abandon it and stick with the Creative copy… but that would be too easy; I’d never run out of material to sop up all the lava and it’s too easy for me to rebuild the whole frigging area so that it looks like nothing was ever done to it. And that, crazily, is the goal for the “legit” Survival version: Get rid of all the fucking lava and then rebuild the area so that, outside of the obvious cobblestone blocks that’ll be there, it’ll look like I didn’t see one drop of lava and my mine will be all nice and orderly.

You might be reading this and thinking yourself to be very happy that you’re not playing this game because when you read this, how the fuck can it be fun doing this shit? The funny part is that it is fun; it’s being faced with a challenging situation and accepting the challenge it presents; it’s about focus and planning and even planning in the face of the unknown – what’s behind that one block? Is this really all of the lava in this particular area? You almost wind up being a bit OCD dealing with this but not, I think, in a bad way.

The other challenge that comes with dealing with this mess is to not allow myself to get bored doing it – and it’s real easy to do. It is so repetitive that, yeah, at times, I can feel myself starting to nod off; just listening to the actions of the controller itself can be rather hypnotic and, as I’ve found, the sound of breaking a block of sand is actually kinda soothing, as opposed to the more rougher sound of breaking a block of gravel or other kind of stone.

The upside is that when this world goes live, it won’t lack for stuff like coal, iron, redstone, gold, and lapis lazuli although I am quite disappointed that I haven’t found that many diamonds – yet. So far, I’ve only found seven diamonds – and I used six of them to make diamond pickaxes so I can also deal with the obsidian I come across – and I have more obsidian than I know what to do with. The only “practical” use for it is to build a Nether Gate… and I’m nowhere close to building one but it won’t be for a lack of the twenty or so blocks of obsidian that’s needed to build one.

By the time I’m done, I might be able to rebuild my house completely in obsidian which reminds me: One of the ways obsidian can be created is to add water to lava; sometimes you’ll get all obsidian, sometimes all cobblestone, sometimes a mix of both. The problem? You need a diamond pickaxe to collect obsidian… and I haven’t found that many diamonds to make me feel happy about this since, along with the fucking lava, I’ve been running around huge “waterfalls” of water that I have to go after and stop from flowing… so I can get rid of the lava or recover sand/gravel… so I can get rid of more lava… and water.

I think I’ve found an underground ravine and while I haven’t gone far into the area, well, it’s now in the path of my removal/recovery attempts so whenever I get back to it, I’ll find out if it really is a covered ravine or just another cavern-like place and, yeah, it makes a difference but don’t ask me to explain it right now, okay?

I know that the more lava I find, the more there’s a need to get rid of it when, really, I could just leave it alone… except. I’ve had too many experiences where I’ve encountered lava and decided to leave it alone, only to run into it while mining so when I see it, I get rid of it because I do not want deal with it later.

I’m just not having an easy time doing it in this world… but I will get it dealt with.

 
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Posted by on 5 August 2019 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Minecraft Moments

A few thoughts about Minecraft first, like, it’s not as much a game you play as one you do; while a lot of players are all into fighting off the mobs and all that, some are builders, some are miners and, as such, fighting off the various mobs is just one of those things you gotta deal with while trying to finish a building or digging your mine.

Then there’s lava and anyone who’s gone digging around underground will encounter lava and learn what it’s like to have the game declare that you tried to swim in lava. You then learn how to navigate the lava and, importantly, how to use sand and gravel to “soak up” the lava so it won’t give you any more problems as you explore and dig in your world seed’s underground.

I like playing with the lava. It presents a challenge to be overcome while looking for diamonds (in particular) and stuff like coal, iron, gold, redstone and lapis lazuli – this is needed to enchant your weapons, armor, and a couple of other items. In Survival mode, it’s about finding and obtaining as much gravel or sand that you can carry; sixty-four blocks of gravel might seem like a lot but it really isn’t and I’ve run into lakes of lava so “vast” that even attacking it with as many as ten blocks of sixty-four sees me running out of gravel and having to go back and recover the blocks already placed.

It’s time consuming and can be so repetitive that, sometimes, I get sleepy while monotonously dropping block after block into the hot, seething, and dangerous lava. But it’s also rather relaxing, I think, and I can spend hours on lava eradication and allow my mind to think of other things and to keep my mind off of my 24/7 neuropathic pain.

Recently, though, I’ve noticed that the game’s world generator, along with various updates to the game, seems to be putting more lava in the mix than I’ve seen in the past. Instead of isolated lakes of lava, I’ve been seeing oceans of it – and that’s just the lava I can see and doesn’t account for the lava that hides under blocks of stone or whatever but once you can identify such things, now it’s just a matter of getting to it.

In my most recent world – and one I started in Creative mode – I wanted to build some places and set them up so when someone comes to visit me in this world, they can get the basic stuff they need and have a place to sleep at night and in those moments when I switch from Creative to Survival mode. Once I got the building built and outfitted, I dug a few mineshafts to expose more stuff… and to look for lava and dispose of it.

The advantage of going after the lava in Creative mode is that, for one, I’m not gonna run out of blocks of sand; I use red sand specifically because, well, you’re not going to find red sand deep underground and I use it an an indicator – if I see it somewhere, I know I’ve been there already. The other thing is that when you break up blocks of gravel, you don’t always get gravel – you get flint and it’s a pain in the ass and more so when flint, to my knowledge, only has one use and that’s to make a flint and steel that can be used to activate a Nether Gate or to set fire to something you want to burn up.

I’d usually spend, oh, a couple of hours removing lava in those underground areas – almost consistently around level 11 but you can run into some above this level and it’s more prevalent in the many ravines you can come across. But here lately? I’ve run into lava that’s taken me real-time days to get rid of. Every time I think I’ve gotten it all – or all that I can get to – I look somewhere and, shit, there’s not only more lava but a whole lot of it! that one spot that, at first glance, looks easy to get rid of winds up revealing that, nope, not a small spot but the beginning of a huge ocean of lava.

I’ve thought, “Fuck this shit – I ain’t fucking with this anymore!” and with the thought also in mind to leave it for other players to deal with… but I can’t leave it alone and especially when the lava will make digging out a mine a very hazardous thing to do once I turn on Survival mode… so it’s got to go… and I’m not all that happy about it.

I can see one world seed with way too much lava… but I’ve run into this in multiple world seeds and one’s I thought that I got rid of all the lava, only to go back to those areas previous visited and dealt with… and there’s more lava and lava that wasn’t there before.

Shit. As I labored through my most recent lava removal project, I began to think that the Minecraft programmers decided that there’s not enough lava in the game so let’s put even more lava in there – and while and because they’ve been indulging in a lot of recreational drugs and emptying many bottles of their favorite hair of the dog.

Before this recent turn of events, I’d go into an area and get rid of all the lava I can see and/or get to, including all the lava hiding under block of obsidian. Now, I leave the lava that lives under the obsidian right where it is, not because I’ve gotten lazy but it occurred to me that if someone comes into my world and they need obsidian for something – and especially if I’ve neglected to build a Nether Gate, well, they can break out their diamond pick axes (the only tool that can handle obsidian) and get it… and they can deal with the lava – I got enough of the damned stuff to deal with already.

But, yeah, it’s just part of Minecrafting. Dealing with the lava in Creative mode, well, sure – some would consider it cheating but given the huge amounts of lava I’ve been seeing, I don’t have a problem with it. Now, I do and will attack it in Survival mode only because it’s the real challenge and it’s kinda fun to be desperate for more gravel or sand and, fuck, you can’t ever seem to find it when you need it… but when you don’t, there’s more gravel than you know what to do with staring you in the face.

Figures, huh? Anyway, I just wanted to share this with you!

 
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Posted by on 12 July 2019 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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The Ocean Monument

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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Minecraft…

I actually didn’t think I’d have anything else to write about this game… until the new “better together” version of Minecraft was released yesterday… and it was a disaster.  The gaming industry has been talking about this upgrade to the game because since Minecraft has been around, there are millions of people playing the game across the different platforms – iOS, Android, PC, and the consoles – but unless you were on the same platform with someone you wanted to play with, I couldn’t play with someone who might be playing on their Android tablet due to a mismatch in the protocols that were specifically written for a given device.  Well, they finally solved the riddle and figured out a way for everyone to play Minecraft with everyone else and regardless to their device of choice; as I recall, the only exception is the Java version of the game and that’s because most modern devices other than PCs won’t run Java (or aren’t allowed to).

The beta version came out on Xbox One and to mixed reviews from those who gave it a try and one of the things I know many tried – and because I did it – is taking a world from the Xbox One version and converting it over to the beta version and it worked perfectly for me and many others.  Admittedly, the world I converted wasn’t a big one in terms of file size but there were others who had already built worlds that were not only grandly elaborate but in terms of file size, they were massive.  Still, the beta performed the conversion to my satisfaction even if I wasn’t fond of how they changed things like the game’s menus from what I’d painstakingly gotten used to playing the Xbox One version and I wasn’t the only one as evidenced by the riffing folks were doing on Facebook’s Minecraft Xbox One group page.

So now it was just a matter of the beta running its course and many people were waiting for it to go live.  I don’t know about the other console versions but Microsoft assured everyone that once the new game went live, we could still play the original version – it just wasn’t going to be updated going forward.  Additionally, anyone who had either the game disc or had purchased the digital copy and had played the game for five hours or more would receive the new game free of charge; it was also announced that any add-on packs purchased would be applied to the new game and work as expected but with the understandable caveat that some packs would take a bit of time to be included.

I fired up my Xbox to see if the new version was available there and only because I saw where my iOS version, Minecraft Personal Edition (or PE) had updated and I took a deep breath and proceeded to update my Xbox game and in a note to my son-in-law, I told him that I was afraid to open it but did so anyway.  Now things get interesting.  First, before I could do a thing with the new game, it locked up and eventually crashed my console and had to be reset.  Once that was done, I reopened the game and just like everyone else was probably doing, when to convert my current world into the new game; when it got done, I opened it… and discovered that literally half of my world was missing!  I found myself hovering in mid-air – and that’s because it was what I was doing when I closed that version of the world when I last played it – and then I turned around toward my “headquarters,” only to find that except for a few things, it was gone – all I could see was water where there was never any water.  Even better, I moved to where my headquarters used to be and discovered that the mountain that sits behind my place was literally bisected and to the point where one of my mines was exposed!  That’s about the time I started laughing because I knew if I was seeing something like this, there would be others who’d see it as well and as evidenced by hearing my son-in-law suddenly curse when he did the same thing I did and found parts of his converted world missing.

Several attempts to re-convert my world resulted in more of it being done but one of the things I noticed was that the world I was trying to convert was 257.5 MB in size… but only 170 MB had been converted.  I thought that perhaps the missing megabyte were tied up in the add-on pack attached to the original game so I went to apply it.  The size of the add-on is 8.4 MB… but the process kept getting to 8,1 MB downloaded and just stopped… then the game crashed and took my console along for the ride.  I told my fellow Facebook group members what I’d experienced and even provided pictures of the “carnage” and, yup, a lot of people were having similar problems.  But wait… this gets better!

If you had created a world in the beta, it would open up without a problem… but if you had an add-on applied, well, you could go to it in the menu and download it… except it wouldn’t download.  On the Facebook group, many people were reporting that they could open their worlds from the beta… but there were some things that weren’t working anymore that were working before this thing went live.  But wait… it gets even better from here!  Remember when I said that we were told that if we already had the game either in disc form or digital download we’d get the new game free?  Well, some people who had the game already discovered that when it was time to download and launch the new game, um, it was gonna cost them $349.00… and I had to laugh as I wondered how many people actually re-purchased the game at this price and while hoping that no one did.

I went to xbox.com to check system status one to see what they knew and, two, because this thing had crashed my console three times already and, indeed, Microsoft was aware that something was very wrong – and that’s about all they said; something’s wrong and we’re working on it so check back to see if/when we get it fixed.  I had another good laugh thinking about how Mojang – the creators of Minecraft – and Microsoft were getting bombed and slammed by millions of players and pretty much all at the same time.  I know some shit about moving stuff from a test/beta environment to going live so I know that you can test things until you get them working the way you need them to work but once in production mode, um, things don’t always go smoothly.  Talking to my son-in-law, he managed to get in touch with someone on the Mojang team who told him that they were having problems because they didn’t expect four million people to start playing the game pretty much all at once and because that’s what happened, everything was crashing and burning around them.  Now, you know, being experienced in such things, I said, “Really?  They should have expected it and should have planned on this happening!”  Whether those involved really did take this into consideration or not doesn’t change the fact that the much ballyhooed and anticipated new edition of Minecraft just blew up and now tech teams were – and are still – scrambling to fix it.

I’ve yet to check Xbox system status or fire up my console to see if things got fixed but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s still broken.  And, yes, I am very glad and happy that I can still play the original Xbox version that has my world very much intact and functioning properly.

 
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Posted by on 21 September 2017 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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