Showing posts with label Minecraft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Minecraft. Show all posts

Friday, August 11, 2023

GamesMadeMe: Actual Games + My Gaming Origin Story!

 GamesMadeMe is a series of posts that cover gaming-related topics that have shaped who I am as a gamer today.  Since I've covered specific moments in games and related topics like gaming magazines it is about time I actually talk about some games that made me!  Today let's take a jaunt down the gaming history that has informed my current day preferences.

 We'll start at today and work backwards as best as my memory can recollect!

new world
  New World is my current jam and holds the record of "most played" across my entire gaming career.  As of this post I am nearing 2,500 hours played!  Whats most amazing is that I never planned to play this game.  I only found out about it because it was hosting an early preview event at the same time as the Crowfall beta test.  

 While testing Crowfall the population numbers plummeted one day and when I asked why the New World preview event was mentioned.  I decided to give it a go because I just wasn't feeling Crowfall and I was absolutely hooked from the moment I set foot in New World.  I am still hooked.  I love New World.



 Guild Wars 2 (GW2) is next on the list.  Between New World and Minecraft (which we'll hit after GW2) there were a lot of games but Guild Wars 2 was the one that stuck around and kept coming back around.  I own and have played the first three expansions but admit I am all about PvP so spent a lot more time in World vs World vs World (wuvwuv for short).  

 Also as I mentioned in my Game Markets post I was a huge investor in Guild Wars 2 and truth be told that is where most of my /played time was invested in GW2.  I earned so much gold and converted so much of it to premium currency that I have piles of stuff and knick-knacks on my account. I also have several level 80 characters.

 I never really got hardcore into GW2 even though I played a ton (1,000+ hours).  I didn't have a guild and never played with one during my time in the game.  The game is very solo friendly so it was never pressed upon me to need to group up.  I did a lot of things but aside from playing the market one specific thing never grabbed hold.  I never finished the original story, never did dungeons/fractals/raids, really didn't finish any living seasons, and outside of some ascended gear pieces and a single legendary greatsword don't have much gear.  I own the first two expansions but barely played their stories/areas.  But I still loved the game and should I ever break up with New World it's likely where I'd go back to.


 Minecraft launched in 2009 which was a special year as that is when my oldest was born.  I tried Minecraft off the recommendation of a co-worker.  At the time there was no survival mode and the game was a very basic block building game.  The UI still showed how many players online; I used to have a screenshot showing there were about 500 total users online!

 The beauty of Minecraft way back then was that it ran on our work computers.  When the survival mode launched my co-workers and I filled our breaks and lunch hours with Minecraft.  We had our own server and played the crap out of the game (some of my Minecraft videos from this era exist on my Youtube 1 2 3).  

 As a first time father Minecraft was the perfect game in those first few years of my oldest son's life.  Relatively non-violent and abstract blocky graphics = perfect for a kid to watch.  I played Minecraft pretty hardcore for it's first four years.  Lots of fond memories and I wish to this day I'd of stuck with making videos (I could be super famous now!).

 And that would have been the end of Minecraft after I moved on to other things, but right as I was breaking my addiction my oldest son hit Kindergarten and Minecraft was every kids world at the time.  My son picked up Minecraft about 2013/14 and he still plays it to this day.  We've played together on and off and we even got mom (not much of a video gamer) to play.  Some my fondest gamer dad moments are building stuff in Minecraft only to find out my son cheated and spawned a wither the next day and destroyed it.  I still have the worlds saved and a personal cherished digital artifact is when screen recording accidentally recorded my son exploring a new castle I had built for him.


  Before Minecraft my passion was Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR for short). WAR also holds the record as the game that broke me.  I was the uber fanboy for WAR. As a long time Dark Ages of Camelot player I was confident that Mark Jacobs could do no wrong.  WAR was going to be the best game ever.  It was the World of Warcraft killer (remember we are going new to old so we haven't gotten to WoW yet).

 WAR is also unique in that the entire rise and fall of the game is captured in this blog's history (see tagged posts here).  If you were interested you could watch as I go from eternal fanboy to ex-cult member.  I loved the premise of the game and had a great group of folks to play with.  

 We formed the Casualties of War guild on the back of a bunch of World of Warcraft/MMORPG bloggers (400+ members at its peak).  Running that guild taught me I never want to run a guild again even though in every aspect of real life I am a leader (people leader at work, leader when I was in the military, leader in boy scouts, always my kid's sports team coach, etc).

 WAR was really fun to play when it launched. Unfortunately the game was never really finished and it showed.  End game zones were mostly devoid of content and the advertised end game of city sieges never really worked.  When it did work it was exploited heavily.

 WAR ended up crashing and was shutdown.  Fortunately I broke my fanboyism long before it was in shutdown and even though I revisited it for a little bit it never got it's hooks back in me.  It did forever change how I want to interact with new MMORPGs.  I'll be optimistic about games.  I will play them hardcore like I do New World and be a cheerleader.  But never again am I going full fanboy and expecting a new MMORPG to be the next big thing.


 November 23, 2004.  A day after my birthday.  World of Warcraft launched and there I was on the Azgalor server with my mind blown (even though I had played in a beta phase before launch).  How could a game be this good?  12 hours later I realized I hadn't left the computer.

 World of Warcraft (WoW) holds the spot in my record book for the longest gaming sessions.  I could not put the game down and my addiction was aided by an odd work scheduled at the time where I basically had half the month off and the other half 12 hour shifts.  I was also in the military in full on real-life-war-mode so interest in anything other than work and then getting home to play WoW didn't exist.

 I loved playing WoW launch.  I was fortunate in that I never really had problems accessing the game and playing.  It was just a magical time to be playing online games.  So many new players, and gamers, coming to check this once-in-a-lifetime game out.  I played as a Horde Troll Shaman but refused to heal; I was all about the DPS shaman with windfury on the great axe.

 My time playing WoW was focused on PvP.  I really didn't care about dungeons and did very few.  I never participated in a raid nor did I have interest in raiding.  I wanted to do nothing more than prowl the Alliance zones looking for trouble.  Since there were PvP servers I was given that opportunity.  Later on battlegrounds came out and that was my jam.

 As magical as WoW was though it didn't hook me long term.  I gave up playing before the first expansion came out and it was months later before I gave The Burning Crusade a try.  I really don't know why I went from playing 12 hours straight to not interested.  Partly it was landing an amazing girlfriend who then became my wife, but mostly I just stopped playing.


 Before WoW it was Dark Ages of Camelot (DAoC).  DAoC launched Oct 9, 2001 and I played it faithfully until WoW wrenched me away.  I loved the Realm vs Realm and played a Runecaster for Midgard on the Merlin server.  I was at or adjacent to many of the world firsts in the game: there when the first relic was captured, in the race to be the first player to 1 million realm points, and there when the guy that did make it to a million realm points got part of the game world named after him (screw you Dakkon!).

 Mixed in with my time in World of Warcraft and Dark Ages of Camelot was Star Wars Galaxies.  I was an early adopter as I was heavily involved in the Star Wars roleplaying forums the game hosted before launch.  I was in the early beta/alpha tests when all there was to the game was an empty sand zone and speech bubbles.

 Star Wars Galaxies had some of the best possible MMO systems ever created.  It is a shame they never got the time of day if they were not strictly combat or Jedi related.  As I tell people I want to be the moisture farmer so as the game steered more to letting anyone become a Jedi the more it wasn't for me.  But systems like housing, vendors, gathering, and crafting - no game has done it better.  No game even comes close.  Damn it game developers; give me SWG 2.0! (No; I am not interested in SWG emu servers).

 Ultima Online is the first graphical online game I played.  It is the first game I bought when I had my own PC and my own place as a young adult.  I rushed to get internet solely because I wanted to play Ultima Online.  

 I was introduced to Ultima Online years before that moment when I was working in a grocery store as a teen and my manager played it.  I would get a chance to go to his house and watch him play on a potato of a computer.  At the time it was original Ultima Online with all it's craziness: no safe zones, red players killing anyone that walked out of town without a plan, player run cities, game masters that would literally play god in the game, and houses you could lose if you lost your key.  To illustrate how early we are talking: there were still tons of open spots to place a house.  I never got to play, but watching was enough for me.

 Fast forward back to being in my own place with my own PC and I was joining right as Ultima Online Renaissance came online.  The Renaissance expansion brought a mirrored version of the world, called Trammel, that was completely safe and it opened up a flood of new land to fill with houses (the "open spots" having long ago been taken up in the original Felucca realm).

 Being a new player I had zero idea what the land grab was and other than some memory of watching my old manager play the original game I didn't know what I was doing.  So I treated the game like a virtual world; more intent on interacting with other players in a social aspect than getting the next progression item checked off.  If that meant just picking up garbage people left on the ground (oh yeah; items could be dropped and picked up by other players... how novel) then that's what I did.

 Eventually I did catch on that I needed to progress and that spun into having multiple different accounts so I could abuse all sorts of systems like the faction system, housing, and more.  Unfortunately I was so late to the housing party the only way to get a house was to buy it off eBay (yes, I bought my UO houses off eBay!) because all open spots were taken so even if you wanted to place a house you could not.

 I was very fond of PvP in UO.  I was not a player killer, but I loved faction warfare (player killing without becoming a red player).  I also got into the provoking skill which was basically the easy mode of end game PvE content as you could entice monsters to fight each other while you hoovered up the loot they dropped from killing each other.  

 I also got big into taming anything the game let you tame; my favorite being the white ice dragons.  Anyone that knows taming in UP knows the saying "kill all"; nothing more satisfying than a half dozen dragons suddenly vaporizing an enemy.  While in today's PvP metas it is "kill the healer" back then it was "kill the tamer".  Many a fight was won based on how many dragons were brought.

mud mush

 Now I need to fill a gap between my gaming origin story and Ultima Online because before graphical MMORPGs I was addicted to text MUDs (multi user dungeon).  Without MUDs we wouldn't have the MMORPGs that we have today.

 The one that got me started was a MUD running in IRC on the Xnet IRC server.  I stumbled on it joining a chat room and a bot posting a puzzle; once you figured out the puzzle it let you in fully to the MUD.  It was like virtual Indiana Jones! I have no other recollection other than those pieces, but it was tons of fun and featured perma death PvP.  I killed my younger brothers character at one point.

 Probably my most invested MUD was a Star Wars themed one.  I don't remember the specifics and the websites are long gone, but I do still have notes I took on paper about it.  I used graph paper to map out areas of the game and take notes about things like "droid here" or "viewport overlooking space dock".  It had space flight as well as many planets.  I do vaguely remember getting into some drama and getting banned at one point. 

 I played plenty of other MUDs as well along with MUSHES and whatever other acronym soup we used back in those days to differentiate one from the other.  I even got into Medievia MUD for a bit which was the largest MUD ever and still running to this day.  It was mind blowing they were aiming for things like 20,000 players online and wanting to get to 200,000 (not sure what they ever peaked at).  I was used to MUDs with 5 people online; thousands was crazy to think about.  One of the coolest part of Medievia and many other MUDs was player created content.  It was just text so the barrier to entry to have your dedicated players help build was very low.  I honestly wonder if some of my poorly worded room descriptions are still floating around somewhere in Medievia!

 We'll finish on the origin story of gaming for heartlessgamer and recount the day I won a Sega Genesis.  I had played Nintendo and Super Nintendo at friends and extended family houses, but in my house we were still stuck in the "black and white" television era.  Without easy access to them video games were no different than any other toy to play with when visiting friends and family.  

 That all changed the day that I won a Sega Genesis.  The Sega was a possible prize from selling magazine subscriptions as a fundraiser.  I (really my mom) had done a good job getting folks to sign up so I was in the running.  It was towards the end of the school day and classes had just let out and announcements were coming over the intercom.  I hung back in the classroom to hear them.  I really, really wanted that Sega Genesis.  Then I heard my name and to this day I can remember looking at my teacher at the time and seeing the biggest smile on her face as I sprinted out towards the office to get my prize.  I hoisted the box over my head and for a few glorious moments I was the king of my school.

 I walked to school so had a few blocks to get home with the prize.  I really don't remember my parents reactions, but they were supportive of me getting it up and running.  I wasn't kidding when I said we still had "black and white" televisions.  Our main set was too old to get the Sega working and after phoning a friends parents we were able to get it set up on my mom's tiny little kitchen TV.  From then on I spent many an hour at the kitchen table playing Sega games in black and white. Some favorites from the time; Wrestlemania, Shining Force, and of course Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

 I will never forget winning that Sega Genesis and I swear the movie 8-bit Christmas is loosely based on that time in my life (I already had an awesome treehouse my dad made though; I just needed a video game console).  And that is the gaming mode that started it all and therefore is what truly made me a gamer!

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Hitting the nostalgia hard! Coe's Quest!

 Watching my own Minecraft video from 11 (11!) years ago had me waxing nostalgic for those glorious early years of Minecraft.  A hallmark of those years, at least for me, was Coe's Quest on YouTube.  Anytime my oldest son starts talking to me about Minecraft (a daily occurrence) I hum the closing theme song to Coe's Quest... "talkin' about Minecraft.  Talkin' about Minecraftttttt".  Episode 001 is embedded below and some thoughts are shared below.

 Chills watching this!

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Videos from my past: Minecraft Mondays 001

 With 2023 I am looking to do more with video content.  This has had me reminiscing about my past video endeavors.  There are some videos lost to time from when I published to Google Video (before they bought YouTube).  I am hoping to find those on old hard drives and resurrecting what I can.  With that said there are some videos on my YouTube channel so I figured a trip down nostalgia road would be neat.  Below is my first Minecraft Monday video and I share some thoughts after.

 The first thing that jumped back at me was the silence of the video.  No music or sound?  As best I can remember this was during a time of YouTube uncertainty around using music and getting your videos kicked off the site and I just wasn't ready at the time to share my voice with the world.

 As far as the content of the video it warmed my heart to see our old Minecraft server and my mountain base (still my all time favorite build).  This was a server we played on from our work PCs before workplaces got so hardcore about locking users away from the Internet.  I remember how difficult these minecart stations were to make and relying on glitches like minecart launchers where two carts get stuck together and glitch to move the cart forward (this was before powered rails)

 It is also crazy to me that this was 11 freaking years ago!  Even more amazing is the staying power of the game that is Minecraft.  This game is still one of my all time favorites.

 If memory serves me this video was captured using Fraps and edited using whatever came with Windows at the time.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

What is an MMORPG? Is Fortnite an MMORPG?

 I was listening to Epic Loot Radio's recent podcast State of the Game with @Ready Check Raideo (You Tubube version for anyone interested).  They cover a gambit of topics regarding MMORPGs eventually getting into what makes an MMORPG an MMORPG. An interesting question is discussed: Is Fortnite an MMORPG?  Their answer is no and I'd agree to that.  Here are some more of my thoughts on what was discussed.

One item that I keyed in on was their discussion on what the cut off point for "massive online" is.  The consensus number was at least 1,000 players in a single online world.  That resonated with me and I'd put a clarifying point on it that the game has to have the potential for 1,000 or more players and additionally the world needs to be a persistent online world.  

My point above about "potential for 1,000 or more" cuts off the "do games like Crowfall count when they are not popular enough to go over 1,000 players?".  Persistent online world helps to drive out considering games that have large online player counts jumping in and out of their worlds, but are not persistent.  

With these considerations we can rule out Fortnite as an MMORPG massive online front.  Yes, Fortnite has millions of players online at any given time, but you are only ever in a world with 100 of them and that world ceases to exist once the match is over.  Note: this doesn't make Fortnite any less of a game; it just doesn't need to be called an MMORPG.

On the tail end of MMORPG is the role playing (RP).  This is briefly covered in the Epic Loot Radio discussion, but is important for a lot of players to separate MMORPG from games that hit all the other points but are just MMOGs.  If anyone has ever read my first blog post (from 17 years ago!!!) you will know where I stand about role playing:

Social interaction with like minded nerds and geeks; people whom live through their in game characters as though it was version 2.0 of themselves.

I don't want to hear these gamers speak in foreign Orcish or Elvish tongues. I want them to speak English and call me newb, l33t, or dude. I want role playing that is a real person, embodying a real in-game character. I don't want to know how much you can pretend. I want to see who, what, and how you can do things in game with the class, race, or skills you have chosen in our game of choice.

So my take on role playing is that the game offers players roles to play within the construct of the persistent online world.  This could be the holy trinity -- damage, tank, healer -- or it could be the desire to just bang away at an anvil as a blacksmith.  The key is the game requires players to fill their role in the world.  On one end are games like Final Fantasy 14 where players are asked to set their job (aka role) and while set to that job that is the only role they play.  On the other end are games like New World where based on gear equipped your role is defined.  On either end players are playing a role.

Role playing is another area where you would look at Fortnite and say "mmmm, nope".  Yes, during a Fortnite match you may get different weapons and take different actions which change how you play but really everyone is there for essentially the same role: kill other players (hopefully before a building pops out of them).

I'd also be willing to accept arguments for some games considered in the MMORPG market to be discarded due to this RP element because they don't actually put players in roles.  None come to me off the top of my head, but I am sure there are some out there.  

I think there is a valid category of MMOG where there is a persistent world that supports over 1,000 players but players just come and go without any defined roles. Minecraft is the easiest example as it has many multiplayer servers that are over 1,000 players and the game doesn't define roles but yet has persistent worlds.  Minecraft is a massively multiplayer online game.

MMOG also dovetails into the last comment I want to make.  In the podcast there is also reference to games-as-a-service; "as-a-service" (aaS) being the buzz word across the entire software landscape.  The company I work for has "aaS" hanging off most of our software products.  All it really means is that customers can expect software based solutions that continue to be updated (and hopefully improved) as part of a service contract (i.e. I don't have to buy version 2.0 in a year; I will instead just keep getting updates as part of my service contract).

I'd argue that the golden era MMORPGs such as Everquest and Ultima Online were gaming's first "as-a-service".  Now-a-days almost every game is dabbling in the service aspect with cosmetic purchases, paid for add-ons, battle passes, subscriptions, etc.  So make the last defining characteristic of an MMORPG that it is a game-as-a-service (note: the service contract aspect can vary from free 2 play to battle pass to subscription; that is less important than the aspect that players will see continued change to the service).

Want to argue with me about what an MMORPG is?  Play Fortnite and feel offended?  Drop a comment or two.

Thursday, April 07, 2022


See the source image

Let's talk about the term "sandbox game".  We'll take a look at a couple games I consider as true sandboxes and a couple that misuse the term.  Through this exploration; the definition -- my definition -- of sandbox will be apparent.

Games I consider as true sandbox games

  • Foxhole
  • Minecraft

Games that need to stop using the term "sandbox"

  • Albion Online
  • Crowfall 

Starting with Foxhole there is a very clear sandbox.  First, I can log in and choose what I want to do and in order to do what I want I need to either pull resources together myself, use resources shared by other players, or steal resources from other players in the Sandbox.  Important to note; the game allows me to choose any path, change path, or blend paths.  In my first couple of hours (outside of the tutorial) I moved seamlessly between logistics (known as logi in game) supplying other players to the frontline where the fighting was at (and once there I switched between playing medic, infantry, and frontline logi).

The "frontline" in Foxhole also illustrates another of my tenants of a sandbox; the world can be changed.  In Foxhole the frontline is defined by the players changing the world.  There is a world map in Foxhole that defines some features (where water bodies are, what area is a mountain, etc) but beyond that everything else is defined by the player.  The frontline area I ventured into was in the middle of a field; one team on one side the other team on the other side.  Our side had dug in foxholes and trenches.  Behind those were numerous medical tents and forward bases; all placed by players.  A little further back a group of players were working on a hardened base with cement fortifications.  Somewhere in the middle were players setting up long range artillery.  All of this build up was defined by the players choosing exactly what to build and where to build it.

Another key aspect to the build up was that the resources came from the game itself.  Every gun, bullet, bandage, and piece of building material was manufactured by a player somewhere and then transported by a player in a player-crafted vehicle to that area.  Nothing happens in Foxhole without a player somewhere putting in the work to make it happen.  And the end result?  A sandcastle that can be smashed by the other kids in the sandbox who can then take that sand and make their own castle you get to smash.

The frontlines of Foxhole are exactly why Foxhole is a true sandbox game; they are defined by the players collecting from and manipulating the world with minimal restriction and that manipulation has meaningful impact on the game.

In summary; what we take away from Foxhole in regards to the term sandbox:

  1. The world is made of resources that players make use of (i.e. "the sand")
  2. The game world itself can be changed by the players (i.e. "can make sand castles")
  3. Those changes by players have meaningful impact (i.e. "sand castles can be smashed")
  4. There is minimum restrictions on what can be done where (i.e. "build my sand castle anywhere / permanent sand castles aren't already built")
  5. Players can move between roles seamlessly (i.e. "eat sand if want to")

If we roll what we learned from Foxhole into Minecraft we see that we hit all of the marks at an entirely new level. In my opinion Minecraft is the truest sandbox game in existence.

  1. In Minecraft the world is literally made of resources that players make use of without almost any restrictions. 
  2. Players can change the world in Minecraft; to a degree well beyond what a game like Foxhole allows.  
  3. Changes to the world in Minecraft have direct impact.  If I dig a hole straight down and a pig falls into it... well... bacon.  
  4. As mentioned and bearing repeating there is little restriction in what you can manipulate in Minecraft
  5. Players in Minecraft can be in combat one second and digging that bacon hole the next; there is no concept of a role in Minecraft.  The player do anything at any time.

So that covers items 1 and 2 from my Foxhole list.  The question is then; is there any other tenants of sandbox games that Minecraft brings to the table? 

Those changes by players have meaningful impact (i.e. "sand castles can be smashed")

Somewhat already covered by the bacon hole example, but to expand on the impact players can have in Minecraft I'll talk about multiplayer servers as that's the closest equivalent to the MMO space.  On a multiplayer server under non-modded players are free to modify the world however they see fit.  If player A stacks two blocks then player B can break those two blocks and if they so choose place them somewhere else.  If player A digs a bacon hole then player B could fall into it ending in death.  There have been numerous "chaos" servers whereby the entire world becomes an apocalyptic wasteland with anything resembling order quickly converted to chaos by the players.

There is minimum restrictions on what can be done where (i.e. "build my sand castle anywhere / permanent sand castles aren't already built")

At the end of the day some form of restriction will always exist in games just as even in the real life sandbox there is eventually an end to the sand and physical limits on what you can do with it.  Minecraft is no exception here.  But Minecraft goes a long way in minimizing restriction.  For example; I can build a house out of any material that I can dig up and stack.  A fond memory for every Minecraft survival player is that makeshift shelter of dirt and wood blocks hastily assembled to survive the first night.  For the most part; if you can dream it you can build it in Minecraft.  Journey into the world of mods and the sky is the limit.

Players can move between roles seamlessly (i.e. "eat sand if want to")

Minecraft has no real concept of a role.  One moment the player is digging a hole and the next they are in combat and the next they are an interior decorator in their home.  The only requirement is that you need to have picked up some sand and turned it into whatever you need for the activity you want to do.

With the exploration of the "true sandbox" that is Minecraft let's look at some not-a-sandbox offenders in the MMO space.

The one that jumps immediately to mind, mostly because the owning company uses sandbox in their name, is Albion Online by Sandbox Interactive.  Interestingly enough their video for "What is Albion Online?" goes a long way trying to defend it's place as a sandbox.  Let's go through the checklist.

  1. The world is made of resources that players make use of (i.e. "the sand")
    • All items in the game, from weapons to the bed you place in your house, are made from resources gathered from the world.  Players have to gather those resources and use them or trade them for others to use.  The big issue I have here as I'll also touch on later is that those resources are static, always replenish themselves, and harvesting them has no noticeable effect on the world (they will be back in the same spot in a few minutes for the next player).
  2. The game world itself can be changed by the players (i.e. "can make sand castles")
    • Some may argue that players can change the game world, but I'd have a hard time buying the argument.  Resource nodes are static; always in the same place and players just keep harvesting and the resources keep re spawning.  Players can manage their own personal or guild islands; placing houses and items but that is all instanced off from the main world.  Outside of some zone control mechanisms and hide outs that are placed in the outer zones; players have no practical effect on the world.  What is on the world map today will be there tomorrow and the day after and the day after.
  3. Those changes by players have meaningful impact (i.e. "sand castles can be smashed")
    • As noted in #2; players have little impact on the world itself.  But I will give Albion points here because of the crafting and the fact that every item in the game was crafted by a player at some point and the material for that crafted item was gathered by a player.  
  4. There is minimum restrictions on what can be done where (i.e. "build my sand castle anywhere / permanent sand castles aren't already built")
    • Albion is a combat-focused game.  While there is housing, farming, and some other activities on personal islands these are all just mini-games.  The game world is built and outside of things changing ownership (like a shop being bought by another player) most everything is already built and placed in the game.
  5. Players can move between roles seamlessly (i.e. "eat sand if want to")
    •  Albion ties a player's role to the gear they have equipped.  Want to be a mage?  Throw on a robe and grab a staff.  Want to be a warrior?  Grab a sword and heavy armor.  Each piece of gear grants the user an ability.  Players can change gear at anytime, but must "level up" each type of gear in order to equip higher tier versions. Crafting is mostly driven through a level up system but requires access to crafting stations so while any player can do it there is gating mechanism.

Final Judgement? Albion Online has some sandbox aspects but is far from the "king of sandbox MMORPGs" that it tries to bill itself as.  With that said; don't let this scare you off of the game.  I played it for several months and absolutely loved the time I spent with the game.  It is on the short list of MMOs I'd recommend and on the even shorter list of MMOs with original ideas; it just is not a sandbox.

Next on the evaluation list is EVE Online.

  1. The world is made of resources that players make use of (i.e. "the sand")
    • The world of EVE is massive; a series of interconnected sectors of space.  When playing it can often feel endless.  Within the endless space are asteroid belts to mine and enemies (affectionately known as "rats") to farm.  These make up the sand by which the sand castles (ships, space stations, and more) are built.
  2. The game world itself can be changed by the players (i.e. "can make sand castles")
    • EVE gets a good score on this item.  Players can build and manage space stations in many areas of the game.  The only issue is that the game world is broken down into different levels of areas and in the "safe" areas there is not much from a player perspective that can be changed.  It is already defined by the game in these areas.  However the heart of the game is played in the "low security" zones where players define and control almost everything.  From my time playing EVE I learned the hard way that you don't show up unannounced to an area owned by someone else.
  3. Those changes by players have meaningful impact (i.e. "sand castles can be smashed")
    • As noted in item #2 players have direct impact on the world outside the safe zones.  There are numerous legends
  4. There is minimum restrictions on what can be done where (i.e. "build my sand castle anywhere / permanent sand castles aren't already built")
    • As noted in other answers the game is divided into different areas with different impacts on players.  In the far reaches of space in the low security zones there is very little restriction to what can be done as long as players spend the time to collect the requisite sand and toys.  In the safer areas the rules ensure sandbox enthusiasts are not stealing each other's toys.
  5. Players can move between roles seamlessly (i.e. "eat sand if want to")
    • This is an area where EVE falls down and ultimately was why I gave up on the game when I played.  Skill progression is tied to real world time.  Players set a skill to accumulate points which accumulate whether playing or not.  Players that have played for years have years worth of skill points accumulated.  There is no time machine for a newer player to catch up.   This limits the roles that an EVE player can enjoy. While fundamentally the game allows the player to change what they are doing at any point; functionally it is hardcore time gated as to be infeasible.

Final judgement?  EVE can count as a sandbox, but is best for those that are looking for a multi-year engagement to get that experience.  EVE is another game on the short list of recommended MMOs and that shorter list of games doing something unique.

 Now let's look at Crowfall.  All I'll ask "Sandbox?  Really?  REALLY!!??".

  1. The world is made of resources that players make use of (i.e. "the sand")
    • Crowfall does have resources to gather and those resources are used to make things.  Like Albion Online points are deducted here because the resources are static and respawn endlessly.  While there are is a campaign mechanic where campaign areas are time-limited (i.e. they go away after a month) and thus the resources within that campaign are not available forever; the practical reality is that another campaign will replace the current one and feature the same resources.
  2. The game world itself can be changed by the players (i.e. "can make sand castles")
    • Players can take control of castles and zones, but there is almost nothing that players can do to change the world.  There are "eternal kingdoms" (EKs) where players can build their own personal or guild zone.  EKs feature a lego-like building toolset.  If that toolset was part of the full game experience and not just a side feature for EKs then maybe I could see sandbox fitting but in it's limited state for EKs only it does not get any points.
  3. Those changes by players have meaningful impact (i.e. "sand castles can be smashed")
    •  As noted in #2 there is not much of anything the players impact so zero points here for Crowfall.
  4. There is minimum restrictions on what can be done where (i.e. "build my sand castle anywhere / permanent sand castles aren't already built")
    • Crowfall is a standard class-based MMO and zones are on rails.  In effect the entire game is one of restriction when it comes to my sandbox tenants.  Zero points here for Crowfall.
  5. Players can move between roles seamlessly (i.e. "eat sand if want to")
    • I repeat; Crowfall is a standard class-based MMO.  While players can slot crafting/gathering disciplines to change up what they are at the end of the day you are the class and race combination of your character and to change requires you to change your character.  Crowfall tried to advertise the concept of changing roles as changing "your vessel/crow"; whereby a character is really a vessel and you are jumping in and out of the worlds as different vessels.  In reality it's no different than changing characters in any MMO that allows you to have multiple characters.

Final judgement? Crowfall is not anywhere close to a sandbox and should not use the term.  My prior posts on Crowfall will give you my opinion on the game.  I'd not recommend it and it is not doing anything all that exciting or different.  It's a crappy World-of-Warcraft-a-like.

As can be surmised from my rambling I have a tendency to be attracted to games that purport to be sandbox experiences.  Then I play them and realize they fail to hit my key tenants of a sandbox as influenced heavily by Minecraft - yet I still enjoy and recommend some of them.  What that boils down to say is that games that advertise as sandboxes are really saying "I am different" and for anyone that knows me I tend to jump on the "I am different" bandwagons.  I'd still prefer that sandbox was more indicative of Minecraft-like experiences and thus not used in error by games like Crowfall. 

Saturday, January 02, 2016

What I'm Looking Forward to in 2016

2015 is gone, 2016 has arrived.

Here is a quick list of a few things I am looking forward to:

1. Green Bay Packers play off games.  The packers are in the play offs once again and I am hoping for another magical run.  This year's team has been in  funk to end the season, but I truly believe in "any given Sunday".

2. Progress on Kickstarter projects I've backed.

Camelot Unchained (CU) is progressing; slowly.  I am looking forward to the work that Mark and team get done this year and hoping for my beta access by year's end.

Crowfall feels like it is moving along faster than CU, but that may just be the "making of" documentary style of communication that Crowfall is using to keep us up to date.  I am looking forward to many of the concepts behind Crowfall.  Another hopeful beta by years end.

Secret Hitler is, by all accounts, an impressive party board game that solves many of the faults of games such as The Resistance.  This is pretty much a guaranteed 2016 delivery and I look forward to playing it with friends alongside rounds of Good Cop/Bad Cop and Batman Love Letter.

3. Back into Minecraft.

"We found a giant cave in Minecraft!" The quote, from my six year old son, warms this gamer's heart (pun intended).  I am back into Minecraft as my son begins his journey into a game that is as magical for him as it was for me when I first picked it up.  Minecraft is one of the best games I've ever played and I am stoked to be sharing it with my son.

4. Guild Wars 2 wealth building

I tipped over 4,000 gold in Guild Wars 2 (GW2) in 2015 and thats just liquid gold.  If I counted total account value of what I've dumped into ascended gear, gem purchases, and general non-frugal spending I am sure its in the tens of thousands of gold.  Maybe in 2016 I will get back to actually playing through content (I've only done a single zone of the expansion and still have yet to complete my personal story and have not unlocked any of the full spec lines).

I hear that there is a huge World vs World (WvW aka wuvwuv) update coming.  As WvW was my first passion in Guild Wars 2 (and my first heartbreak) I am interested in what Arenanet pulls off.  From some of the leaked information (sorry no links to the leaks) the approach using Guild Alliances instead of arbitrary servers that no longer exist (due to the megaserver tech used now) is interesting and exactly what I've recommended for over a year to bring the "Guild Wars" back to Guild Wars 2.

I am also interested to follow the PvP leagues.  I am not dedicated enough to make any decent progress in the leagues myself, but I do pride myself in so far having a > 50% win ratio in the lowest bracket.  The PvP balance of GW2 is interesting and best equated to watching the pro Magic: The Gathering (MtG) scene.  There is overpowered team comps currently just as there is overpowered decks from time to time in MtG.  Casually observing the developers as they fix these situations has always fascinated me even if I am not "in the meta" myself.

5. Maybe blogging?

I may blog a bit again in 2016.  Anything is possible in a new year!

Monday, January 02, 2012

2012, the first post

2012, the first post.  Where in lies a reflection on predictions of the year that was: 2011.  And maybe some prognostication of the year that's just begun: 2012.

I kept the predictions light for 2011 and I'll tackle all five of them in one go:
1. World of Warcraft will maintain its dominance.
No doubt World of Warcraft is still top among MMOs, but to say its maintained its dominance is ignoring the fact that WoW took a significant hit this year and had to break out the pandas to keep people's interest.  In the larger genre of persistent online games, League of Legends has soundly trumped WoW's numbers with over 30 million active users and concurrent user numbers well beyond that of WoW.
2. Free 2 Play will continue its march forward and many will consider 2011 the year that F2P becomes the dominant business model not only for MMOGs, but for any online game (MOBA, FPS, etc.)
There is no doubt that Free 2 Play has landed with most major publishers having already published or considering to publish a F2P title(s).  2011 also marked the arrival of F2P on Steam; the premier digital distribution platform for games.  The subscription MMOs fell like flies to a flyswatter this year as several joined the F2P ranks and enjoyed immediate success.
3. "the game that shall not be named" will NOT launch this year.
OK, it squeaked into 2011, but just barely.
4. The "next generation" Xbox will be announced by Microsoft. Nintendo and Sony will stay with their current generation.
I was way off here.  Xbox 360 is marching strong and Playstation 3 is still playing third fiddle.  Nintendo, of all companies, is the one out front with news of their new Wii U console.
5. This blog will be completely different and may actually feature commentary and experiences from games I'm actually playing.
Proof: I posted about Fallout: New Vegas and I actually played that game!

Now onward and upward to my predictions for 2012 and beyond

1. The world will not end.  (just wanted to get that one out of the way)

2. I will post more than I did in 2011.  (just wanted to give ya'll something to look forward to)

3. "the game that shall not be named" will have a tough year, but will survive.  The argument to take the game Free 2 Play will begin around July.

4. Warhammer Online will be shut down this year.

5. DOTA2 will launch, but fail to make much more than a drip into the MOBA scene.

6. League of Legends will hit 50 million players and still be flying under the radar in the online gaming market

7. A major game will "surprise launch" this year with little to no notice and possibly be Free 2 Play

8. Indie games will continue to creep into the spotlight and we will see another Minecraft-level indie break out this year

9. At least 4 of these predictions will be right :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Business of Terraria vs Minecraft

Many pundits would like you to believe that Terraria is a copy-cat of Minecraft.  Others want you to experience Terraria for what it is: a game with similar goals that is partially influenced by Minecraft (and Metroid and Final Fantasy).  Which ever side of the fence you fall on, there are some business decisions that distinguish Terraria from Minecraft.

First and foremost, Terraria launched through Steam.  Minecraft, while technically not yet launched, opted to roll out of the alpha/beta gates with its own platform and suffered weeks of log in server problems, PayPal issues, and a ton of website downtime.  Terraria launched smoothly and pain free through Steam.  So while Minecraft developers scrambled to deal with platform issues after their beta launch, Terraria has enjoyed a honeymoon where their developers can focus on the game.

Secondly, I get the distinct feeling that the Terraria developers just want to make a great game.  On the other hand, the Minecraft developers certainly have made and continue to improve a great game, but I've always gotten the feeling that they want to be a "big game developer".  Notch, Minecraft's chief developer, alluded to this when asked about possibly working at Steam's parent company Valve: "I don't want to work for Valve. I want to be Valve."

All evidence shows that Terraria is a smash hit.  Peak user numbers on Steam have been stellar and for a few days even unseated Counter Strike as the most played game on Steam (that's a pretty big deal). 

As far as I can tell, it's smooth sailing for the Terraria developers and with the Steam platform (and possibly Steamworks) on their side, I expect many great things from Terraria.

PS. If any Terraria developers read this, please, pretty please implement the Steam cloud for world saves!  Thanks.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Minecraft: Simple, two-way cart switching station (1.5)

Per a request elsewhere, I've drawn up what I use as my two-way cart switching station in Minecraft. I use this switching station at almost every stop on our SMP server's minecart system. This allows the rider to either stay at the current destination or continue on.

The following screenshots are of the basic design and principles for creating this. The RSNOR latch and track layouts can be easily adjusted to save space or add functionality. I also do not include an arrival track onto the switching point, but a track can be run to a couple blocks above and drop a cart (and rider) onto the powered track piece (or any other number of ways to put a cart into place).

And the screenshots with explanations (click for larger versions):


Also I don't want to claim to have invented this completely. I was inspired and this is sort of just a reworking of the following video:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Heartless_ Gamer's Minecraft Mondays 003: From concept to reality; my minecart station

Welcome to another Minecraft Monday.  In my previous episode, I covered the concept of using water to solve some common issues I've had with past minecart stations.  However, last time I only had a model mocked up to show the potential.  Today, I present my artsy-fartsy fully automated minecart station:

A few quick notes:

1. Yes, I started with this look in mind. I wanted visitors to be able to see the carts being stored and being fed into the departure zone.

2. This design works flawlessly. I have yet to encounter an issue aside from Minecraft crashing and leaving me stranded mid-track (but I'm sure I'm not the only one to experience the black screen of death in Minecraft :P )

3. While I went all artsy-fartsy, there is no reason that this concept can't be integrated into a more formal look.

4. I've had requests to show off my switching station a bit more.

5. With 3 and 4 in mind, I will start a new project to integrate some of my switching technology and water minecart station into my server's main departure station (the brick building outside my base). I plan on using this to possibly shoot some tutorial videos with an aim to show people that minecart and switching stations are NOT hard to set up. Actually, I can set up a full minecart station in less than five minutes now with this new design.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hey Tobold, Did You Forget About Star Wars Galaxies?

Tobold posted a couple weeks ago about the feeling that the crafting system in Guild Wars 2 was added onto what was an already fleshed out adventuring MMOG. This makes it seem like the crafting system is tacked on and was not present in any of the core design discussions for the game.

Tobold also asked:
I wonder how a MMORPG would look like if the developers *first* designed the crafting system, trade, and the player economy. And *then* designed the adventuring system around that.
I would answer this question very quickly: look at Star Wars: Galaxies (SWG).

For all intents and purposes, SWG was designed with the crafting and player economy in mind first and foremost and the adventuring gameplay added later. Combat was not even added to the alpha or beta phases of SWG until near the end and come release (and all the long years since), the adventure gameplay of SWG was terrible.

The funny thing is; SWG got the crafting and economy right! However, with the combat being so terrible and adventuring being nothing more than running across randomly generated terrain until the game spawned something for the player to interact with, SWG fell apart. Eventually the infamous NGE (aka New Game Experience) hit and SWG sits to this day as a pile of "what ifs". 

Tobold asks the right question, but may have overlooked one of the prime examples that the market has already churned out. With the SWG example in mind, what we need to really ask is: I wonder what a MMOG would look like if the developers designed the crafting system, trade, and the player economy AND the adventuring system at the same time AND with the same goals in mind.

IMHO, it would probably look like Minecraft with a story mode, but that is a completely separate discussion.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Heartless_ Gamer's Minecraft Mondays 002: A concept minecart station using water

Didn't get enough Minecraft on my Minecraft Mondays 001?  Well here is 002!

In this episode I quickly cover the concept minecart station I am designing.  This is a tour of my mock up.  While the design appears simple, it took a lot of tweaks to get it right.  Secondly, I had to put a new spin on how to utilize a door booster.  Enjoy the video:

As noted in the video, I had a few goals in mind for this design:

1. Prevent "bumping" of a cart as a player enters or exits
2. Remove the need to "call a cart" by having one always waiting
3. Improve reliability and idiot proof the departure and arrival mechanisms

I solved the first issue by placing the departure cart within a confined 1 x 1 holding area which prevents the cart from being bumped off target.  This holding area is on top of what most Minecrafters may identify as a door booster.  This allows me to use the door booster differently.  In my reversed scheme, the player loads into the booster and is boosted by what would normally be the riding cart.

This is actually beneficial in many ways and helps with reliability.  The number one issue with door boosters is the fact that sometimes the booster cart on top just doesn't make it all the way to the end of the run and when activated it simply falls into the door breaking the entire system.  Since I am feeding the loading area with the flow of water, and flip-flopping which cart is being ridden, I can use a 100% reliable self-resetting booster on the lower track for the main boosting power of the system.

Secondly, the rider does not have to wait for a booster cart to be sent out to come and "pick up" the cart they are riding in.  Once the rider hits GO, they drop into the self-resetting booster which powers them along the track.

Another quick tip: carts can be dropped long distances vertically without the rider taking any damage. 

The arrival "splashdown" area also prevents the bumping of the cart upon exit and the water flow also carries the cart off to be reused in the system.  In my mock up, I did not connect the arrival and departure areas, but in my final build, they will be linked.  Again, there is no need for an additional booster to be called to retrieve the now vacated cart.  The water does all the work!

This design is very good at removing many of the moving parts from traditional minecart stations.  When idle, everything in the station is sitting static.  Nothing moves until a rider is present (and with a tweak, I hope to make it so that an empty cart can't be accidentally launched by using a stone pressure plate next to the loading zone).

The biggest draw back is the speed at which water pushes a minecart.  It can be slow waiting on a cart if they have just been dumped into the holding area.  Fortunately, the holding bay can be rack and stacked with carts and the water will neatly organize and feed them one by one.  However, currently there is no way to manually load a cart at the departure point and all carts must be loaded through the holding tank.

I hope you enjoyed and please feel free to ask questions.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 2010, what I was doing

I was going to do a Minecraft Mondays 002 yesterday, but I have family in town from out of state, so I took them out on the town instead. However, I feel like I need to post to keep people from drop kicking me off their RSS feeds and blog rolls. So I figured I would look back and see what was up on this blog last year during March.

It's a bit ironic that I have an MMOGs blog, yet the majority of my inbound traffic has nothing to do about MMOGs. That's all thanks to my wonderful Punkbuster posts from March of 2010 for Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Anyone that has dealt with Punkbuster errors knows the first place to look is Google and Google will generally direct Punkbuster + BFBC2 queries to this very website.

Battlfield: Bad Company 2 also launched on the PC in March of 2010. I had my initial impressions of singleplayer and I shared a bit of propaganda for the game.

I also got around to talking about Elemental and Lord of Ultima. Both games pretty much disapeared off my radar shortly after my initial postings. Elemental went on to a gloriously epic failure of a launch that I'm unsure Stardock (the game's developer) can ever recover from. Lord of Ultima was pretty much like any other browser strategy game, built and aimed to suck as much money out of teenagers and tweens that somehow got a hold of mommy and daddy's credit card.

We also found out in March that George RR Martin's book, A Game of Thrones, was coming to an HBO mini-series. Since this initial announcement, the pilot episode was completed and the series signed on for full production. The brief glimpses we've seen of the show so far are very promising. I'm really excited about this mini-series!

Lastly, probably the biggest event of the month for me, was my Gmail account getting hacked. Ah, the memories!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Heartless_ Gamer's Minecraft Mondays 001

So I promised a Minecraft video. Here it is. A bit outdated and I missed Monday, but it's never too late for a Minecraft video!

001 show notes:

This is an older video from the previous beta version 1.2.

This video covers my mountain base, cart station, and track switching station on the SMP player server I play on.

Sorry there isn't any sound in the video. I am working out some technical issues with FRAPS.

If there are any questions about any thing I show in the video, please let me know and I may follow it up with a video response!

Thanks for watching.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

#Minecraft continues to amaze

Minecraft was down for a good portion of the day yesterday. After it came back up and I was able to get logged into my friend’s server again, the feeling of how great Minecraft is hit me again. Minecraft is full of endless possibilities for every type of player. After hundreds of hours of playing the game, it continues to amaze me each time I log in.

My current project is two-fold. I'm expanding out of the topside of my mountain hideaway. I am building both a sapling/log catching apparatus and a chicken coup. These will solve two annoying problems for me: collecting saplings and farming eggs.

The first, collecting saplings, may not seem that big of a chore. Chop down a tree and wait. A minute or so later you can collect all the fallen saplings. However, during large tree cutting operations, who wants to have to go back and run all over the place to get fallen saplings? Instead, I’d rather go to a single point and collect all the fallen saplings on my way to the storage area.

My tree farm is moving out of my main base and up to the top of the mountain. Two stories tall, it will be situated over a series of six whirlpools that will collect fallen saplings and logs and funnel them all to a single collection point. After clearing the trees, the collection point for the saplings will be on my way back down to the storage area.

The second item on my list, collecting eggs, is nearly impossible to get started and annoying to babysit afterwards. It generally involves finding and pushing several chickens into a hole and letting them procreate. Later on you jump in and collect the eggs. This is made easier by one of the recent Minecraft updates which allowed eggs to be broken and chickens spawned from them. However, a chicken only spawns from every eighth egg.

Now, the “chicken pit” is the simplest form of egg farming . It boils down to throwing eggs in a hole and waiting X to go in and get the eggs. Not only is that too simple for me, it is annoying to have to run all over the pit to get the eggs and when I’m done collecting, what do I do with the chickens?

My current solution is a crafty piece of engineering. It is two stories tall and features two whirl pools stacked on top of each other, each on their own floor. The top whirlpool sucks all the chickens together into a group so they lay eggs. The bottom whirl pool catches the eggs and funnels them to my collection point.

The important feature is that the second floor whirlpool is situated on signs. The water in the whirlpool keeps the chickens on the second floor and the signs hold up the water. However, since the signs are not solid, eggs fall right on through to the first floor. Throw in two dispensers with a clock generator and a flip of the switch unleashes a blizzard of eggs (and eventually chickens) into the second floor. Just like in real life, chickens sit on top, eggs get collected at the bottom. The system feeds into the same collection area as the saplings.

But there is still an important question to answer: what to do with all the chickens when a sufficient amount of eggs have been procured? If the area is left alone by all players, the chickens will simply disappear with time, but that isn’t much fun. Instead I will eventually have a door on the second floor that can be remotely opened. The whirlpool will force the chickens through the door and a short trip around a cactus corner and the chickens will be killed. Their feathers will then be collected into the same collection stream as the eggs and saplings and be delivered to my collection point.

Now this is a wall of text, so I promise that once I have the bugs worked out of these two systems I will post a video. Real life continues to be busy, so please be patient!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Quick #Minecraft Upate

I don't have access to my home PC currently, so I can't share any pictures of my work in Minecraft, but I did want to give an update.

Work on the SMP (survival multi player) server that I frequent has been going well.  My mountain base has been a solid defensible position against the terrors of the night and I was able to install a really neat secret entrance.  I've also been playing with a neat secret door trick that I plan on implementing for this secret entrance.  However, I showed off my secret door trick to my closest friends who then decided to use my secret test area to build a shrine deep under ground for me to find a spiraling staircase to.  I was not impressed.

Before the secret entrance was constructed, we worked on taking down our monster trap.  It was an eye sore out in the open and we felt we needed some empty space between all of our buildings.  We blew it up with TNT and covered it over.  However, we love to leave leftovers underground so at some point in the future when someone digs up the remains of the project they will have something to think about.  The left overs include redstone wiring, torches, water flows, pressure plates, and ladders.  I filled the lava portion in to prevent forest fires as we planted trees over the spot.

We've been putting time into our minecart system.  I am the main engineer for the cart system and have been building the boosters and stations.  So far we have the main departure station and a 4-track switching station out at what I've dubbed "the cool ass rock formation".  From past experience I've learned that minecart systems can be overly complicated and prone to breaking.  For this iteration of our shared world, I decided to go with simple with room for expansion.

Simple because I am now  using Bleh's door boosters which leave the booster cart static until it is called upon.  This fixed the problem of self resetting boosters that would randomly stop working and require a push start to get going again.  So far it has been far more reliable once I worked the kinks out of the system.  This also reduces the amount of materials and space needed.  It is a single cart and can be fit into a relatively small area. 

The next issue was track switching.  As I am fairly ambitious with this project, I wanted to be able to have multiple switching stations and be able to deploy one rapidly if needed.  However, most of the 4-way track switching designs out there have fairly complex and tricky redstone wiring behind them.  For example: necramar's 4-way track switcher.  Something that complex was just not going to work.

Ironically the answer for simple switching stations came to me by the use of nothing other than SWITCHES and redstone wiring!  The basic concept is this: all switches start in a down position.  Only one switch is switched up (aka ON) and that switch ties to the departure track the player wants to take.  While realistically someone could leave two switches up and exit on a track they didn't intend, I have not run into any problems using my "all switches down except one" method.  And I've come to realize how dead simple and reliable this system is.  Not only that, this design offers a very simple way to expand the switching station to accommodate more tracks and greatly simplifies the deployment of a new switching station.  It was such a success at my first switching station that I've decided to start work putting  a multi-track switcher at the host departure station as well.

The only problem with a massive minecart system is having interesting destinations to cart off to and right now our server has a limited player base and therefore we don't have a lot of great destinations to head out to.  However, soon enough I will be packing my things up to head out and start some satellite projects out of range of our current area and connect them using the minecart system. 

Now inside my actual mountain base I have been doing work as well.  I've tunneled out some of the area above my ceiling and shot a "wing" out through the top of the mountain.  Its a glass and wood tunnel of sorts that covers the span to the next mountain.  Sadly, I have left this project sitting for a week or so now and while the wing is complete, I just have a stack of dirt and ladders currently set to access it.  Its an eye sore I need to correct.

Next, I redid my storage area and labeled all of my chests.  I have a temporary work area underneath the storage area that houses my furnaces and workbench.  I don't like having workbenches and furnaces sitting out in the middle of everything, so I am debating how I want to position them going forward. Its annoying right now having to climb down into my cubby hole to make stuff with the bench. 

I also got around to digging down to bedrock and counting up 15 layers to start my branch mining operation.  Layer 15, for the uninformed, is the richest layer for ore deposits and sits far enough above the lava spawning layers to be safe to work in.  I haven't done much mining up to this point (I actually have yet to get any diamond.  I've found some, but died bringing it home).  The coolest part is that I also took the time to build a water ladder to bedrock as well as a drop shaft with a water break at the bottom.  It takes me a couple seconds to get down and a couple dozen to get back up.  Efficiency!

In conclusion, I am still hopelessly addicted to Minecraft.  The possibilities are truly endless and every time I try and force myself to play some more Bioshock 2 or get started on Dragon Age or Mass Effect, I find myself logged back into Minecraft.  Oh, and I play Minecraft during my breaks and a bit at lunch while at work.  Too bad it doesn't get counted by Raptr currently :(

Saturday, January 01, 2011

#Minecraft: The Monster Trap

From my previous post I got some feedback asking about my monster trap.  Don't want to go into much detail, but here are some pretty pictures.  Ask any questions you have.

Left: Trap on ground and spawn box above.  Right: Loot house.

View from the loot house, spawn box in the background.

Under the loot house is a pressure plate that is wired to the redstone torch on the roof.  When loot activates the pressure plate, it lights up the torch on the roof and I know to go collect.  The cactus is to kill any chickens or pigs that get past the trap (which happens a lot).

This is the trap.  It was poorly planned so the water is not efficient.  Simple really, water flows to lava, lava kills monsters.

Another view of the water flows.  Monsters spawn in the dark spawn box above and there are rivers inside the box that suck the monsters to a hole that drops them down into the trap.

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Minecraft Project: Mountain Base

I have been getting busy in Minecraft on our new beta server.  I found an awesome cliff side to hollow out and then I replaced the cliff face with a giant wall of glass.  Here are some pictures I took during the process:

Getting started.

Notice the fenced in area, creeper protection.

The glass wall is in.

Another shot of the glass wall.

A third shot of the glass wall from my neighbors home.

Work area for digging out the inside.

Ladder leads up to the top so I could add a wooden ceiling.

I asked for help digging everything out and this is what I got.

And digging is complete!

View from the outside after digging was completed.  Monster trap to the right.

A sunset as seen from inside the base.

Next on the agenda:

1. Pick a good name for this base.  Any suggestions?
2. Make super secret entrance and remove old boring entrance.
3. Set out to "cool ass rock formation" and build our server's minecart track switching station.  We are building a more manual, switch-based station this go around to avoid the maintenance automated systems require.
4. Fill up all this empty space with a cool multi-level platform (think scaffolding that will be there permanently).
5. Destroy monster trap outisde base and build a new one on top of mountain.  Funnel new trap loot into base.
6. ????
7. Profit!