Okay, Brain, Here’s the Deal

Okay, Brain of mine.  I can accept you’re not exactly the greatest functioning organ in existence.  And on occasion you will give me a dream that is, how should I say it, less than optimal.

Honestly?  How could a poster this good be for a movie THAT BAD?!
Honestly? How could a poster this good be for a movie THAT BAD?!

But give me one more dream that’s a cross between Student Bodies and National Lampoon’s Class Reunion and you’re fecking done.  Understand?  Out the door, down the street, on your fecking way gone.

That crap doesn’t repeat.  Hear?  I don’t care what it might happen to me, it just doesn’t happen again.

The Snow – A Poem. Maybe. If You Wanna Stretch the Term

Everywhere I go, go, go
All I see is snow, snow, snow
Covering the ground
Blowing all around
Making not a sound
Everywhere I found
Just snow, snow, snow
Everywhere I go, go, go

Winter winds a blow, blow, blow
Delivering more snow, snow, snow
Floating in the air
Drifting without care
With a certain Savoir-faire
That I simply cannot bear
Delivering more snow, snow, snow
Winter winds a blow, blow, blow.

Everywhere there’s snow, snow, snow
It really needs to go, go, go
It would be a blast
If Spring came real fast
Winter should not last
When the weeks gonna pass
Till then there’s snow, snow, snow
Everywhere I go, go, go

And Then This Happened

Bus Crash 000

That, friends and gentle readers, is a bus.  It isn’t just in the yard.  It’s in the living room.

The tree’s blocking the shot, but trust me.  It’s there.

Not my house, I hasten to add.  Just down the block from me.

The impact was a loud rumble that shook my place.  It must have been much worse up close.

The owner (or one of the residents) had gone into the kitchen when it happened.  Lucky her.  Unfortunately, on top of the damage (during a winter storm no less) her six cats escaped through the opening.

No real word on what happened.  Some reports say the driver had some sort of attack.  No word on how the driver’s doing; it sounds like the two passengers on board came out of things okay.

Hopefully that’s the full extent of things.

So if you’re thinking you’re having a bad day, just consider this: you could be have a bus end up in your living room.

Of course, I don’t know how bad your day was…

New Cousin in Town, or What is a Welltun Cares Presents Series Without a Sudden Interruption Between Parts?

With any luck we’ll have the absolutely thrilling conclusion of our multipart tale tomorrow (or the next day, as there is another post I wouldn’t mind making before I forget.)  However, there has been a MAJOR EVENT in my family:  Namely Dread Cousin Emily has given birth to a little girl named Elise.

Yes.  Given birth, and not hatched or spawned or any other sort of rudeness.  I’m being very good.  For a change.

Anyways, the little lady in question:

For the record, the young lady with the impish look on her face is Elise's Aunt Katie.
For the record, the young lady with the impish look on her face is Elise’s Aunt Katie.

Now that this is over I can start pretending I haven’t been saying “Wait, Emily’s pregnant?” for months and go back to feeling very, very fecking old.

The Asterisk Affair (III) – Wait, Why am I Building the Two Towers Again?

Mining in Minecraft comes in two distinct methods.

The first is actually carving out a mine.  Walls, staircases, the works.  You can even build support structures to hold up the roof if you want, though that’s an aesthetical choice and not a necessity.

Back at my home town of Owlcraft, making a mine make sense.  Owlcraft, in theory, should look and feel like a large town/small city.  Which is why I want more people and explains in a degree why I’d traipse over half a planet to get potatoes to encourage the citizens to breed.

No, wait, false alarm.  Nothing explains that.

Here at Asterisk Island, there’s no need.  Once I find my red stone to make my compass (and from compass to map, a process that still frizzles my brain) I’m leaving the place.  Probably for good and all.  Even ignoring support beams and the like, red stone lies deep, deep, deep underground.  Real deep.  It’ll take forever getting there, and frankly isn’t the sort of adventure I’m wanting at this juncture.

Thus the second method, namely plain old-fashioned spelunking, is the order of the day.  This involves heading into a cave and pressing through down and down until you either find what you want or you can go no further.  In the latter case, that means heading out and finding another cave to try again with.

Of course, it’s not really that simple.  Running around in the dark isn’t conducive to getting what you want.  While you’ll not likely be eaten by a Grue (oh look, a Zork reference) there are plenty of monsters roaming around that will ever so kindly kill you if given a chance.  For instance, my nemesis, the hated and fearful Creeper, just loves to sneak up on you from the shadows in its suicidal effort to blow you up real good.

Then there’s the more common danger of falling through a hole twenty to thirty meters deep to your death.  If you’re lucky all that happens then is that your little Avatar slams into the rocks and has the contents of your back pack–or however you hold your stuff, the game’s a little silent on that matter–goes flying every which way.  If you’re unlucky, it means Avatar lands in lava, which, aside from being entirely too hot, means that everything you worked so hard to collect goes up in a ball of smoke.  Forever lost.

Unless you’re not on autosave, like me.  Then it’s just a pain in the ass to recollect and redo everything you just lost.

So yeah, finding light is a good idea.

Fortunately it’s also an easy task.  A stick and some coal makes torches, and torches can be placed damn near anywhere.  Though the wise Minecraft spelunker always puts them on the left wall.  That way when you want to head back out, all you do is keep the light to the right and you’ll be alright.

Trust me.  It’s no fun wandering caves trying to figure out just where you came in at.  Besides, I’ve been lost entirely too much on this venture as is.

In life, too, come to that.

To return to an earlier danger, let’s discuss lava.  Lava can be found in two distinct varieties: Gushing from a wall and in a nice pool.  The former you avoid, but when you’re looking for red stone, you’re looking for the stuff.  Any light in the distance might mean you’re nearing your goal.

It could mean other things too (such as having found your own trail), but leave us put a side the exposition and lean more towards the narrative for today.  I entered the cave I found near Asterisk Island and started exploring.  Torches on the left, the occasional dust-up with a monster, and so on and so forth, looking for lights in the distance and I make my way down to the center of the world.

Playing it the way I intended would entail just that.  No more, no less.  But on the way down, I started seeing things in the walls I wanted.  Coal.  Iron.  Gold.  Once I left the area, I wasn’t coming back.  Be a shame to leave all this good and useful stuff behind.  Let’s collect.

Not unreasonable.  Good idea, even.  While I have some magical armor on, I use the iron I find to build new equipment to protect myself.  A new sword, and such like.  Doing so means having a furnace, but that’s okay.  I needed it to cook to cook potatoes to get the most out of them.

And no, I didn’t eat all the potatoes and thus render the quest pointless.  A little credit for some brains, if you please.

It’s in the process of exploring and collecting that I suddenly get the urge to remodel Asterisk.

Yes.

Remodel the base I have ever intention of leaving and never seeing again.

But look at it:

The Asterisk Affair 001

That’s so bland and boring.  Now compare it with this:

The Asterisk Affair 002

And a night shot for good measure:

The Asterisk Affair 003

Isn’t that great?

Of course it’s great.  And I needed stone steps up to the cave (for convenience’s sake, of course) and maybe a mine cart to ride up and down into the caves, supports for the cave roofs (it’ll look so much better that way), some trees around the island (for supplies, don’t you know) and…

It’s creator syndrome.  It’s what pulls me back to this game time and time again.  The urge to build, to see a world spring up all around me.  A town populated by villagers I saved, I protect, I keep going.  A little spire with an asterisk on top.

It’s hard to resist.

Fortunately, before I started plotting out a village (which would by necessity be dinky, as Asterisk wasn’t much of a much in the first place) I discovered a hole in the cave.  Not horribly deep; maybe twenty meters by the way the game judges things.  Most importantly of all, though, there’s light down there in the darkness.

Lava.

Red stone.

At this point I was a little low on tools.  My pick broke and I needed to go back to Asterisk to fix up another one.  However, I was a little nervous about losing this place.  Torches surrounded the thing and while they’d help me get out, they wouldn’t help me find.

Not that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal hunting it up again.  I just wanted to save a little time.  So in front of the hole I make a large arrow out of torches pointing straight towards it.  No mistakes that way.

The arrow made, I stepped back to look at it, feeling rather pleased with myself.  With this discovery the adventure moved towards its conclusion, and all without a major screw up on my part.  I done good.

That’s when the hissing started.  Behind my Avatar stood a Creeper, very pleased with itself, about to take me with it to kingdom come.

When did I save last, exactly?

Oh, setting when first set foot on Asterisk.

Hours ago.  Before I’d even made the base…

Tomorrow: I commit what has to be one of the dumbest acts in my Gaming History.  Which is saying a lot.

The Asterisk Affair (II) – The Fellowship of a Solitary Player on an Island Far From Civilization

Whenever you start a Survival Mode game on Minecraft, the first thing you need to worry about is the basics.  Namely shelter.  A roof over the head, a bed to sleep on, and a means of feeding your little Avatar should Avatar get hungry.  This also holds true if you intend to stay in a locale for a length of time, whether you’re out exploring or if you happen to get yourself lost through means entirely too stupid to repeat here (but detailed in full yesterday.)

When lost at sea, choosing a small island to park the old carcass is your best bet.  Easier to reach the shelter at night, less likely to find full of the monsters Minecraft will through at you, and conveniently close to water, where you can lure the dreaded Creeper out and into.  For reasons known only to the game makers, water contains their explosive habits, doing no damage to Avatar or environment.

This isn’t a complaint, mind you.  I can’t tell you how many times that little factoid saved my hiney.

Knowing all this information, I picked out a small bit of land not far from a larger region and built my shelter there.  I brought no weapons, I brought no map, I brought no food to save myself (and what food I now had was the point of the mission), but I did have everything I needed to build a shelter.

Including glass for windows.  Because glass is a vital travel need.  What with the way you can only plant it once and it breaks if you try to remove it again.

Seriously?  This whole excursion wasn’t well thought out at all.

With shelter and bed built, you need tools to proceed.  At the start of the game, this means making things like a pick, an axe, and a sword.  This current situation, however, didn’t seem to call for much more than something for self-defense.   And even that could be skipped if lost equaled being within walking distance of a familiar place.

Thus I’m on walkabout.  As mentioned yesterday, little spires of dirt (or whatever) help in keeping track of where you are, where you have been, and where you need to go next.  That in mind, I build a spire on top of my little block of a shelter.  To make it distinctive from any other spire I’ve made, I place a large asterisk on top.  Thus the island gets christened Asterisk Island, or just Asterisk for short.

Bet you were wondering just when the explanation for the title would come in.

Anyway, the net result looks like this:

The Asterisk Affair 001

And yes, I had plenty of wood on hand for me to make door and chest with.  This isn’t as dumb as it sounds; the boats in Minecraft are notoriously frail.  They’ve been known to break apart on mere contact with a chicken, and the resulting debris isn’t always enough to rebuild much of anything with.  Thus you carry wood with you when you head out.  Or an axe to get wood.  Your call.

Before setting out on walkabout, though, I do one more smart thing (which is totally out of character, I know.)  I build myself a hoe and make a little garden by the water to plant potatoes in.  I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but I do know the odds of Avatar getting hungry are pretty good.  Finding food isn’t always an easy task, and as I’ve gone through all of this for these potatoes, I don’t want to eat my way through them and make the whole affair pointless.

Prep time done, and after a night of sleep, I set out on walkabout.  Nearest hill is the best bet.  Get the lay of the land, for one thing.  For another, it makes whatever spire I build that much more visible from a distance.

First hill climbed, nothing familiar, up goes the spire.  There’s another hill near by, so that’s the next point of interest.  So I just walk over there and repeat the process.  Right?

Wrong.

For one thing this process is BORING.  At the start of the game, when you’re looking for interesting new stuff, it’s one thing.  When you marking a route to a point you plan to go back to, it’s another.  But the plan is once Asterisk is left, it’s left for good.  No return.  Thus not only is time being wasted this way, it’s also cluttering the environment with spires that lead NOWHERE.

What to do now.  Well, there’s always making a map…

The Minecraft novices no doubt has smacked their foreheads over the obviousness of this line of thought.  You could make an in-game map?  Why wasn’t this the first things you did, you nimrod?

It’s not that simple.  Making a map requires eight pieces of paper (made from twenty-four sugar cane, which I’ll have to look for as the plant doesn’t exist on or near Asterisk) and a compass.  Don’t ask why you need the compass; call it magic, because the map fills itself in when you look at it in newly explored areas.

The compass itself needs built from eight bars of iron (which must be refined in a furnace) and a single red stone.  Not a stone that is red, mind you, but a particular item that can only be found in remote locations.  Jungle temples, say, and deep, deep within the ground.

Very deep.  Near the magma deep.

Jungles aren’t plentiful near Asterisk.  However, in climbing that first hill I did spy a cave.  Which, if I was lucky, would lead down to red stone level.

Now THERE was an idea.  This whole getting lost thing improves immensely if there’s an Adventure involved.  And while exploring the world is an adventure in and of itself, it doesn’t compare with roaming through the dark, fighting skeletons, zombies, and giant spiders.  Oh, and the Creepers.  Mustn’t forget them.

Plus, I can always use more red stone.  Then there’s mapping out new territory…

This is a great idea!  I couldn’t wait to start!

Tomorrow:  Why this wasn’t a great idea.