The Asterisk Affair (I) – There and Back Again, Only Without the Back Again

Minecraft 000

So I was having a wee bit of a problem in Minecraft.  I have this large town built (Owlcraft) and it’s all but empty.  Villagers vanish without rhyme or reason, and for some reason I can’t encourage them to breed replacements.  We haven’t dwindled down to zero yet, might not even do so, but it’s something I want to avoid.

My thought was that it was a crops problem.  At one point the villagers hung out at a different section of Owlcraft, a sort of farming district.  One of them came through, harvested and planted potatoes, and then elsewhere a little creepy baby villager comes into existence.  I figure if I build a garden near where they are now, problem solved.

Building the garden isn’t a problem.  Building the tools, gathering the supplies, and setting things up is about the easiest job out there.  Done in a few minutes, no sweat, no tears, no screams of frustration.  Problem comes when it comes to planting.  Not a carrot or potato exists within the town boundaries to plant, and these are what  the villagers want to muck around with.

I used to have potatoes, but when the villagers left the farm area and it was clear they weren’t coming back, I changed crops to wheat, which was and is in my estimation far more practical.  What potatoes I had harvested before that went to the villagers in a previous failed attempt at breeding.

Only solution to this (outside hoping to find a potato or carrot during day-to-day play) is to head off to a village and secure another one.  Nearest village is a long, long boat trip away, but so what?  It’s an adventure, and building up Owlcraft has gotten a little dull lately.

So I set off to the nameless village to steal some potatoes.  I’m not proud.

Now to mark my way after finding Nameless the first time, I set up several tall spires made of various substances (for instance, for reasons lost to my sad memory I built one spire out of wool blocks.)  Due to their size they stick out quite well from a goodly distance away.  On this, there’s a temple situated on an island along the way.  Enough landmarks to find my way, in other words.

Well, as it turns out several spires was in reality at most three, and all on the coast of Owlcraft’s continent, the island with the temple, and the coast of Nameless’s own continent.  Still, the last spire pointed the general direction out.  Finding Nameless wouldn’t be much of a much.  I hopped out of my boat and sprinted towards my destination.

The coast has long vanished into the horizon when I happen to glance at my HUD (Heads Up Display).  What I see there starts up the first of what was would become a long series of me cursing my own stupidity.

Quick word on how I play Minecraft. First off, I play survival hard mode.  Always, always, always.  I love the risk involved.  Roaming dark caves, wondering whether I was going to run into an animated skeleton, a zombie, or an explosive Creeper (the only monster that truly scares me), all adds to the experience.  Plus my little Minecraft Avatar (from here just Avatar) got hungry this way.  Periodically I had to have him fed.

Which was what the HUD told me.  Avatar was on the verge of starving.  And Brainiac here didn’t think of packing such niceties as food, or a sword to hunt with, or even a map (remember that point for later). So Death was coming.

Second thing about how I play Minecraft: I don’t do autosave.  The game has a nasty habit of autosaving as I exit out of it, and I like being able to go back to an earlier save and correcting whatever dumb mistake I just made.  Because I make a lot of dumb mistakes.  As this story proves.

Thing is, the last time I saved was… I dunno?  An hour ago?  How much did I do in that time?  How much would I lose if I go back and correct this mistake?

Oh screw it.  I went off and saved it then and there.  Nameless couldn’t be that far off.  Might as well own the mistake.  Besides, that made this more of an adventure.  Am I right or am I right?  Of course I am.

Without further complications, I make it to Nameless.  A quick check shows no carrots, my crop of choice (seriously, potatoes suck in Minecraft) so I grab a goodly amount of potatoes, eating a few as I do to easy Avatar’s hunger pains.  A quick look around for anything else I could steal borrow without ever returning and I head back to the coast and my boat.  Mission accomplished, adventure over.

Here’s where things get very stupid.  Not as stupid as they’re going to get, I’m going to spoil that for you right here and now, but close.  So close.

I started sailing back, but instead of watching what I’m doing, I went off and surfed the web.

There’s a huge chunk of ocean between Nameless and Owlcraft, one that’s already been seen before.  As if one bit of ocean looks any different from another.  Paying attention didn’t seem necessary, what with the spires and the temple and all that to show the way back.  Just the occasional looking from one screen to another would do.  Am I right or am I right?

Of course I’m not right.  On one of the occasional glances up, I spied scenery that I was pretty certain I hadn’t seen before.  Back tracking, instead of leading back to familiar environments led to more confusion.  Every little thing I tried failed.

I was lost.

Finding my bearings involved going ashore and wandering about.  Only night was coming, and with it the aforementioned zombies, skeletons, and Creepers.  Equally important, though, was that Avatar would get hungry and all I had was the potatoes I just acquired.  Losing those potatoes would mean the enterprise would be a failure and I’d have to go through the whole process again.

Oh, I could have restarted (I had that save near hitting Nameless, remember), but this didn’t seem like that bad of a mistake.  In fact, it looked like a far better adventure than just hunting up potatoes.  So I owned my mistake and saved just before hitting land.

Tomorrow, how not to find your way home when lost in Minecraft.

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