Friday, December 24, 2010

from mall security to every enemy, we're on your property, standing in V formation

Warren Ellis notes that Yahoo's being stupid again, closing, which seems to me both a jerk move and an idiot one--not only are they closing a service which relied predominantly on loaded text over graphics, so was inordinately cheap to run, but they're also firing people who worked for the company right before the holidays. Way to go, Yahoo. Go kick a puppy and light a baby on fire while you're at it, and you'll confirm your reputation as nearly as awful as Linden Labs for customer service and trust issues.

[Insert from the Editrix: as Samantha Poindexter notes below, Yahoo is not closing, but rather selling it. An important and notable distinction. One can only assume fan outcry forced part of the change...]

And some people are just way too oversensitive--an adult couple complained to Macy's, and they fired their Santa of twenty years. Employees and fans both are devastated--and even "Santa John" himself is wondering what he said that was so beyond the pale. It's nothing, he says, that he hasn't said every season for the last nineteen years--and only to adults, never to children.

In the meantime, the Ozimals/Amaretto feud has reached the court level--and what's amusing me beyond all reason is that the main accusation--that Amaretto's breedable, feedable horse line copies product code from Ozimal's bunny line--fails to appreciate a basic fact--chickens and turtles were there before bunnies and horses. Get real, guys.

"Crazy, isn’t it, the way copyright, trademark and patent law have been so twisted and distorted recently into the ridiculous by the desperation of buggy-whip men trying to hold back the steam engine.

It is insanity like this...that will finally show people that lawyers and Inquisitorial corporations need to be seriously reined in and to quit attempting to patent ideas (shades of the Ministry of Truth), which is actually almost the complete polar opposite of the intention of original copyright and patent law."
(Miso Susanowa)

Alchemy Immortalis is feeling the holiday spirit in spades--if you go to their store on the Marketplace, there's a ton of gorgeous, sumptuous items, from jewelry to furnishings to poses, that are L$99 or below. I'm serious. Go look!

So Turner asked, just what is the deal with Minecraft, anyway? He's right in that the main video on the site seems to show how easy it is to build a low-rez rollercoaster system, and that that makes it sound like traveling around the world via minecart is the way to play the game.

It's not. There's a truly excellent set of tutorials on YouTube by X, which are worth watching both for their instruction value, and their humor value, but they do go on a while. And he's big on the gadgetry in the game, which is not a bad thing; he's also very organized, in what he wants where. There is value in his worldbuilding skill, but as even he points out, Minecraft is different for every person who plays it, because the worlds themselves--at least in single-player mode--are randomly generated.


Here's a pic of the world screen. I've deleted my Glasscraft world because I've already posted pics of some of the odd bugs found there, but otherwise have pretty much accomplished all I set out to do. So. New world, new start, here goes.


You'll rez somewhere on a beach, or somewhere on a flat surface; occasionally you'll rez somewhere in the foothills, but rarely. This is your spawn point--the place you'll come back to every time you die. I like to mark my spawn point, so I can come back and build there later--but I'm paranoid that way.


How I do it is look down, dig out the square directly under me (usually sand), go off until I find dirt, dig out a square of dirt, and come back and mark that point. Sometimes this helps. (Sometimes I get lost anyway.)


The first thing you want to do is find a tree. You've got seven minutes, more or less, in the average day. Depending on when you rezzed in, you have between five and seven minutes of daylight (before the monsters come out). Takes about half that time, maybe a little more, to cut down trees for wood. (To cut down a tree: Walk up to the trunk. Hold down the left mouse button. The tree will cut down in single-cube trunk sections.)

I ended up harvesting five trees for twenty-four trunk sections. The screen above shows how things become other things: one trunk section becomes four plank cubes; one plank cube becomes four sticks.

But the sun's going down, and we don't have a shelter. What now?


Tip #1: Hide. Seriously--if they can't get to you, they can't kill you. And you haven't wandered around enough to find coal for torches, make tools, build a home--so, pick someplace that's not directly at a water's edge, and just dig straight down four squares. (Note: it is not recommended you dig straight down anywhere else in the game, especially when tunnelling through stone--this is a good way to find a dungeon and either fall to your doom or be eaten by bad things, so don't do it.)

Now, the drawback with Tip #1: this leaves you in a little box, no light, nothing but the sounds of creepy monsters doing creepy things overhead. And livestock. Boring and occasionally unnerving way to spend a night, which is supposedly also seven minutes long.

But, while monsters can spawn in darkness and shadow, they can't spawn if something--earth, stone, tree, livestock, or you--already exists in that space. Drawn from the spawn point outward, there are eighty places on every map that the server checks during night. If there is no one in that space, and the conditions are right (night for zombies, say, day for pigs, tunnels on the lowest levels for slimes, for instance), a monster will spawn.

If you are in that space, it doesn't matter how dark it is, that monster won't spawn there. (Also remember to put a cap of dirt over you--sand and gravel will fall, and you likely won't have stone at this point. How to tell if night's over? Dig out the dirt cap and check. If it's still night--put the cap back on!)

While you're stuck there, might as well work on some of the wood things. First, 24 trunk pieces will net 96 planks. Planks can be used to make sticks, crafting tables, chests, and tools. Your first job: a crafting table.


Carefully dig out one square and place your crafting table there. (It's okay, you can hold down your left mouse button and carve that back out again later.) Notice how the crafting screen goes from four squares to nine. This becomes important for storage chests, furnaces, and tools.


First: the standard pickaxe. Wooden pickaxes have low durability, but the one thing they're good at is digging out stone and coal. Once you get coal, one stick plus one piece of coal makes four torches, and you now have light. Once you get stone, two sticks plus three pieces of stone makes a stone pickaxe, which is much more durable, and will get you iron. Two sticks plus three iron ingots (smelted in the furnace with iron ore) will get you an iron pickaxe, which will let you mine redstone, diamond and gold.

That comes later, though.

(And one stick plus two of nearly anything--wood, stone, iron, gold, or diamond--will make a sword.)


You've found coal! (Oh, this is terrible. I found I hadn't saved a good coal picture the first go-round, so I dipped into one of my newer worlds quick, tracked down some coal, and took a picture mining it out. But....unless you're on the holiday Painterly pack, your coal won't look like this! Argh!)

Your best way to find coal is wandering around. Look for stone deposits, look for gravel deposits. Unless you've modded your version of Minecraft with a specialty texture pack (and I have), coal is nearly always a grey stone with black flecks in it. That is coal--each cube mined gets you one floating coal chunk, and each coal chunk with one piece of wood, remember, gives you four torches. Torches keep the monsters at bay. This is VERY IMPORTANT.

Tip #2: Mine out all the coal you can find. If the sun goes down and you're still mining a rich vein of coal, dig down four squares, cap the top of the tube, and wait out the darkness. Stay near the coal deposit, and in the morning, pop back out (best way: select dirt or sand or whatever, look down, hold down the space bar to jump, and then drop cubes until you're at ground level again) and start digging again. Remember: trapped in the tube, if you got to coal, you can now make torches, and you don't need your crafting table--one stick plus one bit of coal goes in FINE in the four-square personal crafting screen.

Once you have coal, and have pickaxes, and build up either a ton of wood planks, or a ton of stone, you can return to the beach and build your first home. (Use the crafting table to make doors from wood--six planking cubes, two on top of two on top of two, makes a door you can click open and closed.) Build it out of sand, dirt, wood--whatever. You can always dig that out and put in a better material later. Want windows? Make a furnace (drop one cube in each of the outer squares of the crafting screen, leaving an empty spot in the middle, with stone; for a chest, the same thing, only with wood, creates a chest), set it out, fill it with coal and sand, and presto--glass cubes!

Tip #3: Always put the door of a house on from the OUTside, not the INside. Why? Because if the door is placed outside, you can stab the monsters through the closed door with no risk to yourself. If not...THEY can stab YOU.)

Past that, the world is yours--with light, stone tools, and a place to sit out the dark hours, anything truly is possible. Welcome to Minecraft.


Anonymous said...

The news is outdated; Yahoo plans to sell the service, not shut it down.

Emilly Orr said...

A-ha! I'll correct that.

(I wrote the first part of this entry back around the 17th; forgot to update the Minecraft part of it, so it languished in draft mode for some time, aging.)