Saturday, April 28, 2012

through the crowd I was crying out, and in your place there were a thousand other faces

This is almost tempting me to get involved with Guild Wars 2. I don't know if I will, mind, but...damn, that's just such an odd character class.

Recently, a picture archive compiled from various news and police sources was released to the public. It's an amazing, in-person look at life at the turn of the century, to the 1940s, in terms of fashion, architecture, city life, crime, and punishment. Absolutely worth looking through; it's amazing, and it's huge--870,000 photos in all.

Also, clearly from the NSFW front...an art student came up with a rather intriguing casting class final project--namely, that of embedding a small toy Tardis inside a silicon...er...well.

Prompting many of us to wonder, is it bigger on the inside? AND WE MOVE ON.

More from Minecraft? Why yes!

Now, you may have seen the Tesla tower in the distance of the last image. I don't know if it has an official name, but here's a better look at it:

(from the Minecrafting album)

This is the view from another, taller watchtower behind the village. You can see many of the animal pens, and about center-left, by the Tesla tower, you can see the L-shaped structure that's the main community center. Inside that, on the first level, are chests for supplies, crafting tables, book shelves, and a small forge area; below that are more forges (looking eerily crypt-like, set into the stone wall) and the main Nether portal for the village.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Another view. You can see the reed farm (on the lower left) and two of the three gardens.

(from the Minecrafting album)

The last shot I got, pretty much by hanging on to the crenellations of the tower, and inching out as far as I could to snap the shot. Scary, but it shows you more of the lay of the land, so to speak.

Now, this next one's going to take a bit of explanation. While I was excavating undermountain--specifically, under the mountain base--Fawkes was plotting out the parameters for an XP spawner in the Nether. Specifically, for blazes, that would work to help folks level up much faster, much easier.

Well, as "easy" as any XP generation system is, I suppose.

For those who don't know, the Nether was introduced to Minecraft on Samhain, several years back. It was a dark and spooky landscape, lit by hellish red light, its natural stone being either meat blocks, or shifting sand that was able to slow forward progress to a scary extent. At first, the only denizens of this hellscape were zombie pigmen (decaying pigs armed with gold swords), maniacal slimes (brighter and more ferocious than their cavebound brethren) and ghasts (giant floating tentacled nightmares that launched fireballs and giggled like mutant children).

(from the Minecrafting album)

Later were added blazes.

When one goes through the Nether portal--and survives the run to the spawner--well, this is somewhat typical of what you might see, once in the generation chamber:

(from the Minecrafting album)


Here's the down side--as with any XP generation system, your best bet for highest XP gathered is to let whatever mob the spawners spawn build up--so waits of two minutes, up to half an hour (for those with really robust computers) is considered fine--before wading in and slaying left and right. With most XP generation systems, the goal is not whatever drop the monsters have; that's considered a bonus. The goal is to gain XP and level up to enchant better, more protective, or more dangerous items.

(from the Minecrafting album)

With any other mob, that's pretty much the end of us. Build around the spawner, build a staging area, off you go on your quest for XP. But with blazes, even in the best of conditions, they still have an effect on those near them. Partially because of their higher-than-average temperatures (both ghasts and blazes breathe fireballs), partially because of the smoke particles they spew, just being near blazes slows you down, in terms of reaction and moving out of the way.

Put simply: even when trapped inside a spawner, blazes can hit you. And they drain endurance (read: increase your hunger) just by being near them.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Believe me, if I could have held the camera absolutely still I would have, but these things have a push factor that's equal to large slimes. And when several of them gather in the same place, they're not only loud, but, if you're not careful, they can push you right out of the room!
And that's before you get close enough to hit them!

The reason to go through all this? Well, because the XP's higher. Killing skeletons gets you on average two XP orbs. Kill twenty or so, you have a level. Whereas killing blazes gets you ten XP orbs, per blaze. Believe me, it adds up.

(from the Minecrafting album)

There is a setting to turn down particles seen in Minecraft. I'd definitely do so. Also, if you're interested in gaining XP this way (either on the Caledon server, or in your own private worlds), I'd consider turning down your sound, as well.

Because blazes sound like nothing less than ancient, mutated horrors trapped in iron lungs. And believe me, in the Nether, surrounded by that dim, reddish light, listening to metallic wheezing all around you...Well, I don't know about you, but it gets to me, plenty.
More when I get more time to sort!

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