Have a Plan, Break it Down

One big difference between a Minecraft gamer and Minecraft hobbyist is that the gamer lets the game define his objectives, while the hobbyist defines his own goals. In Minecraft, the gamer defeats the Ender Dragon, and later takes down a Wither, and then, bored, moves on to another game.

The Minecraft hobbyist, however, has his own goals. They may be as simple as creating a cute little farm, or as grand as building an entire empire. They may be focused on redstone automation, or capturing and displaying mobs, or creative builds. The hobbyist may even dive in and change the game to better suit their style using mods, texture packs, or command blocks.

As with anything in life, having your own goals is never quite enough. I had the vision to create a pigman empire for over a year before finally tackling it head on with New Lusitania. It wasn’t until I had clarified that vision into something exciting that I felt like I could really make it happen.

But even an exciting vision isn’t enough. I also needed to break it down. It was humbling after a month of smaller projects on the ChickenPieCraft server when I realized I needed to spend some time scouting out locations. I had this grand vision for New Lusitania, but I had to get down to actionable steps that could be done one at a time. If I didn’t scout out locations, I would never get to the point where I could build a palace, or populate the empire, or start a mine, or any of the things I wanted the pigmen to do.

Clarifying the Vision

I’m going to go through this process of clarifying a vision and figuring out the next step(s) for my involvement in MCImmersion out loud here on my blog. It might get a little messy. First, I want to consider factors that will affect the vision I have.

BiomeBundle: Because this world has terrain from BiomeBundle, it has a different feel than vanilla. There are a ton of structures built into the terrain, and I don’t want what I build to feel out of place.

UHC: Because this world is hardcore, with a thirty minute death ban, I’ll be playing safer than I would in vanilla Minecraft. That’s cool, I like the challenge. But because that’s part of the challenge, my vision needs to account for that, and be scaled back accordingly. It may also make sense to have a vision that integrates the UHC component – like using each life in the world to tackle a different project.

Smaller projects: Because I’m doing this as a break from New Lusitania, it’s going to be smaller in scale. I don’t want to give up on New Lusitania, so I need to come back in a reasonable amount of time.

No Dynmap: In ChickenPieCraft, we have an overview map that makes it easier to plan out large scale projects and get a feel for where everyone on the server is and how to find them. Without that, some new project possibilities open up. Becoming the cartographer for the server is one of those, where I would map things out, and help people find each other and build paths between others’ bases.

Village/Lake/Nearby Priest/Snowy Mountains: I’ve since left my first temporary base, explored a bunch more, and resettled in a small village on a lake near some snowy mountains. It’s pretty, and there are certainly some natural projects that offer themselves up: protect and remodel the village, setup villager trading in a market, etc.

Self imposed challenges (http://gibraltar.rockhymas.com/iberia-self-imposed-challenges-through-death-with-consequences). I’ve used self imposed challenges in the past to give myself a progression to work through. I may revisit my simple, “one chest in my base, all other chests have custom structures built around what they store” challenge. It forces me to build more and flesh out a realistic community just so I can keep all of the interesting materials available.

Past ideas for bases: Island/Underwater/Nordic shipping village/Western outpost (mesa)/Modern industrial/Space outpost (the end)/Nether base/Flying ship/Ice palace/Desert oasis/Jungle treehouse/Taiga treehouse/Mushroom fairyland/Haunted swampland. I haven’t explored any of these as much as I’d like to, at some point.

Narrowing it Down

As I wrote the last few paragraphs up, the process of looking at things that will constrain my vision naturally got my brain thinking about some ideas that appealed to me.

One was the idea of creating a small Bavarian style village on the lake. I could use my self imposed challenge to make sure the village is teeming with life and activity.

I also like the idea of becoming an itinerant cartographer on the server. I would still need a base of operations, but my lake village doesn’t make sense for that. It would be something more hermit-esque, focused on providing the needed mapmaking materials (paper, iron, redstone, horses, boats) and possibly have a very academic/philosopher vibe to it.

A third idea would be to focus on villager trading. In all my Minecraft play I’ve never built a proper villager trading area. I could focus on making this town on the lake into a mercantile outpost where travelers come from far and wide to ply their wares and purchase what they need.

That’s all the ideas I’ll need. After writing them up, I spent some time looking into inspiration for each one. What do Bavarian forest villages look like? Google image search! What famous mapmakers could I model my Minecraft life after? Marco Polo! Ferdinand Magellan! Lewis and Clark! How would I go about setting up villager trading? Youtube Minecraft videos to the rescue! Don’t forget to check the trading page on the Minecraft wiki!

Making a Choice, Fleshing it Out

Ok, after doing my investigation and thinking through the options, I like the idea of creating a village on the lake that is focused on villager trading. So I’ll need to make a villager breeder, and set up locations for villagers to trade. Rather than just build a big hall for trading, which seems to be a common solution, I want to instead flesh out a real village with separate structures built around each villager profession. That’s twelve separate areas to build, which will take some time in a UHC world:

  • a farm and bakery
  • a lakeside fish market
  • an archery range and fletcher shop
  • shepherds fields and a dye shop (colored wool!)
  • an armory
  • a tool shop near a quarry
  • a weapon shop near a practice arena
  • a tannery near a cow farm
  • a butcher and chef’s restaurant
  • a library
  • a map room
  • a church building or cathedral

It’s clear that some supporting buildings could be created as well. Besides those listed above, it makes sense to build an iron foundry and a diamond cutter near the armory, tool shop, and weapon shop. Also, some of these could be combined into larger builds. Placing the church, library, and map room into a larger religious university area or castle would be really cool.

A Specific, Visual Vision

Finally, you should make your vision something you can see. For me, that means picking a visual theme for your builds. Will you go with a classic medieval european style? If so, more Germanic, more English, or more Italian? Maybe you want to do a Chinese or Japanese themed build? For my trading village on the lake, I decided to go with a brick and cement building style reminiscent of small Spanish villages. I spent a few minutes in creative mode mocking up a facade to flesh out what materials I want to use (concrete, concrete powder, bricks, dark oak wood). It didn’t take much, but it gives me a palette for my builds to start from.

To make it more specific, and to emotionally connect with the vision, I’m going to name the village. The pictures that inspired my building style all came from small Spanish villages in the Navarre province. So I’m going to name my village Navarre. It also fits with my theme of taking names from the Iberian peninsula (Iberia, Lusitania, Gibraltar).

What’s the Next Step?

The catchphrase for the MCImmersion server is “Survive. Thrive. UltraHardCore.” In terms of next steps, I first have to survive, before I can worry about thriving.


Since I keep getting hurt I will need a steady supply of healing potions or golden apples. So my next steps for survival is to get to the nether so that I can get basic potion making supplies. To do that, I really need to stock up on arrows and do some enchanting of my armor and weapons. I have some experience, and a bunch of lapis already, but only enough diamonds to get the enchanting table. So I’ll likely go into the nether in iron armor. That gives me my marching orders for the next few Minecraft days of play.


To truly thrive and make progress towards my vision, there are other next steps I can take beyond just making sure I stay alive. I can explore and map out the area around my lakeside village (see map picture above). I have a lot to build, and it won’t happen unless I plot out a city with zones for the different buildings. I’ll also want to protect the larger area by lighting it up and putting up a city wall that can be upgraded as I become more wealthy.

So, here’s the deal. When I started writing this blog post, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. Now, I have a plan, I have a vision, and I know what comes next. Life is good.

BiomeBundle + UHC = MCImmersion

So, as an initial break from New Lusitania, I decided to see if I could find a Biome Bundle server to play on. The first one I came across had terrain from Biome Bundle, but is also set to be UHC (Ultra Hardcore), which means that it’s hard mode, plus health regen is turned off. That means no health regeneration unless you use potions or golden apples. Since that is also up my alley, I jumped at the chance to check it out.

After applying, I got whitelisted, and spent my first few Minecraft days on the server. So far, no deaths, but I did lose three and a half hearts, thanks to a skeleton who shot me in a cave entrance. Mostly, I’ve been exploring, trying to find a nice spot to settle down. As expected, the Biome Bundle terrain is beautiful. While I’ve followed BB for a while now, I haven’t actually played in a world, so it was fun to encounter new biomes that I’ve never seen on the BB website. It continues to amaze me how much depth there is.

Although the latest BiomeBundle now has vanilla ore generation, earlier versions, including the one used in MCImmersion, don’t. In these, ores generate in a more spread out distribution, which means you can find all of the good stuff on the surface, or anywhere between it and bedrock. I personally don’t like this as much. Though I do think it makes caving and exploring more interesting, it also makes any type of systematic mining less interesting. There is no real strategy to mining. We’ll see how I feel about it after playing in the world for a while.

I have chosen an initial base of operations, in an abandoned watchtower, a structure that’s part of BiomeBundle. It’s quite far from spawn, though I know some areas near it have been explored by other players. I doubt it will become a permanent home, but it’s as fine a place as any to build up some materials and from which to explore the surrounding areas.

I’ve now played a couple times and had the chance to chat with both of the server owners/admins. They seem like great people and players, and I like the vision they have for the server, slowly building up a cadre of players who like to take Minecraft seriously, and like the challenge of ultra hardcore.

With both of them, I’ve mentioned Iberia, my own take on making Minecraft harder. One thing I’ve found, even in just a couple hours of play, is that BiomeBundle changes the challenge of hardcore. I’ve found enough gold on the surface and in the various structures I’ve encountered to craft three golden apples, which is great, as I’ve needed that many to fully heal from damage I’ve taken early game. As such, I’m not sure I’d want the sleep to heal benefit in Iberia if it were combined with BiomeBundle in a modpack. The server admins mentioned that they encourage new players to spread out by traveling a ways from spawn before settling down. That can be difficult when you start the game with the pressure of ultra hardcore looming over you, so I could see some real value in the natural dispersion that occurs for players in Iberia. Add to that the further dispersion that will happen as they die and respawn anew somewhere else, and the whole dynamic of play changes radically. I haven’t had a chance to test that with enough players to really know what the experience is like, but my hope would be that the work to build up individual bases and then slowly expand and explore to find other players would be a really cool way to build a community.

So, this is my first new adventure while taking a break from New Lusitania.

New Lusitania: State of the Empire

As I approach the anniversary of the ChickenPieCraft server reset, it is time to take stock of the progress made in building New Lusitania: The Pigman Empire. I’ve spent more time in this world and on this project than I have in any other Minecraft world I’ve played. And it shows, as I’ve been able to create some pretty large builds, some big automation projects, and flesh out a history and mythology for New Lusitania that exceeds anything I’ve done in past worlds. It’s been really fun and rewarding. So, without further ado, let’s start with completed projects.


Founded the Empire

First up, New Lusitania was founded. After about a month of initial work on the server, I took some time to evaluate potential locations for New Lusitania. I had some specific ideas in mind – savanna biome, a couple hundred blocks square, clear boundaries between other landmasses, some nice plateaus, water access – and those were of course modified a bit as I looked at the reality of the landscape.

Iron Farms

One of my first projects, once I chose a location, was getting an iron farm going. Iron farms are vital for any large redstone builds, for setting up beacons, for rail systems, and for some types of decoration, like iron bars. Over time, I built out two more iron farms. Each of these is built as a villager prison, with pigmen gaurds on four towers surrounding the farm. They each also have space underneath for other builds.


On that first iron farm I built, I used the space beneath it to carve out a stone quarry. At this point, I still didn’t have a proper mine built, but needed large amounts of stone for the first big build of New Lusitania. So a stone quarry was a necessity.

Stranglespire Exterior

My largest build up to that point, I based the Pigman Palace on Noodlor’s Stranglespire design. Building the exterior took quite a while. On the interior, I made some changes to how to get around (stairs and ladders), but otherwise haven’t fleshed it out much yet.

Wheat Farm

Under the second iron farm, the pigmen trapped a farmer villager and force him to farm wheat. This wheat farm has a rail system beneath with a hopper minecart to pick up and collect all of the wheat that is dropped.

Nether Hallway

Our nether hallway is a branch off of the main north nether hall that goes from spawn to the edge of the map. This was a fun decoration project that captures the design themes of New Lusitania in a way that makes a long hallway interesting, rather than boring.

History and Mythology

Along the way, I began to flesh out the history and mythology of New Lusitania. This is mostly recorded in a few blog posts here, but I hope to document it in the empire in a library at some point. Also, the history and mythology informs the projects being built in the Pigman empire.

Operating Pigman and Gold Farm

The first big project that is directly tied to New Lusitania’s mythology is the pigman and gold farm. New Lusitania needs a population of pigmen, which means it needs an easy way to spawn pigmen that won’t despawn. To do that, New Lusitania has a pigman farm based on the mythology of creation. This farm spawn pigmen, and those that are considered worthy (i.e. won’t despawn) can be saved for assignment around the empire. Those who aren’t worthy are sacrificed to provide gold for the empire.


The server has a common city east of spawn where all the players can create common builds and contribute to a larger, communal metropolis. At this city, New Lusitania has erected an embassy, with a map of it’s empire, an ambassador, two guards, an administrator, a small library, a balcony for pigmen worship, and rooftop gardens.

Witch Farm

The witch farm was actually built before New Lusitania was founded, and it is the one other contribution I’ve made to the server. Though not optimally efficient, it is a good source of glowstone, redstone, sugar and gunpowder.

Automatic Tree Farm (with containing warehouse)

The pigmen of New Lusitania love to build with acacia wood. Unfortunately, acacia trees are the most annoying trees to harvest. So, because the pigmen are an enterprising and engineering culture, they built an automatic tree farm that can handle acacia trees, as well as the other farmable tree types. This was a huge project that took a long time, with regular breaks to work on other things. It’s wonderful when it’s working, but when something goes wrong, however, it’s a pain to fix it. I broke it while working on this blog post by AFKing at it through a server restart. So it’s currently not operational.


The latest project has been to build a late game mine, with proper collection of mineable materials, a nice design, and beacons to speed things along quickly.

Ongoing Work

Most of this ongoing work is pretty obvious from the discussion above, but it’s worth calling out some specifics.

Stranglespire Interior

The stranglespire pigman palace is a great anchor for the empire, but it really needs to have a purpose beyond just looking nice on the outside. More work can be done on the outside, but it’s the interior that really needs to be fleshed out. The main throne room needs to be properly luxurious for the pigman emporer. There are two floor below the throne room that should house equally extravagant meeting rooms and treasure troves of the empire. The levels above the throne room also need to have purposes and be decorated accordingly.

Pigman and Gold Farm Design

The pigman and gold farm is functional, but ugly. One plan I have is to make the rail passage that surviving pigmen travel down show the four stages of growth that a worthy pigman can go through (represented by leather, gold, iron, and diamond armors). But there is much more than that which should be done. Outfitting the whole thing in the engineering ethos of the pigmen is important, and providing a proper entrance, storage for collected gold, and connection to an empire wide rail network are all items on the todo list.

Cow Farm

I gathered some cows under my third iron farm, but haven’t yet built my standard cow farm there. It’s definitely something I want to do, as it’s nice to have a ton of leather for books and item frames.

Village Market

I know where I want the village market to be, surrounding my northernmost nether portal and next to the mine entrance, but I’ve played around with a couple different designs and nothing has stuck yet. That’s definitely something I want to flesh out.

Repair Tree Farm

As I mentioned earlier, the tree farm is currently broken. I AFK’d there through a server reset and a bunch of different things broke on it. I thought I had it fixed at one point, but that just led to larger problems. A good filler activity, when I don’t have other work to do, is to go through and repair it. It’s somewhat tedious, but using a schematic to make sure I get it right is helpful.

Future Work

History and Mythology

The initial recordings of New Lusitania’s history and mythology have been written. But there is more in store. Fleshing it out and then tying it to the current design and structure of the empire, it’s architecture, and it’s social classes will be an ongoing project.

Populate the Empire

Only small steps have been taken to populate the empire with pigmen, and the only villagers in place right now are at the iron farms. Long term, though, there will be pigmen and villagers throughout the kingdom: stone quarry, cow farm, mine and entrance, stranglespire, tree farm, gold/pigman farm. Generally, the pigmen will be in overseer roles, while the villagers are slaves used for grunt labor, farming, and trading.

The Palace Boulevard

A first pass has been done on the palace boulevard that leads from the palace district to the central district. But it’s far from a completed project, and will eventually be the start of a full transportation network within the empire.

Nether Hub

The nether hallway to New Lusitania is complete, but it currently leads to a barely functional nether hub. That hub needs to be fully designed and put in place. The design will be similar to the hallway, but will also hark back to the actual layout of the empire itself.


While the natural landscape of the New Lusitania empire is quite nice, there are a few terraforming projects that would really make it pop. Deepening the main lake is the big one. Additionally, cleaning up the naturally spawned village, filling in many of the smaller ponds, and deepening and widening the rivers are all possibilities.

Witch Farm Haunted House

While doing the initial work on the witch farm, I came up with some ideas for a final design. I want the witch farm itself to be fully enclosed within a haunted house. That haunted house will be in permanent darkness because it will be covered by a spooky floating island that will house the AFK location, as well as the collection area for the drops from the farm. It will be a very large project, but one that I believe will be very rewarding.

Taking a Break

I went through the current state of New Lusitania in part because I’m going to take a break. Hopefully not a long one. I still love the vision for New Lusitania, and feel that I’ve made a great start on it. And stuck with that start for a year now. There’s still plenty more I want to do, but I recognize that I need to take a break so that I can come back to it fresh and excited about the challenge. When I do come back, I’ll probably tackle the witch farm project first. It’ll be a nice change of pace, a big project, and really satisfying to complete. It’ll be good after spending some time doing shorter, exploratory play – maybe some UHC, maybe some Iberia, or Biome Bundle, or trying out some other mods. I’ll make sure to share my adventures here.