Navarre: Village Planning

The longer I spend in my little village on the lake, the more I realize I love the location. It’s beautiful, quaint, and natural. While I enjoy some of the crazier biomes in BiomeBundle, I still feel like making my home somewhere that isn’t too otherworldly. If there is one thing I would change, it would be access to water transportation, either a good river network, or being on the coast of an ocean. That said, I’m comfortable with that limitation, especially since I’m modeling Navarre on a mountain village in Spain.

Before discussing city planning, let me give a survival report. MCImmersion is an ultra hard core server, with a 30 minute ban on death. In my first attempt at getting blaze rods, I ran off the edge of a fortress path and fell to my first death. My second attempt was much more successful, and I now have potions, which makes a huge difference. I’ve been caving quite a bit to collect resources and hope to get a decent set of armor and tools so I can focus on Navarre and not surviving. I may set up a horse shop, and breed horses, which should be straightforward, now that I have two saddled horses.

Village Buildings and Districts

I started a list in my last post of buildings and other structures to build in my village. That initial list was based on the trading professions for villagers in Minecraft. Here is a more complete list that I’ve developed, which also tries to include intermediate products that make sense to flesh out a proper village economy. There is still more that could be added, but I wanted something that felt complete and at the same time not too over the top. It’s always possible to add more if I finish this and want to add on. But if I go too far, then I could get overwhelmed and give up. Not a good recipe for a village. Here’s the list:

  • a wheat farm
  • a carrot farm
  • a potato farm
  • a bakery
  • a lakeside fish market
  • an archery range
  • a fletcher shop
  • sheep fields
  • a dye shop
  • an armory
  • a tool shop
  • a weapon shop
  • a fighting/training arena
  • a mine entrance
  • a quarry
  • an iron foundry
  • a gemcutter’s workshop
  • a tannery
  • a cattle field
  • a pig pen
  • a chicken coop
  • a butcher shop
  • a restaurant
  • an inn
  • a sugar cane farm
  • a bookbinder
  • a library
  • a map room
  • a chapel
  • a nether portal

As I looked at this rather long list, I realized that a lot of these different builds could be grouped into districts. After a few different attempts to group them I came up with the following grouping which divides my little village into four districts:

  • Industrial District
    • a mine entrance
    • a quarry
    • an iron foundry
    • a gemcutter’s workshop
    • an ironsmith (weapons/tools/armor)
  • Agricultural District
    • a wheat farm
    • a carrot farm
    • a potato farm
    • sheep fields
    • a tannery
    • a cattle field
    • a pig pen
    • a chicken coop
    • a sugar cane farm
  • University District
    • an archery range
    • a fighting/training arena
    • a bookbinder
    • a library
    • a map room
    • a chapel
    • a nether portal
  • Market District
    • a bakery
    • a lakeside fish market
    • a fletcher shop
    • a dye shop
    • an armory
    • a butcher shop
    • a restaurant
    • an inn

There are some natural connections between these districts where this is overlap. For example, the ironsmith should be near the armory. The wheat farm near the bakery, the sheep fields near the dye shop, the tannery near the cattle field, the sugar cane farm near the bookbinder near the library, the archery range near the fletcher shop, and so on.

Shrinking Ambitions

If you’re anything like me, you looked at that list of districts and buildings and immediately felt overwhelmed. That’s a lot to build! So, my next step is to figure out what to combine or cut out completely for my first pass. As I said earlier, I can always come back and add more later. But I do want a vision that is achievable. So, here’s my pass at combining things, and cutting them out:

  • Industrial District
    • a mine entrance (https://imgur.com/a/0epxp)
    • an iron foundry and smithy
  • Agricultural District
    • a wheat and carrot farm
    • sheep fields
    • a tannery and cattle field
    • a pig pen
    • a chicken coop
    • a sugar cane farm
  • University District
    • a library (with bookbinding room)
    • a fighting/training arena with an archery range
    • a map room
    • a chapel with a nether portal
  • Market District
    • a bakery
    • a lakeside fish and meat market
    • a dye shop
    • an armory (selling armor, weapons, bows, and arrows)
    • a restaurant with inn above it

District and Building Placement

I want the districts to be expandable, so each one needs to have at least one side bordering on the edge of the village, so I can expand the village as I go. I also want certain districts close to each other. The most important pairing will be having the agricultural district border on the market district. The second is having the agricultural district border on the university district. And finally, having the market district border the university district. The industrial district can be more separated from the others, but there are still some connections, as it will be providing ore for the armory and the training arena.

So, the final district placement will have the industrial district at the top of the lake, bordering on the mountain that rises to the north. The farming district will be to the east, where there are some large openish fields. The market district will be south of that, wrapping around to the bottom side of the lake. And the university district will border the market district on the east side and the farming district on the south side. It won’t have direct lake access, but will be higher up, on a small plateau.

More design ideas

Agricultural district will be centered on a barn and fenced farmyard, something that feels like this:

In creative mode, I’ve put together designs for a few of the more interesting buildings I hope to create.

Barn interior

Barn exterior

Tannery from the side

Cattle pen next to tannery

Inn and restaurant facade

Bakery

Mine entrance and foundry

Horse stables

Minecraft Hobbyist, Factorio Gamer

I’m a Factorio Gamer.

I just want to beat the game. It’s hard. It takes a long time. I’m not using mods to make my life easier, or cheat, but I am learning what I can as I go, and just trying to win, no self imposed challenges, no attempts at any of the unique achievements. Later I may try some of those unique achievements, but I’ll still just be playing a game.

I’m a Minecraft Hobbyist

Beating the game is just the beginning of any new adventure. Or beating the game is irrelevant. Or beating the game is a fun challenge because of self imposed handicaps.

Right now, these are the only two games I play.

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.

Survive

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.

Thrive

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.

Quark + Iberia = Quick Armor Swapping

After contributing flat item frames to Quark, I took a closer look at the features in Iberia. Iberia is quite different from Quark, in that it changes the way you play Minecraft, rather than just adding stuff to it. I love playing with both Quark and Iberia, but I recognize that they are two different things.

That said, Iberia has one little feature that fits perfectly with Quark: Quick Armor Swapping. In Iberia, it’s there to make life with armor drawbacks more bearable. But on it’s own, it’s a great little convenience that makes armor stands much more enjoyable to use in Minecraft. So, I took a bit of time, added it to Quark, and it’s now available in the latest version. Enjoy!

Quark + Strait = Flat Colored Item Frames

The first day I released Strait I got a few requests to make it work with Quark’s colored item frames. Taking a look at the code, it wasn’t readily apparent how to make that happen as two separate mods. But I did find and fix a bug in Quark’s colored item frames, and then asked Vazkii if he’d be ok if I ported the Strait’s flat item frames to Quark. He gave the go ahead, and after a little bit of work, I got them ported and working well with both regular and colored item frames in Quark. Obviously, if you want flat item frames for 1.9 or 1.10, Strait is still the way to go.

Strait: Frames Made Flatter

So, I built a thing. A new Minecraft mod called Strait. All it does is let you put item frames on the top and bottom of blocks.

That’s pretty much it.

Well, mostly. There are some interesting caveats and considerations. Item frames on the top and bottom of blocks cannot be read by comparators, since comparators don’t read up or down. Also, I had to pick a direction for “up”, or where the top of the frame points. I picked north, as that seemed to make sense. The two interesting cases for item frame contents are maps and compasses. I’ve got compasses pointing the correct direction. Maps work as well, though the pointer on the map that represents the item frame points south, which is an arbitrary choice mostly dictated by what was easiest.

The mod is available for Minecraft 1.9-1.11.

Minecraft Blind Seed Search

How do I pick seeds for my Minecraft worlds? Pretty simple actually. I want a seed that has all of the interesting biomes within a reasonable distance. But I don’t want to know where they are, because I like exploring and mapping out my world. So I want to choose a seed that has all biomes within some specified distance, while also not seeing the actual map of those biomes. Personally, I like to use 5,000 blocks from origin (so a 10,000 x 10,000 area).

For that, I created Minecraft Blind Seed Search. Right now it’s simple: it just tells you which biomes are within the range you specify.

I may want to add an option for finding seeds with a village near spawn, or spawn in a specific village, but for now, this works for me.

Behind the scenes, this site is built with Gomix, and gets the biome information from the MineAtlas backend. I have contributed to the MineAtlas patreon, because it’s awesome, and if you want to support Minecraft Blind Seed Search, I hope you’ll contribute to MineAtlas as well.

How do you pick seeds for your Minecraft worlds? Let me know in the comments.

A Gamer, A Hobbyist, A Professional

So, a post on the Minecraft reddit got me thinking about Minecraft as a hobby, as a game, and as a profession. Most people who first get into Minecraft see it as a game. It’s something they play, it’s fun, they go through the achievements, have a good time, and eventually move on to another game. This is how most kids see it. Oftentimes the “other game” they move on to is still Minecraft: mini games on a Minecraft server, a big modpack, etc. The key though is that their mindset is that Minecraft is a game they play. They’ll move on at some point, and may revisit it the way I occasionally revisit Super Mario Brothers, just because it has sentimental value. My kids are gamers who take that approach to Minecraft. It’s a game to play, but they’re easily tempted away by the latest Pokemon craze or a new game on their phones.

At the other end of the spectrum are the professional Minecrafters. I define professional by the fact that they make their living off of Minecraft. This would be people like Etho, Mumbo Jumbo, CaptainSparklez. But it would also be those who run big Minecraft servers, like the people behind Hypixel. They have turned Minecraft into a way to make money, and they make enough to live on.

In between the two ends of the spectrum are the hobbyists. Hobbyists treat Minecraft as more than a game, but different than a profession. A hobby is generally something you do your whole life because there is always more to discover, improve, learn or enjoy. Minecraft for a hobbyist is not a mere game to pass the time till they find a better one. It’s something to apply yourself to, for the intrinsic rewards, because the hobbyist doesn’t have the extrinsic rewards that the professional does. Likewise, the hobbyist doesn’t have the extrinsic pressures that professional’s face in order to actually make money.

I think some of the smaller youtubers are great examples of Minecraft hobbyists. Two Piggies is a good example that I follow. Grian was until he made it big.

I’ve been thinking about this because I’ve realized I’m definitely in the hobbyist category. I’ve only been playing Minecraft for two years, so in some ways I’m new to the community. But two years is already a long time to stick with a single game if you’re just a gamer. And I’m not really a gamer. I don’t play other video games. But in Minecraft I’ve made some youtube videos, played both single player and on a small server, built a Minecraft mod, crafted some unique redstone builds, even have a blog. I don’t see myself ever making money, though. For the hobbyist, a hobby takes time and money. The professional earns money doing it as a full time job, and then uses their leisure time for other hobbies.

You can see some of the tensions that these three categories of Minecraft players face. Many of the gamers see the dedication and enthusiasm of the hobbyists and want that. They post on the Minecraft reddit asking questions like “What should I do now?” and “How do I recapture the love of the game I had when it was new?”

If they keep asking those questions, and take the advice they get, they may become hobbyists. A hobbyist knows they have to put in real effort to get the deeper, more satisfying rewards of creating something.

Because that’s what the hobbyist does: they create. They love Minecraft for the possibilities it opens up to make new things, whether it’s stuff they build in game, youtube videos they make, schematics, command blocks, machinima, redstone contraptions, etc.

As hobbyists, they’re not necessarily the first ones to do these things, because they can’t spend 40-60 hours a week in the game. So the hobbyists may feel, as hobbyists in any field do, a little jealous of the professionals. The professionals get to do what the hobbyists do every day, all day. And they make money at it!The hobbyists would love that.

Or so they think. But the professionals face a new level of pressure. Because they have to please an audience, or they lose their income. They don’t always get to do what they love, they have to do what will earn them money. And they can’t take breaks from it very easily. The hobbyist can see that a new snapshot came out and think, “that will be fun to check out”. The professional has to think “ok, what cool video can I make of this?” or “how will this affect the server I run?”. It’s always about which decision will keep the money flowing.

So, what are you: a gamer, a hobbyist, or a professional? And what do you want to be? Also, am I missing a category?