New Lusitania: Prospective Location 4

My fourth prospective location is intriguing, and different from the others in some important ways. Rather than north or south of spawn, it’s almost directly west. It’s not circular or triangular, but close to a rectangle that is taller than it is wide. As such, it’s narrower (east/west) than the other locations, but taller (north/south).

It also has 3 plateaus, rather than the two at each of the other locations.

Though I found no ravines in the area, the ground is pockmarked with cave openings. At first this seemed, pretty cool, as there would be a lot to explore, maybe a higher probability of dungeons. But it would also mean a lot of cleanup terraforming to make way for buildings.

There is a decent lake on the south side of the biome. There are also three rivers that all empty to the east. Two of those could be easily connected to form an inland harbor for New Lusitania, and the third provides a natural border with the deserts to the north.

The deserts to the west have no river border, but do back up to two of the plateaus, forming a kind of cliffside border.

To the south are some plains. This location has the best collection of horses and pigs of all the locations.

Overall, this location is more tempting than the third location. It may not beat out either of the first two, however, due to the large size, the overabundance of caves, and large distance to any villages. The surrounding areas have the same basic resources as the first location: deserts, plains, and further out a mega taiga and a mushroom island.

New Lusitania: Prospective Location 3

Ok, so I had high hopes for my third prospective location for New Lusitania. It’s a single island, completely savanna. In a lot of ways, that’s ideal. It appears there is only one within reasonable distance on the chicken pie craft server, so that’s a big plus for this location.

Like the other locations, it has a large plateau and a smaller one. It also has plenty of open flat areas for building the main parts of Lusitania. It’s definitely shaped differently than locations 1 and 2, which were both fairly circular. This location is more of an inverted triangle, with a nice bay or harbor on the north side.

The nearest land is more savanna and desert to the south, though in other directions there is a mesa and an ice spikes biome, so those are nice.

There are some things missing however. The only animal on the island is cows. There is no ravine, or village, or interesting lakes. No nearby guardian farms. I couldn’t quite get to the location in the nether, but I got close enough that I couldn’t see anything too special.

Finally, it’s fairly near the world border. I was also going to look at the savanna to the south as a fourth location, but the world border cuts through it, making it not even worth considering at this point. Besides the closeness, it also means it’s about as far as you can get from spawn, which means long trips to all of the community farms and locations, as well as very long hallways to decorate in the nether.

New Lusitania: Prospective Location 2

The search for New Lusitania continues!

So, I highlighted prospective location 1 yesterday, and location 2 is very, very similar. It’s roughly the same size, not quite as far north, but much closer to the north hallway that cuts through the nether.

It also has two plateaus, one large and one small.

Though there is no acacia village, there is a desert village just to the south.

This savanna has the perfect mix of animals, with pigs and horses, plus a few cows and sheep. For this one, there are natural borders on the north, a river dividing it from the desert, and the southwest, another river dividing it from the forest. To the east and west are oceans, and to the south east is the desert. There are some nice resources nearby, with a mushroom island just out of sight to the north, and a guardian temple a little further away.

Additionally, this one also has a ravine, but on the south side of the savanna. Overall, it might be a tough choice between this one and location 1, just because they are so similar.

New Lusitania: Prospective Location 1

On the Chicken Pie Craft server, my plan is to build up a kingdom called New Lusitania in a savanna. The server is fairly new, just one month old. In that time I picked out an initial spot, but then got distracted building a witch farm for the server (still in progress, post coming). In the meantime, much more of the map has been explored, and many more savanna biomes have been discovered that might make even better locations than my first pick. So for the next week or so, I’m going to be exploring four to six potential locations, writing up my thoughts here, and then using what I learn to choose an official location for New Lusitania. When I make the move, I’ll officially call my current location Old Lusitania, leave some goodies for whoever comes along and decides to make it there home, and properly abandon it.

Because there can only be one New Lusitania, I’ll just be referring to the prospective locations by number.

Prospective Location 1

The first prospective location is a savanna biome with a rough radius of 150-175 blocks. Two rivers provide northern and southern borders, though the northern river doesn’t quite make it to the sea, so there will be some necessary terraforming to finish that off.

It features a savanna village that goes up the side of the large plateau in the middle of the biome.

A large lake on the western edge of the biome seems ripe with possibility.

Meanwhile the open fields on the eastern side lead down to the open sea, providing a great opportunity to flesh out a large community, complete with a seafaring industry.

The harbor that the southern river spills into is also ideal for docks. Additionally, there’s a pretty awesome ravine just north of the lake that may make a good initial mine, or could eventually become some proper dungeons.

On the nether side, it’s less than 200 blocks from the main north hallway that connects to the nether hub. Below it is some pretty cool nether terrain, not just an empty lava ocean, so I can put that to good use. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that there is a nether fortress nearby.

Overall, this looks like a great location. I suspect it will be one of the better ones I take a look at.


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.

Iberia: Self-Imposed Challenges

One reason I like the Death With Consequences challenge in Iberia is that you can use the forced restart that comes with a death to challenge yourself in a new way each time. I’m a big fan of self-imposed challenges to make the game more fun, exciting, difficult, or just plain weird. They can change the way you play so significantly that you accomplish completely different things, learn about whole areas of the game you’ve never explored, and leave you with a totally new experience each time you play.

But that’s all just high falutin talk – let’s get down to brass tacks. I first discovered the concept of self-imposed challenges when I heard about the city construction challenge. It’s a challenge where you willingly submit to a set of rules that limits what tech you can use in the game, and to level up you have to build parts of a city, until you’ve eventually got a whole city built. As I played I realized that I had imposed challenges on myself before that, specifically not letting myself branch mine until I had diamonds. That forced me to explore caves or trade with villagers. Since then I’ve tried other challenges, like not using the F3 debug screen, turning off natural regeneration, etc.

At this point, you’ve probably noticed that some of these ideas made it into Iberia. In fact, Iberia came from me trying to take self-imposed challenges and enforce them in a realistic way through a Minecraft mod. And now that I have it, I’ve realized it not only imposes obvious challenges. Through death with consequences, it gives you a structure for experimenting over and over again with self-imposed challenges.

Each time you die, you begin a new life. And with each new life, you can play the game a completely new way. Obviously, I could have done this without Iberia, but the added structure makes it easier. And I’m tempted to find ways to encourage that more through the mod. But for now, I’m just exploring different ideas each time I die.

Currently, I’m only allowing myself a single chest for personal storage, forcing me to build dedicated structures for storage of different items. I spawned near a savanna village, so I’m building it up with a tree farm, tannery, stonecutter’s smithy, brickmaker, kitchen, etc. It’s a fun new challenge, not unlike the city construction challenge.

As I’ve done it, I’ve thought about what I might do the next time I die. If I had died relatively quickly, I probably just would have picked up the same challenge in a new location.

But other ideas have come up as well, like:

  • Find a base from a previous life as quickly as possible (challenging because of the Find Your Way challenge)
  • City Construction Challenge
  • Tree Spirit Challenge
  • Cubeaism
  • Build a modern city with skyscrapers
  • Create a floating city after conquering an ocean monument
  • After 1 to 3 days above ground, you must play the rest of the game below ground.

Some ideas are just smaller tweaks that can be added on to other ideas, like:

  • Don’t eat any meat
  • Never eat the same item twice in a row
  • No AFKing
  • Must AFK when not actively playing, try to take advantage of it
  • No sleeping through the night
  • Must sleep through the night
  • Cannot use chests for storage
  • Not allowed to mine diamond without diamond tools
  • Not allowed to use water to make obsidian
  • No buckets till you’ve built a waterwheel
  • No iron tools or armor until you’ve built an anvil

For many of these tweaks, the primary effect will be to lengthen the early and mid game experience. I enjoy that. For some, you may find other interesting twists to the game that you wouldn’t have considered otherwise. With debug info turned off, I realized the Nether was much harder to navigate. Specifically, it was really hard to link up nether portals effectively. One trick is to build two portals in the nether 17 blocks apart in one of the four cardinal directions. Then find the relationship between them in the overworld. At that point, you can determine directions in the Nether, making exploration and nether portal linking significantly easier (though still pretty hard).

What self-imposed challenges do you like? Are there any that would make good additions to Minecraft itself?

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?