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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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)
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
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?
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?
I’ve been playing in my Iberia world for a couple months now. So far, I really like it. Though it’s far from perfect, I enjoy the additional challenges to the gameplay, and the excitement that new experiences creates. Let’s go through the challenges and see what I’ve learned.
Hard Stone Challenge
Late in the development of this feature, I added new stone textures for hard stone, and a crumbling noise when it changes to regular stone. Those are the best parts of the feature for me now. The sounds add an ambiance to mining and caving that is really cool. You’re working your way through a branch mine and can hear the stone settling around you. It’s also an indication that hard stone can now be mined more quickly. The other indication is that the texture changes to be lighter. It makes sense as you see it happen, and helps make the challenge understandable, even if you haven’t read anything about it. Another late change was to make all of the hard stone generate during world generation, which greatly reduced lag in a new world, or a new portion of the world.
As for gameplay, I still love this challenge. It was the seed that started Iberia, and it’s held up well. Before finding diamonds it’s just not feasible to do branch mining. But once you get to iron tools, it makes sense to start a mineshaft and work on it a bit at a time, while spending your other time building up an early game base and farms, and caving as well. When building that first mineshaft I’ve learned to make it as small as possible on the first pass. Just try to get somewhere. You can easily go back later, once the hard stone has crumbled into regular stone, to widen it. I’ve also built a stone quarry, where I have a lot of exposed stone that I can clear out. By the time a new layer has been mined the next layer has almost all crumbled to regular stone and is mineable.
Given how happy I am with this feature, I don’t see making any major changes or additions to the design.
Sleep to Heal Challenge
Like the hard stone challenge, the sleep to heal challenge is all about the early game. Once you’ve got decent armor, healing and regeneration potions, and golden apples, it isn’t as necessary to sleep. That said, the main point of this challenge, besides increasing difficulty, is to push you back home to encourage building up an early base. And it certainly had that effect for me. I’ve now died five times, meaning I’ve effectively restarted in this same world six times. Each time, I eventually try to go caving, and it’s challenging. I want to make inroads into a cave system, but after going a little ways I’m hurt enough that I have to back out, and heal up by resting. As I do that, I flesh out my base or work on my farms, maybe make some progress on a mineshaft. And then head back into the cave once I’m ready again. Only to head home again after lighting up a little more.
In some ways, I love it. Minecraft is hard again. I have to make strategic decisions about whether to go deeper or go home. And it’s scary to go into a cave again, knowing I could get laid out for a Minecraft week, if I’m lucky. If I’m not, I’ve got to start over again. Even once I’ve got decent armor and weapons, spending the night in the wild is still a risky proposition.
In some ways, it’s too difficult. On hard difficulty, you only heal one heart for a night’s sleep. The amount of time stuck at home base healing up is a little excessive at first. And if you’re on an island without sheep, it could be hard to get that first bed, which you’ll need.
In some ways, it’s too tedious. Challenges that seriously deplete health now require an excessive amount of preparation. I needed a bunch of regeneration potions before tackling the Ender Dragon, and later, when I built an enderman farm, I went through healing potions like water trying to get an endermite to spawn. I suppose that could be one way the challenge pushes you to automate – automate a potion brewer, automate a gold farm, and automate collection of potion ingredients.
In some ways, it’s too easy. Once I’ve got a bed, I can easily spend a Minecraft week exploring the surrounding areas, just putting the bed down to sleep, and healing each day if I need to. Exploring should be a little more challenging in the early game.
All that is to say I feel like this challenge could use some tweaks. I’ll probably double the default amount healed when sleeping (from one to two hearts in hard mode), to take the edge off just a little bit. There may also need to be another end game way of healing.
Armor Slows Crafting Challenge
Armor slows crafting is the weakest challenge. When I asked for initial feedback on Iberia, everyone agreed that this one needed to change. At the time I came up with some good replacement ideas, but because Iberia was close to being done, I went ahead and left it in, as it was. Which means that when wearing heavier armor, access to chests, crafting tables, brewing stands, hoppers, droppers, etc. all takes longer. Without playing with it, everyone agreed that it was not a well designed challenge.
I have now played with it for a couple months and while I agree that it is problematic, it actually achieves it’s goals better than I thought it would. The goal here was to give people a reason for having different sets of armor, and for using armor stands. And that definitely happened. I now have a leather suit of armor for working around my base, and I actually had a reason to enchant it. I want it protect me as much as possible. There is still no real reason for keeping iron armor around after getting diamond armor, but it takes long enough to get diamond armor that that’s OK. And the armor stands are great both for storing the armor, and for quickly swapping it.
That said, it’s really easy to forget to swap armor when you venture forth. So you head into the Nether only to realize too late that you’re still wearing your weak leather armor because you forgot to “suit up”. I’m not sure if this is a good part of the challenge, or something that needs to be fixed in the gameplay. Maybe if it were easier to notice what armor your wearing, while wearing it, that would be good. Like, it would be cool if wearing a helmet obscured your vision like wearing a pumpkin does, but way less, so it’s not annoying or detrimental, but still lets you see what armor type you’ve got on your head.
The big problem is that when you do have heavier armor on and try to craft, open chests, etc. it’s just really annoying. Like, not fun annoying. So, I’m leaning towards changing this to be “armor with drawbacks” challenge. The different drawbacks could be applied at different armor levels and could be things like prevent sprinting, trample crops, disable block placement while jumping, disable hoes, disable shears, disable fishing poles, disable cow milking, slower bow pulling, slower axes, no potion stand access, slower horses, and no crafting table access. I’m sure I’ll come up with other ideas in time. Figuring out which of these makes the most sense, and how best to set the defaults will be an interesting gameplay problem to solve. But I like all of these options better than the current annoying wait that’s in place.
Find Your Way Challenge
As with hard stone, this is another challenge that fits well into Minecraft. No longer can you simply use the debug screen to figure out your coordinates, what direction your facing, etc. Being forced to use maps, compasses, and waypoints has been a good change to the game. As long as you don’t go wandering without a compass, this challenge is most notable after you die. When you do, your spawn and world spawn are moved over one thousand blocks away. Because of the find your way challenge, there’s no easy way to find your old spawn and base.
So this challenge really gives death with consequences it’s sting. There are a couple things I’ve discovered. First of all, large maps are your friend. They’re pretty cheap, and if you’ve got a horse, not too hard to fill in. Second, the Nether is not just a quicker way to travel, but a way to find your old bases. If you can get to the Nether there is now a portal marking the location of your base. 250+ blocks to travel in the nether is still difficult, and you won’t know what direction to travel, but it’s a much smaller amount of space to explore than in the overworld.
All that said, this challenge is hard because Minecraft’s solutions for finding your way around aren’t fleshed out quite enough. I have a few ideas for features to add to this challenge to make finding your way more enjoyable. First, the ability to craft a compass that can be set to point to a specific location. This should require more effort/materials than a regular compass that points to spawn. Second, the ability to add markers to maps. Third, a new tool that makes it easier to measure distances. The chunk-local coordinates are still available in the debug screen, but it would be nice to have a measuring tool that could easily tell you how far you are from a given location. I think there would also be value in some sort of compass that lets you figure out which direction is north while in the Nether, and an End compass
Death with Consequences Challenge
While this was the last challenge added to Iberia, it’s one of my favorites. When you die your spawn, and the world spawn, are moved over a thousand blocks away. Because of the find your way challenge, you can’t just go run back to your old base, you don’t even know where it is. Even making a compass won’t help.
So, I’ve now died five times in my Iberia world. In my first life I built up a nice island base, with a lighthouse, some farms, a Nether portal, etc. I had healed a zombie villager, and was hoping to get the ender pearls I’d need to make a trek to the End soon. And I made a stupid mistake while mining and died. Next up, I started a little home in a savannah valley but died fairly early on to a baby zombie. My third life was quick too, another island build cut short by a creeper I never even saw. My fourth life got interesting again. I built a home on some ice plains, found a couple igloos, explored a ravine and some caves, and built up a rabbit farm to collect leather for enchanting. On an excursion into my mines I forgot to change into my good armor and once again a creeper surprised me before I got out. On my fifth life I spawned right next to a taiga village. I quickly herded the villagers into protective custody in one of the buildings, and started leveling out the ground and improving the village layout. Thanks to the villagers, and a whole lot of sugar cane, I got some diamond tools and armor, went to the Nether and did some exploring in hopes of finding my first nether portal and returning to my first island. No luck though. Then one afternoon I accidentally walked away from my computer without pausing Minecraft. Zombies got me.
So, after five deaths, and three good starts, I was now on my sixth life. This time I got a great spawn. Before my first night I found an exposed spider dungeon, lit it up, and found a saddle in one of the chests. Fortunately there were horses nearby, so I tamed one, and entered the ice plains that opened out on one side of the valley. Sure enough, after a days ride I came upon my ice plains base. While there I built up an iron farm from the villagers under one of the igloos, made it back to the Nether, and found the portal to my taiga village. After consolidating the goods from both bases, I decided to finish improving the village. So I’ve focused on that, taking occasional breaks to go clear out a stronghold, fill in a few maps, and rediscover my very first island base. It’s been a long road, but I’ve now made it to the End, defeated the Ender Dragon, and acquired some elytra. And I’ve learned a ton about the challenges Iberia poses.
While Death With Consequences can be demoralizing, it’s nowhere near as bad as dying in a hardcore world. Because of that, I quickly jumped into my new lives, hopeful that I could find my old bases. And honestly, the excitement that came when I did reminded me of the joy I had playing the game for the first time. When you’re on a third or fourth life and stumble upon an old base it’s absolutely wonderful. Plus, I now have multiple interesting locations that I naturally want to connect with rail lines and easy Nether travel.
When I first started, I thought moving the spawn 1500 blocks might not be enough in hard mode, but since it can take multiple lives to get back to the Nether, it worked out pretty well. I didn’t want it to be so easy that in every life you live you find your old bases. But it should be possible, so I don’t think I’ll change that. I have thought about how it might make sense to adjust the distance based on how long your current life has lasted, but overall, I’m happy with the current design.
The big challenge is how to extend Death With Consequences to multiplayer. One thought is to just have every player spawn and respawn some distance away from the last one to spawn or respawn. This means everyone starts separately, builds up their base, but can go explore and try to find the other players. Going that route may mean chat should be limited between players who are within a certain distance of each other, though with the find your way challenge, it would still be hard to find each other, even if you could magically talk to each other across large distances. Compasses would have to point to the last spawn for the player who made them, found them, or traded for them. In this case, it probably makes sense to leave world spawn in one place, and have some end-game way of finding it.
All of this play time has also given me a chance to consider other additions to Iberia that aren’t directly related to the existing challenges. I love some challenges from other mods, especially additional mobs that come with Quark: the Ashen and Dweller depth mobs, Wraiths, Pirates, Blazes in the nether, and Guardians in the oceans. For that reason there is no plan to add new mobs to Iberia.
That said, some minor tweaks to existing mobs are on the table. Some percentage of spiders that spawn underground should be cave spiders. The occasional zombie should afflict you with slowness, poison, or other effects when they hit you. I’d like to make zombie pigmen a little easier to accidentally aggro – maybe if you collide with one at a high enough speed. Larger creeper explosions at deeper levels also seems appropriate.
I want to do more with hunger in a new way. Not just have it make you slower, but cause other problems. Because natural regeneration is off in Iberia, hunger is not that big of a deal after the first day or two.
Exploring is still pretty easy to do, as soon as you have a bed to pass the night away without any worries. Another challenge could be sleepless nights. This would mean that if your bed is not in an enclosed, lit up space there is a chance that you’ll wake up in the middle of the night. When that happens you cannot go back to sleep that night. It would mean that if you go exploring you’ll want to create small shacks for yourself when sleeping away from base, to avoid waking to the terrors of Minecraft nights.