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Minecraft Monday: For the Good of All Of Us – Minecraft Companion Cube!

“…except the ones who are dead.” (Go on, admit it, you were singing the song in your head!)  Since that certain Apoco-lapse of judgement failed to deliver on its ‘expectations’, a great deal of us remain healthy and alive.  Thus we are ready…

Companion Cube A La Minecraft!
Piggeh Approved Companion Cube


After like a week or so, it’s done!  Technically it was done last week, but I had all this messy dirt about and I was having none of that!  None for pictures, I say!  Cleared that all out, got rid of the scaffolding and dirt walls keeping us penned in and safe, and now it’s LIVE, baby! 

Been wanting to make one of these in a game for awhile now, and what better game than Minecraft?  (If I was keeping track, this badboy alone would put my Indie-Geek cred through the roof.  Minecraft and Portal?  Straight from Friendly to Exalted, no questions asked ^_^)  Doc’d up a suitable rendition of it on single player (started out with the heart shape and worked out from there, to be honest XD) and this is what I ended up with!  With a few noodle-scratchers I figured out how to make it look good from all angles, and I’d have to say this is probably my first 3d ‘sculpture’ build in Minecraft.  (Zee Cloud Cutter was  technically dimensional, but still flat.  I’m movin’ on up!)

End result was huuuge quantities of snow (takes four snowballs to make one block, and it took more than a chestful of stacks), smooth stone, coal to make said smooth stone, and more than a handful of hours first spent hunting red flowers than farming sheep to get what I needed.  (Something like 8 stacks of pink wool)  Originally this was supposed to be our house… but that’s too dull for my tastes!  I thought we could spruce it up a little -_^

But enough details, how’s about a tour?  “Tour?” You ask?  Oh aye, this isn’t just something you admire from afar. Nay!  This is something you explore!  (Really wanted to get this on video but the PCs don’t have enough umph to pull it off without dipping into single digits on the frames per second ‘o-meter.  But I took plenty of snappies to accommodate.  Hee hee, “snappies.” Bioshock reference, ftw.)

Welcome to the Enrichment Center

Starting out on my journey, I see that there are several signs upon the entrance in one of the lower corners of the building.

Welcome Test Subject or random passer-by.

We have a few tests to get through today, sound good?

As the invisible lasers will kill you if you try to leave…

I’ll assume you said “Yes.”    Excellent!

Welcome to Aperture Industries!

If you thought Black Mesa was science… Ha!

We at Aperture know science. We’ll science your BRAIN out.

Here comes the tests.  If you made it this far, great!

At least we know that you know your way around

an invisible laser.  So there’s that.

I was then instructed to climb up a “Horizontal Lattice Vertical Propulsion Device” (which looks a lot like an ordinary ladder) into…

Test Chamber 01

Minecraft: Portal - Test Chamber 01

After a minor inspection I noticed that the block above is supposed to be placed on the Big Red Button to open the door, as the wire leads directly to it, after all.  (Note: While we did have a few ideas for actual, functional test chambers, getting them all to fit into this over-all structure was… not practical.  We went with more of a adventure/Aperture Museum of sorts ^_^)  Solving this simple puzzle, I make my way into…

Test Chamber 02

Minecraft: Portal - Test Chamber 02

Ooo, upping the ante, are we?  Now we are treated with portals upon a wall, the storage cube behind us, and the Big Red Button on the other side.  Taking what I learned previously, I take the cube through the portals, and place it on the button, opening access to… what’s this?

Minecraft: Portal - Test Chamber 02z

An Excursion Funnel leads the way up to the next chamber.  After a quick ‘swim’ upwards through the tunnel, you can clearly see…

Test Chamber 03: Hardlight Surfaces

Minecraft: Portal - Test Chamber 03 Hardlight Surfaces

Now isn’t that a peculiar sight! Jogging my way up the patented Aperture brand Panels and across the other side, I barely even notice the nearly garbled scrallings apparently carved into the very wall of the Test Chamber near the exit.

Minecraft: Portal - Ratman Warning

Test Chamber 04: The Cake Bake Dive

Minecraft: Portal - Test Chamber 04 The Cake Bake Dive

Delicious and moist.

imple room, in’nit?  No exits, just one portal and it looks like we need to jump straight down.  Are they tryin’ to kill me?!  Hmm. Well there is cake down there… but what’s that across the room?

Minecraft: Portal - Ratman Trail

Hmm.  That drop could very well kill me, and since there is no other place to go… I’ll give it a shot.  I follow the trail and check it out, figuring that I could come right back if I start getting directionally challenged…

The Escape 

Minecraft: Portal - Ratman Cometh

Following the signs, I listen to their helpful suggestions out of this malicious place.  On my brisk travel through the decrepit back halls of the building, I wove my way though mostly impassable sections of debris until I came upon this rather serene locale.  It almost appeared as a shrine the person guiding me via signs constructed for… a block? 

Minecraft: Portal - Ratman Companion Block Shrine

Poor sap must have lost his mind back here.

Rooftop Retreat

Minecraft: Portal - Rooftop Exit

After a while I found myself on the roof of the building, “A dirty handprint” leading the way into another opening ahead of me.  As I wind down the jagged steps, I am able to ascend a platform that allows me to peer down at the test chambers below. 

Minecraft: Portal - The Cake WAS A Lie!

That really was a plot to have me killed!  Forget this place!

Minecraft: Portal - Goin' Down

I continue down the ragged path, keeping an eye out for any markings or suggestions from my silent and disembodied friend.

Minecraft: Portal - Nebacular Drop and a Half

I was forced to navigate several hazardous jumps until my surroundings changed from antiquated metal to gravel and dirt.  It wasn’t long after that I came upon possibly the most dangerous of all jumps I had yet encountered.

Minecraft: Portal - Watch Your Step

While helpful in its suggestion, it did little to assuage me fear of heights. And death. Not exactly in that order, either.  I leapt across, cursing all the way, and thankfully landed on the other side.  Making my way up a hand-carved stairway, I spotted one final sign, wishing me luck and sending me on my way.

Minecraft: Portal - Almost Free

Shortly after I was back on the surface, free of that tyrannical place and it’s fangled contraptions.  I shall never forget my time spent in that building, nor will I likely ever return.

Minecraft: Portal - Companion Cube'd

Hope that wasn’t too melodramatic XD  I’ll have you know, there are (barring death, of course) thee exits to the building. Can’t say where the other two are, as that ruins the surprise ^_^

Spent quite awhile getting these all set up and described on flickr, and only then did I realise I am actually missing stuff hahaha  The in-between little bits on the middle section of the cube on every side have yet to be placed lmao  Well, I’ll go back and get them in a bit. Anyway, here’s a shot of the cube from the Misses’ wooden balcony.

Minecraft: Portal - Companion Cube from Afar

I love how it nearly dwarfs out everything in comparison.  Oh, and that sheared sheep down there was actually covered in pink wool.  That’s the third or fourth one I came upon during my Sheep-dying rampage to net me enough stacks to complete this creation.

Minecraft News

1.6 will likely be this week Wednesday, possibly Thursday or Friday if there is a delay. But it’s this week! Also, the ‘Anti-Nether’ is on its way, my friends!  Last week, Notch posted a few shots of a floating universe he had an idea for in Minecraft, and he stated, as PC Gamer apparently loved the idea so much, that it was officially confirmed.  (Though, I wonder if this was his shot at the mod The Aether?)

He just updated his blog with a huge list of bug fixes. You can take a gander at them here on his blog, but these are a few that caught my attention:

  • Fixed fire hurting through wall corners
  • Mushrooms now spreads (very) slowly
  • It’s no longer possible to build solid blocks on the top layer of the maps (sorry!)
  • Severely nerfed fire so it spread slower, and doesn’t spread infinitely
    Seeds are now found in tall grass, using a hoe on the ground no longer works
  • Blocks destroyed by other players in multiplayer now shows the breaking block particle effect
  • Fixed buttons and levers too close to the player being impossible to use
  • Fixed furnaces and dispensers not dropping their contents when destroyed
  • Fixed rain falling through liquids
  • Fixed fences and signs preventing grass from growing
  • Fixed the achievement screen not pausing the game
  • Fixed chat messages surviving through game switches
  • Fixed ice so it regenerates regardless of whether it’s snowing or not
  • Fixed animals only spawning near light during the night

Till next week, my friends!  Hopefully I get to penning that In-depth Portal 2 review with this in mind.  Either way, I leave you with a collaboration of Still Alive that the Misses was lucky enough to be a member of!  Not gonna say who, but she’s in there somewhere ^_^


Minecraft Monday: Look at me still talking when there’s SCIENCE to do…

Another week, another post-y post!  Notch, yet again, has nothing on his blog for two weeks running.  Well, he did update it twice but, bleh.  Sigh.  Okay, I’ll talk about it…


We’re Out of Beta and Releasing on Time

A few ago, Notch said 11/11/2011 would be the official release date of Minecraft.  The game will not be very different from what it is now, and it will continue to be updated.  So… honestly other than dropping off “Beta” from the end of it, not much will change from how it works right now.  Either way, he wanted to have a get together as he has done in the past, and since “he freaking loves the place,” he wanted it to be held in Las Vegas.  There’d be contests like dressing up (five bucks on Creepers being as prominent as people doing the Troll dance at Blizzcon!), to speed building, and even a live reveal and release of Minecraft going retail on stage.

I honestly didn’t think much of this news, but know some people go gaga over stuff like this.  I put more money into WoW than the ‘Craft and had no urge to go to any of their conventions.  Heck, even for the pet I didn’t want to get the TV access.  But if ya’ll want to wait in line wearing green duct tape-covered card board boxes and “sss”-ing at each other like a pylon of pythons, feel free XD

The actual juicy bits come from his twitter feed, which normally I just gloss over the recent stuff, but there is quality to be found this week!  For starters:

  • They are currently doing larger and less frequent patches, but will do nightly and smaller builds “eventually” source
  • He’s considering adding a new mob to the next patch source
  • Killed off Mine cart boosters, now only booster tracks will be able to propel you source
  • Greatly reduced the speed of boat’s floating up when submerged in water, thus making boat and water elevators still viable, but much slower source
  • Increasing the speed of Powered Mine carts and Powered Rails source source
  • Has quite a few posts related to coffee, adding that he was going to add something just for fun vs bug fixes.  Potentially hinting at coffee beans/coca beans being added for reals? Coffee Machine drink?  Or just crazy coder-speak? source
  • Trapdoors!  Only they do not let water through, and are only 1 block wide.  So think doors, but opening down instead of sideways.  And one block tall instead of two ^_^ source
  • The Nether in multiplayer is almost ready!  Also, as it will be a different zone, so people can still use beds to make it day/not thunderstorming while others are dying to Ghasts and lava. source source

Quite a haul, wouldn’t ya say?  No word on Pistons, but he said he’ll list all the bugs he fixed when the patch releases.


Buildin’ Newz!

So, few weeks back muh ol’ buddy Ben invited me onto his server, but the Misses and I didn’t really have a lot of time that day so we sort of took the tour and that was that.  This past week we did manage to squeeze in some… well okay a *lot* of time and ended up making this!

Uh… My bad >.> I kinda forgot that we didn’t take down the dirt scaffolding and walls around the base.   Awkward.  Well, uh… good news!  I know what I’ll be posting about next time!  More good news, you totally were curious about how to build a tree farm weren’t you?  Well!  We’d be in luck then, so how about I go and take a few screen shots and then we’re both golden, ‘kay?


Tree Farmin’

Ugh, to top it off, I go to upload pictures and a bit later it looks like wordpress decided not to save anything after this point, so I’mma have to work on what I recall >.<  (I was all done too’s! Gah!)

I started out wanting to grow trees underground to force them to grow straight up, no limbs and stuffs to get in the way.  This was touchy at best, but lead to some *gnarly* looking trees as I think it messed with the coding a bit.  For awhile there I simply planted trees close to one another, waited for all of ’em to pop, then light their leaves on fire.

Minecraft Day 2: Fires Upclose and Distant

Glorious. Sexy-time. Fire.

But Notch went and got rid of ever-burning tree stumpz :(  So I lost my urge to go tree hunting for a while, but as we needed a great deal of coal recently, I found that ol’ itch re-surfacing, and of course, I needed a way to do it efficiently.

I went back to the underground idea, even testing it with the new alpine and birch saplings.  Neither did much, but, again, the original trees geeked right the heck out!  Massive in size and randomness.  But man can they hold a flame… /sinister giggle


The Birch and the Bees

At first I thought alpine trees would be best, but man-oh-man alive did I bet on the wrong horse!  Birch, baby!  That’s where the lumber is at!  If you are looking for a great source of lumber, go right on out there and find yourself a few birch saplings.  The birch tree is the mother of them, of course.  So just pry them from her wooden hands and get plantin’!  Kill off the poor girl if needed, *then* wrench them from her petrifying digits and plant ’em!  Got like ten of them now?   Excellent!  (What?  Tree hunting is serious bid’ness!  Did you SEE Wizard of Oz?  Vicious coniferous brutes!)

I planted them in a few different patterns, and each worked.  The one I like the best of them all is a “torch-sapling-torch-torch-sapling-torch” line.  That is you place a sapling, move three blocks to one side and plant another sapling.  Repeat.  Then go back and place torches down on both sides of every sapling.  Multiply rows as needed, but again, leave space.  Here’s what I’m talking about if that was too confusin’:

The white being Birch saplings, orange (more of a ‘acorn squash’, really.  But that’s getting technical…) are torches placed on the ground, and green is grass.  Silly.

The one on the far left is my favorite.  It has bad efficiency with torches, but produces the most lumber in the same amount of time.  If you want something more compact, feel free to try out the other two options I got up there.  Where they have good to great torch-efficiency, they lose out on actual trees.  The bigger one almost always can have all saplings pop into trees without your help, while the smaller grids need you to cut down a few first before others pop up in their place.  Here’s a shot of the two smaller ones in action:

Minecraft Online: Birch Tree Farm

Left side is super clustered grid, right side is the smaller but still compact grid.  See all the saplings?  This isn’t bad, mind you.  In fact if you wanna get lazy one day and just chop down what is there and leave you can do so as the others will get right on-a growin’ as soon as the air above them is clear.  That’s not to say the bigger grid is slow, not at all.  If every tree pops and you go about replanting them as you hack them down, you’ll commonly find yourself in a bit of a loop or whack-a-tree circuit as Birches grow crazy-fast.

Tip: Birches only grow straight up but sometimes just tall enough that you cannot reach the top.  How I got around this is to cut the eye-level log and up.  If the tree is ‘too’ tall, jump on the stump you left, chop down the final blocky segment, aim down and get rid of the stump, and plant a sapling!  That’s Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle in action, folks!

Great way to bank a huge amount of coal, too.  (As logs turn into coal in the furnace.)  I’m sure I said that already, but just in case ya missed it:  Simply put a wooden log (log, mind you.  Not a plank.  A Log.  LOG, I says!) into a furnace and cook it.  It’ll turn into Charcoal which is the same as coal.  If you are tight on space and need coal in a pinch, turn one log into coal, and that one charcoal can turn another eight logs into more charcoal.  Setting the snow-ball effect of ashy-awesome a-growin’!

The obviously Portal-related pictures I originally was going to post will have to wait until next time.  I’m currently playing WoW with the Misses, so no guarantees if the pictures will be up tomorrow or next week.  But, as a sign of  thanks that you made it this far, here’s a shot of us leveling up in Western Plaguelands.

Back 2 WoW: Twins!

Ain't we just precious?

Portal 2: A Reaction From A Dangerous, Mute, Lunatic

H’okey dokey! (Spoiler free, by the way) The Misses went and rented Portal 2 for me the other day, and I am proud to say that I beat the snot out of it!  As I played the game I noticed things, both good and bad, but I wanted to go back and check over the developer commentary option as it added a great deal of information to the original Portal game.  Doing so would also help me potentially see a clue I missed, or similar hidden area of the game I glossed over along my path to completion.

The Bad

I want to get the bad out-of-the-way first, as if I don’t, this critique’ll likely get long, mumbly-jumbly, and have this, well, negative vibe to it.  I wanna keep it light and save my rantings for a possible In-Depth post to follow this one.  Again, most of the game is very well done; top-notch stuff.  That said…

The game needed more polish-time in the coding department, mostly the second and third sections of the game.

Quite a few times something went wrong in the game that was neither my nor the game’s fault.  Just something went wrong, bugged out, and I died because of it.  In one case I jumped on a box I placed on a catwalk that randomly launched me far away before the screen faded to black. I only knew for sure that it killed me when I noticed that the level restarted. 

In another example, I did precisely what the game wanted me to do to solve the puzzle, yet I died.  This set me back at least a half-hour (likely double) as I started concocting deeply laid plans and ideas on how to best the challenge and realign the same cogs I started out with.  After a long while of experimenting and staring at what the level was telling me, I realised I was way beyond over-thinking the puzzle, and figured something must have went wrong my initial attempt.  I did it again, only the second time it worked.

Sadly, the portal related issues from the first game have not been addressed for the sequel.  I actually think the issue was more or less hidden under the rug than actually fixed as the game was sure to avoid the same types of puzzles that made it so noticeable in the original.  I’m talkin’ ’bout the “jump in first portal, get sent out upside down the second” that causes a nearly nauseating flip-flop of the camera every two seconds.  (Generally this only happens when you need to fly into both portals to gain momentum and fire off another portal while airborne to go flying out of next.  –Making this a double-whammy.) When the screen is constantly flopping around it is difficult to properly aim, to say the least. 

So yes. That still needs fixing.

As it is getting a bit long, to wrap up The Bad, repetition started to nag the end of the game, and the Developer Commentary needed a LOT of work, making the whole aspect look like a flimsy add-on.  The original commentary was awesome; this time I found myself explaining aloud what Valve did and why they had to do it in such a way more than they did.  Some levels didn’t even have sound clips, while almost all only had one.  One.  One clip every twenty minutes or so?  Weak.

The Good

It is hard to say without spoilers, but I will mention that the first third of the game is a clear above-and-beyond presentation than the latter two.  There is a point where you can actually get an achievement for doing something that I think marks the high-point of the game, and actually for that matter there is another achievement that marks the lower part, but that’s another topic!

The comedy is going to be promoted by everyone who plays the game, and I really did enjoy it.  Again, this dips quite a bit later on, but the game is always kept cheerful and spiced by bits of comedy.  I recently talked about this in comparison to Brutal Legend, and how I described it is, while Brutal was very fun early on and tapered off, Portal 2 keeps it at a steady pace.  Brutal is for deep laughs every few, while Portal 2 is a chuckle a minute sort of deal.  And without spoiling anything, you are going to love Wheatley.

“Just say ‘Apple.’  ‘Apple.’ “

There are a lot of similarities to Half Life 2 in this game, in particular there is a bit with a flashlight that will remind you of Alyx and a dark, zombie-filled tunnel in no time.

The ‘Rat Dens’ or Rat Man areas in the game are welcomed back, and some are hidden very well!  I counted at least four, but I’m sure I might have missed one or two along the way.  Adding onto that, there is one detail within a certain… scientific display about a potato that I thought was awesome.

By far, Portal 2 is a great game.  I am actually typing this as positively as I can, as I know I can mention the little nit-picky things that get to me and make it sound like I loathe something when I’m just listing the things that they could have done better, so I’m going out of my way to say:  This game is great, and if all you can do is rent it or play it at a friends house, do so!  I’m rating this one as a Rental, but a full week rental ^_^  I did not spend any time on the multiplayer aspect, even if I wanted to the Playstation Network is still down, so if you got friends or working internet, you’ll probably enjoy this one even more than I!


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