Thursday, May 24, 2012

Minecraft Snapshot Week 21

Well, it's out. This lone snapshot seems to have just completely altered how the endgame is played. There are so many awesome changes, some of them being very long awaited indeed.

The Desert Changes

The new snapshot adds in two main changes to the desert biome. First of all, we have a re-skin of desert villages, which are no longer made out of wood and cobblestone, but purely out of different kinds of sandstone blocks. Yes, this is literally a re-skin, with all of the buildings looking the same. Why is this important? Because it adds sandstone stairs!

Also in the desert change list is a new structure: the desert ruin. Inside the ruin (which is shaped like a pyramid using sandstone and orange wool) you will find a room with a little wool pattern in it. Dig below the room, but be careful when doing so!

A New Ore Block

It appears that when digging below y: 16 (unconfirmed), you have a chance to find a new ore block: emerald ore. Yes, the ore block color is currently red. Jeb forgot to change the color, but this isn't anything game-breaking. It must be mined with an iron pickaxe and will only drop one emerald per ore block. It is used to trade with villagers.

Villager Trading

You can now interact with villagers by right-clicking on them. Villagers will always offer trades involving emeralds, whether they offer something for an emerald, or they give an emerald for something. The list of materials they can trade is quite large and includes diamond pickaxes, iron tools (including flint and steel), 8 iron ingots, 3 glowstone, food, books, rotten flesh, and even more that I don't list (note that the amount of emeralds needed will vary for this).

In it's current implementation, trading is not balanced. 8 iron ingots will go for one emerald, but one iron tool will require 3-5 emeralds, for instance. Also, rotten flesh will have a use now (which is something I can be grateful for, as I'm working on my mob spawner). Look for more changes to this in the future, but I'm glad it's finally there.

Ender Chests

This part of the update is actually based on a mod that was created by chicken_bones on the Minecraft Forum. Ender chests are crafted using 8 obsidian instead of 8 wood, but you also have to add an eye of ender to the center of the crafting window. What this nets you is one ender chest, which can only be placed as a single chest, gives off a faint level of light, and acts like an instantaneous transfer device. Each ender chest created and placed will all store the same items that are placed in another ender chest, meaning you can access things from thousands of blocks away (and maybe even from across different dimensions).

I can see this update being really useful in SMP, where it can create an easy trading tool between anyone on the server (provided that you trust them to actually give you the items).

Also, I think I found the item that will replace that ugly water fountain inside of my storage room.

Dispenser Changes

Not content with just adding boats and minecarts to pop out of dispensers, Jeb has now added water and lava to the list of items that can be dispensed. When you place a bucket of water or lava in a dispenser and power the dispenser (you only have to power it for a bit, then it can be unpowered again), a water or lava source block will appear in front of the dispenser. This means we don't need to use piston floodgates anymore to make wheat farms, for instance. I can see this being used for lots of things in the future, and I'm very excited about this change.

Well, that's all I've got for now. I truly can't wait to see what update 1.3 looks like when it's all finished. It will round out the game very well, and I can't wait to play with friends easily on my single player world.

EDIT: I see that I'm getting a lot of pings from Google searches. Since I'm only explaining the major changes that I think will affect the game the most and not posting the entire change log, I'm going to put up a link to the Minecraft Wiki. Always use the Wiki to find these changes. It is always the one that is most up-to-date.

Click Here to see the entire change log in this snapshot.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Let's Talk: Mob Grinders

And we're back. If you are in college, you would recognize that this is the time of the year for final exams. If you are even remotely attuned to the gaming world, you would also know that the ten year wait for Diablo III is now over. With both of these things to occupy my time, I confess I haven't thought too much about playing Minecraft. Well, the school year is wrapping up and the initial attraction of doing nothing but playing Diablo III is now over and it's time to get back to business.

And what better way to resume than by building the mob grinder that is centralized in my base. For the last several months, I've been observing the changes that have been made to hostile mob behavior and how it affects the designs of mob grinders.

There have been several changes to mob behavior, primarily the change to "improve game performance." When mobs spawn, they will now wander around for a few seconds, but if they are more than ~32 blocks away from you, they will eventually stand still until you are either in range of them or they despawn. This change has prompted many design alterations for people. We now have several options to sift through.

First of all is Monkeyfarm's "mobs-on-demand" style grinders, where you can periodically flood the spawning pads, pushing the mobs into water canals, either manually or based on a timer. This design is certainly efficient, but it does have its downsides. This system will constantly be updating water currents, which means that it will decrease game performance, which is not something I care to have near my main base. It also requires my active attention to use, which is not the goal I set when I wanted to create a mob grinder in my base.

Second, we have the piston-based grinders, like the very same one that I used for my Endermen farm in this world. I didn't seriously consider this one for very long, primarily because it costs too many resources compared to what I have available. In the End, I got away with around 700 spawning spaces for my Endermen farm. In the main world, I'm going to need something like 1,200 spawning spaces to have a good efficiency. That would be too resource intensive to do. It also causes block update lag with all of the sticky pistons activating constantly.

Third, I can go very old school and use grinders that don't make use of pistons, redstone, or spawning pad flooding. With the changes being made, I have to rely on mobs falling in the water canals before they stop moving. This necessitates smaller spawning pads than I used in the past (my first was 12x12 spawning pads and my second was 6x6).

Etho recently came up with a SMP-friendly design, using 3x3 spawning pads, while also being very easy to build, as each layer only requires eight source blocks of water and no signs; however, there are some things to Etho's design that I don't like. With only a one block wide central tube, mobs can jam easily. Also, if I went with the one block wide tube, the width of the spawner is an odd number of blocks, which would annoy the crap out of me by being off-centered in my base. So I altered his design to make use of two block wide water canals. The lighting system that Etho designed still works perfectly fine as well.

This grinder is going to be used primarily for drops. I wanted something that can always be running in the background and I just pop in every five minutes to collect the drops. With that in mind, the quickest way to kill the mobs reliably would be a lava blade. Now here, I could potentially have more congestion problems, which can only really be solved by adding more lava blades (as I dislike the vertical lava blades for losing more drops than the horizontal lava blades). My solution was to have four spawning towers with each having their own lava blade at the bottom, just before the junction. While this currently looks a little ungainly and largely out of scale, it will develop well once I add the walls to my base.

In the mean time, there is nothing to do but keep building. The resources I've used consists of stone brick for the base, sandstone for some small detail, and birch wood planks for the side of the grinder. I definitely don't like the base as it is right now, and that will most likely change. The shape doesn't feel right, as that column would definitely not be able to support this structure in real life, but the stone brick also feels out of place. I do have to use something that isn't flammable because of the lava blades, but I have plenty of time to think about that.

That's all for now. Signing out!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Public World Download - May 12th, 2012

Well, it has happened. I've gotten a request to have a download link to my world. After much consideration, I have decided that without using video, I simply can't show my entire world without having the option to let readers download my world. So I'm going to make this a regular thing, at least until I can provide decent "world tour" videos.

Anyways, here is the first download link.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May 8th, 2012

Move-in day is almost here. I've been procrastinating making a storage room for a long time now because I've had an annoying dilemma. Digging out the base gave me twelve double chests full of dirt and cobblestone. This would have resulted in a very unbalanced storage room, as I would have needed quite a lot of space just to store those two materials.

So I wanted to split my storage room into two parts. I wanted to have a showcase storage room, where I can store valuable stuff and other odds and ends, but I also wanted a mass storage room, for all of the blocks I've been hoarding.

What you see when walking into the storage room

What you see after stepping into the storage room

This design was shameless ripped from Ethoslab on Youtube because I thought it was such a good concept. I also managed to hide the wiring powering the sticky pistons (attached vertically to the stairs) well enough that I could just use the middle set of pistons to open a doorway to the second part of the storage room.

Really quickly, I'm just showing the wiring that I used for the pistons. The blocks between the glowstone are the ones right below the pistons. Basically, there's a two tick delay between each piston activating sequentially, starting in the middle (whose repeaters are set to four ticks).

This is also a gate I used. This is called a T-flip-flop, and it basically makes a button or a pressure plate act like a lever, with a toggle-able power state. The red wool represents the input and the blue wool represents the output. There is also another trick you can do with this to make it faster. Between the pressure plate and the two sandstone blocks I have on the top row, you need to put an inverter. This will "super-charge" the T-flip-flop, making it activate when the pressure plate or button is pushed down, not when it is released.

And here is the second room to my storage room. There are 48 double chests in this room while there are only 16 double chests in the first room. I also have 16 furnaces in this secondary storage room here, which I think is a nice benefit because of how close it'll be to those blocks that I'll be smelting commonly.

And that's it for the storage room. I'll be moving all of my stuff soon, as soon as I label all of the chests in the storage room (probably my least favorite thing to do in Minecraft). I've also been getting sick of the stone brick walls. It doesn't feel like there is anything that matches stone brick other than more stone brick. So I've changed it. I'm not showing you guys what it looks like yet because it isn't finalized. I'll have that done soon though.

That's all for now. Signing out!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May 3rd, 2012 Extended

Well, the End farm is now (nearly) finished. It's fully functional, though it requires some small tweaks which I'll rage about later.

The tower in all of it's glory

A long way down

An example layer of spawning space

Okay, so now the details. This system is piston-operated, as water and lava both harm Endermen. Basically, there are four groups of pistons, with 12 spawning spaces per group. Each layer is therefore 48 pistons. I have 14 layers in this spawner, so the trap has 672 spawning spaces. I could have gone up over 700 blocks of spawning space like I intended, but I was getting lazy, and the result wouldn't have mattered too much.

Surrounding the entire spawner is a water curtain, as Endermen cannot teleport through water. Not pictured is the entrance to the spawner, which consists of two rows of chests (16 double chests in total). Directly beyond the entrance is an enchanting room, geared up towards level 50 enchantments. Beyond that is the spawning chamber.

This system is also unbelievably fast. I hit level 50 two times so far and it only took me between 5-10 minutes for each time. I got two pickaxes with efficiency V and unbreaking III, so very nice, though I still am missing a fortune pickaxe, so I have to keep going. Unfortunately, this system still has some problems, which I'll probably rectify without further mention:
1. Since I use a solid block for the piston to push, Endermen will sometimes glitch into them and take suffocation damage, meaning that the fall kills them. This happens to about every one in ten Endermen, but it's still annoying and I can't really fix it.
2. The floor is only one block thick. I've already glitched through the floor once, so that is rather unfortunate. I lost another set of iron armor, some tools, my arrows, enchanted bow, enchanted sword, and the silk touch diamond pickaxe. I'll probably refund that this weekend with TMI because that was just cheap.

In your dimension, killing your dudes

That's all for now! Signing out!

May 3rd, 2012

Well, I am back at it. The Guild Wars 2 beta was fun (despite having some seriously bad optimization issues with AMD Catalyst stuff, which both of my computers run), but it's time to focus on Minecraft once more. I made a small update on my thoughts for my world a week ago and now I am tackling all of the objectives in a very determined matter.

I said the stairs to the third tier of my base were almost done a week ago, and now they are done (generally). It was a real challenge working with an arc that is that awkward, but I am definitely pleased with how the shape turned out. There is only one other possible design that I was considering, but I personally like this one more. Behold!

Now, the walls look quite bad in my opinion, and I am definitely going to be changing them, but for now, I'm glad to have that functionality down pat. There is another set of stairs that mirror this one on the other side of the base, and overall, the stairs match up with the ones leading to the first tier.

Unfortunately, this stair design took up quite a lot of space, and it was going to cover my slime collection point. On top of that, I had noticed that not all of the small slimes were making it up to the top of the base. It seems that a fair few of them were drowning in the old size reducer that I was using (which was designed by Roboticaust). I still needed to collect more slime balls, so I decided to use this opportunity to fix the flaws in my slime farm.

First of all, I had to shift the collection point over. I also made it a tad smaller, as I didn't need the five block drop that I had before (it only needs to be a four block drop to kill small slimes).

This isn't the best view I could possibly have, I know, but you get the idea. It was the same basic principle as the other one, although instead of a door like I had last time, I decided to put a trapdoor to the right of the drop chute. What I liked about having the door on the left was that I could watch the slimes coming up the ladder from the spawner. With the trapdoor on the right, I cannot do that anymore. I settled with leaving the old ladder in, but having it lead to nowhere at the top. That way, I can still see the slimes if I need to.

With the collection point done, I set out to create my own slime size reducer. Seeing as I had about 25 blocks of space length-wise to work with, I decided to stretch it out and take care of them one stage at a time. First, I used a lava blade to take care of the big slimes while reducing the width of the tunnel, so the big slimes could not force their way through the lava and not get reduced in size.

After that, I had a heck of a time trying to deal with the medium slimes. I could not use the same lava blade that I had with the big slimes, because the sign below the lava would have stopped the water current and created a dead zone right under the lava, which would force the small slimes to jump up and into the lava. I had to drown them somehow, and I kept trying to use asymmetrical designs, none of which were working. Either the medium slimes could jump out of the water current and reset their air bubbles or they would get stuck because of a bad water current. In the end, a very simple, symmetrical design did the trick, although it still has one deadzone, which didn't seem to be a problem with my testing. By changing the height of the ceiling above the slimes, I could stop them from jumping and actually force them to drown.

Well, that is all the changes I've made, really. It seems like a short list to me when recapping all of it, but it really took me quite a few hours of work and thought. The benefit from this though is quite obvious, and you guys should be able to guess what I'll be showing you next time if you've been following the blog.

That's all I've got. Signing out!