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!

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