VGHVI Minecraft: March 27, 2014

Apr 12 2014

There wasn’t a lot to take pictures of in the March Minecraft session: Miranda couldn’t be there, so she wasn’t building, Dan was still traveling in a straight line, and we mostly talked.

While talking, I decided to follow Dan’s lead and also travel in a straight line; I just did it underground, coming out of the very first tunnels we dug back in 2010:

The start of my tunnel

The start of my tunnel

I hit a cave fairly early on:

Breaking into a cave

Breaking into a cave

The bottom of the cave

The bottom of the cave

Except that it wasn’t a cave, as I discovered when I went inside:

Looking up

Looking up

I think that’s something that Jonathan blew up years ago; as you can see above, it’s a huge pit under one corner of our big train track loop.

Continuing on, I ran into another cave, this one a real cave and a fairly interesting one:

Water and lava

Water and lava

An underground river

An underground river

One end of the river

One end of the river

A lava pool at the end

A lava pool at the end

A mine shaft above

A mine shaft above

I took more pictures of the mineshaft, but honestly: those all look kind of the same. And I ran into two or three more caves; pleasant enough, but nothing super distinctive, here are the best of the pictures.

Lava, redstone, and diamond

Lava, redstone, and diamond

A zombie

A zombie

My passage above another cave

My passage above another cave

An interesting experiment, but I kind of think I won’t continue it this month?

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VGHVI Minecraft: February 27, 2014

Mar 09 2014

Pictures from the February Minecraft session:

At first, I wandered around.

Somebody built a tall pole next to my swamp house

Somebody built a tall pole next to my swamp house

Oh, so that's where that tower is

Oh, so that’s where that tower is

But then Dan asked us if any of us had seen a procedurally-generated temple before, so I teleported to him:

New to me, too!

New to me, too!

Entering the temple

Entering the temple

Alcoves on the side

Alcoves on the side

Another door on the outside

Another door on the outside

And then, when I looked up, there was a path overhead; it turns out that he’d been building that for a few month. So I decided to follow it back.

A path in the sky

A path in the sky

Ocean and sand

Ocean and sand

Ocean peaks

Ocean peaks

Horses

Horses

An island at dusk

An island at dusk

Lava at night

Lava at night

A village in the distance

A village in the distance

Passing over another village

Passing over another village

Cutting through a mountain

Cutting through a mountain

I have more pictures; it was a long trip back! Eventually, I reached the end of the path; it was somewhere familiar, though I don’t think I could get there from the main city without guidance. So I wandered back from there.

The end of the road

The end of the road

A river canyon

A river canyon

An arch over water

An arch over water

While I was doing this, Miranda was continuing her renovation of a village we’d discovered several months back. I only took a few pictures near the end, but I think she was working on houses on the dock:

A house on the dock

A house next to water

The other side of the dock

The other side of the dock

And eventually I made it home:

Back at last

Back at last

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Guitar Status: March 2, 2014

Mar 03 2014

Not a lot to report on the Rocksmith front; I’ve been mostly plugging away as I had been. I did finish all the main Session Mode missions this weekend, which is super cool; and I think I’m sounding noticeably better now than I was when I started Session Mode? At least with the right band; there’s a blues one (blues scale, 12-bar blues chord progressions) that I’m getting along well with. And I’m not sure why the game took so long to nudge me towards shifting positions and zooming out, but now I’ve learned how to do that within the Session Mode interface; it’ll be very helpful getting liberated from playing scales in root position.

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VGHVI Minecraft: January 30, 2014

Feb 09 2014

Pictures from the January Minecraft session:

First, the standard flying around, looking at random stuff:

A cave under some tracks

A cave under some tracks

A glass spike I hadn't noticed before

A glass spike I hadn’t noticed before

The top of the spike, in snow

The top of the spike, in snow

The spike is attached to Dan's glass structure in the lagoon

The spike is attached to Dan’s glass structure in the lagoon

The cows and chickens are still there

The cows and chickens are still there

A lit corner created by changes in terrain algorithms. (The corner, that is: the lights I added a year or two ago.)

A lit corner created by changes in terrain algorithms. (The corner, that is: the lights I added a year or two ago.)

A building somebody built years ago.

A building somebody built years ago.

Glitch #1

Glitch #1

Glitch #2

Glitch #2

Glitch #3

Glitch #3

A curtain of rain

A curtain of rain

Patrick was continuing work on the spire he’d started last time:

Extending the spire

Extending the spire

A closeup view of the top

A closeup view of the top

Patrick on a platform

Patrick on a platform

And Miranda continued improving the decor in the village we’d discovered a few months back:

Miranda reworking the village

Miranda reworking the village

Colored glass windows

Colored glass windows

A top view of the church

A top view of the church

A villager poses for a picture

A villager poses for a picture

A villager inspects the inside

A villager inspects the inside

Looking up through the inside

Looking up through the inside

Different textures on the building next door

Different textures on the building next door

Inside a house

Inside a house

An aerial view of the house

An aerial view of the house

Reworking a column

Reworking a column

Out by the water

Out by the water

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Guitar Status: January 26, 2014

Jan 26 2014

I’m done with The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance; mostly not very actionable, but there are a couple of chapter on deliberate practice at the end. Which suggest that I should focus my guitar practice more: don’t spend so much time playing through full songs (especially ones that are too easy or too hard for me), do spend more time working on techniques or bits of songs that are within reach.

Or at least that’s what I should do if my goal is to increase my expertise. Which isn’t wholeheartedly the case: all things being equal, I’d prefer to get better at guitar, but enjoyment is primary. Still, when working on piano / harpsichord pieces, I enjoyed focusing on sections, and I’ve enjoyed working on guitar techniques as well, so there’s no particular reason why those two goals should be in conflict.

So I’m changing my routine. I’d already started working on pinch harmonics and tapping; now I’m picking a few songs and dropping into riff repeater on no mistakes / 3 repeats mode for isolated sections. (Specifically, Love Hurts, More Than a Feeling, and probably Anna Molly.) Which has been a good experiment so far: just the act of going through small sections repeatedly lets me see little bits to work on beyond the notes.

And I’m reducing the amount of random songs that I’m playing through. Which, actually, is good timing—the game’s “recommended” list sorts by fewest number of plays, which means that, the more you play, the more likely you are to run into songs there that you’ve been actively avoiding. Good to be exposed to songs like that every once in a while, but not heavily; I think I’ll lean on nonstop mode rather than recommended songs to get my dose of randomness.

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Guitar Status: January 19, 2014

Jan 19 2014

Not much to report about Rocksmith, which is why I haven’t been blogging about it recently: it’s still awesome, I still spend a good amount of time on it every week. I continue to be impressed by Session Mode; it works well, and the game continues to suggest new things for me to try there. The game has also started to suggest that I building tones; I’ve been doing that as prompted, but I haven’t really jumped into that particularly.

Mostly I’m still playing through songs, of course. But I’m also thinking I should work a bit more on specific techniques; so I’ve been trying to learn how to do pinch harmonics over the last month (with some success in isolation, though I haven’t tried it in the middle of a song), and today I started working on tapping. Na Na Na Na has a good tapping section; if I set the difficulty to where there are only pairs of notes, then I can do it okay, but right now triplets are too hard for me; they don’t seem completely out of reach, so that’s a sign that that’s a plausible section for me to work on. I’m also falling out of the habit of doing non-game practice (e.g. going through the arpeggio section of Something Bigger, Something Brighter, or learning Itsumo Nando Demo); I blame that on me having the guitar packed away because of the kitchen work. But the kitchen is almost done, there should be less than three weeks left.

I should also spend more time just focusing on individual songs, and in particular using Riff Repeater to get sections solid. There are a few songs that I’m playing every week (Love Hurts and Anna Molly, at least), and several others that I play frequently, but I’m not really taking them super seriously. In general, I still enjoy playing lots of songs, and I do feel that I’m getting better, but I suspect that I should be spending more time on focused practice, at least to the extent that that doesn’t hurt my enjoyment. I’m reading through The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance right now; I haven’t gotten to where it talks about specific recommendations yet, but I may well change my practice style once I get to that.

Oh, and today I tried following the game’s advice for how to string a guitar, which differs slightly from how I had been stringing in terms of how it sets the initial loop of the string; seems to work well, I’ll probably stick with that method assuming that the strings stay stable. And I bought a capo yesterday, though I don’t have any specific plans to use it: they released a capo-only Oasis song last week, but that didn’t seem like my style.

So, a transition period: once I finish that book and once the kitchen is done, then I’ll probably change how I practice: it will be easier to practice outside of games on weekdays, I’ll go see if my neighbor is offering lessons, and I’ll have science giving me advice. But I’m feeling pretty good about things even without that.

In Rocksmith news from other blogs: I enjoyed this Rampant Coyote progress report.

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VGHVI Minecraft: December 19, 2013

Jan 01 2014

Pictures from the last Minecraft session of the year:

It was rainy when I started up the server; I ended up wandering around for a while taking pictures in the rain.

Skull mountain in the rain

Skull mountain in the rain

A lonely figure floating in the rain

A lonely figure floating in the rain

Yellow sky

Yellow sky

Evening turns to night, part 1

Evening turns to night, part 1

Evening turns to night, part 2

Evening turns to night, part 2

Evening turns to night, part 3

Evening turns to night, part 3

Behind the house

Behind the house

An open field behind town

An open field behind town

Rainy mossy tracks

Rainy mossy tracks

But eventually the rain ended:

Stars at night

Stars at night

The town at night

The town at night

A gold horse wandering around

A gold horse wandering around

Looking into the greenhouse

Looking into the greenhouse

A cat in a house

A cat in a house

The other main focus of my environmental photos was glitches: they seem more frequent in the current version, of which I approve.

Underwater tunnels

Underwater tunnels

A glitch cutting through town

A glitch cutting through town

Glitch hills

Glitch hills

Massive glitch at sunset

Massive glitch at sunset

Roger worked a bit more on his cathedral:

Starting to add pews

Starting to add pews

More construction

More construction

Hills behind the cathedral

Hills behind the cathedral

And Pat starting building a new tower:

Starting work on a tower

Starting work on a tower

The base of the tower

The base of the tower

A second pillar

A second pillar

Fleshing out a wall

Fleshing out a wall

More wall

More wall

Almost done with the bottom walls

Almost done with the bottom walls

Building a spire on top

Building a spire on top

More spire

More spire

The textures on top

The textures on top

It looks like there's another spire going up?

It looks like there’s another spire going up?

And Miranda decided to make improvements to the village we found the previous month; I didn’t get pictures of most of her work, unfortunately, but I did stop by for a visit:

Working on the village

Working on the village

A villager observes me

A villager observes me

In fact, two villagers observe me

In fact, two villagers observe me

Some villagers are stuck in water. (Miranda added railing to help them, but it was too late...)

Some villagers are stuck in water. (Miranda added railing to help them, but it was too late…)

Underwater villagers

Underwater villagers

Building some stairs

Building some stairs

Walking up the stairs

Walking up the stairs

A successful rescue

A successful rescue

A top-down view of that area.

A top-down view of that area

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Guitar Status: December 29, 2013

Dec 29 2013

Not much to write here; I’ve been playing Rocksmith a lot (including both Tuesday and Wednesday this week, I think?), and having my usual grand time. The bug about new songs being at 0 difficulty is real but manageable: it only affects the first new song you play in a session, and that one you can fix by going into riff repeater, setting the difficulty to something reasonable, and exiting. And, browsing the forums, the bug about existing song difficulty levels being reset to something that doesn’t take into account your progress is also real, and in fact affects some other people pretty severely, but it isn’t affecting me too much. Still, I do hope we’ll have fixes for that.

Speaking of downloads: Tomoyasu Hotei is great, The Who is fine but less fun to play than I expected, and one of the B’z songs was pretty good. I’ve also been spending a fair amount of time in session mode; I still like it and am impressed by it, but I’m also feeling my playing there is a little repetitive/boring; I should try session mode in the rhythm path and see if it shows me chords to play instead of notes. Also, I noticed that Love Hurts has an alternate lead, I should try that one more.

It’s really time for me to write more about the game on my main blog, though.

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Guitar Status: December 22, 2013

Dec 22 2013

I finished going through all of my old songs on Rocksmith 2014 on Saturday, so I bought some DLC. Which may or may not have been the wisest decision—I’ve only played through most of the Rocksmith 2014 on-disc songs once so far—but there’s already been a fair amount of quite good seeming DLC released since that game was released, so I felt a little behind.

And I ran smack into a bug I’d seen before where it showed reasonable difficulty levels on the screen to start playing a song, but when you hit start it resets all the difficult levels to the lowest level. So I guess that’s a bug in how the game handles newly-added songs, given that I’d seen it before for unlockable songs? It only happened on one out of three songs today; for the other two, I went in and out of the selection screen before playing them, maybe that’s a way to avoid triggering the bug or maybe it’s just random.

I did at least find a reasonable way to recover from the bug: I went into Riff Repeater mode, manually bumped up the difficulty (and selected a long stretch), played through it once (doing well enough that it was happy), and then resumed playing normally. That seemed to have worked; annoying that I had to do it.

That’s actually not the only bug in that area that I’ve run into: a fair number of songs seem to have had their difficulty levels reset, so I’ll be presented with a flat (but at least not horribly low) difficulty rating for songs that I’ve played in some cases dozens of times. No idea what’s going on there; the good thing is that, by replaying the song once, I can generally get back to close to the right level for everything but solos. (And I’m not particularly good at solos anyways.)

The other thing that happened this weekend is that I tried Session Mode for the first time. And I will say: I’m super impressed by that. The game presents a virtual band that will accompany you as you noodle around; you can select what key and what scale you’re working in, and some other parameters that control chord changes (e.g. there’s a 12-bar blues mode), and then you just play away and it will add other instruments doing something that sounds reasonable. I put off trying this for a couple of months, but now that I’ve tried it, I think I’ll return to it every weekend, it’s a really good idea and I certainly need the encouragement to do more messing around.

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VGHVI Minecraft: November 21, 2013

Dec 14 2013

Pictures from the November Minecraft session:

This was a pretty major upgrade; right from the start, I could see the rendering engine changed, and while it was generally an improvement (I think I got longer view distances), sometimes it looked a bit odd:

Strange stripes on the water

Strange stripes on the water

And the new graphics engine did seem to be a little more prone to temporary glitches, here’s an example:

A glitch near the city

A glitch near the city

I also saw some filters when playing around with the options; maybe they’d been there for a while and I only just now noticed them, I’m not sure.

Filter one

Filter one

Filter two

Filter two

Filter three

Filter three

Filter four

Filter four

While wandering around, I saw a tower that I didn’t remember ever seeing before; surprising, given how close it was to town:

A tower with tracks

A tower with tracks

The bottom of the track

The bottom of the track

Riding down the tracks

Riding down the tracks

Runaway cart!

Runaway cart!

That's gotta hurt

That’s gotta hurt

It took ages to take the picture riding down: I normally use the left shift key when grabbing screenshots, but that caused me to exit from the cart. Half the time I forgot and used it anyways, half the time I tried and failed to contort my hand with the right shift key.

There were also new items in the update; Miranda added some of the new flowers to the house we’d been working on:

Planting flowers

Planting flowers

More flowers

More flowers

Flowers around the back

Flowers around the back

Taller flowers in the stable

Taller flowers in the stable

Final design of the stable flowers

Final design of the stable flowers

Dan was building some abstract geometric shapes:

Red and black

Red and black

A closer view, showing a glass/lava cube underneath

A closer view, showing a glass/lava cube underneath

There's another cube in the sky

There’s another cube in the sky

He built that far away, so it took me a while to get back home from there. Along the way, I ran into a forest with large, flat treetops:

Approaching the forest

Approaching the forest

Giant mushrooms next to the tree

Giant mushrooms next to the tree

A lava pool

A lava pool

Flowers under the canopy

Flowers under the canopy

Tree-dwelling sheep

Tree-dwelling sheep

Another rendering glitch a bit later

Another rendering glitch a bit later

And then I ran into a village; it was pretty impressive.

Approaching the village

Approaching the village

Meeting the villagers

Meeting the villagers

Inside a building

Inside a building

Looking out to sea

Looking out to sea

Bidding farewell

Bidding farewell

I can’t remember the context of this photo, but I have no memory of ever seeing this object before:

A strange midair object

A strange midair object

And one last photo; somebody must have been here before and left a candle.

Desert glow

Desert glow

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