Archive for August, 2011

VGHVI Minecraft: August 25, 2011

Aug 30 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Last month’s VGHVI Minecraft session had us complete a pretty epic building project, so I was curious what we would feel like doing this month. And the answer is: not so much building.

At least I didn’t feel like so much building! At first, I wandered around, looking at some of the old sights.

Clearly our fences need some work

Midair ice

Skull mountain in snow

But then, once I’d reached the end of the familiar territory, I decided to just keep on going north, taking pictures along the way.

A beach with a squid-filled lake-

Close-up view of squid

Torches on ice

Clearly that last one was a previously-explored area of the world, but that was the last familiar sight I saw.

Looking down into a deep cave

Looking up from the bottom of that cave

Steep cliffs

Overhang, river, and cave

Hazy ocean view

A bizarrely bumpy valley

Bright ocean sun

Ocean stripes

Anybody know what’s going on with the strips in that last one? I assume it’s some sort of chunk-related territory-generation artifact, but I don’t really know.

Sheep in the rain

Sunset and island in the rain

Eventually, the scenery started taking a while to load, so I decided to mark the end of my journey by dropping off my torches and teleport back home:

Chunks are now taking a while to load

The end of my journey

I wasn’t the only person who spent much of the time traveling north; here are some of the pictures that Eric took:

Field with animals

Rain at night

Ridge, trees, and water

Lake with sandy beaches

Lagoon and ocean

Tree-filled valley

Here’s what the world map looked like once we were done exploring: pretty obvious which way we went!

World map

Anyways, enough travelogue pictures, now for some construction. Miranda started off by building another house, though I didn’t manage to get a picture of its completed state:

Building another house

Working inside the house

The beach near the house

Somebody (I don’t know who) also built a diving pool on the Acropolis. If you aimed right, you could go down into it from the skybridge, but if you were a little off, doom awaited:

Diving pool

Roger's remains

I took the dive myself, with a happier outcome:

That's a long way down...



Miranda decided to build a smaller, less user-hostile pool, with its own diving tower:

Smaller pool

The diving tower

The view from the top of the tower

And Adam decided to smooth out the underwater train tunnel: the floor had been pretty bumpy from all the flood barriers I put in, but it looks a lot nicer now.

Smoothed out underwater tracks

The middle of the tunnel

Finally, a few last bits of scenery:

Tracks near the mega tree

The acropolis at night

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Pro Guitar Status, August 20, 2011

Aug 20 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I’ll be out tomorrow, but I made sure to get some Pro Guitar practice in today. Nothing huge to report; I did another one of the Expert instrument lessons (two down, I think four to go?) and played through four songs on Hard.

I did the last two Apprentice level songs; they’re probably my two least favorite songs in the game, both to listen to and to play on Pro Keys, but they’re not so bad to play on Pro Guitar. Well, maybe they would be once I got used to them, because they’re repetitive, but right now the repetitive bits are things that I could stand to work on. Antibodies had the surprise that I ended up with not only a higher score than Dan Bruno but a score almost ten times as high as his; I’m used to that happening in the other direction! (I assume he was having very much an off day and that it’s much harder to get a long streak on Expert on that song than on Hard.) And Du Hast had one short repeated alternating strumming bit, which was useful reinforcement for that. (And reminded me that I’ve been lax about practicing outside of game…)

I then moved up to the next tier of songs (I forget the name of that tier, Solid maybe?), and did Centerfold and Twentieth Century Boy. Both of which were pleasant enough to play both muted and plugged in; I still have a lot of work to go on my fast chord shifting, but it could have been a lot worse.

So: slow progress this weekend, but that’s better than no progress. Next weekend will be busy, too, but I should have more free weekends in September, I hope.

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Pro Guitar Status, August 14, 2011

Aug 14 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I took a couple of weeks off from practice: I was busy playing board games two weeks ago, and I was at Def Con last week. (I did play once at work, which was a helpful reminder that I should give Pro Bass more of a try as well.) I was busy this weekend, too, but I really need to put in the time to avoid backsliding, so I went through four songs on Saturday.

Last time, it became clear that I needed to work on my alternating strumming; I’d put in a bit of time on that with the guitar unplugged, and it started going better almost immediately. I wanted to find out how much of an effect that had had in game, so I went back through Rock Lobster; before, I’d only managed to successfully finish one of the training segments, but this time I managed to finish all but one of them! So clearly my practice had had an effect; I still don’t feel particularly comfortable with alternating strumming, but I’m at least capable of doing it not completely incompetently, and I’m sure I’ll get better as I keep going. (Especially if I continue to practice it outside of game; incidentally, the string mute really does interfere with alternating strumming, I think.)

I can’t remember too many other details of my experience this week, other than that Get Free was a good match for my current skills. I didn’t make it through quite as many songs as I would have liked; and it’s a bit unfortunate that the two Apprentice songs I have left, Antibodies and Du Hast, are probably my least favorite songs on the disc. Though the mercy there is that the reasons why I dislike them aren’t because of their Pro Guitar parts…

I’m looking forward to moving up a tier of songs next week!

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Aug 13 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I wanted a board game to play on the way to Def Con, so I got a copy of the iPad version of Ascension. Which certainly did its job of amusing us while traveling, and I’ve dipped into it a reasonable amount since then. (Zippy has had several achy nights recently, and Ascension is a nice way to pass the time while cuddling with him.)

I’m still trying to figure it out, though I’m slowly getting better. For a while, it seemed like I had a greater than 50% success rate playing against one AI but a worse than 33% success rate playing against two AIs; this suggests to me that I’m okay at executing on a fixed long-term plan but not very good at adapting to changing circumstances? (Both because you see fewer cards in a larger game and because more changes on the board between turns.) Recently, though, my success rate on matches against two AIs has increased; part of that is that I understand Mechana Constructs better (I’ve started to think of them as monsters that you can beat with the non-attack currency), and also maybe I’m getting a bit better at dealing with different scenarios in the start of the game? Or it could just be luck of the draw…

I’m still trying to figure out the start of the game, though: I like 5/3 starting hands much more than 4/4 starts (and the difference seems more pronounced and more banal than the difference between 4/3 and 5/2 starts in Dominion), and in particular I’m not at all comfortable with either being flooded with Heavy Infantry or with avoiding them and leaving points on the board during the opening. I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with trashing cards from my hand (these days I generally actively seek out cards that let me do so, possibly more so than is wise), but I’m not very good with cards that let you trash something on the board.

That latter bit also relates to an effect of playing on the iPad: I don’t pay nearly as much attention to what my opponents are up to as I do when playing games with physical cards. Definitely a drawback, though it got a lot better (when playing against humans) when we changed our seating arrangement so we could all see the machine instead of passing it along a row.

Glad to have bought it, glad to have it around, but right now I’m thinking I like Dominion a fair amount more. But, sadly, there’s no iPad version of Dominion, so I’ll make do with what’s available.

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Minecraft: South Station

Aug 03 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Last time, I’d laid down track to my other house; now it’s time to build a train station!

The site for the station

After some pacing around, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the station. But I’d always planned for it to connect with an eventual second floor of the house (which didn’t even have a ceiling yet for its first floor!), so I decided to start there. I’d already built stairs running up the back of the first floor through the hill near the train station; I dug another corridor next to them, and started putting blocks in place to form the second story.

Trying out options for the roof line and the second story

The first floor now has a ceiling

Eventually, I decided that the second story would be smaller than the first story, with a balcony around most of it, to ease the transition with (most of) the surrounding area.

Putting the balcony fence in place

Starting work on the walls of the second story

The side of the walls near the sand

A view of the moon through the corridor from the second floor to the train station

I decided to put a flat dirt/grass roof on top of the second story, partly to blend with the hill and partly because I couldn’t think of anything fancier that I liked.

A view of the pool from the roof

A view of the tracks from the roof

By this point, I’d already put the train station proper in place; in fact, the above two pictures were both taken from the train station roof instead of the house roof. The train station ended up quite small (and was set back from the tracks instead of enclosing it): large enough to provide a space to enclose the stairs to the first floor and the corridor to the second floor without feeling cramped, but not much larger than that. For better or for worse, I left the sand in place; I’ll have to change that if I end up digging beneath it, obviously.

Inside the train station

A side view showing how the train station connects to the house

Here are some more pictures of the finished house/station combo:

The completed front of the house

The sand side of the house

The pool side of the house

The front of the station

Christening the station

The sand side of the station

Finally, a couple of pictures of the surroundings:

A view of the tracks from the second floor balcony

A mountain in the distance

And with that, this project is done: I have a working train track connecting two house/station combos! Of course, there’s so much more to do: I’d like to put a whole little village around this house, I’d like tracks to go in other directions, I’d like to explore more underground. But, for now, I will instead sadly and somewhat reluctantly bring this series to a close: it’s time for me to spend more time on other things. I’ll write more about that soon on my other blog; many thanks to those of you who have been reading here. (And, of course, the Rock Band 3 posts will continue here, so don’t go away!)

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VGHVI Minecraft: July 28, 2011

Aug 01 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

After last month’s VGHVI Minecraft session, our underwater tunnel had finally made landfall! Which was great, but I decided that I wanted to justify that landfall a bit. So I started off by extending the tracks to go across the island, and off of the stone bridge that Eric had built at its end:

Tracks heading across the bridge off the island

Riding the train back onto the island

Once I got off of the island, I put a temporary stopping place, and started to extend the tracks further; Pat took over soon after that, and found a nearby cave to dive into.

Tracks enter a cave

Looking back out of the cave

Inside the cave

We made it out of that cave after not too long (David Sahlin had joined the fun by this point, I believe), at which point we dived into a second cave. And that cave was very deep indeed: it took a few tries to get enough booster rail to successfully navigate several of the sections. But eventually we succeeded and made it out.

Tracks going down

And down and down

Now we're heading up again

At about this point, I took some pictures of Jonathan blowing things up; I think it was in the second of those caves, but I could be wrong.

Preparing for an explosion


Once we got out of the second cave, we were starting to get close to our inhabited area; the tracks went past the super tree, and ended up near the temple.

View of the super tree from the tracks

The end of the new tracks near the acropolis

The track had a couple of interruptions; we decided to turn it into a continuous run. But it was a long run (I think Pat timed it at over three minutes), so we needed to fence it off to avoid interruptions from livestock; we did that via a mixture of fences and glass.

Fencing off the track

We used glass to fence off this section

A sheep surveys the glassed off track

Taking a ride through a glassed-off section

A rather amusing chunk loading error during this process

Miranda’s main project this month was a shipwreck:

The island that the ship would run aground against

Half the hull is in place

Working on the sunken part

Now both halves are in place

The finished shipwreck

Inside the hull of the shipwreck

Eric worked on a project that was at least partly a Myst recreation; he’ll need to explain it more, because I don’t understand all of it. In particular, I don’t remember what was going on with this huge hole (maybe Jonathan did that? I don’t think so, but I could be wrong):

A huge hole, formed by TNT

The explosion site from a distance

Some mysterious square platforms

A library with a switch

And finally, a couple of pictures of the apartments from last month lit up at night:

Apartments at night

The other side of the apartments, from a distance

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