Archive for May, 2011

Minecraft: Working on the Railroad

May 30 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

First, an interlude: I was sick a week and a half ago; and, while I didn’t feel like doing any design, I was up for some mining. Some pictures of that:

Lava beneath the latest pool I'd found

Redstone and iron

Gold and lava

More redstone and iron

Yes, I got 223 bits of redstone dust from this mining expedition alone

My current total stash

I did find some time for more serious Minecraft work this weekend, however. And after finishing the first floor of my new house, the natural next step was to extend above it. My plan of record was to connect it to a train station on the other side of the hill that the house is against, and I decided that it made sense to work on that, since that would affect the design of the second floor. So I dug some stairs into the hill, planning to join up with the train station.

Stairs in back of the house

Looking down from the top of the stairs

Once I got up to the top of the stairs, though, it wasn’t at all obvious what I should do. I looked around in various directions, and eventually came to the conclusion that it would be a lot easier to design and build the station if I actually had train tracks entering it.

The view across the top to the stairs

The train station location

The train tracks are going to approach from this direction somehow

So I decided to get more serious about planning exactly where the tracks will go. But first, a couple of shots of the house:

This house really needs a roof!

The graphics glitch on the stairs is fixed, yay. (And I removed the wood logs above the door, though I may put them back.)

So I marched across the desert. And marched back. And back, and back, and back. I was pretty sure that I wanted a track going in a straight line from the hills, which meant that I had to decide: 1) What elevation should it travel at? 2) Where exactly should the line be?

Eventually, I found an elevation that I was happy with, at a location that went between the two hills in question. The next issue was: where exactly should the station part be in the home hill? The problem was that the end of the home hill was entirely made out of sand: and that’s not a stable building material to hollow out. Again, after pacing around a bit (and climbing up and down the hill), I came up with a tentative plan: I’d dig a (quite deep!) trench through the sand part, and then a tunnel through a part where there was sand on top and rock underneath. And when I finally came to where there was dirt on top, I’d hollow out the middle of the mountain, making a gloriously large station.

The trench approaching the home hill

Looking out from the trench

The tunnel where the tracks enter the hill

With that plan in place, I built the bed for the tracks. I built it out of cobblestone: in some places, I replaced sand with cobblestone to provide a firm building material, while in other places I ran the tracks through the air.

Looking down while building an elevated section of tracks

The end of the tracks at the station near my new house

A view of tracks from below, heading towards my home hill

Another view of tracks from below, this time going towards the station near the new house

A random sunset picture I took while figuring this out

Finally, I started hollowing out the train station inside of my home hill. I still haven’t figured out the details: I’ve figured out how far it will go (the first picture below is a tunnel at the edge, going perpendicular to my tracks, though I may eventually fill in that entrance on the side of the hill), but the details of the interior layout are still quite unsure. It’s not even obvious to me what space I have to work with: I want to use the existing shape of the hill as much as possible, but it’s hard to figure out how much space there is inside without digging until I hit the outside.

A tunnel going into the side of the station

Looking up at some of the space that I'm just starting to hollow out inside the hill

So I’ve got a lot of thinking ahead of me; in fact, it’s not clear to me whether I should work next on my home hill train station or the train station near my new house. (I now have enough context that I should be able to work on the latter, unlike at the start of this post.) And I’ve got an awful lot of digging ahead of me in the home hill! Fortunately, I recently moved my Minecraft folder to Dropbox, so I can dig away at the hill on the laptop downstairs while watching TV or otherwise occupying myself.

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Pro Guitar Status, May 28, 2011

May 29 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I finished a bunch of songs last weekend, but with Liesl’s father in town, I didn’t expect to make much Pro Guitar progress this weekend. But actually it’s been surprisingly productive: I went through three songs while Liesl was picking him up from the airport, and another nine songs today.

That brought me through the end of Nightmare, and through the first four songs of Impossible. So only 8 songs left on Medium; I should definitely finish it up next weekend, and I might even start the next round of training! Which makes me happy, both because I’m really looking forward to Hard, and because Medium is getting to be a bit boring. Not always—some of the songs are helping me get more fluent at moving between chords (and teaching me how much work I have ahead of me before I get good at barre chords)—but, at this difficulty level, many of the songs are about the solos. Which I don’t really enjoy: I don’t particularly enjoy playing high up on the neck of the guitar, and there are also so many notes missing in the solos on Medium that you don’t really feel like you’re doing much.

I also hit 5 million career score for Pro Guitar, which is a nice milestone. And, bizarrely, I was in the top 2% on Bohemian Rhapsody; I didn’t do a spectacular job or anything, so my only hypothesis is that not many people must be making it through the Impossible songs on Medium yet. Or maybe that song is so boring on guitar (so much waiting around!) that not many people even bother to try it…

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VGHVI Minecraft: May 26, 2011

May 28 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I wasn’t as good as I sometimes am in taking pictures during the May VGHVI Minecraft session, but here are a few:

Pat continued work on the underwater tunnel; we still have quite a ways to go to cross the ocean, and the part of the ocean where we were working now was rather deep. So he had to do a lot of diving; I helped some with the glass placement. It didn’t help that the ocean above it was frozen over; eventually he placed some burning netherrack to melt the ice, so we didn’t suffocate while diving.

Towards the start of the ocean tunnel

The current end of construction; the hills outside are the ocean floor

Burning netherrack to melt the ice

Eric had been working on a secret project in the last session, as it turned out, and he finished it this time: a Skull Mountain, complete with lava flowing down from the eyes.

Skull Mountain

The base of the mountain, complete with burning sheep

There was a rather nice cavern inside, with a pool at the bottom.

Inside the bottom of the skull

Inside the top of the skull

I’m still not sure exactly where the skull is in relation to the rest of our landmarks. I started wandering back, and came across a cavern with a huge waterfall that somebody had clearly explored before, but I ended up just teleporting myself back.

A huge waterfall in a cavern

Miranda and Roger had been working on the area near the temple: Roger had been carving out land (for an acropolis, if I’m remembering correctly), and Miranda put up some rather nice lamps there.

Lamps outside the temple

Miranda working on a lamp

Temple and lamps during the day

Somebody added a bed to the altar

Miranda also finished off the train station, adding a rather nice roof with skylight.

Inside the train station

The roof of the train station

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Pro Guitar Status, May 22, 2011

May 22 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

This weekend, Liesl and Miranda were out much of the day on Saturday, and I took the excuse to play a bunch of Pro Guitar; and I did a fair amount today as well. The result is my most productive weekend in ages: I went through 20 songs, finishing off the Moderate tier, completing all of Challenging, and starting on Nightmare.

The songs are fairly routine by now: I’m still going through training mode, but it’s been a while since I needed to play through a song more than twice after that to feel that I was doing a credible job at it, and there were a couple of songs this week that I only played through a single time. (Which, admittedly, had as much to do with my not liking those songs very much; still, I did a decent job on that single playthrough!) So I’ve learned most of what I’m going to get out of Medium, I think: two note chords don’t hold much fear for me, at least at the speeds that Medium has me play them at.

Most, but not everything, because some of the songs definitely had their twists. There were a few odd three-note chords that the game threw at me, and there were more two note chords on the same fret than I’d previously been used to, most of which I actually tried to play as barre chords instead of using separate fingers to hold down the two strings.

And then there was Killing Loneliness, which had one section (the first or second bit, I can’t remember) that was by far the hardest thing I’d seen in training mode. It was reasonably long, moved reasonably quickly, and while the chords were (almost?) all two-note chords, the progression was such that you basically no choice but to play them as barre chords, even when the two notes were on different frets. Plus a bit of moving between strings, just to keep you on your toes. I was floored by it when I first saw it, but after going through it four or five times, it was pretty clear what the best approach was—it just happened to be an approach that I wasn’t used to taking! After another 10 or so goes, though, I was playing through it fairly solidly, and when I hit that section in the full song (it occurred fairly often, as it turned out), I managed to play it correctly live as well.

That felt really good: a nice bridge to what Hard is going to be like, I imagine. I also see what people mean when they complain about their wrist aching when learning barre chords, because my wrist hurt some after that song. And my fingertips continue to hurt, but it was manageable even this weekend, and I don’t expect to play longer stretches for the foreseeable future, so I’m over the worst there, I think. My back also hurt some: I think I was keeping pretty good posture, but the guitar is heavy enough for me to notice it, and the sofa I’m playing on doesn’t offer good support.

Actually, my body positioning is something I’ve been wondering about: I suspect that, as I play barre chords more, I’ll want to have the neck angled up more than I have been, and maybe I should shorten the strap a bit. My next door neighbor is a guitar teacher: at some point, I may ask her for a one-off lesson, for body positioning help and also for suggestions of exercises to play. (Chords, scales, etc.)

Only 20 songs left, and then on to Hard! Despite my progress this week, I won’t make it through all those songs next weekend, because we have a guest in town, and it wouldn’t shock me if I had three more weeks of Medium ahead of me. But the end of Medium is in sight, and the beginning of what I imagine will feel a lot more like real guitar playing. (I’m planning to buy an amp soon after I hit Hard.)

I was wondering how many people had been diving into Pro Guitar. The answer, judging from the leaderboards, seems to be “not many”: I’m actually in 724th place right now, which seems shockingly high to me. And my scores are a lot higher on Medium than they were on Easy, so I imagine Hard will be a similar jump: in fact, it looks to me right now that doing a good job on most of the songs on Hard would be enough to put me in the top 1%. (There are 284 people in the top 1%, so I’m comfortably within the top 3% already.) I’m assuming that means that there are 25,000–30,000 Pro Guitar controllers out there, though maybe there’s a good-sized population that doesn’t show up on the leaderboards? (You don’t need an account to show up there, though.) Who knows, maybe I’ll end up monitoring the Pro Guitar leaderboards the way I monitored Pro Keys. (I’m a little surprised to see that I’m still in 40th place on the latter.)

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Pro Guitar Status: May 15, 2011

May 16 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Not too much to say today. I was worried I wouldn’t have a lot of time to play this weekend—yesterday was a bit busy, and I participated in a podcast recording today—but I got a decent amount in today, making it through most of the Moderate songs. And the guitar continues to work well, so the cable was definitely the problem.

Some of which were surprisingly easy—I guess Walk of Life must be a lot harder on the higher difficulties? Though I can’t quite hear how; also, I’d never noticed before that some of the early chords in that song come in a touch late, I was glad the game didn’t try to force me to do that. Other songs were rather more difficult: I’m having to jump around a bit more, and sometimes chords are coming a little closer on each other’s tails.

Also, one of the songs made me play barre chords: while it only gave me two notes at a time, it alternated between the lowest two and highest two strings, so treating that as part of a single barre chord was clearly the way to go. Which didn’t go too badly, actually, but clearly it’s something I need to work on: by the end of that song, I wasn’t reliably holding down the notes in the middle of the chord, and I got the feeling that my left hand was working too hard.

My other random observation of the day: so far, I’m finding big rock endings super unsatisfying on the pro guitar—for whatever reason, the realism of the instrument rather destroys the illusion for me. Maybe that will get better as my guitar skills improve, however.

Anyways, I certainly have challenges waiting for me when I reach Hard, judging from how the barre chords and faster sections went today. Which is a good thing! And if Medium holds my interest through the higher difficulty tiers better than Easy did, that’s all to the good as well.

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Minecraft: First Floor of New House

May 15 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

A couple of weeks ago, I’d laid a foundation for a new house, and thought a bit about how I wanted it to look; now it’s time to build! Of the building materials that I had easy access to, I thought wooden planks would look best, so I decided to start with that as the basic material for the walls. And I made some glass as well, so I’d be able to put in windows.

But first: there was a circular area nearby forming a weak center, so I’d planted a sapling in the middle of it. Which has now grown into a tree, and it looks a lot better! Still not great, though: I wish the tree were bigger. So I might chop it down and see if the roll of the dice gives me a better tree next time.

A circular area providing a weak center

The circular area with a tree in the middle

Anyways, on to the house. Along the front, I clearly wanted windows symmetrically arranged on both sides of the door; it wasn’t clear to me how wide they should be. At first, I made them three wide, but then the outside edge was too thick; maybe four wide instead?

Three wide and four wide windows viewed from the outside

Three wide and four wide windows viewed from the inside

Viewed from the inside, though, the four wide really didn’t look right: it was hitting right against the corner. So then I had the happy thought that I might want to treat the corner specially on the outside, too: that would get rid of the wide space. So I tried putting a wood column and a stone column on the corner.

Wood column on the corner

Stone column on the corner

The wood looked better, so I went with that. Thinking about it, though, made me wonder: since the floor of the house is raised, the plank area on the bottom of the house looks uncomfortably thick. Should I replace it as well? I tried out wood and stone there, but neither looked right; dirt ended up working better, however.

Wood and stone on the bottom of the house

Dirt on the bottom of the house

Next, I decided to attack the front door area. I wanted to make some sort of porch there; but maybe an accent above the door first? I tried stone, glass, and wood; wood won.

Stone above the door

Glass above the door

Wood above the door

With that, the front was in place except for the porch; before working on that, I fleshed out the sides a bit.

The side facing the pool, with door

The side facing the sand

The front at night, with torches

A sheep trying to glitch through the door

A chicken trying to glitch through the door

Next, the front porch. Miranda had showed me a trick involving stacking fences that you could use to build a column, so I decided to use that. But what should I put on top? At first, I thought birch might be nice, but when I actually tried it out, it looked ghastly; half-height wooden slabs looked rather nice, however. Though, looking at it, I’m no longer convinced that I need that wood accent above the door; maybe I’ll replace that with planks later.

Birch porch roof

Wooden slab porch roof

After that, I turned to the patio / pool area. Here’s what the view out the side door looked like when I started: I decided to get rid of the grass and thin down the border of the pool.

Facing the unfinished pool

I decided that half-height wooden slabs would work well here: a change in level seemed suitable, and slabs would give it a finished look. Here’s a picture of it in progress, and a picture from inside the house.

Building the patio

Facing the patio and pool from the inside of the house

I also put a fence around the patio, and stairs leading down to the pool. (I still have smooth lighting turned off, so the stairs don’t look right.)

On the patio, looking at the pool

Looking up from the pool

And finally, a picture of the current state of the front of the house, with the patio on the side. It’s probably not the most beautiful house in the world (and I’m sure there are building material that I’d like more if I took the time to make them), but, as is doubtless clear from the above, it could have looked a lot worse!

The front of the house, with the patio on the side

I’m planning to build a second story on top; I’m tentatively planning to make the second story a bit smaller than the first story, to help smooth out the transition to the hill that I’m building against, but we’ll see what looks best in practice. (I like the way the fence around the patio provides a change in height, too, I’ll want to work with that.) Before getting too heavily involved in that, though, I think I’ll dig into the hill first. The plan is for this building to connect up with a train station on the other side of the hill; depending on how that works out, I may turn the inside into one large grand entrance hall instead of having a separate second floor.

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Minecraft: Tectonicus

May 14 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I recently ran across a reference to a Minecraft mapping tool called Tectonicus. It sounded interesting, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Actually, to be honest, I was a little nervous about giving it a try: discovery is a huge part part of the fun in Minecraft, so maybe I’d be ruining that? As it turns out, I didn’t have to worry about that, though: the surface view of my map is remarkably bland. Here’s what the area around my spawn point looks like in my map, along with a zoomed in view of the house: both of them are very much missing the character of the world and its buildings.

My spawn point and surrounding areas

Zooming in near my house

Part of what is missing is, of course, the caves. Which you could see some of on the edge of the map that it generated: here’s a picture of one edge of the VGHVI map.

Caves on the side of the VGHVI map

That picture does a great job conveying the romance of Minecraft to me: huge networks waiting to be found underneath, complete with lava! So I poked around and discovered that Tectonicus has a view that only shows the caves. Here’s what it looks like on the same portion of my map as the first picture:

Caves near my spawn point

Which is interesting in its own way: you can see my branch mine, you can see some of the stairs I built (especially if you zoom in: the tool presents a great Google Maps interface), and you can see that there’s a huge clump of caverns there, some of which I’ve explored but some of which I almost certainly haven’t, and which seem to reach all the way down to where my second house will be.

Still, the excitement really isn’t there: I need to be able to look inside buildings and to view the scenery from different angles and perspectives. I guess what I really want is a flying mod of some sort; though how much I really want that is debatable, I like walking from place to place and I like discovering.

After playing around with my own map, I switched over to the VGHVI map. That turned out a good deal better: after the first session, we’ve been doing most of our building above ground. Here’s a view of all of our major structures: it turns out that my minecart tracks actually make a nice ring around that area. (And I’m glad to learn where the bathhouse is!) Below that is a more zoomed in view near the temple, including some of the ivory towers and the train station and underwater tunnel that we’re building.

The major structures in the VGHVI world

The area near the temple

And, finally, here’s a view of almost all of the VGHVI map. Which raises some interesting questions: what’s that strange bit off to the north? Who put a pool of lava on top of a mountain there? It looks like we’ll have to build our underwater tunnel quite a ways before it reaches land, but that will be a glorious accomplishment in its own way: that actually makes me rather excited about continuing it.

Almost all of the VGHVI map

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Pro Guitar Status: May 8, 2011

May 08 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

After last week, I was really frustrated at my guitar’s flaking out. I did have one hypothesis that was easy to test, however, namely that I had a bad MIDI cable. So I went out yesterday, bought a new one, plugged it in, and held my breath.

And it worked! The guitar performed flawlessly yesterday; today there was one instance where it thought that the lower strings were still strumming, but that went away the next time I actually strummed. And I’d seen that happen occasionally even before my old MIDI cable went south, so I’m not worried about that symptom.

And when the guitar works, it really works well: I was messing up fairly often, and it was doing a very nice job of informing me! But I had a great time going through songs this weekend; yesterday, I felt that I was making real progress, and in particular my right hand is noticeably better at finding strings than it was a couple of weeks ago.

Today, I finished off the last few Solid songs and moved on to the Moderate songs: they were quite a bit harder than yesterday’s songs, with faster movements between chords on different strings and with more unusual chords thrown into the mix. (And, alas, I was less disciplined today than I had been about not looking at my hands: too many large leaps for me to make.) When I was playing on Easy, the songs leveled off in difficulty part of the way through, and I was curious if the same thing would happen on Medium; maybe it will, but it hasn’t happened yet.

My fingers felt a little odd yesterday: they weren’t hurting, but my calluses felt strangely soft, to the extent that the strings almost got stuck in them at times. I’m choosing to interpret that as meaning that I haven’t been playing Rock Band enough; I was certainly glad to get in practice both days this weekend. Especially because it’s taking a lot longer to go through each song on Medium than it did on Easy: if I put in enough time, I can barely make it through through a tier over a weekend, but often recently I haven’t managed that. Admittedly, that had as much to do with hardware problems as anything, but still: I need to focus if I’m going to make it to Hard in the first half of the summer. (Which is where, I assume, I’m going to start feeling like I’m really playing music; I’m planning to buy an amp when I get to that level to hear what I sound like.)

Good times.

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Minecraft: Laying a Foundation

May 03 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

After last time, I’d figured out where I wanted to build a house: now, it’s time to start building. But first, some pictures from last time. (I did a lousy job of taking pictures this time as well, unfortunately.)

In the first one, you can (barely) see the outlines of the area where I want to build. It’s the back right side of that picture: there are hills to the left of and behind that area, with a pool and some greenery in front, and more greenery off to the right. The second picture is taken from fairly close to the sand hill in the back, looking in the other direction towards the green area in the front.

I'm planning to build on the back right side of this picture

A closer view of green area, looking back

I walked around that area a lot, trying to figure out where a house should be. Eventually, I homed in on the hill to the left: it’s next to a green area, with a cute little pond close to it. And that wall is uncomfortably steep; maybe if I build a house there, it can provide an intermediate step between the two, increasing their relation? (Levels of Scale) Also, there’s a bit jutting out of the hill, which you can imagine is a ruined wall to a house.

Hillside with a spur jutting out of it

So I decided to build there; and, taking that jutting out bit as a cue, I actually decided to build right next to the hill. Which goes a little against my plan of having an outdoor house, but only a little: think of it instead as being a transitional phase between my earlier cave-dwelling habits and my new desire to be out in the open. Also, if I built away from the hill, then I’d want to build pretty far away, otherwise any windows would be looking straight at a bunch of rock, which is no fun. And, finally, I’m planning to build a train station just on the other side of that hill, and perhaps also connect to some caves on the other side as well: so actually the new house can be the other side of the train station, part of an entrance gateway into a town I’ll build!

With that in mind, I needed to clear out space for the foundation. I decided to work with the dominant ground level; but of course I had to clear out some irregularities coming out of the wall.

Clearing out space for the foundation

A tentative foundation is in place

Like I said above: I spent a lot of time walking around. Was the foundation the correct shape? If not, which side should be longer? Eventually I decided that the shape I had was more or less correct, and that I’d have the main entrance be on the long side, parallel to the side of the hill. (Or you can think of that as the main exit, if this ends up boring through the hill and connecting to a train station on the other side.) If you’re facing the hill, a pond is on the left; I’ll put a second exit there, perhaps leading to a fenced off area between the house and the pond? I’m not completely sure. At any rate, I put a porch with some steps in the front, though I ran into a strange graphics glitch while doing so.

Front steps, with strange graphics glitch

I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do next with the house—I don’t even know what building material I want to use for the walls! (Hopefully Miranda will give me some suggestions once she reads this.) So I spent more time pacing around the area, thinking about the rest of the surroundings instead. Look at that second picture at the top of the post: the foundation would be on its right side, did I like the rest of that area?

My answer was: not really. The mixture of sand and grass is inelegant; also, there’s a grassy circular depression further back that is a center but not a very strong one. Here’s a closer picture of that:

A circular area providing a weak center

So I replaced some of the sand with dirt (which should be colonized by grass soon): my guess is that I’ll eventually replace more of the sand, but I was sure that I didn’t want any sand on the lower level there. And I planted a single tree in the middle of the circular area: my hope is that, once the tree grows, that will turn the circular area into a Strong Center.

The lower sand has been replaced with dirt

I've planted a tree in the circular area

With that, the area near the house is starting to take shape. First, a view of the front of the house (with smooth lighting turned on, which cures the graphics glitch).

The front of the house

Then, over on the left, will be a patio and a pool.

The patio and pool will go over here

A closer view of the pool

And I’m fairly sure that I’ll put more buildings to the right, though I haven’t worked out the details.

More buildings will go back here

Finally, here’s the view out the front of the house. I imagine I’ll take out more of the sand, probably removing all the sand on the level right in front of the house.

The view out the front of the house

That seems like a plausible story. What about the areas further from the house? There are trees there now; do I want to leave the trees in place, do I want to build more houses, do I want to make a farm? I’m not sure; I wandered over and looked around a bit, and I didn’t find any answers, though I did find a couple of small caves.

I'm not sure how to use this area with trees

A tiny cave beneath the grass

Another nearby cave

I’m pretty excited about this: it’s nice to have a new project to work on, and I feel good about how it’s gone so far. I’m definitely looking forward to next weekend: I’ll want to build the house up, though I do need to decide first what to make the walls out of…

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Minecraft: Scouting Trip

May 02 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I’ve been meandering around the last month or two trying to figure out what my next Minecraft project should be, but now I think I have a pretty clear plan. I want to turn the back of my home mountain into a railroad station; I’ll build tracks out of that leading to another settlement, and I’ll use that settlement as an opportunity to build an outdoor house or houses, in a way that teaches me more about Christopher Alexander.

So, this weekend, off I went! But first, a gratuitous sheep picture:

Hello, sheep

After saying hello to the sheep, I went south from the back of my home mountain. Here’s where the entrance to the train station will be, and where the tracks would most naturally go:

Trains will come out of here ...

... and head in this direction

My memory was that, if I go south a bit, I’ll run into terrain that is more interesting than desert but not super fascinating. Which is actually perfect for me: I want the terrain to give me something to try to harmonize with, but also to have enough problems that the presence of my buildings will have a chance at helping it instead of hurting it. And, after not too far, this is what I came across: that area to the right looks at least somewhat promising.

The first interesting terrain past the desert

So I tentatively thought I might build over there. But, assuming the train tracks didn’t turn, I would end up going to the left of that land hill instead of the right: maybe that’s where the train station will go? I decided to explore that way a little more.

A little further on on the left side

Two caves in the side of the sand cliff

The upper cave is moderately deep

The lower water cave is small but pretty

And I liked what I saw. There are two caves, one of which is small and pretty and the other of which is rather deep. So I can imagine connecting the buildings I build on the other side of that hill to one or both of those caves, and having some interesting mining as a result. I decided to press on still further south, just to remind myself what was there:

Several sheep splashing in some ponds

Lots of trees further back

Whoa, that's a long way down

There was some nice stuff, but nothing crying out to have me build a settlement there. I did chop down a bunch of trees for building material, though. So then I turned back and looked at the other side of that sand hill, to see if it looked like a suitable building location.

A circular area providing a weak center

A slightly wider view of the surroundings

I didn’t take great pictures, unfortunately: in particular, I didn’t take any pictures looking south at that time, though I’ll put some up in that post. But, basically, there’s a cute pond (not in any of these pictures), a circular depression that is somewhat interesting but could use some strengthening, some sand leading to a sand mountain, and some trees off to the side. So there were features that I could work off of, but also features that I could see improving.

So: it’s a plan! Build a train station, run tracks south, have a second train station to the left of the hill, and build a few houses on the right side of the hill. I’ll start with the houses, though, the train tracks can wait. But, first, a stake in the ground:

The future location of my second train station

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