Monday, June 20, 2011

Part 17: Again with the ceilings!

Safe back in the cave with Boxter, I then turned to the task of surviving the night without doing anything deadly stupid.  I decided not to touch Boxter, for fear the haystack spell would be broken and he would begin wandering the room again, potentially knocking his head against the ceiling.  I decided not to mine, for fear that I would encounter a scary cave with monsters.  Instead, after some thought, I decided to enlarge the passageway to the cave entrance, so I could ride Boxter out without danger of bonking my head.

By the time morning came, I had made the passageway into a broad avenue.  I reopened the entrance to the cave, checked for danger (all clear), and then turned to survey my handiwork.

This was perhaps not well planned out.
Not bad.  There would be plenty of room to ride Boxter in here.  I was about to go climb on Boxter's back when I noticed a problem.  See it?  Although the area in front of Boxter was tall and wide enough, he was actually standing in a tiny tunnel with no room to climb on his back.

I considered my options.  If I tried to break the stone out from under him, I'd likely start hurting him.  Ditto for trying to break the ceiling above his head.

I walked around behind him and tried to shove him off the ledge.  "Rrrrgh - mmmf - move it, you big pile of pixels - rrrrrgh!" No luck.  Boxter was rooted to the floor.  I took a running start and crashed into him.  It was as if I had collided with a stone wall.  "You gave me a haystack, did you not?"  He seemed to be asking.  "Haystack means I stand here - right here - until you ride me again.   You have not ridden me again, have you?  Then here I shall stand."

After more fruitless pushing and shoving, I realized that the only way I was going to get him off of that ledge was to ride him off.  And take damage from bonking my head on the ceiling.

I climbed on.  I took damage from bonking my head on the ceiling, and quickly hopped off.  Boxter, with the haystack spell finally broken, walked away from the ledge edge.  In the wrong direction.

Boxter!  With some difficulty I managed to squeeze past him and face him in the passageway.

"Hi," he seemed to be saying.  "Didn't you leave me here in this dark cave all day yesterday?  You must want me to stay in this cave.  Who am I to argue?  I'll just go to the darkest corner of the cave and turn into the mystical Cave Horse of the North, doomed to never see daylight again."

I argued with him, but he seemed not to hear.  I tried shoving him again, but even with the haystack spell broken, he was about as immovable as obsidian.  This was going nowhere.

Gritting my teeth, I climbed back on.  Ouchouchouchouch.  I jumped back off.  This time, either tired of this game or having decided that I'd suffered enough, Boxter walked in the other direction.  He walked off the ledge finally, and I leapt back on his back.
Upon trying to exit the cave, I discovered that I'd made the entrance too low after all.  More head-bonking damage.  I dismounted and enlarged the stupid cave entrance.  I climbed back on and - finally - we left the cave.

A sheep greeted us.  "Hello!  Where have you been all morning?"

"Shut up, sheep."

We set forth on our way.

And almost immediately fell down a hole.

This is the hole.
Fortunately, we didn't fall too far down, and were able to scramble out.

We continued over some refreshingly treeless (but bear-infested) countryside.
Before long, due to the morning's time-wasting shenanigans, it was time to stop for the night.  We wandered around in a state of increasing panic trying to find a suitable cave.  Eventually I found a place that was merely a small depression in the side of a hill - good enough!

Boxter seemed to approve of the choice; rather than wandering off in disdain, he stayed and kept watch as I cleared out a proper cave.
I got him inside the cave without too much difficulty (for once), and sealed up the cave.  In a flourish of extravagance, and to make up for the windowless cave of the previous two nights, I added six panels of glass.  Boxter and I watched the sunset together.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Part 16: A lesson in humility, and a killing spree

Boxter and I survived the night without mishap in the very-safe cave he and his horse sense had picked out for us.

The morning, however?  Lots of mishap.

The trouble started with a dangerous bit of overconfidence on my part.  You see, I had been spending a bit of time messing about with terrain generation in Minecraft (BiomeTerrainMod woo!), and since my goal was mainly to see how the terrain had come out, I consequently spent time exploring the newly-generated worlds with the difficulty set on "easy".  Yes, you're right.  It made me soft. 

Result: The urge suddenly took me to do another leg of my journey northward in search of the fabled Pegasus, and to do the journey right away.  I knew I should wait to restart my computer since it had been lagging quite a bit, and maybe do a practice day in some non-essential saved game just to remember what caution feels like.  But, although it had been more than a week since my last leg of the journey, I found that I didn't want to start on the journey after rebooting and practicing - I wanted to start now.

I started up Minecraft.  I started the save game.  I appeared in the cave with Boxter.  Hello, Boxter, yes, yes, and look, it's morning, so I'll just break away a bit of the ceiling so I can exit the cave - hmm, I faintly remember that roaring sound from somewhere.  Ah, yes, a lion.  Hello, lion, and let's see, I'll just get out my bow and - oops, not a cobblestone block, a bow, and - oops, fumble fumble AAAAA

The lion jumped at me, and, as I fumbled for my sword, killed me in a few swift bites.

I only got one picture during the pitifully brief battle:

I think this is an extreme closeup of the lion devouring me.

Respawn.  Huh.

I decided this day didn't count.  I blamed lag, I blamed my own unpreparedness, but in the end I really just didn't want it to be over already.  I restored from the backup that I had made approximately a minute earlier.

Hello, Boxter.  Strange, um, dream just now, eh?
Boxter just stared at me.  He knew.  He probably remembered everything, and was standing there  dumbfounded at the extreme ineptitude of the human he was traveling with.

I in turn had begun to fully realize the magnitude of my own lack of skill, and to become worried about the depleted state of my supplies, and of my armor.  I had maybe two porkchops left.  An empty bowl that used to contain mushroom stew.  A pair of metal shoes, and a dented metal hat.  And about fifty zillion blocks of cobblestone.

I decided to take a day to resupply.  I gave Boxter a haystack to keep him calm and content throughout the day and most importantly to keep him from investigating the ceiling too closely (the last haystack had worn off when I opened my game, even though I hadn't ridden him). 

Boxter settled down to recite six-digit primes or whatever it is he does all day, and I crept, very cautiously this time, to the entrance and began to clear my way out.

There was nothing outside.  I carefully bricked up the entrance to the cave (no posh windows this time, Boxter, apologies) and marked it with a cobblestone pillar.
Then, I drew my sword.

I killed a pig.
Hey, pig.
I killed a boar.

Evilevil boars.  They bite back.  Tisnae natural, I tell ye!

I killed another pig.
That's the other entrance to the cave, the one that Boxter found yesterday.
I killed a tree-cow.
Muahahaaa you cannot escape so easily
I killed a valley full of cows.
Party's over.
All this I did while running in tight circles around the cave where Boxter was, because I was terrified of losing track of the cave.  I lose track of things easily, especially in thick forests with no distinguishing landmarks, and I could all too well imagine wandering in increasingly desperate and misguided loops around the countryside forever, if I ever lost sight of the cave.

At one point I did a panicked double-take, upon catching sight of this:
Aaa!  Boxter!
Did Boxter break the Spell of Haystack and go wandering around the countryside?  Would I spend the rest of the afternoon chasing him down and attempting to convince him to go back in the cave?  Do haystacks not work anymore?

Closer inspection revealed that it was in fact an unrelated dark brown horse.  I stood watching the horse for a while, hoping to see it do something wise or profound or helpful.

Note the lack of frantic concern over creepers and spooky cows, or the need to pursue a rather-illogical single-minded northward quest.
The horse merely chilled contentedly in the shade of a birch tree.  I stood watching the horse for a while before concluding that its particular brand of wisdom wasn't particularly suited to helping me in my pegasus quest.

I resumed killing things.

For example, this lion, which I saw at a distance and promptly filled full of arrows because I am afraid of lions now.


Finally I ran not out of things to kill, but out of daylight, and retreated (after a few moments' panic when I was convinced I'd lost track of the cave after all) to safety for the night.

Hurryhurry brickbrickbrick

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Part 15: How does he DO that?

So Boxter and I (and the bunny rabbit) managed to survive until morning in the skeleton-infested house up on the hill.  The arrows from the skeletons that had dropped into the pit during the night gradually disappeared and the sun rose.

The view from the window was in fact very nice.

It was time, however, to press on in hopes of making progress northward before nightfall.

I tried to pick up my crafting table, but faced great difficulty as Boxter and the bunny rabbit took turns jumping on the crafting table.  I tried to elbow them aside, but they outnumbered me and I was getting nowhere.

Rrrgh!  Get - mppph - get off the - mff - get out of the way of the darn table!

"Maybe," I thought to myself, "Boxter is trying to tell me that I shouldn't pick up the crafting table now.  Maybe he's trying to tell me that I should be doing something else first... but what?  Oh!  I should make some more armor - those skeletons made scrap metal out of most of my armor."

I dug into my inventory for some leather, began to craft, and -


A creeper had apparently dropped into the house behind my back through the open roof, and, well, did what creepers do best.

Oh.  So that's what they were trying to tell me to do.

Dazed, I climbed out of the pit and surveyed the wreckage, hoping that Boxter had made it.

Fortunately, Boxter seemed to have gotten clear in time, or at least to have been tough enough to survive a close-range creeper blast.

Even the bunny rabbit seemed to have survived.
Insert Monty Python joke here
I jumped on Boxter's back and we set off, eager to put the scene of destruction behind us.
Neat hills at least, if unfortunately heavily forested.
The day passed mostly uneventfully (in and out of forests and brief clearings, or luckily bridging between islands on narrow sand banks), until it was time to stop for the night.

I thought I'd try building up against a hillside (with a roof this time), and dismounted to begin digging.  Boxter stood watching me with curiosity for a few seconds before he wandered off.
This being Boxter, I decided to stop digging and follow him.

 Sure enough:

There he was, standing by a natural cave in the hillside.  There was even coal.  I kid you not.

I lost no time hurrying to his side to turn the cave into a proper hideout.

Ok, I lost a little time when I embarrassingly fell into a hole.

If you look closely, you can see Boxter looking down into the hole, no doubt shaking his head at the blundering human.

But soon I had the opening safely closed off, and Boxter contentedly installed with a haystack to occupy him while I went off mining.  It has not escaped my notice that each night where we stay in a shelter Boxter has picked out goes significantly better than each night where we stay in a shelter that I  myself build.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Part 14: OK, maybe I'll go back to making roofs

The sun rose on another Minecraft day as Boxter the Horse and I looked nervously through the window at more mountains and trees.  It had been a relatively peaceful night, but there was no telling what I would find outside when I busted through the glass.

As it turns out, the answer was: not much.
I then fell to the task of extracting Boxter from the shelter, which I did with my usual degree of ineptitude.  My major difficulty seems to stem from consistently underestimating how much more room Boxter and I take up when I'm riding him than our actual volumes combined.  Result: bonking my head on the roof repeatedly, scrabbling on the edge of cliffs, dismounting to try and widen the exit, accidentally remounting and bonking my head on the roof again, etc.  But eventually we escaped.
Yes, cobblestone ceilings appear to be bad for people as well as horses.  I actually took damage from this one, when I managed to embed my head in the ceiling while dismounting.
We had our usual difficulty navigating the thick forest and mountains, again caused chiefly by our combined volumes approximately equaling that of a beluga whale.

But then it got worse: we suddenly found that we could go north no more.  This could spell doom, or at least interminable delay, to the trip northward.  A deep sea, patrolled by sharks.  No opposite shore in sight.  How long would it take to build a bridge across something like that?
But before resorting to constructing a transcontinental bridge, there was one more thing I could try.  I changed the Minecraft render distance to "far" rather than the speed increasing "medium" that I'd had it set on.
Oh.  Much better. 

We circled to the west and followed the continent farther north.  Almost immediately we entered a hilly savanna/desert.  Sadly, our path northward led not over the gentle treeless hills (which were off to the west), but over the tree-covered mountains.  Of course.
Nothing in particular happened here.  I just thought that hill to the left with the tree was really cool.
Progress was slow, and soon it was time to think about building a shelter for the night.  I had been digging pits in low ground for the last few nights, and I wanted to try building on the high ground so I wouldn't have to make the walls quite so tall.  Plus I wanted a view - I was tired of looking at tree trunks.  I picked a spot on the top of a hill where bare stone was showing through.
Look, Boxter!  A pit with sort of natural sides, and stone floor already!  Plus no trees in the immediate vicinity!  Boxter was not impressed.
I had no better option, though, so I chased Boxter down, put him back in the pit, and began building walls as the sun began to set.
The sky darkened as I worked, and it gradually dawned on me that there was something wrong with the pit I was working on: there was no Boxter in it.
Where was he?  I looked around in panic.
Oh.  Looking down at me from the hilltop, mocking my pit-building ineptitude. 

I returned him to the pit, now a little jittery.  I finished the walls and jumped into the pit to join Boxter.  Giving him a haystack to settle him down for the night, I then installed some windows so he could enjoy the view from our hideout.  A hideout with a view is a rarity, and I wanted to make the best of it.
It was pitch-black outside and neither of us could see anything.  Oh, well... time to start mining.

I hadn't gone far before I started hearing lava sounds.  This is a bit odd, since we were significantly above sea level, and lava usually appears deep down.

Before long I noticed something even odder: some stone blocks that utterly ignored my attempts to break them with a pickaxe.  To all appearances they were ordinary stone blocks, yet my pickaxe swiped straight through them, and I couldn't place torches on them... they seemed to be arranged diagonally, and I could break the blocks behind them, but not these blocks themselves.
I poked at the blocks for a while in a mingled state of scientific curiosity and fear.  I looked back once at Boxter to see if he might be somehow magicking the blocks with his powerful horse mind, but he was staring placidly out the window.  If he was using horse magic to mess with me, he was giving no outward sign.  One thing I knew was that I wasn't stepping down there with the Mystery Stone, or going to attempt to walk through it.  The lava sounds were quite loud now and it did not escape that my notice that pickaxe permeability, opacity, and lava sounds were all properties of lava itself.  Whatever was happening here, the possibility at least existed that the Mystery Stone was in fact lava that chose to look like stone blocks for reasons of its own. 

I had worn out my pickaxe, so I climbed to the upper level to set down a crafting table and make a new axe.


What the heck?  What the heck?  Was a skeleton shooting at me somehow from outside the pit?


Wherever it was, it was hitting me.  I calmly - TWANNG - OUCH - gave the mouse wheel a spin to switch to my sword.  Attempted to switch to my sword.  Instead I overshot and found myself brandishing a compass.  TWANNG !

All right, no problem.  Another cool, calm, twirl of the mouse wheel and - TWANNG! - I could draw my sword and - TWANNG - OUCH! - not a stone block, I mean, a sword, and - TWANNG! - not panicking here, just - TWANNG - OUCH! - trying to calmly - TWANNG!! - where the heck IS that skeleton OH GOD IT'S STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO ME

I finally gave up on the mouse wheel and mashed number 1 on my keyboard, which switched to my sword (should have done that at the start), and whacked frantically at the skeleton until it disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving behind only an arrow and a single bone.

The skeleton is MADE of bones.  It has unlimited arrows.  Why does it only drop one of each?
That could have gone better. 

I was quite low on health now, and drew my reserve stash - a bowl of tasty mushroom stew that I'd been carrying with me for two weeks now.  My health restored, I went to check my inventory and take stock of my armor and -


Augh!  After a moment of frantic spinning, I located the skeleton, which was also IN THE PIT WITH ME, and swiped furiously at it with my sword until it too was dispatched.

Puff of smoke from disappearing skeleton.  No screenshots of the actual skeleton, due to being very busy at the time.  Also, it looks like I somehow cornered the second skeleton in the exact same spot as the first one.      

At this point my confidence in the safety of my shelter was rather low.  Had I failed to build the walls high enough, allowing the skeletons to climb in?  Was the Mystery Stone somehow spawning skeletons?

I huddled behind my sword for the rest of the night.  At one point, slight motion caused me to jump in alarm.  Closer inspection revealed that it was merely a bunny rabbit joining us in the pit.

I hope that's an ordinary rabbit.
Well, at least that solves the problem of how the skeletons got in.  It was almost morning, but unfortunately, I could hear spiders outside...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Part 13: Exit, pursued by a bear

I had spent the night in a pit with Boxter, listening to a bear roam the woods above us.  Boxter had guilted me into quitting mining (I wasn't finding anything anyways) and instead spending the night with my sword drawn, waiting to defend us from bears dropping on our heads.  It wasn't till nearly morning that the bear wandered off.

The view that greeted us at the sun rose hinted that today's going would be slow.

Sure enough, I had some difficulty getting us out of the pit.  To an outside observer it must have looked rather odd: a human on horseback lunges out of a pit up a rough-hewn dirt staircase.  The human's head is bonked on a tree, and the two fall back into the pit.  After a second the human and horse emerge again and scrabble at the edge of the pit, bouncing and turning in all directions, hitting their heads on every available tree branch.  They fall back into the pit. Presently the human emerges alone and bats furiously at the foliage, making branches fly everywhere.  The human disappears into the pit.  Human and horse leap up together again and this time clear the pit edge and keep running, crashing into branches and tree trunks, turning and spinning.  They disappear over the horizon when they fall off a cliff.

I wonder if the going would be easier if I just set fire to all this?

We hadn't been traveling long when we came across yet another bear, this time at much closer range than yesterday.   We barely had time to react before the bear attacked, proving beyond doubt that although bears don't attack humans on horseback, they do attack horses under humans.
The bear looks positively evil in this shot.
We raced away at top speed, with Boxter's neighs probably translating to, "#@%ing human... I TOLD you so.  Did I not?  I TOLD you."

We also found out that creepers, although they don't attack horses, do attack humans on horseback.
Notice how the creeper leaves the horse to the left alone, and heads straight for us at a dead run.
We managed to get away without damage from the creeper, although the bear did nick Boxter.  Without a health gauge for him, though, I have no way of knowing whether he was in serious need of healing, or whether it was merely a flesh wound.  With the creeper and bear hot on our trails, I had to hope for the best.

Fortunately, our luck held out - the forest cleared and we entered a flat desert, where we could finally pick up speed and leave our pursuers in the dust.
We raced along at blinding speed, happily crossing the entire desert in no time.  No predators here (or horses either), since they all spawn on grass, not sand.

At the far edge of the desert, we came across the first dirt hill we'd seen in quite some time.

It was - very well occupied.  Animal Party Hill.  Completely covered in bunnies, birdies, foxes, boars, lions, bears, cows, pigs, sheep, all bouncing and jumbling about and chasing each other.  A bear was in close pursuit of a cow, who saw us coming and ran toward us in an evident attempt to transfer the bear to us instead.

Fortunately, in the open desert Boxter and I are much faster than cows or bears and, now that I had gained a healthy fear of bears, we fled at top speed.
It was getting toward late afternoon when we came upon this:
Lake (with shark) on one side, tall cliff on the other side, and thick forest in between.  No way I was going to try to navigate this by nightfall.

Some sheep beckoned us from a nearby dark overhang.  "Come!  Join us!  It's safe here!  Saaaafe!"
I declined.  Not only was the hole already dark and scary, the opening was much too large to secure before nightfall.  "Commmme!  Join ussss!"

Plus the sheep were starting to creep me out.  We ran to the other side of the mountain, and I got to work digging a pit.  This time I risked a roof, since there was high ground on either side that things could drop on us from.  I built the roof high and gave Boxter a haystack (which keeps him standing quietly rather than bouncing about, sticking appendages through walls and roofs).  He stood still staring at the dirt wall - feeling sorry for him, I installed windows.
I set to work mining, working in a straight line so I could keep an eye on Boxter and turning around every once in a while to make sure he was all right.  I kept the entrance narrow so Boxter couldn't wander into this section with the dangerous low roof.  I think I found a few coal.  No iron.
I think I found enough coal to cover the coal I used up in all these torches.  Maybe.
As morning approached, I wandered back to Boxter's room and joined him at the window, staring with resignation at the thick forest outside.
Also, a spot I missed when building the pit!  Luckily nothing dangerous is small enough to get in through that hole.  Unless bunnies are dangerous now too.