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...