Saturday, September 15, 2012

Part 20: Things that go quack in the night

When morning dawned, things picked up approximately where they had left off: surrounded by an unknown number of enemies, plus one spider.

Scenic country, though.  Cautiously I broke the shelter's glass.

Looks all right...

... Yeah, it wasn't all right.

Fortunately, I had been moving at a fairly fast panicked dash, so the creeper merely winged me.

As the second inevitable creeper made its charge, I filled it full of entirely too many arrows, since I was too nervous to take the time to pull the bow back properly, and the amount of damage per arrow was approximately the same as if I had lobbed them overhand.

Our descent from our hillside shelter was something less than elegant.

Ouch.  Red means ouch.

And we began our journey, through scenic though lion-infested desert.

...And more lions.  And this one had spotted us.  Over a period of a few seconds, I careened madly off the hillsides in an effort to get away from a series of two lions, and in the process inflicted so much damage on myself that I actually had to stop, with one heart of health left.  For whatever reason, I can't do anything on horseback, including eating (health regulations don't allow a meal service?  horsebacksickness?), so I actually had to get off, while Boxter did his level best to wander towards peril.

Fortunately, there was nothing too much more perilous than an unconcerned chicken.

Guess what's just over the crest of that hill!  Could it be a lion?

Next on the list was bears.

And another bear.

And a shadowy lump that was either a bear or a relatively-harmless boar, but which I'm going to go ahead and assume was a bear.

And a lion.  And, unfortunately, thicker trees, impeding our skittish and vaguely-northward flight.

In fact, the country was becoming distinctly and disappointingly forested once more.

As the sun was getting low in the sky, we reached the land's end once again.  We would be nuts - well, more nuts than usual - to go any farther today.

For the second day in a row, there was no ready shelter-cave, so instead I set about digging another hillside hollow.  Rather than staying in the hollow I was digging, Boxter immediately took off.  But it seemed he only wanted to go swimming, and he watched me work while he bobbed serenely in (happily shark-free) waters.

A duck checked my work.

But unfortunately, it seemed that was all Boxter wanted to do that night: go swimming.  And no amount of my firmly returning him to the nice shelter I'd built would convince him to stay in it long enough for me to build the last wall to enclose us.  He hankered, evidently, for the sea.

It's getting dark... this is not funny anymore...

He's out there somewhere again.

....annnd he's left for a fourth time.
It was time to bring out the haystack offering.

By that time, it was full night, and our shelter had one wall and a roof completely open to the night and the creepers.  And I could hear something coming, as it scraped loudly, shuffling footsteps coming closer.   I could barely move my fingers on the keyboard and mouse, as they stiffened with dread.  It was coming closer... closer... and suddenly it was THERE! appeared to be a duck.  Which wandered around not doing much of anything, but all the while making a loud, heavy, shuffling, scraping sound.  Apparently there's only one "footstep" sound in Minecraft, so the footsteps of a duck make the same noise as those of a zombie.

I had nearly finished putting in the windows when I began to hear a new noise, the WwwwwooooOOOOooo creepy mooing sound of the Spooky Cow.

I'll spare you the many screenshots of an empty window, which I took each time convinced that THIS time I finally had a shot of the Spooky Cow.

But this screenshot was interesting - a shot of the duck launching itself from the roof above my head, only to die in a puff of asterisks in midair.

Eventually I saw the likely culprit: a fox that somehow must be possessed of a ninja ranged attack.

And then another shape darted in front of the now-very-scary window!

It appears to have been a boar.  Such was my distraction that I took the time to build a furnace to smelt more sand into glass, only to finally remember that I didn't actually have any sand with me, or anything worth smelting, really, unless I wanted to make more rock to add to the mountain of solid rock that already surrounded me.  Or to replace some of that unsightly cobblestone with elegant grey rock, thus making my habitat into an elegant.... yeah, right.

Here's yet another screenshot of a blank window, during which I must have been convinced that something else was out there.

Morning dawned, and our entrance hallway did have a certain elegance to it.

And yet another creature lurked at the door.  Someone must have been projecting movies on the other side of the glass or something.

I appear to have drawn my bow against the terrifying sheep.

Oh, well, at least we'd, most improbably, survived another day and another night.  Next: more trees!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Part 19: In which things are scenic

Day dawned without too many scary noises outside.  The protective walls of the narrow valley we had camped in, plus the decent views afforded by my lavish windows, tempted me for a moment to make an orderly and dignified exit from the shelter.  Even the little pond out front was not shark-infested at the moment.

Boxter is so excited to leave that he appears to be actually trying to phase through the glass.

Nothing too scary... and a pretty red flower.

Nevertheless, I bolted like a frightened chipmunk.  And when I turned around to look back the way I had come, I was glad I had.  I made a mental note that if there's no danger below or to either side, it stands to reason that death from above is imminent.

I count two creepers and two bears.

After debating our exit strategy (i.e. running around in circles of indecisiveness), I finally concluded that we could probably make a getaway over the hill to the right.

We survived, and were soon out into pleasantly open country, flat valleys and scenic hills, and only a few scary caves.

Passing a light brown horse, I slowed to see if it had any wisdom to impart.

It proceeded to skip merrily around a pair of cacti, going "ouchouchouch" and flashing red the entire way.  Maybe there's not much to do for entertainment in the desert.


Ouchouch - whee - ouch

I stayed to watch out of morbid curiosity, but the horse eventually tired of the game, or figured out what the problem was, and bounded off.

The landscape continued to be scenic, and to contain the occasional horse.  This one seemed either unaware or unconcerned that two bears were in the immediate vicinity.

We passed a bear and a lion doing battle in a pumpkin patch.

Eventually we reentered desert, and came across this awesome landform.

Of course, it was necessary that we go check it out.

Epic desert door worthy of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

It was pretty awesome up close, too.

 And then we raced on through more scenery and past more horses.

"Hey," said Boxter, as we crested yet another terrific hill.  "Did you want to know the answer to that pegasus density question?"

"Sure," I said, taking falling damage as we walked off a small cliff.

"Well, I had to make some assumptions.  I assumed that the rate of pegasus sightings increases by a rate of 10% of its initial concentration every kilometer."

"Ten percent?  How did you come up with that number?"

"Horse math."

"...okay.  So when can we start seeing one pegasus per day?"

"Never.  The initial pegasus concentration is zero.  I don't believe they exist."

I laughed, as we narrowly avoided plunging into a scary cave.  "I've seen one before.  I know there is - was - at least one."

"Well, I didn't see it.  If it really existed, where is it now?"

"It died in a horrible ceiling accident."


"I'm serious!  It was cobblestone weasels or something.  They pulled it up into the ceiling and ate it."


"Look, if you don't even believe in pegasus, then why are you on this journey with me?"

"Sugar cubes."

I was going to argue more, but by then it was getting late, and it was time once more to embark on the frantic ballet that is trying to get both me and the horse safe in shelter by nightfall.  Potential shelter after potential shelter turned out to be a Scary Cave, including one that contained a Spooky Cow, so by dusk I just hunkered us down in a slight depression in a hillside, and spent the next few moments madly trying to construct a shelter that also contained a horse.  The second bit was the hardest.

It's testimony to my level of anxiety about that night's shelter-building that I don't have any screenshots from the entire process, and there's quite a large time gap until the next picture emerges, with rough cobblestone walls and most of a ceiling and a long slit up high that skeleton snipers probably can't aim through.  I notice I also had healed my health before daring to take a picture.

Boxster was under a Spell of Haystack here, so he bounced up and down in the same place, ceaselessly, the entire night through.

As the night began to fill with the slurping, hissing, clinking noises of Scary Things, I decided to pass the time by mining for resources.  Or, in this case, since for the second night in a row I didn't find a single thing, the fun game of Building Pointless Staircases.  My progress was somewhat impeded by the fact that I kept dashing upstairs to make sure Boxter was ok, that that something hadn't mysteriously materialized to menace him.  Even if he didn't believe in the Cobblestone Weasels, I certainly did.

Taken during one of my mad panicked dashes up the stairs.

And morning dawned over the desert.

Unfortunately, not all the Scary Things had gone up in flames with sunrise...

Uh-oh.  Spider butt.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Part 18: Spinning, spinning, spinning

Day umpteen of my journey northward, and still no sign of the elusive pegasus.  I have dully begun to accept the mindnumbing stupidity of the entire quest, starting with the ridiculous notion that somehow pegasus are found in greater numbers to the north.  Given that the potential size of a Minecraft map is something like four times the surface area of the earth, does that mean that if I travel far enough, I'll eventually reach a point where pegasus are thicker on the ground than trees, and their square black eyes watch you unblinkingly from all directions, followed by a point where you must struggle to bat them aside as you make your way forward, followed finally by a point where the very ground is a moving, heaving carpet of white wings?  I put the mathematical question to Boxter, and focus on trying to exit from the cave.

Easy enough.  Just followed the old Minecraft standby of whacking things.  In this case, glass shatters. 

And I run screaming madly from the entrance, waving my sword, also in the grand Minecraft tradition.

Luckily, nothing too hazardous lurked outside this morning.  Boxter hopped happily out into a clear hillside.

It didn't stay clear for long, and thus began a morning of very much Not Fun.

Have I mentioned how hard it is to navigate through forests?  Maybe once or twice?  How a ridden horse has the approximate size and maneuverability of an elephant on a unicycle?  I spent the morning merrily crashing into and off of trees, and taking falling damage.

And then there was lag.  I think we spent a good two hours in game time in this clearing, trying to figure out how to stop from spinning and spinning in a circle.  Each time I thought the motion had maybe, possibly, calmed down, my mouse would twitch slightly, and we would embark on another series of grand pirouettes.  "Boxter!  Will you cut that out?  We're not trying out for the Moscow Ballet here."

Spinspinspinspin wheeee

"Boxter!  This is not the time or the place."

Spinspinspin neigh spinspin

"Boxter!  Are you even listening?"

"Sorry.  I like to spin when I'm thinking hard.  Would you say that the pegasus population increases linearly, exponentially, or logarithmically as we travel northward?"

"Boxter!  Are you making my computer lag?"

"Linearly, exponentially, or logarithmically?"

"... Linearly.  Let's assume linearly.  But this is not the time to - "  

"Ok."  Spin spin spin


Spin spin spinnitty spin

Sighing, and panicking not a little, I did what I should have done from the outset, and reduced the render distance from "far" to "normal" so more memory would be freed for Boxter's calculations.  The spinning stopped.

So... dizzy....
And we headed on our way through the accursed forest.  We came to a bit of a puddle and, as I always have to do now, I checked the tiny puddle for sharks before splashing across.

Next came - oh, joy - more tree-infested mountains.

Finally we arrived at a larger gap of water.  I had also arrived at the end of my tolerance for sheer folly, the stupidity of attempting an epic journey by horseback having been thoroughly emphasized by the infuriatingly long time it took to get through that forest.  There was no way we were going to try to cross that likely deep, likely shark-infested channel.  We would go north, but perhaps we would allow the possibility of small amounts of west and east.

The landscape opened up, well enough to get a good view of the harrowing spectacle of a lion-perpetrated pig massacre.  I remembered about lions.  We gave them a wide berth.

And Boxter remembered about bears.  We also gave this one plenty of space.  Bonking into a few cacti in the process.

"Boxter!  Can you try not to step on the cacti?"

"Sorry.  Busy thinking again.  What's the plural of pegasus?  I think I'm going to need to know this."

"Pega- ... I don't know, Boxter."

"Perhaps I'll spin while I contemplate - "

"Pegasus.  Let's say the plural of pegasus is pegasus.  Nice and simple."

Another spinfest thus averted, we continued approximately northward.

We came upon an area reminiscent of Horse Heaven, but with more cliffs.   Treeless and spectacular, girt by impressive cliffs and sweeping coastline, this seemed like horse country.  Sure enough, we came across a horse party.  It was an upscale horse party, with two unicorns.

But no pegasus.  We left them to their raucous games of Standing on a Hilltop and Neighing a Lot, with occasional bouts of Mindless Bouncing, and pressed on.

Just past noon, from the top of a terrifyingly steep cliff, I spotted a shallow cave in a cliffside, and decided that here we would stay.  This being my first day journeying in a while, I didn't want to push my luck.  If there was one thing I did remember, it was how resoundingly incompetent I am at building nightly shelters.

It was a nice cliffside cave, with the advantages of being deep enough to park a horse in, but not so deep that it held Scary Things.  It did have the disadvantage of being next to a tiny pond which would probably manage at some point during the night to become shark-infested.

Notice how my health keeps going steadily down.  You can blame falling damage.  I am not good at navigating mountains on horseback.
The usual scuffle ensued, in which I would try to convince Boxter to stay put while I built safety walls around us, and in which Boxter would bolt for the open spaces every time I jumped off his back.  He had in the past been sensible about this sort of thing, but today he either wasn't ready to stop for the night, or was using 98% of his brain capacity for pegasus calculations.

In the cave.  For a split second.

It helped to box us both in together.

Except for the part where I kept inadvertently jumping on his back and bonking my head against the ceiling.

I think at this point my head was partially encased in stone.

I put in some nice glass windows.

But had trouble putting the last window square in, because Boxter steadfastly insisted on standing in front of it.  Every time I tried to click on the square to add glass, I would end on an inadvertent joyride through solid rock.

Mrrrrgh.... Can't reach
I decided to hope for now that there weren't any sharpshooter skeletons capable of zapping me through that hole.  I fell to the task of mining/hollowing out our cave into a mighty hall.  Might as well not call it mining, since I didn't find so much as a lump of coal.

But Boxter kept getting in the way.  Directly in the way of my pickaxe.

Oops, sorry about that, Boxter.

Here, let me give you a healing sugar cube.

Yikes, sorry about that, Boxter.

Here, have another sugar cube.

After around the fourth sugar cube, it became apparent that every time I lifted my pickaxe, Boxter would leap under it. And then collect the sugar cube.  I began to suspect that the tastiness of the sugar cubes outweighed the ouchiness of the pickaxe.

In desperation, I resorted to mining directly overhead, where Boxter couldn't possibly get in the way, before suddenly coming to my senses that this was a colossally stupid idea - in Minecraft, you soon learn not to mine directly overhead, after the first few gravel blocks and lava blocks fall on your head.

Near dawn, I quit mining to watch the moon set peacefully over shark-infested waters.