Friday, November 30, 2012

Part 36: In which no progress is made

Morning in the deep woods, with a creeper at the door.  The day was not off to a great start.

I just noticed him staring in dismayed horror at the pile of ashes by the window.  Those are dropped by dead creepers, and I had unthinkingly emptied the useless item while cleaning out my inventory earlier.

Before I could do anything else today, I needed to take care of the creeper problem.  Remembering how easily I used this method to take out a wolf a few days ago in another universe, I punched out a block of glass, and stood ready with my bow?

No sign of the creeper - had it wandered off?  Quite stupidly, I edged closer to the window.

This was not well-advised.

Immediately Boxter, who must have seen this coming, leapt in front of me, and began jumping up and down.  A split second later, I realized what he must have been trying to get through my thick skull, because I heard the ominous hissing of the creeper.

"Run, you fool!"

 I backed off rather in a hurry.  By breaking the glass, I'd made the boneheaded mistake of allowing the creeper to scent me.  With glass in between us, I was safe.  But with just one block removed, I'd suddenly given the creeper sneaky ninja ranged attack capabilities - it could get me from behind the stone wall, even if I couldn't see it at all.  As far as the creeper was concerned, we were now in the same room, and I was fair game.

This is probably a safe distance from the window.

I opted out of the clearly ill-fated battle.  Instead, I decided to escape by digging a tunnel clear through to the other side of the mountain.  It would take me ages to dig this tunnel large enough for Boxter, but maybe, considering the creeper-laden forest that awaited me, I would exit on my own and scout around to see if there was a sane path out of this mess.


My tunnel to freedom completed, I looked back the way I had come.  Boxter was, to my astonishment, distracting the creeper by engaging it in a jumping contest.  I didn't even know creepers jumped, but here was one matching Boxter bounce for bounce.  I guess they do jump - admittedly I'd never taken the time to study their behaviors in detail.

This is an even safer distance from the window.

 The other side of the mountain held a thick and lion-infested forest.

The lion looks particularly joyful, though.

I wandered around to the north, looking for a clear path onward.  It looked grim, but away to the northeast it looked like there might be a sandy beach wide enough to ride on.  Assuming we could make it through all these trees.

I took some time to try to prepare a path, clearing a tunnel through the worst of the trees.  I had no idea how big to make the cleared way - we were massive, that's all I knew, and a single leaf in the wrong place would be enough to block our progress.  The other problem was that all trees tend to look alike, so I managed to lose track of the path even as I was trying to clear it.  I had a feeling that I was never going to find these spots again.  Forlornly I placed a torch as a waymarker, then realized just how many torches I was going to have to place.  Forget it.

And the requisite bear.

Looking back the way I came, I made the discovery that the mountain I'd built the night's shelter in was actually quite staggeringly cool.  It would have made a great base for a mountaintop castle, accessible only by pegasus.


In the woods I was surprised to find a creeper lurking nearby.  It was past noon - what were the creepers doing still around?  They don't burn up with daylight, but they're supposed to eventually lose interest and wander off.  This one was possessed of exceptional patience, apparently.  But not exceptional brains.  It got stuck behind a tree trunk, and I was able to pick it off with arrows.

Surprise afternoon creeper!

Moments later, I was attacked by another afternoon anomaly.  What was a spider doing out in the afternoon, and why was it still aggressive?  This was getting weird, and a bit worrying.


 Near sunset I returned to the mountain shelter to find that Boxter had attracted company.


It was two identical horses which, until my arrival, had been bouncing near the windows.  Had they come to absorb wisdom, to check out his toned cubic physique, or to taunt him?  They wandered off when I drew near.

The pair of horses wanders off into the sunset.

Inside, Boxter was practicing his daily exercise regime, which consisted of bouncing repeatedly and neighing a lot.  I blocked up the hole I'd punched in the morning, and ran down the long hallway to take care of the door on the other side of the mountain, quickly before anything scary wandered in.

The Minecraft equivalent of a boarded-up window.

I returned to find Boxter determinedly bouncing again.  He kept it up for the entire night, a feat that would put any human athlete to shame - in addition to his mental powers and his horse magic abilities, he apparently was in top physical form.  If he was an action hero, I'd probably be forced to hate him, especially if the next thing I discovered about him was a mysterious and troubled past.

All of my screenshots of him from that night show him in midair, like some sort of horse-shaped helium balloon.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Part 35: Let's try this again

Dawn revealed the now-familiar view through the front window of the shelter, of an open desert and, faintly visible, the useless glass portal to the land of terrifying death.

My brisk morning run (panicked headlong dash for fear something would leap on my head) revealed no danger, so I returned to the shelter to collect Boxter.

Relatively harmless wildlife this morning.

He was apparently raring to go, showcasing his impressive 1-block leaping abilities.  I wonder why it is that he can jump higher with my weight on his back than without it?

And I've got my eye on that spider.

For what seemed like the umpteenth time, we turned to look back at the mountainside we had just left.  The previous day's journey freshly in my mind, I decided to go to the west of the mountain this time, for fear of ending up at the exact same place once more in a sort of endless replay of the same day's journey.

The Sargasso Sea of Sand

To this side, the landscape was indeed passable.

But unfortunately, not quite an isthmus.

We stopped to gape back at the weird floating sand landscape that we'd tried to descend yesterday.  This version of Minecraft doesn't have solid sandstone, just fragile sand, which means that this entire structure is defying gravity, even Minecraft gravity, ready to collapse in avalanche.

This is only part of the maze.

And we came at last to the same peninsula that I'd seen in the parallel universe, a short gap to another island to the north.  This seemed to be the only way across - but at least it wasn't too deep.  After checking for sharks a few dozen times, I nudged Boxter forward, and we began to wade across.  It occurred to me that I had no actual plan should a shark try to attack us.  Well, my plan was to click madly at the shark with my sword and hope Boxter didn't swim out to deep water.  It wasn't a very good plan.

I was very nervous at this point, having seen a shark in the bay to the right not very long ago.

"How are you doing, Boxter?"

"Glub glub"

I wonder if Minecraft horses need air?
We made it.

The new island consisted of pretty rotten territory for riding through, so it seemed that much was in accordance with what I'd seen in the parallel universe.  And there was a bear standing squarely in our path.

I engaged in a staring match with the bear, trying to work out if it was worth dismounting to battle the bear, and risk losing health or using up arrows.  The bear seemed to taunt me, beginning to wander off, before, "Ok, I'm leaving now.  Oh, wait, forgot this flower over here.... Now I think I'll go... Oh, hang on, did I lose my watch in the sand?  No, I had it the whole time..."

The bear
The bear is not actually leaving.

Finally I tired of waiting, and made the daring move of wading through shallow water once more, cutting across the bay away from the bear.

The territory ahead didn't look very promising at all, although that mountain was pretty cool.


Sure enough, the forest was maddeningly difficult to navigate, and the trees were even too tall for jumping between treetops.  In several places, there simply wasn't enough space to drive a horse between trees, and I had to dismount and whack away at the leaves to clear a path.  This procedure was complicated somewhat by the way Boxter kept bobbing and jumping around, as if trying to help, but succeeding only in getting between me and the tree.

I did try to simply ride him through some of the gaps in the trees, but ended up somehow getting my face caught in the branches when I finally was forced to dismount, and after a bit of damage, decided that probably wasn't a good idea.

Boxter in the woods

It took us the rest of the day to reach the mountain, and I resolved to stop there for the night, digging the  now-customary tall and thin cave entrance.  I still haven't completely worked out the kinks of that plan, though.  I put up a two-block glass barrier, and cleared the ceiling up to five blocks, two blocks back into the cave.  Confidently, I leapt onto Boxter's back, and we jumped for the opening.  We got stuck halfway over the glass barrier.  In frustration I dismounted, only to embed my head in the ceiling, taking damage.  I somehow managed to scramble out of the ceiling.  I landed inside the shelter.  Boxter landed outside it.  So I had break the top layers of glass out (it didn't occur to me to build a step, and to expand the notch in the ceiling to give us room to pass), and chase down Boxter.  Again I rode him inside, this time over a lowered barrier, and then tried to bodily block him from jumping back out the entrance as I blocked it up with glass.

Prevented from jumping out of the shelter, Boxter turns instead to freaking me out by sticking his nose through the wall.

For once, I'd secured our shelter before darkness had actually fallen.  I decided to build a person-sized exit so I could scout ahead our route for the following morning.

Ha.  Human-size.

I returned at sunset with the unfortunate news that things looked pretty grim.  Trees out to the horizon.  No sign of a giant impassable ocean, at least, but maybe on horseback I simply hadn't made it that far yet.

Darkness fell, and Spooky Cow was outside doing his best to fill the night with unsettling sounds.  "WoooOOOooo.... MoooooOOOOOOOoooo...."

"I've heard scarier," I told it, as I checked all the corners of my shelter for danger, then nonchalantly turned to crafting a pickaxe.

Seconds later, my heart nearly leapt out of my throat when a grey shape floated quickly past the window.

"All right, fine, maybe I'm a little scared of Spooky Cow."

I went downstairs to mine till morning, away from all the scary sounds.

I think that MIGHT be Spooky Cow at the upper left of the window.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Part 34: How to get a pegasus

The black mists slowly cleared from in front of my vision, and I blinked.  I was back at the portal again.    And the light had relaxed back into familiar blocky crispness.  My hunger meter was gone, and my health meter was back at full.  Away to the left, I heard the neighing of a horse.

There's even the creeper, right where I remembered it.


"Oh, you're back, are you?  Had lots of fun in the other world, did you?"

I glared at him.  "I ran into... difficulties."

"I did warn you," he said, with an knowing horsey look on his pixellated face.  "Out of curiosity, was it the tigers?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

I mounted back into the saddle, and we set off northward.

Good old Boxter.

There was the mountain we'd stayed in last night, and which I'd seen in the parallel universe.  Instead of being covered in snakes, it was covered in safe, harmless pigs.  We circled around to the right-hand side of the mountain, where the landscape looked more gradual.

Soon we were following a coastline that I'd recognized from my trip in the parallel universe - somewhere around here had been a tortoise that I actually kinda missed a little.  We started climbing the mountain, to avoid a lion that was hanging out near the coast.

"So, did you find a pegasus?"  Boxter asked as we climbed.

"I didn't even see a single horse," I said glumly.

"Well, did you at least see a zebra?  You can't find a pegasus without one of those."

"What?  Why would I need a zebra?"

"Well, if I remember correctly, in that universe, you've got to tame a zebra first.  And a regular horse as well.  And if they, um, get along, there will be a baby eventually."

"A pegasus comes from breeding a zebra and a horse?"

"No, no, that would be silly," Boxter said.  "Obviously that pairing results in a zorse."

"What do I do with the zorse?  Can they fly?"

"Of course not.  Well, not unless you give one an Essence of Darkness."

"What's an Essence of Darkness?"

"It's made from an Ender Eye, a Heart of Darkness, and a potion bottle.  You mean to tell me that you went into the other world without knowing all this?  Expecting to just come across a pegasus?"

"... yeah.  What's an Ender Eye?"

"The eye of an Enderman."

"Let me guess: they're fearsome and rare."

"Yeah.  They teleport."

"Yikes.  And the Heart of Darkness?"

"You get that by battling a bathorse at night underground."

"Fearsome and rare?"


"Ok, supposing I got this Essence of Darkness thing made... what would I do with it and the zebra horse thingy?"

"You'd give it to the zorse, and it'd transform into a bathorse."

"Wait, I thought I had to kill the bathorse."

"You did.  Now you have to tame one.  They fly at least - you'd like that."

"So there's no pegasus in the other world, only bathorses?"

"There are pegasus.  To get one, next you have to fly the bathorse up above the clouds."

"And then it becomes a pegasus?"

"No, then you have to give it an Essence of Light."

"How do I craft an Essence of Light?"

"From an Essence of Darkness, an Essence of Undead, and an Essence of Fire."

I laughed hollowly, and nearly drove us off a cliff.  At the last minute we swerved from the ledge - was that a dungeon down there?  This sandy landscape sure was geometric and difficult to navigate, and I was going to have some trouble getting down off of this mountain.  Oh.  It was the same mountain we'd been on earlier, and in trying to find a safe path down, I'd gradually turned away from northward.

Feeling quite dumb, I tried to remember how we got down off the mountain last time.  I took a wrong turn, and we ended up teetering on a narrow ledge with steep dropoffs on both sides.

And once again, I forgot till now about the strategy of trying to collapse the sand-mountain to make a more gradual slope.

I panicked, and we ended up falling off the ledge - fortunately, toward the water side.  We landed in the water, but took a lot of falling damage.  I'm not sure whether this means that water doesn't cushion a human-horse combo from falling damage, or that I'd only managed to mostly fall in the water.  But it looked like falling into water was unfortunately a strategy I couldn't rely on in the future.


Hauling out of the water, I dismounted to eat a health-restoring pork chop.  Then I continued around the side of the mountain, and - yep, there was the portal.  This was right back where we'd left earlier today.  How embarrassing.  But it was getting toward nighttime, and I knew that at least there'd be a ready-made shelter waiting in the side of that mountain.

Arriving at the cave, I prepared to dismount, and -

to dismount, and -

to dis... where was Boxter?   I had only just now noticed that I wasn't currently riding a horse.  Kind of an odd mistake to make, I know.

Oh, look.  A portal.

Now very worried, I retraced my steps.  What had happened?  Had Boxter slipped away at some point?  Had a lion eaten him out from under me?

Uh-oh, uh-oh

Finally I found him in the valley where I'd stopped to eat a pork chop.  "Clip clop, clip clop," he said, making coconut-shell-clomping motions.  "Forget something?"

"Shut up,"  I said, and climbed in the saddle.

Words fail me.

There was the usual go-round at the entrance to the cave, where I attempted to ride Boxter into the cave over a two-block-high barrier, only to remember that when I'd built the cave, I'd failed to make the entrance high enough, and earlier had the exact same problem.  After a slight bit of head-bonking damage, a remodel of the cave entrance, and a quick race to beat Boxter to the entrance of the cave (this time I manage to block it off ahead of him), we were both safely in the cave for the night, and not a moment too soon.

At this point, I was not yet breathing a sigh of relief... still have to block up the rest of the entrance.  But at least now Boxter can't go racing off into the moonlight.

"Don't you want to know how to make an Essence of Undead and an Essence of Fire?"  Boxter asked.

"...Okay.  We've got all night.  How do you make an Essence of Undead?"

"You need rotten flesh and a Heart of Undead."

"Rotten flesh is from...?"

"Zombies drop rotten flesh in the new world."

"Instead of feathers?  How random.  And what drops a Heart of Undead?"

"Undead horse.  They're fearsome and -"

"Rare.  Got it.  And Essence of Fire?"

"For that, you need flame and a Heart of Fire."

"Heart of Fire is from...?"

"Nightmare flaming scary horse.  Found in the Nether."

"Fearsome and rare?"

"I actually don't know, on that score.  But you'll have some trouble getting flame."

"Why?  Don't I just need a flint and tinder?"

"Close.  You need to defeat a fire ogre."

"What on earth is a fire ogre?"

"Big smashy guy who can bash his way through stone."

"I think I met one of th-"

"And then he sets the stone on fire."

"...Okay, you know what?  I'm not going back to that other universe.  Ever.  There are pegasus here - I've seen one, and I have faith that they still exist.  And an endless journey into the north still sounds more doable than that crazy scavenger hunt through the depths of the caves and the fires of the Nether."

"Don't you want to hear how to actually capture a pegasus in the other world?  You just need four more flames, and a diamond, and some gold..."

I climbed back down into the mine I'd built on the previous night, and continued digging my way toward the bottom of the earth.  Toward dawn, I found a small clump of coal blocks, and I don't want to know exactly how many because I have a sad feeling they'd not make up for the coal I used in all the torches.

Welp, back to the mines.

Daylight came at last, and we were greeted by the sight of a cow dangling its udders in front of the window.  Sigh.  I'm never going to be the big-time, fearless kind of Minecraft player who battles Endermans and giant flame ogres and rides bathorses into battle.  I'm the kind of Minecrafter who forgets whether or not they're actually riding a horse at the moment, and who gets moo-ned by cows.

Udderly ridiculous

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Part 33: Eeeek

In the early dawn light, I hauled myself out of the vast, terrifying ocean, with just over one heart of health left.  It was blinking red - I was in bad shape.  If I so much as bumped my head against the ceiling, I would die.  I withdrew my emergency ration of mushroom soup, which I had against all odds kept safe in my pockets while boating, swimming, and battling sharks throughout the night.  My hunger meter finally restored to full, my health meter started slowly to regenerate.  I huddled there by the beach while my health meter slowly inched back upwards, sword at the ready, waiting for a creeper or giant green scorpion or, I don't know, a tyrannosaurus or something, to surge over the hill and attack.

But the morning was quiet.  My health finally restored, I cautiously crested the hill in search of breakfast.

I found a lion instead.  After the night I'd just had, I didn't feel up to dealing with lions.  I decided to try a different side of the hill.

Gonna pass on this one.

Here, I found a - oh, look, a goat!  Complete with little stubby horns and a beard.  But my mind was on my kebab breakfast, and I brandished my sword.  Turned out the goat was ready for me, and I was pretty surprised when I found myself butted high into the air, taking considerable falling damage.  Determined, I waded back into battle.  I eventually won, but the goat had reduced my health by half.  And there was no meat, only two leathers.

Hey, a goat!

Kebab-less, I headed on my way again, as my health slowly regenerated.  I saw a bee, but after the threat a mere goat had proved to be, there was no way I was going to mess with the bee.  There probably wouldn't have been that much meat on it anyways.

Also, I think there is a fox hiding somewhere in the background.  But I already know those aren't edible.

I continued along a steep and tree-thick coast, sort of glad for the moment that I didn't have to try to navigate a horse along this.

And if there WAS a pegasus, it would probably have spawned on that floating block, just to make things difficult for me.

I heard a horrendous noise, like the war cry of a thousand rubber bands, coming from the hill up ahead. I readied my sword - well, these days, my sword is always readied - and edged forward.  It turned out to be a pair of deer, standing majestically on the hillside.  Making very loud rubber band noises, for reasons known only to themselves.  My thoughts leapt instantly to venison, and I approached with my sword.  At the hill's crest, I hesitated - they were rather large, and one of them had an impressive pair of fractal antlers.

Rubber band crossed with wookie, in fact.

But when one of them made the gesture shown below, my hesitation ended.  They turned out not to be too dangerous.  They also turned out to be, apparently, inedible.  No venison, just a bit of leather.

All right, buckko.

Scarcely had I dispatched the deer, when something bumped into me and started biting me.  It was small and stripey and vicious - a cute little baby boar.  But it apparently was dangerous, so I quickly dispatched it, and looked around for the bigger one that I knew must be nearby.

With a strangely spherical shadow

There it was.  Also pretty cool-looking... an improvement over the ones in the old world.  But I wasn't going to mess around with these guys.  I killed the boar, eagerly awaiting the boar meat.  There was none.  Huh.  Fine.

Next up was a duck - those are good to eat, right?  Turns out they weren't.

In fact, I didn't even get a single feather from the duck.  They must have been painted on.

So far I've killed an entire menu's worth of wild game - rabbit, boar, venison, and duck - and none of them were good to eat.  And I couldn't remember ever seeing a cow, pig, or chicken.  Apparently in this world only rats are edible.

And the landscape in this new world is difficult - it's either rugged winding coastlines with steep cliffs:

Also, that is one eerie shadow.

Or forest so impenetrable that even I couldn't fit between the trees, and had to hop from treetop to treetop, taking damage each time I fell out of a tree.

By early evening, I had arrived at more promising territory, but I decided to stop for the night, and roast my delicious bounty of two dead rats.

I came across a modestly high hill, and dug myself a shelter in its side.

Looks a lot better, except for the treacherous hidden hole

The entrance safely bricked up with meter-thick glass, I roasted my rats and gnawed on them as the night's eerie noises began.  There was definitely some growling going on out there already, and some distant steady groan that I didn't like very much.  I yearned for the familiar clink of a skeleton or moan of a zombie.

Interior shot of Fort Necessity

There were things out there already - some sort of creature went by in the dark (looks like a zombie in a tutu?) and it was flashing red, meaning that it was being attacked by something even worse than it.  And that low steady groan was getting louder, coming distinctly from the north, accompanied by pounding sounds.

I don't even want to know.

Now I was getting nervous, and I tunneled through the hill toward the south, trying to put some more hill between myself and whatever was coming from the north.  I quickly ran out of hill, and returned to the main room - that sound was definitely getting louder - so that I might be able to see danger coming through the windows, and maybe have enough maneuvering room to defend myself.  In the face of the overwhelming scariness of the noises from whatever was coming, I had completely lost faith in the meters and meters of dirt, rock, and glass that protected me from outside.  I leapt on top of the furnace, seeking the high ground.  Something hurt me - I jumped back off the furnace.  What had happened?  Was the furnace still hot?  Was the ground shaking?  It was very loud now.  Something hurt me again.  I couldn't see anything.  What was going on?

I had just turned around for another look at the furnace, when...


In a split second of chaos I drew my sword, slashed blindly once, and somehow took a screenshot.  Then...

If you look just right, you can see two of them over to the left with their fists raised in a victory dance, evil eyes and fangs showing.

What was that?  It looked like three giant green guys with barrels around their middles.  Did they smash their way in?  And why did the screen say I exploded?  Are they somehow explosive too, or did they blast me into the clutches of a waiting creeper?


I hate this world.