jueves, 30 de junio de 2011

Patch 1.7 is out!

Yeah, today, less than a couple of hours, Minecraft Beta 1.7 is out. It has been said that 1.8 will be the last patch before the release date (about a week before november 11), and here are the patch notes:

+ Added pistons
+ Fire or redstone is now required to trigger TNT
+ Fences can be stacked
+ Added shears
+ Shears can be used to pick up leaf blocks
+ Shears can be used to shear sheep without hurting them
* Sheep no longer drop wool from being punched
- Removed Herobrine
Personally, I will wait at least a couple of days before updating my game, simply because I don't need the shears nor the pistons update (neither I need the fire/redstone change to TNT) and I do need all the mods I'm using ^^.

Tomorrow morning I'll try to publish a new entry about bases, which was intended for today, but Notch beated me XD. On a sidenote, I'd like to tell you that two of my favourite mods were recentrly actualized: Buildcraft, with the addition of building patterns (so you can build a "template contruction" and capture it into an in-game item, provide the materials to a new filler called Builder, and get it constructed without effort); and Eloraam's integrated redstone (with the addition of some new blocks, like the counter). Be advised, however, that none work with 1.7 yet, and that Integrated Redstone has changed its item ID's (now it uses only ONE item ID instead of 10 or more...), so you would need to remove at least all the clocks in your world before actualizing (the easiest way is to delete the old .zip, run the world, exit, put the new .zip, and go back to the world).

Let's show you a little example of how amazing this mod is, with a combination lock using the counters (I made this in half an hour or so, as a proof of concept, so it lacks autoresetting for the counters, for example, which could be added with more vertical levels of wiring):

martes, 28 de junio de 2011

Ground level bases: defenses

I made some snapshots and two videos about how to protect your base from hostile mobs.

First, the videos (I use brick blocks because the map is a stone-based flat map, to avoid passive mobs spawning):

Murder holes:

I got this concept from Paulosoaresjr, you can see the link to his channel to the left. To build a murder holes protected base, the inside must be 1 block lower than the outside, and the rest is to leave an uncovered hole. If you were to leave a hole one block up instead (and not making the inside 1 block lower than the outside) you would be vulnerable to skeleton's arrows.

Spider's bane:

This one I found by experience: a spider can't attack to something under itself, and it has a 2x2 blocks base (and 1 up), so this shows what to do before getting out of your house in the morning: check the roof for spiders ^^.

Now, some more defenses against stuff... like a lava pit (with a piston middle jump point), a cacti perimeter and what I call "the house's hat", something that, believe it or not, prevents spiders to get to the top of the house:

Lava Pit:

Cacti perimeter:

"House Hat" (be advised that undeads might find protection from sunlight under its shadow, so it works best with the murder holes):

domingo, 26 de junio de 2011

Base 101: the ground level base

Ok, lets look at the most basic kind of base of all: the ground level one, a simple design with the floor at (more or less) the same level as the ground around it, and the roof 4-5 levels above.

Pros: it's quick and easy to make, you can expand it with ease (just take down a wall, and that's it, or add higher walls in the roof, then another roof) and allows equal access to all blocks in the game. Also, it's not so much of a tragedy if you can't find your way back (unless you use it for storage too...)

Cons: you might need something to mark where is it to be able to find it again, you will need to expand this base quickly if you don't throw away some items, and you can only expand it safely by daytime.

As an example, this is a screenshot of my base in one of the worlds I play at. It's two stories high, plus the "growing tower" with glass ceiling and a lava signal. The lava pit was a late adittion (I hit bedrock and several lava deposits before any diamond, so I decided to get rid of my spider problem), but initially it was about 1/4 smaller (one story high, and half the lenght). Funny thing is, when I ended adding the tower (a process that I made one level at a time), some monsters started spawning in the higher rooms while I was away, so I had to put more torches.


Also as you can see the base walls are 2 blocks thick, because of the creepers (that was before the pit). The access, by the way, is by a piston raising in the middle of the pit.

Later on, I added torches at ground level to be able to see mobs at night, but since the house has an access to my mining operation, I mine during nighttime. As for the solar panels, those are a small arrangement I made while expanding the base, and are part of the Industrialcraft mod.

Speaking of diamonds, I can't believe how much it takes to find them at the beginning! It took me about 6 hours of real time before I found my first diamond in that map, and in the map I'm currently playing it took me about the same... and then when I got inside a deep cavern, and wandered around like mad, I ended with 11 in less than half an hour. Luck... XD

sábado, 25 de junio de 2011

Beginners advice: youtube tutorials

Well, today let's talk about starting with minecraft (I know, it's a little inconsistent to start with mods, then go back to the first steps, sorry ^^U). I'd like to reccomend you all to watch paulosoaresjr "How to survive and Thrive" series, with more than 35 or so videos describing, in a very easy to follow way, and without getting boring even if you already know what he's talking about. You can find the link to his youtube channel in the useful links list to the right of the page.

Tomorrow I'll talk about making a base. Not a small starting hut, but an installation where you can find most of the stuff you need to keep going. Also, some advice about what to bring to your deep digging expeditions.

martes, 21 de junio de 2011

Mod's review: Industrialcraft

First of all, apologies for the wall of text from the previous entry. Second, apologies again: Industrialcraft cannot be described in detail in a single blog entry (not to mention, Alblaka, the mod's author, already has a blog, and a wiki). So I will just give a fast course about the critical points of the mod, starting with Alblaka's words: Industrialcraft is a second tier mod, meaning you won't get to see all the goodies in a fresh map without a lot of time and effort.

  • New resources:
The most important new resource implemented by the mod is Energy (measured in "Energy Units" or EU, usually in a "per second" basis, so you will see a lot of EU/s). You can collect energy from lots of sources (burning stuff like in a furnace, from lava, water, wind, the sun, or nuclear reactors, but my favourite is solar energy, using the burning of stuff as a previous step or as an emergency backup). Energy can be an endless and self-supporting resource, and can allow you to never need to craft a pick, shovel or axe again (so you will save some diamonds), and if you go for renewable energy sources, never waste coal in the furnaces again (you will use it to craft solar panels and artificial diamonds instead).
The other three new resources in the mod are Tin, Copper and Uranium. The first two have independent uses or can be merged into bronze (which will act as Iron, only with more durability in armor, sword and tools, but can be used to craft rails, for example. This is great because Iron will be used for a lot of other stuff), and each uranium ore can be refined in a nuclear reactor (keep those surrounded by water or they will explode) into four uranium bars, and you can use those to craft bigger explosives or provide energy.
  • New items:

More than a hundred new items. See the wiki for a detailed description (my only complain here is the absence of a complete recipe guide like the one in the Minecraft Wiki, you will have to look a lot of pages), but the most important are the chainsaw (use it to never need an axe again, it runs on energy), the drill (same as the chainsaw, making obsolete the shovel and the pick, and can be upgraded with three diamonds to make a diamond drill), and an endless string of upgrades for the base, to an extent that you will, most likely, either move to a new location after some time to mount a real base, of demolish entirely your old one to make it again with new mats.

  • Buildcraft integration:
Industrialcraft (IC) and Buildcraft (BC) work great together, specially thanks to the automation the latter provides for resource gathering and the automation of an endless cobblestone factory (because Industrialcraft includes a recycling machine, and the recycled stuff can be either used to make a box that will spawn something random or to power another device). The only point where they "fight" is the mining well (BC)/miner (IC): both do the same, yet IC's one is more efficient (instead of a 1x1 hole to the bedrock, it explores a 5x5 shaft, getting only minerals -or liquids if you want-), being its only downside the need for energy instead of a redstone clock, and the need of mining pipes, which are not really cheap to craft (but you can get all back after the drilling).

While I think the mod is extremely great, it can also be extremely frustrating, also because the recipe to make artificial diamods requires obsidian... which requires diamonds to get in the inventory. When I tested the mod for the first time, well, I spent about five hours and never found any diamond. I ended crafting them from "universal matter", a new item you can make with a lot of time and energy (but fortunately it can be done with stuff you can mine with an iron pick). I'll give it an 8/10, and tell you that there is a SMP server with both IC and BC implemented, called Industrial Rage.
The only improvement I would ask for right away would be an automated wood harvesting method, since you will end going out of your mine a lot just to gather wood to be able to keep mining and building stuff. There was a mod that included it, but sadly it has fallen behind, being made for the 1.5 version of Minecraft.

sábado, 18 de junio de 2011

Mod's review: Buildcraft

Short version: superb mod. Get it here (also there are some videos, and the building recipes). The autor's nick is Spacetoad.

Now with the more elaborated version:

  • Components:

This mod can be broken into three different parts: pipes, machines and markers.
Markers are just that: placeholders that are used to select an area. The area can be a line (using two markers), a surface (using three) or a block (using three). The markers must be aligned in the same line with another, and their range is about 63 blocks (you can test this by making a line, and feeding the filler with two stacks of anything for rapid counting). They have an extra functionality very interesting for unrelated reasons: by placing a redstone torch near a marker, the marker will emit a blue line (that can go through solid blocks and liquids) to the max range of the block, in the six possible directions. I've used this to make a grid so I didn't had to count blocks to place trees, but there are more possibilities.
Pipes are, again, just that: tubes. They go from a machine or chest to anywhere you want, and are best used with the included machines in the mod. You can see what items go through them, also. There are several types of pipes:
Wood: when receives redstone current it takes one item from the attached block (usually a chest, forge or automated crafting table) into the pipe system. Using a clock seems to not be necessary, but it also seems to bug after 10 minutes of use in SMP, so I'll stick to clock using. They are brown-colored.
Stone: the battle horse, they are just black-colored pipes.
Steel: this steel-colored pipe acts as blocking pipe, allowing all the stuff going through it to exit only in one direction (so you will use it when two or more pipes join into a main lane). You can change the exiting pipe by right-clicking on the steel pipe, which also reacts to redstone current.
Gold: this yellow pipe works like powered rails, but it doesn't break any block inside it.
Diamond: light blue, with up to six colors added to parts of it, it's a sorting pipe. After right clicking on this pipe, you will see a window quite similar to the one used by large chests, but with color rows. You place an example in a row, and all the blocks of that type will exit the diamod pipe through that exit (or, if there is an exit without any example, the blocks which don't match the other filters will go through there). I found the only non-wasteful filter here is making cobblestone go into one exit, dirt, sand, sandstone and gravel into another, and everything else in a third one when using a quarry.
Obsidian: this purple pipe will suck any item dropped in front of it. However, the item needs to be in the same block, but you can add redstone current to enlarge the range to one extra block. Very useful if you don't want to be in the collection spot of a farming machine.
Redstone: this pipe has been added by Eloraam (the author of the Integrated Redstone mod), and it's a pipe that emits redstone current anytime a block goes through it. It can be found in here.
Machines: The Automated Quarry, the Automated Miner, the Automated Crafting Table and the Filler are the four machines in the mod.
automated Quarry: It's a machine that makes a hole in the ground every time it takes a right click or a redstone tick (so a clock is needed to leave it in automatic). The mined items go out from its upper side, and using a pipe system is very advisable since the machine will make a big hole all the way to the bedrock (or a lava lake, which is good if you have a water source falling into the bottom when it comes to harvesting obsidian). You can use three markers to select an area and thus deciding the size of the quarry, or you can let it be its default size. The olny downsides to the machine is that you require 11 diamods and 8 gold bars (plus 20 iron bars, 20 cobblestone and 22 wood sticks), which can be difficult. However, the machine can be picked after it has finished and positioned somewhere else.
Automated Miner: anytime you right click or apply a redstone click, this machine will dig a block downwards, leaving a placeholder pipe you can't retrieve but can easily break by hand (easier than leaves, I think). Like the Quarry, you can retrieve the machine after it has reached the desired depth (or bedrock), expels the mined block by its upper side, and can put what mines directly into a chest by its side (much more practical than doing that with the Quarry, since there won't be more than one stack of each block in the game). Since I have Industrialcraft (with a much more interesting mining machine), I only use this one to make infinite cobblestone machines that automatically output 2 cobblestone blocks to large chests (by placing 3-4 large chests, I can be sure it will take 23+ hours of continous gameplay before the chests get full).
Filler: the king of the realm, this machine will fill any area delimited by the markers (line, surface, volume...), but won't substitute any present material. Remember, it fills, so if you want to make a big house or a castle's walls, you need to make several vertical/horizontal surfaces, or you will get a big cube you will have to manually empty. And a 60x60x60 cube is 216.000 blocks, or 3.375 stacks!!! Also, since its top speed seems to be 1 block/second, you would need 60 hours of continuous gameplay (two days and a half) just to fill that.
Automated Crafting Table: this one, while very interesting, is (in my opinion) the least useful part of the mod. You put a recipe inside it the same way you would be using a regular crafting table, then exit (the machine won't spit the contents), and everytime you feed the table with the components you put in the master recipe, the table will craft it after receiving a right-click or a redstone click. So you would usually make a chain of  1 chest/large chest per used input, one wooden pipe per chest to get the items out, several stone pipes to get the stuff to the crafting table (plus a single steel pipe to ensure the items won't go through the wrong pipe), another wood pipe exiting from the table, and a chest/large chest to store the finished product.
While awesome, I think this is not really a practical machine, because... What crafted thing in Minecraft you need in enourmous quantities? Torches, sure, and steel pickaxes (or diamond ones), but it's better to carry 32 wood logs and 64 charcoal, using 2 slots to make 4 stacks of torches, for example.
Also, there is a problem in the table: you need to be able to stack the items for the Automated Crafting Table to work its magic, so forget about anything that uses buckets, and remember there are 3 different logs of wood, so you can't put several stacks of each one in a single chest and then feed it to a single table, it will only make wood planks from a single stack (and leave the other logs in the floor near the table).

I personally give the mod an 8/10, and commend the effort of the modder by making the latest version a SMP one.
I also think it would be awesome to be able to feed the filler with some predefined building plan, made from a .schematic file (and that would tell you how many blocks it would need of each material, both in single blocks and stacks), and let the machine run the job, also using the markers to define the area of the .schematic file to be made.