Aug 24, 2011

Watch the grass grow

You remember my underground garden? It's coming along nicely:

The problem is, though, that trees growing on plain dirt don't look very foresty. I'll need grass, but here's the catch: while grass is generated whenever a new chunk is generated, apart from that, the only way to get grass is by making it spread from one tile to another. In other words:

And before long:

Until finally:

Did it take long? Yes.

Aug 22, 2011

Musical Voight-Kampff test

Go listen to some Blast Surf on Grooveshark. It's music by a friend of mine; Finnish readers can read his "press release" here.

In our opinion, this album would work perfectly as a musical Voight-Kampff test. If the first song doesn't make you smile, there's a very good chance that you're a replicant.


Aug 12, 2011

Mojang Milestone

The Swedish indie developer Mojang recently sold the three millionth copy of their flagship product, the block placing game Minecraft. Congratulations, guys! Not bad for a game still in beta.

Minecraft was initially a one-man project by game developer Markus Persson, based on Infiniminer by indie developer Zachtronics Industries.

Here's a picture of Markus, also known by his nickname, Notch.

The success of Minecraft has allowed Markus to found his own game development company, Mojang AB.

While much of the work at Mojang is put in the ongoing development of Minecraft, Mojang has a second team working on a separate game, Scrolls.

As more and more people have become familiar with Minecraft, many people have become curious about the company's unusual name. I, too, wondered what it meant, but luckily my online detective skills allowed me to find the answer.

It turns out that "mojang" is Sundanese for "girl".

It's often used in a phrase "mojang Bandung", literally "girl from Bandung". Figuratively it means a pretty girl, Bandung having a reputation for beautiful girls.

Now that we've cleared the mystery of their name, let's have a look at what's going on at Mojang's offices.

Aug 5, 2011

Spaced out of Color

The Majesty of Colors is a pixel-horror Flash game by Gregory Weir. It was released in December 2008, but I came across it only recently.

It's brilliant. Go play it now.

Aug 1, 2011

Dig and map

I've got a problem. See, I built a lighthouse:

I had to put in cactuses during construction to stop spiders from climbing in over the unfinished walls. Stupid spiders!

Obviously, I want a light on top of the lighthouse; I mean, without a light, it's just a house. That used to be easy, but now that Notch (you know, this guy) fixed fire, it's no longer possible to have a permanent fire using just wood. What I need is netherrack, which will burn infinitely. The problem? You can only get that in hell. And to build a portal to hell, you need either lava or obsidian.

Now, there's lava over at my other tower, but that's far away and besides, the last time I had anything to do with that lava, I died. So I'm sticking to my old digs. And when I say digs, I mean this dig:

My goal is to eventually reach the bottom of the map, for a proper chasm. On the way there, I'll definitely run into some lava, which will let me build a portal to hell. There's all sorts of interesting things you can do with portals, which are intriguing in connection to another project I'm thinking about.

Now, as anyone who's played Minecraft knows, mining ain't easy. Here's what I stumbled across in my big dig:

Yup, that's me looking down into a cave with a Creeper in it. Turns out, not only is there a Creeper, but there are several skeletons as well. Now, am I going to drop down into that death cave of death to be murderlized by skeletons and creepers? Hell no.

Hey creeper! You think you're going to blow me up?

Think again.

It's really hard to explain how satisfying that is. Especially since creepers aren't nearly as big a problem now as they used to be. Way back when, I have "fond" memories of hunkering down in a barely secure dugout or tiny wooden cabin, listening to the zombies zomb and watching the creepers creep, and then running like crazy in the morning to get away from the fucking exploding cacti before they destroy me and everything I've built. Before I tidied it up a little, the ground in front of my door looked like it had been shelled by Schwerer Gustav. But then this came along:

That's right, beds. Now if you mosey on inside around sunset and bed down before it gets dark enough for monsters to spawn, the game skips the night altogether and lands you safely in next morning, with nary a creeper in sight. So now, while all this is going on, you just sleep:

And wake up to a pristine world without creepers hiding behind corners. Blah. It's all so easy for you young 'uns! Why, when I built my first tower...

When Minecraft makes it to the XBox, blowing up a creeper with TNT has to be an achievement.


I have to be honest, though: even with all these explosive shenanigans, mining solid rock isn't really all that interesting in itself. I'm in it for the end result, not so much the process, even if there is a certain meditative quality to it. So every now and then, I take a break from the mining to explore side projects. This time, I've been mapping!

The silver arrow is where I'm at, and it's currently at my first ever base. Just to the right of it is my first tower. Here's a more complete view of the area around my spawn point:

You can actually see my tower and the walkway leading away from it. Oddly, on these maps north is left. Notice some ice at the lower right corner! As you can tell from those two maps, the wooded hill to the left of my tower is where my main base is, and the underground passages I'm digging lead east of there. The lighthouse is a little to the north of the hill.


All this is well and good, but how about mapping something a little more epic? Like maybe Epic Island?

It's good to be back!

Maps, however, don't make themselves. You need redstone, iron and paper, and while I've got the first two in quantity from my mining operations, paper is a different beast. Through excellent foresight, by which I mean a lucky accident, I took some reeds with me and planted them next to my tower to get that sweet, sweet paper:

And once that's done, here we go!

The way the map works is simple: as you walk around holding it, it fills in. So the way to map Epic Island is to walk around on it, and as I'm doing so, I'm struck again by how freaking big it really is. Here's some sights from along the way, starting with a very unlikely geological formation:

A nice view from the coast, about directly north of Twin Tower:

And this epic snow-covered mountain, a sure site for a construction project:

That shot also gives you a fair idea of how mapping works. The plains in the middle of the main part of the island are full of sinkholes and caves:

The map actually takes up quite a bit of the screen when you're holding it, and you can't see directly below you, making it amazingly easy to walk right into one of those.

Finally, here's the more or less finished product:

That giant thing is Epic Island. And no, it won't fit on the map. To give you an idea of the sheer scale involved, my Blood Bowl pitch is in the lowermost part of Epic Island, the bit that's connected to the island proper by a sort of isthmus, at the extreme right. Snow Base, on the other hand, is just beyond the ice at the very top right-hand corner, slightly off the map. Twin Tower is just east of the cursor in the middle of the screen and can actually be seen as a tiny brownish-gray dot on the map. The white area at the eastern edge is the snow-covered mountain in the previous picture.

So yeah, it's huge. No wonder I couldn't circumnavigate the damn thing! Still haven't, by the way. The two maps don't quite fit together, but this is a fair approximation:

That's most of the world I've seen so far. I want to venture out and see a lot more of it, but I'm kind of holding back in anticipation of the great adventure update, which is coming at some point. If they're going to be adding loads of new stuff specifically as incentives to go adventuring, then surely there's no point in not waiting? So for the moment, my exploration of my Minecraft world is on hold. There's a lot to do before the great adventure update, though, so I'll be back soon...

In the meantime, if you want more Minecraft-related entertainment, got take a look at Far Lands or Bust; for background, take a look at the Far Lands page on the Minecraft wiki. It's pretty awesome.