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Friday, August 30, 2013

MC 1.7 aka the "Crying and Gnashing of Teeth" Update

Back when Dinnerbone tweeted that terrain generation would be getting a huge overhaul in Minecraft 1.7, I knew that would spell trouble for modders. The majority of responses to my statement were along the lines of "Nah, 1.7 will be an easy update after 1.6 was so difficult." I admire the optimism in those responses, but I'm sorry to say they are looking more incorrect.

Grum just tweeted the following:
"I think I just did the biggest refactor in Minecraft history, 222 commits, 379 files changed, 25023 lines of diffs. Breaks all the things!"
 I don't want to imagine what the Minecraft Forums are going to look like once this update hits. There's still a ton of mods not even updated to 1.6 yet because of the changes, and the forums are filled with users asking/demanding updates for them.

A recent post I read mentioned the possibility that Mojang might be attempting to ditch their modding community. Considering the Mod API (announced way back once the game left beta) is still in development limbo, and the stress put on mod authors due to the drastic changes of recent and upcoming updates, it's not a stretch to think that may be the case. Combine with that the recent addition of Minecraft Realms (which doesn't allow for mods), and it really makes you start to wonder.

In any event, look for 1.7's release to cause a lot of grief. I may be sitting with a 1.5.2 setup much longer than I expected.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hearthstone - MTG meets WoW?

If you haven't already heard, Blizzard is releasing a new online collectible card game called Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. While the flavor of the game is pretty well-established, the gameplay is kind of new territory for the developer. Blizzard's past successes with titles like Diablo II, Starcraft, and World of Warcraft (to name a few) set the bar for their genres - so I think a lot of people are going to have high expectations for Hearthstone.

Will it live up to those expectations? It's too early to tell, but they already have some tough competition. Magic: the Gathering Online has been around for a while now, and Mojang (of Minecraft fame) has Scrolls, which is starting to gain a following. This isn't a new situation for Blizzard though - the MMORPG genre was already going strong with titles like EverQuest when they released World of Warcraft... and we know how that turned out (it was a massive success).

 I've watched a few Hearthstone gameplay videos, and it looks like a lot of fun. Here, see for yourself.

 It's fast-paced, exciting, and strategic, and that's going to make for a good launch. In the long term, they've got to come up with a way to keep the game fresh and exciting after players have built and played decks thousands of times. With Magic, the answer to that is new card sets featuring new mechanics. While that's a great way to add to the game, I've come to really dislike the release schedule of Magic sets. They add 3-4 sets a year with each set ranging between 150 and 300 cards, along with a number of extra products that add twists to the game.

I played my first game of Magic right before The Dark was released, and I've gone through selling my collection and coming back to the game a number of times. I haven't had interest in Magic for several years now, mainly due to the feeling of being inundated with so many cards. I just can't keep up with that pace. Knowing that the digital equivalent is now on the same release schedule as the paper one, I wouldn't play MTGO if I was given an account full of goodies because I know a year down the road there will be hundreds of new cards to chase - and this will happen continually as long as the game exists.

This is what I hope Blizzard will be able to avoid with Hearthstone, somehow. Now, I'm not against expansions - I enjoy new toys to play with as much as the next guy - I'm against expansion overload. If they can keep away from that and still provide new play experiences once in a while, I'd be happy. Another difference between Hearthstone and MTGO will be the ability to actually win new cards via standard gameplay. Hearthstone is announced as being a Free-to-Play game where you can buy new cards for real money (like MTGO), but you can also win new cards as you play games. Realistically speaking, I'm sure you'll have to play a ton of games to earn cards after a while, but it's at least an option.

The other important thing to note about Hearthstone is that this is also Blizzard's first game using the Free-to-Play model. It's already been announced that World of Warcraft will ultimately go F2P sometime down the line, but they want to make sure their timing and business model is right. Hearthstone is going to be Blizzard's way to learn what will work for them in the F2P market, and that alone makes it an important title for them.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Update on Rift Spread Issue

Once I was able to ascertain the cause of my mob spawning issues, I thought about the situation. The rift spread was over 500m (30+ chunks) from my base in a direction I rarely even travel. That far away is well beyond the normal game loading distance, so I asked about rifts in the Dimensional Doors thread on the Minecraft forums.

The mod author, stevenrs11, responded saying that rifts are tile entities in the game (you can look that up on the wiki, but those are usually blocks that hold more information than normal). He's noticed the rifts are unintentionally staying loaded outside of the normal range recently, which will be worked on.

So, what was happening was that the rifts were staying active even while I wasn't nearby, allowing them to multiply/spread and spawn Endermen. Thus, the spread became so large that Endermen in that area hogged the spawn cap so nothing else could spawn.

Thankfully, it is a situation that can be easily dealt with, as long as you know where it's at. This was far enough away that I could've gone a while before locating it myself. If it wasn't for the extra JAS commands provided by Crudedragos, I'd still be tearing my hair out trying to figure out why my game was "broken".

Also, I should mention that Dimensional Doors does have a detailed config file that allows for changing the settings of rifts and other things. This will allow you to tone down or even disable rifts until they are fixed.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Side Effects of Rift Damage

It's been a frustrating week trying to sort out the spawning issues in my 1.5.2 setup, and thanks to Crudedragos (author of Project Zulu, Just Another Spawner, and several other great mods) I finally found the source of the problem.

Using the new commands in the DEV version of JAS, I discovered a huge patch of Endermen just east of my location (even though I was on Peaceful). I knew immediately what that meant - a rift damage spread caused by Dimensional Doors.

I traveled east and found extensive rift spread. Setting the game back to Normal and then to day, you can see the Endermen (and the rifts) clearly.

I'm not certain why they were tagged as despawnable, yet were not despawning even in Peaceful, but I at least know what was causing the problem!

Two Unique Mods

I typically don't post mod spotlight videos on here, but these are so unique (and sometimes freaky) that I really wanted to mention them.

The first one is called the Clones mod, and while on the surface it allows you a way to spawn mobs in survival, it's capable of much more. If you clone a player (such as yourself), it can level, eat food, and do a variety of useful tasks. When you give it gear, it's smart enough to not only equip it but to upgrade to the best option it has available. When the clone is given a task, it will often do the job faster and more efficiently than you can... and that's where it gets weird.

This mod has basically found a way to make NPCs that can do just about everything you can, only better. Let's just hope the clones never get any smarter, or they'll realize the players are inferior and boom, SkyNet. :-P

So, what do you do once you create an army of clones to do everything for you? Sit back and surf the web, of course! The Laptop mod allows you to create a big flatscreen computer monitor in your world which you can use to browse websites. What's more, it actually plays YouTube videos - even the fullscreen function works! You could very well use this to make a movie theater in Minecraft that plays real videos.

The thought of actually using both of those mods in the manner I described sounds a bit bizarre though. You'd be playing a game, but having the game play for you, while visiting real life websites inside the virtual game world... oh, I've just gone cross-eyed trying to comprehend it. I'm pretty sure there's a paradox in there somewhere, and attempting it might cause a rip in the fabric of reality. ;-)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

EverQuest Next Landmark

What do you get when you cross EverQuest and Minecraft? I think we now know the answer.

While EverQuest Next is adding new next-gen content and features, Landmark will provide players the ability to build all manner of amazing structures. These structures can then be sold in the Player Studio for real money to other players, or even entered into contests to be added into EverQuest Next itself.

It's definitely an interesting concept that I'd love to know more about.

Monday, August 19, 2013

What is Wrong with Minecraft?

It seems like something is completely broken in Minecraft nowadays. Whilst playing my 1.5.2 game, I realized that monsters have stopped spawning in the Overworld. I noticed this several days after installing the newest backports of Extrabiomes XL and Plunder Rummage. I spent a couple of days mostly in Atum and Twilight Forest, and upon my return I noticed the centaurs around my home were suspiciously absent.

Checking the F3 screen, there were way less entities than normal, and enabling the radar option of Rei's Minimap confirmed a severe lack of hostile mobs. I immediately checked the usual suspects - difficulty setting (Normal, as it's been since the beginning), config files (nothing wrong), gamerules (all in order). My Forge log showed that JAS wasn't spawning anything in the monster category... but monsters placed in other categories (Mo' Creatures rats in the "underground" category) spawned correctly. This issue happens regardless of spawn system (vanilla's or a mod's), anything in the "monster" category simply does not spawn.

I then thought that perhaps one of the backports had caused an issue, so I reverted to previous versions... with no success in getting monsters back. I posted my problem on the EBXL and JAS threads in hopes of resolution. The mod authors are still scratching their heads.

After some testing, I found that logging out and back in will cause monsters to spawn for a short time (perhaps a minute at most). Forge then spits out a "Something's taking too long!" error that mentions 'root', but doesn't say of what. I took that as a sign of a possible corruption/error, and rebuilt my minecraft.jar, reinstalled Forge and LWJGL... it didn't help.

Odder still, this issue is only happening in the Overworld. The End, Nether, Atum, and Twilight Forest work perfectly fine. I haven't made any Mystcraft ages yet, so I've no idea if they're affected.

I've been given some advice and a DEV version of JAS that includes more debug information, so perhaps I'll resolve this mess. My biggest concern is that I won't find any issues, then a month down the road it will reappear, putting me back to where I am now. My build was stable for about a month, then this happened. What's to say a series of test runs of only a day or so will be enough to replicate the error?

So, while I was waiting to hear back from the mod authors, I figured it was high time I finished the race track map for 1.6.2. I was able to copy the save over from 1.5.2 into the 1.6.2 launcher and get Forge, Optifine, and Rei's Minimap installed, so I could at least get that accomplished.

I was building the hotel when I started getting horrendous lag. I've read up on memory settings, and have done everything I know of to eke out the best performance I can. Even with 50 mods, 1.5.2 only lags when generating new areas... so how would 1.6.2 with only 2 mods cause this? I've been reading from the forums that Forge made some rendering changes in 1.6, and it's causing issues with Optifine. As far as I know though, there's been no official announcement and no hard data to back up the claims of incompatibility. Still, there's a lot to be said of the user experience, and if people are saying there's an improvement without Optifine, it's at least worth giving it a try.

While I'm here, I should mention that Mojang recently mentioned the upcoming additions in 1.7. Yes, you read that correctly, 1.7 development is well underway, and we'll be seeing snapshots for it in the near future. Current features include new biomes and reworked terrain generation (no more taigas next to deserts, apparently). While that's all well and good, the modding community is already drowning in bugs and incompatibilities from 1.6. The major modpacks are still sitting in 1.5.2 because of it, and 1.7 is just around the corner? Really?!?

Also, take a moment to realize what 1.7 will be changing... terrain generation. Good luck to the authors that write ore, structure, or biome-adding mods - it seems your time has come to get the shaft. I hate to spout "doom and gloom", but if changing the launcher and adding horses and some new building blocks caused this much trouble, what will rewriting the terrain generation code do? I shudder to think...

All I know is that I haven't been able to keep a game world through various updates past 1.4.7 due to mods not updating mainly due to new bugs/incompatibilities. Now, I can't even get some of the basic elements of the game (monster spawns and decent framerate) to work right. What the heck is going on here?!? At this rate, I wouldn't be surprised if starting up 1.7 just gives you a blue screen of death.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Updated Mod List

I made some very important changes to my mod list, and figured it would be a good idea to go ahead and write out my new setup. It's roughly the same number of mods, but the ones that were added have changed the game considerably while the ones dropped are probably not worth talking about.

Since this is still a 1.5.2 list, I use MultiMC to launch it. I highly recommend MultiMC, especially for anyone wanting to play modded in 1.5.2 and older. The 1.6 launcher is nice, but having to setup older versions of Forge (which don't have installers) inside a profile seems like a real hassle.

The highlighted mods are the ones just added.

Jar Mods

Optifine 1.5.2 HD U D5
Liteloader 1.5.2


GuiAPI 0.15.6


AnarchySage's Vanity Blocks
Atum 0.4.3B3
Backpack 1.12.15
Bibliocraft 1.3.3
Chainz 1.5.2
Craft and Enchant 2.13
Custom Mob Spawner 2.2.2
Dimensional Doors 1.4.1RC1
DungeonPack 1.5
Extrabiomes XL 3.13.4
Gravestone 2.3.1
Grimoire of Gaia 2 1.5.2
Household Gods 7.12.2013(1.5.2)
Inventory Tweaks 1.54b
JustAnotherSpawner 0.10.0
Macro/Keybind  0.9.9
Metallurgy 3.1.1
Mo' Creatures 5.2.3
Mutant Creatures 1.3.4
Parachute 20130611
Plunder Rummage
Primitive Mobs 1.4
Project Zulu Complete
Rei's Minimap v3.3_06
Ropes+ 1.4.0
RPG Inventory (complete w/all addons) v1.0
Twilight Forest 1.18.2
Village Taverns 20-Jun-2013

The additions actually change the game quite a bit. Dimensional Doors and Mystcraft add endless adventure in the form of new worlds, and Plunder Rummage gives extra incentive to go out and explore. I feel that I've seen more of this current game world than any I've ever played, and there's always something interesting just over the next hill to investigate. It's definitely been more fun than the standard "get down to Y11, start branch mine, never see daylight" playstyle I've done so many times before.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Plunder Rummage in Other Dimensions!

I've been trying out the relatively new mod called Plunder Rummage, which adds treasure maps that drop from monsters. Arkenor Oakshadow recently showcased it during his Let's Play series, and he was rather frustrated by some of the structure generation (like huge trees popping up to hide treasure in). I can't blame him, as he's been meticulously grooming the nearby wooded areas for bee/tree breeding (from the Forestry mod).

Anyway, one topic of debate was whether or not the locations of treasures were restricted to the Overworld. While cleaning up my rift mess in the Twilight Forest (see previous post), a treasure map dropped off an Enderman. I used it, and went to the location indicated. I found the chest, in the Twilight Forest.
Here's the map to the new location.
You can see, I'm in the Twilight Forest.

While trying to complete the stages, twice I was directed towards the dark forest biome. I'm guessing because of the thick canopy (or perhaps the modded leaf blocks), Plunder Rummage has a hard time placing the chest on the ground. Both times I found the chest sitting on top of the canopy (thanks to the mysterious dots seen on Rei's Minimap).
I'm not certain if this is true for all dimensions, but it definitely works in the Twilight Forest. That leads me to believe the same would go for any other mod-added dimensions, and perhaps even the Nether and End (though the Nether's bedrock ceiling may also interfere heavily).

The Complexities of Interdimensional Travel

I decided to finally take the plunge and investigate some of the dimensional dungeons offered up by the Dimensional Doors mod. I knew going in that death can come quick and unexpectedly, so I stored my best gear away and opted for something I wouldn't mind parting with... just in case.

After traversing death pits, crushing corridors, greed traps, mysterious rooms of levers, and a labyrinth of passageways, I passed through a wooden door to find myself in a previously unexplored area of the Twilight Forest. I was about 800 meters from my portal home, and began making my trek back.

About 130 meters from my portal, I climbed a steep hill and saw an Enderman clutching a dirt block. Pretty typical, and I made sure not to look him directly in the eye (remember, my good gear was stored safely at home). I realized the ground was very uneven with hardly any grass, it was patchy all over as if some creepers had blown up in close proximity of each other or something.

It was then that I saw a few more Endermen, and the unmistakable particle effect of unstable rifts. Trying to avert my gaze so as not to anger the Enders, I was able to see a rather large spread of rift damage and probably something around 60 Endermen, all happily pilfering blocks. This image shows just a sample of what I saw (taken after I crossed the area and carefully peered back).

While I've not had the best luck at hunting Endermen recently (I'm in need of a good deal of Ender Pearls), this was a bit too much. I'm going to have to head back there and try to repair the damage done. Perhaps I can contain the rifts to a "manageable" level and work out an Enderman farm of sorts.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mounts-Only Door

Here's an interesting build recently spotlighted at the Minecraft Forums. It's a door that only opens for entities riding horses. It's quite easy to build and looks pretty neat.

Now, it obviously works with the 1.6 horses and their special jumping, but I wonder if this might also work with the Mo' Creatures horses? It's something I might have to try...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ghast Tower Cannon!

The good thing about the Nether is that there's no creepers to blow up your work (or you). Unfortunately, the Nether is home to the ghast - it flies and has a long range explosive shot that can set you on fire. These guys sometimes make you wish creepers lived in the Nether instead. If it wasn't for ghast tears and gunpowder, these things would be worthless... or would they?

Check out this amazing video that was recently spotlighted at the Minecraft Forums, where a group figured out how to turn a ghast into a home defense weapon!

The coolest part is that it can be done in survival mode... but you'll have to be precise and careful. The video includes links to other videos showing how to capture and bring the ghast from the Nether (hint: minecarts and fishing rods).

So, if the server admin keeps denying your request to add a cannon mod, use what's available and make your own cannon! Imagine the look on your opponents' faces when they see a ghast float to the top of the tower and rain fiery death in their direction!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Household Gods in Other Dimensions!

While snapping pics for my previous post, I found something amiss in the Nether and the End. There was a lightning storm going on in the Nether, which leads me to believe Jupiter is hidden away somewhere. In The End, I noticed a bright spot of light on my minimap, and when I went to investigate I found this:
That is most definitely a Household God. I'm not certain if it's supposed to be here - I'll post this on the mod's forum thread for confirmation.

JAS Can Do It!

This post is to confirm that Just Another Spawner (JAS) can indeed spawn Endermen in The End and Wither Skeletons in the Nether, with Mo' Creatures installed and CMS disabled.

It reminds me of the "Genesis Does What Nintendon't" commercials! Anyway, here's pics!
Endermen, happily spawning in The End!

Enderdragon Girl and Ender Eyes, from Grimoire of Gaia 2

Both Endermen and some Ender Eyes

The Enderdragon himself flying about.

Hello there, Mr. Wither Skeleton!
A Mo' Creatures Flame Wraith!
 So, really guys, if CMS is giving you these issues... switch to JAS, because JAS can do it!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


This just might be the best Minecraft machinima ever made. I'm really hoping for a sequel!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

I Hate Do Overs!

Minecraft is such a fun and interesting game... once you get things setup properly, that is. Granted, that's not too tough unless you decide to add mods, and the more mods you have mixed together, the greater the chances of having conflicts.

My most recent 1.5.2 setup involved Biomes O' Plenty, which I decided to try instead of my usual biome-adding choice of ExtrabiomesXL. BOP had made some changes, allowing for better integration with structure-adding mods (the lack of which was my main reason for not using it prior), so I felt it was the perfect time to give it a spin.

Over the last couple of weeks, my mod list has changed slightly, 2 or 3 mods removed and about the same number added. Unfortunately, the mods I've added deal with dimension hopping, namely Mystcraft and Dimensional Doors. This is unfortunate because I've come to realize that ExtrabiomesXL is far more compatible with those mods than Biomes O' Plenty is.

Also, after some public bickering between BOP devs in the forums (which was disconcerting to say the least), a 1.5.2 backport for the current version was released several hours ago. It was toted as having fixed some bugs and added sub-biomes (which are used to make the terrain much more congruent), so I jumped at the chance to install it.

I was rewarded with a game that wouldn't even load up due to block ID conflicts. Now, I know how to fix those - you go into the conflicting mods' config files and make sure the numbers are different - but I already did that... with the last version! Looking into the config folder, I was unhappily surprised to see that a whole folder was now created for BOP, with a brand new config that apparently didn't seem to care what I had done previously. In addition, it's sub-biomes thought it would go ahead and use the same ID numbers as Twilight Forest's biomes. Again, in the previous config I had to change settings as BOP was pissing all over TF then - apparently, it needed to go again using it's new sub-biomes. Whatever, numbers fixed, moving on.

Game loads and I get an in-game message saying that the new biomes will only generate if I use the Biomes O' Plenty world type. Well isn't that special? If I did that, then my structure-gen mods wouldn't work! So, basically I was thrown load errors due to the new features that once fixed I cannot use.

I returned to the forums, hoping for a shred of good news, and found that the new, NEW version is now out for 1.6.2. The "fixes" in this version removes the ability to move spring water via regular buckets (you'll have to get special ore from their "Promised Land" dimension or use Buildcraft, which I have no intention of adding), blocks players from spawning in Hot Springs or Orchards (which is where I actually spawned on my current game, with somewhat hostile terrain all around me otherwise), and separates the new config file into multiple files... for "ease of use" and more planned features.

Right, then. I think at this point, the logical thing to do is jump ship back to EBXL. Not only will I have to start a new game, I'll also have to rework configs (including a rather exhaustive set of JAS spawn lists). In the long run it will be worth it. My alternative is less compatibility, and attempting to survive amidst the beasts that lurk in the neighboring biomes (ice plains, 2 fungus forests, quagmire, and wetlands - aka LOTS of crocs, naga and witches, or yetis and vampire lords, or gigantic mutants). I have yetis ambushing me at my front door and centaurs trampling my crops as it is. I feel like Lord Farquad is evicting me from his kingdom!