Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Nether or Naught

Here is a story about a nether portal malfunction and a surprisingly loyal boat

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Today was similar to most days, the blocky sun rose in the east, the animals roamed about the land making various noises and I set off down the ladder that took me from my bed to my mine. But there was something different about today. An event

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that made the day stand out from others; made it special. Today was the lighting ceremony for the nether portal! Perhaps Ceremony was the wrong word, as the only attendee would be myself, but still it was a big deal. This world’s first nether

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portal and subsequently my first trip into the nether... It was an exciting day. I had decided that I wouldn't explore much this first time in. I had gathered enough obsidian to just make the portal, but had no extra so I was going in merely

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to grab the corners of the connected portal in the nether. By my calculations that would be enough for an enchantment table and for now that was enough for me. Armed with only a stone sword and wearing un-enchanted iron armor I

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raised my flint and steel to activate the portal on my end for the first time. With a couple clicks on the inner frame of the obsidian doorway a flame was born and soon turned from the comforting yellows, reds, and oranges of a normal fire to a

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almost mystical purple as it spread to fill the whole frame swirling and making a buzzing magical sound that I can't accurately describe in words. I stood starring into the portal for a few moments wondering at the power behind this device

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and hesitating slightly about the prospect of jumping in to a portal that I knew to be forged in fire. I had done my research however and I knew it to be safe and so with a quick reminder of that I took a final step forward into the

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portal. My senses were suddenly on fire with a warm buzzing sensation and the world began to twist and contort finally fading completely into solid purple before finally starting to fade the world back in; not the one I'd left, but a

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hellish landscape of red, black, and fire. I stepped out of the portal feeling a little disoriented from the experience. As my senses returned I was struck with just how hot it really was here. The heat came in wave after wave and was

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oppressive and unrelenting. Fires burned sporadically around me and showed no signs of stopping and a lake of lava boiled and bubbled off to my right. I heard a noise behind me, like a grunt and I turned around to see what I can only describe

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as some sort of undead creature with the head of a pig and the body of a man, like a zombie pigman. He carried what looked to be a sword forged in gold, but thankfully made no hostile movements, so I decided it'd be best to leave the creature

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alone. Everything seemed quiet for the moment and as such I figured I'd best get to the task at hand. "Time to get what I came for and then be off," I said to myself pulling out my diamond pickaxe as I did so. Normally I wouldn't risk that kind

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of equipment, but I needed it; diamond is the only material durable enough to collect obsidian. I mined the lower corners of the portal without incident, but as I moved to grab the two upper corners I heard something that made my blood run

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cold. It was some kind of screeching sound unlike anything I'd ever heard before. It reminded me somewhat of the enraged wheezing of some sort of demented cat, but still unfamiliar and terrifying. I looked toward the sound, but saw nothing.

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Whatever the thing was, it was close, but not yet upon me. I redoubled my efforts and quickly mined the two corner pieces of the portal and without looking back I jumped back into the swirling purple doorway to return home, hearing one last

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screech as I did so and hoping beyond hope that nothing would destroy the portal while I was in route. The hellscape faded into purple and began to resolve back into the world that was familiar to me, as it had before, but this time in reverse.

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As it did so I emerged into darkness, a faint glow from the portal providing the only illumination. I stood there for a moment, dumbfounded. My portal was in a well-lit area, deep underground, safe from the creatures that haunted the night

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and this clearly was not it. "Where am I?" I said to myself as I stepped out of the portal. Unfortunately I didn't have time to even ponder an answer before being violently thrown forward by an explosion! I landed hard on the ground, ears

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ringing and wincing from what I could only assume was a number of cracked ribs. "Was that a creeper?!?" I exclaimed. The only answer I got however was the sound of rattling bones. I rolled over quickly and just barely saw my enemy move out

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from behind the now dark and unlit portal frame. It was a skeleton staring at me with a demented toothy grin and raising his enchanted bow to fire. I raised my sword just in time to deflect the first arrow, taking only a glancing blow from the

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razor sharp flint on the tip of the arrow shaft. As the skeleton drew back his next shot I leapt forward sword pointed straight out in front of me to skewer the bony menace. He fired his second shot scoring a solid hit on my left shoulder,

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causing me to wince in pain, but not to drop the sword which, still held in a stabbing fashion in front of me found its way into the skeleton's chest and struck the spine, turning it to dust and causing the rest of the foul creature to fall in

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a heap on the floor. Hearing nothing else I threw a few torches down on the floor, to gain some context for my situation. I was in a small spherical room made of stone, the nether portal frame sitting in the center quietly, the portal having

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been destroyed by the creeper's blast. There were no entrances or exits and having dispatched the other creatures that were present on arrival I was now alone in this small, dark cave. I took a moment to tend to my wounds, removing arrows

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and eating some bread I had with me to restore some strength. The light of day didn't reach here at all and not having a clock with me I had no idea what awaited me on the surface. I had little choice but to dig my way out and figure out what

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to do from there. I pulled out a stone pick I'd brought with me as backup and I started digging to the side. I wasn't sure how far down I was, but I knew how the land in my world worked and that I'd emerge either into air or water and I'd make

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my way from there. Thankfully it didn't take long to break through the stone to the free and open world. It was day, a fact for which I had never been so thankful, but the area was completely unfamiliar and the mountains that were around

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were too tall to see around and far too steep to climb. My only choice would be to swim through the valley trying to find some outcropping or detail that was familiar. Worse yet was the realization that I couldn't see the sun which meant it was

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either very early in the day, or very late. Either way I had to get moving immediately. I jumped down into the water; swimming being the only reliable method of travel I had available to me. The water was freezing in comparison to the

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hellish world I'd just left, but actually very temperate by normal standards and after a few minutes in the water to adjust I found it to be a welcome relief from the sweltering conditions in the Nether. Not knowing where to go I began to

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swim south, hoping that this direction would lead me to something familiar. As I swam I looked around evaluating the landscape and searching for some sign of home. I don't know for how long I swam, but I eventually noticed the light giving

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way and yielding its reign over the world to the night. I knew there was no way I'd ever find home in the dark. Visibility would be so poor I could swim right past it and never know, not to mention that soon creatures of the dark would begin to

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appear and try to kill me if they had the chance. I'd heard that my people, players as they were sometimes called would find themselves safely in bed in their homes if they were to be killed, but I didn't want to find out and I certainly

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wasn't interested in losing my diamond pickaxe or the obsidian I'd gathered, not after going to so much trouble to get it back home. I resolved to stay the course and push on, hoping that I was close to home and just didn't know it. I kept

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swimming and the darkness continued to close in, casting the world into shadow. I saw a couple zombies pop into existence no more than 30 meters away. They of course noticed me and began to swim after me, but I was much faster in the water and

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had no trouble evading them. Further off I saw a creeper carefully inching his way around a mountain ledge, I gave him a wide berth and thankfully went unnoticed. Then I saw something I hadn't expected... A boat, floating along the shore next

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to a small stone outcropping. "I must be close to home!" I thought, excitement bubbling up inside of me. I had lost a boat while exploring some time ago, but I had thought it destroyed, never had I anticipated finding it along the shore,

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awaiting my return, and ready to carry me home in my moment of need. I still didn't recognize the area, but I knew where I'd lost the boat and I knew I couldn't be far from there. I swam over and was about to jump in when an enderman

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teleported directly in front of me startling me so badly I swung my sword striking the tall dark creatures legs. He let out a terrible shrieking moan that would chill the bones of even the boldest warrior and charged right at me. I was tough,

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but with only a stone sword certainly no match for an enderman and so I ran over to the stone hiding in a corner and awaiting the end, but it never came. Looking up I saw the enderman trying to reach me, but it seemed my hiding spot was

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too small for him to get into. I took a few cautious experimental swings striking him twice more without being struck again myself. "Thank goodness" I said with a relieved sigh and proceeded to make short work of the enraged enderman

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clawing at me futilely from outside the hidey hole I'd lucked into. Sadly the enderman carried nothing of value on him, but the experience of defeating the odd creature was a treasure in and of itself. Checking to make sure the coast was clear I

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sprinted over to the boat and hopped in steering it toward the center of the valley and far enough away from either shore to avoid any more close calls. I was making good time as I moved ever further south until finally I heard something that

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filled me with hope. The bleating of a sheep not far to my right. I turned quickly to see if I could find the source of the noise and there on a small grassy peninsula were three sheep happily munching away and unconcerned with the lurking

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threats of the night. I smiled to myself as I saw them because they stood upon the eastern boarder of my home. I'd found it against all odds. Instantly a wave of relief washed over me removing as it did the pressure of the stressful situation

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I'd just emerged from. I turned my boat east and headed straight for my base. As I pulled up to the shore of the tunnel leading home the boat ran into hard stone and broke, sinking into the dark depths. A trusty boat it had been, but its time

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was done, its purpose having been served. With a moment of silent thankfulness for the boat's part in the tale I returned to my home, deep underground to where the story had first begun. The portal I'd made what now seemed a lifetime ago stood

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before me, still swirling with the same purple flame from before all this had happened. Then with a moment of consideration I struck the portal with my sword causing the flaming vortex to dissipate into nothing. I knew I'd need to return to the

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nether at some point, which would mean fixing the portal, but not tonight. Tonight I was simply thankful to have made it home.

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The end.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Minecraft Academy Lesson 4 - Farming

Today we talk about growing wheat, carrots, potatoes, and what animals you can breed and get food from


Kerbal Space Program Career Mode: Episode 1 - First Launch

Welcome to Kerbal Space Program Career Mode! Today we take our first steps into a larger world


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Minecraft Academy Episode 2 - Settings and Achievements

This lesson focuses on getting your game set up and explores achievements as an early guide of what to do.


Oliveen: Episode 2 - The White Tower

In this episode we construct the tower that will serve as a home for the time being and the setting of Minecraft Story Time!