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Archive for May, 2011

“Jeepers Creepers” or “The Worst Night I Had in MineCraft”

May 6, 2011 6 comments

Last night playing MineCraft solo, I had the worst experience of my life. For those of you who don’t know what MineCraft is, get a friend to help you with that rock you’re stuck under. Granted I too got into MineCraft relatively recently, but at least I knew about it. The point is that anyone who plays MineCraft knows that ‘learning how to play’ is an iterative process. There are no win or lose conditions, there is no ‘right’ way to play (although I suppose if you are perpetually getting blown up by Creepers, you are doing something wrong!), and the game is exactly and precisely what you want it to be.

A Brave New World

I had started a new world. I wanted to build the most elaborate mines ever created, but the first step was to build a safe and secure hideout on the surface. So I built a 5×10 living space over the course of three days (and nights). It started as a small 3×4 space, that I kept adding to till I got what I wanted. It was made entirely out of wooden planks, with sand acting as flooring. I eventually added a few glass cubes to the outer walls and converted a 3×6 section in the middle of the roof into glass as well, so I would always know when night had fallen.

I built a mine entrance in one of the walls, padded the outside of it with stone so it looked like a natural mine digsite, and dug diagonally down, lining the path with stone and wood steps, all the way to about a height of 15 or so above the bedrock. I have yet to encounter slimes in the world, but I didn’t feel like dealing with that nonsense just yet.

A few days later I saw a video of someone building a massive mob trap for anything around his house using a clever combination of directional water, lava and cactus traps, and glass dividers. I decided I eventually wanted to do the same and dug out a 2×2 area inside my house to create an infinite water supply point. Once that was filled, I though to myself, why not build an infinite lava supply as well that could double as an incinerator? So in the corner opposite the water supply point, I dug a 2×2 hole for lava. I took two buckets down into the mine and tapped a lava vein to bring back up.

Then I poured lava into the hole and thus started my worst night in MineCraft.

Darkness, Creepers and Fire

It was night time when I poured lava into that hole, not realizing that it was adjacent to wooden walls in the corner. A few moments later, as I had my back to the lava pool, putting new iron ore into the furnace for some hot, smelting action, I heard something sizzle and pop behind me. I turned around. The entire northern wall of my house was gone, only the glass cubes remained, and fire was quickly spreading both along the eastern and western walls. I had a ton of stone and sand on me from some excavation I had conducted just prior to sunset, so I quickly rushed to the spot and first plugged the lava hole.

By this point parts of the ceiling were on fire. As soon as I turned left to start replacing that wall and put out the fire by simply closing off the faces of the wood blocks that were aflame, I get hit in the chest by an arrow. A bow and arrow are hot-keyed to my “7” key, so I take that out, and machine-gun fire arrows at the skeleton till it goes down.

But now I have only two hearts left. The house is built so I can get to the ceiling by climbing on the mine outside. So I run out, hoping to avoid any more monsters and frantically try to climb up the side, only to realize that the base wooden blocks are burnt down, so I can’t get up on the mine. It doesn’t even occur to me to create a temporary set of stepping stones to get to the top. half of my house is gone and it’s the middle of the night and I am panicking. Of course that is when my speakers decide to announce the presence of a Creeper with a fateful “hissss” and the next thing I know, a big respawn button has appeared in the middle of my screen.

I respawn inside my house, and rush back out so I can recover everything I was carrying when I got ambushed by the bastard. There is a giant crater with my stuff strewn about every which way. I frantically gather up everything, including my diamond tools and a ton of accumulated diamonds that I intended to craft armor with. As I turn around in the hole to grab something else, I see a Creeper, perhaps six blocks from me, descending into the hole, coming straight at me. I panic-pedal backwards, but the hole is steep. I turn around to find a ledge to jump on to try and get away, and the Creeper explodes just as I get a three block advantage on him. I don’t die this time, but I get seriously maimed.

Of course as I come out of the hole with half a beating heart, I hear the tell-tale groan of  zombie and I die before I can even turn to trace the groan’s source. I respawn inside the house again, which is a relative term, since the house was effective burnt to the ground. But this time I open my blocks chest, extract two 64 piles of stone and a door and build a temporary shelter immediately around me, two blocks high, in the shape of a U, 3×2 blocks on the floor. I stand at one edge of the U, and place a door on the other edge. And then I just wait the night out.

Fortunately by the time it was daylight my stuff had not despawned, and I was able to recover a good bit of it, but that still remains one of the worst situations I have been in MineCraft, a horrendous ordeal I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.

What has been your worst MineCraft memory?

Categories: MineCraft

“Ezio, Altair; Altair, Ezio” or “Assassin’s Creed Revelations is Full of Multigenerational Madness”

Well there you have it. Less than 48 hours after I put up a post predicting that Ezio and Altair will both be in the next game, that it will have something to do with Constantinople in the early-16th century and the story will jump in time a lot, we have the official announcement.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations will conclude the Ezio trilogy. A trilogy within a trilogy? You don’t say! I do say. And this latest venture takes Ezio to Constantinople (modern day Istanbul in Turkey) during the rise of the Ottoman Empire. You will get to play as Altair in the 12th century, Ezio in the 16th century and Desmond in modern times, bringing together the three heroes in the same title for the first time since the prolific franchise launched.

Nintendo Tim, a commenter on the reveal story over at Joystiq perfectly phrased my thoughts on what one cool aspect of intersecting timeslines may be:

Imagine that, as Desmond, you’re in a desolate, nearly destroyed building that houses an artifact (Codex page, perhaps?) that was placed there before Ezio’s time, but after Altaïr; you can’t make hide-nor-head of what goes where in the building. Ezio’s version of the puzzle has the building in near-perfect condition, but a runic puzzle to access the artifact has been vandalized, possibly by the Templars who couldn’t solve it. Go back as Altaïr, find the runes and make note of them, come back as Ezio, solve the puzzle, locate the artiact, add it to the collection, and Desmond has his information.

It’s like a dual-world idea without the terrible dark/light aspect, just “old” and “older” versions of the same place.

Aaaaaaaand goosebumps!

“Minecraft Old Spice Commercial” or “Funniest Video I Have Seen All Week”

May 5, 2011 3 comments

Hello Gamers. Look at your house, now back to mine, now back at your house, now back to mine. Sadly, it isn’t mine. But if you stop playing overrated FPS’ and started playing Minecraft, it could look like mine.

Look down, now back up. Where are you? You’re in a mine that you built with your own hands!

What’s in your hand? I have it. It’s a pickaxe made from stone. THE PICKAXE IS NOW DIAMOND. Anything is possible when you play Minecraft!

I’m on a pig.

Categories: MineCraft

“Ottoman’s Creed” or “A Little Detective Work”

May 4, 2011 2 comments

The latest trailer on the teaser Facebook page for the upcoming Assassin’s Creed game is short and sweet. Before we talk about anything else, watch the trailer below. It’s fairly short, only 10 seconds or so.

There are three interesting pieces of information in this video.

1. The Hagia Sofia

The first is the Hagia Sofia. Construction on the building first started in 562 A.D., it’s original purpose was to be an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral, which it remained (with a little break in between to be a Roman Catholic Church for about 57 years in-between) till 1453 A.D. It was converted to an Imperial Mosque by the Ottomans in 1493, and it served this function until 1931. It now stands as a museum.

2. The Numbers – 24061459

At first I though this would be a reference to the future of some sort, the year 2406, and something to do with Constantinople/Istanbul in 1459. But then I thought what it the numbers were actually 24.06.1459? June 24, 1459.

A quick search on Google revealed that to be the birthday of our favorite protagonist Ezio Audotore di Firenze.

Ezio was thus born a good six years after the Hagia Sofia was converted into an Imperial Mosque. This also implies that the Assassins had time to explore and uncover the secrets of the Templars buried inside Hagia Sofia for the near millennium it was a church. All of this transpired immediately before the birth of the chosen Assassin who would eventually speak to Minerva.

3. The Tughra

The Tughra is an calligraphic Ottoman seal, one made for each Ottoman ruler. Each king had one. Each seal had identical features called the

Straight from Wikipedia: “The tughra has a characteristic form, two loops on the left side, three vertical lines in the middle, stacked writing on the bottom and two extensions to the right. Each of these elements has a specific meaning, and together they make up the form that is easily recognizable as a tughra.”

  • Sere (name): Name of the Sultan, written on the bottom.
  • Beyze (egg): Two left loops, the outer larger loop signifying the Mediterranean and the inner, smaller loop signifying the Black Sea.
  • Tuğ: (flagstaff):  Three vertical lines up top.
  • Zülfe: The S-shaped lines crossing the tuğ.
  • Hançer: Lines on the right-side, signifying power.

This is where things get interesting. In 1459, the Ottoman ruler was Mehmud the second. The following is a list of Ottoman rulers from the 15th through the early 17th centuries. Mehmud II is marked in red, as the Hagia Sofia was converted to an Imperial Mosque in his reign, as well as the birth and upbringing of Ezio. Ezio would be 22 years old when Mehmud II’s reign ended.

  • Interregnum
  • Mehmud I – 1413 – 1421
  • Murad II – 1421 – 1444
  • Mehmud II – 1444–1446
  • Murad II – 1446 – 1451
  • Mehmud II – 1451 – 1481
  • Bayezid II – 1481 – 1512
  • Selim I – 1512 – 1520
  • Suleiman I – 1520 – 1566
  • Selim II – 1566-1574
  • Murad III – 1574 – 1595
  • Mehmud III – 1595 – 1603

Like all other Ottoman rulers, his has a Tughra, but his Tughra looks nothing like the one depicted above. I have pasted it below, take a look:

A little more investigation revealed a Tughra that was closer in shape and structure to the one depicted in the video above. This Tughra belonged to Suleiman the Magnificient, the fifth successor after Mehmood II, who ruled between 1520 and 1566. His Tughra is below:

See the similarity?

Conclusion

  1. The next installment of the Assassin’s Creed will feature Ezio in some capacity.
  2. Some of the game’s timeline will occur between 1520 and 1566.
  3. Suleiman the Magnificent will have something to do with it.
  4. The Assassins will have uncovered something of significance from Hagia Sofia, perhaps another Piece of Eden or something even more powerful. But the Hagia Sofia plays into it somehow.

Your thoughts?

“You Can Donate to Japan’s Relief Efforts!” or “Why That Pisses Me Off!”

May 3, 2011 4 comments

Via GamePolitics (and later via MMO-Champion and WoW.com) I came across a news item today that stated that Blizzard is offering a non-combat pet, the Cenarion Hatchling for $10 in the Blizzard Store. The nice thing, apart from having a cute little pet follow you around, is that 100% of the profits will be used to help victims in the wake of the recent earthquakes that resulted and tsunamis in the Pacific region as well as devastating flooding in Japan.

And that pisses me off.

Too often I see giant conglomerates starting a venture to ‘help out’ in a cause, all of the cost associated is forked over to the end-user. In this case if we want to help through this option, we must spend $10 and that money goes straight to the relief efforts. Blizzard practically mints money. Why couldn’t it be that they donate cent for cent, dime for dime, and dollar for dollar? Or better yet, donate directly without ‘donating’ a digital pet in a video game?

If you make the argument that some players are pet-collectors and they would be grateful to know their money was actually helping someone, then bear in mind that those people aren’t your primary donors to begin with. As someone who has sunk significant capital into the flood relief work in Pakistan, earthquake relief work in Haiti, and tsunami relief work in Japan, it irks me to no end that a massive money-minting company like Blizzard can’t be bothered to spend any of its own money for the cause.

Maybe I am overreacting, and you can hate me for the argument, but I am sticking to my guns. I love Blizzard and the fantastic worlds that they create, but the above really pisses me off.

Categories: World of Warcraft

“Glados Extreme Makeover” or “Makani is my New Hero”

Makani over at Deviant Art has come up with what I consider to be the most impressive Portal 2 illustration. In the words of one of the commenters below the illustration on Deviant Art, “you won the Internet”!

Click to enlarge

Categories: Portal 2

“Paladin Tier 12 Preview” or “It Only Took 10 Tiers!”

May 2, 2011 5 comments

The last time I was really excited about a Paladin raiding tier set was in the BWL days of vanilla WoW. I managed to acquire a full Tier 2 set, and it looked bloody sexy. Not since then have I been excited about any other raid sets for Paladins.

Until now.

Tier 12 looks sick. I know some will disagree, but I love it. I am not even playing properly any more, let alone raiding, but I am tempted to get back into it just to get my hands on this set! See a comparison below between Tier 2 (Judgement) and Tier 12.

Categories: World of Warcraft

“All That Tomb Raiding” or “There Had to be a Few Scrapes Somewhere…”

May 2, 2011 2 comments

But this is ridiculous, via Kotaku.

Categories: Tomb Raider

“Osama’s Dead” or “End of a Terrifying Era”

May 2, 2011 3 comments

Apologies in advance for this being off-topic and a tad too serious.

Osama has been killed. The event took place about 300 kilometers north-west of the city of Lahore, where I currently reside, in a town called Abbotabad, which is about 60 kilometers from Pakistan’s capital Islamabad. Intelligence agencies had been tracking him for several months, and they received confirmation of his presence only recently. Osama was holed up in a massive, fortified complex with concrete walls that were up to 12-feet thick in places, surrounded by his loyal soldiers and some family members.

President Obama gave the orders in the early hours of Monday, May 2 (Sunday night in the U.S.) and an elite team of the U.S. military went in with four attack helicopters, killed Osama, his son, three other men and captured two of his wives, some of his children and up to four other suspects. His remains, AFP reports, were scattered in the sea so he could not be glorified by the extremists posthumously.

The conservatives in the country are lamenting the “loss”, citing dubious claims such as “but there was no trial for him” and “the U.S. has violated the sovereignty of Pakistan.” They don’t know that Pakistani military and civil agencies worked hand-in-hand with U.S. intelligence to identify, tag and target Osama in his hideout and that the operation was carried out with the full knowledge of the government.

The liberals are jubilant, and why shouldn’t we be? The fucker’s dead, and although his legacy will remain for time eternal, there has been retribution, however delayed, and with it comes an odd sense of vindication.

As gamers we have played a plethora of video games that put us in these situations. Our digital extensions clog through damp forests, sandy deserts, treacherous hillsides and porous mountains in the hunt for terrorist and extremist factions in a bid to rid the world of their nefarious plans. It really makes you stop and think that he was right under our noses, nestled comfortably in the confines of his cushy compound in a major’s city’s affluent neighborhood. The resulting firefight lasted a fraction of the 40 minutes that it took for the operation, start to finish, and by the end of it Osama was dead. Not in a spider hole in Khowst, Afghanistan. Not in the mountain region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. But right next to the heart of the country, practically in the capital’s backyard.

This story will continue to unfold over the next few days, but for the time being there is consolation in the fact that the bastard his dead. God damn him, and his stupid fucking beard. Amen.

Categories: Bronte