Mobile Gaming update, August 2014

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War Worlds is coming to an end.

War Worlds is coming to an end.

War Worlds is coming to an end.

Or is it ?    After hue and cry from the community, the fate of the game is now up in the air.   At post time, the game is still working to a certain degree.

I’m done.   I can hardly believe I put up with the bugs and slowness as long as I did.    I would certainly love another space game of this type, but this particular one is not optimized well enough to handle large empires.   The answer to the question “What if MoO never ended ?” is “The game would choke under its own programming”.

I would like to be around to see “the end”, if it’s going to happen.   If someone gets the code and optimizes it that would be even better, since the game just locks up pretty quick when I try to play.

City Domination, on the other hand, is a mobile addiction.   The game performs snappy as hell, unlike War Worlds.

Some of my conquests

Some of my conquests.   Green has been “Rallyed”, white belongs to me.   Red is available to be rallied.

Doc Burbank’s Crew is solidly #2 in LA County, with a large presence in both Burbank where I work, and Santa Clarita where I live.    The I-5 is a major freeway which runs between the two, and is 3/4 my gang’s territory.

It’s good that the gameplay is fun, as far as it goes – there are few players to interact with.    Most interaction consists of the big nationwide gangs sending out various blind invites and begging you to join their gang.    They do this because your areas do not belong to you, they belong to the gang.

When you start, you are your own little gang and you take over a few territories.    Then you get an invite to join a gang.   Bam, all your territory is transferred to the other gang.   Given the large number of squares I control, they’ve all asked me to join them and I don’t see the need.    Nobody is threatening me.   It would be hard to do so.    And I’d rather see my own accomplishments.

The players near me include :

  • Don Corndog, the newer guy who is probably the 2nd guy playing in Santa Clarita, and who also has presence in Lancaster.
  • Amahoser, who is probably 8 years old and attends an elementary school in Burbank.   Does not respond to messages which annoys me for no good reason.
  • Pezzonovante, the leader of LA’s #1 gang and based in Pasadena.    Chill guy who I like, but not enough to join his gang, Harvesters of Sorrow.
  • Monolicious, a newer player in Burbank and part of HoS.    He popped up right in the area I wanted to expand into.    Well, I can go around him.
  • El Sureno, expanding across North Hollywood and only able to respond to messages with grunts.

After going to war with Amahoser, I was soundly thrashed.   I had hoped to keep the entire I-5 to myself and just muscle this guy to death, but he’s defending his area with strength.     I gave up and am just working around him, and hoping his absence today means he’s uninstalled the game.    You can’t defeat someone who turtles up near his home, he’ll have too many opportunities to attack you, and ride the limits established to victory.

There are clearly many other “gangs” in these areas, but these are all bots – automated setups to give a little spice to the game.   Defend your areas well enough and you are safe from them.

Points in the game correspond to income.   Income is capped at a ridiculous 3000/hr for some reason, leaving your points only useful as a way to climb leaderboards – which I love, of course.    And points in the long term correspond to men in defense in your areas.    You get a lot more based on the amount of conflict that has happened for a certain square, but it decays at 7.5% per day.    This means the long term strategy is to populate your squares with as many men as possible for both defense and points.

So I continue to work on a solid line of squares between Santa Clarita and Burbank on the I-5, and adding 200 men to each square.    This should take perhaps 3 months at the current rate.   The line I’ve established is pretty broken up, but you have to defend each square in strength or the bots will take it back from you.   I’ve bought the upgrades to 120 men and 12,000 in the bank, and if I continue to enjoy the game I might blow some more money on it.

Statistics today.   #2 gang in LA County.    #87 gang in the USA.    #61 player in the USA.   So I’m doing well in every category, and this reinforces just how empty the game is and how likely you are to dominate if you just keep playing.   Keep playing is my strength.

Waiting on Bountiful

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And we now have a release date for 1.8 – September 2nd.    Many changes coming and I’m looking forward to them.   In the meantime, World 117 continues to be improved.

Towers are now mostly complete.

Definitely look impressive.

Definitely looks impressive.

The idea was to build them into the mountains, so I have a castle in the valley end of a mountain, and I’ve succeeded in that.   Each has a stairway, accessed from the inside of the lower castle, that leads all the way up to the top; although, I need to put in actual stairs at some point.   The center of both towers is mostly empty space, which would certainly hide a lot of monsters, and that wouldn’t be good.   I’ve managed to seal both off with doors in various spots along the stairs, and will fill in the empty space with cobble or something as time and interest permits.

Map is coming along

Map is coming along

The bottom map is the area around my base, with the following three going north.   That’s the 7000 block north, and just northeast of that is the closest Ice Spikes biome, which I’ve now added to the collection.

There it is !

There it is !

It sure is visually impressive, but there doesn’t seem to be any interesting blocks in there.   Just ice.   lots of ice.    And since ice melts, unlike snow blocks, it’s hard to be interested in harvesting any.

Much of the week has been spent mining diamonds and collecting a large number of them.    With two full stacks of diamonds, I’m doing very well.     I now have a pick with unbreaking and fortune on it – Iron, but oh well – as well as a silk touch pick.    I can easily enchant more diamond tools however.

It seems that putting spells at Level 30 onto books is for chumps.   I’ve got perhaps 20 books enchanted, and I got a single unbreaking out of all of that.   Many of the enchantments were not wanted.    But I put enchantments directly onto tools and get what I want immediately.    As tough as it is to get diamonds, it’s harder to successfully enchant tools with books, so I think I’m done with that avenue of the game.

Never seen that before.

Never seen that before.   Grass growing near bedrock.

Currently digging out an abandoned mineshaft in the middle of an extensive cave system with tons of good resources.

All the comforts of home.

All the comforts of home.

Digging up diamonds and iron is the first priority; getting stacks of wood products and fences is a nice second one.

Finding the mineshafts

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Thanks to the great tool available on chunkbase.com, I managed to find an abandoned mineshaft.   It’s right near my desert temple, and near my base.

Dug a stairway down to the promised spot

Dug a stairway down to the promised spot, then installed stairs.

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Sure enough, this is a Mineshaft entrance. Right on top of a cave spider spawner.

Once I realized there was a spawner there, I excavated more and more of a pit for sunlight to reach into.    Daytime level sunlight stops cave spider spawners.    When it was not functioning, it wasn’t hard to build in the last steps and neutralize it with torches.     This did cost me three deaths and involved losing everything being carried – none of which was super valuable, at least.

Compared to getting in, adventuring in the mineshaft has been easy.    A creeper got next to me and blasted me – but Diamond Chestplate with Blast Protection IV makes that no big deal.     Past that, all I’ve needed to do is block paths off and excavate all the resources.

After thoroughly looting one, and planning to find more and dig through them, I planted the melon seeds (yay!) I had dug up and began work on making my base more of a castle.

I want to make some towers next to the face of the building/cave, which shouldn’t be too hard given the mountains it is tucked into.    So first step was simply to build up the area around the base, and make it taller.

Temporarily removed crennelation, increased the height.

Temporarily removed crennelation, increased the height.

Now to fill it in with cobblestone behind that, which is a bigger task than you might think -

standing atop the facing brick wall

standing atop the facing brick wall

Thoughts on Minecraft World Generation

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Minecraft is now taking all of my gaming time again.    The new features have me excited, and the building out of a world always was a lot of fun.     Turning on the monsters was not nearly as worrisome as I thought it might be, it’s just making the whole thing a lot of fun.

I’ve done a lot with my world 117.

A very nice treasure room.

A very nice treasure room.

Now I have a good idea how to build this.    I don’t find the idea of a sorting system to be useful as I understand hoppers functions, and limitations.   But this is an awesome setup that should do well for me for some time.

Even Overflow storage gets the trapped chest treatment.

Even Overflow storage gets the trapped chest treatment.

Probably the optimal system includes putting the treasure room where appropriate, with a ladder down into the overflow storage underneath.

I also found out just how useful, and cool, the maps are when contained in item frames.

Only two tiles, but I could easily build this out to be 15 tiles long.

Only two tiles, but I could easily build this out to be 15 tiles long.

At one time I thought the maps had to be held in hand, and were limited to 128 blocks wide.    It appears i was wrong on both of those counts.    A map centers on the square it was first right clicked on, so for me it’s a matter of going to 0,0 and opening it.     That will take care of the area from -1024 to 1024.     Head to, say, 2048,0 and open the second map.   And so on and so on and build a gigantic map in game.

And the question also is, what on earth am I doing spending so much time building roads ?   With these babies in hand, you can eventually map out the entire area you visit.    The coordinate system is enough to keep you from getting lost on the surface, which is enough to make the roads obsolete.   At least from a utilitarian perspective.

Then there’s the fact that 1.8 is coming (soon ?    We can only speculate) and contains a killer feature.

You can tweak all the world-building parameters.

You can tweak all the world-building parameters.

The big weakness with Minecraft as I play it, is the limited amount of iron.   At some point it becomes more valuable than diamonds.   Iron is needed for so many different things, and Vanilla doesn’t have enough to build cool things in survival like minecart train stations.    I suppose with enough determination you just keep mining and you’re good, but I got bored trying that and thus quit playing my iron-dependent Biomass world.    It sure doesn’t help that iron is limited in the “altitude” at which it will spawn.    But not in a customized world.

The settings you can tweak for Iron.

The settings you can tweak for Iron.

Setting the height (for example) to 256 would interesting – it would spawn no matter how high the land was, making mining those extreme hills near 256 interesting.     Increasing the spawn size (double it ?) would also go quite a way to making it less valuable by being more present in the world, and thus enabling a lot more iron constructions.

So it seems diamonds are so rare because their "Spawn tries" are set only to 1.    Might be fun to tweak this too, but not dramatically.

So it seems diamonds are so rare because their “Spawn tries” are set only to 1. Might be fun to tweak this too, but not dramatically.

You won’t be able to pick a world type with customized, because you’re controlling it.     That function is now taken by presets, which will allow you to share and name the variations of the four pages of parameters which you can tweak to build a world with.

The Devs included four presets.

The Devs included four presets.

“Mountain Madness” is probably like Amplified.    The default settings, I expect, are for the default world.    Large biomes is likely simply the Biome Size setting.

So I’m thinking of playing around and trying to pick one of each of those three world types, and be ready to start it when 1.8 is available.

Simply Overeating

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After reaching the Mesa, I chopped into a mountain pretty well, and collected a full load of clay.     I walked back to the beach jump-off base, and dug deep and collected a few diamonds, and the all-important cobblestone.     I used the cobblestone to expand the bridge towards the Ice Spikes biome, west of the mesa.

Then I walked back to the main base, stored the clay, and set upon expanding the farm.   Along with this, I also worked on enchanting books looking for the right enchantments to make my diamond items (and shears, and fishing pole) legendary items.

 

The farm continues to push the roofed forest back.

The farm continues to push the roofed forest back.

By having the cleared land between the forest and the farm, it cuts down on monsters coming out of the forest and attacking.

I knew I had overdone it once lag started happening on the map.   My FPS crawled at 8 FPS due to too many animals.

Too many cows.....

Too many cows…..

And too many chickens.

And too many chickens.

The chickens in particular are a mad XP farm.    Feed them seeds (which I’m drowning in from farming the wheat) and you get XP for them reproducing.    Kill them for more XP, and take the eggs and hatch…. more chickens.

But clearly, I have enough food.    Next project became a better treasure room.

Lots of stuff, for sure.

Lots of stuff, for sure.

I set this up the way I had seen some other people do it, way back when – set up signs next to each chest.   But I’d rather have it set up according to the newish – method.    You set the chests direct next to each other and have name tags set above the chests.    (You need to alternate between trapped chests, and chests, to do this).   This also has the advantage of being compact.

Much better.

Much better.

Walking back to the Mesa

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After several days of concentrating on farming, I was ready to head out again to the Mesa biome.  I had forgotten how long it can take to get farming going to where you’d like it to be.    I’m collecting pumpkins, sugar cane, beef, pork, chicken, and wheat.

It turned out that chickens were the easiest things to deal with.    My chicken coop fits a metric ton of chickens, and I let them reproduce by feeding them seeds – if you don’t, you end up with chests full of seeds.     I pick up a ton of eggs each time I enter the coop, and would head up to a nearby area to hatch them all.    On occasion, I would enter each area and kill chickens for awhile.

Rapid Fire Eggs, creating baby chickens on the hilltop.

Rapid Fire Eggs, creating baby chickens on the hilltop.

Didn’t make much headway with bread, between socking it away and needing bigger fields.   Bigger fields were being constructed waiting for everything to grow.

It's almost hypnotic, harvesting the wheat when its mature and replanting it.

It’s almost hypnotic, harvesting the wheat when its mature and replanting it.

But armed with around 640 food items I headed out.     First I cross extreme hills, on my way to the Great Quagmire (a large swamp).    Next up is the John Birch Forest, followed by plains and more extreme hills.

Quite a big swamp, requires a lot of stone bridge.

Quite a big swamp, requires a lot of stone bridge.

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If you understand that reference, you are old. Or you googled it.

You (presumably) re-enter the John Birch Forest after crossing the plains, followed by more plains.

Exited the Forest and turned around.

Exited the Forest and turned around.

And now, the Icy Hills

And now, the Icy Hills

Eventually the massive Taiga forest is reached.   Walk through this for about 5000 blocks.

Eventually the massive Taiga forest is reached. Walk through this for about 5000 blocks.

More Icy Hills lead to the Mesa Jump-off Beach

More Icy Hills lead to the Mesa Jump-off Beach

And at last the Mesa Clay digging point is reached.

Taking long walks on the beach

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It was quite a long walk, but I made it to the Mesa biome.

Put a little base in that Mesa in front of me.

Put a little base in that Mesa in front of me.

The only problem being, after walking 12000 blocks, I was clearly out of food.     I had enough time and energy to mine a stack of clay, then it was time to walk back to base for more food.

Farming is an intensive activity in Minecraft, so I don’t really want to establish multiple farms in multiple spots.   I have bolt holes established along the path to the Mesa, but that’s generally it.    The idea is to build up the area around the base and accumulate wealth.    So I need to get myself enough food to just haul to the Mesa and then mine its wealth.

I’ve also got access to most of the important biomes :

  • Plains (Horses)
  • Forest
  • Mesa
  • Birch Forest
  • Ice Plains
  • Cold Beaches
  • Taiga
  • Swampland
  • River
  • Roofed Forest
  • Desert

Still want access to these biomes :

  • Jungle
  • Flower Forest
  • Sunflower Plains
  • Ice Spikes
  • Mega Taiga
  • Savannah

So now it’s time to build up more food, and build up enchanted diamond armor etc.     Then I can set off towards a flower forest (about 4000 blocks away).

The one biome I can’t find anywhere in this seed is Mega Taiga.

Went through an absolutely massive Taiga forest.

Went through an absolutely massive Taiga forest.

Cold beach with some hills for good measure.

Cold beach with some hills for good measure.

All things Minecraft

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I’m successfully building out world 117.

Turning the homebase into a castle.

Turning the homebase into a castle.

 

Near the entrance, enchanting table

Near the entrance, enchanting table

The treasure room.   First basement.

The treasure room. First basement.

Overflow room.   2nd basement.

Overflow room. 2nd basement.

Currently working on gathering enough diamonds to finish off a set of armor – all I need is leggings.

In the meantime, I made good on my threat to buy a Realms subscription.   This is a perfect thing if all you want to have is a persistent Minecraft world, where friends can play.   And with Minecraft being the 2nd-biggest-selling video game in history, lots of people I know have it.

The spawn area for "piggybank".   We christened this isthmus Italy.

The spawn area for “piggybank”. We christened this isthmus Italy.

So far, the plan was successful – get my son off of Roblox, and have him build things in Minecraft.

The Lighthouse and dock at spawn area.   Gravel road leads to.....

The Lighthouse and dock at spawn area. Gravel road leads to…..

Castle MrrX.    The road continues to.....

Castle MrrX. The road continues to…..

A gaggle of kid built structures, and my build of a road through it all.

A gaggle of kid built structures, and my build of a gravel road through it all.

This is the result of three kids turned loose on the server, and one additional adult.    They all seemed to be having fun and building away.      My buddy’s daughters went and killed the Ender Dragon, which I have no idea how to do.    I believe it’s trivial in Creative mode.

The road continues on towards Taiga biomes, and ends......

The road continues on towards Taiga biomes, and ends……

In a very small village

In a very small village

Everyone was happy to see the village.    The rest of them are builders; I’d rather explore the world.

So far I’m happy with Realms.    Only those I whitelist can get in; it lets multiple people play and doesn’t tie up a personal computer as a server; and I have control over the rough parameters of the world, similar to a single player game.   If you want to use Bukkit Plugins, this ain’t for you, but for a simple requirement it works OK.

Griefing Children

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In my gaming career, I’ve been griefed on occasion.    From idiots blocking the bank in Everquest, to TK’ers and worse in World of Tanks, I get annoyed but I’m good at handling them.      Not so my son.

This ridiculous game Roblox that he really enjoys allows you to create your own world, with the possibility of opening it up to other players.     While it’s meant for kids, who knows who is really playing it – I got into the world and found it utterly boring, though.    It also includes pretty robust 3D world building items with scripting and more.    It’s inevitable that with a fair amout of power, somebody is going to be a jerk.    And they were.

He enters his little world and starts puttering around, when he’s suddenly confronted with a gray screen and a message something like “BobSmith did this don’t get mad at me or else”.      So he can’t play his world.     Clearly, the griefer is someone else trying to get my son to report “BobSmith” by denying him access to his game.

Poor kid.     10 years old and a sensitive soul, as I explained this to him he bursts into tears.     But he toughened up a bit once I make him realize that’s part of what the griefer wants, is to ruin your game time.     Then Dad sat down and tried to figure out if he had enough mojo to fix the problem.     It wasn’t hard – it turns out you are given the last 10 (or more) saved versions of your world, and I reverted back before the griefer attack, and he was playing again.

The whole thing made us end up back in Minecraft again.     While there are griefers here, they can’t really wreck *your* game, just the server they are playing on, and we explored several worlds with all kinds of creative games including Sky Blocks, which he enjoyed.     I’m wondering if I should purchase a Realms server and whitelist our friends to begin building a big co-op Minecraft world, and give my son a better outlet for his creativity.

For me, I was again building a new world, as my Biomass world is getting a bit boring.   I turned the monsters back on and went with seed “117” .

The homebase.   At the end of a valley with lots of mountain behind it.

The homebase. At the end of a valley with lots of mountain behind it.

Planted fields and grew lots of wheat, after I pushed the roofed forest back.

Planted fields and grew lots of wheat, after I pushed the roofed forest back.

1500 blocks away, it's stills swamp in one direction

1500 blocks away, it’s still swamp in one direction.   I named it the “Great Quagmire”.

Similar behind the homebase.    Lots of ocean.

Similar behind the homebase. Lots of ocean – “The Pacific”.

And the third direction is all desert.    The temple is easy to see, but I haven't explored it yet.

And the third direction is all desert (“Sahara”). The temple is easy to see, but I haven’t explored it yet.

Just installed windows and can watch the sunset from inside.

Just installed windows and can watch the sunset from inside.

Mobile Gaming, July 2014 edition

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City Domination is a new entrant in the geo-located category of games.     The game gets a GPS fix (or from Wifi or Cell towers in its absence) and places you in the world where it finds you.     The world has a grid superimposed on it of territories, and you (and your gang) take them over for income, territory, fame and fortune.

Hanging out in Santa Clarita CA

Hanging out in Santa Clarita CA

The gameplay is dead simple, with a number of limiting features.    #1, you can only have $10,000 at any one time.    #2, you can only have 100 men in your “inventory” at any time.      Your men enable you to either defend your existing territories, or attack and conquer new ones, and can be purchased for the low price of $100 each, corresponding with the $10k in your bank.

Start off by spying on a new territory within your circle of activity.     The game will report how many enemy players are there, and attack with a few more than that to take possession of the square.    Then defend.

It would probably be thoroughly boring except for the addition of the “rally” mechanic.     Once per day, you are able to steal a certain number of men from a territory by being in it and rallying.     The reward is 1-3 men, not much, but when you are a passenger in a car this gives you a new way to be antisocial on your phone take over additional areas.     You can ignore the game for awhile and let your money build up, then attack, if you choose as well; or if you’re not driving about.

Doc Burbank and his gang – oh, wait, I’ve not recruited anyone – are in 7th place in Los Angeles County,with a presence in many other states after my recent vacation.      This is turning out to be a much better mobile game than War Worlds for multiple reasons.

Of course, blow real life money on powerups to really take over.

Of course, blow real life money on powerups to really take over.

War Worlds continues to crash often if I scroll the map, which has fed frustration and leads me to pretty much give up the game.    I do have 9 million people in my empire, but the killer mechanics are very simple.

5000 ship limit.    The game only lets you build 5000 at a time.    I am now at the stage of the game where I want a 120 day queue for each planet, and have some systems which can finish 5000 ships in 4 days.     To input that many 5000 queues is just boring drudgery.     Combining so many into one stack from 5000 ships groups sucks too.     I was already questioning my sanity in sitting on my phone playing it constantly, but vacation and a new game really brought it into focus.    So I am barely keeping up with the game drama, and trying to keep starting new queues when I have a few minutes.    And that’s about it for War Worlds.

So many ships.    No movement on population in quite a while.

So many ships. No movement on population in quite a while.

 

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