Minecraft Enderman Ranch 02: Using a seed map to make a travel plan.
Part 2 of my new Minecraft storytelling campaign, in which I “cheat” and use a seed map service to find exotic biomes and plot my trips to get to them
#minecraft #videogame #storytelling #roleplaying #adventurer #lewisandclark #seed #seedmap #travel #route #resourcegathering
Roleplaying through something like Minecraft is such an interesting mix of strictness and looseness when it comes to producing maximum fun. On the one hand, like we discussed last time, there's a very specific reason I'm both roleplaying as a rough-rider adventurer and playing in “survival” mode, because I like the challenge of needing to actually go travel on foot (or sometimes by boat or horse) to exotic far-off biomes if I want to actually own any of the resources that can only be found in those biomes, like bamboo in jungles, tropical fish in warm oceans, terracotta in badlands, etc. I've talked about this online before, but as a middle-ager, one of the things I actually enjoy most about Minecraft is the procedurally generated universe that contains such random multitudes; and a “fun night” of Minecraft for me can often be a Saturday night of getting super-duper high and then trekking out into the unknown like Lewis and Clark, with nothing on me besides a bedroll, some food, my weapons and tools, and the means to make a campfire. If I'm high enough, and the EDM mixes I'm streaming online are good enough, I can get sort of mentally transported into that Minecraft universe, and feel like I really am out there in the wilderness with nothing but my sword and my wits. And that's a fun Saturday night for me!
But, “officially” Minecraft includes no way in-universe to somehow get a broad overview of the universe you live in, no “world map” if you will, that one would normally use to plot out their trips to said exotic biomes. So I “cheat” a bit here, which like I was talking about last time, I justify by instead calling it a “house rule,” like we used to have in Monopoly in the 1970s when I was a kid; because since every universe is based on the fractal algorithms that spider out from an initial 19-digit “seed” number, all it takes is the knowledge of that 19-digit number to be able to procedurally spin it out identically yourself. And if you have “cheat codes” on in Minecraft, like I do, it's ridiculously simple to retrieve that seed number; you just type “/seed” and it instantly appears on-screen. So then you can take the number over to one of a host of websites devoted to the subject (I use Chunkbase), and it will spin out the exact kind of broad, 2D, Google Earth-style map of your universe that would be very, very helpful to have as some kind of in-universe option, but isn't.
I justify the cheat easily; the game already has villages full of traders all over the place, as well as wandering traders who will come visit your personal home regularly, and some of these villagers will occasionally trade a treasure map which actually is a real thing in the game (a resource that came with the pirate ships and other details of the “Caribbean Sea” update a few versions back). It's no big leap in logic to imagine that in a future update, villagers will very rarely have the occasion to trade you a giant map of your entire universe, or at least 10,000 blocks in each direction. I can't plan my trips otherwise, so it's a necessary “house rule” for me, if I want to have my fun little Saturday night baked Lewis & Clarking evenings. Yet once I have the map, I'm still dedicated to playing out the full roleplaying idea that I have to visit every place I ever want to visit again by foot first, the long and hard way, and only then can build a “teleportation platform” to let me come back to it again in the future instantaneously (another “house rule” of mine, as we discussed last time).
So here it is — 10,000 blocks out from my home (which is located in the area called “Middle Sea,” there in the bottom-right where you see the compass). That's the farthest northwest I have to go to get to the very last exotic biome I want to eventually visit. I've named all the various places I plan on visiting and setting up remote HQs at, and the entire thing will span a whole series of baked Saturday nights over the next several months. I'm doing the first one tonight, which means a blog entry tomorrow about that; but for now, I thought I'd give a big overview of all the trips, and what I hope to achieve at each major stop.
Tonight's trip, just to get things started, will be a loop around my immediate area near my spawn point, which I'm calling the “Middle Sea” as a play on the real-life Mediterranean. There are four villages in the Middle Sea within a reasonable walk or boat ride, so I can go ahead and get loaded up on all the produce I don't have yet (carrots, potatoes and more), and explore a bunch of sunken ships along the way. I can also take my time walking through the plains, and slaughter the 60 or so cows I need for the leather required for the books comprising the bookshelves making up my eventual enchantment room (whew!). That'll let me keep only a tiny personal ranch of animals, just the small amount of meat and leather I might need for myself; as I mentioned last time, I don't like the idea of automating a slaughtering process, even inside an abstract video game like Minecraft, so all my automated farming will be produce only.
The next adventuring night I have after that, it'll be a far one, up through a series of waterways and land masses to eventually get to the closest warm ocean to me, exclusive location of such “Carribean Sea” resources as tropical fish, coral, turtles and more. Along the way I'll cross my first large desert, and as part of my roleplaying I'm pretending that the eight villages you see here are colloquially known as “The Northmen” to the rest of us “civilized folks” back at the Middle Sea. They're rough and tumble, violent but with a code, like perhaps Vikings but in a much warmer client; genetically they all come from the same bloodline, but since half the villages are in the desert and the other half in savannahs, two “clans” of Northmen have arisen from them, perpetually at unease and sometimes outright war. My goal is to establish trade relations with as many as possible, while also exploring the three treasure-filled desert temples, five ruined portals, and lone shipwreck.
Sailing past that shipwreck north then takes me into the Caribbean sea biome, which in my roleplaying world is known by the locals as “Paraiso.” I'm settling on that north island of sand you're seeing at the top of the image, which happens to contain a bunch of fossils; so my establishment there will be partly a resort and partly an archeological center, and I plan on carving away all the sand and displaying the in-situ fossils to tourists. Since part of the goal of this particular campaign is to build a bunch of cool shit I see at YouTube as well, this will be where I'll try building an underwater chill pad, which looks out at the coral and magma and sea lanterns and tropical fish swimming around all over that bright blue area.
So from there, a long boat ride west, to that fuschia blob which Middle Sea sailors have assured me is an island full of nothing but mycelium and mushrooms, as well as mutant cows that have taken on the color and texture of mushrooms themselves because of subsisting on such a strict diet of it. Sounds like BS to me, but it's on the way to my next exotic biome, so I might as well take a gander. Expect lots of interesting photos if it's true.
After the so-called “Mushroom Fields,” another very long boat ride, until finally reaching a place the locals at Middle Sea call “Bedu” or sometimes “the Bedu.” It's a place, and a people; but they don't identify as a nation-state, but as a series of smaller tribes, each with their own village. My second large desert of the campaign, but with a much different flavor this time; different traditions, different religion, different architecture. From there, northwest to what is believe it or not the very closest jungle to my spawn home, which in my universe I've called the “El Norte Rainforest,” mutually protected as a wildlife space by all the various nation-states across the universe. There's a jungle temple along the edge I want to explore and photograph, but mostly I'm there to collect bamboo, melon and cocoa, then quickly move on.
That takes me on a huge slog of a hike through endless dense forest, then to finally arrive at a small sea and then be quickly confronted with a massive, seemingly unending expanse of bleak painted desert and towering painted mesas. The few adventurers who have ever gotten this far have all been emotionally crushed from the laborious trek it took just to reach this wasteland impasse, which is why on most maps it's ironically labeled as “The End of the Fucking World,” because they angrily shook their fist at it, turned around and headed home. That's the last exotic biome I still had yet to reach, so this is the farthest extent of my travels by foot, 10,000 blocks northwest of my original home. A rumor among adventurers exists that there's an abandoned mineshaft in this painted desert, only half-looted but then deserted because of a glutton of monsters, but that those with a good sword arm can stand to gain many riches out here in this harsh desert. We will see.
Then finally, a return to the eastern tip of the Bedu, then the longest sail of my adventures, south through a series of waterways generally known as the “Western Seas.” It ends at my first visit to a tall trees taiga biome, which is a great location for one of the ideas I have for this possible late-game pivot into doomsday cult. Like I mentioned last time, if I get to this autumn and start getting bored and/or finished with all the other challenges I set up for myself in this campaign, a fun possibility I've come up with is that, once elderly and rich and settled, I start developing an obsession for the otherworldly creatures known as “Endermen” who I can plainly always see popping up at the far edges of my farm fields during twilight and dawn hours. I do some research and it turns out there's long been an obsession with the Endermen among rural ranchers, turned into an underground doomsday cult devoted to the subject. So if it's next November and I'm suddenly out of ideas for things to build, I'm going to build a complex A-frame rural cabin in the deep unstructured woods out here in this tall tree taiga area, and that's where I and the other manufacturing tycoons take vendors and others out for free weekend vacations in our “luxury A-frame cabin.” Little do they know, that first night we also take them out to a nearby obsidian-ringed cave entrance with the curious purple light coming from the back...what is this mysterious dark cave and its intriguing, beckoning, unearthly light...
So that's the plan! After all these trips, which I think will be about six weeks' worth of stoned Saturday night rough-rider camping evenings, I'll have 100 percent of the things I plan on collecting and using in this roleplaying universe where I become a farming and manufacturing tycoon. Then with teleportation platforms set up at each of those stops, I can come back instantaneously anytime I want, for example if I have a major glass structure to build and suddenly need tons and tons and tons of sand. And meanwhile, I'll also set up TP platforms at the 25 or so villages I'll stumble across during this giant 25,000-block series of trips I'll be making; so once my automated farm fields are up and cranking at full speed, I'll be able to use as much as I can possibly produce to go “level up” all the various villagers at all these various 25 villages. As a thank-you to each village for agreeing to trade with me, I'll be providing the housing and equipment needed to let them grow and expand to a place where there's at least one villager doing each of the game's 15 different career options; the fact that this benefits me, by letting me have 15 different people at each village who each want to trade 15 different things, is of course only secondary. This is always a common complaint about Minecraft, after all, is that if you build automated farms but only trade with one village, you very quickly end up with more produce and material than that village could ever expect to absorb. If I have 25 villages I can instantly trade with, though, and 15 people at each village to trade with, I can scale up my production to whatever level I want and still find customers for it all.
A big complexification of the villager system came a couple of updates ago, and now there are five distinct levels of skill mastery each villager can get to in their chosen career; and as I mentioned last time, once you get these armorers, clerics, librarians, weaponsmiths and the rest up to their “master” levels, by trading with them consistently throughout the previous four levels by providing them the raw materials they want, at the top of their careers they crank out things for you like diamond armor, enchanted weapons, enchanted books and splash potions full of XP. If this is fated to be the end of my campaign anyway, having my industrial farm and trading schedule all smoothed out like clockwork, I really love the idea of getting all these 300 or so master villagers cranking out weapons and enchantments for our doomsday cult's coming holy war against the human cockroaches, All Hail the Dark Ones And Their Coming Ascension, and hanging all of these glowy diamond weapons and armor pieces on picture frames as ostentatious decorations all the way around the jet-black Enderman Death Temple I may build at the very end of this campaign.
So, we'll see! But definitely for tonight, a tour of the Middle Sea, establishment of relations at the four local villages, some looting of some treasure chests, and lots of photos of random cool stuff to share in tomorrow's blog entry about the adventure. Talk with you then!