The Minecraft Travelogue: An Unexpected Fall: Days 63-66

Seven witches are destroying this world by raising an army of undead warriors. My job is to hunt and kill them. Perhaps killing these witches will restore balance to the world.

Five witches have been slayed: two more remain.

This is my journey. My only goal is to tell a good story.

Days 63-65

After returning to Waystation Island with all my supplies plus Lightning, I scanned the island to see how my tree farm was doing.

Not so hot.

Minecraft Travelogue

None of the trees I’d planted a couple days ago had started to grow yet. Apparently I must be in their presence for the saplings to really take root. I wandered the island for some time, but soon, the trees began to grow.

Minecraft Travelogue

I dug a shelter in the ground and mined some cobblestone for axeheads. I would go through several before I had enough wood to continue the bridge.

By the time I’d chopped down the first tree another had spouted. Once that tree was gone, another had grown. Consistently more saplings dropped from the felled trees, and I planted as many as I could. Soon, I could chop down trees nearly continuously without having to wait for more to grow.

After three days of work, the island was populated with oaks and I had enough wood to continue the second land bridge. This island has provided me a brief respite, but I’ve been at sea for too many weeks now. I need to find solid land so that I can continue my quest of hunting witches.

Day 66

There’s not much to say about bridge building that hasn’t been said already. I stand on the bridge and lay one block after the other, ever heading west. I got an entire day of construction in before sunset and felt good about the progress I was making.

Minecraft Travelogue

But then something unexpected happened. My human-player saved the game and logged off, typical protocol after several days of progress. The human-player logged back in at a later point but was not attendant at the computer. I spawned in mid-air, even though I was previously standing on the bridge. I sank into the Orange Ocean, unable to move without the human-player’s input. By the time the human-player realized this folly it was too late to save me. I drowned at the bottom of the ocean.

Minecraft Travelogue

I respawned back on Waystation Island. Every one of my deaths is painful, but this death was especially hard. I lost all my armor, my enchanted boots, my diamond sword Shinest, plus all the wood I’d gathered three days prior. All that wealth is sitting at the bottom of the ocean and there’s no way to recover it; the ocean floor is just too deep.

While I am back where I started four days ago geographically, I am actually in a worse spot materially. But I am trapped on this island and must make the best use of my resources. Starting tomorrow I will begin harvesting wood and recreating all of my tools.

My Time at GatorLAN Spring 2014

Gator Gaming is a student-led gaming organization at the University of Florida that hosts a video game tournament, GatorLAN, every semester. Recently they held their spring semester event. As I had just defended my dissertation two days prior, I decided to attend, the perfect way to wind down after a semester of hard work!

GatorLAN is a 12-hour event in which numerous video game tournaments are held, including League of Legends, Street Fighter, Smash Bros., Pokémon, and more. I attended my first GatorLAN a couple years ago when I first arrived at UF. I signed up for the Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament and started practicing the day before the event. I thought I was pretty decent at SSB and thought maybe I’d win a match or two.

I was dead wrong.

I got demolished in the first round. The matches were best 2/3 with three stock lives: I only managed to KO my opponent once. Those players did things in SSB that I had never conceived of. Their characters moved so fast, and they knew the ins and outs of their characters, down to the individual frames of animation for each attack.

After that whomping, I didn’t return to GatorLAN. My perception was that this group of gamers was just too hardcore, too dedicated, for me to compete with.

But, as I stated in the introduction, I did go back! The lure this time was Pokémon. They were holding a Pokémon X and Y tournament, and I had recently gotten into the game a month before. I’d been strategizing for weeks how to best form my team. I read advice online (this website was my friend); I played constantly with my roommate, ever refining my move-set. I knew the competition would be fierce, and I didn’t have high hopes of even winning one match. At the very least, I thought it would be fun to at least see other people’s teams.

The tournament was double-elimination (unlike the previous SSB tournament) so I knew I was guaranteed to play twice. And twice is all I played! I actually did slightly better on my first match. My team was Vaporeon (my best), Jolteon (my second best), Gourgeist, Talonflame, Roserade, and Furfrou. What was more fun than the tournament, though, was  playing casual matches with other people, including some of my students. I got some great advice on how to improve my team and even won a few matches!

The other cool thing about this GatorLAN was the casual SSB Melee matches I played with some students. In the center of the ballroom they had a stage were the finales of various tournaments were completed. All matches were streamed on Twitch.tv and included commentary from two eSports announcers. I was contacted earlier in the week by one of the organizers who asked me to participate in a faculty vs. students match-up. Absolutely!

Before the match, I was interviewed briefly by one of the commentators, Primary Lotus. Catch the interview in the video below:

Primary Lotus Interview at GatorLAN

(Clicking the image opens the video in a new window)

Next, I played some SSBM matches with students. Some matches pitted one-student-one-professor team against the other, and sometimes we did professors vs. students. The students were clearly the best, but I could hold my own and got some kills in. The other professor, though, did not know very much about SSB and was clearly the weakest link. Fortunately, all the streams were saved, so you can catch my matches below!

A couple notes of context. First, the announcers mistakenly identified the participants in this video. The person they thought was me (Professor Frohlich) was actually Professor Goldberg. He was player 1; I was player 4 (the one with the name identifier “DENS” as in “Dennis”). All in all, it was a great 20 minutes and I had a lot of fun playing with everybody!

Game on,
~Dennis

SSBM Faculty vs. Student Matches at GatorLAN

(Clicking the image opens the video in a new window)

The Minecraft Travelogue: The Second Land Bridge: Days 59-62

Seven witches are destroying this world by raising an army of undead warriors. My job is to hunt and kill them. Perhaps killing these witches will restore balance to the world.

Five witches have been slayed: two more remain.

This is my journey. My only goal is to tell a good story.

Day 59

By the end of the day, I ran out of wood. My bridge extended far into the ocean, but I was nowhere near a continent yet.

Minecraft Travelogue

As the sun was setting, the fleeting rays outlined an island in the distance. I had to check it. Maybe it had trees. I desperately needed supplies and didn’t want to return home yet.

Minecraft Travelogue
I swam through the frigid waters, trying to maintain a low profile. If the island was overrun by monsters, I didn’t want them to see me approaching.

Minecraft Travelogue

It didn’t take long to explore the island. I dubbed this place Dead Island 2. There was nothing here, not even weeds.

Minecraft Travelogue

However, there was a second island right near by, this one covered in grass. A couple trees even grew here!

Minecraft Travelogue

I chopped down the trees, but not for the wood. I was looking for saplings. This island would be my waystation. I planted as many saplings as I could. My next move is to go back to the start of this second land bridge and retrieve my horse and belongings. Hopefully by the time I come back some of these trees will be grown.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

Before I left, I constructed a pen at the end of the bridge. This way, Lightning had a place to stay while I cultivated this land.

Minecraft Travelogue

Days 60-61

Time for the long walk back to Lightning. I retraced my steps, following my torches and landmarks. I ran as fast as I could. Whenever I saw monsters, I ignored them. No time for killing today.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

Finally, I reached my possessions. I saddled up Lightning as quickly as possible and crammed my backpack full of supplies. No time for sleep now. Next I had to cross this land bridge again, for a third and final time.

Minecraft Travelogue

Crossing the second land bridge for a third time was a lot quicker on horse. We galloped the length of the wooden bridge, careful not to slip into the water. Lightning performed very well. She was tired of being penned up and wanted to run.

Minecraft Travelogue

Minecraft Travelogue

Late into the night we reached the end of the bridge. I put Lightning in her new pen and quickly constructed a bed for myself.

Minecraft Travelogue

I haven’t slept in 11 days. Time to recharge. My work was far from complete.

The Minecraft Travelogue: The Second Land Bridge: Days 54-58

Seven witches are destroying this world by raising an army of undead warriors. My job is to hunt and kill them. Perhaps killing these witches will restore balance to the world.

Five witches have been slayed: two more remain.

This is my journey. My only goal is to tell a good story.

Day 54

Today I began construction on my second land bridge. I was frustrated and upset that my journey across the Orange Ocean was far from complete. But I couldn’t focus on the failure of my anticipation now. All that mattered was building the bridge to a new life. I left my temporary home and laid plank after plank.

Minecraft Travelogue

Midday I found a desert island, but I knew not to get my hopes up. Perhaps if I find small islands along the way I can use them to supplement my land bridge; that would save on construction costs. But this island was too small, and too far out of the way. I moved on, and within the hour, I saw in all directions only water.

Minecraft Travelogue

Maybe the sun was playing tricks on me, but I started to notice something odd in the water. Dark shadows, often in groups of two or three. At first I thought they might be sea creatures of some sort. Giant squid? Whales? Man ‘o’ War?

Minecraft Travelogue

I shouldn’t have investigated them, but my curiosity got the better of me. I had to see what they were. I jumped off the bridge into the warm tropical water. I swam toward the shadows, then dove underwater. I wasn’t prepared for what I would find.

Minecraft Travelogue

The shadows weren’t creatures, but voids! I popped up inside one of them, and to my surprise, I could breathe. These were air bubbles, somehow suspended underwater. These air bubbles were very numerous, and witches obviously didn’t live on the high seas, so they must be natural formations, not demonic summonings. But how did they stay suspended underwater? Wasn’t air supposed to rise?

I left the air bubble and went back to constructing the bridge. I saw them with my open eyes, breathed their air with my own lungs, and yet I still do not believe in their existence. At this time, I have no more information to go on. These shadowy voids remain a mystery and a constant companion on my journey.

Day 55

I constructed all day and all through the night, pausing not once for sleep. Bridge building was a lonely lot, one that I have chosen for myself. In the morning it rained hard, reducing visibility. I was pleasantly surprised, then, when I discovered another island, this one very close to the path of my bridge.

Minecraft Travelogue

This island proved to be much bigger than the last one. It was inhabited by flocks of sheep, so naturally I dubbed it Sheep Island. The island was large enough to make a detour in my bridge construction worth it. I saved a few hundred blocks of material by making the island a part of my land bridge. Plus, it felt good, if even for the half hour I spent there, to see grass and trees again.

Minecraft Travelogue

Days 56-58

How many ways are there to describe building a wooden bridge across the ocean? I’m not sure.

By day 57, I reached another island. I was almost out of material, and this place had plenty of birch trees. I cut down as many as I could hold, and named this place Birth Island.

Minecraft Travelogue

But as I have discovered before, this world is starting to split apart at the seams. As I crossed the island, searching for a suitable spot to continue my land bridge, I found blocks of sand floating in the sky. This world makes no sense: less dense material like air stays suspended underwater, and denser material like sand stays suspended in the air. Birth Island became Floating Sand Island. I wanted to leave this place as quickly as possible.

Minecraft Travelogue

I reached the coast and found the perfect spot to resume construction on my bridge: a finger of sand, pointing west.

Minecraft Travelogue

It was as if God Himself was confirming the integrity of my quest. I need to go west. I don’t know why, but something has to lie across this ocean. Floating Sand Island now became Direction Island, the place where God confirmed what direction I must travel.