Dark Souls Log 12/16/17

This is my second play-through of Dark Souls 1. When I say “play-through” I mean that last year I got as far as ringing the second bell and coming face to face with Frampt. This is about one-tenth of the entire game, but it’s a really nice stopping point. The only way I was able to get even THAT far was with the assistance of my son and two of his friends.

This year I am trying a different “character build” (emphasizing different traits as my character gains in strength and skill). I’m also trying to do more on my own. Another difference this time around is that I have software that records game footage, so I hope to make some videos soon!

I really enjoy playing this game, though I probably play it differently than a lot of people. Tonight I spent about 20 min. working on my parrying skills. I hung out at the second bonfire, the one in Undead Burg, and just kept battling the same opponents over and over. Since there was very little risk involved — I could easily pick up the souls (points) I dropped when I got killed — I was free to try out some new combat techniques. I can parry successfully maybe one time out of 5. I am also practicing switching back and forth between the shield and the staff in my left hand, and the spear and the bow in my right hand. My goal is for it to be second nature. I did have an encounter this evening where I felled opponent #1 with an arrow but accidentally caught the attention of opponent #2. By the time I saw him he was just a few feet away. In my panic I forgot how to switch hands and so was whacking him over the head with my bow while still peering through the “binoculars”. The game admonished me “YOU DIED” and I said “I know, I know“.

Tonight I also practiced the most recent bit of new territory — from the second bonfire, up the ladder, to the walkway under the Dragon Bridge. First there are some poisonous rats, then there are knights that are more powerful than my familiar ones in Undead Burg, and some pesky archers. This time I got past the upper and lower archers and took the steps downward through a twisty hallway into what looked like a lunch area. I found a “mystery key”. I carefully, carefully walked across a beam and picked up a bit of treasure. Then I climbed another ladder and found a hallway blocked by a misty white wall. I left that progress point for another time.

I wanted to see what door was opened by the mystery key. There were three possibilities I knew of. As I ran around from locked door to locked door, I climbed high towers to see where I had been. In this game if you drop an item that you don’t want to carry, it hovers in the air, a glowing essence. I left a large pile of broken swords and cracked shields on the Dragon Bridge Walkway and then looked back to see where it was. The towers, walkways, and paths weave under and over each other, twisting back on themselves. I have a hard time picturing where things are in relation to each other, and so I really enjoyed looking for my glowing marker from many different locations.

I think I must have spent half an hour just walking through the empty streets, towers, rooms and stairways. They were eerily silent (because I had already cleared out the opponents). Even after about 120 hours in the world of Dark Souls, I still love wandering down the mossy cobblestone walkways past ivy-covered stone walls. I can almost smell the chill, humid air, the earthy scent of aged and rotting timbers, the smoke of the bonfires.

I decided to make my way home all the way to the first bonfire, Firelink Shrine. The undead soldiers in that area had regenerated and so I had to fight my way through them in reverse order. I tried some new approaches — for example shooting some with a bow from way up on a roof. This is a challenge because if you stand in the wrong spot your arrows bounce off the stone walls, and if you move carelessly you fall off the roof! James (of Extra Credits fame) refers to this as “ranged combat” and considers it a kind of Dark Souls easy mode. It is easy in the sense that once you have been through a new area and died a few times, you know which opponents to pick off from a distance and which to fight up close. I especially like using an arrow to “pull” one opponent away from a group so that I can deal with them one at a time.

I am currently here

In this video, Dan battles a sort of metal-armored rhinoceros-pig. I have already vanquished this creature. I did this by darting in and out of the pillars and blasting him with magic over and over again. It was a little sad to see him go: he was a magnificent creature.


Returning to No Man’s Sky

I took a break from No Man’s Sky for several months. The emotional turmoil of the 2016 presidential campaign and election took up almost all my “processing power”. Then there was Christmas and some family issues. Finally on January 2, I got back into my spaceship to see what was going on. There had been a big game update called The Foundation Update which added many cool new features such as a choice of play styles (normal, creative mode, survival mode) and the ability to build a home base and modify it. You can even invite NPCs to live with you and work there.

On the other hand, apparently the planet generation algorithm has been tweaked to allow the creation of a wider spectrum of planet types. When I tried to return to planets I had previously visited, they had been changed. Some of their names had been lost (reverted to their original game-generated names) and most of them had different terrain types. I felt sad about the familiar places I had lost.

So I left the past behind and traveled to some new star systems. I was looking for a planet where I could build a base. You can’t build a base on just any planet — it has to be a planet that already has a “habitable base” marker. I had read that if you use “free exploration” mode on the galaxy map, you could travel to stars that were red, green or even blue. These supposedly had increasingly rare resources and increasingly dramatic alien life.

My first trip to a blue star system was a disaster. Each planet was extreme — radiation, heat, cold — and several of them had Sentinels that would attack on sight. I didn’t find any interesting life forms (my main interest) though I did see some extremely weird resources I had never heard of before.

Also, any trips between planets resulted in attacks by other space ships (which disables pulse drive, slowing you to a crawl) or even attacks by Sentinel ships (which I had never seen before). One of these battles was so terrifying that I called my son in a panic and handed the mouse over to him. Even he struggled to survive this battle, exhausting all my shield resources. Eventually he made it down to the planet’s surface, and even there the Sentinels (and their enhanced, robot-like fighters) were beating us to a pulp. He managed to blast off, circle around, and shoot them from above.

Crazy levels of adrenaline, but I left this star system ASAP!

After that I made a hurried survey of about 30 planets. Land, walk around, take some pictures, leave.

Finally I found a planet with a habitable base that was kinda-sorta OK. I really wanted a planet like one of the old ones from before the upgrade. But no luck, and I was getting tired of searching. My planet that I settled for had moderate weather, no radiation, relatively peaceful Sentinels. The terrain was semi-arid and not very diverse, but dramatic storms caused the purple grasses to wave in the wind. There were a few peaceful herbivorous animals. The main problem was almost no resources except for iron. The deposits of iron were hidden in beautiful, colorful caves, well-hidden from Sentinels, so that was a plus.

It began to feel like home. I renamed the planet Northruby because of a huge ruby-like structure to (what I think was) the north.

My new base was equipped with a Teleport terminal. In order to activate it, I had to travel to the nearest space station and teleport back home from there. Amazingly, this process does not expend any resources; even my ship was transported!

I have lost track of the details, but after further faster-than-light-speed voyages, my home teleport offered the opportunity to warp to the space stations I had visited in distant star systems. I set up a work station, then transported offworld to hire a friendly Gek to work at my base. He said that he would love to have company and could I hire more workers? If I gave him certain resources, he could set up a science station for my next employee.

I thought to myself “Fetch quest!” But that’s OK, my Gek friend was charming and it was nice to have company in what had previously been a very lonely universe.

To be continued!

One Quadrillion?!

A while ago, I accidentally created a world where the mountains were so tall that you can’t add any more blocks. It was way above the cloud layer…

above cloud layer


above cloud layer 3


above cloud layer 2

Try as you might, you can’t place any blocks on this plateau — it gives you an error message. But, in Creative Mode, you can still fly above this! So I gave it a try. I flew so high that I lost all sight of the ground. At this point even though it was night, the sun re-appeared (was I seeing around the planet???)

above cloud layer 4

Using the F3 key, I displayed the X, Y and Z coordinates. Y is the altitude. It seemed to take forever, but I finally got above 1000 meters. I kept expecting something terrible to happen (would it crash my computer?) so I got scared and gave up.

above cloud layer 5

So — how high up can you fly in Creative Mode? Using our handy-dandy Google, I found this video


The short answer is, you can go 1 quadrillion meters. One quadrillion and one, and you get an error message. I’m not positive but I think the error is so severe that you can never enter that world again! The guy in the video used the “teleport” command, which I don’t have, so I’m not going to try it.

One quadrillion can also be written in exponential notation as 10 to the 15th power.

Just for scale, one AU (astronomical unit) is a measly 1.5 times 10 to the 12th power. (One AU is approximately the distance from the Earth to the Sun.) So in Minecraft, you can fly about a thousand times the distance from the Earth to the Sun. This is waaaaaay past Pluto, which is an average of 40 AU away.

A lightyear is 9.5 times 10 to the 15th power. That means the Minecraft sky extends about A TENTH OF A LIGHTYEAR away from the world’s surface.

Won’t be able to reach any stars. According to this article, the closest star to our sun is Proxima Centauri, at 4.5 lightyears away.

Of course, in the Minecraft world, there could be stars much closer than that, who knows?


Visiting Sept Seven

Flying around Sept Seven! What would those blank areas in the corners be? How would the cliff-borders look? Are the caverns interesting? And, I always love visiting flat sandy beaches and really dense jungle.

Sept 7 corners with air

Well, the blank areas on the map were, again, those gaps in the world. I was hoping it would fill in with water. Still, I love flying above the Void, and occasionally falling in.


Sept 7 cliffs

Yes, the cliffs were impressive. The roots of the trees go down to the very bottom of the world.


Sept 7 flat beach

Beautiful beaches!


Sept 7 caverns

I’m not sure if I like the caverns. They look weird in sand. Maybe if I restricted them to certain areas. Also, they’re kind of dangerous — I was walking around at night, was taking some pictures of the moon, and fell in one.


Sept 7 fell in cavern

This picture is awfully dark, but I think you get the idea. This would be nasty to get out of, if I couldn’t fly.


Sept 7 perfect match

Yes, the water levels match perfectly! I built a little glass bridge from the island, across the Void Gap, to the surrounding ocean.

More pictures soon! This is a very nice little world, and I’ve already carved out some “camping areas”.



Where’s my brushes!!!

I opened WorldPainter today and it said there was a new version, and would I like to update? Sure, why not. It will over-write your files, it said. Fine, that sounds nice and tidy to me! Then I opened the program again, and all my “Custom Brushes” were gone. brushes

OK, no biggie. I’ll download some more. Next time I’ll save back-ups, too!

Here’s a nice post at the Minecraft forums, explaining “Custom Brushes” and giving some resources. There’s links to a tutorial not to mention a couple of brushes that you can download from that page.

I also searched Google Images for “geometric fabric patterns” and will try making Custom Brushes from some of those.



Computer guts

Here’s some pictures from the big computer clean-up yesterday!

bugs in computer

There was a literal BUG in the computer.

Here’s the big picture…

computer guts 2

Close-up of the processor. Check out all the dust in the fins (supposed to be drawing heat away from the processor). The “RAM sticks” are looking pretty woolly, too.


bunnies processor

No idea what THESE tiny things are. I will ask. It looks like a miniature city to me.

tiny city

“Schematics” — taking the plunge

Yesterday I took the plunge and tried working with a “schematic” for the first time. A schematic is when you take a piece from a Minecraft world — it could be a building, or a hill, or a whole giant area — and use software to turn it into a compressed form, like a blueprint. Then this blueprint can be imported and plunked into an entirely different world. Then Minecraft takes the blueprint and translates it back into the usual colorful blocks.

In this case, the schematic was of a weird island that looks sort of like a cupcake, with water and a sandy beach on top. I had someone else extract the schematic for me. I used the import function of MC Edit to drop it in to a flat ocean world. MC Edit is very dependent on a scroll wheel mouse, and I was on my laptop, so I had very little control over where the island went. I just put it where it landed. Notice that the water level of the island is quite a bit below the water level of its new location.

first cupcake


Then just for fun I added a second copy of the island, and this time turned it upside down. Weirdly enough, the water didn’t flow down, it stuck to the bottom of the cupcake.

cupcake 2

I thought it might be cool to have some sort of stairway connecting the lower island to the upper one. But as soon as I broke a block on the upper island, it was like the water and sand suddenly realized that they were upside down, and they started to fall off! This happened so rapidly that my poor laptop was struggling to keep up, and there was a lot of lag.

island avalanche

Another thing I learned was, I had used a schematic that included not only the island (all the way down to bedrock level) but all the air above it (all the way up to the top of the sky). The schematic was not just of the island, but the whole rectangle that contained it, from top to bottom. So, when I flipped the island over, the air above it punctured through the ground in the new location, taking a huge chunk out of the ocean, and ripping a hole in the bedrock.  Into….THE VOID.

In Creative Mode, you can fly around in the Void. Here is a view from below.

void view

You’re below the big hole in the ocean, looking up at the night sky. The curved blue is the waterfall coming off the upside-down island.

When flying in the Void, I almost always mis-type at some point and lose buoyancy. If you don’t catch yourself quickly enough, the results are fatal.  I think this is the only way you can die in Creative Mode.

cupcake lethal

This experimental “Double Cupcake World” was so surreal, I took a lot of screen shots. If you would like to see more, they are on a gallery page here!