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Minecraft Monday - Of Gigantic Trees And Texture Packs


Have you seen the fancy new Minecraft launcher yet? Okay, well, it's fancy for Minecraft... According to the developers, it'll help streamline the updating process. That should be helpful considering how much updating there is to do for the game. Unfortunately for me, it doesn't make for sexy screenshots or controversial topics to write about.

However, if you're going to be at GDC and you're going to wear a blue shirt, make sure to check out the Minecraft booth. You can score one of these babies. Awesome.

Meanwhile, our reader Drew has submitted his work for all to see, and as always there's much to learn. This week we'll find out how to make your trees stretch to the sky, encounter a lovely texture pack, and find out how Minecraft is keeping the love alive.

Check it out, after the jump!

A big welcome and thank you to Drew (who goes by agielboy on the forums), who has permitted us to step into the world that he and his boyfriend share. It's not quite like any other I've seen before, for reasons that we'll explore in today's Minecraft Monday.

Perhaps the first thing I noticed about Drew's submissions was his awesome tree fort in the clouds. Really, how cool is that? Made entirely out of wood and living trees, it towers to the very limit of the sky. You may be wondering how he did that, and to be honest, it's not that difficult. All you have to do is grow one tree on top of another. First, select a tree and get on top of it. The, hack down the leaves so that the tip of the trunk is exposed. Drop a chunk of soil on top of the exposed trunk, and you've got yourself one square of arable land. That's where you plant your seedling. Give it some time (making sure it isn't crowded out by leaves) and it should grow to full size as long as you're not close to the "ceiling" in the sky. Drew provided a great tip to make the tree look as seamless as possible: You can replace the dirt with wood once the tree's grown.

The rest of the tree tower is made of blocks of wood, and if you're going to imitate that it's important to make sure you limit the combustible materials you bring around your creation. In fact, when Drew told me that he'd "lost" his first home base, I assumed he meant it had burnt down. Rather, Drew told me:

Our first base was a wooden cabin we built on an island. We had a run-in with a creeper on one of our cave-diving expeditions and we didn't realize that the spawn on survival multiplayer sometimes... drifts a bit. We had our render distance set on short, and it was night time so we died a few more times trying to find our old base before we gave up and started a new one. Once I started building my treehouse, I realized that I could see our old base from the top. Turns out we were just across a big stretch of water from it.

Drew's not the only person I've encountered with mysteriously-moving spawn points, and unlike him, for them the spawn point jumped after a great deal of construction by multiple players. This can be corrected by using a Map Editor and consulting Google. Of course, it can also be a convenient excuse for a massive building project to connect the old spawn point to the new one.

As you can see, Drew's boyfriend's base is built in to the side of a hill, and showcases a couple of interesting architectural features. I spotted a farm on an upper-floor balcony right away; I'm fond of them too, as they provide convenient and safe access to food even at night. However, there's a much more eye-catching feature going on here.

This is my boyfriend's home base, constructed after we lost the first one. He's very fond of playing with lava so it's visible from far away.
Many Minecrafters out there struggle with how to make landmarks optimally visible, and lava is one of the most tried-and-true methods. Whereas a torch only provides a speck of light from a distance, lava can create unmistakable lines, or even whole fields of light. Of course, the trade-off is that you must build with glass, stone and dirt. No wood allowed. One of the other options for long-distance visibility is a tower like Drew's wood-and-tree colossus. It may not be as visible at night, but it'd be hard to miss in the light from any angle, whereas lava's distant glow can be obstructed by objects on the ground. Check out the gallery below and you'll see of the wooden base looming over the one set in the hill.

I asked Drew about he and his boyfriend's gaming time together.

Minecraft is one of the things that we can do together long-distance, but even when we don't minecraft "together" it's still nice to get to visit a world that he's left his touch on. When we do get on together, we usually go exploring or hunting for resources for us to use in our various projects. Even when I don't see him on the server for awhile, it's really cool to watch his plans come together and his constructions evolving. He's an architecture student, so I think the things he puts together are much more refined than my own. For me, It's worth the pain and hassle of struggling with the server software and the port forwarding issues to be able to make a world that we can play around in together and separately.

According to Drew, he and his boyfriend often leave presents and gooey messages for each other, which (frankly) I think is adorable. How great that they have a world where they can be together even when they're apart?

As you may have noticed from the images above, Drew and his boyfriend don't use the standard texture pack. Instead, he prefers Painterly which, as Drew put it, "makes gold armor look... awesome." Check out his pimp suit for proof (below). You may also notice a cake that they baked in order to celebrate a victory. I really don't think they could be any cuter if they tried.

So, thank you to Drew for sharing with us. As always with Minecraft Mondays, I learned something new. Moreover, as these features build up, I am truly starting to see how this game is defined as much by the users as by the code that runs it. As you may have noticed, I have altered the format this Monday a bit, with more heavily-cropped images above. Check out the gallery of full-sized screenshots below, as well as a bonus shot of the happy couple high atop Drew's tree tower.

If you have anything you'd love us to link to, or if you'd like to be featured in an upcoming Minecraft Monday, please email me. We're always looking for new people! If you have any questions or comments about today's article, feel free to comment below.

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D. said:

Just wanted to say I love the idea of Minecraft Monday and there are a few things featured in this article that I'll definitely be trying in my own world later on. Thanks!

Here's an idea: a Minecraft-server for users from this website. Think about it.

I have no idea what so ever how that'd be actually accomplished though (and whether or not it's just me who'd be on there.)

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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D. on Minecraft Monday - Of Gigantic Trees And Texture Packs: Just wanted to say I love the idea of Minecraft Monday and there are a few things featured in this...

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