Friday, September 30, 2011

Capture The Record 4 Tomorrow: BE THERE!

Come watch two teams of Spawncampers and friends battle it out in the 4th incarnation of Minecraft Capture the Record!

Date:        Saturday, October 1st, 2011
Time:        9PM GMT/5PM EST
Version:    1.7.3

Livestreaming provided by:

Gold Team, SeriousCreeper:
Green Team, RPGamer99:

Teams are as follows:

Team Gold
  • Captain: thecrystalcrow
  • ashrossy 
  • Uruz
  • SeriousCreeper
  • MinecraftTeachr 
  • xwcg
  • makefile
  • Astragali
  • heronmarkedblade
  • xelatyper 
  • Gleeson9
  • Nak3d

Team Green
  • Captain: stahscream 
  • alefnull
  • jessartisan
  • Bethness
  • kalennighteyes
  • RPGamer99
  • ZeImperialistic
  • Gingernator666
  • Mirosta
  • Teddanator
  • Bar_Barian 
  • ethancherry

There are many, many people who applied for the waiting list. I'm sorry we could not accommodate everyone, since server spots are limited. I would have loved to play with all of you!

Special Thanks To:

SeriousCreeper and RPGamer99, for taking on the Livestream.

Mirosta, the creator of the CTR Bukkit plugin, for going above and beyond helping us with setup and bugfixes-you totally RAWK.

Our playtesters, RPGamer99 and Astragali, the Minecraft Scribe for their patience, humor and mastery of WorldEdit.

ZeImperialistc and alefnull, for Mumble setup and moderation.

The Shaft Podcast, for the timely plug.

Special thanks to ashrossy for hosting the server, and stahscream for asking, “Is anyone interested in doing another CTR?” Without you two, this wouldn't be happening!

See you all Saturday!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bring it ON, Baby! CTR 4 Update

Minecraft Capture the Record 4 UPDATE!

We've gotten everything finalized, so here it is. Players will get an email with further details.

Bring your “A” Game!

Date:         Saturday, October 1st, 2011
Time:        Assembly 4-4:30 PM EST, 9-9:30 PM GMT
                 Gameplay Begins 5 PM EST, 10 PM GMT
Version:    Minecraft 1.7.3

As usual, build time is 5 hours, after which PVP will begin! The winning team is the first to uncover the opposing team's record and play it in the jukebox.

Time Converter is here: Please check your own time zone to determine your personal start time.

Additional Rules:
  • No Deliberate Spawn Camping
  • No Use of Lava at Opposing Team's Spawn

Download a fresh Minecraft 1.7.3 .jar file here:

Or use Minecraft Version Switcher here:

Mumble server will be provided by The Spawn: and alefnull and ZeImperialistic_ have kindly offered to moderate. Only players will be able to access their respective rooms.

Players have been divided into teams of Green and Gold. If you like, you may change your skin to match your team, but it is not mandatory. We will be testing a plugin that will change helmet color to match the teams, and will let you know if/when it works.

stahscream's Green Team Shirt

RPGamer99 has thoughtfully offered to Livestream here at TwitchTV: , so tune in and you can watch us battle there! (No watching the opposing team's stream, folks!) He's on the Green Team (my opposition!) so if any of you Gold team folks would like to stream our side, please let me know.

Players will receive an email with team designations, IP address and stress testing invite closer to the date of the event, so look to your inboxes and stay tuned to this spot. Gold Team members, put on your Evil Genius hats and email me back with ideas! (Sneaky crow is sneaky!)

Ah, well, in the interest of fairness I suppose Green Team members can DM @stahscream on Twitter with your own evil plots. XD

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bring It, 'Cause Minecraft Capture the Record 4 is ON, Baby!

These things start so simply-a tweet from stahscream asking who wanted to play another Capture the Record (or CTR), with SudoRossy and I chiming in. As much as Minecraft is self-directed, I could use a little purposeful, goal-oriented play once in awhile. A few hours later, our meeting of the minds became:

Capture The Record 4

..and we were off. Here are the details we have so far:

Date:        Saturday, October 1st, 2011
Time:       TBA
Version:   1.7.3

Voice chat capability is MANDATORY! At this point we will probably be using Mumble. Details will be provided via email.

As noted above, we will be playing Minecraft version 1.7.3. If players need a fresh .jar file, a Mediafire link will be provided in a follow-up email. (Thanks to Deaboy for the .jar!)

The server is whitelisted, and the IP will be given out the day of the event via email.

We have discussed some additional things, and all additional information will be sent out via email at a later date. We are planning on Livestreaming, and are looking for someone interested/capable of doing so.

There are a few slots still open on the waiting list, so if you wish to play, please leave a comment here with your Twitter name, Minecraft IGN and email address. If you've already heard from me, I've already got you on the list.

Note: Excessive pestering (unless highly creative) will not get you a place on the teams, nor will bribery (I like champagne, cheesecake, and long walks on the beach, btw), so forget about trying. :D

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Sometimes, it's just one of those days.

It starts like any other-you wake, grab the coffee and a shower, groggily greet the new day, and remember. Today is the day. The day yet another chapter of your life closes. For good. As I looked into the backyard, I burst into tears, and was grateful that Jackie was handling the sale.

Let me begin at the beginning.

In the fall of 2000, I was newly married (for the second time, with all the hopes and fears one has), and my new husband and I were cramped into my apartment. I was working for a real estate agency, and perfectly positioned to purchase a house, so shopping I went.

Richmond, Virginia has a long-standing tradition of “tacky Christmas light” displays, and for the previous four years I had greatly enjoyed taking the Tacky Tour: pulling addresses out of the Times-Dispatch and driving a self-guided tour, alone, or with friends. One of my favourite houses was on Ginter Street in Lakeside, a little suburb just north of the Richmond city line. Every Christmas season I used to go out of my way when driving home from work just to pass this particular house and drink in the lovingly crafted display.

Imagine my surprise when I found that this house was on the market.

I scheduled a day with one of our realtors to check a dozen houses, saving the one on Ginter Street for last. Although there were many nice homes, nothing clicked with me...until I walked into the house on Ginter Street. As I stepped through the door, it seemed as if I had finally come home.

The house was in awful shape, and I found out why. The owner, Carl Lewis Whittaker (Louie, to his friends) was present and gave me the grand tour-from the roses he had planted in front to the pecan tree in the back that was older than the house itself. I told him of how I had passed his house time and time again, and how much I enjoyed his Christmas display as he pointed out the electrical system with the numerous outdoor outlets. When I asked why he was selling, a shadow passed over his face, and he told me why. He could no longer live alone, he said. Leukemia. His doctors told him he had a year left.

His face changed back as he extolled the virtues of the house. He had done much of the work on it himself, but there was a great deal more to be done. I thanked him and left, and immediately called my mortgage broker to work out a deal. We closed in January, 2001, and moved the middle of the biggest snowstorm to hit Virginia in 20 years.

Over the following seasons we settled into our new home, meeting the neighbors, gardening, fixing the house; until suddenly, it was Thanksgiving. Timmy, my across-the-street neighbor, was putting up his Christmas lights. “Are you carrying on the tradition?', he shouted from across the street. To be honest, I hadn't thought of it. New husband, new home, promotion at work, starting a new business-all these had kept me from from any hobby at all. As I looked at the house with its myriad of outdoor electrical sockets, I thought, “Why not? I can throw up some lights. It will be fun.” Louie had also left some blow molds in the garage, and I quickly repaired them and set them out. A trip to Wal-Mart gave me about a thousand lights, and after putting them up, they looked a little sparse, so it was back to Wally World for a few thousand more. (As lighting enthusiasts know, lights are counted by the number of actual bulbs, not by strands, so a thousand lights is only ten strands.) After putting these up, I decided that the porch roof was a little bare. The world knows what happened in September of 2001, so an American flag, patterned in four thousand lights, was installed in that bare spot.

And the tour buses began to come. And I was hooked.

2007, the year of the blow molds.

The next year, Timmy and I had a contest, with a running total of how many lights we each had. If I had more the previous night, Tim would break out some more until he had just one strand more...and I would rush to Wal-Mart and buy another thousand just to beat him. We spent the evenings calling our light counts to each other from across the street, and the buses and limousines resumed their visits. The year after, Tim and I decorated houses next door as well as our own, and other neighbors began to get into the act. Our block of Ginter Street had become the most lighted block on the Tacky Tour, and there were only one or two neighbors that didn't have at least a lighted wreath on the door. Louie came by every year to have a drink and catch up, until the year he couldn't come any more.

Then came 2004.

This year, my fairy-tale marriage came crashing down to the tune of my husband's long-term, undisclosed mental illness, and the yearly lighting was my escape. By the time the lights came down, the marriage was over in all but the legalities. The spring that followed was a healing one. Until I knocked down the garage, which began my long, slow dance with disability. But that's another story.

2006, when it formally became the "Peace on Earth" house.

The following years brought larger displays, lighting ceremonies, bands playing, people coming to the door on a nightly basis telling me how they and their children enjoyed driving by over the years. We handed out candy canes every weekend, dressed in Santa hats, collecting for charity. And the parade of buses and limousines continued. In 2008, I was featured on the local news, and they had filmed my setup process, which now required a crew to handle, as I could not climb ladders any more.

2008, with over 42,000 lights.

2008 was the last year.

By 2009, I could hardly get out of bed. I lost my lovingly restored jewel-box cottage, and was moved by friends into a rental many miles away from the familiar faces of my neighbors. The lights came with me. You see, I was still optimistic then.

Fast forward to this morning, as I looked at the back yard filled with all of my displays. Many people are coming, and many remember me, my home, and the good times we had year after year.

I can't face them. I've lost too much.

So Jackie's handling the sale.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tales of a Minecraft Server Noob, Part 2: A Three Hour Tour – Welcome to the Minecrap Server

(When we last left our heroine, she was hammering away at a project on the Pretzelcast server, and had just been told by Astragali, a friend and fellow Pretzel, that there was a surprise in store on the Minecrap server. We return to our story in progress...) Astra pops back onto The Pretz and says, “THE MINECRAP MAP IS BACK UP! WRITE DOWN THIS IP AND COME WITH ME!” Excited Astra was excited, and he had reason.

You may remember from the last installment that I had spoken with alefnull, admin on the Minecrap server (and man with the banhammer) regarding getting whitelisted on Minecrap, and he had mentioned that the map was unavailable, so there would be a wait of some weeks. It seemed it was a surprise to the entire Minecrap community that the map was back up and running, and everyone was rushing to the server to see what could be seen.

What did I know about Minecrap?

Well, I'd seen Satori's builds at Lyon Estates and elsewhere, and I'd watched a tour done by Ironfruit and Bethness (The Half-Bakes); both were shown on YouTube. Impressive stuff, but the reality was SO much better. Landing at spawn, I was confronted with a carnival atmosphere-bright colors, people rushing everywhere, and the chat literally exploding with running commentary. With Astragali as my guide, I stepped out into an amusement park of the like I had never seen. As I goggled at the sights, Astra threw me a diamond sword, gave me a brief rundown of chat commands, and informed me that I was godded (he knows I lag out and die with astonishing regularity).

The fabulous Rainbow Cove in the daytime... even better looking at night!

 Thus began the whirlwind tour that in real time lasted over three hours, but seemed to take about ten minutes. We were joined in our trek by the talented Teddanator as we teleported through the fantastical landscape, seeing the sights. I felt like Alice in Wonderland - everything was larger-than-life, whimsical, and fascinating. As soon as I drank in one build, Astra would exclaim, “You HAVE to see THIS!” and I'd be teleported away to another exotic locale.

Thefre's elephant in the big top.

Here's a rundown of a few of the things I saw, with main builders in parentheses. There was too much to see to tell it all!1

  • The amusement park at Rainbow Cove, circumscribed by a working monorail made of rainbow colored wool, the biggest carousel ever (Astragali), a big top complete with enormous elephant (Thefre), an underwater aquarium (Teddy and Mhykol), and the largest kitchen I'd ever seen, which was a boat ride as well (Hojjosh and team).

  • Ezchili's dirtbike (made of actual dirt blocks) parked at Shroomgirl's McDonalds (Chicken McLugnuts to go, please!).

  • Rome (Chris_W_2k5, Alefnull, Bitburner, Hojjosh) Yes, ROME, complete with coliseum.

  • Lyon Estates, where I actually got to tour Satori's house in person (awesome).

  • An absolutely gorgeous Opera House (also built by Satori).

    Satori's Opera House, exterior...

    ...and interior. Now I just need a date for the show-and a dress...and shoes...a!

  • A rocket and a planet (Teddy), the planet being hollow with vignettes of Minecraft biomes inside.
  • Shroomgirl's giant games(!)

  • Dr. Astrastein's Lab, complete with Van de Graaff generator, a giant zombie on a slab, and Notch's brain in a jar.

  • A working waterslide (wheee!) Don't remember the builder on this one, sorry.

    The evil genius at work on a guinea pi...erm, willing subject.
    Where Notch's brain REALLY is. Now maybe we can get him to work on optimization!

So, over three hours later, I was standing atop a clock tower at Rainbow Cove with Astra and Teddy, grinning like a total fool over all that I'd seen. Still grinning, I made my goodbyes-after all, it was after 2AM my time, waaay past this crow's bedtime. I smiled so much that my face hurt for hours into the next day. If the map ever comes back again, it's a must see.

The next day, I was back at Minecrap. I struck out into the sunrise to find a place to build. Three “days” later, I had found a beautiful valley in which to situate my home, which would quickly become known as the Crow's Nest. Unfortunately, as soon as I had the house and interiors complete (with a working piston elevator and lots of other redstone operated goodies made by Thefre) the map had to be reset (horrors!) and Crow's Nest was lost. The next day, Astra and Thefre helped me search for the site to no avail (we did find some beautiful places though), but enter Jade to save the day! She had previously taken the coordinates on a visit to see Thefre's amazing Crow's Nest sign, so away we went. We were joined by a team of folks who pitched in to get the house back up, and in a few quick hours, my home was restored, with more perks than I had originally (but minus the elevator, unfortunately).

Home sweet Crow's history.

Then, a few days later, the map was gone...again. It seems I have lost Crow's Nest for good. *sniffles*

So I went back to The Pretz, where I founded Ninja Decorators, LLC, and began to design my first client's interiors.

Then I learned of Sanctuary.

Upcoming: Part Three: Claiming Sanctuary

1Any mistakes in crediting builds are wholly my own. My brain just ain't what it used to be. Happens, when you get old.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Vechs' Race For Wool: Death Becomes You, Yet Again

If you've read me before, you know that I'm a total fangirl when it comes to Vechs' series of Super Hostile Maps for Minecraft. Recently, there's been a new twist involving a new type of map Vechs has created: a competition specifically designed for multiplayer teams called “Race For Wool”.1

At spawn. Read the rules and prepare for your doom.


This is how it came about:

AvidyaZen originated a concept regarding an adventure map/map series that would pit teams from two to five players each against each other competitively, as well as encouraging PVP and involving resource control. This was then further discussed in's IRC channel with Coestar and Guude. Since Guude was LPing Vechs' Legendary map, he brought the idea to Vechs, who then ran with it. Vechs created the map specifically for the 420 and OOG teams and then released it to them to enable recording before the map was made public.2 Avidya, Coe, Guude and BdoubleO dangled tidbits of information in their Let's Plays about a “secret project”. Soon, (but not soon enough for me) these four began releasing their videos. Three days ago, to be exact.

Not like I was counting or anything.

It only LOOKS bucolic-evil lurks beneath.

The map was play-tested by PauseUnPause, Zisteau (moar fangirl, watch Kaizo Caverns if you haven't already), JoeHills and ZombieCleo, supervised (and laughed at) by Vechs. Clips from the test games were uploaded into a promo video by PauseUnPause that you can see here. Super Hostile veteran players will recognize elements of many of Vechs' maps: Canopy Carnage, Sea of Flame and Kaizo Caverns are among the well-represented evil creations, set to a smaller scale.

I wanna play this map. I wanna play it so bad my teeth ache. It's signature Vechs evil, full of sneaky traps, multiple spawners, tight corners, TNT, and best of all, hostile players that will use anything and everything to sabotage you and your teammates. 

Just like I like it.

Play this, and you and your friends will acquire another interesting, descriptive level to your language, trust me. Just don't use it around your mother. The only things that seems to be missing are Vechs' traditional signs trolling the players, but it is entirely possible that they are there, just undiscovered by any LPers as of yet.

Bring it on, I dare ya.

As Race For Wool is a bit more complex due to Multiplayer participation, the rules are more extensive than Vechs' usual Super Hostile maps. The rules are as follows, break them at the peril of being posted as a cheater on the Minecraft Forums:

The map is divided into two identical lanes. Each team plays on a lane, and rushes to place colored wool blocks on their Victory Monument, the first team to place all the blocks wins.

Each lane is 32 blocks wide, and once the map has started (Both teams leave the starting platform.) players are STRICTLY FORBIDDEN from leaving their lanes. At no point may players leave the 32 block width of their lane, and if they do, the other team may, at their discretion, claim victory and disqualify the offending team. Should an explosion or other game effect move a player off their lane involuntarily, the player must immediately fall into the void and die (likely to happen anyway, but the player might land on a block between lanes...).

However, players may, upon both teams consensus prior to the map starting, act upon each other with ranged techniques -- as long as the players stay within their area, they may shoot arrows, push blocks via pistons, and use TNT cannons, or other available techniques to harass and slow down the other team. (It is in the spirit of the map for players to be as hostile and confrontational to the other team as possible. In other words, they should be SUPER HOSTILE to each other.)

Should a player die and not have a bed available to respawn at, they must leave the starting platform and immediately return to their lane.

Players may break blocks, craft, and for the most part play Minecraft as normal, but they must acquire the goal wools from chests in the map, and not use dyes to acquire the wool colors. Players are also prohibited from moving on top of the map ceiling, should such a roof be present.

For shorter games, players may agree to play for specific wools -- for example, a game until Green Wool is acquired, or a game until Green and Blue are acquired.3

All you need to play is a server, and a bunch of highly competitive friends that are ready and willing to kill each other. Due to the size of the teams involved, we haven't seen much PVP other than setting off the pre-laid traps and some random arrow shots. I believe if the teams get bigger we could see some serious TNT cannon action, which someone needs to record (HINT).

The possibilities for destruction are endless...

What about replayability? According to the playtesting team, repeated playthroughs only made the games more competitive, since familiarity and experience with the map layout gave players the opportunity to actually pursue a strategy other than racing in and dying repeatedly.

This map looks to be a ton of fun. Go and download it here. Play. Die frequently. Have insane amounts of fun...again.

Remember, Vechs is always just dying to kill you...but now your competitors are as well.


1Although many Let's Players are calling the map “Race For the Wool”, or RFTW, Vechs has stated in a YouTube comment that the map is correctly called “Race For Wool”.
2Courtesy of AvidyaZen. (Thanks! <3)
3From the Readme file, Race For Wool by Vechs

Sunday, September 4, 2011

So You Wanna Be A Rockstar?

So...I'm hanging out in Minecraft on MinecraftGeek's Sanctuary server in my Ninja Decorators, LLC office, sipping my coffee and struggling with plans to decorate the main living quarters at Haven, when I get a Tweet from a friend. Astragali, the Minecraft Scribe, sends, “Erm...can I ask you for a favor?”. Stalled on my current project, and warily intrigued, I jump onto's Mumble to find out what's afoot.

To my surprise, I found myself invited to help create the set for WelshPixie's new music video! I'd seen Astra and Pix Tweeting about their “sekrit project”, and now I got to find out what it was: a parody version of Portal 2's closing song “I Want You Gone”, sung by WelshPixie, lyrics by Astragali. The best part? I get to build a castle that will be blown to smithereens in the video sequence!

I find that the set is to be built on the new Minecraft Workbench Chunk Error Server, so I get the address and 'port in.

The Mission: Build a castle.
Without WorldEdit. Rats.
Without VoxelSniper. Nuts.
With Zombe's Fly Mod and Marglyph's TMI. Sweet. All is well.

I began to clear the castle site and plan it out. While chatting with Astra as he built the “Stop Griefing” sign, I found that he was to play the griefer in the video, and that Pixie will ban him in the end (this was related with a certain amout of evil pleasure on his part). This led to about an hour of his attempting to demontrate said griefer skin, all to no avail. All the loading and reloading of Minecraft on Astra's part drew attention from some other folks on the server, resulting in a slew of requests for his presence and questions about what he was up to-neatly sidestepped to keep the project a secret.

Astra's sign, which he ignores. Griefers can't read?
In a couple hours, I had a cute little castle, pennants flying, that would be open enough to film and nice enough to (slightly) regret blowing up...but this is Minecraft, and I can always make another. I found that Pixie loved the castle, and didn't want any changes, so I headed back to Sanctuary to take another stab at those pesky interiors.

Castle, pre-explosion. *sniffle*
Then I get another Tweet:

“Do you want to be in the video?”

Excuse me, but do bears shit in the woods? Is the Pope Catholic? HELL yes, I want to be in the video! Whoops, girl, your cool just slipped...(nonchalantly) “Sure, I'd love to help out. Just tell me what I need to do.”

A few days pass, and all the while the nerdy girl in my head is dancing on the furniture singing Nickelback's “Rockstar”. I get to Chunk Error on the day of filming to find that Pix wants me to play the lead so she can film, and the nerdy girl in my head goes absolutely ballistic.

Filming was as fun as I thought it would be. WelshPixie is talented, funny and gracious; Jaco was a delight (he was taking care of administrative stuffs, but was in the Skype call as well); Astragali was, well, Astragali/Griefer-stealing my diamonds and blowing up my damned castle. I admittedly had a bit of a pang when it went, but the awesome explosion under my feet made up for it-I've never been TNT'd before!

The aftermath, courtesy of Astra the griefer...please pass the banhammer.
Amazingly, Pixie had the video, titled: “Want You Banned” edited and posted to YouTube within a couple hours-of course, she had already done the amazing vocal track. The end result was fantastic, and if you haven't seen it yet, go. NOW. I'll wait.

Thanks to WelshPixie and Astragali for the opportunity to assist and have a great deal of fun in the process.

Now if you'll excuse me, nerdy girl wants to dance on the furniture. /cue “Rockstar”.