Just Tired, Wishing for an Escape

Since my husband headed back to the Army, the boys have fallen back to their usual routine. For the most part they are their typical selves although the past two days or so the youngest two have been a bit crabbier than usual. My guess this is due to allergies. The golden rod is in full bloom and my parents’ fields are thick with them. I spend very little time outside and even my eyes are itching. It doesn’t help that I’m allergic to grasses too. This season is ripe for allergens and my poor boys seems to have inherited them from me. I wish that they hadn’t. It makes everyone miserable. So we’ve been inside and most likely suffering cabin fever because of it.

The most exciting thing to happen this week so far is watching Grandpa and Uncle tear out the kitchen door and the rotted parts of the outside wall of this old farm house to replace it with new repairs. It’s still underway. I can’t recall a time this old house wasn’t under repair. It’s that old of a house. My dad said this house is around 100 years old. He inherited it from his father that bought it from someone else.

I love this house so much I tried to build a replica of it in Minecraft. Twice actually. I did so well with it I actually got praise from my dad. Shocked the hell out of me because for one I seldom get praise from him and two he thinks the game is stupid. My dad keeps drawing up plans for a dream house for him and mom. He’s really good with drafting and technical drawing. It’s my understanding that he would have gone to school for it if he hadn’t been drafted for Vietnam. I wonder if he thought it was cool to see a 3D model of floor plans in the game – like a practical use for the game? The truth is anyone can take any floor plan and use them to build in Minecraft. Floor plans are drawn on graphing paper and the game is all blocks. You just need to assign the block a measurement. In the game 1 block equals 1 meter but you as the builder can reassign the scale. Sometimes I think about drawing up floor plans for my own dream house and then trying to build a model of it in the game. And yea I’m pretty sure it would be a farm house of some kind.

Still tinkering with concepts for the new family Minecraft server. Not sure what I will go with: version 1.9 or version 1.10. I guess it depends on whether the family wants custom biomes or vanilla biomes. My immediate family – my oldest son and husband – is voting for custom biomes. Terrian Control for 1.10 is still in beta and is very buggy and currently won’t allow structures to be pasted in from a third party program like MCedit. If we are to have personal home plots without using a plot generating plugin, that makes ALL of the terrain plots, then I need to be able to do that. So while I’m waiting for family to decide on that, I’ve undertaken the process of going through the custom maps I’ve shared on PlanetMinecraft and been trying to convert them into custom biomes in Terrain Control. Really wishing now that I documented which specific trees I used for each map, not just the tree packs. Even if these don’t become the family server I can always use them for solo play.

Sorry I know I’m prattling on about stuff many people have no idea what I’m talking about. Allow me to attempt to explain what I’m doing.

Basically I use WorldPainter to make my custom maps. This program works like MS Paint. You paint an image to create the terrain and place object like trees and boulders on the terrain. This image will tell the game how to exactly generate the terrain.

Terrain Control however is a random terrain generator that allows you to tweak the variables. You can make the terrain smoother or rougher, make biomes more common or more rare, you can add or remove biomes, you can reorganize the placement style of biomes, etc. This generator will allow you to use custom objects like trees, boulders, and structures.

So I’m discovering that my project is proving to be more challenging than anticipated. In one of my custom maps I created a mushroom island with an underground forest. WorldPainter allowed me to do that. Far as I can tell, Terrain Control won’t let me create this. If it will, I haven’t figured it out yet. As it was, it took me an entire day to figure out how to create the layered mesa pillars surrounded by savanna fields so maybe with some creative thinking and tweaking I can make my underground forest possible. Then again it may just be easier to create brand new biomes completely from scratch – but what’s the fun in that?

I do know that I want to make sure that the biomes needed for the achievement have a higher probability of being discovered. Therefore those are the biomes that should be customized first and made the most interesting. The other problem is that I have two distinct age groups I’m dealing with: young children that don’t like excessive challenge and the parents that are looking for challenges. So I’m hoping to create biomes that offer distinct appearances that say “safe” and “not safe” to my players.

The advantage that Terrain Control gives me as a server admin is that no matter how far the players explore, they continue to get the custom terrain. If I just go with a custom map, once they move beyond my custom terrain they get vanilla generated terrain. No matter which route I take I have to put in a lot of work. One route requires more set up before the pre-launch building than the other is all. The question is how much immersion do we wish to have and how much does it really matter. Yes I know most people view Minecraft as just a game and this map making process is technical. However I also view the entire process of map making as an art. I always did, even back in the days of Dungeon and Dragons, but more so now.

As a child I was fascinated with my mother’s oil paintings. Some of them she painted herself. All of them are landscapes. All of them are beautiful. And as a child I imagined walking in them. Touching the trees, the grass, the leaves – all of it. I can’t paint. But I can do this. I can create these 3-dimensional landscapes with this game and with this game I can walk through them. Other people can walk through them. I can take screenshots or use rendering programs to turn them into paintings. People can build inside them and turn them into something more than what I made.

To me Minecraft is more than just a game. It’s a canvas and a brush. It’s a learning tool. It’s a community platform. Many people have tried to make games with the intent to accomplish various goals like this on purpose but never quite hit the mark. This game did it completely by accident. They never set out to be a learning environment. They never set out to be a social experiment. Never set out to be anything other than content to play in. The original premise was “you are the lone survivor, so survive” and that was it. Truthfully that’s still pretty much it even though they added a Nether dimension and an End dimension to the game.

I don’t know what I will do today. The sun has finished rising and I’m already half way through my second cup of coffee. Each of the boys are digging into their routines for the day. My parents are hoping to finish the kitchen door. I can think of a billion things I ought to do but for some reason I would rather just rest. But I can’t rest forever. I can only pretend that nothing is going on for so long. School is looming around the corner and I haven’t even started planning for that. Books and supplies need to be ordered and paid for. Clothes need to be bought. The divorce process still needs to be started. Appointments need to be made – especially for the neuropsych. Car needs to be inspected. If I’m lucky it won’t need serious repairs. But I’m tired. So damn tired. Tired of dealing with it all by myself. Tired of barely treading water. Tired of feeling judged for it. Walk in my brain for a day, be my guest. If you can figure out how to do it better after that, then I’d love to know. Seriously I honestly would.

To-Do List (no particular order):

  • Plan Homeschool Curriculum
  • Buy Homeschool Books and Supplies
  • Buy Public School Supplies
  • Buy School Clothes for all 3 boys
  • Get Divorce Started
  • Get Neuropsych Scheduled
  • Get Car Inspected
  • Get Dental Appointments – everyone
  • Get Oldest Son’s Well Child Appointment
  • Get Caught Up on Housework
  • Finish Respite Care Paperwork
  • Deal with DHHS and Medicare “Red Tape BS Confusion” (something to do with me and the Labor Dept. and where my husband lives)
  • feel like I’m forgetting something important here but I’ll be damned if I know what



Screenshot of Spider Wood created by Terrain Control.

You can compare this with the custom map of Spider Wood over at PlanetMinecraft here.

If you enjoyed this post, or have some thoughts about it, please let me know!

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