Minecraft Enderman Ranch 08: A survival ranch home is born.
Part 8 of my new Minecraft storytelling campaign, in which I build out my “survival house,” start my animal pasture, improve my industrial ranch, and tame a bunch of horses
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Another weekend, so another chance to play around in my latest Minecraft roleplaying storytelling campaign! To remind you, this time I'm pretending I'm an derring-do explorer who goes to far-off biomes and brings back exotic resources, to duplicate on an industrial scale at my 10,000-square-block automated ranch, so to trade heavily with all the villages in my trading network, to eventually become a tycoon who gets the armorers to build me enchanted armor and weapons for the coming holy war by my apocalyptic cult (er, maybe, if I get to the very end of the campaign and have done everything else). This was a particularly exciting weekend, because I finally got my personal house finished, so was able to move all my personal items out of the ranch, clean up the ranch quadrants, and build out my northern pasture for my horses and feed animals that will eventually almost join up with Forest View, the village closest to me. That's my pet cat you're seeing in this photo, name still undecided, because I haven't used my nametag yet and made it official. Want to make a suggestion? I'll have a tweet about this over at my Twitter account, so make one there, or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is what's called a “survival house,” a very specific thing in Minecraft; this particular one was designed by YouTuber and Instagrammer SheepGG, in an easy-to-follow instructional video over there. As long-time readers know, I'm currently going through what I imagine will be one of my last-ever serious Minecraft campaigns, because the boys I used to play it with when they were kids are now eighteen and off to college, and because I'm currently saving up for my first-ever gaming computer and will officially switch my obsession at that point over to Cities: Skylines (but way way way way WAY more than you ever wanted to know about that in 2022). See, there are different modes you can play in there; “survival,” for example, is the basic form of the “it's an actual game” version of Minecraft (there are monsters and other hindrances you have to get around; you have to actually gather all the raw materials you need to build more complex things), while “creative” is a “let's pretend this is a giant sandbox and you can build anything you want, oh yeah and you can also fly” mode, and there are other modes like “hardcore” where the monsters are even crazier and more dangerous.
So a good survival house, then, is one where you can take care of all the things you might ever need to deal with in survival mode — sleeping, crafting, getting into your mine, growing crops, having storage, making magic potions, enchanting tools and armor — but within a completely enclosed space that monsters can't get into, and is lit up brightly enough that you can work through the night if you feel like it. After scanning through a bunch of YouTube videos on the subject, I thought this was a particularly clever one, that allows you to have a fairly substantial produce garden directly underneath the house itself, and comes up with clever barriers like hedges instead of the usual wooden fences.
But then another part of all of this for me to build purely decorative items, things that sometimes can't even be really used within the game mechanics of Minecraft, but are being done purely for the visual beauty of it. Like, I made a set of chairs and a table overlooking the tiny little pond on my estate, even though you can't actually sit at them in the real game; and I'm making liberal use of the brand-new candles that came with version 1.17 a few weeks ago, a great new thing to do with the underused bees and wax/honey that came a few updates back. The whole pond on my estate, in fact, will be heavily decorated in the future, using mostly items from the Caribbean-style “Buena Sea” once I finally have a pickaxe with the Silk Touch enchantment. This is one thing I've never really explored before now, the purely decorative side of Minecraft (there's no time to, when you play with two nine-year-olds who have an obsessive desire to kill monsters and gather diamonds and do nothing else whatsoever); so as long as this might be my last serious campaign, I thought I'd really indulge myself this time, and especially use it to really sell this roleplaying storytelling I'm doing along with it.
Of course, all good survival houses have a bedroom for hiding from the monsters at night, going to bed, storing your stuff, etc., and usually you'd have a great opportunity to do a lot of interior decorating here too. But I don't know, given that I'm supposed to be this kind of intense explorer-innovator-entrepreneur type, I thought it'd be more fun to imagine my bedroom like how you might imagine it if Patrick Swayze's character Dalton from the classic 1989 Road House was alive in the 2020s and playing Minecraft, just bare except for a bed and a ring of candles, with an opportunity to keep all my stuff up on hidden shelves that are easily reachable but out of the way of everything, a clever detail by SheepGG that's one of the defining traits of a survival house to begin with.
This is all a thirty-second train ride due east of my industrial ranch's center, so I actually have a train line running there, and I built out a lovely little rustic walkway from its terminus to my estate's front gate, including fun little overhang poles with lanterns dangling from them. If you look in the opposite direction, then, you can see the very beginnings of what will eventually be a massive terraforming project, transforming the central European plains around me into a full-fledged Asian garden, including a bamboo forest, the surrounding river stocked with coral and kelp (and including a waterfront meditation pagoda), a Zen sand garden, special tall-pole banners that resemble an Enderman face, and more.
And speaking of the train ride over to the ranch, there are updates to give there too, although I'll save most of them for next time, part 9, when I will hopefully be announcing that five out of my ten automated produce fields are complete. The main thing to report today, though, is that I finally put together nine blocks of solid gold, the minimum amount needed to get a mystical, possibly alien-created beacon going in a survival game, which among other options lets me choose a magic power to emanate from it that allows me to walk at a running level without losing any health for a certain amount of blocks around it (30 in all directions, I think at this level; at its most powerful, when all the metal blocks are a pyramid the size of that concrete plaza currently around it, then a full 50 blocks, which is why my ranch is that exact size itself). It also emits this cool, otherworldly sound and can be seen from insane distances, and I have to admit it's one of my all-time favorite things in Minecraft.
That was Saturday; then on Sunday, I built out the northern pasture where I'm going to let all the animals I kill for food and resources roam free, as well as all my tamed horses, which I'll eventually breed and trade with villagers like everything else. Like I've mentioned in previous updates, although I'm automating the crop farming with technology (i.e. redstone, and all the stuff that can be built with redstone), I'm not building slaughterhouses, because I'm just generally against the idea of slaughterhouses even with the innocence of a purely digital game like this. So I have just a big field with some of the animals roaming around to and fro, who I can breed and occasionally kill with a sword manually when I need feathers for arrows, beef for leather, or pork for stew (yet another of these customized recipes of mine... but more on that in part 10, I promise), but otherwise with just an opportunity to roam around eating, getting lazy and fat into old age. (Coming here soon, stables where my horses can be sheltered when fed, cleaned, or all the other things you do in a stable.) The northern edge of the pasture gets us so close to Forest View, you can legitimately call it the edge of town; so I've built a tramped-down dirt path there for now, then eventually will find a cool “modern house” construction video at YouTube to use for my store on the southern edge of the village limits itself, just beyond the gates and stone fence.
Then to the west, a direct bridge that bypasses the ranch altogether, for my coming horse rides to the Shire villages of Bedu (northwest), Magirim (southwest), and City of the Dead (due west), once the ranch is totally complete and I'm ready to start trading with villagers in earnest. This is also the bridge I used to goad/lead all the animals I had saved up in a pen in my ranch over to the new pasture. Cattle are as easy to lead as... well, cattle.
I was also blessed to have the Minecraft Algorithimc AI God-Emperor (Hallowed Be Its Name) plunk down a whole field of wild horses just east of Forest View; all it takes to tame them is a saddle and some apples, just that quite a bit of time and patience is often needed, a particularly lovely tradeoff within the game mechanics of Minecraft, I think. As I saw when I sat and played with two tweens, there are just so many fun, cool, interesting, insightful little tics to Minecraft that tweens love, and feel like they actually accomplished something since the achievement of the goals involves things like patience and smarts. Another is the process of gaining a pet, whether a dog (like I've typically had in past campaigns) or a cat (which I have in this campaign for the first time). To have a cat as a pet, you first have to build a fishing pole and catch some raw fish; then you have to visit a village and find a feral cat; then you have to crouch and not move at all, while holding a piece of fish in your hand, within just a small radius of the cat to get its attention; and if you move in just the tiniest bit while it's creeping towards you, it takes off running in the opposite direction again. So it's a pain! But once it's tame, not only does it follow you around wherever you go, and help finish off monsters that have attacked you, but it literally lays on your chest and purrs whenever you go to bed, and in the morning you typically learn that it went out hunting during the night and brought you back a rabbit's foot or a hide, dead chicken, etc. So it feels totally worth the trouble! The game's full of all kinds of charming details like these, so no wonder it's become now a perennial tween favorite that's sold millions and millions and millions of copies.
Oh yes, and one other thing; on the temporary northern gates, the first part of the estate anyone from the village sees if coming to visit, I hang the banners of the armed Nazi marauder groups I've had to kill while building up my ranch and estate. We have a zero tolerance policy for Nazi marauders; we don't debate them, we don't protest them, we kill them, a message I want to emphasize heavily to the villagers of Forest View so they can rest a little easier.
Where these 1.17 constructions really come alive, though, is the now three different options for lighting at night; torches (which provide a bright and crude light), lanterns (which provide as much lighting protection from monsters as torches, but give off a softer and gentler glow), and the brand-new candles (which can be manually placed in groups of one to four; a group of four give off the same amount of light as a torch or lantern, so you can actually now place lights that are 25 percent the intensity, giving a secondary aura-like glow to certain areas of your build). I have to say, I'm really super-happy with how this estate is looking at night at the moment, and look forward to eventually building this out to be bright enough that no monsters can spawn anywhere on the grounds or pasture.
And that brings us to Sunday evening, which means another week of hiatus, so to devote myself to freelance work and co-op duties and all the other things that lets me have a survivable life. Next update, the completion of first five automated farming fields, which will not only gain me experience points automatically to fuel magic spells, but will churn out bone meal (aka “magic fertilizer”) by the dumpload, which will let me clone flowers, instantly turn baby animals into adults, turn normal mushrooms into giant ones, etc.; then the next update after that, a beginner's guide to what JSON is, how to write it, and how to combine it with item tags to create your own customized crafting and smelting recipes, without needing to know the first thing about how to actually go into the game's source code. See you then!