So, I Did A Thing And Learnt Some Stuff

Early on in this pandemic that is fucking the world I started playing Minecraft pretty much so I could engage in conversations with my kids and understand a little about the world they were obsessed with. I still don’t know everything but I know what I like and enjoy and so I’ve been building. It gave me purpose. I hated it at times, having to head off to the farm to get wool or go and get supplies so I can make concrete. I considered making a squid farm at one point, but just changed my design to have less black concrete. I quite liked the process of building a thing and then changing my mind about what I wanted to to look like or how to complete a particular section. I would often think about what to do while I was running or working.

I haven’t done everything I want. There are things I kept thinking about that I could make to increase the complexity of the build and make it look even better. I wanted exhaust tubes to be built heading from the base of the launchpad up to the ground level around 100 blocks away and these would have smoke constantly pouring out of them to look as though the rocket was taking off. I wanted to build a launch control centre like the one at Kennedy for the Apollo launches but I only have so much time and there are other things I like doing. I’m not a complete obsessive!

Once I had done enough – I don’t think I should say finished – I tried to figure out the best way to save this build for posterity. I have the world save files backed up and stored on a NAS and in the cloud. But I wanted to be able to show this off I guess so I looked into making a YouTube walkthrough. Now, I have some rules about this website and I decided I should have rules about the videos. I wasn’t going to feature my ugly face, but I decided I would in the end. I have an opening title card – ha ha, created in MS Paint – yes it looks cheap but these are my first videos. Not sure what I’ll do next. I’ve been really impressed with the video recording software and I found it very intuitive. So, here is the first in the series, Episode 1 of Megaship 3000.

It turns out I can talk much better if I have wine and it amuses me how stilted and staccato my opening words are. I think I relax a little once I get going and know what to talk about. Many, many thanks to Penguin for giving me feedback on the first few attempts at a video and I would also like to thank the penguin chicks for their advice which, as seasoned YouTube watchers, was really good. I guess it’s now time to publicise my efforts and think about a release schedule! There are eight episodes in all and I guess, one day, I might do this again.

Do I Want This Much Detail?

Yes – I suspect I do.

I’ve found a website which looks through all your GT Sport data and makes in nice and clear. I’m not sure what this means. I’m not sure if I want this much detail but I am sure it’s cool. There are a couple of sites that do this:

KudosPrime
Gt Sports Stats

Both of the above sites should link to my profile on those pages. This is what I have foiund so far:

My GT Sport Stats
My GT Sport Stats

I’ve only driven 35,409km. I think I probably need to get that increased. I’m also concerned about my driver rating, below, but what I can do about it I’m not sure.

My Driver Rating Within GT Sport
My Driver Rating Within GT Sport

I guess I just have to keep plugging away at this in between bouts of Minecraft building.

Surprising Win

I had a blast on Gran Turismo Sport recently. I had noticed an update and they added a the Toyota Yaris. I bought that and went for a spin around the Dragon Trail circuit and it was a good fun car to drive even if on Group N300. I wanted more and so went to race online. There was a Gr. 2 race on at Alsace and so I entered that, this would be my fourth race at that circuit. The first was in my Mazda and the tendency to oversteer on the exit of a few of the corners made me a little too slow, so I tested a Beetle and it worked well. This video is me actually winning a race, more by luck than skill as everyone else seemed to have problems, but it’s still a win.

View From The Top

I shared a screen clip from the PS4 on Twitter recently. It shows the view from my current build project and looks towards my beach house.

I’ve got a slightly better version if you can’t get to Twitter.

Beach House View
Beach House View

While the structure I am standing on remains top secret I can talk you through what you can see. The green rectangle in the lower left area is my redstone testing area, it’s where I go to practice or test out builds before taking them to their proper installation place. Directly above this in the picture is Beach Station which is just visible but is made of glass and green concrete so it is quite well hidden. The lump of red in the sea is my nether portal. The monolith of obsidian is a monolith of obsidian. Below the red nether portal is a clump of trees with my beach house hidden just behind them. The small wooden structure in a lagoon is the beach bar and above that is my wood farm with height restriction.

Keep a look out for news and maybe a video of the monster build I’m currently working on. I’m currently trying to decide whether to have an external block on the latest layer and I am not quite sure – maybe it should be glass?

Build Plans

At the beginning of the national lockdown I went out for daily exercises with the kids and they talked constantly about Minecraft and I just nodded along. Then, I decided to join in and at least understand what they were talking about. Now, about half a year later, I still don’t always understand what they are talking about but I do at least get some of it. Our second world is progressing well and the luxury now is that we’ve conquered farming and so are able to devote time to “projects”.

I will confess that I have been using a map application to help with guided mining. While cheating I don’t think this is the worst cheat. I also started showing coordinates on screen which feels a little like cheating, but, not the worst as far as I’m concerned. Recently there have been nether tunnels made to progress around the world faster than my minecart railway from the Meadow to the Beach.

A while back I introduced the world to the HOLE via my YouTube channel. I don’t think I wrote about it on these informative pages but I didn’t really have much of an idea what to do. I think the HOLE took about two weeks to dig playing one to two hours a day. Two hours is my limit before I start getting restless.

The bottom of the HOLE is now layered with glass, there are torches placed at the lowest bedrock level and I have also filled a layer of water at the moment to save me dying if I fall into the HOLE. I might or might not remove the water, I’m not sure yet.

I have started a build project in the HOLE. It is going to take some time. So far I think I have spent about a week on it, playing for one to two hours per day. There are a few issues. The main one is resources. After building for a session I am generally out of particular resources and have to spend the next session building those resources up again. It does give me a break from the project I guess and allows me to think about how to design the next stage. The lowest level of the build was almost done as a proof of concept and it looked so good that I decided to carry on. After about a week of building the whole project started to take shape in my head and I now have most of it loosely planned. I know what I am going to do, it’s just a matter of getting the resources and doing the building.

I guess there will be a grand reveal here and on YouTube. I expect this project to take another two weeks to complete the main section of the build. I think it’ll be another couple of weeks after that to build the extras – such as minecart tracks and redstone components. So, given delays and that a national lockdown seems unlikely, this project looks set to last another month. I can’t wait to show people around the project. I will have to come up with some name for it.

HOLE Teaser
HOLE Teaser

In Poor Taste?

Perhaps as I get older I become less tolerant? I honestly don’t think that’s true. The more I learn about people and the world I am more accepting of the differences between us all. Except hate. I think I expect everyone to be as tolerant as me when I know a lot aren’t. For once, the golden rule applies pretty well: be nice. This should be followed by one of my mum’s favourite sayings which was: if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. I do believe you are allowed to think whatever you want but your actions should always follow the golden rule. What I’m trying to say is, this communication might not be as bad as I think, some of you might look at it and shrug, I just found the subject in poor taste.

I was playing Gran Turismo Sport yesterday and racing online. The races this week are GT3 cars around the Red Bull Ring in Austria. It’s a pretty fast track with some corners that really require you to cope with understeer with plenty of downhill braking and off camber. There’s also two corners where early power on the exit will have you over-steering. I’m not sure it’s a favourite but it is a good challenge.

Corners 1 and 2 require gentle power on exit, definitely avoid the kerb on the inside and maybe short-shift to avoid oversteer. Corner 3 has downhill braking and is tighter than you think, everytime!

Anyway, when the entry list came up on the screen I was a little [not shocked] bothered by two of the PSN names that people had chosen. Now, I often have to remind myself that it is likely that most players are not as old as me and most haven’t been playing as long as I have. You can tell by my PSN name, Kertz, that I got in early when selecting usernames. It’s like my personal email address which is just my name and zero numbers, being an early adopter has its uses sometimes. Here’s the entry list:

Playstation Network Names
Playstation Network Names

Maybe people think it’s a giggle to have a funny name? I’ve seen plenty with 69 in the number. Qualifying in second place is Jack-T-Ripper1. The addition of the 1 is curious and might mean that Jack-T-Ripper was already taken? I’m not sure it’s a good thing to have your PlayStation identity the same as a serial killer of women, maybe it shows a deep lack of respect? Maybe it’s a laugh and I just don’t get it? If I think about some of the lyrics to songs I like then naming yourself Jack The Ripper isn’t that bad. Oh dear, maybe I’m old.

Then, qualifying in 11th place is a certain Wernher_V2_Braun. For me this is more worrying but again, maybe I’m just being a little sensitive. This Dutch player has taken a name based on a user of slave labour in the second world war. Yes, Von Braun created the technology to launch the American space programme but he also used slave labour in his factories. I do not know whether he had Nazi ideologies but he is a very complex character. For me, the fact that the Dutch player included the V2 as part of their name is the most disturbing part. They could have had F1 which was the engine that took man to the moon, but no, they chose the Nazi ballistic missile called the V2, as though they are paying homage to that programme.

As much as how we present ourselves shouldn’t change the opinions people form of us, it is what they do. The human brain makes judgements really quickly and it’s hard to get away from that. Does it matter whether I wear a suit or not? Does that really affect my ability to perform my job? No. Should I wear a suit? I don’t think so, but the image creates a power. It’s why we have uniforms for those in positions of implied power. So, are these two people assholes? I don’t know. I would like to think they are not, but if you think it’s OK to name yourself after a serial killer or a man responsible for the deaths of thousands with allusions to those deaths then perhaps you shouldn’t be advertising your thoughts. Maybe this is a case of internet-balls. I don’t know. I honestly believe you should be able to think what you want, but externally you should be nice. I think I find these identities distasteful while at the same time thinking I’m wrong for thinking that. Argh, conflicted.

TMA-2

After my video showing my Empire I had the following comment on Twitter:

This was an omission I had to correct. So, I did. I went and built a monolith at the Beach House but it looked too small. 1 x 4 x 9 didn’t really work that well so I doubled it. You have to keep the correct ratios and here it is:

Monolith and Portal
Monolith and Portal

It’s a 2 x 8 x 18 which is a lot of obsidian that I had to make down in one of my mines. I have perfected my lava quenching techniques though! I think it looks good just floating in the air and although I touched it while building the thing I won’t be going near it, just in case.

TMA 2, Portal and the Beach House
TMA 2, Portal and the Beach House

This view has all the important bits of this end of the world. My beach house, the portal and the monolith. There’s also the remains of a tower showing top centre which was to indicate the way back – I’ve since got rid of most of it!

Monolith and Portal
Monolith and Portal

I’m currently working on a *secret project* and there will be another video released soon showing the Empire. I’m not expanding the area but I’m tidying up some of the impact of building in the meadow area. Ultimately I would like to continue the *secret project* to the rest of the Empire but I think that would be too tedious. I have other things I want to do, like learn redstone and also get a shulker box and beacon.

Fastest

It’s been a little while since I wrote on here but in all honesty I’ve been struggling to find things to write about. You see, nothing’s happening. We are in this lockdown and work is odd at the moment. I have been in to work three times since 17 March. Those three times were supervising and not doing my real job but at least it was somewhere else to be. I’m in a couple of times over the next week and that might be more interesting. Working at home places really interesting pressures and thoughts on you. I keep trying to manage engagement with the time that I have. I’ve also spent time in a better world, my Minecraft world. Even though there are creepers and zombies and witches and I died in that world a few days ago, it’s a far more enjoyable place than the real world at the moment.

Each day I try and have two races on Gran Turismo. Sometimes I’m not in the mood but mostly I am. It’s a nice half hour distraction from the world and it can be really enjoyable. The issues with racing online still exist and the idea that you will lose because someone else is entirely incompetent is annoying but normally it’s worth it. Of the current daily races I have enjoyed racing around the Mount Panorama circuit at Bathurst. I’ll probably write a little about my favourite cars sometime soon as I noticed I’d completed over 3000miles in my Mazda! That’s more than some people drive in the real world in a year.

Anyway, in a race yesterday I started in second position. My time of around 2’07” is pretty good but the person on pole had 2’05” and I’ve no idea how they got that. I’m not convinced I’ve really hooked together a complete decent lap but to lose a further two seconds from my time would be hard work. Also, I suspect there are people out there even faster. It looks as though GT matches you with people of a similar ability and time so I don’t know what the fastest time in the world is. Mind you, I guess there are people playing a lot more than me. I know I’ve been playing from 1997 ish but to get loads better at these circuits you just need to get practising.

For whatever reason at the start of the race yesterday the person in pole didn’t accelerate at the start and I zoomed past them. I was in the lead from the first corner and didn’t look back. Well, I did, I used my mirrors to see what was behind me but you know what I mean. The thing about being in the lead is that there’s a lot more to lose if you stack it going into a corner so it does make me more hesitant and cautious on corner entrances and exits. This can cost time and so I have to monitor the gap to the car behind. For this race it was around 1.8 seconds for the whole race and only moved by a few tenths. I sometimes get an adrenaline build up on the last lap as I get excited about winning. This time I calmed that and kept telling myself to keep a clean lap and remember where I tend to oversteer on the exit of corners when I put the power down early. Mount Panorama is a glorious circuit and very tricky, the section at the top of the mountain is horrible and fantastic at the same time.

Below is a screen video clip of the final positions along with my “win” celebrations and the delivery of my daily workout car. If you complete 26.6 miles in a day you get a free car. Most of these I don’t use. There are around 500 cars in the garage and I’m not fussed by them.

I’m pretty sure this was my first ever fastest lap in a race. I’m very happy with that. I don’t know what lap times other people got but it doesn’t matter. I was out in front with a clear road and that does make it a lot easier. You don’t have to judge what other people are going to do and brake slightly early because of the concertina effect. You can pretty much put down qualifying laps, just while hoping that you don’t get nudged or whacked by someone forgetting to break, or by someone who is just an asshole.

I am quite convinced that the physics of the car is different in the race compared to qualifying and I’m not sure why. I get a little more understeer during races and I suspect, but do not know, that it’s due to the air modelling the game does. Driving a car through mostly still air is very different to driving through disturbed air and I have noticed a very minor difference in steering and braking while racing in the pack with other cars around. There is a definite effect and the car doesn’t behave as it does on qualifying. It’s something I think I need to investigate.

Long Gearing

I recently finished all of the Gran Turismo Sport races that exist in Campaign mode. It’s taken quite a while but I am done. It was a little sad to finish but now it means that to get my fix I’ll need to start using the online racing mode a bit more. I’ve not enjoyed this in the past as some drivers out there are dicks. However, my recent experiences show that if you pick the longer / harder races you tend to get people who are quite good at racing and it seems to work quite well. I won my second race ever recently and it was a good feeling but I forgot to save the replay and I was gutted about that.

I did however recently complete a race and made a decent run of it to gain about seven places. Only a couple of these were overtakes, the rest was gaining places when other driver ran wide! I was racing in my Porsche which I like but for this race the gearing is set quite low so I only use about four gears and many of the corners are done in low revs, which is good for reducing over steer and makes getting the torque on a little easier.

Yes, that’s my gloriously bright and shiny green Porsche. It probably has an advert for this website on it!

Current Gran Turismo Sport profile

Race Face

Gran Turismo Sport recently updated and added the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium to the roster of tracks. I’m looking forward to some of the originals coming back such as:

  • High Speed Ring
  • Grand Valley Speedway
  • Autumn Ring
  • Trial Mountain
  • Deep Forest Raceway

All of these circuits were great fun and hopefully they’ll appear. I’d even play them in low-definition just to have the opportunity to race those corners again.

I was shaky at Spa at first, but I’m getting the hang of the circuit and I think I’ll keep improving bit by bit. I’ve played a few time trials using my favourite cars and then I uploaded the saved video to my YouTube channel.

The following is in my shiny Porsche.

Here are the times I’ve got for Spa so far along with my “branded” cars.

Nissan GT-R
Nissan GT-R
Porsche Cayman GT4
Porsche Cayman GT4

I’ve been to Spa twice. My first time was in October 2003 about a month after I bought my third motorbike, called Steph. There were/are rules about naming of motorcycles which may or may not have been explained in these communications. Here’s a photograph of Steph loaded up in full touring gear on the Eurotunnel train heading under the channel.

Steph on the Eurotunnel train
Steph on the Eurotunnel train

And here’s photographic proof of her at Spa.

Steph at Spa
Steph at Spa