A simple trick to make circles in Minecraft

Considering everything in Minecraft is made up of blocks, it can be daunting to build circular structures. Obviously, we can’t make perfect circles, but there’s a neat little trick you can use to make damn good imitations.

Let’s say we wanted to build a 20 by 20 circle in Minecraft. We can do this through trial and error, but that would be a long and painful task. Alternatively, we could calculate where we need to put the blocks using the Pythagorean theorem, but nobody wants to do that… The easier way would be to use Microsoft Paint! But how is Paint relevant to our problem? Well, when we draw circles in paint, they are really just a bunch of small squares placed in a way that they imitate a circle. By copying this pattern of squares in Minecraft, we can get convincing circles!

So let’s open Paint and zoom in as much as possible (you can do this by dragging the slider in the bottom right corner until it indicates 800%)

Zooming in paint

Next, you’ll want to select the ellipse shape and set the line thickness to 1 pixel.

Selecting the ellipse shape

Setting the thickness to 1 pixel

Now, draw a circle with the desired dimensions (these can be seen in the bottom left corner).

Drawing the circle in paint

You’ll notice that, with a zoom this strong, we can easily see each pixel that creates the circle. If we copy each of these pixels in Minecraft, we’ll obtain a good imitation of a circle!

Recreating the circle in MinecraftSo that’s my simple trick to make circles in Minecraft (or ellipses for that matter!).

I hope you’ve found this post useful and don’t forget to come back for more,

-Icosebyte

 

How to beat the new Age of Empires II AI on Hardest

The other day, I saw that Age of Empires II HD + The Forgotten was on sale for 7 dollars on Steam. Being a massive Age of Empires fan, I immediately bought the game to bring back some old memories. I saw that they added a new, better AI (or rather, that they ported it from Forgotten Empires: http://www.forgottenempires.net/) and immediately wanted to try it out! Back in the day, I was a decent AOE II player, but I had’t played several years, so I was somewhat rusty. Nonetheless, I remembered that the AI was pretty easy, even on the hardest difficulty, so I was pretty confident that I would be able to beat the new bots. This being said, I fired up Age of Empires and started a 1v1 game against a bot on hardest. To my surprise, I got absolutely obliterated… I lost the game in under 20 minutes. My conscience being unable to bear such an insult, I decided to hone my build order to be able to beat the new Age of Empires II AI on Hardest.

The Dark Age:

This is probably the most important stage of the game. Screw up during the dark age and you’ll most likely lose the game. This being said, it’s pretty hard to screw up once you get used to it.

  1. As soon as the game starts, queue up four villagers in your Town centre. Select your three initial villagers and build a house with them.
  2. Now, we need to find sheep as soon as possible. Use your scout to explore in circles around your Town centre, If you have nearby berry bushed, send your villagers there temporarily. Otherwise, use your villagers to explore.
  3. As soon as you find sheep, bring them under your Town centre and harvest them. Don’t forget to keep creating villagers. Your Town centre should ALWAYS be producing villagers or researches.
  4. Villagers 1 to 6 should go in to sheep. Once your seventh villager pops out of the Town centre, build three houses with him. Once he/she’s finished building the houses, send him into wood.
  5. The next two villagers should also go into wood. Start by cutting down the trees that are near your Town centre. We won’t build a lumber camp for quite some time.
  6. We now have a population of ten. Once scout, 6 villagers in food and 3 in wood. If you can, create an extra villager and send him in food, but if you’re short on food, research loom.
  7. Keep pumping out villagers and sending them in food until you reach a population of 20, you’ll then have 1 scout, 3 in wood and 16 in food. At some point around the 10th villagers usually, you’ll want to lure two boars. Also, if you have access to deer or shore fish, use it! Once your boars/sheep/deer are depleted, send four of your hunters into wood. Your other villagers should go collect food from the berry bushes.
  8. Once you reach a population of 20, continue creating villagers, but send them into wood. Create a lumber camp near the closest forest.
  9. As soon as you reach 25 pop, advance to the feudal age.

The Feudal Age

  1. While you’re advancing to the feudal age, build a few houses (3-4) and a barracks. If you’ve already found the enemy town, then you might want to build the barrack near his town.
  2. As soon as you reach feudal age, research Double Bit Axe and queue up a villager. This villager will go into food.
  3. Now, create four villagers that you’ll send into gold. We’ll need a decent amount of gold to get to castle age, and we’ll want to have enough to create knights.
  4. If you don’t already have a barracks near the enemy town, build one. Once finished, build an archery range and a stable.
  5. Once you’re at 30 population (1 scout, 4 gold miners, 12 woodcutters 13 in food), create another villager and send him into food. Then, create four villagers and send them into wood. Next, research wheelbarrow.
  6. You’ll also want to build a few houses for your quickly expanding population
  7. While this is all happening, you’ll want to start creating a few skirmishers of men-at-arms to harass the enemy. I recommend you build a tower near his gold mine or lumber camp. Don’t overdo it though, we want to get to the castle age as quickly as possible.
  8. When the wheelbarrow research finishes, you should be able to advance to the Castle age. If you decided to go really aggressive on the enemy, then you might not have enough resources. If you’re close, simply wait it out. Otherwise, continue pumping out villagers and sending them to your most needed resources.
  9. While advancing to the Castle age, you’ll want to continue harassing the enemy and building houses, but make sure to keep a good stockpile of wood (around 500). You’re gonna need it!

The Castle Age (and beyond)

  1. Once you reach the Castle age, research Bow Saw and queue up some more villagers. Send these into wood.
  2. Using a few woodcutters, pop down a new Town centre. This, with knights, is the main reason we advanced to the castle age so quickly.
  3. Create some knights in your stable (which should be near the enemy base) and use these knights to raid the computer’s lumber and mining camps.
  4. Continue harassing and creating villagers (assign them to the most needed resource) and you’re well on the way to victory! When you think the enemy is weak enough, start creating rams to bring down his towers/Town centre(s). He should surrender quickly enough ;)

 

Here’s a video I made of me using this strategy against the computer on hardest. I’m using the Byzantines for their cheaper skirmishers and spearmen, but this strategy works with any civilization:

Note: I made several errors in this video, yet still came out on top. Just goes to show how weak the AI is to early aggression.

 

That concludes this article, I hope you’ve enjoyed it and don’t forget to come back for more!

-Icosebyte

How to broadcast links in Minecraft

I can be really useful to broadcast links in Minecraft. It’s a great way to advertise your server’s website, or to allow people to donate. It can also be used to link to a texture pack that doesn’t allow re-hosting on your server (per example, Conquest, my favourite texture pack).

So how can we broadcast a link in our Minecraft server? Well, we need a plugin called Simple Broadcast, The 1.7.2 version can be downloaded here: http://dev.bukkit.org/bukkit-plugins/simplebroadcast/files/22-simple-broadcast-v1-7/.

Download and install Simple Broadcast. When this is done, reload your Minecraft server. This will create a SimpleBroadcast folder (in your plugins folder), which looks something like this:

SimpleBroadcast Plugin folder

Now, we need to open the config.yml file with notepad. For the sake of this tutorial, let’s just broadcast a message every 5 minutes that reminds everyone on the server to download the Conquest texture pack.

Scroll down the config.yml file until you see this:

messages:
– ‘Thank you for using SimpleBroadcast!’
– ‘Plugin by &oKingDome24.’
– ‘If you have questions, please visit the BukkitDev page!’
– ‘%laquo%Many new and cool variables are now available%raquo%’

These are the messages that will be broadcast by the plugin. Let’s replace it with our own. In my case, I’ll give a link to Conquest, so my message will look something like this:

Don’t forget to download the Conquest texture pack!

http://www.minecraftforum.net/topic/1452033-174-32×32-conquest-wip-weekly-updates/

To write our own messages, we need to respect a few rules. First off, need to enclose our messages in single quotes (‘). Furthermore, line breaks are new allowed.

So how do we add single quotes and line breaks INSIDE of our message? We need to use something called variables, the full list of which can be found here: http://www.simplebroadcast.net/documentation/#variables. Variables also allow us do add formatting to our text, so our link looks more like a link.

So let’s go back to our message, we’ll need to replace our single quote with it’s corresponding variable, ie. %sq%. Let’s also add a line break before the link. We now have this:

messages:

– ‘Don%sq%t forget to download the Conquest texture pack! %nhttp://www.minecraftforum.net/topic/1452033-174-32×32-conquest-wip-weekly-updates/’

Now, we need to give some style to our link. Let’s make it blue and underlined. We can do this by adding the &9 (blue) and &n (underline) variables before the link.

messages:

– ‘Don%sq%t forget to download the Conquest texture pack! %n&9&nhttp://www.minecraftforum.net/topic/1452033-174-32×32-conquest-wip-weekly-updates/’

So now, let’s say we want to make this link appear every 5 minutes. Still in the config file, we need to find the following line of text:

delay: 60 # time in seconds

This line corresponds to how often (in seconds) the message will be displayed. If we want it to appear every 5 seconds, then we’ll write:

delay: 300 # time in seconds

Ok, we can now save the file and reload SimpleBroadcast by typing /sb reload in the minecraft chat (or sb reload when using the console). Our link should now appear in Minecraft!

Our link displayed in Minecraft

We can now open the chat and click on the link, which will give us the following prompt. Were we to click yes, it would open the page in our browser!

Minecraft link prompt

That concludes this article, I hope you’ve enjoyed it and don’t forget to come back for more!

-Icosebyte

Why do files get fragmented

File fragmentation can be a real plague on traditional hard drives. They slow down your entire computer, while reducing the life expectancy of the drive. But how does this come to be? Why is it that files somehow end up scattered across the whole drive?

It’s actually quite simple. Imagine the hard drive as being a series of boxes, each one capable of holding 1 byte of information (in reality, it would be more accurate to think of these boxes as holding 1 bit of information, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll just think of them as storing 1 byte):

Empty memory

When the hard drive is new, all of these boxes are empty.Now, let’s say we store a 3 byte file on the drive. This file will fill up three boxes.

3 Bytes taken

Now, we add a new 14 byte file to our drive, the computer appends this data to the previous file. At this point, we still have no file fragmentation.

2 Files written

Now, let’s say we delete the first file. This leaves us with some free boxes before and after File 2.

Delete fie 1

As you can see, we now have 6 bytes of free space on our hard drive. But, does that mean we can add a new 5 byte file? Indeed, we can, but we now encounter a problem, which is that we only have 3 byte of contiguous free space. This means that the computer will need to split this new file into 2 parts:

File 3 split in 2

So now, to read File 3, the hard drive head (the “needle” that reads and writes data to the drive) must jump over several blocks of memory. This makes the operation slower and more damaging to the hard drive.

That summarizes, extremely roughly, why do files get fragmented.

-Icosebyte

How to change your Minecraft world’s biomes

 

This happened to me the other day: I have this awesome Minecraft world (my main map), on which I’ve built a bunch of awesome cities with a few friends. Now, the problem arose when I decided that I wanted to build a snow-themed village. You see, my map doesn’t have any snow biomes within a few thousand blocks of the spawn point. Since there was no way in hell that I would start over on a new map, I set off to fin a way to change an existing Mineraft world’s biomes.

Let’s say we have this nice little map that we want to change into a snow world:

Minecraft world without snow

The first thing we need to do is to download and install a program called WorldPainter, which is available here: http://www.worldpainter.net/

Once WorldPainter is finished installing, open it. Then, go to File->Import->Minecraft map… and select your world’s level.dat file.

Note: On Windows, singleplayer maps are generally stored in the “C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\.minecraft\saves” directory.

Then, select the “do not mark any chunks read-only” option and click Ok. Once the map has finished loading, you’ll see something similar to this:

Opening map in worldPainter

Now, in the layers pane, click the “Biomes” button. You can then select a biome in the biomes pane. In this case, i’ll select the “Cold Taiga” biome, because I want snow.

Select biomes in worldpainter

Note: If you’re unable to see the entire biome list, you can click on the arrow button in the top right corner of the biomes pane:

Toggle floating biomes pane

Once you’ve selected the desired biome, you can simply “paint” the biome on your world by holding left-click and dragging your mouse.

painting the biome in worldpainter

When you’re satisfied with your changes, go to File->Merge with Minecraft map… Then select the “Only change the biomes” option and click Merge.

Once the merge is finished, you should be able to fire up Minecraft and enjoy your new biomes!

Minecraft world when the biomes have been changed

That’s (one way) to change your Minecraft world’s biomes.

I hope that you found this article useful!

-Icosebyte