Sunday, May 22, 2016

Chorus Plant Bonsai Training

If you've played Minecraft 1.9, you may have noticed that they introduced a new plant in the "End". The purple Chorus Plants are tall and wispy flower-bearing stalks that grow rather irregularly when they spawn naturally. Breaking the flowers with your fists will yield Chorus Fruits, which when consumed will randomly teleport the player to a different location within a 10 block radius. If you break the flower with a pair of shears, it will drop as a Chorus Flower block that can be used to seed a new chorus plant.

A look at the Chorus Plant forest in the expanded End

Breaking the stalk of a Chorus Plant can occasionally yield Chorus Fruits, and breaking or redirecting the stalk in the wrong location can cause significant parts of the plant to disappear. Much like the stubborn bonsai tree, the Chorus Plant seems almost UN-tameable and can be rather frustrating to work with initially. However, with patience, knowledge, and persistence, you can train the Chorus Plant to grow in some pretty incredible shapes and patterns!

Getting Started

If you want Chorus Plants in survival mode, you first have to make it to the End and then you have to get to the secret extension of the End which is only unlocked after you fight the Dragon and beat the game. This takes a considerable amount of work, so unless you're a Pro you should probably start working with Chorus Plants in Creative mode. Once you hone in on your skills in cultivating the Chorus bonsai, you can grow them resourcefully and with confidence in Survival.

The only two items that you need in your inventory are End Stone and Chorus Flower. Place one End Stone where you want the base of your plant to be. Pick a location with open space in all directions so your plant can freely grow and you can expand it's area if necessary. Now place a Chorus Flower on the End Stone and brew a cup of tea! The rate at which Chorus Flowers grow is random, but in my experience it is much quicker than most plants. However, while they may grow quickly, they do not always grow in the direction that you want. This is where the patience and persistence come in.

Once the plant starts to grow, what it will do is unpredictable. It can go straight up, split into several directions, or grow out to one side. Once it starts growing you can exhibit some control on the shape by pruning the flowers with shears and replacing the flower where you want it to grow. There are a few tips to keep in mind while working with chorus plants.
  • Chorus flowers cannot be placed directly beside another chorus flower
  • If a chorus flower grows into a space adjacent to another stalk, it can cause the stalk to break and everything above that point to crumble
  • Stems can only extend out one block in any direction without going up
  • Breaking a dead flower connected to a junction that supports other stems can cause the plant to collapse

Sometimes Chorus Flowers will quit growing, turn darker, and 'die' - see examples of dead flowers on the C, S, and T in the "rebeeccc CHEST SHOP" image above. This can happen after the original flower has grown several blocks, or it can happen without moving at all. If the flower turns dark and dies without moving from the location where it was placed, this usually means that the stalk doesn't want to grow in this direction - usually because another block is too close to it.

While it is easiest to start training Chorus Plants by keeping them in a 2D plane like the photos above, the real beauty of Chorus Plants and bonsai trees is that they can grow in three dimensions. Once you get the hang of how the plants grow and where to place the flowers to make the shapes you want, don't be afraid to expand out behind and in front of the plant. You can make some really interesting shapes and patterns with enough patience and persistence. Imagine adding a dragon-shaped Chorus Plant to an End-Village or creating a special boss out of Chorus Plants that morph into different shapes as the battle progresses!

The possibilities are nearly limitless once you learn the few simple rules of training a Chorus Plant. As with its bonsai inspiration, a zen-like feeling of accomplishment is felt once the plant is successfully trained and trimmed to your satisfaction. It may not be as easy or quick as placing blocks, but learning to train the Chorus Plant is a truly rewarding experience and is guaranteed to level-up your Yogi Master XP!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Devil's Tower National Monument, Wyoming

Enjoy one of the most magical locations in the wild west, long revered by natives of the area and pioneers passing through! Devil's Tower National Monument in Wyoming is an interesting anomaly on the prairie skyline - it juts up several hundred meters above the grade of the region and has a unique, rounded tower-like shape.

DOWNLOAD THE MAP HERE - Just wait a few seconds and click "skip" in the upper right corner!

Devil's tower is nearly flat on top and is made of basalt - a dark igneous rock that tends to form hexagonal columns when it cools. This is known as columnar jointing, and it is the reason that Devil's Tower looks as it does. The basalt is represented by Andesite in Minecraft, and the scree at the base of the tower is mapped as gravel. The trees and soil are placed in an attempt to honor the actual terrain.

Native Americans have a story of how the tower was formed by a giant bear who was scratching at the rock to try to reach the top. The gouges of his claw marks can be seen both in the real Devil's Tower and in the generated Minecraft Map!

  The scale of Devil's Tower relative to the quality of the DEM for this area means that some vertical exaggeration was necessary in order to approximate the actual dimensions of the Monument. While I have done my best to mimic the look with the material available, an improved version will be made once a higher-resolution elevation model becomes available!

DOWNLOAD THE MAP HERE - Just wait a few seconds and click "skip" in the upper right corner!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona - Triumphal Arch Rapids

Our virtual tour of America's National Parks continues with the most iconic canyon in the entire world - the Grand Canyon! Tour this pleasant stretch of the Colorado River as it slices through millions of years of geologic layering (represented by the Mesa Biome).

Aerial photo of the mapped area
Map view of the mapped area

The map highlights a stretch of the river known as Triumphal Arch Rapids. There is an interesting jog in the river here, and beautifully dissected deep valleys in every direction.

This is a great map to explore this exotic terrain from the comfort of your own home! Build yourself a campground and take turns rafting up and down the river. This is perhaps the best use of the Mesa Biome that there is!
DOWNLOAD THE MAP HERE  - Just wait a few seconds and click "skip" in the upper right corner to get the file.

BauerCam Mod

Have you ever wondered how Youtubers make such epic trailer videos for their Minecraft gameplay? The short answer to this question is that they use a mod. There are a large number of these types of mods for Minecraft 1.7 and 1.8, but most of those haven't been updated to version 1.9 yet. Fortunately, there is BauerCam by diapenger to fill the void and allow for smooth, cinematic videos in 1.9 that look like they have been professionally produced.

One of the clear benefits of BauerCam is its ease of use. Once you load the mod, just type /cam to see simple list of commands.
Videos are made by setting a series of points for the cam to follow. Points are added by pressing the 'p' key in game, and there must be at least two points set before you can start the cinematic view. You can review the points that you set by using /cam goto followed by the point number and can also replace specific points or clear the points. When setting points, keep in mind that they are added in chronological order. In addition to your position, the direction that you are looking when the point is set will be reflected in the video. You can tilt the camera axis left or right using the 'j' and 'l' keys and even completely invert your view.

Whenever your points are set and you are ready to see the result, type /cam start followed by the number of frames to use while traveling between points. For a rapid movement you can use fewer frames, but for the slow, dramatic, smooth panning that creates the most impressive effect, you will need to choose a larger frame number. The actual frame number that you will use depends on the desired speed, the number of points that you set, the distance between the points, and the desired length of the clip. In tests, 1000 frames is a good place to start and you can adjust as necessary if it feels too slow or fast.

I know I'll start using BauerCam for any videos that I make in the future. It is a powerful and intuitive modification that allows for professional cinematic shots in all of your new Minecraft 1.9 maps. In literally seconds, you can set up and execute the slow panning shot that you have always seen in youtube videos but could never recreate. It is time to take your video production game to the next level!

Command Blocks - Introduction

Whether you are new to Minecraft or a seasoned veteran, you've probably typed a command at some point. One of the most useful commands is the one that changes the gamemode - sound familiar? So while commands may sound intimidating, you've already used some of them and there is no reason why you shouldn't learn more. That is, of course, unless you hate a fun learning challenge!

When working with commands and command blocks, there are a few useful tips that can spare you from many headaches and rage-quits. Starting with the basics, I'll outline some advice that I've gradually accumulated in my exploration of the great commands. Because commands are such a robust topic, this series will be broken into several parts to make it more digestible. The other benefit of this technique is that more advanced readers can easily skip the parts they are comfortable with. However, I aim to reach people of all experience levels with these writings - there should be something for everyone!


As you likely know, you can access the chat menu in Minecraft by typing the forward-slash "/" key. Anything typed after this forward-slash key will be interpreted as a command by Minecraft. Typing in this box without the forward-slash will broadcast your message to the global chat. You can type many useful commands directly into Minecraft by using this chat menu, but the length of the command or text you enter is limited to about 99 characters. As you will soon learn, commands can and often need to be much longer than this. Fortunately, command blocks have a command character limit of nearly 33,000 and this allows us to do some really fun things!

Enabling Cheats

To work with commands, you must first make sure that cheats are enabled. When you create a new save file, you will have the option to turn on cheats. If the save file that you are playing does not have cheats enabled, you have two options. The first is to open the game to your LAN or Local Area Network. This is accomplished by pressing escape and clicking the OPEN TO LAN button. Here you will have the option to set gamemode and whether or not cheats are allowed. An alternative method is to download a program such as NBTExplorer that allows you to edit the NBT data for the save files and manually change whether or not cheats are allowed. Once cheats are allowed, you can use commands to change all of the other gamerules.

Getting Command Blocks

If you're ready to dive in to the world of commands, the first command you should use is the one that gives you a command block. Once you have cheats enabled, simply type

          • /give @p command_block 
You can substitute @a or @e or even your playername for @p and you should still get the command block. If you want more than one command block, simply append the number that you want after the command.

The /give command is a Classic!

Writing Commands

Minecraft has a feature which makes it easier to program commands and reduces the probability of programming errors being made. Once you are in either a chat box or a command block, hit the TAB key. You will be presented with a list of possible commands that you can scroll through with tab. Even better, the TAB key will auto-complete any command that you start to type, at least as much as it can. You will still have to enter some parts manually and have some idea of what the syntax of a given command is, but if you make a mistake with a command you will be reminded of the syntax by Minecraft. It is very forgiving in this way, and makes the world of commands much more accessible for beginners.


You can work with command blocks in survival and creative mode, but not in adventure or spectator mode. Personally, I recommend being in creative mode (/gamemode 1) if you are doing a substantial amount of programming. Although command blocks do not show up in the creative inventory, they are easy to obtain once you have one when you're in creative. You can click the middle mouse button (usually the scroll wheel) and whatever block you are looking at will appear in your hand. This way you can avoid typing the /give command again and again to get more command blocks. If you're needing to program command blocks, you're probably already playing creative in the first place.


Let me give some words of caution about creative mode: When you left-click a single time on a block in creative mode, the block gets destroyed. This isn't a big deal if it is just a standard block, but when the block that is accidentally destroyed stores an elaborate command that you don't have recorded elsewhere, the rage-quit desire builds. The best scenario is that you are able to figure out what the command was without too much effort and reprogram it. The worst scenario is that you don't have any backups and your map no longer works. What is a cautious command block programmer to do?

Destroy Them All!


It may seem counter-intuitive, but swords are the only reliable way that I've found to work with command blocks in creative mode without risking frustration upon every accidental click. Because swords are a special kind of attack weapon, you can left-click on blocks with a sword in creative without destroying them. Any time you are near a command block or plan to program one, make sure that you have a sword (any sword) in your active hand. While swords may not break blocks in creative mode, you can still use them to right-click on command blocks and program them. Swords truly are the perfect tool!


In upcoming entries, we will dive deeper into command blocks, the different types, settings, nuances, and commands! Be sure to let me know if you like these types of advice articles and want to see more. Feel free to offer up potential subjects as well!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Success Kid Meme - Very Strange!

One of the best memes ever - success kid - now available with stunning mesa biome skin! He is made true to color with clay matching the meme we all know and love. Troll your friends as they try to figure out why they are playing this bizarre map!

DOWNLOAD THE MAP HERE! - Just wait a few seconds and click "skip" in the upper right corner to get the file!

Meme Maps - Trollface, Feels Guy, Linux Penguin Tux

Just for fun, I have decided to turn some memes and iconic cartoons into Minecraft maps. To start with, I have made a map of the cute Linux Penguin Tux, as well as the Trollface meme and the "Feels" Guy. What you choose to do with these maps is entirely up to you, and without much effort I can think of various uses for all these three maps - from practical jokes to custom themed maps or puzzles in part of an Adventure Map. The scale is large enough that it is tough to tell what the map is initially, and this makes it all the more fun! 

You can download each map with the link below the picture - just wait a few seconds and click "skip" in the upper right corner to get the map!




Let me know what you decide to do with your meme maps, or what other memes / cartoons you would like to see made into maps!

Mineralogy Mod - Geology for Minecraft 1.9

     If you're looking to enhance your Minecraft experience, you should strongly consider checking out the Mineralogy mod by Dr. Cyano! While vanilla Minecraft has come a long way in create realistic biomes and geology, the types of rocks and environments that are available are still fairly limited. Mineralogy solves this problem by adding a wealth of new rock types and other features. The mod comes with custom texture packs in four different resolutions (up to 128x128) and includes a realistic re-texturing of some standard vanilla blocks such as the ores and sands.

       When you create a new world with this mod installed, the stone mix that normally populates the subsurface will be replaced with a wealth of new rock types in a distribution that mimics real-world geology. This attention to detail truly makes this mod worth checking out. You truly never know what you might find when you go mining! What better way to learn about the wonders of geology than with the Mineralogy mod and a high-resolution texture pack?

Compare a standard textured granite (lower left) and high-resolution Mineralogy textures
        The new types of rock span all of the major rock groups and add a great amount of variety! There are classic sedimentary rocks such as limestone, dolomite, shale, conglomerate, chert, and gypsum. There are new igneous rocks include pegmatite, basalt, rhyolite, pumice, and a complete re-texturing of the familiar granite, andesite, and diorite. Dr. Cyano even went so far as to add in the most common metamorphic rocks: slate, phyllite, schist, gneiss, marble, and amphibolite. These rocks in particular look incredible with the high-resolution texture pack. There are also totally new ores - nitrate, sulfur, and phosphorus. Their drops can be used to make different items including mineral fertilizer, which applies bonemeal over a much larger area and makes gardening a breeze!

A small sample of some of the new textures
      Not only does the mod include a whole set of new rock types with beautifully detailed textures, but nearly every new rock type has both polished and unpolished versions, as well as different bricks, stairs, and half-slabs. The half-slabs can even be placed vertically - this goes far beyond the customization that you can get in vanilla Minecraft!

       Another interesting feature is the ability to craft gypsum into drywall using paper. The drywall acts as an opaque glass pane and can be dyed into all 16 standard colors. Now you can paint the walls of a room whatever color you want without using a full block. With drywall you can give your builds more dimension and color and make modern houses look more realistic.

Drywall is a very nice feature!
      You may wonder how you craft items that require cobblestone (such as a furnace) if the subsurface stone is mostly replaced. To avoid this being an issue, Mineralogy introduces new crafting recipes that allow you to make stone from smelting gravel and cobblestone by crafting two gravel together with two stone. With all of the new rock types, why would you ever want to build with cobblestone again?

       In summary, the name might throw some people off – “Mineralogy” seems like it would be a boring mod. But in reality, the beauty and accuracy of the new blocks, texture packs, and world generation engine makes this mod a wonderful treat for anyone who is looking to enhance the quality and diversity of the 'rock blocks'. And for those who are interested in realistic geology in Minecraft, there really is no equivalent alternative. A more fitting name might be “Amazing Geology Enhancement Mod”!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Yosemite National Park, California - El Capitan

The virtual tour of America's National Parks in Minecraft continues with the tallest rock face in Yosemite National Park - El Capitan! This is the holy grail for rock climbers around the world - over 3000 feet of relief from valley floor to the top of El Capitan.

Enjoy a geologically and topographically accurate representation of the sacred peak and valley. The cliffs are made of granite, while gravel covers the lower slopes representing the scree or talus at the base of the cliffs. The valley floor is filled with podzol to mimic the rich soil that has developed in El Capitan Meadow since the last glaciation. Red tulips are planted throughout the valley to add to the ambiance and give wanderers and campers peace.

This map was intentionally made relatively small so that the extreme relief of the El Capitan cliff would be maximized in the vertical direction. It can be used by rock climbers to scout out new routes or by anyone who wishes to visit one of the most beautiful places in the world from the comfort of their own house!

Please let me know what other places you would like to see transformed from reality into Minecraft!


Just wait a few seconds and then click "SKIP" in the upper right corner to get the world file from!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Zion National Park, Utah

Experience nature in a completely new way with this topographically accurate recreation of Zion National Park! See the clean white sands and sandstones capping the steep mesas as red, iron-rich sands and sandstones fill the valleys, creating an interesting color gradient. The desert environment prohibits most trees from growing up high on the white sands, but the valley floors are filled with small pines clinging to life in this pristine arid environment. 

You will spawn atop of South Guardian Angel, a centralized high-point with a great view in all directions. Wander around the park and find your favorite valley or mesa to build your dream house on! Hike the canyons from the comfort of your own living room, and plan your next real-world outing with your friends from Minecraft!

Let me know if you like this series of real-world locations accurately brought into Minecraft using digital elevation models (DEM). If you have ideas for other places you would like to see, please let me know!


Just wait a few seconds and click "Skip" in the upper right corner to get to the world save, hosted on mediafire.