Archive for the ‘Building’ Category

Getting it Done

Friday, October 5th, 2018

speakerHumans have many needs. There are the basic needs, like food, water, air. And then there are the more complex ones, the ones that aren’t exactly needed to stay alive, but seem to be definitely needed to stay healthy, especially mentally healthy.

I’m sure you can list some of these. We need companionship. We need dreams. We need hope.

But we also need to know we are accomplishing something, We need to know that we matter. We need to know our lives make sense, and part of that is knowing that we have an impact on our universe — that things are happening because we made them happen.

And this is another interesting way in which virtual reality is affecting us. I wake up every day needing to know that i am accomplishing something, The interesting thing about this is that as far as my brain is concerned, what it sees and hears is real — even if what it sees and hears is being synthesized by a software environment.  The brain trusts its sources (i.e., the senses) and so when we see a person smile in a movie it is the same thins as seeing a person standing in front of us smiling, as far as the brain is concerned.

The same principle applies to other virtual things, like accomplishment. Solving a problem is an accomplishment, whether the problem involves real-world objects and situations, or whether it only exists in a video game. Think about that. When you defeat a monster, build a habitat, or complete a quest in a virtual-reality game such as World of Warcraft, you are using far more than your mouse and your keyboard. You are using your mind. You are using the parts of your brain that model the real world and plan ways to interact with it in order to accomplish things in it — to reduce danger, to acquire resources, to construct artifacts, and so on.

This could be both a good thing and a bad thing. People who dislike video games could point out that game players are only accomplishing imaginary things. They are substituting virtual work for real work. When they log out of the game, theses things they have accomplished make no difference in the lives of others. So you mined a thousand pieces of imaginary ore. You forged a hundred swords. you slew dozens of dangerous beasts. Great. But what did any of it do to help your fellow human beings in the real world?

This is a valid question, of course. But while i won;t try to say people should interact with others in the real world, let’s not bee too hasty to condemn them for enjoying virtual accomplishments. Instead, let’s look a the potential benefits of gaming.

First, gaming provides an outlet for aggression without harming real-world people. Parents might moan that violent games are encouraging violent real-world behavior, but the evidence for this seems pretty thin. If you feel the urge to kill something, isn’t it better that you kill something imaginary?

Second, gaming provides stimulation for the brain that the brain needs. There is plenty of evidence that keeping elderly brains active helps prevent the kind of degeneration that leads to senility. Solving problems, especially new problems (such as learning a new language — or playing an unfamiliar game) forces the brain to work harder instead of vegetating. Use it or lose it, remember? Games help you keep using it.

Third, games can inspire. Maybe you don’t believe that. Parents see their offspring sitting glued to a TV set and wish the kids would be outside playing with other kids. But kids playing video games can play with others without leaving the safety of the home. Think about that. Would you rather have your kids playing in the street…or playing wit other kids in an  imaginary world where the worst that can happen to them is their computer crashes?

There are many ways to get things done. Some are imaginary, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

— MRK

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Building Cylinders in Conan Exiles Part 1

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

meI know; I’ve gone and done it again - vanished for weeks while I obsessed on a new project. This time it’s the new online game Conan Exiles, which is currently in Early Access.

What has excited me the most about Conan Exiles is the ability to build permanent structures from local materials. Today I’d like to give an example of this, and take you step by step though the construction of my Mark I Cylinder, a building design that is modular and expandable, with plenty of room, while maintaining a minimal footprint on the land.

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step00The first thing you will need is a patch of ground that is preferable free of weeds. It’s annoying to have bushes sprouting up in the basement. It would be ideal if the patch of ground you select for your cylinder is completely level, but as we shall see that is not really necessary if you take care in setting your foundations.

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step01The first thing you will do is set down a triangular foundation stone. This picture shows how NOT to do it. When you set down the stone the game will tend to place it flush with the ground. Why is this a problem? Because unless your land is absolutely flat, you will run into problems. Specifically, as you place more of the foundation if the land is not flat you can end up with foundation pieces with one or more corners covered by sand. When this happens, you will not be able to place the next level of stones on top of them.

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step02Instead, one the stone appears appears flush with the ground hold down the left SHIFT key and srin the mouse wheel. You will find you can move the stone up and down before you finalize its placement. Move it partly up out of the ground as shown. You can do this less for more flatter ground but you will have to raise it more for more tilted ground. The rest of the foundation will snap to it at the same height it was placed, and if you do this correctly ALL of your foundation stone corners will be uncovered so that the next layer will place on them with no problem.

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step03Now place 5 more triangular foundations stones snapped to the first one to form a hexagon out of six triangles. I hopped up on top so you could see how they fit together.
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step04The next step is to place 6 square foundation stones, each sticking out from a triangle, like the petals of a flower. You’ll notice that this leaves triangular gaps between the squares.

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step05

Now place 6 more triangles into the gaps between the squares.

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step06When you are finished you will have a foundation that is a 12-sided approximation to a flat disk.

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step07Time to add the first floor outer wall. Don’t forget the doorway! When you place it the label “Outer face” should look backwards….because you will be inside, looking at the INNER face of the door. Place the door frame on one of the 6 square foundation stones. This will turn out to be handy for spacing the stairs, as we shall see soon..

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step08

After you have the doorway placed, begin placing the 11 remaining wall pieces. I like to use “sandstone frame” for the walls instead of “sandstone wall” because it gives you windows. It’s nice to be able to see outside if you have to — and keeps the fairly small rooms of the MK 1 from feeling cramped.

As before, make sure you see “Outer face” backwards when you place them.

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step09On top of the 11 wall pieces and the doorway, add a second level of 12 wall pieces to give the room you are making a nice high ceiling. If you do not do this you will get more rooms - but with very little headroom especially for tall avatars.

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step10Since you raised up the foundation to avoid corners being underground, you should probably add stairs to the outside of the doorway. If your ground was really flat, you might get to skip the stairs. I add them just in case the game doesn’t let me walk right into the ground floor from outside.

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step11 It is OK if most of the stairs are underground. The game does not care. If you skip the stairs and your foundation is a little high because of tilted land, you will have to hit the jump key to get in which is a hassle. So add the stairs.

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step12At this point you could add a ceiling but why do that? By building up you can add as many rooms as you like without using up any more ground! However, you will need stairs to reach the upper levels. Let me show you how to add them. You can figure this out on your own but hey, let me save you some time so that you can use that time playing instead. Assuming you placed the doorway on a square foundation stone, face the doorway from inside, turn to your right, and find the next triangular foundation AFTER the triangles on either side of the door.

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step13Tilt your view up a little and place a triangular ceiling piece above the triangle foundation between the first and second layer of windows as shown. It will not be part of a ceiling; this is a little landing between two flights of stairs you will need to reach the second floor.

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step14Now you will connect the ground floor triangle with the one you just placed. We do this because their facing sides are parallel which the stairs need since the stairs are like a tilted square. The stairs will probably look wrong as shown, and this IS wrong! But don’t worry. Do not click the mouse button yet to finalize them. Instead, spin the mouse wheel WITHOUT holding down a SHIFT key. The stairs will flip though several orientations. You want the one where the stairs are against the wall and parallel to it. Like in the next picture.

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step15This is what you want. When the stairs are parallel to the wall and connecting to the upper triangle THEN click the left mouse button to finalize them.

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step16The stairs will take the space between two triangles. Now turn a little more the right and add a second triangular ceiling piece on TOP of the second layer of wall pieces as shown. After you do this, you can add the second flight of stairs to connect to this piece and enable access to the second floor.

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step17Now climb the stairs and stand on the top triangle. Add a square piece connecting to it as shown. You are now making the second floor, which is the ceiling of the first floor.

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step18Now add four more square pieces as shown, leaving triangular gaps between them just as you did with the foundation.

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step19And then fill in the gaps with triangles. This will leave a hexagon-shaped hole in the middle of the floor AND a square+triangle hole to come up on the stairs.

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step20Now fill in the hexagonal shaped hole with 6 triangles. Voila! you have completed the second floor. Isn’t geometry fun when it works?

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step21If you hop[ down to the ground this is how it will look at this point. You have a roundish building with two levels of windows and front steps. But hey, why stop there? A taller cylinder has more rooms, so let’s build up!

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step22Go back up to the second floor and add two more layers of walls to the outside of it to enclose a second room atop the first.

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step23Now place another 2 flights of stairs the way you did on the ground floor. Don’t go directly up from the top of the first floor stairs. Skip over to the next triangle as shown..

This will make it easy to continue up, or turn right into the second floor room. Otherwise you have to hop off the stairs which is less smooth.
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Add the second ceiling (third floor) the same way you did for the first ceiling.
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step24Now it is beginning to look more like a tower…more like a cylinder. Go ahead and make it taller if you want! There is nothing new from this point on.
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By the way…if you have enough land, it is pretty easy to make four towers, connect them with walls…and have an instant castle.

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OK that’e enough for this installment. Next time, i’ll show you how to build the MK II cylinder — similar but roomier.

— MRK

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