Archive for September, 2012

Minecraft: Vaubans Fortress

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Vauban was the foremost military engineer of the late 17th and beginning 18th century, and he built dozens of fortresses for Louis XIV. Typical for his art is the star-shaped fortress, which allows fire from one bastion to cover all space in front of a wall or another bastion.

This is my take on such a fortress. It’s loosely based on the fort of Bayonne (high-resolution pictures can be found at Wikimedia Commons: Citadelle de Bayonne), since that one is rather square than pentagonal and so lent itself to easier implementation in Minecraft. Well, easier, not exactly easy.

It measures 260 by 244 blocks. Now it also becomes clear why I needed compact designs of Minecraft Cannons. These go onto the ramparts in numbers. There should be 47 short guns (my “carronade”) and 40 long guns (my cannon mk1 and mk2) on there…

Within the citadel of Bayonne are some not-very inspiring barracks-type buildings, which I initially planned to build as well, but then I found an Isometric view of the Citadel of Bayonne which made clear that I was off anyway, and my fortress wasn’t really Bayonne. So thought what the heck, we’ll go for baroque, all the way, with garrets and an onion-domed tower. I got me some more inspiration in the form of baroque mansions and town halls, and put a mélange of them on there.

And that’s how the whole thing looks, at dusk:

Well, that’s about it, here’s the level and schematic:

The license of these files and my screenshots is the OPL 1.0 (which is about the same as CC-by-sa); the original plan of Bayonne is of course public domain.

The fortress lives best about 6 blocks up from the level ground on some slight hill, that’s why the level has it raised by this (it’s just the hill missing under it). Some small details are unfinished, namely the portal on the other side, and some kind of outer gateway fortification (you’ll notice, the modern one seen in the isometric drawing is quite different than the one on the original plan). It is about half equipped with furniture, as well as half filled with stuff, Most noteably, it’s got several huge powder magazines, The screenshots were taken on my survival map, the dowloadable level is flat.

Update: I updated the level and schematic, the fortress other entrance is now useable, has portals (automatic ones), a towerlet over one of the portals, and some gardening (hedges, fountains and lanternposts) done.

The New Robot Patent

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Just like the old Robot Patent (by Emperor Joseph II) this is of course all about rent-seeking.

As we’ve noted in The Moby Dick Support Device, some egregiously stupid patent-officers started accepting patents based on the un-reasoning that a computer running a program makes it a different computer, just as a bookshelf which is used to store copies of Moby Dick is an entirely different thing than an ordinary bookshelf.

Now comes the second chapter, enter the robot. Yes, they’re not doing much right now, but watch the flurry of all-new bogus patents rolling in as soon as they will get more useful. Everyone and their lawyers will start patenting everyday actions, coupled with the phrase “with a robot”.

saulgoode writes at Techdirt:

If the bobble heads at the Patent Office continue on the path they are currently following then we can certainly expect a rush of patents on all kinds of human activity with the caveat of it being done “with a robot” — e.g., dig a hole with a robot, change a tire with a robot, build a swing set with a robot — just as “with a computer” seems to justify patents being issued on things such as getting feedback from a buyer or scrolling through a document.

Ah, Arkham Asylum Patent Offices, home of the criminally insane. How could one ever, with this concise list of non-patentable matters: EPC, Art. 52, come to such a ridiculous interpretation? (Same in the USA, see The Moby Dick Support Device).

Minecraft: TNT Cannons

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

In short, for those that didn’t know: It’s possible to build cannons in Minecraft, using TNT as charge, as well as payload. The trick is to detonate the charge TNT earlier, and place the payload in a position where it will be driven away by the explosion. And of course, unless you want your cannon to explode, you’ll need to place the charge into something inert, water will work nicely. Just search for “minecraft cannon” on youtube to see examples.

So these are some cannon designs I did for minecraft. I don’t claim the original idea for them, I just implemented, tried and tested. The reason I did this, was that I needed rather small cannons which wouldn’t look too alien on emplacing them onto the ramparts of a minecraft fortress.

Of course, they all come with schematics for mcedit (another one, not the mcedit from Midnight Commander).

Basic Cannons

These all are very basic. Payload is activated by some delay achieved with repeaters. However, since they’re rather simple, and space was scarce, there isn’t actually enough delay, so these don’t work against targets below the plane of the gun. The payload will just explode in mid-air in that case.

Simple cannon, 5x3x3 blocks


Simple cannon, 6x3x3 blocks


Simple cannon, 7x3x3 blocks


Diagonal cannon, 8x7x3 blocks

Yep, that one shoots diagonally.

Basic Aimable Cannon

The idea heere is to work with two stacks of charges, and to aim by not filling one stack completely. I also tried to make some non-diagonal ones, but I haven’t found a reliable design yet.

Aimable Diagonal Cannon, 8x7x3


Better Cannons

These here are the ones I actually use. They contain enough repeaters to shoot just about anywhere, the main constraint in range seems to be minecraft itself, or rather the new client-server model of Minecraft 1.3.

All of them use obsidian for barrels, and sand stone for the carriage (or whatever you want to call that). Actually, if it explodes on you, only the half-slab in front, plus some redstone will have to be replaced. And if you bury them 2 blocks, the flood shouldn’t damage the repeaters.

Cannon Mk1, 8x5x6 blocks

My first design for a cannon for use in fortresses. It’s supposed to be buried 2 blocks deep. It’s quite slick, but due to it using only 9 repeaters, maximum range is slightly limited to what is possible.

Cannon Mk2, 8x5x6 blocks

This one has the circuits slightly altered, making it able to delay a tiny bit longer with its 10 repeaters. An in-between version had a totally altered layout with 12 repeaters, which turned out to beb totally useless, since 10 is the useable maximum (otherwise you get squibs).

Carronade, 6x5x6 blocks

This one is actually a totally redesigned Mk1. It’s much shorter, but since it still uses 2 layers of TNT, it still packs a pretty punch. It’s not as slick as the Cannon, since a few sacrifices had to be made to fit all 9 repeaters.

Arrow Gun

Here as well, a tight footprint and a “look” of a gun (when buried two blocks deep) was aspired. Uses a pulser, you turn it on, it shoots arrows, until it runs out or you turn it off.