Minecraft Survival Mode Is Still Creeper Mode

A full six years ago, Shamus Young argued that survival mode was basically just “creeper mode,” because the threat of the other monsters was so overshadowed by creepers that they were basically a non-issue. After half a decade and then some, this is still a problem. Zombies and spiders remain almost completely a non-threat (past the very early stages of the game, when brand new players might find themselves getting sucker punched by them at the first nightfall, totally unaware of how to build an effective shelter before then), and skeletons remain dangerous only in large groups or possibly when picking a player off as they flee creepers in a panic. New monsters have been added, but none of them come close to overshadowing the creeper.

I blame memes for this. Once the creeper became a meme, messing with it in any significant way became a bad idea. Once it became a meme, people wanted Survival Mode to be Creeper Mode, or said they did anyway, and never mind how much better the game would be if the creeper were one component of an arsenal the monsters had to throw at players (it doesn’t help that the game’s fanbase are twelve-year olds, who love memes more and understand less how much better a game is with depth as compared to older demographics).

Zombies are relatively tough, but not very quick and can only attack in melee. Skeletons have ranged attacks, so there could be a balance between the two where zombies are easy to avoid but hit hard and keep the player occupied, smack the zombie to bounce him out of melee range, wait for him to run back into range, smack him again before he can deal damage. A fairly simple timing trick on his own, but in large numbers it’s harder to keep them all timed, and if there’s a skeleton peppering the player with arrow fire all the while, that means the player either needs to tank through those arrows while cutting up the zombie before closing on the skeleton, or else they can try to outmaneuver the zombie to get to the skeleton without killing the zombie first.

This resembles the current interaction the two have with one another, but there’s several key deficiencies that prevent them from really synergizing with one another. For starters, zombie attacks don’t hit very hard. A leather chestplate, something a player can assemble day one if they’re reasonably lucky with cow spawns and drop rates, can absorb a zombie attack altogether, so it’s not very threatening to run past the zombie and smack the skeleton. The zombie’s two armor points do basically nothing against even a stone sword, a weapon trivially easy to acquire in the early game, and it has no more health than the skeleton. This is both because skeletons are too tough to serve as a glass cannon and because zombies are too fragile to serve as an effective tank. Skeletons, rather than being a complicating factor in a fight with a zombie (or spider), are basically just a flat upgrade to a zombie, almost identical but with the ability to fight at range.

Spiders likewise are just downgraded zombies, with less health and less damage. In theory, a spider’s thing is that they can climb walls, but the game is Minecraft, so generally speaking a player’s fortifications will be fully enclosed rather than just being a wall. The basic idea of having a mob who is weaker but has the ability to circumvent fortifications would be good, the problem is that the spider does not actually have the ability to circumvent the most common fortifications of the game.

The monster that actually has this ability is actually the enderman, who can teleport. Now, the enderman is also a lategame enemy who only spawns very rarely in the starter Overworld, but a weaker monster with the same trick would be a valuable addition to the game. Not strong enough to rip a player in iron armor to shreds, but enough of a threat that there’d be periodic “dammit, another one got in my house” moments during the night.

Side note: if the enderman wasn’t such a late entry to the game, I imagine it would’ve been the monstrous mascot rather than the creeper, as it’s far more memorable and encounters with them tend to be much more dramatic. They’re relentless, hard to escape, hit hard, have tons of health, and their visual cue is far more terrifying than the creeper’s on its own merits (I freaked the fuck out the first time I heard it). The only reason the creeper’s hiss is more panic-inducing is because of how aggravating the associated creeper damage is. Unlike the creeper, which ambushes the player and either kills them or not in about two seconds flat, the enderman will have a deadly and proper-length fight. That fight will only last about 10-20 seconds, but that’s enough time to smack the baddy around a little, realize it’s ripping up your health, attempt to make a retreat, and get caught on the way out. There’s an arc there, not just hisssss-BOOM and you’re dead after a single moment of panic.

Then there’s the creeper. Creepers could be siege breakers whose main role is to blow holes in defenses to let the other monsters in. As it is, they’re too beefy and deal too much damage. Their high health means it’s difficult to respond to the hissing by just flat out murdering them, and the damage they deal means that until the endgame, getting caught in a creeper blast is lethal all by itself. Even in the endgame, the response to being caught by a creeper blast is not “oh, no, now a bunch of other monsters are coming through the hole in my defenses” but rather “oh, no, I just lost 80% of my health just now.” No other monster who can do that spawns with anything near the frequency of the creeper. Every other monster is a schlub who barely merits consideration, and creeper fights aren’t even interesting.

All that and they can survive in daylight, too.

Gilmore Girls: Generational Conflict

Gilmore Girls kind of sets itself up as a class conflict thing, with Lorelei Gilmore integrating herself into a poorer small town community and Emily Gilmore representing obscene wealth and connections. I think it works even better as an interesting look at generational conflict, though. The stereotypes of the millennial generation were really underdeveloped in the year 2000, since even the oldest of them were barely entering high school, but through dumb luck or prescience, Gilmore Girls pretty much nailed it.

Rory Gilmore is born in approximately 1984 and is a millennial. She is friendly and polite, fixated on university as a road to success, and much more conformist and minimalist than her mother.

Speaking of, Lorelei Gilmore is born in approximately 1968 and is in Generation X. She is fiercely independent, snarky, impulsive, and relentlessly rebellious.

Emily Gilmore’s birthdate is born in approximately 1948 and is a Baby Boomer. She is selfish, passive-aggressive, wears a thin veneer of politeness over narcissistic contempt for everyone around her, demonstrates sincere compassion exclusively for close family members and then very rarely, and the closest thing she gets to redeeming qualities is when she uses generosity to try and make people dependent upon her and thus force them to tolerate her personality defects in lieu of self-improvement.

I said the show depicted generational conflict, I never said it didn’t take sides.

Old Comic Con Photos

I’ve been to a lot of Salt Lake Comic Cons, so I figured I’d squeeze a bit more content out by posting photos of the old ones.

Salt Lake Comic Con I (September 2013)

I think our spooktacular friend on stilts here might be from League of Legends? He looks cool, anyway. You can also see a table for Serpent’s Tongue in the background. That game had some cool ideas, but unfortunately never went anywhere.

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Continued Griping About And Associated I Told You Soing Of To The Stupider Rick And Morty Fans

Look, not all the blog posts can have snappy titles.

I’ve talked before about how a lot of the theories about the ways in which Rick and Morty series creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland are trolling the audience are dumb. Many things are taken to be signals or jabs at the audience that pretty clearly aren’t (I’m not even fully convinced that the Red Grin Grumble gag is a shot at a segment of the show’s audience, even though it actually works as one). Certain fans regularly read troll moves or setups for them where there’s little or no evidence that they’re actually there. It seems like after the April Fools unjoke and a couple of troll promos, certain members of the audience have become convinced that “fucking with fans” is the only trick Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland know, to the extent that they’ll dedicate entire episodes or even season arcs to it. Harmon and Roiland were really fucking straightforward with the premise of Rick and Morty from episode 1. It’s a show about wacky high concept sci-fi adventures.

I’m talking about it again now, because smug self-satisfaction is easy and writing actually useful content is hard. Season 3, Episode 8, Morty’s Mind Blowers, has two different lines where Rick denies color-coding the memory vials being viewed. Despite this, the vials do in fact conform pretty exactly to Morty’s guess as to what the colors represent. Rick Sanchez, the character who’s often presumed to be the mouthpiece of the authors when giving an impatient, condescending lecture to Morty and/or Summer, is lying through his goddamn teeth. In several of the wiped memories he’s also depicted as doing something dumb, not in the “Rick’s crazy and does what he wants and dodges the consequences” way the show normally does, but in the “Rick loses a game of checkers to Morty” way. The idea that Rick’s condescension is supposed to be taken as a lecture to the audience by default is demolished, because his condescending assertions of superiority are revealed to be blatant lies.

I don’t think it’s particularly likely that the creators were specifically trying to sink this “Rick is the Harmon/Roiland’s soapbox” theory, I think it was just a dumb theory built on flimsy evidence that inevitably fell down as more information came in.

A Thought On Boy Meets World

Still watching Boy Meets World. Had a thought about season 3. The final episode – the season finale – is about the main character Cory Matthews and how he feels about his older brother Eric Matthews moving out of the house to go to college at the end of the school year. The 90s sitcom Very Important Lesson that Eric learns is that his relationship with his brother is important and they barely know each other and now that they’re older the three year gap isn’t really much of a difference and yadda yadda yadda. It’s brought up a couple of different times that Eric has his own friends and his own things to do and basically just always had better things to do than talk to Cory.

Here’s the weird thing about that. In seasons one and two, Eric’s best friend Jason Marsden (played by Jason Marsden) was a recurring character. In season three, that character makes no appearances at all. Season three’s finale revolves around focusing on his own life while at the same time season three in general has had Eric come completely unmoored from his own social life. It also depicts Eric and Cory’s relationship mellowing out significantly from the second season, when Cory was a seventh grader (his eighth grade year is mysteriously not depicted) and Eric did everything in his power to keep Cory’s existence from reflecting poorly on him in any way at all. Throughout season three, Eric is depicted as having a much greater and much more friendly presence in Cory’s life. So the season three finale is about how Eric never does the thing he is frequently depicted doing (without being dragged into it as he was in earlier seasons) because he’s too busy doing the thing he is never depicted doing.

Also, Cory’s entire eighth grade year isn’t depicted, even though the early episodes of season three pick up right where season two left off. At the end of season two, Cory’s best friend Shaun Hunter has just moved in with his English teacher, Jonathan Turner, a series of events that made sense in context. At the beginning of season three, Shaun has been living with Jon over the summer and they’ve gotten comfortable with each other, but Shaun hasn’t ever lived with Jon during the school year. We know this because in the first episode, Shaun expects he can use his close relationship with his home room teacher to avoid getting in trouble for being late to school and is unpleasantly surprised when Jon flat-out refuses to give him any special treatment. I don’t think Cory and Shaun’s exact grade level is ever specified in season three, but it’s definitely true that they start the season fourteen years old and end it fifteen years old. In American education, that’s ninth grade. Season one they were 11/12, season two they were 12/13, and now in season three they have leaped ahead to 14/15 despite the fact that the gap between seasons clearly only extends over the course of one summer.

It’s not like this kind of sloppy continuity unexpected from a pre-Renaissance television show (and honestly, Boy Meets World doesn’t really get good until a few seasons later – its best episode is undoubtedly the season five episode that parodies slasher flicks). Shaun and Cory’s girlfriend Topanga, the two most significant characters in the show outside Cory himself, both have siblings who cameo in season one that get retconned out of existence when they become inconvenient, so it’s not like sloppy continuity is any kind of stranger to the show. It still rustles my jimmies.

Terrible Writing Advice

I’m gonna do that thing again where I shill the work of someone several orders of magnitude more popular than me as an excuse not to produce real content. Today’s lucky winner is Terrible Writing Advice, a YouTube channel that largely just takes writing advice that’s well-trodden and familiar, inverts it, and then delivers it in a sarcastic tone. The delivery is entertaining and it’s a fun way to get the basics if you’ve never taken a serious stab at writing anything before (or you did, but decided to do so without seeking out any advice on how to be good at it whatsoever, because that’s about the only way you’ll have missed the advice TWA is inverting).

Dinosaur Riding Barbarians: Classes

I’ve written up the major nations for Dinosaur Riding Barbarians, but I don’t think I ever posted the class concepts. Let’s go ahead and fix that.


The Beastmaster commands a small pack of dinosaur minions, usually velociraptors or deinonychus. In addition to the obvious benefit of leading something like a half-dozen allies into battle, the Beastmaster can set up pack attacks. For example, when one of the Beastmaster’s pets is adjacent to an enemy and another pet charges from the opposite direction, the charging pet pounces and gets extra bonuses to attack and damage, if three pets have a single enemy surrounded, they each get heavy bonuses to their attack rolls, and so on. The Beastmaster himself has respectable attack and defense, and when he has all of his pets available and fighting effectively, he can deal more damage per round than any other class (counting the pets’ damage).

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Quantity Has A Quality All Its Own

The Salt Lake Comic-Con is basically a literary convention, because we have such a high concentration of genre fiction writers nearby that a plurality of the panels here are all about writing. Consequently, whenever Comic-Con is near (by the time this post goes live, it will actually be occurring) I start thinking more about writing. It’s the one creative career I’ve put more effort into than any other except maybe the far smaller market of tabletop roleplaying games. So, y’know, focusing my efforts on that second one was probably a bad idea.

In any case, I was recently linked to this website, and it’s given me very mixed feelings. On the one hand, the specific publishing strategy this guy is advocating is not a bad idea. On the other hand, he’s positioning himself as someone who knows the secret truths about the publishing industry, and while that may be true to an extent, he seems to completely lack any understanding of why what he’s doing works at all.

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