Thursday, 17 May 2012

Tekkit City Chronicles, Vol. 3: A very strange reaction

Since last time, a significant part of our Tekkit city project has been spent in different maps from our home, playing around in creative mode with the various doodads and geegaws the mod pack adds, both to get an understanding of how they all work and so Hugh could teach the rest of us how things link up.


One of the most useful things added is the quarry: a machine which squares off a patch of land (within the orange frame you can see above) and then digs down until it hits bedrock or lava, stripping out everything within that area. Everything from stone and sand to diamond and uranium gets sucked up a pipe and deposited in a connected chest. Quarries are expensive to build and they need a lot of power, but they're reusable and a very good way of getting a lot of resources, very quickly. Plus they're largely fire-and-forget, meaning that you can mine and build at the same time, which is handy when you're still aroundabout 3,950 houses short of your target of 4,000 houses.

Another bonus is that the quarry reveals cave networks and ore seams along the walls of the dug area, giving some focus to future caving expeditions. The above screenshot is a rarity, actually - a quarry which didn't turn up a cave network. Normally it gets riddled with them.

As you can imagine, you don't want to fall down there.

A quirk of quarries, which might be good or bad depending on your perspective, is that it doesn't stop when the hole gets flooded. We've idly theorised that if it floods and then digs into lava, it would make a simple source of obsidian, but we've yet to see that happen. Water in Minecraft, you see, doesn't flow like real water. If you have two water sources flowing into the same space, it creates another new water source in that space. You can remove that water source... and the two flowing sources will create a new water source there again. Repeat as needed. This is a pretty common exploit, known to the Minecraft community as 'infinite water.'  If that water flows into a lava lake, then bam - obsidian, and the quarry ought to suck that obsidian right up.

Seen in the (above-)above screenshot is an engine cooling system using this trick. A pump sucks out the new water source every time it's created, which is piped to the engine to cool it. Since the pumping cycle and water source creation both repeat without human intervention, you can set that up and then basically forget about it, which means it's a very useful way of regulating low-maintenance, high-power machinery like quarries.


This is our vertical rail lift, inspired by the fastest elevator rivalries and ably tested in this picture by a sheep. Hugh reasoned that with Tekkit, this would likely be the simplest way of building a fast vertical transport system. Plus it would let us use railways, which we have a soft spot for even though they're not actually that useful; anything you can do with rails can be done quicker and easier using something else, such as teleport pipes (which I'll cover in the next update). The only thing rails do best is fast transport of people, and our city just isn't that big yet. Although I am looking forward to building train yards and subway stations, when the time comes!


We also had the bright idea of making... a rollercoaster! Okay, that's probably been done a lot already, but I can't be bothered looking it up on YouTube. We just decided to give it a try and see what happened. It happened pretty good, despite a couple of minor engineering headaches. So, yeah, we're probably going to add a funfair to the city at some point.


Although you can have diagonal rails (as per base Minecraft) and vertical rails (added in Railcraft), you can't have upside-down rails. So no loop-de-loop for us, sadly. This is as close as we could get. This thing still went hellaciously fast though, and managed to throw riders off even without launch rails until we toned it down a bit.

The sheep seemed to enjoy it, and gave no indication of wanting to get off.

We were playing around with reactors, too, fuelled by the cooling system described previously in this post. We ended up with something both stable and powerful, so it was an obvious decision to decommission our existing reactor in the city map, as pictured above.

Decommissioning, in this case, meant going in and ripping out the cores and then smashing up the shielding with pickaxes. I choose to believe that's how it works in real life, too. Somebody is just about visible inside the reactor there, either removing a core or scooping up water.

The overseer's hut, and the status display. Green light means the reactor is running safely. Red light means there's a problem. Inside the hut was a safety override shutdown type lever. All of this is now much, much more complicated in our new reactor.

 There's Hugh in the process of building the new one - or at least installing the water pumping systems. Adrian, meanwhile, was constructing the shell of the building. I supplied the water (not by weeing in the pool, I hasten to add) and then very helpfully flew around taking pictures instead of working. Just like a real job!


More work on the reactor. Since I took this, it's been finished; I'll have a pic in the next update. Using the infinite water cooling trick this reactor is much more powerful, enough to keep four batteries charged at once, while running safely enough not to need any shielding.

See? Realism! And we haven't even added the second reactor in the other pool yet.

By the way, the building housing this monstrosity backs onto the warehouse and the hydroponic gardens, and is just round the corner from the water supply. Let's pray nothing goes wrong.

Here's an overhead view of our central industrial complex. The tall building on the left with the bronze cog design on the wall is the warehouse, which currently houses all of our resources with another two and a half storeys still unoccupied. We're currently adding an auto-sorter, and Hugh's talking about installing a computer network which monitors inventory levels.

Behind and to the left of the warehouse is the water processing plant, as seen in the first Tekkit City Chronicle, back when it was going to be our power station. What actually became the power station, where the decommissioning took place, is just visible as a thin sliver of roof beyond the warehouse. The big building on the right with the smokestacks is the current power station. The wooden deck at the south, meanwhile, leads to a hillside warren of buildings - basically a kasbah, minus the walls.

In the foreground you can see out newest toy, the Bessemer converter (the big orange thing). Ores go in, and metal ingots come out. There's a macerator in there which increases the amount of metal we get per load of ore. As a bonus, the same machine can also be used to turn cobblestone into sand (via the macerator) and thence into glass (in the furnace).

Here's a view looking up at the workings. It's not very clear, but it's enough to see that there's a lot going on in there. A real-world Bessemer converter doesn't work like that at all - in reality, and in very simplistic terms, it's basically a giant bucket which mixes pig iron with air to oxidise away the impurities. Hugh just had the idea that it would be a cool-looking thing to house our smelting works in, and he was right. We have cosmetic lava in the top, to make it look like molten iron, although as a bonus it does keep mobs from spawning up there.

Ours doesn't tip over to pour out the molten iron. Given that it backs onto our warehouse, that's probably for the best.

Other things we've discovered, not shown: you can't nuke the Ender Dragon, but you can nuke away his entire dimension. And launching minecarts full of TNT at a mountainside isn't a terribly effective way to mine, but it's definitely a lot of fun.

The next update will contain more sensible stuff. Also, a giant sky penis. Until then, take care, and don't build unshielded reactors next to your farm. We're allowed to because we're trained professionals.

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