Thursday, April 19, 2012

Towards Dawn: The Complete Adventure

As requested, here is a video of the entire adventure, from 2010 to 2012, from alpha to 1.0, from day one to day sixty-two. All 2300-odd photos. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day Fifty-Eight (And Onwards)

[This is the final post in the Towards Dawn story. If you are new to this blog, perhaps you want to avoid reading this post and instead start from the beginning.]

I have a confession to make.

For more than a week now, I've started to grow weary. After fifty-seven days of walking and sailing, I don't so much feel like I have seen all there is to see, but I have seen all that I need to see. As a commenter noted several days ago now, the terrain has grown tamer since I crossed the Week Long Ocean. It still looks beautiful, but it is the same beautiful over and over. I have lost the will to keep walking.

Yet, I've continued on for days because how does one end a journey without a destination? I started this as a permadeath experiment, of sorts. It was going to go until I died. Until I slipped up and tripped into lava or died of hunger in the middle of an ocean or was ambushed by zombies, but that never happened. At least, it never happened to an extent to be fatal. So on I walked, as though I didn't have a choice.

But I do have a choice; I've always had the choice. I could end this at any time. Death doesn't have to be accidental. But is suicide really how I want to end such a grand adventure? I didn't know. But as the sun rose for the fifty-eighth time since I pushed off east in my boat, I did know one thing: this was the last time it would rise over my pilgrimage.

I had these thoughts, but that didn't mean I was going to end it right there and then. There was still a horizon. "Just a bit more," I thought. "I'll see just a bit more." These thoughts put me in a boat, and got me quite a bit further.

New land.
Sheep to the north.
I climbed the steep beach onto the island. A giant bay flowed in from the ocean to the north, but to the east was a forest of low trees on what remained a narrow slither of island. It felt like it had been days since I had seen a substantial landmass not closed in by ocean.

After walking through the trees for a time, I spied a giant lake separated from the ocean on the southern side.

Looking back south-west.
Beyond the lake, the land finally seemed to spread out and I lost the ocean under a dense forest. It was pocketed with caverns and sudden drops, keeping my eyes just ahead of my toes as I continued on. Just because I wanted to stop walking did not mean I would be less careful.

One of the many caves scattered in the forest.
Onwards through the forest.
More caves beneath.
The forest let up with a small, grassy plain on a hill. The ocean had come back down from the north, but the land continued on east towards the horizon. Ahead, downhill, was another thin forest and an, open field beyond.

Looking east across a small forest.
Beyond the small forest, looking back west.
I liked the field. It sloped upwards from the south where it touched the ocean to a small, flat plateau on the north before a steep drop down to the southern ocean. Further east, a knob of land protruded out of the water, but beyond it looked like nothing but ocean.

I realised, then, that this was somewhere I would be happy to... stop. Just because this was a permadeath experiment, did I have to die for it to end? Why could I not decide to just stop, and not die? To end my journey on my own terms, not on the terms of some zombie or half-concealed pit of lava.

So, I decided to stop.

It wasn't as easy as it sounds. That voice was in my ear saying "But what's beyond the horizon? How about just a few more steps to see what is next? Just a few more...". But no. This was it. This had to be it.

I climbed to the plateau on the northern side of the field and started to clear a space.

Now I must make another confession. For weeks now, I have been collecting clay whenever I see it, and smelting it overnight in my furnace. This should in no way imply what I was doing was premeditated. I think it was a subconscious act, one I haven't shaken from my alpha worlds when clay was as rare as diamonds. If I saw it, I would mine it.

So on me I had a vast supply of bricks that I have never talked about before. On that hill, I found a purpose for them.

Sun beginning to set.
As the sun began to set on my final day of travelling, I realised I had not planned this too well. I did not have the time nor the materials to finish my house before nightfall. So, for one final night, I built my pillar and camped atop it.

Over the night, two endermen wandered around and inside my house, picking up blocks of earth and popping in and out of existence. I tried my hardest not to look directly at them.


Day Fifty-Nine

As the sun finally began to rise, the endermen refused to burn up. Though, eventually they both teleported one last time, and did not reappear. I went on with my morning work cautiously.

Both endermen popped out of existence just as I tried to take a photo (you can just see the purple sparks still drifting in the air).
My first task for the day was to head back to the forest and gather some wood for my roof. It wasn't far, but walking west was a surreal and off-putting experience. As I went back from whence I had come, it really hit me: this was it; I was not going any further.

While in the woods, I came across some sheep. I needed wool for something I had refused to craft before now: a bed.

And some sand for glass.
By the time I returned 'home' (a weird word that I was still getting used to) from my resource gathering, the sun was setting again.

Instead of building my pillar, I blocked off the doorway with some blocks of dirt and crafted my bed. This was a defining moment. Until I slept in that bed, I could change my mind and go on. After I slept in, that would be it. There would be no going back. Death would take me back to the start of my adventure; it would merely bring me back here. I took a deep breath, clicked my mouse, and slept until morning.

Day Sixty

In the morning, I took all the wood I had gathered and crafted a bunch of stairs. I then climbed atop my house and started work on the roof.

Unfortunately, over the past sixty days I had clearly lost my building skills. I crafted way more stairs than I needed, and did not leave enough wood for the flat sections, so it was back to the forest for yet more wood.

More than enough stairs but not enough wood.
Back in the forest, I found a food source I had never before seen:

I took the apple and replanted the saplings. It still felt weird to take so much resources from the world after merely passing through it for so long. I was determined to put back whatever I took. While in the forest, I trekked to a small lake tucked under a cliff and mined out enough stone for my house's flooring. Turning around to walk back towards the plateau with my new supply of wood, i could see my half-finished house peaking over the hill. Now it was actually beginning to feel like home.

I finished the roof and dug out the ground in preparation for the flooring before the sun set.


Day Sixty-One

When I awoke, I finished laying the floor.

From the outside, my home was practically complete.

But it was not yet liveable. I would need food to sustain myself if I would not be passing through swamps to restock on mushrooms every other day. I took two buckets down the steep hill to the northern ocean and gathered some water.

Then, taking my spade, I spent the rest of the day carving out and planting a modest-sized field to keep me from starving.

As the sun set, I constructed a wooden path from my front door to the field.


Day Sixty-Two

There was not much left to do before I could rest. I placed some flowers in a garden around the front of the house, not for any real reason, and went for a small hike to stock up on coal for my furnace.

Found coal. And an underground lake.
Coming back home with my coal, looking at my field and my house that I had built and the small pathway that joined them, it felt like I had finally found my own place in the world. No, I didn't find it; I made it. Fifty-seven days I walked without anything tying me down, and that was a beautiful experience. But there is also something to be said about having a place that is yours.

Inside, I built some bits of furniture and placed a light so that the inside of my home would fill the way looking at it from the outside already did.

After that, there was really only one last thing to do:

I finally made it.
I just kind of stood around for a bit after that, watching the sun crawl west across the sky. I looked to the eastern horizon again, wondering what was over that water that I would never cross. I looked back west and thought about all the crazy experiences I had had. I'm not just saying this, mind you. I am not talking about some fictional nomad. I had these thoughts while I was sitting behind my computer, moving my mouse to follow the path of the sun. It was one of the strangest, gut-wrenching, bittersweet moments I have ever experienced in a videogame, to know this adventure was coming to an end.

So thank you for coming along for the ride. Thank you to the many readers who gave me advice and well wishes in the comments, and who kept coming back even if I didn't update for months on end. It's been an honour to have you along on this journey. So long. Farewell. Thank you.


[Some Housekeeping: As promised, you can download the complete Towards Dawn world here (the zip file is around 700MB). However, for fun, it will spawn you at the very beginning of my journey. If someone were to try to use these posts in an attempt to follow in the nomad's footsteps, I would love to hear about it. Also, be aware that the direction of sunrise and sunset has changed in a later update to Minecraft, so if you were to follow me, you will not actually be walking towards dawn for the first many days.

Also, while Towards Dawn is finished, don't go deleting it from your RSS feeds just yet. In the coming months, I hope to compile all the posts into some kind of pdf book of the adventure. I'm not sure precisely when I will have a chance to do it, but when I do I will certainly announce it here. Thanks again for reading!]

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day Fifty-Seven

The blizzard continued long into the night but let up as the moon was descending towards the eastern horizon. The moonlight covered the snow-capped mountains in an eerie blue light.

I headed off among the trees, keeping the ocean to my left. It threatened to twist around in front of me at some point (I had crafted a boat the night before for that very purpose), but a bridge of land to the north kept me from getting wet.

Chickenducks going for a swim.
Ocean to the east. Boat time, I guess.
...or not! Land to the north.
Heading north and around the bay.
 Through the slither of desert were trees unlike any I had seen before. They were huge, a violently bright green,draped in vines, and crowded into a thin area of land. It was some kind of jungle.

Crazy trees.
Looking north.
Struggling to get through the trees
The jungle looked to be mostly to the north, but the southern slither that I had to pass through was thicker than I originally thought. It wrapped around a second bay of water I had originally not seen. I deviated even further north to get around this one.

Slowly getting through.
I walked on east among the more normal coloured trees while the acid-green jungle followed me for a while to my north. Then I fell in a hole.

I could hear zombies and spiders in the darkness beneath, but peering down I saw no movement. I dug myself out and carried on. Shortly after, I was about to climb a small hill when I noted a chunk was missing out if its side. Peering in, the entire hill was full of lava.

I decided to walk around the hill rather than over it. Climbing the next hill, though, I found myself looking down at a massive inland lake.

Possibly the biggest non-ocean body of water I've seen.
Past the lake, I continued on through the trees and across the grass until the ocean finally caught up to me and blocked my path.

Swam across a river...
...but it was no use. Time for a boat.
Spied a mountain to the south as I left land.
Out of the bay...
...and across the ocean.
 It wasn't long before land appeared on the horizon, and I came ashore beneath more snow-covered conifers.

Pigs in the foliage.
Ocean continues to follow me to the south.
...and to the east, apparently.
I considered crafting another boat when, on the horizon, I could just spy a thin sand bridge connecting the two islands. I headed north and skirted the land.

Across the sand bridge.
And onto a new island.
The snowy terrain continued on for some time as I trekked east through the afternoon, and the ocean stubbornly continued beside me, the landmass never thickening out.

A large, stone plateau covered in snow.
Hit the ocean again. I turned to the south and followed the coast around.
Running out of land.
Sun sinking back to the west.
Sure enough, before much longer the island came to a point and the ocean encompassed old directions but back to the west. It was too late to start another boat trip so I built my tower and spent a second night in the snow.

The end of the island.
From whence I came.