Sic Transit Gloria Sanctuary

NOTE 1: This is a copy of the article I originally posted at Scribd.com as the “Minecraft Scribe in Exile” – as promised, I’ve moved it onto EFX3 now that it’s returned, and I’ve added more pictures. Thanks to WelshPixie and Rustybroomhandle for resurrecting EFX3 for us bloggers! 🙂

NOTE 2: This post is incredibly sentimental. Regular Scribe readers might find it too saccharine for their tastes. Consider yourselves warned.

Back in August, when I had a four-day depressive episode, I started hanging out with Kristal Crow (aka thecrystalcrow), someone I’d already gotten to know a little, via Twitter and The Shaft. Once I found out that Kristal used the PretzelCast server, I went on there, hoping to find her place so that I could build nearby – but went in the completely wrong direction, and ended up thousands of blocks from her site! I gave up trying to locate her property when I saw a charming area that I wanted to build upon, and I figured that I’d get to check out her home when she was on the server.

The upper level of Kristal's house on the PretzelCast server.

The upper level of Kristal's house on the PretzelCast server. At the time of taking the picture, teleportation wasn't available... took a whole (Minecraft) day to walk the thousand-odd blocks from my house to hers.

The inside of my home on the Pretz.

The inside of my home on the Pretz. It only ended up looking this way after Kristal got her hands on it - it was pretty much bare, beforehand.

My bedroom on the Pretz.

My bedroom on the Pretz. There's a fireplace at the other end, where the wolves keep warm. Wonder if Kristal had anything in mind when she decorated it?

A little while later, I was stunned to learn that the Minecrap server’s main map was back up again after a lengthy absence, and I desperately wanted to show it all off – not just mine and Teddanator’s stuff – to her. So, I asked for Kristal to be whitelisted, which happened in very short order, and then I took Kristal on a whirlwind tour of the amazing stuff to be found on Minecrap. I didn’t think I’d spent three whole hours showing Kristal around, but she assured me that that was, in fact, the case, and so I wasn’t in a position to argue 🙂

Kristal, liking what she saw on BitBurner’s server, set up home on there, creating for herself The Crow’s Nest, situated in a beautiful little valley area. Thefre helped out Kristal a lot, even building a redstone-and-piston elevator for her. I… have to admit at this point that was getting a little jealous of the attention that Kristal was getting, even though Thefre was being the perfect gentleman (not that it was any of my business one way or the other). Besides, as far as I knew, Kristal wasn’t showing any interest in me whatsoever.

Then came The Rollback (of which I shall say no more), and The Crow’s Nest was gone, along with a mass of constructions by the Minecrap players (‘Minecrappers’ just doesn’t work, as a name ;)). In an effort to bring back as much as possible, as quickly as possible, I took to helping people out by spawning items to enable them to rebuild. Some people politely declined my offers to help – and there was nothing wrong with that – but Kristal was happy to be given a helping hand, and so I spawned lots of blocks and items for her. In no time at all, The Crow’s Nest was back in its former place, although the elevator was no longer extant, as it was a difficult thing to construct, and perhaps Thefre wasn’t really in the mood to build it all over again. I did, as a prank, copy and paste a pine tree into the centre of the trunk of The Crow’s Nest, while Kristal wasn’t around – and to my surprise, she loved it, saying that she’d been planning to put something in that place, but hadn’t been quite sure what!

I hung out with Kristal as much as our bizarre sleep patterns would permit. What made it a little tricky was that we were talking entirely through the Minecraft chat system, rather than using Skype or Mumble, so both of us were slowed down a little as we stopped moving around to bash out what we wanted to say to each other. It wasn’t too long before we ended up using The Spawn’s Mumble server to actually talk, so we could get on with playing the game without having to be hampered by the need to communicate.

But it wasn’t the first time that I’d heard Kristal’s voice. That event occurred during CTR3, back in July – and Kristal and I still recall my astonished gasp on hearing her rich, mellifluous voice for the first time… “Oh, my God – I love your voice!” was what I’d said, right after my sharp intake of breath… I didn’t get to hear much of Kristal amidst the cacophony of voices on Mumble, but I knew I loved that voice…

But Minecrap and ‘The Pretz’ weren’t the only SMP servers that I hung out on. A charming and funny fellow by the name of Pete Little (aka MinecraftGeek) had set up Sanctuary, and – after almost pleading with Pete not to be awarded even mod powers (I wanted to play legit), I’d struck out from the centre of Sanctuary City, found a place to build, and crafted a sandstone mansionette, cut out of the rock and replaced with sandstone, as and when I dug up the hundreds of blocks of sand that I needed for its construction.

My house on Sanctuary.

My house on Sanctuary – when I built it, I didn’t know that Pete wanted people to live in Sanctuary City itself!

My rather Spartan bachelor pad, leading straight into my mine.

My rather Spartan bachelor pad, leading straight into my mine.

My indoor pool, with a barbecue grill at the far end.

My indoor pool, with a barbecue grill at the far end.

And I wanted Kristal to see the server. So, Pete very kindly whitelisted Kristal, and we spent a hell of a lot of time on there, while chatting about this, that and the other with Kristal, via Mumble, in a channel I dubbed (for some reason) “The Den”. And the thing about Mumble is that, even if the channel is locked, people can still see who’s actually in the channel. So with people coming and going, any of them could see the two people tucked away in The Den, and they were starting to form conclusions.

What’s more, they weren’t the wrong conclusions, either. Kristal and I were falling in love, as we hung out together on Sanctuary – despite the fact that neither of us had planned on that happening. Given that I’d messed up my previous two relationships – one of which was the marriage which brought me to the USA in the first place – I was scared of ever dating again, and swore that if anyone did express an interest in me, I’d let them down gently, figuring that I should be the one who does all the hurting from being alone.

But I couldn’t escape the fact that Kristal was smart, fun, funny, articulate, wonderful company – and possessed that deliciously sultry voice. And it turned out that she loved my voice, too – and the fact that I’m a nerd… because, by her own admission, she is also a nerd. Nerd love FTW 😀 So we continued to build on Sanctuary, spent countless hours in Mumble together, and became ever more deeply entranced by each other. Kristal got me into cave-running – something I didn’t really dare to do in SSP above Peaceful, because of the fear engendered by being alone (and it transpired that Kristal’s feelings on the matter were rather similar). But together, on Sanctuary, we had a blast, both of us feeling more emboldened by the presence of the other – both of us even resorted to “LEEROY JENKINS!” moments :D. And Kristal taught me her method for lighting up tunnels: Don’t place them on one side – place them to point to the way out

Kristal, standing on the nerdy wool structure that I’d built for her as a sappy surprise :) (She loved it)

Kristal, standing on the nerdy wool structure that I’d built for her as a sappy surprise 🙂 (She loved it)

Kristal set up home on Sanctuary, digging into a depression in the ground a few hundred blocks from my place, and I ended up spending a lot of time there with her. She started to build a big, black crow out of wool – when I saw the outlines of the wings being formed, I thought she was building a massive spider!

In a hole, in the ground, lived a little Crow…

In a hole, in the ground, lived a little Crow…

But one day, she was struggling to find inspiration with her home, and so I suggested that we gather supplies, plus as many bones as we could muster out of our independent inventories, and as soon as the sun got high enough to toast the zombies and skeletons, we’d spend the day looking for wolves to tame.

But the best-laid plans of mice and Minecrafters aft gang agley, and in our case, the wolf-hunt was pretty much abandoned when we came upon this:

If you’re into landscapes, you’d stop what you were doing if you encountered something like this…

If you’re into landscapes, you’d stop what you were doing if you encountered something like this…

We both fell head-over-heels for the location, with its eye-opening outcroppings and rock formations. Then, Kristal said something to me which made my heart leap: “Want to build a house here, together?” Once I’d got over the delighted shock of Kristal wanting to build a home with me (no matter how virtual), I accepted, gladly. First things first: we placed signs near the lake, and on top of the land bridge, marking out our territory, just in case anyone else fell in love with the area, like we’d done.

We set a warp – NewHouse – on top of the land bridge, and I built a little temporary shack, so that we could safely warp there without being molested by Minecraft’s denizens. And we had the idea of making a suspension bridge under the land bridge, using fence-posts in place of ropes. I had a crack at a prototype:

My attempt at a suspension bridge.

My attempt at a suspension bridge.

… which Kristal liked, but she suggested that we should go for a more “organic” feel, to complement the rocky outcroppings above it. I was slightly at a loss, because I wasn’t used to working without at least some sort of basic pattern in mind. But once Kristal explained her intentions, it came rather more easily, and resulted in a delightful structure.

Design Lead Kristal Crow finishing off one end of the suspension bridge. The bridge is shaped to closely match the outline of the stone above it.

Design Lead Kristal Crow finishing off one end of the suspension bridge. The bridge is shaped to closely match the outline of the stone above it.

As Kristal had more real-life experience with architecture and decoration, I gladly deferred to her as Design Lead. Between us, we hacked out the main “trunk” of the place – which by now, Kristal had named “Haven” – and, as you can see in the picture above, we had a temporary storage area and workshop, and we merged our inventories. A funny moment happened when Kristal threw down a bed for me near the chests – she blithely reassured me that there was no chance of having my slumber interrupted by monsters, even though it was open. When she disappeared for the night, I lay myself down on the bed… and found out just how wrong she was… 😀

(It actually happened again, back at my old place – every time I slept there alone, I was fine, but when both of us slept there, we were attacked!)

We didn’t have an actual home for quite a while, as we wanted to get the bridge and floor laid out first, although we had an idea for what was going to go where. The main trunk would house the living area, and the far end of the bridge would have the entrance hall to Haven – which ended up being completed first:

Haven takes shape: The entrance hall was finished first, though we threw down a mass of torches around the area to cut down on mob-spawning.

Haven takes shape: The entrance hall was finished first, though we threw down a mass of torches around the area to cut down on mob-spawning.

Between cavern runs, we slowly added to Haven’s structure and the surrounding areas. While Kristal built the main living area and entrance hall, resorting to the “Poke and Hope” school of architecture, I pootled around, helping out where I could. Over the course of the build, we each gained several wolves, and I felt that the hill next to the smaller section of the lake would be ideally suited for this application. Kristal took one look at that hill, and decided that it would be better suited as her Ninja Decorators, LLC office (I’d taken to calling her “Ninja Decorator” after she would sneak into my PretzelCast house and decorate while I wasn’t around :D). I groused a bit, but capitulated – and the wolves stayed in the Entrance Hall for a little while longer. To be fair, Kristal did do a great job with her office – and the pooches would get their own location later on.

Ninja Decorator Kristal Crow outside her brand-spanking-new office, which she stole from the wolves. Hope she can sleep at night…

Ninja Decorator Kristal Crow outside her brand-spanking-new office, which she stole from the wolves. Hope she can sleep at night…

Kristal, CEO of Ninja Decorators, LLC.

Kristal, CEO of Ninja Decorators, LLC.

Eventually, the main living area was completed, which became The House of Discombobulated Semantics (I shall say nothing as to the origin of the name itself…)

Sometimes, you can’t resist a little private joke.

Sometimes, you can’t resist a little private joke.

Haven gets a completed living area, replete with balcony.

Haven gets a completed living area, replete with balcony.

That main living area was designed to have guests: open and welcoming, with plenty to do (including an entertainment centre, and the almost-obligatory pool table)…

Haven’s main living area, inside The House of Discombobulated Semantics. Cake for everyone!

Haven’s main living area, inside The House of Discombobulated Semantics. Cake for everyone!

… whereas the bedroom was designed to be more personal and intimate. Kristal and I did have a disagreement during the bedroom’s construction: I’d wanted to put in a walk-in closet, like SatoriLove had done on Minecrap, whereas Kristal contended that it wasn’t necessary, because of the fact that clothes didn’t exist in the game. Eventually, we patched things up, and the bedroom remained without the closet:

The bedroom, with a water-feature where the closet was originally planned (Kristal’s idea was much better). And it’s a triple bed because we like to stretch out.

The bedroom, with a water-feature where the closet was originally planned (Kristal’s idea was so much better than mine). And it’s a triple bed because we like to stretch out.

The Entrance Hall itself was torn down and rebuilt by Kristal, and was made into something even better than the first version which had resided there:

The second version of Haven’s Entrance Hall was more in keeping with the rest of the structure (though Kristal hadn’t originally planned to use sandstone anywhere).

The second version of Haven’s Entrance Hall was more in keeping with the rest of the structure (though Kristal hadn’t originally planned to use sandstone anywhere).

… but we kept the sign I’d placed on the inside:

A welcoming message from the architects/owners.

A welcoming message from the architects/owners.

Kristal's Intuitive Storage System

Just off from the Entrance Hall was the Storage Room, featuring K.I.S.S. - Kristal's Intuitive Storage System - my ironic name for her arrangement of items, which I couldn't get the hang of for ages...

The Love Garden

The Love Garden, so named (by me) for the focal point: the ❤ heart, relocated from Kristal's original home.

Meanwhile, I was determined to give our wolves a home, so I knocked together a wooden castle – Chateau des Chiens – with two floors, and segregated “his-and-hers” sections for our respective canines:

Our wolves finally get a home of their own, with the construction of Chateau des Chiens. Thank goodness they don’t shed.

Our wolves finally get a home of their own, with the construction of Chateau des Chiens. Thank goodness they don’t shed.

Haven grew, becoming not just the building complex itself, but an entire town with an administrative building.

Top: The Town of Haven. Bottom: The Administrative Building.

Top: The Town of Haven. Bottom: The Administrative Building.

We went through a lot together, Kristal and I, as we played together on Pete’s little server. And we hardly ever saw anyone else on there… and that might have been what started Pete thinking about calling it a day with Minecraft. Money was getting a little tight for him, and there was little point for him in continuing to pay for the server. We’d had quite a long run-up to the end, but Kristal was reluctant to build anything new there, considering that it was going to be lost (though Pete did kindly make a backup of the world for us, in case we’re ever able to put it on a server of our own).

That said, Kristal did surprise me with an addition to Haven: The Minecraft Scribe Office – and she said that it had turned out better than her own office!

Thanks to Kristal, the Minecraft Scribe went up in the world… although under the main part of the Haven Building.

Thanks to Kristal, the Minecraft Scribe went up in the world… although under the main part of the Haven Building.

The Minecraft Scribe Office – where the magic happens.

The Minecraft Scribe Office – where the magic happens.

On Wednesday 19 October, at about 8pm Eastern, Kristal and I returned for one last time to the SMP version of Sanctuary before it was taken down forever. And it may seem silly, even to Minecrafters, to get so emotional about a virtual world composed entirely of pixels, but Sanctuary was where Kristal and I spent most of our time, getting to know and love each other. And for a short while, on Wednesday night, Sanctuary became our server, and we were going to miss it terribly. We wandered around the place, while talking (and crying) in Skype, recalling events which had happened during the lengthy construction phase:

  • Me, becoming frustrated by Kristal’s careful and considered approach to fighting spiders, pushed past her in a LEEROY manoeuvre;
  • Kristal’s need for glowstone during Pete’s two-week holiday, which resulted in us having to run Pete’s demonic multi-level dungeon, because we didn’t have a working Nether portal of our own (Kristal turned the air a delightful shade of blue while she worked the labyrinths);
  • Kristal tearing down her original woollen crow from her old house, so that she could rebuild it, at a much larger scale, above and behind Haven;
  • Kristal going on a mob-spawning spree after getting admin powers – fifty wolves accompanied us on a night hunt… most of them didn’t survive…

Turned out there was even one of the original two signs which we used to stake our claim:

I’d quite forgotten the sign was still there, actually…

I’d quite forgotten the sign was still there, actually…

I added a sign to the House of Discombobulated Semantics, even knowing that it wouldn’t be there for long:

A little sign-off to Sanctuary, and what it meant to Kristal and I.

A little sign-off to Sanctuary, and what it meant to Kristal and I.

And we couldn’t always trust ourselves to speak out loud, we were so overcome by the passing of Sanctuary. We had to resort to typing into the chat:

[Admins] thecrystalcrow: Goodbye, Sanctuary – I love you 😥

Kristal and I, getting all weepy over the impending demise of Sanctuary, as the sun rises for us one last time…

Kristal and I, getting all weepy over the impending demise of Sanctuary, as the sun rises for us one last time…

And we did love the place – and we’ll always be grateful to Pete Little for allowing us to play on his server in the first place. Maybe one day, the map from Sanctuary will live again, and Kristal and I can continue working on our place; although we both have the map, that we can use in SSP, neither of us wants to stay in there very long without the other.

Goodbye, Sanctuary – we hardly knew ye…

Goodbye, Sanctuary – we hardly knew ye…

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3 Responses to Sic Transit Gloria Sanctuary

  1. Mark Heuer says:

    Naww aren’t you two just the cutest minecrafters around. This is what gaming does, it brings people together. This just warms the heart right through

    Like

  2. SteveO GameO says:

    very cute story.. apply to speak at minecon 2013. still seeking speakers.

    Like

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