It was beautiful, the most extensive and organized A.S.S. I’d ever seen. Modeled after dwarven mines, it was sturdy yet intricate, and it made my life so much easier. Everything was exactly where I needed it to be. I could focus on building and exploring the highest cliffs and lowest ravines to my heart's content, and it was all thanks to my A.S.S. Run out of cobblestone; go check out the A.S.S. Unsure what to do with extra food supplies; chuck it in the A.S.S. In need of some iron ore; I’m sure you know where it was stored.
But now it’s all a distant memory. I haven’t seen my A.S.S. in half a year. Unfortunately, in merging my Mojang and Microsoft accounts, it got caught up in the middle. Now I can’t seem to find it, no matter how hard I look.
That’s not to say it’s a bad thing. The whole point of Minecraft is starting new worlds again and again and finding new ways to enjoy them. I’m currently back to basics in a world enjoying all the casual delights of creating my first farm and finding my first beehive. It’s how Minecraft should be played. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss my Automated Sorting System.
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If anyone is unfamiliar with what an A.S.S. is, then rest assured it’s not as scary as it sounds. Underneath my Minecraft base, I had carefully crafted a storage room, only accessible by descending a mossy staircase. Once you got about halfway down the stairs, the beauty of my creation could be seen in all its glory: a massive room split into two halves, with three levels of chests lining the walls. Open any of the chests, and you would find a single resource carefully arranged in neat piles. It was storage heaven.
In homage to the dwarven mines of Lord of the Rings, I had patterned the floor with cracked stone that slowly filled with water, while the ceilings were adorned with dark wooden arches and lanterns hanging from rusted chains – both glowing faintly in the dim lighting. Boy, did it look cool.
However, hidden behind the wall of chests and cracked stone floors, an intricate system was at work.
At its most simple, an Automated Sorting System is like a conveyor belt where mechanical grabbers pick resources off the belt and put them in boxes. You drop mixed resources into a chest, the resources are sucked into a water pipe, and Redstone-powered hoppers grab specific resources as they flow past in the pipe. It’s straightforward in theory but fiddly and complex in practice. Which is why my A.S.S. was so impressive.
I had hidden all the complex mechanisms of my A.S.S. in the walls of the storage room, behind the glowing lanterns and chests. These were the chambers where I hid the paths of Redstone that would trigger when a hopper recognized an item it was programmed to sort. The hopper would then pull the item from the water pipe and place it in the corresponding chest. If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is, but don’t be scared. While it took some trial and error initially, it’s pretty easy to replicate, even if I had to do this for every single block in the game.
It took me half a year to complete my A.S.S. in Minecraft’s survival mode but what I was left with was probably the most impressive thing I’ve ever built in the game. Even now it’s gone, I still think about my A.S.S., how useful it was, and even if I would ever venture to recreate it. But I have no regrets.
Incredibly, these kinds of builds are by far the most junior in the long list of masterfully intricate uses for Redstone. The possibilities for this dust are limitless, thanks to the great minds that have been pumping the Minecraft machine full of ideas for over a decade. Someone even made a functioning PC in Minecraft. I can’t compete with that level of genius.
Gone but not forgotten
Now I’ve been left A.S.S.-less, I’ve realized that hyper-organization isn’t the key to enjoying Minecraft. I had automated my farms, mining, and organization, which meant there was nothing left for me to do. As long as I logged on, my world could fully function without my help. I was no longer needed.
Thanks to my new world, I remember how much fun it is to interact with everything, from planting trees to searching for Slimes. Making incredible structures isn’t as rewarding when you have all the resources available at a moment's notice. It may be frustrating to run out of blocks mid-build, but it makes finishing the final project more satisfying.
In the meantime, I’ll stick to my medieval Minecraft village. My most recent project is a beehive sanctuary, which should keep me busy for now. I don’t think I’ll be playing with Redstone anytime soon. Plus, the number of shovels I would need to dig out that A.S.S still makes me shudder.
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Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications.
Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased.