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Jed1314

Period Appropriate Transport + Logistics

102 posts in this topic

I know there are already many railway suggestions, but I feel that a new post is needed as this is a fairly comprehensive suggestion, which has been thoroughly researched. This suggestion is based off of the research I put into transport and mine logistics in the pre renaissance world, so all of this is historically feasible and was used in the period which TFC covers.

The Research + Findings:

Pre Dark Age Systems: There was (unsurprisingly) very little info as regards the methods of transportation most commonly used for the transport of goods within mine based environments, nonetheless, this is what I could find:

Obviously, horse and cart systems existed (as they pretty much always have).

The Greeks were the first people to be documented using any kind of rail system. They were found to use an "engraved rail" known more commonly as a "rutway". These were used in conjunction with carts to improve the speed of travel, but were not widely implemented as many Greek roads were dirt based, and rutways require a stone surface. Their next appearance is on Roman roads, where they were implemented in the full size roads. These largely disappear after the fall of rome. The next appearance of a "rail like" system does not appear for many centuries after the dark ages (I will explain later).

After these early systems, transport (as well as most other technology) regresses as the west is plunged into relative anarchy for centuries. It is not until the Medieval period we would again see any significant transport infrastructure.

Early Medieval Systems:

In the early middle ages, the horse and cart proved as prolific as in any other "pre engine" era. Aside from this, the "windlass" was used in mine environments to haul ore (which was placed in buckets) up from the mines. The buckets were initially loaded by workers carrying the ore, but their job was soon made easier by the invention of the wheelbarrow. This was the most significant advancement in haulage technology, until the 16th/17th century

The Controversial Period:

This is where things are going to get a bit iffy. In the 16th/17th centuries (aka 1501 - 1699 for those of you who aren't too good with "centuries") brought advancement yet again to the transport world. Beasts of burden were still used (as no motors existed obviously) in this period, however, in places such as Germany and England, wooden rail systems began appearing in mines. These rails generally carried wooden carts with either wooden or metal wheels. They were pulled by beasts of burden (such as oxen and horses) up mineshafts, while gravity was used for the descent. These wooden rails did the job, but were fairly high friction and had poor long term durability.

There were no records of metal rails until they were first made by Richard Reynolds in 1767. This is outside of the games time frame. End of Story.

Basic Premise: Overhaul the transport of goods and players in TFC to more closely match the historical truth.

New Features: Carts Because people can’t carry enough

Roads A road is simply any compacted or hard surface which is placed specifically to speed traffic over that area.

Rutways A rutway is effectively an engraved rail, used to improve travel speed with cart based transport

Windlass A windlass can be used to haul back your ore from the depths, without needing to make many repeat journeys.

Wooden Rails Research indicates that metal rails simply do not fit in this mods time period. Wooden ones on the other hand ...

Use of existing features: RocksAny stone block will now also function as a road

Minecarts Will still exist in an altered form

Rails Will also still exist, but in a new form

Buckets Will be more useful !

Carts:

A cart is made entirely out of wood (including the wheels). It can be placed anywhere and will travel along any flat, level surface. It is pulled by the player (or beast of burden-see section) On any non “hard†block, it will travel at ½ walking speed, on any “road†blocks, it will travel at ¾ walking speed and on a rutway it will travel at full walking speed (but is bound to the rutway until it ends).

Right clicking the rear of the cart will open a chest like inventory screen. Right clicking the "handle" part of the cart will put the player in control of it.

Road:

A road will not be any special “road†block, but any hard surface, such as stone or wood. Carts will travel faster on “roads†when compared to bare ground.

Note: Due to the pending construction overhauls, this could change drastically. For example, cobble with mortar might be the only effective road surface, along with stone bricks. This remains to be seen and depends on what is implemented.

Rutway:

Suited to long distance trade and similar tasks where a low maintenance, cheap, easy mass transit system is required, rutways are engraved tracks in stone in which carts can run. This improves their travel speed to full walking speed. They require 0 maintenance, but must go in a straight line and can’t travel up or down. They are made using a new configuration in the chisel.

Windlass:

The windlass is a mechanical device, used to transmit a twisting or turning motion into a vertical one. In practice, it can be used to haul buckets up vertical shafts (such as in wells). In TFC, a windlass would be crafted from wood. Once crafted and placed above the shaft, the user would right click it with rope to feed rope onto the windlass. Once the rope is long enough, a bucket may be placed on the other end. This bucket will appear at the bottom of the rope, and when right clicked will display a chest like interface. Once out of the mine, the player may right click the windlass to raise the bucket, with the contents, one block at a time to the surface. A metal bucket could also be craftable, providing a larger storage area than the wooden bucket.

Rope: Rope would be made from the more fiberous plants to be implemented in the agriculture updates, such as flax and hemp

Rails:

The current rail system will be replaced with wooden rails. There will be no powered rails or powered cart, as this is outwith the time frame for TFC. A rail system will be comprised of two components:

Wooden Rails:

Rails will be crafted in a similar way as they currently are, but with wood. These rails will be cheap, but will need maintained as they will degrade every time a cart passes over them. They perform a different function to the rutway, as they are more suitable for mines, as they are able to go up and down blocks, like traditional rails, but need maintenence, making them less suitable for permanent routes. The need for maintenance will be indicated by the visible degredation of the rails. As a piece neared the end of it's lifespan, it would look visibly damaged. Once the rail reaches the end of it's lifespan, it must be replaced, not repaired.

Minecart:

There will be 2 (or 3 if beasts of burden were implemented) different types of minecart. (If possible, minecarts should be linkable):

Wooden Cart:This is the most basic cart, and is crafted from wood, with metal wheels. It can only carry items, and displays an interface similar to a chest when right clicked

Metal Cart: This is the same as the wooden cart, but with more storage space. It is crafted using the same recipe as the current cart and is effectively the same.

BoB Dependant Harness Cart:This is used to harness the BoB to the cart system, allowing them to pull it up hills.

Beasts of Burden (BoB):

Before I go any further, I need to point out that this is not a main part of the suggestion as Dunk has made clear that programming these is too hard to be practical. Nonetheless …

Beasts of burden will be Horses (or possibly Oxen), used to pull carts and minecarts. If horses were implemented, they could also be ridden. Oxen could easily be bred from the “Aurochs†mob which is being introduced, meaning there would be more motivation to domesticate and breed these animals.

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I like anything that improves upon the transporation system in TFCraft. When mines have to be spread so far apart, it only makes sense that something like your suggestion be needed. I especially like the idea of windlass, as it could greatly improve the efficiency of a mine in SMP. I feel like the bucket should have to cost some metal though, like it couldn't be made out of wood to haul a heavy load up afterall, right?

Question though: Where is the rope coming from?

I'd have to also disagree with using wood for the roadways. Wood would rot and give with a load on it and would be easier to use (afterall, you don't have to build a bridge if the blocks just hover in the air, unlike cobble). I think it'd have to be stone/cobblestone/equivelants only.

Last questions: how would you know if a wooden rail is in need of "maintence" (and in that regard, what would you do to maintain it?)? Would there be a visual sign it's falling apart, or would you just roll around on them until they start breaking out from under you? Would maintain them by repairing or just flat out replacing?

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Wooden roads are plausible, as i see many wooden roads today in Amurika, and some are very old. But, some process like sealing it with sap would be needed

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Once again you come out with a well researched, properly formatted post that is both balanced and useful.

Never change, my friend.

Incidentally, I believe bioxx said that mortar will be coming out with the construction overhaul. Perhaps regular rocks would be a poor road surface, but mortared cobble would be just as effective as, say, stone brick?

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I like anything that improves upon the transporation system in TFCraft. When mines have to be spread so far apart, it only makes sense that something like your suggestion be needed. I especially like the idea of windlass, as it could greatly improve the efficiency of a mine in SMP. I feel like the bucket should have to cost some metal though, like it couldn't be made out of wood to haul a heavy load up afterall, right?

Question though: Where is the rope coming from?

I'd have to also disagree with using wood for the roadways. Wood would rot and give with a load on it and would be easier to use (afterall, you don't have to build a bridge if the blocks just hover in the air, unlike cobble). I think it'd have to be stone/cobblestone/equivelants only.

Last questions: how would you know if a wooden rail is in need of "maintence" (and in that regard, what would you do to maintain it?)? Would there be a visual sign it's falling apart, or would you just roll around on them until they start breaking out from under you? Would maintain them by repairing or just flat out replacing?

Wood roads have been used before, but nonetheless, I acknowledge you are right, people would abuse the floating blocks to work around needing bridges.

Excellent point about the rope, I have ammended the OP to explain the crafting of it.

The bucket for the windlass could be wood for low capacity and metal for a higher capacity, that seem like a reasonable compromise ?

My intention is that rails would show visual signs of wear and would need to be replaced, not repaired. That said, I didn't make this clear in the OP, so I have now ammended it :)

Wooden roads are plausible, as i see many wooden roads today in Amurika, and some are very old. But, some process like sealing it with sap would be needed

Acting as a natural wood treatment ? I like this, but it would be overly complicated, my idea with the roads was to minimise the need for extra blocks to make it easier to implement :)

Once again you come out with a well researched, properly formatted post that is both balanced and useful.

Never change, my friend.

Incidentally, I believe bioxx said that mortar will be coming out with the construction overhaul. Perhaps regular rocks would be a poor road surface, but mortared cobble would be just as effective as, say, stone brick?

Why, thank you ! :)

Yeah, that makes sense. I amn't that familiar with the planned construction changes, which is why I didn't really mention them. I have added a note to the roads section explaining this :)

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I did a little reasurch and I think you missed an important link in transport. The sled! Before the wheel people used sleds to carry things. In fact sleds not wagons were used in Roman mines to carry ore out.

Wagons kinda evolved out of these first sleds, the first being little more than wheels and a axel slapped on the bottom of what once was a sled.

I think it would be cool to impliment sleds that could carry a lot and be cheap to make but would slow anyone down who was trying to pull it.

Edit: Found a wagon mod http://www.minecraftforum.net/topic/591027-125-cart-mod-v121/

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Uhmmm... The time period i believe is A.D., so wheels and wagons would have been around a while...

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Once again you come out with a well researched, properly formatted post that is both balanced and useful.

I agree I haven't seen any of your topics but now I NEED to. This is unarguable the best and most organized topic I've seen posted. The research is astounding. You get my thanks.
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Oh, by the way the spoiler tag in "Beasts of Burden or BoB is not working

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I did a little reasurch and I think you missed an important link in transport. The sled! Before the wheel people used sleds to carry things. In fact sleds not wagons were used in Roman mines to carry ore out.

Wagons kinda evolved out of these first sleds, the first being little more than wheels and a axel slapped on the bottom of what once was a sled.

I think it would be cool to impliment sleds that could carry a lot and be cheap to make but would slow anyone down who was trying to pull it.

Edit: Found a wagon mod http://www.minecraft...-cart-mod-v121/

I know of the wagon mod, but I still think that it has a place in the default TFC along with the other additions listed here :) As far as the sleds go, you are quite right :) However, as this is not solely a transport mod, I felt it would be inappropriate to go into such depth. This is also made more complex by the fact that transport evolved very differently in different places. Take Mesoamerica as an example. Despite massively advanced architectural skills, the aztecs and other similar civilizations used canals and not the wheel. Go figure :P

Uhmmm... The time period i believe is A.D., so wheels and wagons would have been around a while...

It actually spans many thousands of years, roughly from the period 3.4 million BC (yep, the beginning of the stone age) right through to 1600. Of course, one could equally argue it spans far less time (as the stone age only ended in 6000bc), but that is a largely arbitrary decision as the millions of years preceding this brought little technological advancement, in terms of tools.

I agree I haven't seen any of your topics but now I NEED to. This is unarguable the best and most organized topic I've seen posted. The research is astounding. You get my thanks.

Thanks a lot mate :) I'm surprised you haven't seen any of my other topics, I'm somewhat prolific on the forums :P

Oh, by the way the spoiler tag in "Beasts of Burden or BoB is not working

Thanks for that too, fixed it ;):)

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The stone age was most definitely not that long... I think your research has brought up the entirety of humans using tools, as civilization is only thousands of years old, and the stone age ended as specialization began, which is a blurred line btw..

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The stone age was most definitely not that long... I think your research has brought up the entirety of humans using tools, as civilization is Emily thousands of years old, and the stone age ended as specialization began, which is a blurred line btw..

Actually, the figure I quoted is the earliest carbon dated example of bone showing signs of stone tool usage. Since the stone age simply refers to the period where we used stone tools, this makes it the earliest quotable date for the beginning of the stone age. The end of the stone age was marked by the first sustained usage of metal by people in a certain area, not societal advancements such as specialisation and town/city building :)

Edit: No longer on a phone, so the wall of text will grow :)

The earliest sustained use of copper dates to around 6000bc and can be traced to the middle east (and also parts of Asia I believe).

Here in Europe, we entered the copper age at around 4000bc. In Australia, they left the stone age just over 300 years ago, when we colonized it :P (I'm not joking)

In fact, to this day there are tribes in the rainforests of South America who still use stone tools (placing them in the stone age ;))

Scary to think how much we have advanced in such a short time.

2nd boredom edit: Coincidently, limited specialisation actually occured during the stone age, particularly among the skilled stone knappers, who would often trade their superior tools for goods. This has been supported by the finding of one regions stone type found in areas many many miles away. The findings indicate that, due to the superior quality of the stone from these areas and the knapping work on them, other early humans were willing to trade for these superior tools.

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Thanks a lot mate :) I'm surprised you haven't seen any of my other topics, I'm somewhat prolific on the forums :P

I usually read the first 3 suggestions. the last three to get a suggestion. Now I must hunt down your topics!
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I usually read the first 3 suggestions. the last three to get a suggestion. Now I must hunt down your topics!

It shouldn't be too hard :):P

If you want, I could PM you the links :P

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Actually, the figure I quoted is the earliest carbon dated example of bone showing signs of stone tool usage. Since the stone age simply refers to the period where we used stone tools, this makes it the earliest quotable date for the beginning of the stone age. The end of the stone age was marked by the first sustained usage of metal by people in a certain area, not societal advancements such as specialisation and town/city building :)

Edit: No longer on a phone, so the wall of text will grow :)

The earliest sustained use of copper dates to around 6000bc and can be traced to the middle east (and also parts of Asia I believe).

Here in Europe, we entered the copper age at around 4000bc. In Australia, they left the stone age just over 300 years ago, when we colonized it :P (I'm not joking)

In fact, to this day there are tribes in the rainforests of South America who still use stone tools (placing them in the stone age ;))

Scary to think how much we have advanced in such a short time.

2nd boredom edit: Coincidently, limited specialisation actually occured during the stone age, particularly among the skilled stone knappers, who would often trade their superior tools for goods. This has been supported by the finding of one regions stone type found in areas many many miles away. The findings indicate that, due to the superior quality of the stone from these areas and the knapping work on them, other early humans were willing to trade for these superior tools.

Mesopotamia is as far as we know the first civilized area in which copper had been used. Nomads were thought to have started growing plants, and in the fertile crescent this did not require hundreds of workers. True stone tools as used in the context of TFCraft only emerged during and slightly after the late Nomadic tribes began to settle. In northern europe, especially in your area, the Normans (a.k.a. northern french) along with the northern brits were skilled iron smith's, before even the Romans had come into existence. and then come the Egyptian's who basically made copper working a minute science. Kind of sad, but this does come from my memory... :/
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Mesopotamia is as far as we know the first civilized area in which copper had been used. Nomads were thought to have started growing plants, and in the fertile crescent this did not require hundreds of workers. True stone tools as used in the context of TFCraft only emerged during and slightly after the late Nomadic tribes began to settle. In northern europe, especially in your area, the Normans (a.k.a. northern french) along with the northern brits were skilled iron smith's, before even the Romans had come into existence. and then come the Egyptian's who basically made copper working a minute science. Kind of sad, but this does come from my memory... :/

Yes, we are both in agreement that the middle east was the first area where the use of copper became widespread. Define true stone tools ? I would argue that any stone, shaped to perform a task or specific set of tasks would be a stone tool. In this sense (and the academic sense) the stone age began at or around 3.4million BC because this is the first evidence we have of shaped stone being used for a purpose. Normans did not actually exist until the 9th/10th centuary AD as Normans are descendants of Viking invaders and the native Franks in the region of France now known as "Normandy". While it is certainly true that iron was in use in Britain and Gaul before the rise of the Roman Empire, and certainly before Caesar began his conquests, it was not particularly common before the foundation of Rome (Around 750 BC as opposed to the date commonly accepted for the widespread use of iron in Gaul 500BC, while iron age technology only reached Britain at around the same time of 750BC). It is generally accepted that iron technology traveled north west, introduced to Europe in regions of Italy (where it was present as early as 1100BC). The beginning of the iron age was even earlier in other regions, Greek scholars indicated the Iron age may have begun there as early as 1200. To find the first examples of widespread Iron working, we must again look to the Middle east, where iron was worked as early as 1300 BC. While the Egyptians were indeed skilled copper workers, their weapons transitioned to Bronze along with other surrounding nations, in order to maintain technological equality in combat :)

As a side note, India has an impressive (and often forgotten) history of metallurgical technology. Archaeological findings suggest the technology for iron forging and smelting may date back to 1600BC.

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Mostly like your ideas, but rails you have to constantly replace. NO interest at all. Some people build large transport networks with rails, me included sometimes, and having rails I have to track down and replace all the time is just dumb.

Another thing about your entire post is, it massively assumes that time and progression of technology would progress exactly the same as it has on earth. There is however, thankfully, no religion in TFC which would have a massive effect on technological growth. The dark ages for instance, a time when religion was used heavyhandedly to stomp out technology. In a Fantasy world without religion the dark ages wouldn't have taken place and 400 years of almost no growth in knowledge could have put us in space in like 1500 instead of the 1900s; as a for instance.

I could see 3 stages of tracks used in your idea actually. Wooden tracks, reinforced wooden tracks, and metal tracks. Only with no track decays, it is TOTALLY unnecessary for many reasons. CPU cycles to keep track of it, the agrivation of constantly messing with yet another part of your infrastructure all the time, and so on.

Wooden tracks - Easy to make, wood is readily renewable as a resource in TFC with saplings. Carts move slow on this track, half of the default minecraft track speed.

Reinforced wooden tracks - These are wooden tracks with metal sheets placed over the rail surfaces, I think bronze tier alloys would fit best for this. Carts can move 90% of regular minecraft track speed on these.

Metal tracks - These require steel to make, I realize that most people are under the impression that by the time you get iron and can make steel/black steel/blue steel your finished with TFC, but their narrow minded and wrong. Minecraft is about building PERIOD, no matter how much you mod it. TFC is about making surviving more of a challenge, but in the end you survive to build. SO, after my rant, steel for metal tracks and need hardwood for the timbers; all woods with over a certain hardness characteristic. These are for transport networks and connecting the cities on your servers together. Carts will travel at 150% normal minecraft track speed on these.

Finally, don't assume that 3.4 million BC is the stone age. The carbon dating method has been proven massively inaccurate so many times i have no idea why people still refer to its numbers as foundation law for life, other than they are clinging to it hoping people will forget that its not accurate at all. People are throwing around dates in this thread like anybody here or the people who wrote the Wikipedia they read were alive thousands of years ago. :P But, as explained above using earths timeline to define TFC is just silly.

Otherwise i like the ideas, just the lets make rails so tedious that people soon realize that walking and carrying your junk is a better method of travel, doesn't sit with me.

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Finally, don't assume that 3.4 million BC is the stone age. The carbon dating method has been proven massively inaccurate so many times i have no idea why people still refer to its numbers as foundation law for life, other than they are clinging to it hoping people will forget that its not accurate at all. People are throwing around dates in this thread like anybody here or the people who wrote the Wikipedia they read were alive thousands of years ago. :P But, as explained above using earths timeline to define TFC is just silly.

3.4mya is the stone age. The Paleolithic, to be precise (old stone age). It lasted a very, very, very long time, and then came the mesolithic, which also lasted a long, long, long time, and then we got the neolithic, which started around 12kya with the start of the current interglacial and agriculture.

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Also, carbon dating in and of itself is not inaccurate. The following are reason for carbon dating errors:

1. Contamination of the sample by pretty much anything else. That 500 year old bone you have got rained on while being transported? Contaminated. Lab assistant sneezed on it? Contaminated. The reason we like to use teeth for carbon dating is because it's very hard to contaminate the inside of a tooth. Tiny scrap of vegetable matter got included with the sample? Contaminated.

2. Raw radiocarbon dates are all wrong, by about 3% if I recall correctly. When the system was originally made, an inaccurate number was used for the decay rate of isotopic carbon. Later, when the error was found, thousands upon thousands of papers had already used the inaccurate measure, so, instead of going back and redoing everything, we continue to use the system that was already in place. That is why it is important to distinguish between raw radiocarbon dates and corrected/adjusted radiocarbon dates -- one takes into account the error, the other doesn't. However, for certain applications, you don't need a corrected date. For example, if I'm trying to determine if the bones of this caucasian male I've found in Newfoundland are from before or after Colombus accidentally ran into North America, and they come back being 200 years old, it doesn't matter whether they're 206 years old or 194 years old -- they're not anywhere near the age range I'm interested in.

3. Diet can drastically affect how old radiocarbon dating says bones are. The one example that immediately springs to mind (which is the example a professor used) was there was this monastery, and in the monastery crypt/graveyard there were the bones of monks going back hundreds of years. For some reason these bones were being examined, and it was noted that many of them displayed signs of syphilis. Now, I haven't heard anything recently, but at least up until but a little recently there was a huge debate going on about whether syphilis originated in the Old World or the New World. These monks' bones were radiocarbon dated and they came back as being older than the 1490s, which would mean the monks had syphilis before Columbus blundered into the New World. However upon further research, it was determined that the monks' diet consisted largely of fish, and for some reason I can't remember a diet consisting largely of fish will make radiocarbon dated bones appear to be older than they actually are. Apparently something about living underwater alters the carbon isotopic ratios.

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Mostly like your ideas, but rails you have to constantly replace. NO interest at all. Some people build large transport networks with rails, me included sometimes, and having rails I have to track down and replace all the time is just dumb.

Another thing about your entire post is, it massively assumes that time and progression of technology would progress exactly the same as it has on earth. There is however, thankfully, no religion in TFC which would have a massive effect on technological growth. The dark ages for instance, a time when religion was used heavyhandedly to stomp out technology. In a Fantasy world without religion the dark ages wouldn't have taken place and 400 years of almost no growth in knowledge could have put us in space in like 1500 instead of the 1900s; as a for instance.

I could see 3 stages of tracks used in your idea actually. Wooden tracks, reinforced wooden tracks, and metal tracks. Only with no track decays, it is TOTALLY unnecessary for many reasons. CPU cycles to keep track of it, the agrivation of constantly messing with yet another part of your infrastructure all the time, and so on.

Wooden tracks - Easy to make, wood is readily renewable as a resource in TFC with saplings. Carts move slow on this track, half of the default minecraft track speed.

Reinforced wooden tracks - These are wooden tracks with metal sheets placed over the rail surfaces, I think bronze tier alloys would fit best for this. Carts can move 90% of regular minecraft track speed on these.

Metal tracks - These require steel to make, I realize that most people are under the impression that by the time you get iron and can make steel/black steel/blue steel your finished with TFC, but their narrow minded and wrong. Minecraft is about building PERIOD, no matter how much you mod it. TFC is about making surviving more of a challenge, but in the end you survive to build. SO, after my rant, steel for metal tracks and need hardwood for the timbers; all woods with over a certain hardness characteristic. These are for transport networks and connecting the cities on your servers together. Carts will travel at 150% normal minecraft track speed on these.

Finally, don't assume that 3.4 million BC is the stone age. The carbon dating method has been proven massively inaccurate so many times i have no idea why people still refer to its numbers as foundation law for life, other than they are clinging to it hoping people will forget that its not accurate at all. People are throwing around dates in this thread like anybody here or the people who wrote the Wikipedia they read were alive thousands of years ago. :P But, as explained above using earths timeline to define TFC is just silly.

Otherwise i like the ideas, just the lets make rails so tedious that people soon realize that walking and carrying your junk is a better method of travel, doesn't sit with me.

You are only half right about carbon dating. It's absolute accuracy is limited to around 45,000 years in the past. This is because we do not have reliable records of atmospheric levels of carbon to compensate for the variation in these levels. However, within the 45,000 year time frame, carbon dating is still more than reasonably accurate. Where does your information to the contrary come from ?

Large rail based transport networks are exactly what I am trying to eliminate. These could easily be replaced by horse drawn cart rutways within my system, so you are not losing your transport methods, it is merely being exchanged for something more period appropriate.

The entire idea of rail in this suggestion is that it is (as it would have been historically) a temporary measure, placed to aid in the excavation of large scale ore deposits. Nothing more.

The suggestion that, without religion, we would have gotten to space in the 1500's is frankly ridiculous (even to a devoted and firm atheist). Here is an example. Did you know that the Greeks invented both mechanical computers AND the steam engine. Both of these fantastic technologies disappeared from the face of the earth. This was not due to intollerance from religious sects, but due to a large number of factors which contributed to them both being regarded as toys or curiosities and then being forgotten. You might as well turn around and say "without religion, we would all have grown tentacles and would now reside on the planet we will know as Blark in the outer reaches of the universe." .. Ok, perhaps not that extreme.. But the point still stands:

1) Bioxx himself assigned a "400 year no go zone" in this current timeline

2) Speculating as to the possible enlightenment of humanity is a pointless thing to do, we will never know what would have happened in a world without anything. The complexity of every single event and how they intertwine with future events is so beyond the capacity of the human brain, it doesn't even bear thinking about.

3) Religion was not used to "stamp out technology" in the dark ages. We did a mighty fine job of that ourselves, with the sack of rome and abandonment of all the technologies they brought with them. Look at the Eastern Roman empire. They didn't go through any such "dark age" and I don't see any space rockets in Byzantine tapestries, do you ?

Also, I use wikipedia as a reference of last resort. Most of my information is drawn from "The Encyclopaedia Britannica", a far more reliable and more regulated source of information. Don't be so presumptuous. Any information I do take from wikipedia is strictly taken from sections which can supply reliable references, which I check where possible. Some people may be lax with their research. Generally, I am not one of them.

3.4mya is the stone age. The Paleolithic, to be precise (old stone age). It lasted a very, very, very long time, and then came the mesolithic, which also lasted a long, long, long time, and then we got the neolithic, which started around 12kya with the start of the current interglacial and agriculture.

Thanks. I really should have been more specific and stated the names of the eras. I suspect my general terms undermined my argument somewhat :S

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Also, carbon dating in and of itself is not inaccurate. The following are reason for carbon dating errors:

1. Contamination of the sample by pretty much anything else. That 500 year old bone you have got rained on while being transported? Contaminated. Lab assistant sneezed on it? Contaminated. The reason we like to use teeth for carbon dating is because it's very hard to contaminate the inside of a tooth. Tiny scrap of vegetable matter got included with the sample? Contaminated.

2. Raw radiocarbon dates are all wrong, by about 3% if I recall correctly. When the system was originally made, an inaccurate number was used for the decay rate of isotopic carbon. Later, when the error was found, thousands upon thousands of papers had already used the inaccurate measure, so, instead of going back and redoing everything, we continue to use the system that was already in place. That is why it is important to distinguish between raw radiocarbon dates and corrected/adjusted radiocarbon dates -- one takes into account the error, the other doesn't. However, for certain applications, you don't need a corrected date. For example, if I'm trying to determine if the bones of this caucasian male I've found in Newfoundland are from before or after Colombus accidentally ran into North America, and they come back being 200 years old, it doesn't matter whether they're 206 years old or 194 years old -- they're not anywhere near the age range I'm interested in.

3. Diet can drastically affect how old radiocarbon dating says bones are. The one example that immediately springs to mind (which is the example a professor used) was there was this monastery, and in the monastery crypt/graveyard there were the bones of monks going back hundreds of years. For some reason these bones were being examined, and it was noted that many of them displayed signs of syphilis. Now, I haven't heard anything recently, but at least up until but a little recently there was a huge debate going on about whether syphilis originated in the Old World or the New World. These monks' bones were radiocarbon dated and they came back as being older than the 1490s, which would mean the monks had syphilis before Columbus blundered into the New World. However upon further research, it was determined that the monks' diet consisted largely of fish, and for some reason I can't remember a diet consisting largely of fish will make radiocarbon dated bones appear to be older than they actually are. Apparently something about living underwater alters the carbon isotopic ratios.

The defence of science is a just and noble cause :P +1 to you :)

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Thanks. I really should have been more specific and stated the names of the eras. I suspect my general terms undermined my argument somewhat :S

You were making an argument? I didn't notice. I was just being pedantic. Gotta justify my degree somehow.

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You were making an argument? I didn't notice. I was just being pedantic. Gotta justify my degree somehow.

Argument isn't really the right term, discussion perhaps :P There were several people questioning the 3.4 million BC date for the stone age, I disagreed.

What is the degree in, if you don't mind me asking ?

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I will be receiving a degree in Anthropology.

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I will be receiving a degree in Anthropology.

I'm guessing from the impressive knowledge of carbon dating and such that you have a particular interest in Archaeological Anthropology ?

I'm an Engineer myself, but it'll be another 3 years before I have my masters :S

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