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Sweetening The Autism Simulator

In open-world games such as Elder Scrolls (Oblivion, Skyrim, whatever), MMORPGs, and Minecraft, I oft reach a point after extended play where I ask myself, "what's the point of all this?"  Ultimately, what the player is doing is accumulating, but to what end?
  • In a single player RPG such as the Elder Scrolls series, it's typically with the idea you're going to complete the story.
  • In an MMORPG, motivations to play tend to vary from player to player.
  • In Minecraft, the reason tends to be to build something cool.  
In each case, once you lose interest in the goal, the appeal of the accumulation mechanic tends to fail: why should you care about virtual "wealth" if you have nothing good to do with it but watch it grow?

All is not lost for Minecraft, however.  With some subtle game-developer-like tweaks to the Yogbox, I think I can improve the situation a bit.

Modding Minecraft Like A Pro

Beginning with the Yogbox, it begins with knowing how to jailbreak from your already jailbroken platform.  As a Minecolony developer explains, Minecraft is a game which breaks all the mods for it every time they release a new version.  (Despite what you may have heard on /v/, new versions are still being made for the game, and quite regularly)  Once you understand that in order to mod Minecraft, you need mods developed for the specific version of the Minecraft client you are using, it's actually quite easy to mod the game.

The Yogbox/Technic versions are essentially forcing the use of an earlier Minecraft version while they wait for all the authors of all the mods to update before they roll out the next version.  If you really want to use the new stuff right away, you're going to need to ditch Technic, which (as of the time of this writing) only supports up to Minecraft 1.2.3.

Now that you're doing your own modding, the first thing to grab is the essentials, modloader and forge.  These two are basically the foundation mods in which the greater majority of Minecraft modworks are built, and should be manually installed into the minecraft.jar as per the instructions.

Minecraft itself can be found in %appdata%/YourUserNameHere/roaming/.minecraft, and the jar file is located in the /bin/ directory.  Winrar is what I use to open the jar archive.  While you're in there, be sure to delete the META-INF directory from the jar file - I think that contains the verification data used by Minecraft to assure it's an authentic "unmodded" copy.

Now, you can pretty much install any mod you want by copying that mod into the .minecraft/mods directory, however, it's worth peeking into each mod .zip file and assuring that, at the root of the zip file, there are the .class files that would normally go directly into the Minecraft.jar if you were not using modloader.  If that is not the way that the specific mod's .zip file is organized, there's more to do in installing this mod than simply copying it into the /mods/ directory.  Of the mods I mention I am using here, only Modloader, Forge, Millenaire, Keep Items On Death, and Better Dungeons require I do more than copy them to /mods/ to get them running.

Conflicts between popular mods for Minecraft resources are rare, but can happen.  In that case, you're going to want to choose which mods you want to use.

Choosing My Prime Minecraft Mix

I started with a choice of two large, core mods I know are compatible with each other, Thaumcraft and Millenaire.

I had a chance to play with Thaumcraft and found it to be a great mod that, unlike mods like Buildcraft or Railcraft, keeps the medieval feeling of Minecraft (especially with Millenaire installed), while creating a great deal of cool stuff.  With the magic of Thaumaturgy at your disposal, your little minecraft grunt will be granted tools that make him practically a demigod.  It's a bit exploitative, sure, but this is balanced out with the introduction of taint, a perversion of the natural order which will come to corrupt the world if you don't temper your meddling with the energies of life with caution.  There's a little bit of a learning curve to it, consider a brief read of a few pages on the official wiki to be mandatory.

I mentioned Millenaire at length in the previous entry.  In short, it adds NPC villages to the game that you can barter with and help to grow.

For basic GUI essentials, Inventory Tweaks and More Stackables both eliminate a bit of the headache of managing items in Minecraft, and are hard to do without.  Similarly, Rei's Minimap is an effective, well-featured, and generally compatible-with-everything minimap.

KeepItemsOnDeath does what it says, preventing desperate dashes back to your death point to recover items.  (Currently I'm playing on hardcore mode, so that's sort of pointless to have it installed.)

For basic equipment enhancement (beyond that already in the above mods) I am taking RopePlus and CraftGuide.  RopePlus adds a grappling hook and various kinds of arrows that make using a bow much more interesting, which is a good idea if you plan to have only a bow as a ranged weapon (and I do).  (Using RopePlus with Thaumcraft did require customizing the mods/Ropeplus.txt file to change the three blockIDs to (Yogbox settings) 220, 221, and 222 respectively.) CraftGuide is an essential tool for looking up a great deal of recipes without having to resort to a wiki.

Somnia is one I have little experience using, but I like the idea of it: it essentially makes sure the world continues to simulate even if your character sleeps in a bed.  This is especially a good idea when Millenia is installed, as village children only spawn at night.

Better Dungeons does exactly what it says on the tin, adding a number of exciting places to explore to Minecraftia.   I do recommend going into the configuration file (located in .minecraft/Chocolate as BetterDungeons.conf) and reducing the spawn chance of each kind of dungeon by somewhere between a half to a quarter (simply because they seem to spawn so often they at times even overlap each other) and turning off the "dungeonsGeneratedAt" flag to prevent it being announced every time one was created.

That's pretty much it.  I kept the number of mods low so as to prevent conflicts with other mods while still giving me a lot to do.

Mods That Didn't Make The Cut Or Were Not Mentioned, And Why
  • I've decided that Minecolony, at least in the current (pre 1.0)  version, simply gives you too much for too little effort.  (I already mentioned my aversion to Minions in the last entry for a similar reason.)  Minecolony NPCs essentially take in tools and give you stacks upon stacks of food, minerals, and various finds they collect from mobs that may have perished near your colony.  It's also too easy to get diamonds with Minecolony, as you will inevitably generate excess tax money which can be exchanged for them.  In contrast, Millenaire villages don't give you an excess of resources, but rather buy any excess of resources you can spare, and getting things from those villages requires either buying them (for a fairly balanced, inflated cost) or outright pillaging (at the cost of reputation).
  • I chose not to take Balkun's Weapon Mod because muskets make using RopePlus arrows pointless and none of the weapons included in Balkun's are enchantment receptive.
  • Adventure Items, an extension of Better Dungeons, I chose not to install largely because I find the idea of indestructible "soul swords" to be overly exploitative.  The scrolls are alright, I suppose, but some of them conflict with things Thaumcraft already gives you.
  • Treecapacitor I skipped out on wholly because an item from Thaumcraft, the Axe of the Stream, does the same thing and consequently Treecapacitor ends up nerfing it.  Such a trivial concern may ultimately prove insufficient to keep that mod out of my mix, though.
  • I avoided taking Better Enchanting because it makes the enchantment table in Thaumcraft essentially useless by making spending levels at the normal enchantment table way more reliable.  Besides, if Notch and company intend enchantments to be random, I suppose you could see Better Enchanting as a bit of a cheat.
  • As much as I love the blocks in Pfaff's Mods, Thaumcraft has its own (easier-to-use-if-perhaps-a-tad-exploitive) versions of the fan and accumulator in seals.
  • Crafting Table 2 did not make the cut simply because they have yet to introduce a 1.2.5 version.  I guess it's good to have a reason to remember the recipes, anyway.
  • MoreHealthRPG was nixed, not because I'm afraid of going around with just 3 hearts at the beginning, but rather I find going around with 20 hearts at the end to be a tad much.  It's difficult enough to die with the right gear; having twice as much leeway just makes things boring.  Besides, I don't like having to wait 85 levels before I can invest them in enchanting without penalty.
  • The removal of MoreHealthRPG and the introduction of Thaumcraft enchantment make the experience boosting mods (such a More Exp and Exp Chest) unnecessary.
  • Shelves, Armor Stand, StatusEffectHUD, Crystal Wing, Starting Inventory, Floating Biomes, ExtraBiomesXL, and MoCreatures are all nice in their own respect, and wouldn't hurt to add, but I don't particularly need them either.
  • As all-inclusive as the Yogbox is, I'm sure I forgot a few things.
  • Optifine can be optimal and fine, or it can produce immersion-breaking graphical anomalies.  It comes down to which one you use and how your graphics card handles it.  Note: The Magic Launcher is needed to get it to install without modifying the minecraft.jar, and its' a good idea to do this because it allows you to easily swap Optifine builds if you don't like the one you're using.
  • Sonic Ether's Unbelievable Shaders is glorious... and also somewhat buggy and prone to making torches ineffective in the current build.
  • I've nothing against using a texture pack, and likely will be using a Painterly derivative.
A Finalist Final Decision To Keep The Game Fresh

"Hardcore mode" basically deletes the entire world (and your character with it) should your character bite the dust.  This essentially changes Minecraft from a game of endless accumulation into more of a Roguelike.  It also makes for some exciting times when you're low on hearts and being trailed by skeletons firing arrows.  With this enabled, there is a final point, and that point is to get the highest score before death - a time-tested video game goal, if any.  Perhaps some great creations of mine will be destroyed for a stupid death, sure, but in a way that just makes them more interesting for being temporal art.  The screenshot key was F2, last I checked...
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