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The Virtual Worlds' Failing

Gawd, I am so bored of everything right now.  When that happens, I get introspective, asking myself: if a game enthralled me a week ago, and it's the same game today it was before, then what changed in me that prevents me from enjoying that game now?  Usually, it comes down to a mental impasse; there's now a number of learned premises that undermine the foundation of the original reason I liked the activity.

Exploration, at lest, has a certain appeal to it simply for the strange and wonderful flukes of random number generation I may encounter.
Minecraft, in its basic unmodded form, is a sandbox above all else.  You dig up 3D blocks and build things out of them for the sheer joy of having built something out of 3D blocks.  If you want a goal, there's survival, followed by defeating the ender dragon.  But this is all very rudimentary: Minecraft, like most virtual worlds, lacks an all-important thing we have in life: context.  Ultimately, there's no greater backdrop, no real point other than to fuss about, perhaps invent your own point for yourself.

The mods I've been experimenting with lately got me so interested in the game because I felt they helped to bridge Minecraft's lacking structure.  Thaumcraft and Better Dungeons introduced the idea of the "epic endeavor," which is a good start.  Millenaire in particular added what I wanted the most via some fairly compellingly-presented NPC villages that you can help grow.   Finally, I could be part of something greater than myself in Minecraft.

However, this illusion has been thoroughly dispelled by my choosing to play "hardcore" mode lately, which pretty much deletes this so-called "greater" if I get my character killed somehow.  The days of work I may have put into my Thaumcraft are nullified the first time I make a fatal mistake.  The "Better Dungeons" introduce quite a few of those fatal mistakes, so I find myself steering clear of them.  In having to start over so many times, I've seen so many Millenaire villages come and go that it's hard to imagine them as anything more than a bit of temporary binary code flitting about my computer anymore.

Another strange and wonderful fluke of random number generation: the boiling pits of The Nether
Yet if I don't play "hardcore" mode, death in Minecraft really carries no sting.  With the "keep inventory" mod installed, I'm not going to lose my equipment on death, and it's not all that hard to replace anyway.  With Thaumcraft installed, enchantment is paid for with another method, so it's not like I need my levels for anything.  I might as well fling myself into the nearest lava pool as a shortcut to get back to my spawn point.  How can "respawning" truly exist in a virtual world, anyway?  Hardcore mode is a solution to the ultimate immersion-breaker.

So there is my impasse, the premises which have undermined the game for me.  I can't play hardcore, or everything I've built in the game feels too fragile to be worth dedicating much effort towards.  I can't not play hardcore, or else everything I've built in the game feels too easily accomplished; a world without risk is hardly rewarding. Perhaps there's another mod that implements a brilliant solution to this impasse.  If not, perhaps I should try making one... but, first, I have to figure out what that solution would be.
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