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On Second Thought, Lets Not Play Another Theme Park MMORPG

As I geared up for day two in Tera (should I capitalize those letters since it's short for The Exiled Realm Of Arborea?) I touched up yesterday's blog entry... and before I could launch the game, it quickly dawned on me that there would be no day two of Tera

Tera's gameplay is fun enough, but foresight intervened.  The trouble is that I've been down this path (the "Theme Park Combat-Centric MMORPG" path) often enough to not only know, but keenly feel, what lay at the end that path: me having invested 300 hours in the game only to be at maximum level with all the other players who are also at maximum level engaging in the same old monotonous activities, raids and PvP, merely to grind for better adventuring gear.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with you if you enjoy Tera, as the point of playing any game is for the journey (the enjoyment of playing that game) and not the destination (getting to the maximum level).  Nevertheless, as pertains to my personal preferences, I see the journey of playing Tera as being a sorely finite amount of enjoyment I can derive in greater levels from other games I have, and I see the destination of Tera as something I, personally, would not enjoy in the long run.

No, what enthralled me a few days ago was Age of Wushu seeming like there might be a better alternative than that, a compelling virtual world (irregardless of the reality of what Age of Wushu actually is).  Tera is not a virtual world game, it's a fun action game with enough depth to its grind and bestiary to be truly called an MMORPG (whereas a game like DC Universe Online only just barely earned that distinction) but, from what I've heard about the end game, I really don't care to invest the effort to get there.
Another Minecraft world generated in survival mode, another ramshackle place to spend the night.
To these ends, I think the activity for the day will be Minecraft.  It has just finished updating to version 1.5.1 of the main executable, the main impact of that for me being that it now has rather good performance without me having to load the Optifine mod.  I have thrown out my old mod mix for Minecraft 1.4.6, and am now running the following:
  • Craftguide - This allows me to look up crafting recipes in-game without having to resort to a wiki.  If there's one thing Minecraft did wrong, it's expecting that the average player would have the patience to find these crafting recipes by happenstance.
  • InventoryTweaks - Another essential, this basically just makes managing your default Minecraft inventory much less tedious by doing things such as automatically reloading worn-out tools and adding an inventory sort function.
  • Death Chest - I decided not to play on hardcore mode because it really is a drag having to start over again every time I accidentally fall in lava.  Stock Minecraft dying is not very satisfying either, scattering your junk about in a messy pile where you died and having them cease to exist completely if you don't get there in time.  Having death allow me to retain my inventory seems like too little of a penalty.  Death Chest is a comfortable medium for me: it simply creates a chest where you died containing your inventory if you have a chest in your inventory.
  • Millenaire - If there's one thing I think Minecraft needs the most, it's a sense of purpose.  There's no conflict or drama in Minecraft other than basic survival and whatever you invent for yourself or amongst people you meet on the Internet (in the case of multiplayer servers).    Notch originally planned for Minecraft to be somewhat like Dwarf Fortress, and now I wish he had seen that through.  Millenaire adds some NPC villagers who would seem to have their own worries and villages to grow, and this does help to add a feeling you're part of something bigger than yourself.  It also adds some fun items and activities and even some epic quests to perform if you want.
  • Railcraft - I'm primarily using this because I want some better railroad support as well as the ability to "anchor" chunks of land that are out of range.   Default Minecraft carts are pretty wonky, Railcraft's improvements make them a lot more effective.
Here are some mods that did not make the cut (mostly because of my own arbitrary reasons considering they're all fine mods in themselves):
  • Buildcraft was not compatible with Millenaire, and some proposed fixes for this no longer worked.  Pity that, I might have liked to automate some functions, and I find IndustrialCraft adds too much technology for my liking.
  • Redpower 2 is not currently up to date with Minecraft 1.5.1 - pity, that, but then Redpower 2 is so awesome that I found I was getting too distracted from my main goals to make interesting things like self-baking roast chicken farms.
  • I'm opting to go without Rei's Minimap wholly because I decided I would like to be able to get lost this time. Besides, Minecraft has built in maps now, and even Millenaire's latest version seems to have a chunk map of a sort. 
  • I'm not sure about Thaumcraft 3. I liked Thaumcraft 2, it had a cool style and these "seals" which made automating certain tasks in chunks really cool.  I have not used Thaumcraft 3 in awhile, so maybe recent updates have made it something I would like?  Anyway, it's better to play Thaumcraft 3 with something closer to vanilla Minecraft (without Railcraft or Millenaire) because then all the things in the game have Thaumcraft elements assigned.  Pass... for now.  
  • Considering its current release candidate is for Minecraft 1.2.5, almost a year ago, at this point I'm not sure if MineColony will ever be updated to a current Minecraft version, but I probably would be running it today if it was.  Even more than Millenaire, MineColony would be what Minecraft would be like if it had forged ahead to be more like Dwarf Fortress, because it puts you in the center of building an active town of NPCs.
  • For that matter, it would be nice if Somnia was able to be updated (the developer says that it's due to lack of Internet access at home).   Sleeping in a bed in Minecraft tends to cause some missing functionality in Millenaire (due to skipping over certain things that only happen in the dead of night) and besides which it would be nice if I could get up in the morning to find my furnaces are done with their work.
I'm still not so sure this is going to work out.  I have the same goal now as I did the last time I was running Minecraft: fully upgrade all four Millenaire village types while building a railroad between them all.  But last time I lost interest in that goal and instead got distracted with the cool stuff I made in RedPower2.

Honestly, I am not sure Millenaire will be able to create enough of a sense of purpose for me, the main thing I feel Minecraft is lacking.  It is probably because I played too many Minecraft games with Millenaire so I'm subconsciously just regarding Millenaire villages on the same level as anything else that is randomly generated in Minecraft.  That's a shame, because I think the developers are going in the right direction, but I still don't have that sense of purpose that I wanted to get from a virtual world.

It's a pretty bad sign that I'd rather blog about a game than play it, and this is collaborating evidence that I may be no better off playing Minecraft than I was playing Tera.  Maybe it's a brain chemistry problem and I need to go outside and get some exercise?   Maybe I need to stop playing other peoples' games and make my own.

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