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Experimenting With Minecraft 1.6.4 Time Sink Potential

Like any good game, Minecraft is a terrible time sink.  The sense of flow settles in, you enjoy yourself immensely, and before you know it the entire weekend is over.   This leaves an overall question lingering of, "Was the lost time worth it?"

In some games, the answer is overwhelmingly negative, because the game was not all that fun and getting at the fun was perhaps obfuscated by a massive hurdle of progression mechanics.  This is the problem with the typical massively multiplayer online game, as that giant virtual space begets the developers really want the players to move in and keep paying those monthly subscriptions.  Consequently they'll pull every trick imaginable to keep the players playing, even if the game itself rapidly runs out of much enjoyment.

Here we have a great little castle interior somebody spent a lot of
time putting together in Minecra- oh wait, my mistake, it's
LEGOs.  Same principle, really.
In Minecraft's case, I'm not entirely sure whether my time is invested well or not.  In the past, I've noticed that Minecraft has no real overriding purpose to play, but lately I've been thinking perhaps Minecraft is a relatively worthwhile pursuit if you play it with the intention to carving the very virtual world into your very own image, a euphoric sense of human influence that is quite difficult to realize in real life since there's so damn many of us on this planet all wanting to do the same.   In other words, Minecraft is like LEGOs, on a larger, but even more virtual scale.

Thus, I theorize, the time lost to Minecraft should be somewhat worth it because, when you're done, at least you can point out this really cool thing you built...

... unless you play it like I have over the past few days, in which case you'll have accomplished nothing (except perhaps gaining hard fought knowledge about the scope of community-developed modifications for version 1.6.4. of Minecraft).

Sunday and Monday was spent using the latest Tekkit build for Technic, a really cool platform for easily trying out mod packages.  There, I explored an extensive cave that lead to an extensive mine that lead to a small ravine, a great little underground run of many Minecraft days.  When I came up on the other side of the ravine, I was in the middle of lush jungle that went on for miles thanks to having large biomes enabled.

I built a largish wooden home there, and then decided to make a Buildcraft quarry.   After a little strip mining to obtain the few extra diamonds I needed (a Computercraft mining turtle helped) I did indeed build a quarry, and secured quick transport between it and my wooden house with a powered railway.   I decided I needed to power a Buildcraft pump to bring water into the steam engines that were powering the quarry, but the waterproof pipes would require cactus green and I ended up exploring about 8000 distance until I finally found a desert.

Towards the end of the day, my RAID was acting up - sometimes it doesn't do a very good job of keeping the drives associated - but I managed to keep my data.  Nevertheless, I was feeling discouraged about how long it took me to find some other biomes, and decided it would be best to completely throw everything I made away and start a new game.  I guess I wasn't having enough fun.  Besides, we're up to Minecraft 1.7.4 on the official release, why am I using version 1.5.4. for tekkit?  These were excuses enough for me.

By Wednesday (first day of the year) I had played around a bit with two other Technic mod packs made for version 1.6.4 of Minecraft (currently the version with the most community mod support).  These were Lapido's Galacticraft Modpack and BusinessElite.  They were both rather good.

Unfortunately, I somehow managed to completely kill the sound system in Technic.  I'm not sure what caused it, but it seems to be related to some sort of system they have of streaming sounds when needed.  I tried every fix I could Google on the problem, and even completely deleting and reinstalling Minecraft and Technic failed to fix the issue.  Playing this game when "deaf" is far too difficult, I really need those sound queues to have some situational awareness, and consequently I had to abandon the platform.

After mucking around with trying to make my own Minecraft 1.6.4. package, I gave up and used the MoonQuest Yogscast package for the majority of Wednesday, as it fortunately included a means for me to manually install on my own Minecraft installation, away from Technic.

In the resulting new game, I soon came across a village and decided I would move right in and rule over these simple creatures, who were pretty unlikely to survive thanks to recent changes that made more of their natural predators prevalent during the day.

After about 5 hours of determined strip mining underneath the village, I grew rather thoroughly bored of this mod pack. I had yet to recover a single diamond, which meant no quarry, and playing around with Buildcraft mining wells just wasn't the same: I could mine faster by hand.  More than that, I realized that MoonQuest included a lot of redundant junk I didn't need (such as three kinds of turrets: ICBM turrets, TF2 engineer sentries, and Portal sentries), and the hat mod seemed pointless when I had no one to show them to.

By Wednesday night (that's yesterday night) I decided that "less was more," so I finally cobbled together my own custom Minecraft 1.6.4 mod package, instead.  I started with everything in Lapido's Galacticraft Modpack, which is already lean and mean, including 100% cool junk I decided I wanted (Buildcraft, Modular Powersuits, Railcraft, and the ICBM sentries among them).  I also added Archimedes-ships (which adds airships and floating islands) and Tinker's Construct (which adds a new system of crafting custom tools) and Optifine (which overrides Minecraft's default rendering system with a more advanced version).

I rather like Painterly for my texture resource pack, so I went with that.  I might had added more things to it (such as Mystcraft, Thaumcraft, and Minefactory Reloaded) but I think I pushed my luck far enough, and I've got plenty to do already: remember "less is more?"

It was too late to play last night, but today, Thursday, I've started a brand new game in large biomes again (I figure this is the point of having an airship), and in the space of three hours have built a stout wooden wall around a sizable village of future subjects.  With any luck, I won't be deleting this 1.6.4. game; I want to try to stick with this single saved game and do everything in all the mods I've installed.

Well, I've committed myself to quite the time sink here: I sure hope it's worth it.

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