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Crafting Minecraft Mine #2: A Tech Haul Text Wall

Following the unfortunate demise of my last Minecraft game, it was time to re-think a mod-mix that hopefully will be considerably more stable.  I ended up having to perform so much research as to what mod does what that I thought I'd jot that down here.

First Priority: Introduce a meaningful goal with Galacticraft.

I basically need Galacticraft because it's the most interesting goal I can think of in Minecraft, a game sadly lacking in goals by my measure.  However, it also is a very finicky mod, in terms of mod compatibility, for may reasons:
  • It implements its very own device powering system that no machine blocks in other mods use.  Fortunately, Galacticraft machine blocks can accept power from Buildcraft Minecraft Joules, Universal Electricity UE, and Industrial Craft 2 EU.  Note: NOT Thermal Expansion RF.
  • It adds copper, tin, aluminum, and silicon ores to the overworld.  This wouldn't be much of a problem, except other mods (such as Thermal Expansion) add their own versions of ores with the same name that are incompatible for purposes of crafting Galacticraft components and vice versa.  In terms of gameplay impact, having many different types of the same ore is pretty confusing (even if you could call it more realistic).
  • It also adds oil that is pretty much identical to Buildcraft oil, but it does not include any means to pump it.  The only compatible pumps you're going to find are in Buildcraft (probably) but you don't, strictly speaking, need to pump oil as long as you're willing to use buckets or a special Galacticraft extraction tool.  Personally, I think installing Buildcraft along with Galacticraft is a good idea because then all that oil-related world bloat can also be harnessed for the likes of combustion engines, and the pumps and tanks are just a bonus. 
If I just stopped at putting Galacticraft and Buildcraft in the game for my gameplay-changing mods, that's some decent enough gameplay right there.  But the thing that bothers me about settling for that is that, if I'm going to go futuristic enough to go to the moon, I might as well go full on high tech theme!

Second Priority: Go "high tech" with the Universal Electricity, Atomic Science, ICBM, and maybe Resonant Induction mods.

Atomic reactors, laser turrets, nuclear missiles, and maybe some cool factory assembly lines from Resonant Induction: now this is some high tech stuff!

These are all Universal Electricity-centric mods but, in terms of mod compatibility, Universal Electricity actually makes things easier.  Creating a universal electricity system is the whole point of the "Universal Electricity" mod, and bless Calclavia (the founder of Universal Electricity) for trying to fix that muddled mess.
  • Universal Electricity blocks can take MJ, IC, and RF and convert it to its own energy type, UE, for use by all UE-compatible mods.  Universal Electricity blocks do not accept Galacticraft Kw as a power source but (as mentioned above) Galacticraft blocks do accept most major power systems, and UE is one of them.
  • Copper and tin are added by Universal Electricity.  It appears that full cross-compatibility is implemented for Galacticraft's versions of these ores, and vice versa.  However, Thermal Expansion's versions of these ores are not compatible, by default.  (Tekkit has been modded so they are treated as the same ore, so I guess it's possible.)
Think of Universal Electricity mods as being comfortably added upon your existing power systems.  This means you can trust that your ICBM Sentry Turrets can be powered by Buildcraft engines (for example).  However, bear in mind that, unless those mods are coded to use UE, it's going to be a one-way street.  For example, Atomic Science turbines will not be able to power Buildcraft quarries, but Galacticraft does accept UE.

Universal Electricity's main weakness is that it's not very well documented.   There is some documentation on the official website, but I have found this to be incomplete, reflecting earlier builds, and often more of a programmer's design document than something useful to the players.  You will find the best coverage on the Voltz wiki, but that is very outdated information for the latest builds of what Calclavia has been up to.  For example, Assembly Lines has been rolled into Resonant Induction, I'm not sure where "Fluid Mechanics" is now, if anywhere.

After what happened to my last game, I'm feeling a bit cautious about including Resonant Induction in the mix, but I suspect that, if I use version 329 and avoid using filters, then it won't crash my game.  It does add a lot of cool things that do work, and using the Assembly Line stuff from Resonant Induction is bound to look a lot cooler and higher tech than Buildcraft piping.

Third Priority: Go even more high tech by doing most of the manual labor using the Modular Powersuits mod.

What good is it to have built a fusion-powered fortress bristling with laser turrets and antimatter missiles if I'm still running around swinging swords and mining with a pickaxe?  It's time to suit-up wearing something that would get a thumbs up from Tony Stark himself.
Now that's what I'm talking about!
Wouldn't you know it?  Here's where the mod mix starts encountering problems.
  • The powersuit recipes for Universal Electricity are outdated, which renders most of the suit pieces incapable of being built with Universal Electricity installed!  Note that, by default, the Thermal Expansion recipes are not built in.
  • The means of charging the parts for the modular powersuits are IC2, UE, or RF.  That's it.  IndustrialCraft 2 is a big barrel of fish I'm not getting into (it would involve using an earlier version of Minecraft, and adds a ton of things I don't necessarily want).  I've already got UE, but now that's even less an option.
In case you missed that, here's the catch 22:
  • Install Universal Electricity, you can't craft the parts of Modular Powersuits.
  • Don't install Universal Electricity, you can't charge the parts of Modular Powersuits.
There are a few of workarounds, but it involves getting your hands dirty:
  1. Install Thermal Expansion, the only other mod that can power Modular Powersuits, then go to Jenkin's experimental builds website and download the Thermal Expansion recipe file, manually install it in .minecraft/config/machinemuse/recipes.

    The main trouble with this solution is you will now have a bunch of redundant ores in the game.  For example, if you have Thermal Induction, Universal Electricity, and Galacticraft, you will have no less than three kinds of tin and copper, and sketchy cross-compatibility between their uses.
  2. Stick with Universal Electricity, go to Jenkin's experimental builds website, then download and manually install the "vanilla" recipes, instead. 

    For the most part, those will work, but they're generally far too cheap for what you get out of them.  To solve this, modify .minecraft/config/machinemuse/powersuits.cfg with a standard text editor and turn the "Universal Electricity recipes" flag to true. 

    Note that tripping that flag alone does not solve the initial incompatibilities with Universal Electricity because not all of those recipes are compatible and, in that case, the vanilla recipe file will take over.
  3. Of course, if you feel like it, you could always just create your own .recipe file by modifying one of the existing ones.  This will involve hunting down the appropriate IDs to use.
Lord almighty, what a mess.  Has Tony Stark ever had days like this?

In all honesty, if you're not hung up about the idea of looking futuristic, I say ditch Modular Powersuits and take Tinker's Construct instead.  It's a better balanced mod, includes a cool smelter, and the tools and weapons are a bit more fun to use.   Although Tinker's Construct does add a few things to worldgen bloat, so it's not all upside.

Fourth priority: Get some ore processing with Mekanism or Thermal Expansion.

My brief time with Resonant Induction's "archaic" and "mechanical" ages have introduced me to the wonderful world of ore processing in Minecraft, and I really don't want to go back.  Basically, this is the idea that you will be able to convert one ore block into several ingots instead of just one.  That means less time spent down in the mines, and more time building cool stuff.  It's not cheating if you put effort into building a special smelting machine, right...?

Unfortunately, Resonant Induction's ore processing is currently a tad too buggy to use.  (Hopefully this will be fixed soon.)  I looked around the Internet a bit, and found that two other mods that offer effective ore processing are Mekanism and Thermal Expansion.

Both mods do roughly the same thing in that they do ore processing and provide some pretty cool tools to play with, and it's somewhat hard to recommend one over the other.   But, if I had to take a stab at it, I'm going to say Mekanism is a better match for what I'm doing for two reasons:
  1. I already have Universal Electricity, and Mekanism's tin and copper is basically the same thing.  Thermal Expansion's tin and copper are something completely different.
  2. I already have Universal Electricity, and Mekanism's energy system is natively UE-based.  However, a realy cool thing about Mekanism is that the energy cubes can actually output UE, BJ, or RF.  Consequently, if you have Mekanism and Universal Electricity, you have the means to power anything (at least from these mods).  (A pity Galacticraft energy and wiring blocks aren't compatible with UE, or it would be included in this benefit.)
Another nice frill about Mekanism is that the ore processing is highly advanced.  You can get 2X the ore yield from Thermal Expansion via one block, the Pulverizer.  Mekanism's Enrichment Chamber does the same thing, but that's just tier one of four tiers that get increasingly more complicated.  At the highest end of the spectrum, you can earn up to 5X the ore yield by building an ore processing refinery that requires no less than thirteen separate Mekanism machine blocks and a source of gravel, flint, and gunpowder. 

I actually panned Mekanism earlier, claiming its main purpose was to "obfuscate" things, saying "It makes a big damn mess while saving you from the big damn mess your other mods have already inflicted upon you."  Well, let me revise that a bit:
  • Yes, we don't necessarily need the additional armor and tools, but they actually are alright from a completionist's standpoint that there's no reason why you can build armor out of iron but not lapis or glowstone.
  • Yes, all those machine blocks are daunting and confusing to a newb, and there seems to be way too many extra steps to crafting everything.  However, it's actually worth it when you consider most of those machine blocks are related to getting bonus ore ingots.
  • Yes, the paxel and the atomic disassembler seem to eliminate a bit of fun from having different minecraft tools for different jobs.  Yet, they are technically much more expensive to build, and if you have Tinker's Construct or Modular Powersuits installed you've probably already crossed this bridge anyway.
Overall, Mekanism is a really cool mod to have, a real saving grace.  However, I will say a few things in favor if it's primary competitor, Thermal Expansion:
  1. Thermal Expansion a lot simpler to use, overall, because the machine blocks are all on the same tier.  At no point will you be pressured to have to build better ore processing because there's only one kind of ore processing: once you've got your pulverizer, you're done.
  2. Thermal Expansion includes a conduit that allows its unique RF power to be converted into Buildcraft MJ, so you could potentially use it in a Buildcraft-friendly modpack without the need for UE or Mechanism.
  3. Technically, if you get Omnitools, by the same team that made Thermal Expansion, the fact that Thermal Expansion adds redundant ores can be made up for with the Forge Lexicon that allows you to convert one kind of ore to another.
So, in the end, the choice between including Mekanism versus Thermal Expansion in this mod mix is a matter of some debate.  I think Mekanism wins out just because it does more, overall, but sometimes less is more.

Conclusion.

Here's a pretty effective "high tech" build for Minecraft.  I think Voltz is probably ready to be updated to 1.6.4, but there remains a few flies in the ointment:
  • Galacticraft's aluminum wiring and energy generation methods are so very exclusive.  The workaround is to either use these powering methods exclusively to Galacticraft blocks, or to avoid building them completely and power those blocks with more uniform methods of powering.
  • Modular Powersuits needs its Universal Electricity component recipes updated.  I posted one workaround.  The better workaround would be just to come up with custom Universal Electricity .recipe file. 
  • There might yet be some gamestopping bugs that will be revealed under further testing.  Resonant Induction is a very, very cool mod, but it has a few critical bugs to iron out first.
As for me, I think all this Minecraft mod tech support has burned me out from the game again.  I don't know what I'll be playing tomorrow for sure.  I'm half-tempted to work on building a Minecraft fantasy mod pack just because it's a lot more compatible with stock Minecraft things such as enchanting tables, alchemy, swords, and zombies.

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