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Same Old, What's Old Is New Again

Rounding off what has been a solid month of Minecraft experimentation, that's pretty much what I did with my reverse-weekend, but I did get a bit of Don't Starve in as well.  Here's a few things I learned.

Point 1: As far as Buildcraft and Applied Energistics 2 for 1.7.2. are concerned, my grace-saving Minecraft mod is in another castle.

I spent most of Wednesday evening mucking around in creative mode in Minecraft 1.7.2 with Buildcraft and Applied Energistics 2.  I should use creative mode more often: it cuts to the quick about whether or not a mod mix will do what I want it to do without having to bother to harvest any resources.

Long story short, they seem to work pretty well in their current state, but they mostly just accumulate and shove around resources.  That's handy, Minecraft's inventory bloat is a serious problem, but I wish these mods actually did something for the gameplay besides mitigate inventory bloat.

Okay, sure, there are a bunch of other little things these mods do which are nice little frills.  Like a powerful projectile cannon or the ability to fill in areas with blocks.  Turns out there's a filler block that elevates the concern I had about quarries leaving giant gaping holes: that's great!

It just doesn't feel like it adds what I wanted. I wanted to be able to duplicate buildings or perform automatic crafting.  Turns out, those blocks are not in the 1.7.2. version.  Maybe a future version will fix that.  Without that, it feels like just a whole bunch of inventory accumulation that doesn't actually do anything in the end.  Even with mitigated inventory bloat, if you have to do it by hand, it's still stock Minecraft in the end.

Point 2: Thaumcraft is out for 1.7.2, albeit in a not-entirely-stable state yet.  That's great news... unless you're a Millenaire villager.

I like Thaumcraft.  It's quite balanced, and introduces some real game mechanics that make Minecraft more interesting.  I played around a bit with version 4.1.1.9 for Minecraft 1.7.2, and it was reasonably stable, but it did have a tendency to crash with an Entity.Renderer error if I hung around taint fields for too long, possibly related to block-breaking.

I wanted to run it in tandem with Millenaire and do the whole, "Look at me, I'm a thaumaturge who uses his incredible Thaumcraft powers to help villages grow!" thing.  First village I run across is a Japanese village that thought it would be a good idea to plop their town down in a "Tainted Land" biome...
Thaumcraft and Millenaire are great mods on their own, but they have no idea what to make of each other.  The taint did not corrupt the village's rice paddies because it had no idea what a rice block was, so it left it alone.  Everything else, though...
...well, the Tainted Land biome pretty much turned the village into goo.  The villagers had no idea how to defend themselves against it, often being struck down "temporarily dead" by the various monsters spawned by the taint.  I had actually added tainted blocks to the "Villagers will avoid building on these blocks" configuration files of Millenaire but it did not show up on the village map.

I suppose it was kind of fun to watch, but clearly this mix isn't going to work.  Better to use Minecraft Comes Alive in this case, because the MCA villagers are basically just stock Minecraft villagers with additional functionality added, so Thaumcraft taint knows how to mess them up just fine, and there's nothing going on that would lend to the villagers doing anything on their own that taint would interfere with anyway.

Point 3: Minecolony has largely been playing catchup, and Rotarycraft is too hardcore for me.

Using a modified FeedTheBeast Monster build, I gave the latest beta version of Minecolony for Minecraft 1.6.4 a spin, and was pleasantly surprised to see the same experience I left behind in Minecraft version 1.2.5, back when the last working version of it was publicly available.

This bothered me just a bit: it was too samey.   It felt like I was going back in time to my days with Minecraft 1.2.5, the same old Minecolony blocks, the same old Minecolony villagers making the same old Minecolony sound clips, and so on.  This mod hasn't had the opportunity to progress, it's basically been getting revived from a long sleep.

Yet, the functionality wasn't quite where it was before.  All the little workers didn't quite do their jobs right, resulting in a lot of snafus as resources they needed didn't get where they were required.

The revival added raiding barbarians.  They're quite annoying because the guards don't fight them.  But then, there's not a lot the guards do correctly right now - they were a work in progress before the mod dropped out of development.

It's promising to see Minecolony come back, but they need to do more than get it working, they need to give it a direction.

Also installed in FeedTheBeast Monster was Rotarycraft, pretty much another factorization mod that lets you automate nearly anything, like IndustrialCraft, Minefactory Reloaded, Steve's Carts, ect.  The big difference with RotaryCraft is that they added a bit more realism to the idea of motors driving engines, you need to understand basic physics to know how to get them to work... sort of.  Honestly, if it's just a matter of putting down machine blocks to get the appropriate torque or rotation, that's easy enough to fudge.  I kinda wish there was bigger sprockets like in the latest versions of Resonant Induction.

After much fussing around in Creative mode, I managed to get a Rotarycraft laser canon up and deploy it to guard a Minecolony village... and the laser promptly burned the village down.
Apparently the laser beam stays on while the turret is swinging towards its intended target.  The beam sets wooden planks on fire.  The beam melts stone into lava source blocks.  The beam turns dirt into sand, and sand into glass.  In under a minute, nearly the entire village was ablaze, and the town hall was oozing lava source blocks from what was formerly its stone chimney.

It was a gloriously pyric ending to my experiments with Minecolony and Rotarycraft.

Point 4: Don't Starve is more fun and stylish than dabbling with Minecraft mods for a month straight, but hard.

Not wanting to waste the entire weekend just playing Minecraft, I returned from a long haitus away from Don't Starve, sunk about 12 hours of my weekend into it, and ultimately didn't regret it.
Don't Starve has an interesting pedigree.  It's a top-down survival game, true.  However, the graphics are heavily stylized to look more like an adventure game.  For that matter, it sort of is an adventure game: you need to collect parts in order to assemble solutions to the puzzle of getting to the next world and beating the "adventure" mode.

After my 3rd or 4th messy death, I realized that Don't Starve is actually quite mellow, if you know what you're doing.  Basic survival tips:
  • In other games, the rule is, "When in doubt, run."  In Don't Starve, the rule is, "Run unless you're here to fight." 

    Yes, you can escape most encounters in Don't Starve, but you may end up taking days to recover from the damage you took, so if you make a habit of getting into minor skirmishes then the cumulative damage will definitely end you every time.  Don't sit there gaping at that cthulean horror you discovered: run!

    Then again, from time to time, you might actually need to fight something, say to get some resources you can't get any other way.  In that case, prepare to fight.  Put on your best fighting gear, maybe hire some help, and take your best shot at it. 

    Also, if you come up with some way to fight dirty, do it.  The twisted realm of Don't Starve is no place for fair play.
  • Not starving can actually be accomplished fairly easily, depending on location and season.

    Living off the land is easy enough to do in Spring and Autumn.  Look for berry bushes, remember where you found them, and try to live close enough that you can make regular rounds to check for more berries, and chances are you're going to survive the season. 

    If you have a little supplementary food income from trapping small animals (they can often be lured or chased right into the traps without the need for bait), life gets even easier. 

    If you can find a beefalo herd, then the food can now come to you.  Dig up berry bushes and move them nearby, then fertilize them.  Build some advanced farms at home, now that you have access to plenty of the only rare component.

    Sometimes, you get tons of food dumped on you unexpectedly.  For example, you happen to visit a pig village and they're fighting off an invasion of frogs.  Regardless of who wins, there's going to be plenty of food laying around afterward!

    Summer and Winter change the rules considerably.  Many plants stop working, for starters.  I'd tell you more about how to survive those seasons, but frankly, I don't know how myself yet.
  • Self-sustenance isn't going to be enough to survive in the long run.  You need to advance.

    Each changing season brings its own hazard, so you need to have the necessary research complete to survive it before time is up.  Completing research often involves sticking your neck out and fighting something you normally wouldn't.  You might build some stout walls, but if you spend all your time cowering behind them, the changing world will eventually gobble you up.
Fantastic game; I love Don't Starve.  Of course, as everybody who has played the game will tell you, it does sort of suck when you die and have to start over from square one.   That's the main downside of the game.

My recommendation: don't binge play Don't Starve.  If you die and lose a lot of progress, do something else, come back tomorrow.   That way, things will feel relatively fresh, and it becomes that much easier to swallow having to start over from scratch.  This will also help to prevent confusing the map from the previous game with the current one.

Overall, I had a fun weekend.  Good thing, too: I'm not going to have a moment to myself for the next few days...

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