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Geldon's Minecraft Fantasy Mod Mix V1, May 2015, 1.7.10

Egads, I am ever done with kids for awhile.  The nephew dominated my free time for five days straight, during which time I largely forgot who I was.  What a cruel thing to do to a craven introvert.  Maybe The Thinker didn't wear any pants so nobody would put a child on his lap.

Anyway, in my attempts to piece together the frayed threads of my broken thread of solitude, I picked up anime in one hand and Minecraft in the other.  The anime thread immediately slipped out of my hands, I haven't watched a single episode of anything for a week, but I am not quite ready to cancel my Crunchyroll and Funimation subscriptions quite yet.  This leaves Minecraft, which I basically cobbled together my own personal modpack because Technic doesn't do enough and Feed The Beast does too much.

When I design my personal Minecraft modpack, I basically shoot for as little redundancy as possible in order to avoid balance conflicts.  Each set of mods should preform some essential function.  So my mod pack was made up of these categories:

1. The Basic Necessities - Not Enough Items and Waila, essential block identification and reference, don't play mods without them.  Inventory Tweaks is something that should be in core Minecraft, don't play without it.  Not included: A map such as Journeymap because I like getting lost. 

2. A Dangerous Place To Adventure - Twilight Forest, because screw The Nether.  I could have went with ChocolateQuest's Dungeons or Battle Towers, but I decided to keep the Minecraft Overworld relatively pristine.

3. Make Food More Useful - Tired of stockpiling all this food, I picked up The Spice Of Life, a mod that gives you diminishing returns for eating the same foods.  It includes a recipe for a handy lunchbox to stack six kinds of food in the same inventory slot, which is all-too-necessary. 

4. Make Sleeping Differ From Time Travel - Another thing that should be rolled into core Minecraftthe Somnia mod actually simulates the world while you sleep, so actual things happen between putting your head on the pillow and waking up again.  They also added a fatigue system which gives you debuffs if you stay up too long, which I thought was pretty uncomfortable and unnecessary at first, but I eventually came to enjoy the added challenge.  (It can be disabled in the configuration). 

5. Give Back To The Virtual Community - I really wish I could get Millenaire to work, as those villages suck up a ton of resources and spit out a vibrant simulated society that is largely unperturbed by being murdered by the wildlife because only players can permanently kill them.  Alas, it lost compatibility with more recent versions of Forge, and the Millenaire developers are too busy updating it for Minecraft 1.8 to fix this.  Another great take on this is Minecolony, which is still being updated to 1.7.10, with a projected 4 months to go.  Fortunately, there is still Minecraft Comes Alive, which overhauls the default Minecraft villagers to be considerably more human (you can even marry them) and considerably useful overall.  Unfortunately, they keep dying off... I guess that's what I get for playing on Hard difficulty, I will try again after I get the village decked out in defenses.

6. Main Production Overhaul - Despite having just talked about how imbalanced it is to produce benefit from plants that absorb day, light, water, and lava while I sit around on my ass, I am still not done with Botania quite yet.  I actually rather like the idea of magical flower gardens, as it provides me with incentive to decorate Minecraft instead of just sticking down a bunch of nasty-looking industrial machines.  I quickly found that keeping my tools and armor permanently repaired is a handy, if perhaps overpowered, benefit.
A gorgeous and functional Botania garden.
7. Storage - Another mod that should be rolled into vanilla Minecraft, because item management is a real issue, especially with mods.  You soon end up with chests full of cobblestone and dirt because it's a hassle to drop and it might be useful one day, to say nothing for all the other cool junk added by the mods.  JABBA ("Just Another Better Barrel Attempt") is a great solution.  The titular barrels are basically containers that can store horrendous amounts of the same item, which is perfect for cobblestone.  Another great thing it adds is a dolly (not that kind of dolly) that lets you move barrels and chests around without unloading them.  The diamond dollies even allow you to move spawners, which is perhaps a tad overpowered for purposes of farming, but I'm totally going there anyway.

8. Incredible Storage And Production Enhancement - Applied Energistics 2.  JABBA is great, but an energy-to-matter storage system is unbeatable.  You can also build a computer that automatically constructs things for you out of the things stored in the AE network, which is damn handy when you have a recipe that calls for several things to be built before it.  I think I can power the AE network with Botania mana.  Okay, so these high-tech blocks look completely out-of-place in a fantasy setting, so I decided I can only build them underground and claim they are technology from a long-lost civilization. 

9. Decent Furniture - Bibliocraft largely just adds scads of nice-looking furniture.  A lot of it is functional, such as bookshelves that actually hold books!  Great for decking out any interior, those Minecraft Comes Alive villagers will be plenty spoiled with this collection of desks, lamps, bookshelves, and so on.

10. Whatever The Hell OpenBlocks Is - The things provided by the OpenBlocks mod are so widely varied that they defy easy classification.  An experience point bottling system.  A sprinkler.  An elevator.  A block that helps you draw shapes when building with blocks.  A hang glider.  And so on.  Some of these are Minecraft essentials, others are just plain fun.  Either way, I am not worrying too much about the impact to my supposed "fantasy" mix by adding them - AE2 already crossed that bridge for me, anyway.

That is pretty much it for this modpack.  Sure, I could add four times as much, as is the case with the Feed The Beast Ultimate pack, but sometimes less is more.

The ultimate goal was to conquer the Ender Dragon, Wither, and all of the nasty beasts in The Twilight Forest.  I plan to expand my base completely around this Minecraft Comes Alive village so I can have my own subjects whilst building up a glorious fantasy kingdom.  What more could a geek ask for?
That last screenshot from the opposite perspective, capturing in my keep from the outside.
There are only a few things missing right now:
  • Automatic Ore Doubling.  Doubling ingots via grinding ore can be done via Applied Energistics 2's grinder, but sitting around right-clicking a grinder is overmuch a time sink that puts player incentives in the wrong place.  It was designed in mind that the player would inevitably be going Thermal Expansion or Mekanism, providing automatic ways of doing this, but this would further deviate into technology, which clashes with my theme.  Going Tinker's Construct would add all sorts of glorious smelting, in addition to custom tools, but the tools given to me by Botania are good enough.  I could try throwing in Thaumcraft, which not only has smelting but adds a lot of really cool elements to the game world, but I have a hard time finding canon capability between Thaumcraft magic with Botania magic.  All things considered, Tinker's Construct might be the best choice for me - just because those tools are available does not mean I have to use them.
  • Hungry Mouths.  Alright, so Botania has provided a need for me to produce more food, and The Spice Of Life has improved variety.  I am still retaining a ton of food I do not particularly need.  I wish Minecraft Comes Alive villagers needed to eat.  Millenaire villagers would at least be willing to buy my excess.  I guess I could throw all my extra food into the Botania mana network, but so far I've been pretty topped out in mana thanks to passive mana generation and Somnia not skipping the nights.
  • Easy Automatic Harvesting.  There are some ways to do this with Applied Energistics 2, Botania, and even vanilla Minecraft, but none of them hold the power of some mods I have used in the past, such as Steve's Carts 2.   Honestly, maybe this is for the best, as automatic production methods have a tendency of being too overpowered.
Overall, I guess I am doing alright.  Over two days of play, I have managed to amass a full suit of Botania self-repairing manasteel, some lovely gardens that keep my mana tablet juiced up at all times.  I have begun expanding civilization, a slow encroachment of the surrounding terrain that will ideally end when I have the village surrounded.

Except all the villagers all died.  Twice, since I accidentally revived the village by trying to use an enchantment table in village limits, and they just died off again over the next few days.  I guess that's what I get for playing on "hard" mode, which enables zombies to break down doors, while I snooze the night away in full simulation thanks to Somnia.  I guess the lesson here is I need to lock everybody in their homes until the defenses are up and running.  Those Minecraft Comes Alive guards are worse slackers than I thought.
I decided that I might just try Version 2 of this mod mix with the following changes:
  • Add Tinker's Construct.  The least intrusive way for me to add quick-and-easy ore doubling, and some of those tools will be fun even if they are kind of redundant.  There is a mod to add Botania support to Tinker's Construct.
  • Add Natura.  A biome-enhancing sister mod to Tinker's Construct, this will make slimes easier to get, add some cool variety to The Nether: you will no longer screw it, it will screw you.  It also adds some bushes that will introduce some much-needed nutritional variety that can be enjoyed by The Spice Of Life mod.  It does have the downside that it adds some kind of outlandish GIGANTIC TREES to the game, but oh well, this is a fantasy setting, after all.
  • Add Nether Ores.   Right now, I am finding The Nether to be a bit of a bore to visit due to lack of incentives.  Nether ores adds tons of mineral-rich incentives to visiting The Nether.  Pity mining those has a tendency to piss off the zombie pigmen, who are deadly in a fight!
  • Replace Minecraft Comes Alive with some other village enhancer.  I just don't like the world bloat of the "rose gold" it adds, there's too many damn rings in NEI, and the guards do not seem to be doing their job well enough.  I think I will try the Helpful Villager mod instead.  Maybe they will last a little longer on normal difficulty, as this prevents zombies from busting down their doors.
  • If the game gets boring as I go along, I might just add Infernal Mobs, which are so named because they are punishment from God.   But I suspect Twilight Forest will be difficult enough.
Although I am loathe to start over again, but this looks like it's probably worth it.  I guess I will give that a try.

Lately, I have been pondering if perhaps the meaning of life is drama.  After all, without beings, the universe has nobody to care about it.  It's our job to find reasons to care, you see?  The problem extends into virtual lives as well, and I offen cite Minecraft as not having purpose enough as the reason I stop playing it.  That being the case, I hope this mod mix corrects that issue somewhat.  If not, I suppose there's nothing for it but to try to make my own dang game.

Edit 5/14/15: On To Version 3, Then.

Natura turned out to mix poorly with The Spice Of Life because the berries generate so little satiation that it screws up the math so you can glut yourself on a half-dozen of them before it flips over to 0 hunger satiation, which makes it trivial to eat the other kinds of food.
For version 2, I spent about 6-8 hours building a gorgeous, huge "Botanian Hall Of Agriculture" for my village, but it seems that I won't be using it because now I need to start over without Natura.
The Helpful Villager mod is a good start, but the AI has massive holes in it.  In performing their jobs, they wander around randomly, getting stuck in things, such as fences.  I had one miner immediately bumble into a zombie and die.  I had another miner bury himself alive and inexplicably cease to exist, I never saw him again, although I did find a stack of the things he was carrying.   The idea behind this mod is a good one, and I love how you can equip the villagers with your own equipment, but the follow through is hard on account of how programming AI in a 3D space ain't easy.

Screw villagers, they're useless.  Millenare doesn't work.  Minecolony isn't ready for 1.7.10.  The Minecraft Comes Alive villagers kept getting killed in the walls of their fancy new prefab village before I could do anything particularly useful with them.  Now the Helpful Villagers just keep getting stick in the bits and bobs of the map before achieving anything of value.  If you want a job done right, you have to do it yourself!

Version 3 of my Mod Mix goes like this:
  • I decided that I like playing from the middle of a village and expanding outward, it's just a bit more cool and interesting than just building a huge base that does nearly everything under one roof.  To these ends, I have decided to swap out Helpful Villager and go back to Minecraft Comes Alive due to its cross-compatibility with other mods and Minecraft in general.  Villagers might be useless no matter what mod I try using, but if it simply adds ambiance and character to villages, that's fine.
  • Away goes Tinker's Construct and Natura.  They're fun mods, but frankly they just add too much clutter to the world for my liking.  Even if I stuck to Tinker's Construct, I find ore berry bushes in my beautiful caves, along with a variety of silly ores that no other mod I have installed uses.  Besides, I don't like how it completely supplants the randomness of the enchantment mechanic.
  • Botania can do a lot, but I want to do even more.  To these ends, I have added Thaumcraft, king of the magical mods right now.  It operates under a different philosophy from Botania, so I have to fudge the idea that two conflicting ideas of magic exist, but Thaumcraft simply adds a whole slew of awesome additional activities, mobs, items, ect... so, whatever.
  • I am kicking the difficulty back up to "hard" because it is more interesting; I am too good of a player for "normal" difficulty to feel even remotely threatening.  However, as I mentioned before, my Minecraft Comes Alive village kept getting wiped out as "hard" enables the zombies to kick down the doors and eat the tasty brains inside while the guards played an entertaining game of, "Count the grains in the wooden plank wall."  So my first priority will be to completely fence in the village and keep too many mob spawns from getting in there.
Other than that, the goal is the same as before: from my flourishing and hopefully gorgeous fantasy kingdom in one dimension, launch myself on adventures to beat the crap out of all the big nasties in three other dimensions.  Fun.

Edit: Later That Same Day, Version 3.5.

Okay, I have to say that the ore grinder in Applied Energistics 2 is just too tempting, I hate standing there spinning the crank, but the incentive to double my ore is just too strong.  So I'm ditching that mod, JABBA is good enough for my storage needs, and I'll save the awesomeness of AE2 for a pure up tech blend that can include things like Thermal Expansion grinders.  There will still be ore doubling via Thaumcraft, but that is balanced with a cost of being warped... something to look forward to, and a reason I can't very well add any other ore doubling mod.  (Maybe I'll check to see if AE2 has a configuration option to disable ore doubling.)
Walling off a Minecraft Comes Alive village boosted their survivability enough that I was able to wander the world and find one of the rarer sights in Vanilla minecraft: a baby zombie riding a chicken!
I considered removing OpenBlocks, since it doesn't really gel with a magic theme very well, and there's certain things like experience point bottling that you are supposed to research in Thaumcraft.  So I decided I against it because that death grave is all too necessary.  Fortunately, you can configure turning any of then off, so I just disabled the ones I thought were too techy to work in this mix.

Overall, I am left with Minecraft Comes Alive, Twilight Forest, Botania, and Thaumcraft as primary activity mods, with lots of nifty support mods including Nether Ores, JABBA, and BiblioCraft.  I am expecting this mod balance will provide a slew of powerful magical artifacts and three different methods of enchanting but, aside from that, it should not be all that unbalanced.

I grabbed Starting Inventory from DaftPVF's mods in order to give myself a full set of standard manasteel gear, an aura ring, and a mana ring.  This just gives me a full set of self-repairing iron gear.  I think I worked hard enough this bizarro weekend that this is my reward, and these are actually pretty easy to get early into Botania anyway.

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