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Virtual Cheesebuggerage Continues

Welcome back, you rare few single digit visitors, to the 21,597,958th most popular site on the Internet.  Nobody wants to hear about Minecraft, it seems, but dammit, that's what I'm doing.  Well, I don't blame them, why read about Minecraft when you could watch a stream of people playing it?
http://www.gocomics.com/twaggies/2013/02/11

Anyway, another Bizarro weekend has come and gone, and during that time I've learned a little in my self-appointed quest for automated cheeseburger production in my current Minecraft modpack, and it goes like this:

AE2: How To Make A Crafting CPU.

Applied Energistics 2 is mostly a mod about storing items in Minecraft, which can be rather a chore without assistance.  However, an important additional functionality is the Crafting CPU, the most powerful means of automatically crafting of any mod I know.  Using it to make cheeseburger meals is a bit like bringing a gunship to a knife fight, but why settle for anything less?

Crafting CPUs can be constructed by building square blocks of any of the six kind of crafting CPU blocks, with one mandatory storage block:
  • The first kind of block, a "Crafting Unit," does not seem to do anything.  However, you will need to build them anyway because they are part of the basic recipe of the other blocks, and they can pad out the shape of the Crafting CPU.
  • The second kind of block, a "Crafting Co-Processing Unit," allows for concurrent crafting of more than one crafting operation at a time.  Note that each Crafting CPU can only make one kind of item at a time anyway, but the Crafting Co-Processing Unit just allows for batch operations of more than one crafting operation at once.
  • The four "Crafting Storage Blocks" (sized 1K, 4K, 16K, and 64K) are used to store the input items, output items, and (temporarily) the recipes used to craft.  However, the actual Encoded Patterns are inserted into the ME Interface blocks, so it is a little weird that "storage" blocks are found here.
  • Finally, there is a "Crafting Monitor" block, which is wholly cosmetic because it just displays what the crafting CPU is currently working on in the game world on the surface of the block.  Hey, it's still doing more than Crafting Unit blocks do.
Phew!  Seems like a lot to keep in mind, but actually it's quite simple.  You can stick any of these six kinds of blocks together in a square, with a minimum of one storage block, and bam: you got a working Crafting CPU.   

Now, It should be noted that crafting CPUs do not perform crafting, they just supervise.  The actual crafting is done by "Molecular Assembler" blocks which use "Encoded Patterns" to create things.  What Crafting CPUs do is allow you attach "ME Interfaces" to Molecular Assemblers, load the ME Interfaces with Encoded Patterns of things to create, and order crafting to be done remotely from anywhere on the same AE2 network.  Without the Crafting CPU, sticking the Encoded Pattern directly in the Molecular Assembler would just direct it to craft as many of that item as possible constantly, and it would be the only thing the Molecular Assembler would be capable of creating.

To create Encoded Patterns, you craft the Blank Patterns, set up the recipe on an "ME Pattern Terminal," and you can encode the pattern there.  Once the encoded pattern is stuck in an ME Interface, you should see the option to craft that item anywhere on the AE network.
When I order up a Pam's Harvestcraft Delighted Meal, it shows me everything that will go into it.  That's quite a bit of time it's saving me!
My AE2 Crafting CPU is currently just a simple 2x1x2 block construction of a 1K storage block, a Crafting Co-Processing Unit, and two "Crafting Unit" blocks whose only real application is to complete the square. It was not necessary for it to be a cube.  I have loaded all the necessary recipes needed to create the Pam's Harvestcraft Delighted Meals except for the dough and the cheese.

Now, I just need to get the automatic harvesting done and directed into the machine.  Although the annihilation panes and AE Input Bus of Applied Energistics 2 are capable of collecting some things directly from the game world, I will need Thaumcraft to do much of the harvesting.

Everything Thaumcraft.

Thaumcraft is more than just the granddaddy of all Minecraft magical mods: it's a whole simulated microcosm of being in itself, layered on top of Minecraft in such a way that it adds an interwoven network of essentially six new kinds of activities:
  1. Harness "nodes" found out in the world! 

    "Vis" energy sucked out of nodes is used to perform various miracles and create many magical artifacts in Thaumcraft.  Later, you can harness them and pipe "centrivis" directly into your Thaumatorium, saving yourself a trip out to the nodes.  You can relocate and "grow" your own nodes by "feeding" them others, too!
  2. Perform Thaumcraft alchemy

    Basically, it's chemistry, but it's magical chemistry so you're not (for example) separating hydrogen from water, you're instead (for example) separating the concept of motion ("Motus") from opening doors.  This is done by boiling everything found in Minecraft into magical goo called "essentia."  Essentia is stored in jars and phials, it is used to create many kinds of Thaumcraft items, including... 
  3. Set up networks of golems

    These are basically little magical automatons who can perform all sorts of tasks autonomously for you.  Most of what they do is inventory manipulation (moving items from here to there) but they can also do things like harvest (and replant) crops, go fishing, and so on.
  4. Use the "infusion altar" to enchant or create powerful artifacts! 

    This involves arranging items carefully on pedestals around the altar, piping in some essentia goo, and performing some decorative arrangement of occult items to try to keep the magical instability down.
  5. Fight the taint

    If you encounter a "tainted" biome, you get to encounter the purply nasty creeping crud that is magic gone awry.  There are ways to turn it back to normal, although most players would probably sooner turn tail and run.
  6. The research itself, related to all above listed activties, is an activity itself!

    This involves collecting "aspects" and sometimes playing an aspect-connection minigame to complete the research.
  7. There are a large number of other miscellaneous activities involving playing with a dozens of magical artifacts you create in Thaumcraft, everything from magical chests that follow you around to portable holes you can shoot out of your wand.
Though that covers all the bases of activities you can do Thaumcraft, I would not be surprised if I were missing a few things.
It's fun just watching my sorting golem at work.  I have mining equipment perpetually giving it more things to sort, and gave it an assistant that simply unloads cobblestone. as needed.
In practice, Thaumcraft has done an excellent job of turning the simple task of creating lots of golems into a huge, multi-layered time sink:
  • Getting my fields harvested will require golems.  
  • Golems will require a lot of essentia to create.
  • Reducing the essentia collection time sink required to make the golems required another time sink involving doing alchemy to produce essentia more easily.
  • Reducing the alchemy time sink required to produce essentia more easily required another time sink of creating labor-saving devices via research and on the infusion altar.
  • No matter what I did, I would need vis to perform Thaumcraft, which created a massive time sink of strolling around between vis nodes.
  • Eliminating the vis collection time sink required creating a centrivis collection network.  I've got two nodes hooked up so far but at least when it's done it's done...
  • ... well, except I could always optimize my vis collection network even further by moving around nodes and feeding them, something I have not yet had time to do.
So I have not quite got around to creating all the golems need to harvest my fields and move the items harvested into my AE2 network.  Not to mention I am not entirely sure how I am going to milk the cows to create the cheese... it actually might not be possible with my current collection of mods!   But, when I am done, if that's the only manual task involved in creating the meals (the end goal), then I think I can count this as a relative success.

I think for my next modpack I'll remove either Botania or Thaumcraft.  Either is fine on its own, but they are a bit needlessly redundant together.  Having two separate magic systems really does not jive well, thematically.

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