I have been spending a lot of time of late thinking about what mods to incorporate into my next minecraft world and it is interesting thinking about it as it is a very interesting balance that must be sought. I wrote an article a little more than a year ago talking about some of my favorite mods, and I don’t entirely want to turn this into that. For one, that article was full of a bunch of “no duh” type mods which really tend to find their place in most modpacks. But really I want to talk more about what I really want out of a modpack in theory and where other mod packs have strayed wrong.
I first fell in love with mods the same way a lot of people did, with Feed the Beast. A widely popular modpack back in the day which was loaded with tons of mods. FTB through the years has lost a lot of favor with a lot of popular minecrafters through the years for a number of different reasons. It was hard to get your own modpack created and then updated, FTB was slow to update to the latest version of modded minecraft1, and their attempts to turn a profit.2
My personal issue with FTB and the many modpacks that others start is that I feel like they just try to add everything under the sun and kind of forget what Minecraft is all about. I know the Mindcrack crew try to keep theirs somewhat balanced, and am sure Direwolf tries to as well. Although Yogscast and Attack of the B-Team I think purposely try to break balance, instead hoping that everyone can get everything they could possibly need and automated rather quickly so that building can occur. 3
The problem with the concept of bypassing and automating the resource gathering is that is the game. Honestly people can and have made very wondrous things in creative, but I find it less impressive than people who build such wondrous things in survival. When you automate everything in order to bypass it and just do the building, I’m not entirely sure why you are even bothering to go into survival… why not just play creative where everything is unlimited and no work is required?
Automation isn’t in itself the evil, you can automate in vanilla and a lot of the cool stuff I see people doing in survival is this sort of automation. The automation in mods is supposed to help make automation slightly less annoying but it shouldn’t give you everything. An example is Thermal Expansion which gives you the ability to automate item transportation, stone/obsidian creation, water creation and a few other things. To me, the main thing that it gets you is the item transportation which you can do in vanilla but not well and it is extremely annoying. TE follows the path Buildcraft started and BC did it right. Essentially giving you tubes and a few machines that you have to power in order to use. Adding in the power aspect actually adds to the game because, yeah it actually gives you the ability to do something easier and more efficiently but it also creates a need to do something else for that ease so it is a fair trade off.
When it goes to far, i think of Applied Energistics which a lot of players love, and I totally understand why… I hate it though. When I first saw it I loved it. I mean it gives you insane amounts of storage that is instantly sorted and searchable for almost no effort. What isn’t to love? Well the almost no effort is the part that breaks it in my mind. I mean yeah you have to power it just like other machines, but what you get out of it (searching and storage, not to mention transportation) is actually worth MORE that just power. There needs to be something else to make it difficult because getting an automatic sorting and storage system (and automatic crafting system for that matter which AE does too easily) needs to require some effort. This is elder game type stuff in my mind. You can do these things using Thermal Expansion already and it does require a little more effort to do, and in fact I think the correct amount. It isn’t easy, and it takes space but it can be done and considering what you get it is totally worth it. So in my modpack… AE is out TE is in.
Tinker’s Construct is a weird one. I actually think this particular mod is extremely well balanced. Nothing comes easy in it, it’s a mod that makes sense and actually makes for a slightly more realistic game. However, I sat and thought of this mod and asked myself… what does it give me? The answer is 1) Double Ore Production 2) Some advanced tools 2b) a few new ores which lend to 2 and 3) Some new types of enchantments. For the first, that is already being done in just about every other major mod out there, I actually like Tinker’s Construct Ore Doubling the best, but it is also redundant thanks to others, so while I could use it, it isn’t worth having the mod for. The second, I do enjoy the faster tools at the top tier and the tools that let you ore more than one block at a time, but they are minor and also can be gotten elsewhere. And for the third, well yeah it has a few new enchantments, some of which are quite good. But the trade-off is that it takes out the vanilla enchanting process altogether. It kind of makes levels pointless. And to be honest, I kind of like the vanilla enchanting process and the randomness it provides. This mod strips any randomness of loot completely away and while I think it does so in a fairly balanced way, I can’t help but feel the game loses something without getting that uber pick with Fortune IV naturally by luck… So though I kinda like the mod, I’m going without it. I might have given it more consideration if the mod dev ever gives it the armor that he has been working on for what seems like ever.
Outside of Automation, the next thing that I look at with mods is variety. This kind of goes back to the question I asked of Tinker’s Construct… What does it add? Really I want mods to give me more in minecraft. More to explore, more to do, without breaking the game. Ironically stuff like Forestry and Natura I add into the game because they add variety to trees and biomes even though the companion mods that they were created for (Buildcraft and Tinker’s Construct) I have done without. I actually didn’t particularly want the bees from Forestry in it and was initially thinking of ditching Forestry altogether because of them. But they aren’t overly bad. I just felt they were overdone and can get kind of annoying, but they aren’t OP. These are the types of things I want though, give me variety! I considered at least one of the huge monster mods, but they either have a lot of really strange looking creatures or tend to give me server some issues. But there were other similar mods that added some variety into the game like Forestry & Natura.
Then there are convenience mods. I won’t say much about them because there isn’t much to say. There are a lot of mods out there that do little things to make life easy. For instance, there is a mod that helps sort things in your inventory and chests automatically. These are good to add into a pack and don’t break the game. They really are stuff that Microsoft should be adding in by themselves.
Lastly is what I consider the trade off mods. I feel like something needs to be added in exchange for the ease that is being added by the little bit of automation and ease of use the other mods are adding. The reason for this is watching some of the streams and videos out there of people who play modded a lot. Let’s face it, Minecraft in and of itself isn’t so hard anymore. A big reason that a lot of people get into mods is to extend the play experience. But the experience they are extending is how to automate more and do things easier. That is backwards, they should be extending the play of the difficulty. So I am adding mobs like “You Will Die,” Deadly Worlds, and Infernal Mobs just to name a few.
Overall, i really like the strategy I am going with. I think it does a good job of keeping the essence of Minecraft while adding more difficulty and variety while also adding a touch of automation and ease of use. I have pretty high hopes for it and my enjoyment of it.