Modded Minecraft – SPPAAACCE!

Yeah, it’s been three weeks.

It’s taken me that long to blast off.

I saw over at MassivelyOP that Syp wrote a little article about Wynncraft, a free MMO made from Minecraft and a lot of modded love. I vaguely entertained the thought of checking it out… a thought that lasted until 25 seconds into the trailer, and the cheerful advertised feature of NEW ITEMS with walls of multicolored text, NEW DUNGEONS and NEW QUESTS with NEW REWARDS.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this appeals to quite a few people, primarily the ones playing most MMOs, so it’s probably the right message for the right audience…

…but it really kinda hit me that I’m no longer in that audience.

Uhh, no more rainbow text incrementing numbers on items that get better and better please. New dungeons mean nothing, nada, to me. -More- quests?! To fetch one item or another or kill mob XYZ? For cosmetic rewards?

And to do this with a flock of too many players, all going at speeds and a pace faster than I likely can manage? Nah.

It’s great that some people managed to mod Minecraft towards how some players like their games, MMO-style, but modded Minecraft to me is always going to be a personal playroom where I can progress at my own pace, and not feel embarrassed by the far more ambitious builds of other players.

It’s where I can ignore the stated goals of the modpack, to amuse myself for a night or two, ad-libbing a modest chicken farm.

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Without having to worrying about crashing a server or impacting someone else’s gameplay performance.

Chickens lay eggs. A vacuum chest from Ender IO sucks up the eggs.

An item conduit, also from Ender IO, passes the eggs in the chest along to a vanilla Minecraft dispenser.

Rather than set up a complicated, bulky and messy redstone circuit vanilla-style (which I barely understand anyway), a Redstone Clock from Extra Utilities does exactly what I want it to do and no more – emit a one tick redstone pulse every second.

This triggers the dispenser long enough for it to chuck out an egg.

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Thrown eggs either crack and vanish, or hatch into a baby chicken.

Voila, ever-increasing numbers of chickens.

Every so often, I wander over, notice that the entity count in the area has risen up to the 100s, and manually flick a lever, that turns on the Minefactory Grinder hidden in the hole in the dirt at the back, powered by a simple Stirling Generator from Ender IO.

The grinder culls all the adult chickens, leaving only the babies, and stores feathers and chicken meat in a chest, while pumping out the essence (liquid XP, essentially) into a portable tank.

Huzzah.

The extra essence is handy for powering an autospawner/grinder I finally got off my arse to build.

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I remain absolutely tickled by the ghast, squished into the little cube space.

The cobblestone monstrosity on top is my very lame attempt at building up some free essence by provided a dark space for mobs to spawn. It doesn’t work as well as I’d like.

For one thing, it’s very small, mostly because I -hate- building this type of structure.

For another, I was experimenting with conveyor belts instead of vanilla water to push mobs, and it doesn’t seem to work as well. The occasional mob falls, but not in terribly high quantity.

Then there’s all the land area around me, which also provides ample space for mobs to spawn on the ground, instead of the defined cobblestone area.

I actually had a creeper accident once from a mob that snuck up behind me, and I had to dig a small moat/wall to fend off future explosions.

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RIP plans. Effing creepers.

The actual structure of the autospawner I kinda like, though it’s very cheap and flimsy. At the time, I didn’t have the materials for more blast-resistant materials or glass, so I made do with what was available. ie. Cobblestone.

A 9×9 internal cube of air, framed by walls, and a Minefactory Reloaded Auto Spawner in the middle. You set it to spawn specific mobs, by placing a Safari Net of the mob in question inside, feed the machine Redstone Flux power and Essence, and badabing, mobs appear.

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A Grinder at the front chops them down, one by one, storing their drops in a chest, and pipes/conduits pump the essence into a holding tank, which feeds back into the Auto Spawner.

It does cost more essence to spawn mobs than is produced by the grinder grinding them, so that’s where the spare chicken essence comes in handy.

At the moment, changeover of mobs is handled manually, by me chopping a two block high hole in the glass after the mobs have ceased to spawn and running inside to change safari nets.

(It does occur to me now that I could easily set up an item conduit chain triggered by a redstone lever to pull out the existing safari net and push another safari net in… I guess that’s a project for another time.)

This is what I find fun in modded Minecraft. I set up some very simple machines, with lots of manual input gaps in between, and then slowly improve them over time, perhaps finally achieving full automation one day.

It’s very modest “programming,” but I like that I have full control over the various iterations. It’s -my- machine. If I played in a server with other people, there would be other people’s machines (which I might be able to use, but not set up according to my brain’s logic) and that would push the pace to a group progression pace, rather than solely mine.

Here’s the other thing I LOVE playing around with:

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Buildcraft Quarries.

These things apparently can play havoc in multiplayer servers, causing lag from chunkloading or flowing water (allegedly) but in singleplayer, it’s mine, ALL MINE, to dig gigantic rectangular open pit holes in the ground.

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I just love watching them go.

They set up a rectangular frame around the area you specify with landmarks, chunk load everything for you, and then the quarry head moves systematically back and forth like a dot-matrix or 3d printer, except it digs out cube by cube EVERYTHING.

Screw branch mining. Forget about manually chopping out stairwells and teeny tiny tunnels.

Just RIP IT ALL OUT OF THE EARTH, cobblestone, dirt, ores and more.

It’s a hoarder’s dream.

Again, I started modestly, powering the quarry in the overworld with an improved windmill, some solar power, and pulling out the excess dirt and cobblestone from the chest into some compacting drawers.

Then I added the tiny Big Reactor, and the quarry went WHOOSH with a sudden influx of 1000+RF/tick.

To avoid making too many gigantic holes where my base was, I graduated on from using the overworld and moved on over into Aroma1997’s Mining Dimension, a flat grassy dimension solely for the purposes of mining.

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The compacting drawers became Deep Storage Units, capable of holding 2,000,000,000 of one type of item. (Next project: add more DSUs for gravel, limestone, andesite, diorite, the works.)

Several gazillion distractions later, I did eventually start in on the Space Program.

It was very different from how I normally play modded Minecraft.

Instead of just winging it and building simple stuff and then iterating on it as the whim takes me, I found that I had to start planning a lot.

Y’see, the problem was, once you go into space and land on the Moon, the issue becomes the title of Klei Entertainment’s new game. Instead of “Don’t Starve,” it becomes “Oxygen Not Included.”

Well. Crap. Spending all that effort to build a rocket, refine enough fuel to blast me into space and to the moon would SUCK if I promptly suffocated to death 30 seconds later in low gravity.

So I needed to learn about the machines the Galacticraft mod provided to solve the Oxygen problem. Everything from portable oxygen gear, to Oxygen Collectors that collect oxygen from leaves, to Oxygen Sealers that would only work if inside a sealed room, had to be researched and then built painstakingly.

Oxygen-providing machines need power to function. So now I needed to think of ways to create sustainable power while on the Moon.

Solar power was one avenue I went up explorimg for a while, scaling up to some four Advanced Solar Generators from Mekanism feeding the maximum capacity Capacitor block that held 25mil RF.

Then between one wiki reading and the next, I learned that on the Moon, day for like half of the moon phase, and then it becomes night for the OTHER half. For a real world hour or so.

Uhhh… Visions of the moon base failing and running out of power and oxygen just as the world got dark and evolved creepers and zombies started spawning across the land flashed in front of my eyes.

Multiple redundancies sounded like a good idea. Culinary generators? From wheat? I’d have to grow them. Generators fueled by charcoal? From trees? That would be grown? Hmm… I needed something cheap, compact, and sustainable.

The first moon base would be really small, so as not to tax the Oxygen Sealer, and consume too much oxygen…

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A couple days of Google research later led me to this beauty.

Ender IO’s Stirling Generators are one of the cheapest to build starting generators, but upgrade fairly respectably when kitted out with an Octadic Capacitor upgrade. They can burn solid fuel like vanilla furnaces, coal, charcoal, and -lava buckets-, while not consuming the iron bucket itself.

Minefactory Reloaded has a Lava Fabricator machine. A bucket of lava in a Stirling Generator produces more than enough RF for the fabricator to make a bucket of lava. Ding ding ding!

An Ender IO Fluid Tank is capable of auto-filling buckets of lava, if an empty bucket is piped into it.

Some item conduit tweaks later, the iron bucket automatically goes into the Stirling Generator when full of lava, and gets spat back into the Fluid Tank when empty, whereupon it fills up with lava again, and pops right back into the Stirling Generator, in a loop that produces excess power once the whole system fills up with lava.

I built lots of prototype machinery in the overworld to test. There was a grand checklist of items – Power, Oxygen, Food, Wood, Base Materials, etc – I’d have to bring to the Moon, because the moon wouldn’t have any of this stuff.

I was getting more paranoid than NASA.

I even backed up my save (hoorah singleplayer) before I started blasting off, just in case.

It was a good thing too, because a stray zombie jumped me 5 seconds into the countdown, and managed to kill me, JUST as the rocket blasted off (without me) into space.

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Lesson learned: Do not blast off at night, without any fences to keep mobs at bay.

Paranoia rewarded. One backup save retrieval later, I slept in a bed to switch it to daylight before blasting off.

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The Space Astronomy modpack is pretty nuts. First time seeing this menu, ever. Lots of planets to visit, requiring higher and higher tiers of spaceships. You can make a space station too, orbiting the overworld…

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…but it’s the Moon landing we’re headed for, this first go around.

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My first ever moon base, a very modest rectangular room made up of stone bricks and concrete blocks. (Brought the bricks just in case the concrete wasn’t recognized as a solid block by the Oxygen Sealer.)

The “airlock” is basically two solid blocks of moon dirt on the left side, leading into a shallow tunnel, sealed with another two solid bricks as the outer door.

There are actual proper air lock blocks and controllers in Galacticraft, but they require meteorite iron, which can only be found on the moon.

There’s oxygen in the room, as indicated by the torches staying alit.

It was rather unnerving the first time around, because I realized through actual firsthand experience, that the vanilla Minecraft torches would not stay lit in an oxygen-free environment. (Well, duh, in retrospect.)

There was a lot of building in the dark and stumbling around placing initial blocks, while praying no mobs snuck up.

Fortunately, the redundancy in planning worked, and the lava-fed stirling generators produced enough power to keep all the oxygen machines topped up for good, and then some.

There was a small amount of panic at the discovery that the Oxygen Collectors were not collecting as much oxygen as tested in the Overworld, because there isn’t oxygen in the atmosphere to collect.

My elite gas tank that I prefilled with 512 buckets of oxygen was diminishing to the 400s as I worked.

Apparently, I needed a lot more plant material around, so I grew lots of wheat and a few oak trees to shear more leaves (yay, I remembered to bring shears) to line the space near the Oxygen Collectors.

Some more tweaks and repositioning of input and output to the gas tank and pressurized tubes later, I was finally getting positive inflow of oxygen to send the gas tank numbers rising, instead of falling.

Yay!

All in all, things went well, all the essentials were stabilized, even without needing me to set up the solar power generators. Likely those will have to go on the outside, when I construct the rocket launch pad to get back to the overworld.

The major thing I missed in my plan though, was LIGHT.

I had no clue the torches would extinguish without oxygen. This makes mining for moon ores nigh impossible right now. I can only walk the moon’s surface during the day, looking for fallen meteors for meteoric iron.

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No finding the moon dungeon for me.

Soon, it’ll be time to build the rocket launch setup back (yes, I remembered to bring fuel, and a fuel loader… I think) and I will need to think on the light problem.

Glowstone torches work, apparently, but glowstone is really annoying to come by. Grrrr.

On the bright side, at least I’m not dead before the moon base got set up and stabilized into sustainability.

Modded Minecraft – Shader Shenanigans

I got a mite bored with the slow pace of my Terrafirmapunk world the other day and idly decided to install a whole new random modpack to play around with.

Granted, this was using my very old Feed the Beast standalone launcher (since I absolutely refuse to use the Curse client, and will eventually have to learn how to use alternative launcher options like ATLauncher or MultiMC) so new offerings that I haven’t already tried were somewhat limited.

The current winner is Space Astronomy, a tech-focused modpack which promises the ability to blast off into space and explore other planets.

It all sounded very different from the sticks n’ stones survival existence I was busy eking out in Terrafirmapunk, struggling to accumulate enough resources to not die and maybe just maybe build unnecessarily complicated brass-based steamtech, provided I had the patience to figure out how the multiblock structures of an entirely new and unfamiliar mod fit together.

A couple hours later, after the excited buzz of “oh, how FAST I can mine through stuff in regular Minecraft, not Terrafirmacraft” and “OMG look at all these metal veins lying around -everywhere-” had worn off, I realized I had fallen back into my old modpack routine.

Hobbit hole in the ground, surrounded by chests and furnaces and basic Tinker’s Construct workbenches. Check.

Small Tinker’s Smeltery, labour-intensive and still manually operated, for lack of resources and the will to get around to automating it. Check.

Floundering around trying to decide which mod to progress through, that didn’t include stuff I didn’t like to do (eg. venture into the Nether, build mob spawner traps in order to get sufficient resources, figure out how to get ender pearls) and winding up blocked, with a HQM quest book that wasn’t any help because the author had assumed a Minecraft player with much faster progression than moi… Check.

Everything felt same old, same old.

Somehow, I got it into my head that I wanted to change around the feel of Minecraft and make it look a bit more like the awesome scenery I’d seen some Youtubers sporting.

(Except those Youtubers had an -awful- taste in texture packs where I was concerned, overly ornate and ornamental and forcing 128x or 256x textures onto the poor innocent Minecraft cube in the name of “realism.”)

Ah, but as Pixar would tell you, there is one magical thing that gives still (as in, not animated) computer graphics a lot more soul and atmosphere.

Light.

I have been forever fascinated by how Pixar’s lighting artists can take a uniformly lit 3D image and place light sources that throw shadows and highlights and color in various directions, and suddenly, the image goes from lifeless and sterile to emanating warmth and conveying a mood.

It was time to get off my arse and stop accepting pre-packaged modpacks as is, and learn how to mod Minecraft with the fantastic shaders that others had been developing for years.

It turned out to be more and less trouble than I had been expecting.

Finding the shaders was merely a matter of Google searching, and I found a couple that seemed promising: Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders (SEUS), Sildur’s Shaders which were apparently more customizable and less hard on the CPU/GPU, and Continuum Shaders which were the complete opposite and would crush lesser computers.

Installation was trickier.

Downloading the shaders meant navigating through ad-infested waters and left me feeling like I both needed a stronger ad-blocker and that I needed to virus scan my computer afterwards.

Vanilla Minecraft has leapfrogged on to version 1.11, including strange new things I haven’t gotten around to learning, and while certain mods have kept up and improved alongside it, others have fallen behind.

Meanwhile, I haven’t moved on from Minecraft version 1.7.10 because I’m still in love with the mods of that era and haven’t explored them all yet. So it meant following a rabbit trail of “old and outdated” markers, locating the most appropriate version of each shader for the version of Minecraft I’m playing.

Certain instructions bamboozled me and led me up wrong alleys. Sildur’s Shaders firmly instructed that Optifine 1.7.10 HD U D7 -must- be used for Minecraft 1.7.10, as it was the only version that had the shaders mod integrated.

Which was all very well, but Optifine D7 refused to play well with the Space Astronomy modpack and crashed it on startup.

Going back one version to Optifine D6 and everything was great, Space Astronomy started up… but it had no integrated shaders mod. -What- shaders mod was he even referring to?

More research revealed a Shaders Mod (updated by karyonix) that built on the GLSL Shaders mod by daxnitro, which Optifine had apparently subsumed in D7 and included in its own mod for higher Minecraft versions.

Well. No harm in trying to install it on top of Optifine D6, and seeing what happened.

Turns out it puts a teeny tiny Shaders button option in Minecraft that helps you swap between shaders and tweak a few basic settings.

Excellent. With that in place, I could now start checking out the shaders themselves.


Here’s our control: Basic Minecraft, with its own integrated shader, 16×16 default textures.

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(Ignore the Pam’s Harvestcraft beehive floating in thin air for now. It used to be in a birch tree, which I chopped down in a “I need wood” rampage.)

Somewhere along the shader adventure, I was also experimenting with various texture packs.

Some people really like re-skins – Soartex and Chroma Hills were two names I kept stumbling across. I look at the screenshots and I can’t even bring myself to download them because they just change the look of Minecraft so much that I don’t think I can even recognize it and have to re-learn everything again. They look nice, certainly, in their own way, but they just don’t look “Minecraft” to me. Personal taste and all that.

I found myself attracted to the ones that promised an “improved” default look, and yet didn’t deviate too much.

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Vattic’s Faithful 32×32 took a slight bit of getting used to (I’m -that- used to the default 16×16 textures) but they grew on me.

mc-noshaders32 This is super-subtle, and you can see the difference mostly in the tall grass texture.  The pixelation of the 16×16 textures have juuuust been smoothed out a touch, but it still looks very characteristically Minecraft.

We layer a shader on top. In this case, Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders:

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Well, fuck me.

Light is magical, after all.

Sildur’s Vibrant Shaders Medium:

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Continuum Shaders:

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They all look good, in their own way.

Sildur’s Shaders, for example, which I do not personally prefer, reminds me of the sort of colored fantasy light landscape of World of Warcraft. It’s more given to vivid, saturated colors. With the right texture pack (maybe Chroma Hills, since its byline is “RPG, with a cartoon twist?”) I suspect, it might look fantastic.

I really like the photoreal look of SEUS, though others might find it a little washed out, or too artificially faux realistic.

The next two pictures are older, non-artificial camera angle-controlled screenshots from my first excited exploration of this newly shaded Minecraft world:

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(The beehive in the birch tree is still intact in this one.)

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The water is unbelievable.

Oh, would that I could just stop there and consider this shader as perfect and actually start playing Minecraft in awesome mode.

Unfortunately, I ran into a couple flaws with default SEUS.

The sun had a tendency to be too bright. When facing in certain directions, I had a tendency to act like a vampire and go “Augh, my eyes! I’m burning!” and try to run underground.

Speaking of underground, this was where nearly all the shaders failed me.

-Apparently- most normal people playing Minecraft build fantastic structures aboveground to be lit up by the sunlight, and only go underground to mine and have scary, exciting adventures.

I, on the other hand, have some kind of dwarf blood in me and like to tunnel through the stone to build underground bases.

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I am used to the default Minecraft shader, which lights everything with an ambient white light.

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My underground bases are very comfortably lit up with the default shader, providing a built-in fluorescent daylight lamp that makes pottering about sorting inventory and processing resources pleasant, while remaining safe from wandering monsters.

To all the modded shaders, the underground is dark and shadowy, and torchlight is yellow or orange.

SEUS:mc-ug-seus

Sildur’s:

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Continuum:

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I admit this makes for both more realistic lighting and a sense of scary adventure moving underground… but YOU try living in this sort of yellow-orange half-light while trying to work out which machine to build next.

SEUS (night):

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Sildurs (night):

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One thing I tried was mining out some skylights. It was kinda fun to see how the daylight filtering in changed the quality of the light in different shaders.

Sildurs (day):

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SEUS (day):

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The problem though was that nearly half of the time, it was going to be night, unless I kept sleeping the night away.

Not to mention, all that work digging skylights. What if I wanted to burrow even further down into the earth? Was I doomed to a goblin-esque existence of scrabbling around in yellow sodium torchlight? *gollum*

It got depressing. I wanted some blue light to mix in with all that orange.

I found a very helpful Youtuber called Past Life Pro, who made videos about how to tweak shader settings and customize them to your liking.

It turns out that, yes, you can reduce the sun’s brightness in SEUS (hoorah, no more vampirism) and you can change the color of torchlight.

It’s kind of amazing how the feeling of the night changes with changing torchlight colors.

Unfortunately, but enlighteningly, I learned that Minecraft is coded in such a way as to only have one light color for torchlight (and all other lights like glowstone or lights included by mods.) You can vary the brightness given off by different blocks, but not the color.

(Though there are work-in-progress mods working on a way to create RGB light channels to produced colored light sources soon(TM) but not available now.)

A lot of tweaking and waffling around later, I settled on a dim whiter light for torchlight.

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The dimness still implied “underground,” but at least the cones in my eyes weren’t getting seared by orange.

Sadly, I had to give up on the SEUS shader due to one issue I couldn’t quite figure out if it was a bug due to the version, or just something with how the shader worked with light.

The problem’s visible in the screenshot above. A good half or more of the items being kept in Storage Drawers turned into black silhouettes. This, as you might imagine, makes sorting and retrieval of a desired item a giant pain in the ass.

Try as I might to tweak things, nothing seemed to work. I even brought out a storage drawer in bright daylight and the icons still registered as black.

I eventually figured out that SEUS was the issue when I swapped to Sildur’s and the icons came out fine. Sildur’s was way too yellow, so that was right out. My only hope was trying out Continuum, which was adapted with permission as a continuation of SEUS.

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I was pleasantly surprised to see that the icons were fine.

There’s still a bit of that yellow light problem, but for whatever reason, maybe the higher contrast, it doesn’t seem to bother me as much, or I’m getting used to it.

Perhaps in the future, I’ll tweak it and push a tiny bit more blue light into the mix.

As a second best option, Continuum isn’t too shabby, mind you. Not by half. It’s more taxing on the GPU, apparently, but hell, I splurged on a good video card for a reason:

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The nights are really dark nights.

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Yet still with moments of beauty, as seen in this boat ride.

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(The moon may need a bit of tweaking, it looked a bit odd as it was rising, but that’s for another time.)

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The rain blows my mind. The floor is wet (if a mite super-reflective – yet another future tweak.)

The one thing I don’t really like is how Continuum treats water.

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On the whole, it’s generally choppier and with more waves than SEUS. The wind blows stronger than in SEUS too.

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Some shallower bodies of water look okay, so maybe it’s some kind of calculation as to how strong the waves should be, given the depth and quantity of the water at hand.

Definitely something I’ll be searching for and tweaking down if at all possible.

But on the whole, Continuum is the shader that I’ve chosen to accompany me on my Minecraft journey into SPAAAACE. (One day.)

The Memoir of Obscure Wanderings

stagnum obscuria

n. the feeling of being swamped by countless innumerable little things to get done and valiantly treading water just to stay in one place… only to look up and realize that you no longer recognize where you are… a shrouded foggy gloom of sombre silhouettes stands in the stead of where you thought you were… and the only thought in your mind is that you are now irrevocably lost.

That was me four weeks ago.

And the above is my little copycat nod to The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a fun little word blog I discovered via a TED talk about made up words to describe inarticulable emotions, feelings for which simple English words like happy or sad or bored or angry just don’t encompass the entirety of the experience.

See, I wasn’t -unhappy-, I was just busy.

Busy getting necessary things done, at work, in real life, attending raids, getting the odd Pokemon caught and Pokestops spun here and there, not quite following the weekly priority wishlist of things I’d quite like to get done, but most definitely getting other equally pressing matters done…

… and before you know it, the week’s over and it’s time for a new week.

Eh, maybe it’s a bad week. We have all those at some point or another. Can’t expect every week of the year to be productive, right?

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The next week Path of Exile Legacy League launches. It’s a welcome distraction.

I jump straight into the new SSF (solo self-found) legacy softcore league, just to make things official and mostly to add to Grinding Gear Games’ stats, since I’d still be not talking or trading with anybody either way.

I’d previously been idly testing a life leeching axe duelist pre-Legacy League, wondering if I dared to make my own build and see how far it would get.

It seemed like a bad idea to try starting a league with a self-found melee self-created build though, so I went for a very safe previously-tested SSF starter, Pewpewpew’s cheap firestorm build that uses zombie meatshields. You can get away with ludicrously bad gear with this build and still function relatively well up to basic maps.

As RNG luck would have it, a +40% item rarity shield unique dropped very early on for me, and subsequently various rares all got rolled with +10% odd item rarity here and there. I went, “OK, what the heck, I guess we’re going to stack magic find instead of survival and see what happens!”

I end up collecting a stash tab full of uniques on my way to level 70, which is the point where my total disregard for any respectable resistances starts causing the occasional exploding into gory little bits by a single lightning spell hit.

Faced with the prospect of patiently re-gearing with more upgraded stuff and giving up the item rarity… and a bunch of shiny unique axes that are screaming “I would be awesome if you played a melee axe user…”

I decide it’s time to make an alt and try the experimental self-build, now armed with some shiny uniques.

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It’s a mix of sunder for long ranged rectancular AoE and lacerate for closer single-target or small AoE cone, a bit of life leech and the plan is to go for as much evasion / life as possible and stretch into acrobatics and spell dodging.

I have no idea if it will work, but the fun is in the trying.

It’s a strange little revelation that hit me in the midst of leveling this fellow, at like literally level 5.

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I was thinking, “whoa, two uniques have dropped,” “this melee cleaving is pretty fun” “I’m sure this will be really fun in the level 30-40s, though I have no idea how high I’ll reach before the build starts to not work”

and then it hit me, “So what? Killing things at level 30-40 kinda feels the same as killing things at level 60-70; cool unique stuff will still drop; you don’t trade so you have no standard of comparison as to what’s more profitable or no, everything to you is a potential cool thing that a new alt could use.”

I made it to level 82 or 83 once a long time ago with an ancestral warchief marauder, so the Atlast of Worlds and mapping is not exactly unexplored territory, beyond the bosses that are still beyond one’s knowledge and gear capacity.

So there isn’t any actual need to keep pushing ever so higher and higher. Ladder climbing is not a personal motivator. Until Legacy League ends and the ten acts of Path of Exile drop, one is essentially repeating the same scenery over and over in normal, cruel and merciless difficulty anyway.

The fun is in the random loot drops and the testing and tweaking of one’s knowledge of the game, and if I have to explode a hundred times from mistakes to do it, why not? 

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The last couple of weeks has also been tiresomely methodical on the GW2 front.

My raid group has developed an obsession with defeating Deimos on challenge mode, going for some 3 hours once or twice a week, not counting the additional normal clear day that is used to get all 13 normal mode bosses/raid encounters out of the way.

The issue with Deimos, and working as intended, is that one single person making a mistake essentially causes a raid wipe.

Since we keep going for three hours with no success, one can indeed conclude that mistakes were made.

It’s not any one person. It’s all understandable mistakes (or bad RNG with insufficiently thought out backup strategy.) People in critical roles like the tank or the flak (ie. nasty looking pink hands) kiters are under high pressure, they slip up once and bang, they die. Whoops. /GG. Restart.

Less adept people who have been carefully placed in less critical roles make the occasional mistake and slip up. Whoops, there goes the oil expanding and wrecking all in its path and the careful positioning and timing needed. /GG. Restart.

A teleport gets put on someone unexpected; people dodge reflexively in a different direction than previously agreed on; people miss a dodge; adds in later phases overwhelm players’ ability to process the encounter, causing panic which leads to a mistake…  /GG. Restart.

Well, it is challenge mode, after all.

And I believe the intent is to have some encounters that are difficult to the point of requiring a group to keep practising for days and weeks until they get the execution just perfect, collectively. Some people like that kind of thing, after all.

And I don’t actually hate it, or have a strong opinion about it. I keep showing up, after all. It is interesting, in a way, to keep rehearsing a particular part in a performance and analyze one’s mistakes and try not to keep slipping up in the same way (mea culpa: the moment I panic, I dodge early…enter flying soon-to-be-dead asura).

It is, however, tiring as fuck. Especially to do it for three hours after a long day at work with no dinner.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not something I want to stop doing. I’m an opportunist and opportunity in my kind of timezone rarely knocks twice.

But it does put me through the wringer. And after two, three days a week, it pretty much drains all energy and desire to do much of anything else. Especially anything else GW2-related. *shudder*

At the same time, accomplishments in any game feel increasingly meaningless.

Today, I’m level whatever in Path of Exile. Or I collected X number of resources leading to Y goal in GW2. Or I caught a Z Pokemon for the collection.

It’s a made-up goal that the developers have designed, that you’ve agreed to suspend disbelief to want, for the purposes of “playing” the game.

I start getting restless and game hop.

I go for a short spin in Trove to revisit things. Still colorful, still pretty amusing, still laggy as anything for my geographical location.

I poke my head into my singleplayer ARK game, die a couple of times to random dinosaurs while trying to remember how to play, wind up with a lucky violent dinosaur-free respawn, build a slightly less pathetic thatch hut that is four squares big, and bully a couple of low level dinosaurs – mostly because they’re stuck in trees.

ark-mar

It takes forever and a few wiki browses before I re-remember how to tame anything.

ark-mar2

Huzzah, I have a tame turtle.

It still feels meaningless. Collect thatch. Collect wood. Collect berries.

I briefly consider playing my Minecraft: Terrafirmapunk game, but wuss out at the thought of needing to collect more wood and stone.

shelter

I give Shelter a go, it’s been on my Steam list forever and unplayed.

Before long I realize that I’m either emotionally dead to the plight of badgers beyond the metagame of trying to see which badger is the lightest in color to feed before it starves, or conversely too afraid of the eventual lesson of nature that one of the badger pups will wind up lost along the way or that death will inevitably come, for the badger mum if nobody else.

So I stop. The only way to win is not to play, and all that.

slime-rancher1

The real winner of my restless game wanderings is this delightful little Early Access game that was going on 33% off on Steam – Slime Rancher.

I almost never buy Early Access games.

I pretty much -never- buy a game at only 33% off, preferring to wait for 75% off, or at least 50% off if I want it badly enough.

I impulse bought it, mostly because the reviews were very positive and I -really- needed some cheering up and this seemed colorful enough to do it.

I don’t regret a single cent.

It is really that good.

It is unabashedly happy and cartoony and ridiculous as befits a game that is about collecting and selling slime poop… er, plorts.

It is also a game that works, has interesting content and a decent progression path, which is something quite unexpected for an Early Access game.

The slimes jiggle around and display interesting behaviors. If they’re hungry, they’ll mash themselves right against the walls of their corral, yearning towards the nearest piece of food they can see.

They start stacking atop each other, making little slime stack ladders, so that one or two of them will eventually hop over the walls and get out, the devious little blobs.

slime-rancher2

There are tabby cat slimes that will grab objects near them and play with them, tossing them willy nilly.

The fun is in the discovery though, and rest assured, there are more interesting slimes and and other things to be found in this game.

There are a few zones and objects still under construction, but by and large, the game is very playable even without them.

Recommended.

Especially when you want a mood lift. *Blorp*