The latest hotness that has taken the gaming world by storm since Among Us and Phasmophobia appears to be another Early Access game by name of Valheim, where you play a Viking in a somewhat low-poly procedurally generated world and wander around, chopping down trees, building settlements and fighting monsters.
I wouldn’t know.
I’ve been busy playing in a somewhat low-poly procedurally generated world, wandering around, chopping down trees, building settlements and NOT fighting monsters.
(Nothing against Valheim, but between Early Access, the slightly glitchy low-poly aesthetic and general leeriness of popular bandwagons… I’ll wait. Seems to be one of those games where it’s the community aspect of possible multiplayer feeding the acclaim, and while solo singleplayer appears to be functional and possible, it feels like waiting for a couple balance passes might only improve things and the overall experience over time.)
Somehow, I managed to miss the entire do-you-want-to-be-a-Viking bruhaha because I thought I’d do a little bit of digital spring cleaning. One thing just led to another.
See, it started by learning that the Twitch launcher for Minecraft was going out of commission.
Seeing as I was an extremely reluctant user of it in the first place, when years ago, Twitch/Curse basically ate the Feed the Beast launcher up in a monopoly, this sounded like the perfect opportunity to jettison the software out of my system for good.
Except, I also had years of built-up modded Minecraft instances to preserve and back up and salvage. Some trial and error research later, I settled on ATlauncher and started the process of transferring directories and testing if they started up.
It was not without a sense of irony that I realized most of these modpack instances were ancient, relying on Minecraft 1.7 versions as their base. Vanilla Minecraft has jumped nearly ten versions since then, hovering between 1.16 and 1.17 now. (I’m not even sure I would feel familiar in it any longer.)
Idly, I decided to check out the Peace of Mind modpack – it caught my researching eye while Rakuno was first delving into the game, but didn’t have time to try out then.
The conceit of this particular modpack is that it is purpose-built for Peaceful mode in Minecraft, allowing a player to learn and tinker with mods in peace, without having to lose nights huddling away from zombies and hearing the annoying “sssSsssS” of a creeper about to force a very grumpy rebuild of parts of your base.
It sounded rather relaxing. Not being a gamer who particularly thrives on challenge, achievement, boss mob difficult fights and all that jazz, this was a positive, rather than a negative.
I lasted about a minute.
For whatever reason, my eyes just felt spoiled staring at the basic 16 bit textures and the overall pixelation factor. Try as I might, I just couldn’t re-adapt to it.
Well. There are solutions for that.
So I chucked in the Soartex Fanver texture pack, and SEUS Renewed shaders, along with the appropriate Optifine version to run it. (Wow, I’m now on Minecraft 1.12 – such progress!)
Ah. Much better.
It took a while to get into the right frame of mind.
The area that I spawned into was pretty much generic forest, bordered by a bit of bogland, and it just didn’t feel like a place I would be happy setting up long-term camp in.
Instead, I went wandering.
The Peace of Mind modpack couples Biomes of Plenty with Mystical World. Between those two major mods, a couple of minor secondary mods and my general unfamiliarity with Minecraft 1.12, it made for a lot of cool stuff to stumble upon.
Like the cutest owl ever. Apparently, may be tamable one day, in a future version of Mystical World. Look forward to that day.
There were a lot of varied buildings and structures, whose exploration was very low stress, since all the mob spawner blocks spun around wildly but remained completely non-functional in Peaceful.
I found myself reflecting on the role that hostile mobs played in ordinary Minecraft and other ‘normal’ difficulty survival games. Yes, they did crank up the tension and provide an obstacle to overcome – something that Peace of Mind distinctly lacked and felt noticeable enough to reflect on.
Yet, I also knew that if the mobs were there, I would have been fixated on the mobs instead of the architecture and maze-like structures. It would have been a game about weapons, armor, gear, spamming attack and diminishing sacks of hitpoints, and getting through enough of them fast enough to surround all available spawners with torches to stop the spawning. I would have hacked through walls, tunneled beside existing structures and generally created my own Swiss Cheese circumvention just to neutralize all spawners, leaving not much of the original building to admire by the time I was done.
Instead, without hostile mobs, it was more a quiet thoughtful puzzle. Have I been down this particular corridor branch, or stairwell? Should I leave a torch to mark it? (But I’m running low on that resource.) What’s in this room? What’s up that ladder? Have I looted this chest? How do I carry it all? What do I leave behind?
Interspersed with the ruin exploration and treasure looting game were moments of admiring scenes of natural beauty.
I honestly don’t know how I picked a place to set up base camp.
I think I was just stuffed full of things and HAD to put down some chests to divest myself of some encumbrance.
I’d lost the forests some time back and try as I might, could not find them again. (Alas, poor Journeymap mod, I relied on you too much. Peace of Mind lacks that, choosing instead the more immersive Antique Atlas mod, which requires you to craft a book before it creates a Gameboy-sprite-like map for reference.)
Somewhere between a desert and a savanna, I realized the acacia trees were pretty much it for the foreseeable miles and chunks around me.
So chests went down. Crafting tables, furnaces, and an assortment of other things followed in time.
Home is where the decor just naturally accretes.
It’s dark at night, so lights need to go up.
There’s a deep ravine really close by, so railings are required to prevent accidents.
The ladders with which I originally climbed down into the ravine are on the opposite side, and it’s really annoying to keep going around, so guess I need to put in an elevator block for convenience.
The elevator block needs to be clearly marked, so heck, why not put in a floor design.
As for why I put the Tinker’s Smeltery and tool stations into the ravine in the first place… I don’t really know. Probably for lack of space on top.
I’d considered digging deeper and making my usual underground dwarf/hobbit halls, but Seus Shaders and that orange-yellow glow from torches, man. Still not for it, after all these years. (I might tweak the color of the torch light again, soon.)
I would miss sunlight and day when it’s lit by Seus. So part-time surface dwelling is still a must.
If there’s one thing truly challenging about Peace of Mind, it is about learning to develop, on one’s own, a focused interest and self-motivation in a web of scattered threads and possibilities and potentialities.
In this, it feels more different than the usual modpacks I play.
In Skyblock and Stoneblock types of modpacks, there is a tech progression, usually based around Ex Nihilo where there is a linear early game of growing trees, sieving blocks, dealing with ores, making a mob farm and so on.
In TerrafirmaCraft-like modpacks, the progression is from Stone to Bronze age, moving from knocking together pieces of rock to being able to smelt and forge metal.
Peace of Mind has a quest book and plenty of quests, but almost immediately, it allows you to branch out laterally into… pretty much any mod you want to explore. Astral Sorcery? Botania? Psi? Immersive Engineering? Inventory Pets? What have you? Do a few unlocks and go for it. Except you may have to find the requisite materials among the world itself, which might require a whole lot of progression elsewhere.
Without a convenient lava generator from Ex Nihilo, looking for lava meant digging down to Y level 12 as per Vanilla Minecraft and scooping out buckets… or maybe venturing to the Nether. Is now the time for a Nether journey? Who knows. Up to you.
The Nether is still very much a hazardous place, even without hostile mobs. You can still die from lava damage. From falling. From falling into lava. From stepping on blossoms that burst into flame and brambles whose thorns stab you when you tread on them.
It is still infuriatingly impossible to locate a Nether Fortress when you need one.
Especially one which actually contains the Nether Wart which you need for some mod or another.
Granted, it is a little more peaceful to wander its corridors without incessant Blazes getting into your face and Ghast screams.
It turns out that when challenge is lacking in the form of moaning monsters, one creates different sorts of challenge for oneself.
I could have made a rectangular cobblestone walled courtyard, studded with torches every 7 squares, with a two-deep moat around it, before filling it with the machines from various modpacks. But why would I do that here? The functional purpose of such a structure is to have maximum safe space with the least resources, away from zombies and creepers.
With no zombies and creepers, the functional purpose of structures that I build should be to be aesthetically pleasing to me in some way, and possibly challenge my limited architectural skills to go just that little bit further.
I wanted a place to put the Cooking with Blockheads mod kitchen, and before I even felt happy putting down those blocks, I would up with a not-quite-rectangular (it’s sort of hexagonal, a little bit) building that developed a pink color scheme by chance (eucalyptus wood is pink, and that’s pretty much the only other tree in this biome besides acacia.)
Pink pillars (I was testing the ArchitectureCraft mod, which allows for varied different shapes besides square blocks) necessitated pink stained glass to accompany them.
It was dark at night, and torches would have ruined the aesthetic. Hmm, what’s this other mod that has Glowing Colored Water? How does it work? Can I actually get infinite glowing water if I make infinite water pools with two buckets of glowing water colors?
Answer: Yes. Yes, you can.
Before I knew it, I had glowing pink fountains cascading down the sides of the building.
Seus Shaders, man. Frickin’ awesome.
And yes, I need glass walls, because I love looking out at the world.
The new project is a farm building.
I thought I’d start small and loft it upward in a vertical farm stack once I figured out the basic layout, but even the first floor is getting a mite ambitious in terms of the resources and effort to build.
Then I started calculating just how many 3×3 farm plots I was going to need to get one of every type of Pam’s Harvestcraft crops… Spoiler alert: some guy on Reddit made a plain flat massive farm containing 8×10 rows and columns of 3×3 farm plots. Aka 80 squares.
I’ve got only 4 squares on this one floor.
No way I’m making a twenty floor building.
*Emergency siren* Change of plans. Change of plans…
How else can I arrange 80 squares so that I don’t have to stack twenty floors? How can I not make it a plain ugly rectangle like I usually make?
Do you know how to tell when you’re both obsessed and have very probably bitten off a lot more than you can chew?
Answer: When you turn Microsoft Excel into graph paper and start brainstorming little pixel designs.
Little pixel designs that, by the way, are 4-6x larger and more in-depth than the one tiny square box that is already taking forever to decorate to satisfaction.
This is turning into a PROJECT.
Follow the mod questlines in the quest book? What are those?