Most of early March seemed to be themed around feeling a sense of industry, of incrementing numbers and progress.
Mar 11 – 19
Crusaders of the Lost Idols
Total time spent: 6h 8 min
Had a whole series of virtual meetings for work lined up, yet felt antsy about insufficient gaming time. All work, no play, Jack becomes dull boy, all that jazz.
It hit me that the perfect game for such busy periods was an idle game. Set it up, it runs by itself, pop back in to check on it from time to time.
I already had a favorite idle game, so it was just a matter of cranking it up…
Not played since 673 days ago.
Welp, that’s quite a big consolation boost of XP that got converted into some 894 idols of progress when I reset it for a new run.
Wound up steadily playing through the first two tiers of some St Patrick’s day holiday event before interest petered out.
Minecraft: Peace of Mind modpack
6h 4 min of working on the Immersive Engineering mod. Set up a little platform to build the multi-block machines.
Rapidly glass’ed over the lava pool for fear of falling in.
Progress was slow.
Honestly, I dislike the Immersive Engineering mod, hence why I’ve rarely tinkered with it until forced to, by a modpack that lacks more convenient options. It always struck me as deliberately clunky and less efficient – you have to save up a bunch of materials, figure out how to construct a laundry list of building blocks, put those building blocks together in a precise fashion following the manual to finally make the multiblock. All that, for not very much gain. Or the same gain that in other mods, just requires you to build one compact, convenient block.
This is doubtless, by design, so that it provides both an in-between progression option and for it to feel more ‘realistic’ and ‘immersive’ because you can see a giant machine cranking away as the final result, as opposed to a cold impersonal square box. But I’m a simple person with a simple brain and overcomplicated things get to me.
Mar 15 – 18
Total time spent: 7h 36 min
Apparently, immersive engineering was not ENOUGH industry. To soothe this need to chain a bunch of boxes together to crank out widgets, I decided to give Factorio another go.
Factorio and I have… not quite a love/hate relationship, it’s not that strong… more of a like/dislike relationship.
I like the idea of Factorio in theory. I dislike actually learning about how precisely it wants me to link things together.
I like linking things together haphazardly. I dislike boxing myself into a corner while doing so. (And heaven forfend that I have to tear things down and start over.)
I dislike the distraction of nasty alien enemies spawning to take apart my designs while I’m barely working out how to get by in the first place. But I also fear the boredom of just sitting there staring in peace at intractable machines (if I customize the game to take them out.)
I think reading a guide and copying someone’s beautifully optimized designs are pointless – even if it is a mathematically superior, efficient, optimal end point. Why play a game for yourself and remove the enjoyment of discovery and puzzle solving, if you’re just going to follow someone else’s instructions from point A to B?
Yet I’m probably not ever going to progress beyond a certain point if I just try to figure it all out by myself. Simple brain, and all that.
Suffice to say, Factorio and I are still figuring out how to get along.
My big progress step this time around was getting past the ‘perfection’ block of desiring things built just right the first go and opening up to the possibility of iteration – yes, tearing things down and starting over. (Brrr.)
Somehow, building in iterated phases in Minecraft Peace of Mind had opened up a space in my mind to just say, “well, it’s a first draft, we can clean it up as we go along.” Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good, good enough is good enough, and all that. Games can be toys. Factorio is my toy. I am going to build MY way and enjoy the process.
I tweaked down the alien spawns so my calm wouldn’t be as frequently eroded while figuring out my slow way through the perplexing machinery riddles. (I might have actually taken it too far, as I had nothing attack, and I managed to just stroll over to any uncovered alien nests and assault rifle them into bio-goop.)
I tweaked up the quantity of ores in each spot so I wouldn’t be forced to move my whole setup away too soon. (Tear down in parts to improve is one thing, tear the -whole- thing down is maybe too much open-mindedness to expect at one go.)
It wound up a rather pleasant time.
I had to re-learn most of the whole thing from scratch. There was some amount of tear-down, but I finally figured out that given the progression tree, this is rather to be expected.
I still have unapologetically a spaghetti conveyor belt sort of base – gives it character! – but it’s mine, and it works, more or less. If it’s a reflection of my brain, so be it.
It started out semi-automated, I tend to like to still have a manual touch here and there. Then as it got more tedious, I just patched in more automation over time.
Have I cornered myself where the science labs are concerned? Probably. I figure it can be moved later, if I ever get around to it.
Red and green science are at least cranking, at the moment.
The next step, after casting around and realizing I didn’t have much else to attempt, was either oil processing or figuring out vehicles / trains.
It was there where my brain overloaded. New concept. Didn’t quite even know where to begin experimenting. I got about as far as walking over to where the oil was shown on the map and haven’t quite gotten back to the game.
Mar 18 – 21
Minecraft: Peace of Mind modpack
Total time spent: 8h
Went back to Immersive Engineering and got more machines built, including the whole fermenter, squeezer chain to feed a diesel generator for RF power.
Energy storage is a problem in the Peace of Mind modpack. I’m used to building a big battery or energy tank for holding and storing energy until needed, but the only energy storing thing I can find appears to be a High Voltage Capacitor from Immersive Engineering, and it doesn’t store -that- much energy. I would have to build a huge massive block of them to store what I want.
The other more convenient energy generator/storage option are high level solar generators, but we’re talking immense amounts of iron, redstone and raw materials to build those.
No idea how accurate the spreadsheet is, but it looks/feels about right. I attempted my own spreadsheet and got about 30% of the way into the effort before I thought to Google and see if anyone else had already done so to save me some trouble.
We’re talking 11k glass (aka 11k sand) for the best one. And way more iron than I can mine up manually, at the moment. We would have to automate this. But automation also requires resources, and power.
It’s a bit of a circular puzzle without the more convenient mods I’m used to.
There’s a Quantum Quarry that I sort of can run for a while before I have to shut it off to get more power built up. It digs up an immense amount of stone and dirt, but not actually much more ore than my more manually operated Orechiid.
The other thing to perhaps attempt is the Immersive Engineering Excavator, but it eats exactly the amount of power the Diesel Generator produces (so I had to get that up and running first.)
I got as far as making the core sample drill and sampling two chunks of ground, but the actual Excavator multiblock has yet to be built. Too intimidating a bill of materials and all that.
It got boring. Not enough progress.
There’s a gap in time where my time tracker on the PC doesn’t seem to reflect much gaming. I suspect this is when I turned to the Switch for portable comfort. More on those games in another post.
Mar 26 – 29
Minecraft: Ocean Outlast modpack
Total time spent: 11h 33min
This was a modpack that always showed up as a featured modpack on ATlauncher, which I’m now using to load up Minecraft.
The cover picture looked soo attractive and pretty.
The idea seemed cool. Basically, skyblock – where you generate most of your own resources – but set in an archipelago, with islands and ocean all around.
It started out well. I threw in my standard shaders and texturepack because I’m now spoiled and can’t do the original pixelated Minecraft any more.
It chugged a bit while loading up all the mods, and I had to tweak down the render distance, because I was concerned with my aging computer’s ability to cope.
What eventually broke me was the underwater ocean.
Ocean Outlast has a Better Diving mod that makes the underwater much richer, almost a direct copy of Subnautica stuff. It looks great.
If I could actually see it, that is. My shaders turn underwater almost pitch black. I have to hold a torch in order to light up a local area. Putting lights under the ocean didn’t work, it only lit up dimly a radius of 3 blocks. Night vision didn’t work.
A good part of the last two days were spent experimentally editing shader files ad nauseam, trying to hit upon the appropriate settings to solve the problem.
I actually got rid of underwater fog and turned it crystal clear (was able to see kelp a long distance away – making the computer chug even more) and looking into the water from aboveground was insanely beautiful – like the world’s most pristine tropical beach filled with a riot of colorful coral (RIP my computer).
But the light itself remained stubbornly broken. It seemed tied tightly to the actual Minecraft light levels. Jump into the water and light levels turn to 0 numerically. On top of the underwater light, light levels were 12. Walk a block away and it drops to 9. Two blocks, 6. One block, 3. Anywhere else, zero. Nil. Nada.
So I had the option of dropping my shader and going with boring ol’ Minecraft ambient style light, or leaving the shader on and attempting to light the ocean every 3 blocks… or finding another shader… or giving up…
After what seemed like 20 restarts of the modpack in one day and its super-slow loading time (it’s very mod heavy, and even opening the quest book makes it chug), the last option seemed like the best way to get rid of the problem for good, by removing the folder entirely from my life. (Hence, the lack of pretty screenshots.)
Perhaps another time, with a stronger computer, and maybe some other shaders.
Having dropped it, I veered into another modpack, Skyfactory 4, which I played briefly ages ago, and decided to start a new world. That one’s going fine. But that’s a tale for another day.