Monday, October 28, 2013

Better Than Wolves

A long time ago, Minecraft had this update that introduced wolves to the game. They're a passive mob, meaning they don't attack you like zombies and skeletons and whatnot. They also have the neat ability to befriend you if you feed them a bone. Then they kind of follow you around and whatnot. Or they can be set to guard a spot from hostile mobs and other players on a multiplayer server. While neat, it isn't exactly a lot of content. So in response, this guy created a mod called Better Than Wolves. 

Normally, mods add things, usually blocks and tools, ores, etc. Usually they're based around some kind of core concept like magic or technology or storage. A lot of the time they mostly add automation or simplification to Minecraft. For instance, Buildcraft adds the quarry, which mines a potentially very large area while powered. Thaumcraft adds little golem dudes that you can set simple tasks for, like harvesting your crops or defending your base. Industrial Craft adds lots of electric tools. Forestry adds multifarms that grow almost any crop and when powered and supplied with the appropriate resources, plants and harvests the crops or trees or whatever automatically and ejects them into a pipe system for storage. 

Better Than Wolves doesn't do any of that really. In fact, it goes to great lengths to make simple tasks harder. Better Than Wolves is almost a complete reworking of most of the game. When you get hungry, you lose the ability to jump or sprint. You can't transport water source blocks in a bucket, you have to dig channels and reroute water manually to hydrate your crops. Trees take forever to grow. You can't mine stone with wood picks or craft wooden axes and swords. Moving through grass slows you down. Etc.

The mod adds a shit ton of content to the game and reworks a lot of recipes and mechanics of the game. The little bit of automation it adds is usually derived from mechanical power and creative applications of cranks and gears and redstone. Like you have to use a hand crank to power the millstone to grind up flour for bread. Or put a water wheel in a spot of flowing water. 

I've been trying out the mod recently and I find it to be almost infuriatingly difficult to progress in. But, everything you do succeed at is that much more rewarding. Even if it is as simple as chopping down some fucking wood. I mean, punching a block of wood for half a minute waiting for it to break is a huge pain in the ass. It drains your hunger bar and doesn't get you much wood. When you finally get enough wood to make enough wooden picks to mine stone and make a stone axe, its awesome. You're not only working faster, you're getting more planks per log and using less hunger. When you finally mine enough iron to make two ingots and make an iron hoe and get farming, well, that's just nuts. 

The mod is on some level fascinating. It forces you to think things through and plan things out in a way that fairly simplistic vanilla never really made me do. But, it doesn't go the route of simply adding a new block or machine to do it for you. Soul Shards, MineFactory Reloaded, and DartCraft all add the ability to craft mob spawners to farm mobs for certain resources, but Better Than Wolves grants you the tools to create pretty neat traps (there's a sawblade machine you can power with a windmill to kill mobs for you), but doesn't do it for you. So you still have to come up with creative methods of getting the game to spawn monsters, and come up with an equally creative way to kill them and collect the loot. Instead of giving you a high cost enchanting table upgrade that lets you pick your enchant instead of getting a random one, Better Than Wolves gives you a high cost enchanting table upgrade, but forces you to provide it with a specific enchantment on a book before it will let you pick it to put on a tool or weapon. 

I don't necessarily know if I am committed to playing the mod religiously and exploring all of its content, but I really like the concept and the challenge of it. I dunno. Sometimes heavily modded Minecraft is super fucking easy, which makes it boring at times. I mean, once you set up a 64 x 64 quarry, you're pretty much set for metals forever. Which means there's no real reason to wander underground and stumble upon abandoned mineshafts, strongholds, or mob spawners and their included loot. 

I dunno. Fucking Minecraft. 

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