Laser-powered mines, solar arrays and nuclear generators in your Minecraft.
By James Pinnell on July 12, 2012 at 9:00 am
It seems more than likely that the majority of people, especially those who joined the fray back during its infancy, are probably pretty sick of vanilla Minecraft. Although its design reflects the creative nature of the person playing it, there’s only so many things you can build within the framework restrictions of the original version.
It’s disappointing that Notch and Mojang, once they had stripped out enough cash and kudos from the project, basically decided to abandon it to work on other titles, leaving just Jeb and a few who continue to support both the PC and X360 versions. Thus, as things usually are once the developers move on, modders have overwhelmingly filled the space that was once originally difficult to occupy.
Notch famously resisted the demands of those who he worried would corrupt and destabilize his creation, even when many avid developers were already hacking in unauthorized elements that required installing different clients or bypassing authentication servers. It wasn’t until Mojang eventually submitted to demand and added basic mod support (although a proper API is not due until 1.4) that a host of ambitious projects gradually worked their way into reality.
Most of these projects involved a host of quite drastic changes, ranging from fixing existing problems (such that those with rail or farming) to expanding the range of minerals, crafting materials and introducing automation. An industrial revolution of sorts began to appear across the most popular and well supported modifications, with a trend towards speed and less rudimentary tools, the development of electricity and the various ways in which it could be harnessed.
Before long, many of these mods had become stable elements within the original ecosystem, and revolutionized the way mining and production were done in Minecraft. But while each mod operated independently without any problems, many found it difficult to run one or a few of them in conjunction, since they required different server properties, or simply shared properties that were incompatible with one another.
The solution? The Technic mod pack, a collection of various mods that have come together under the shared umbrella of a universal server infrastructure and collaborative resources. Uniting the various mod developers, alongside a keen team of volunteers and testers, allowed both the independent development of each mod to continue while making sure compatibility remains paramount. Tekkit, a spinoff project closely linked to Technic, is the multiplayer sibling, allowing players unrivaled creative freedom to harvest the bountiful randomized green lands with their friends. Additionally, unlike the obscenely broken original SMP version of Minecraft, almost every property from the new elevator rail to the new engine and power generation systems, works perfectly.
When I was originally invited by a friend into his new server, I admit that I was a little skeptical. Many variations on the original SMP experience had proved to be reasonably underwhelming, such as adding a few abilities to modify weather or time patterns, but largely keeping the original ethos intact. So I slid quickly into the same old groove, manually digging out stone and the odd mineral to build my house and upgrade my tools. Eventually, I wandered into the houses of my fellow inhabitants to find (and hear) the rumbling of engines, pistons and grinders. “This is what I’ve been telling you”, my friend mentioned as I marveled at his electric furnace, “Tekkit changes everything”.
He was right. As I followed him around his underground fortress, he showed me some of the creations he’d built over the past month or so. A fully functioning nuclear power plant, completely encased in a cube of water and coolant, a (currently) dormant but working core just waiting for some refined uranium to power it up. An array of machines to automate some of the most time consuming and mind numbing tasks, such as smelting iron or recycling dud waste like dirt or gravel.
But the most impressive, and exciting, part of his enterprise was the array of automated mining quarries he had deep beneath his home. There were about 4 of them, roughly 100×100 wide, buffeted by enormous scaffolding and a series of transport pipes that moved ore, stone, sand and such to a set of chests with filters to differentiate the good from the useless. 4 enormous lasers carved out the impressively large caverns, ripping apart the fertile planet until there was nothing left but lava and bedrock.
So how did all of this operate? I wandered up to the roof where I found a twisted flower-like structure consisting of solar panels, connected together by (and I’m not joking) fibre optic cable down to a transformer and a power storage unit. This unit operated as a high capacity battery, storing millions of generated EM (Tekkit’s measurement of electricity) as it was generated by day, allowing for work to be done at night.
All of this sounds impressive, and it is, but its barely scratching the surface of the various possibilities that are available. There’s even alchemy, energy manipulation and transference, and the ability to even create a fully automated factory (or multiple). The sheer scale of the industrial design on offer is immense, as it can take hours, if not days, to farm the necessary materials to build certain machines or craft particularly advanced items. But what makes it fun is being able to work on projects of extraordinary detail and complexity with your friends, putting together plans and pooling resources.
At its core, Tekkit is still Minecraft – there are still the same beasts to defend yourself from, food you need to eat, and armour you need to wear. But the choice on how you tackle these challenges has been greatly expanded, making the whole experience the one you might have imagined just after the game released. So feel free to raise cows and sheep next to your wind farm, or grow crops alongside your series of quarries that would make Clive Palmer weep with jealously. Just make sure you take some time to craft a jetpack.
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