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Cave Clutter: Modpacks, MMOs and “Betas”

After spending all that time on Project Ozone 2, you would think that I would be quite sick of Minecraft. Well, that’s half true. In some ways I’ve moved on to other games but in some ways I’ve only immersed myself deeper into Minecraft.

Building my own modpack

Project Ozone 2 is a 1.7.10 modpack just like the first Project Ozone and Agrarian Skies 2, which I have played before. It seems that for that version of Minecraft, it’s not much variation in the mods that pack creators put together. Sometimes they use it for an interesting premise like a skyblock, but after a while it all becomes too familiar. Doing the same thing over again in a different pack get a bit boring after a while. So towards the end of Project Ozone 2, I began watching some Minecraft youtubers who were playing newer packs, made for Minecraft versions like 1.10, 1.11, and 1.12. Due to a lot of 1.7.10 mods not being updated for these newer versions, these packs have a lot of new mods I’d never seen before. I always enjoy learning new things so I was instantly drawn to these strange new mods. I wanted to explore them, to dig into what they could really do beyond videos I was watching. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a pack that had all of the mods that I want to try out. Fortunately I discovered that you can build your own packs relatively easily through the Curse/Twitch client. And that’s how Craft Through the Ages was born.

The description talks about how it has mods for every “age” of Minecraft but honestly, I just came up with that because I needed to have some sort of cohesive description for the Curse project page before the pack would be approved. In truth, I really did just throw a bunch of mods together that I wanted to try out, only removing some because they conflicted with other mods or because the pack had too many of them at first. Once I had something stable, I put it up on the server I was hosting on my second computer for Lord Crumb and I to play on. Eventually I updated to real paid Minecraft server and even invited Froggy, Phenix, and Mtnpapa (another fan of theirs) to play on it as well if they were interested. While Froggy and Phenix have done a few videos on the server, it’s usually just Lord Crumb and I who play on it.

On the server, I’ve been flitting around between a number of projects and have probably spent far too long decorating again. So far the mods I’ve worked with the most are Astral Sorcery (a magic mod based off starlight), Embers (a magic/tech mod with a dwarven theme), and Doggy Talents (because dogs). And I built some airships.

On the other hand, Lord Crumb has done a little bit of Actually Additions but has mostly been working on Futurepack, quite a beefy mod based around space-age tech that eventually leads you to visit other planets. He’s also had a bit of fun with another mod that lets you place pictures from the internet in game. He also drew a pentagram using lasers on the side of a villager’s house because that’s how he rolls.

Moar Minecraft

In addition to playing Craft Through the Ages, Lord Crumb and I have also joined Froggy and Phenix’s new server to play Invasion with them and some of their other fans. It’s been difficult but fun; there have been a lot of deaths (including some of my own) but I think we’ve learned to work well together and I’m enjoying the challenge. Now that we have a base secured with walls and turrets, I think there will be less deaths in a lot more progression. Froggy and Phenix are also recording a video series for this pack.

In my solo time, I’ve also played a little bit of the modpack Sprout which is an exploration/RPG pack that’s reminiscent of Skyrim. I’m also thinking of trying out Homestead, a pack that has slower progression and is said to be heavily inspired by TerraFirmaCraft. Sometimes it amazes me the variety that can be found amongst modpacks. I can definitely see how Minecraft as a game is still popular and has held people’s attention for so long because of it.

Secret World Legends

Like I mentioned before, Minecraft isn’t the only thing I’ve been playing. I’ve also been dabbling in Secret World Legends of all things. Its predecessor The Secret World always seem to me that it’s a game I should really like. The idea of myths and conspiracies actually being true in the real world is very interesting and from what others have said, the story of the game is well done which generally I like. Unfortunately, even after two attempts, I’ve never been able to progressed any further than Kingsmouth. So with its “rebranding and relaunching”, I thought I’d give it a third try.

To be honest, I still haven’t gotten outside of Kingsmouth. I do feel as though the base game has improved though. I like the combat more and the fact that I can play it on controller more easily, and I like that they’ve thinned out the mobs and made them little easier to kill. It was rather a slog to get through before. Although it seems like because the combat has improved, the flaws in the story have become all the more apparent. Really, it’s the way the citizens of Kingsmouth talk that really throws me for a loop. They don’t sound like regular people we’re going to the horrors of a zombie apocalypse. I’d expect them to be terrified and having complete mental breakdowns at seeing their friends and family turn into the shambling undead. Instead they go into pretentious monologues that involve a raven poem that they think they said they must have heard on Oprah. I expect that of the people of the Secret World, the ones who actually know that these sort of things can exist, not normal folks who didn’t think that zombies existed outside of movies. Which of course leads me to my own conspiracy theory that they’re actually all in on it and maybe even summoned the zombies themselves. Now that would would be an interesting twist but I don’t think it’s true, I think it’s just the result of bad writing. I hoping that if I progressed further, the story will get better and I’ll be able to enjoy it more.

I also participated in the Whispering Tides event which was overall enjoyable. I died a lot at first and I had no idea what was happening story-wise but it allowed me to play around with the different abilities more. Speaking of which, I don’t like how they changed over from being able to choose your abilities freely to having to choose a class. I wish they just would have explained the different types of abilities more clearly, I think that would have been more effective. From what I’ve seen, The Secret World/Secret World Legends has a difficult time explaining a lot of things clearly and that may be why the game hasn’t been as popular as it could be. It’s like the people who were in charge of creating the puzzles in the game also created the rest of the game and the marketing and just weren’t able to get out of the puzzling mindset. But maybe I just need to get used to the game.

Destiny 2

The open beta for Destiny 2 was this week and I got the chance to play in it for a few hours. Before I go into my experience can I just talk about how Bungie has a strange way of running a “beta”. First of all, they decided to start it on Tuesday and end it on the Thursday. The way I see it, if you want to run an actual beta where testing is done, you want more players to find out the bugs, not less. If they were treating it as some sort of promotional demo, it still doesn’t make sense to have it in the middle of a week and for only 48 hours. Again, you want more people to be able to play it and you’re going to get that on the weekend. The content was also quite sparse and not at all like the game is supposed to be from what I hear from people who played Destiny 1. Half of the available content was PvP and the PvE was a short story mission that everyone had to go through and a single strike. Because I ignored the PvP, I was able to go through all of the PvE content in just a few hours. Luckily I knew enough people who were also trying out the beta that we are able to form groups to do the strike, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have done it at all and the whole beta would have been about 30 minutes of gameplay for me. Which is basically what Ultrviolet from Endgame Viable experienced, after which he had no interest in buying the game. I think if I had went into the game blind as well (Belghast’s posts about the first game have always been interesting to me and Lord Crumb told me his experiences playing it as well), I would have been completely unimpressed as well. Pretty much the whole time two of us newbies we’re doing a strike alongside a veteran from the first game, she was having to constantly tell us that the actual game is going to be better, that it’s not going to be so insubstantial. She was trying to sell the game to us because lord knows Bungie wasn’t. Basically I don’t know what Bungie was doing; if they weren’t trying to bug test/stress test the servers or trying to generate hype for it, just what was their goal? If they think Blizzard will be able to deal with the crowds that will appear at game launch, Bungie obviously never seen a WoW expansion launch. If they’re relying solely on the fact that Destiny 2 is on the Blizzard launcher to sell the game, I don’t think that’s going to be as effective as I think it will be. Not all gamers will play something just because it has the Blizzard name attached to it.

Anyways, overall I had a fun time; I could shoot things in the face, the different abilities were cool, I enjoyed playing with a group, and the game is absolutely gorgeous. Short of some catastrophe before the launch, I’m likely going to buy the game and so is Lord Crumb.

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5 comments

  1. TSW/SWL’s pretentious monologuing even by “normals” could be chalked up to the fact that these are the folks who’ve adapted to the zombie apocalypse occurring on Solomon island. The folks who panicked, freaked out, and had breakdowns are already dead or undead. The survivors are also just a bit creepy themselves, so you may be right about them being somewhat in on it, even if the story never explicitly says so. The folks you encounter int he succeeding zones seem to have been in that circumstance for far longer, rather than Solomon Island’s fairly recent outbreak.

    Having said that, I am struggling with the game for the design changes. I agree that SWL seems intended to be played with a controller, which I am not fond of. I am one of the few that liked the original game design, though I blew up at the AEGIS mechanic they introduced in Tokyo. I am considering purchasing a controller for my PC, though.

    1. Given how soon the zombie outbreak started in Kingsmouth, I find it a little hard to believe that everyone still alive just happens to have a somewhat smug attitude towards it. The police running low on ammo is treated with more of a “we’re out of milk” tone than “we’re all going to be EATEN ALIVE if we don’t get more”.

      I’m not entirely certain that they made the game to be played with a controller, because there is no controller support unlike ESO for example. I had to map my Steam controller to various keyboard/mouse buttons and I still wasn’t able to fit them all in. I think it was done more in the style of an action-RPG MMO like Neverwinter. The interesting thing is that The Secret World did have the reticle style before, it was just an option and not very well implemented. I know because I had tried using it with my controller before. I’m not really sure why they didn’t just make it better in TSW instead of creating SWL.

      1. I totally agree on your last point. Given how often Blizzard has completely revamped the Talent system on various occasions—not just tweaking what was available, but the manner and frequency of talent choices—plus the character animation revamp that is still ongoing, the doesn’t seem to be much reason for the Funcom team to throw out the game TSW completely in favor of SWL, which IMHO, is half the game since they took away the default control scheme in favor of what had been merely an option before (that you’ve point out was inferior).

        As far as controllers go, I confess, I am fairly ignorant of those sorts of games, though I have occasionally helped my daughter with Assassin’s Creed in the past. I tend to equate reticle-based camera/movement with use of a controller. Neverwinter also seemed to me to be designed for a controller rather than the M570 Trackball/Razer Nostromo set-up I use.

  2. Your first thought was right: literally every NPC in TSW/SWL with a speaking part is indeed”in on it”. That’s almost the set-up of the game. It’s not just that “Everything is real”, it’s that everyone you meet already knew it before you did. The whole game is you playing catch-up with what everyone around you has grown up knowing.

    If you close-read the dialog in Kingsmouth I think it’s pretty plain that everyone had had plenty of supernatural experiences prior to the zombie invasion. The further you get into the game, the more open and obvious that becomes.

    1. Ah, everything does make more sense that way. I think if I just remind myself that everyone I meet already knows about the “Secret World”, I’ll have an easier time going through the story.

      I kind of wish that they hadn’t done that though. If they had been normal people reacting normally to an insane situation, I would feel a sense of kinship with them. Because then I’d know other characters who are just as confused and out of their depth as I am.

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