So I’ve been back to playing Minecraft again recently. After the barren vanilla wasteland that was 1.3.2, 1.4.x is like a breath of fresh air – I think they’ve got an even vs odd numbered build thing (1.0 was good, 1.2 was good, 1.4 is good).
Unfortunately, some major mods are still reeling from the changes that 1.3 hit them with and have STILL not yet updated. IndustrialCraft 2 is one of the best mods out there and it was the core element of my 1.0 & 1.2 play. But… they’ve been slow to update. IC2 for 1.3/1.4 is still technically in beta and I have observed enough nightmarish bugs and half-implemented features that I’ve sworn it off until they at least declare a release candidate build. Hopefully that’ll happen before 1.5 reboots everything again 🙂
For a lot of my friends, IC2 is all they know. And for a long time, it was for good cause. IC2 provides a good variety of tools that are very easy to become dependent on – and until fairly recently, they were the only major mod to do a lot of the things they did. But times, they are a changin’.
Buildcraft is one of the biggest mods out there. It helps that it is open source and provides a lot of useful API’s for tying different tech mods together. By itself, it hasn’t traditionally done a whole lot, but it has always played well with others.
In my opinion, one of BC’s biggest problems has always been its power framework. Engines consume fuel and produce energy (Minecraft Joules – MJ) when provided a redstone signal. If the redstone signal is cut, the power output stops but the fuel may very well continue to be consumed. If an engine produces enough energy to run more than one machine, the player must connect things with energy conductive pipes – which while pretty are unreliable and strange things. Energy doesn’t always go where you’d expect and is sometimes lost entirely.
But the worst problem with BC’s power grid is the completely transient nature of energy. There is no such thing as a battery or a capacitor. Machines are passive things that hope they will be provided with power. If they are provided with power, they use it. If they use power and have work to do, great. If they use power and don’t have any work to do, oh well, you just wasted it.
The way you “stored” energy in pure BuildCraft was by keeping large tanks of refined fuel around, which could be wasted in much smaller quantities than solid fuels.
With IndustrialCraft, none of that mattered. Just slap a transformer in front of a BC engine and convert the delicious MJ from your oil refinery into safe clean IC2 EU (Energy Units) that are easy to store, easy to use, and reliable to transmit.
Perhaps one of the most underrated addons out there, TE is a mod that provides a lot of IC2-like functionality in a BuildCraft world.
First off, Thermal Expansion provides a number of machines. All of their machines run on MJ but they are smarter than your typical BC style machine. They all have internal batteries and they only consume energy when there is work to do.
Second, TE machines are smart. They have configurable input and output slots that allow you to set a series of machines next to each other and watch them automatically transfer items around – instead of having to manually pump things around with BC pipes and redstone engines and all of that overhead. It is less space intensive, less planning intensive, and less CPU intensive.
Third, TE provides a handful of machines that perform otherwise silly operations (like cobble/obsidian generation or infinite water pumping) in a single low-impact block with a much lower chance of failure and a much lower resource footprint.
Additionally, TE 2 has recently introduced standalone energy storage mechanics. You can build battery blocks that store a large amount of energy (600k MJ) and discharge it at a variable rate.
Perhaps the defining machine of IC2 is the macerator. It is a relatively inexpensive machine and is one of the first things anyone sets up as part of their IC2 infrastructure – it’s more important than a battery early on. The macerator grinds one block ore down into two units of mineral dust. One unit of dust may be smelted into one metal ingot each – instead of the loss inherent in cooking ore directly in a furnace. It essentially doubles your metal production at the cost of a few hundred extra EU per ore to be processed.
Thermal Expansion provides a pulverizer that does the same thing and more. Pulverizers also smash one raw ore into two dusts. However, they also have a small chance of extracting impurities that result in a third unit of dust (of a different type). So, if I were to macerate a a dozen blocks of copper ore, I would get 24 copper dust. But if I were to pulverize those same dozen ore, I would not only wind up with 24 copper dust but I might also wind up with two or three gold dust.
Pulverizers are slightly more expensive to build than macerators, but they’re also smarter.
Because they are TE machines, pulverizers have programmable input/output sides. When ore is done grinding down into dust, that dust can automatically be pushed out one side. Perhaps into a powered furnace for immediate cooking into ingots. Then, that furnace can automatically push the finished ingots into an adjacent chest (or a pipe network). There are no redstone engines involved, no accidental piping of items to the wrong inventory, no redstone timers or any other such voodoo. It just works, and it’s glorious.
Another mod that I have had my eye on for a long time but have never really had a chance to look at very closely is Metallurgy. I didn’t ever get a chance to play with it because of server compatibility issues, but those are past and it works great. As the name suggests, it is mostly an ore mod. And actually it is divided up into several submods, each of which introduce a new set of ores (and their associated tools/armor) as well as a new type of machine or two.
The submods provide sets of metals that tend toward a given use. I am using the Base, Nether, and Fantasy sets – and am not using the Ender or Precious sets (even thought Precious looks like it extends IronChests). All of the metals are forge compatible and Metallurgy’s worldgen logic is much more customizable than most other mods that just happen to provide a few ores – so I am using Metallurgy to generate everything that it can with one exception. Metallurgy defaults to taking over vanilla ore spawns, but it does not keep vanilla ore generation logic when it does so and my inability to find iron in a world where i was absolutely swimming in copper and tin served as a barrier to early play and I turned it off, because I could.
Metallurgy machines run the old fashioned way, by burning fuel. But they are comparatively inexpensive and quick to set up. There is no power grid to establish, just plop them down and start feeding materials in.
Metallurgy’s answer to the pulverizer + powered furnace and to the macerator + electric furnace is the crusher + vanilla furnace. In addition to providing crushers (machines that burn fuel to break ore down into dust), it also provides an upgrade path for the regular furnace. Both of these machines may go through a series of upgrades from stone to copper to bronze to iron to steel. The iron furnace is identical in performance to IC2’s iron furnace – cooking 10 items for a single unit of coal.
The stone crusher is very inexpensive to build (sticks and stones) but very expensive to operate (one coal per ore crushed – versus about 10 items macerated for the EU that a single block of coal generates when burnt). The copper upgrade is cheap but makes a big difference. One or two more upgrades and your efficiency reaches a very comfortable level.
My only real complaint with Metallurgy (other than the complexity of having to learn different metals – at least they’re all useful unlike most ore mods) is that they confuse the bronze recipe. Now this is comically similar to the real world situation where the definition of bronze is a very fluid thing, but in a game where things are normally a bit more nailed down it can hurt.
- IC2’s bronze recipe is 3 copper dust + 1 tin dust = 2 bronze dust.
- Forestry’s bronze recipe is 3 copper ingots + 1 tin ingot = 4 bronze ingots.
- Metallurgy’s bronze recipe is 1 copper dust + 1 tin dust = 1 bronze dust.
- RedPower2’s brass recipe is 3 copper ingots + 1 tin ingot = 4 brass ingots.
Traditionally, my server has used the Forestry recipe because it was less of a hassle than IC2’s, we didn’t have to leave any of our copper and tin as dusts (or re-macerate smelted ingots down). It also matched with RP2’s brass recipe, which made it easier to remember. But now… oy. Then again, all of Metallurgy’s alloy recipes are like that. Two dusts into one higher level dust. I’ve turned it off on my server just because I don’t want such wildly different recipes all on at once.
Part of the reason that this bronze confusion confuses me so confusingly is that I’m a big fan of bronze tools and armor. IC2 provides bronze equipment that is basically iron equipment of +30% durability. It was actually cheaper to make and lasted longer, so I used a ton of it until the endgame of IC2’s tech tree makes balance fall apart. Metallurgy also provides bronze tools and armor that are even more identical to vanilla iron equipment than their IC2 counterparts, so I’m very happy.
Happy because Metallurgy also solves what is in my opinion one of the biggest problems IC2 introduces. Namely the actual tools and armor that they provide are indestructible and strong – they run on nice cheap renewable EU instead of having a constantly deteriorating durability bar. IC2’s power armor provides nigh invulnerability, and it is often regarded as the next step above iron/bronze (since nobody in their right mind is making diamond gear in a non-vanilla world). Metallurgy provides a much better curve with ores and alloys that not only fill the gap between iron and diamond but continue past diamond while still consuming resources to do so.
So there you have it… two simple ways my happy new 1.4.5 world is getting along just fine without IC2. Oh, we’ll add it back in whenever it’s stable again, but I don’t trust that will be any time soon 😉