Six Reasons Why I Love Redpower 2
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Level 13 : Journeyman Modder
Level 13 : Journeyman Modder
Posted 7/16/12 7:07 pm
Six Reasons Why I Love Redpower 2
or, A Rant about Minecraft Mods
I used to be a purist. I believed that vanilla Minecraft was how it was supposed to be played. I refused to try Minecraft mods, believing that somehow they cheapened the experience, or that they were o cheatingo . But Io ve learned a lot since then. Perhaps I was right in my refusal, because I find it hard to go back to Vanilla now. Thereo s so little to do, it seems, compared to the rich world that mods can bring.
Let me tell you the story of how my mind was changed, and what I learned from my experience.
I discovered Tekkit when some friends of mine persuaded me to play. For those who dono t know, Tekkit is the cut-down multiplayer version of the Technic modpack, which some have called o Minecraft for engineerso . Being the technical-minded type, this was right up my alley. My experience with a new kind of Minecraft was beginning. Machines, oil, electricity, even computers and alchemy. There was so much to do.
I started with IndustrialCraft 2, then explored Buildcraft 2 and Forestry. I advanced in technology, trying to outpace the progress of my friends. I constructed a huge automatic machine for sorting and processing items, incorporating it into the structure of my home. I made increasing use of Equivalent Exchange, eventually obtaining the most powerful tools it offered. We played on and off for a few weeks, until the next Tekkit update was released.
Looking back, I considered my experience. I had enjoyed it greatly, there was so much more to do than in Vanilla minecraft. There always seemed to be another goal to strive for. The problem came when Equivalent Exchange made it too easy. While EE is balanced on its own, it seeks a different balance to the other mods. It raises the player to heights of power that the other mods never took into account. I began to see why most public servers disable it altogether.
Railcraft looked exciting, promising to let me create a proper rail system in Minecraft, something Io ve always wanted to do. But apart from using elevator rails to create a minecart-based elevator, I never looked at it. I mainly visited my friendo s bases by travelling through the Nether, and any need for a rail network was lost when I gained the ability to fly. It was simply so much faster to step into the Nether and fly directly to a friendo s portal.
The other mod that came to mind was Redpower 2. I had made extensive use of the handsaw, slicing blocks into new shapes. I constructed significant parts of my home from those blocks, allowing me to decorate my home in ways vanilla Minecraft players could only dream of. Io d used some logic gates and red alloy wire when I constructed the circuits to control a hidden piston door and my minecart elevator.
But besides those things, Io d barely explored it at all. Io d done some research and I liked what I saw, and I knew there was so much more to Redpower. But with the other mods already there, a lot of the other features seemed redundant. IndustrialCraft offers a variety of options for generating power, and a variety of different machines to consume it. In Redpower, by contrast, the Blulectric system offered barely any options for generating power, and there were only a few devices that consumed it, such as the furnace. Of course, I realise now that Blutricity is a platform for expansion, and solar panels and furnaces are just the beginning.
Similarly, I didno t look at Redpowero s pneumatic tubes because I had Buildcraft transport pipes, which had all sorts of features like sorting pipes and one-way junctions. Now that Io ve used both systems and compared the two, I have to say that pneumatic tubes are superior, for reasons Io ll go into below. I have yet to use fluid pipes, but Io ve seen videos that demonstrate them. Unlike the pneumatic tubes there doesno t seem to be as much you can do with the fluid pipes besides moving source blocks between locations. With Buildcraft, although I cano t pump liquid out into the world like Redpower can, I can pump fuel and water into engines to power and cool them, and I can even pump lava into Industrialcraft geothermal generators to create electrical power.
Io ve been playing with Redpower a lot more lately, as Io ve wanted to explore its possibilities and see how it compares to the other mods Io ve used. Io ve noticed quite a few things about Redpower that I like, which brings me to the reason Io m writing this:
Io d like to tell everyone why I like Redpower so much, and highlight some of the ways that other mods cano t compare.
Six Reasons Why I Love Redpower 2
It doesno t make Minecraft too easy.
Compare this to the Computercraft mod, which lets you build a computer in Minecraft, of sorts. Basically ito s just a Lua interpreter, but it can control redstone devices, and even interfaces with Redpowero s bundled cables so you can have a large number of inputs and/or outputs. The crafting recipe for the computer block? Seven stone blocks, a piece of redstone and a glass pane. Seems a little bit simple for a computer. I can see Computercraft being useful at the heart of some complex redstone contraption built in Creative mode, but it seems a little too overpowered for Survival.
Redpower doesno t take shortcuts. If you want the advanced items, you have to work for them. This is one of the reasons I like Vanilla Minecraft: There are no shortcuts, no mods making it easy for you. Your creations are the result of good old-fashioned hard work.
It slices, it dices!Thato s the name of the achievement Redpower gives you when you craft a diamond handsaw, which allows you to slice up blocks. Blocks can be cut in half, and half again. You can have one-eighth o cornero pieces, or thin covers. You can place them flat or vertically, or any way you like. You can place several of them in the same single block of space, so you can have different textures on both sides of a wall.
But hereo s the best part. You can place them inside the same block as red or blue alloy wiring, pneumatic tubes, or even logic tiles. Which means that instead of putting your redstone circuit under the floor of a room - you can literally put it IN the floor. Or you can hide a redstone wire or a tube carrying items inside a one-block-thick wall and it will be invisible. For someone like me who goes crazy when I have to look at ugly exposed wiring (or ugly attempts to hide wiring in the walls), this is pure magic.
I add this as a separate point simply because of the possibilities that these blocks bring. It is a joy to build with these blocks. Even the most sparing use can bring a more polished look to the design of a house. Liberal use can have amazing results (or awful ones depending on the builder).
Ito s well-written and modular in design.Block IDs are something that are precious to mod makers. Thereo s only a limited number of them in Minecraft (though Jeb did add a whole bunch more recently), and if your mod used too many then other mods wouldno t have enough to work with. Redpower pioneered a new way: it originally used one block ID for everything, and to this day it still uses as few block IDs as possible (everything is done with data values instead). While this wono t appeal to everyone, I like efficiency. I like making the most efficient use of space, or resources, or anything really. So even though it doesno t change anything outwardly, the fact that Redpower works efficiently internally appeals to me.
Redpower is also modular. You can turn off parts that you dono t want. If you just want the redstone and microblocks, and think that the machines and pneumatic tubes are redundant because you use IndustrialCraft and Buildcraft, then you can turn off those parts of Redpower and just have the bits you want.
Ito s designed to be compatible with other major mods.And I dono t just mean ito ll run without problems when ito s installed alongside other mods. I mean ito s actually had some consideration put into it. Eloraam doesno t want Redpower to be a replacement for IndustrialCraft or Buildcraft, in fact in the past sheo s spoken with Alblaka, author of IndustrialCraft, to work out the differences between their mods and try to reduce overlapping features.
Most if not all of the mods in Tekkit use the Forge system, which is why they can be used together so easily. Forge ensures that all of the mods share a common basis and dono t interfere with each other. In fact thereo s a special part of Forge called the Ore Dictionary that lets mods share non-vanilla ores and ingots, instead of each mod having its own specific type of copper, for example. It was Eloraam who created the Ore Dictionary.
Thereo s also an item in Redpower which shows how Redpower is designed to work with other mods. Thanks to Forge, a mod can easily place items into any block with an inventory, such as a vanilla chest, or a machine from another mod. This is a standard system. However, Redpowero s pneumatic tubes areno t standard and most other mods dono t understand how to put items into them. But Redpower has a block called a Relay, which has a small 3x3 inventory and will automatically shoot anything put inside into a connected pneumatic tube. Since any other mod can put items into the Relay, that means any mod can send items into a Redpower tube. You can even connect a Buildcraft transport pipe to the Relay and transfer items directly from a pipe to a tube!
(Unfortunately transferring items from a tube to a pipe isno t as easy; it usually involves connecting the pneumatic tube to a chest and then pumping the items out of the chest in the normal Buildcraft way.)
There are some mods that areno t designed with compatibility in mind. I wasno t going to mention Better Than Wolves, until I saw that its official tagline is o The Mod That is Incompatible With Everything!!!o There seems to have been a falling-out between Flowerchild and the authors of other tech mods, but Io m not familiar with the history.
Redpower has a vision.Io m usually against mods that try to do everything. If youo re familiar with running a Bukkit server, then you probably know about the Essentials plugin. Essentials doesno t just take care of the o essentialo commands like /spawn and /home though. It can also handle chat, economy, and a whole bunch of miscellaneous things such as preventing creepers and Ender dragons from destroying blocks. It doesno t have a clearly defined area of operation, which can be confusing. Half the time, when something from another plugin isno t working, Io ll find Essentials was blocking or interfering with it and then I have to go looking for the hidden config option (if any) to turn that feature of Essentials off.
Redpower has a lot of features that, to a degree, mirror what other mods are doing. IndustrialCraft deals with electrical power and machines. Redpower has Blutricity and electric furnaces, with promises of further machines to come. Buildcraft deals with pumps and item/fluid transport. Redpower has pneumatic tubes, fluid pipes and even sorting machines. Buildcraft also has mechanical power and quarries; Redpower has frames and frame motors, and while thereo s no single-block quarry, you can build your own quarry of sorts using those frames.
IndustrialCraft does one thing (electrical devices), and it does it fairly well. Buildcraft does a couple of things (building/mining machines, and transport pipes) that more or less complement each other. Redpower does several different things (redstone, microblocks, electric power, and pipes), but it does them in a way where all those things work together and rely on each other. I suppose Io m not really against mods that do several different things. What Io m against is mods that do several entirely separate things that dono t really have anything to do with each other.
What Redpower has that other mods seem to lack (to varying degrees) is coherence. Not just in itself, but with Minecraft as well. IndustrialCraft is about adding electricity and electrical devices to Minecraft, Buildcraft is about adding tubes and mechanical devices. These additions are cool, but you cano t help but feel that they dono t really o fito with Minecraft.
But Redpower desires not simply to add features, but to create a technological experience that does not forget that it is based on Minecraft. Every part of Redpower complements every other part: microblocks are not just for decoration but can neatly hide your wires and pipes, or integrate them into a design. Redstone power is required to activate most of the simple devices, keeping Redpower true to its roots, while advanced devices like the sorting machine require Blulectric power to run, instead of mysteriously functioning with no discernable source of power.
And it integrates well with Minecraft too. Remembering that ito s a game primarily about mining and crafting, thereo s plenty of both to be done. Redpower has its roots in redstone. The mysterious properties of redstone are taken for granted by any vanilla Minecrafter, and Redpower enhances this natural element by allowing redstone to be alloyed with iron to form a wire that is far more flexible than redstone dust. Most of the basic devices that can be crafted in Redpower are built around a piston, another vanilla item, which we all know is activated by a redstone signal. Ito s these little touches that help Redpower o tie ino to Minecraft and make it more believable within the established Minecraft universe.
Of course, Redpower adds new elements to the world. Nikolite is a mysterious blue powder, as enigmatic as redstone itself. Useless on its own, when alloyed with silver it becomes a new kind of wire that carries a different energy. Redstone is all about carrying a signal, rather than power. Redpower makes a clear differentiation between the on/off logic of redstone signals, and the raw electrical power of Blutricity. But despite that, theyo re both just wires, and they physically behave the same way. They are also both available as jacketed wire, allowing freestanding wiring in places where placing wire on the walls, floor or ceiling is undesirable or not an option.
Thereo s more additions besides nikolite. While the addition of volcanoes seems a little superfluous (although, where else would you get basalt?), the gems that can be found underground add a much-needed extra tier of tools between iron and diamond. Large areas of marble occur beneath the ground, creating beautiful caves and giving a welcome relief to the monotony of grey stone that dirt and gravel alone cannot relieve. Both marble and basalt make for excellent decorative blocks. Marble, being a soft rock like sandstone, drops itself when mined, but basalt drops a dark cobblestone that must be smelted back into smooth basalt. Both can be crafted into decorative stone brick.
And of course, the increased variety of ores makes for more interesting mining. After returning to vanilla Minecraft, I went on a mining expedition and found myself quite disappointed. Besides coal, iron is really the only thing worth mining. Diamond is a rare find, gold is barely useful and redstone tends to heap up in a chest, unused. And thereo s nothing else. Just coal, iron, gold, redstone, diamond. The addition of copper, tin, nikolite and three different gemstones makes mining a lot more interesting.
Redpower still amazes me.I remember my joy when I first discovered Redpower and saw the logic gates. And when I found out that I could slice up blocks with the handsaw. And when I discovered that you could neatly cover up your redstone wiring with the resulting blocks. I recently discovered that the screwdriver lets you adjust your logic tiles in ways that Io d not known were possible. I discovered that those logic tiles dono t have to go on the floor as Io d assumed, but can go on the walls, or even the ceiling. I found out that if you have a panel with a hole in the middle, you can put a tube or jacketed wire through the hole.
Ito s the little things about Redpower that I love. And I think ito s the little things that other mods are missing. The little things that help them fit into the Minecraft world, or that explain how a device does what it does. For example, Redpower devices work because theyo re built around pistons. Other mods dono t do so well. IndustrialCrafto s machines just sort of... work. Buildcraft recipes are a bit better - the engines themselves are based on pistons, and those engines drive the machines, which appear to mostly contain gears of various types. Computercraft is the worst, because throwing a piece of redstone into a stone box with glass on the front does not make a computer. I suppose ito s all about the computer and not the craft.
Anyway, thato s the end of my rant.
|Tags:||Redpower, Modding, Rant, Article|
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