Feed the Beast? Feed the BEES, maybe…

OK, so it’s been a bloody long time since I last wrote anything for the blog, and I apologise for that. The fact of the matter is that I’d been getting rather jaded with Minecraft – disastrous for a self-styled Minecraft Scribe >.< Kristal and I had a brief flirtation with Tekkit, during which time we managed to accidentally cripple the TekkitSquish server with monumentally bad lag – five seconds to take a single step1 qualifies as “monumental”, right?

But then Feed the Beast was capturing the Minecraft community’s imagination – especially because it was “officially approved” by the creators of the component mod packs – and when Kristal saw just some of what FTB had to offer, she decided to make the switch. Meanwhile, I found that I was starting to miss Minecraft a little again, and I had enjoyed what Tekkit brought to the game, so it was time to pull my Igor suit out of mothballs and join Dr Frankencrow in her explorations of Mad Minecraft Science!

In case you’re not aware of what Feed the Beast is, it’s a collection of eight mod packs which add things such as machines and magic to Minecraft (here’s a comparison of five of the packs). And the mod packs are huge: The Mindcrack Pack that Kristal and I use features sixty mods at the time of writing! We’re barely scratching the surface of FTB’s features, but don’t let the size put you off: it’s well worth exploring, for the wonderful things it offers :)

[Oh, in case you’re wondering, the guys from The Shaft Podcast are using the Direwolf20 pack at the moment, for their FTB shenanigans. Also, we’re playing on a limited-capacity private server – sorry!]

Any evil genius worth their salt is going to set up their base somewhere suitable to their nefariousness. So it was that the Crow Institute of Advanced Mad Sciences ended up being housed in a volcano – basalt is the order of the day, when it comes to the decor! :)

The Crow Institute of Advanced Mad Sciences

The Crow Institute of Advanced Mad Sciences, established 2013.

Kristal’s got her heart set on exploring the Thaumcraft part of FTB, but she’s also been finding that some of the things she wants to make (not necessarily Thaumcraft-related) require the output from bees – and she wasn’t interested in dealing with that as well. So I said that I’d have a crack at the bee stuff… and as well as reigniting my love of Minecraft, it’s also turning into quite the obsession! You see, while the Forestry mod adds bees, it only adds a few. But the Mindcrack pack also contains the Extra Bees mod, which apparently has 135 species of bees to be discovered from both finding them in the wild, and breeding! So I suppose that makes me Professor of Apiculture ;)

So, while Kristal (Professor of Thaumatology) and our good friend tiana_hime (Professor of Exploration) have been on their respective travels, they’ve been finding and gathering bees when they find them, sending them on to me, and they’ve been having a lot of fun doing so. Meanwhile, I constructed a Bee Workshop… which Kristal promptly enlarged, because she said I was building too small. Just as well she did, actually, because I’ve had to set up tanks and piping for the seed oil and the liquid DNA. Yes, you can sequence and splice DNA into existing bees to get new ones, so it’s got my mad-science appetite a-tingling… and Kristal’s found she’s getting more interested in the bee side of things :) Since then, Kristal suggested I expand the place still further, so I did: Now it’s three times the volume, and I’m struggling to find things to put into it! Mind you, I did discover that there are machines for advanced bee genetics…

My fledgling Bee Workshop.

My fledgling Bee Workshop, now expanded TWICE for additional potential awesomeness!

The awesome Thefre ThiefKnight has also joined the Crow faculty as Professor of Computing and Turtles, and quickly showed his skills with the creation of a warp console, plus a bulletin board system for Professor Kristal to get everyone organised :) Thef’s not so much of the exploring sort, but that’s just fine; while Kristal’s scouring abandoned mineshafts for resources, Thef’s quite content to persuade the programmable turtles to do all manner of wonderful things.

Thefre's Warp Console

Thef's Warp Console, using the "touchscreen" capabilities of ComputerCraft's Advanced Monitors.

Thefre's bulletin board system.

Professor Kristal wanted a to-do list. Professor Thefre gave her a full-on, computerised, bulletin board system. Looks a damn sight better than my usual wall of signs...

The presence of the Portal Gun mod in the Mindcrack FTB pack may seem a little goofy, but it’s been having some practical applications… Long-Fall Boots are now de rigueur for the server dwellers, while the Portal Guns themselves are proving useful during exploration. Before heading out, we set up the second portal back at the base, then in the event of danger, or needing to stop for a break, left-click for the first portal, and then just jump through when we need to – returning to where we left off when we’re ready. We’re also planning to use portals to safely transfer Apiarists (and possibly Thaumatologists) to the Institute, so they’re in less danger from the undead.

Ender Chests and Ender Pouches are also very handy. And I don’t mean the vanilla Ender Chests, either: the ones in FTB (which also featured in Tekkit) can be colour-coded, so that inventory isn’t shared, if you don’t want it to be. The Ender Pouch is a portable version of the Ender Chest, and is keyed to an Ender Chest by right clicking on the chest with the pouch in your hand. We have our individual chests hooked up with wooden transport pipes leading to Diamond Chests2, thereby increasing our personal storage… but we also have a set of communal Ender Pouches. That Ender Chest is connected to our storage sorting system – so between the two pouches that each of us possess, we’ve got pretty much unlimited carrying capacity… great for avoiding The Inventory Shuffle!

Given the amount of additional features that Feed The Beast provides, the chances are that we’re not going to get around to using every single one. But I expect that between the four of us, we’re going to have a lot of fun with what we do end up using! If you’ve not yet tried out FTB, and fancy adding a ton of new features to the game, you should give it a try… especially since the launcher program makes installation and configuration pretty darned easy, and doesn’t affect your vanilla Minecraft files :D

Oh, one last thing before I close this post… Since spawning by the volcano which now houses the Institute, Kristal found another volcano, which she plans to use for her Thaumatology Tower… Check out this bad boy!

The proposed site for Kristal's Tower of Thaumatology.

The proposed site for Kristal's Tower of Thaumatology. Impressive, no?

1 No exaggeration. I timed it.

2 We’re not the first to do this – in fact, Kristal found it on an FTB discussion online. Yay, Internet!

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  • Pete

    Interesting, but I’m not a huge fan of these mod pack affairs. I have two servers at the moment, a vanilla Bukkit server and a Better than Wolves SMP server. Have dabbled in my own FTB and Tekkit servers but soon gave up on them.

    Although BTW is a custom server it’s ONE MOD everything works together and there’s no odd “interactions” When a Tekkit or FTB server crashes do you blame the turtle hatching code, the multidimensional space time folding portal equations or the LCD simulating bbs code? Sure I get crashes too.. when my dung packing machine backs up (never fun when that happens) or when the hellfire containment system inadvertently dumps it’s highly volatile and explosive contents into nearest hot receptacle) but at least it’s one mod with one developer who’s pretty much on the ball.

    It’s cool that you’re having fun again (as without Minecraft you’d just be “Scribe” and if you remember your D&D Monks are not easy to level up!)