Minecraft Is Not What You Think, or:
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Polybenzimidazole

This was a long time coming (and I wrote a slightly shorter version on some forum a while ago).

Thanks to Q23, I’ve known Minecraft since it’s pre-beginning. It’s all very vague in my memory, but I remember I tried an early tech demo with blocks when there wasn’t even a world generation, and then something resembling current Minecraft some time later. Interesting because it started as some Dwarf Fortress-like, a project only known in certain tiny circles. But for me, personally, Minecraft has always been disappointing.

The early tech demo didn’t convince me at all. The moment I broke a block and saw the remaining still floating in the air, with no physics, left me a sour taste. And when it became the real Minecraft it still was bad for me. The game is not intuitive. This was long before the recipe book. You had to look up things on some guide, or just trying random arrangements to find a recipe. Something that could be found immediately at random, could have required someone else half an hour. And then you had to memorize them. The survival game is shallow. Once you know the intended progress the survival aspects only last about half an hour: you get some tools, crafting table, start digging a hole until you find coal, coal leads to torches, so more subterranean expansion, looking for iron. But the survival itself is caused by the active pressure of monsters during the night, and food. If you don’t want to slaughter random animals, you can start a crop farm early on. Since the yields are always greater than the uses, food is infinite, problem solved. To skip the overworld monsters you need a bed. That means you need three sheep.

This wraps up Minecraft for me. Prioritize the bed before everything. Then settle, start a crop farm, dig down. Game over. Why? Because once you have infinite food, a magical object that makes you skip the night, and infinite torches and tools… The “survival” pressure is over. It’s not that Minecraft actually stops here, but the lack of clear goals (and “demands”) mean that every time I tried playing the game and reached this stage, I got bored. I don’t care about building pretty houses, it feels trivial and meaningless. The rest of the game seems shallow and there are tons of other that offer more depth.

(All I’m writing here is not “personal” ramblings, as always I analyze my own reactions because they eventually build a point. Game design.)

…But Minecraft is hugely popular, lots of kids play it. Everyone, at every age plays it. It is different why? Because most of those kids don’t come to Minecraft like I did. In the age of youtube and everything else, they probably have seen Minecraft being played tons of times before putting their hands on it. Or, they’ve seen their friends playing it, and playing together in multiplayer. The learning process, and recipe guessing, isn’t like mine, where you are alone in front of the game. You have friends guiding and helping you, so that you move at a brisk pace. Tutorials have no place here. Instead for me the recipe-guessing was like a leap back to the age of textual adventures, when you had to try commands over and over until you found something that worked and made you progress to the next room. Or dialogue in early RPGs where you had to guess the word that would trigger a new block of text and obtain some important info or progress. This wasn’t about having “more freedom”, it was about being tightly restricted and trying to guess what the designer was thinking. It’s not gameplay informed by knowledge, it’s informed by blindness. Groping in the dark. Making it frustrating.

That was it, and then it was not. About a year ago I got into Factorio. Even in this case, thanks to the forums I’ve known Factorio for a very long time. I installed it at least three times. Every time, I played for half an hour, or slightly more, got a “feel”, and then let it be. But this was different for Minecraft. I simply thought: “Cool, this is interesting, I’ll keep it for when I have more time to focus.” Last time, about a year ago, I played for slightly longer, two, three hours. I got halfway through the third tutorial. Something clicked. It was like a magic trick, i got addicted. Factorio became everything. But, for me, everything doesn’t mean I start playing the game obsessively, but that I start READING about the game obsessively. Forums, reddit and everything else, I started absorbing “information”.

For me, the AAA industry is almost irrelevant. I thrive in game communities and mod work. I thrive in the vision of players, that can see a game well past its original intention. I came from the Commodore 64, but I always wanted to tinker with games rather than playing them. When I had my first PC I got Doom. Doom for me wasn’t about playing the game. It was about hunting for levels made by players, trying all sort of editors. I never made ANYTHING even barely worthwhile. But I also knew everything, from obscure level editors, to Dehacked. The day I bought the first Quake, I installed an editor before I launched the game for the first time. Even today, I get so much more enthusiasm when I find some players’ project then the announce of a big new game. Battletech, for me, is nothing if there wasn’t Roguetech, Jagged Alliance 2 is nothing without 1.13, or AIMNAS (that sadly will never get even close to be completed), but there are tons of examples, from the classic Mount & Blade, to Starsector, X-Com (the old), all Paradox games, simulators like Falcon 4 and Silent Hunter 3, Freespace 2, Rimworld, Stalker (Anomaly), Terraria of course, but even Tarkov that walks a thin line between legal and not with its incredible single player add-on. Even Doom Eternal, that for me would be a much worse game without add-on support and some manual tweaks (I also got a constant crash that could only be solved by modifying code that could only be possible thanks to mod support). Every time there is some space, the community can make these games become SO MUCH MORE. To the point that the original game simply disappears. No reason to exist outside those mods.

The more the industry tries to wall itself off, the more it disappears for me. I’m not a passive consumer. I don’t give a shit about your movie-like stories. I can read books, I can watch movies that are made by real artists. Games for me are transformative. They are tools, languages meant to be played with. If your game isn’t open, for the community, then it’s already dead. That money will choke you to death. And that’s also why there’s that other space about roguelikes, and those communities and devs, open-source projects like CataclysmDDA. Let’s play, not watch passively.

Back to Factorio, I started to read obsessively about the game and found out that Factorio also had an extensive mod community. That was a door to a new world. I got to the third tutorial mission, and I never played “Factorio” again. It was over. What is Factorio for me, now? A collection of a few “packages”: Angel + Bobs + some MadClown and a couple of other minor components, Nullius, Space Exploration + Krastorio 2 + all Brevven meterals and some other stuff, and Pyanodon. That’s it. Four distinct collections of mods that represent the best versions of Factorio available. Games that are so expansive, addictive in all the right ways, that they become hobbies to cultivate for thousands of potential hours. And that’s the most FUN I’ve ever had, in all my gaming life.

I’m not analyzing further, there’s some stuff I wrote in the Factorio thread on Q23, but I love writing about this stuff. Factorio is great because its structure makes playing with mods straightforward. You don’t need to LEARN anything, strictly. You can just dive in the deepest end, it’s fine. That’s why I went from the third tutorial to the most complex Factorio had to offer. It’s not Minecraft, where you have to guess your goal, or randomly find a recipe. Factorio is like the code of the Matrix in front of you. It doesn’t require expertise, it’s not esoteric jargon. It just requires patience. You have a tech tree, all laid open. you have some limited tools. You just have to walk through it. Pyanodon is known as Factorio as its most complex, but when you start a game you soon find out you cannot research anything. There isn’t any conventional “path” to walk. And so it dawns on you: I can only build and play with what I already have. I can only put down the pieces, and connect them. And that’s like being a kid and playing with Legos. Minecraft is NOT Legos. Because everything’s hidden. In Factorio you see everything. You have all the pieces: make them sing. No one gives a shit if you make a disorganized spaghetti, you’ll always have time to reiterate, polish. Arrange the pieces temporarily to see how they operate, and when you figured it out you can clean the table and set down a better plan. Just… PLAY.

Factorio is addicting because you have infinite time, close to infinite progression and toys, and ALWAYS clear goals. Long term, short term. “One more turn”, in the sense there’s always something else that awaits. Small and big things that constantly present new problems and open new paths. It’s just PERFECT game design, distilled to its most pure. And what you build is… yours. Your own creation. It’s a bit the fun flavor of playing a Sim City, what you build is your creation, maybe to share with others with a screenshot. There’s always the fact that in Sim City the design constraints end up making every built city looking alike, but in Factorio there’s quite enough freedom to make your own misshaped spaghetti monsters, that you will love so much. Because you are their mom.

Factorio can deliver a similar exhilaration and fun of creativity you have when programming. The fun without the job, I suppose. But all games are.

So there was me, reading about the greatest, most complex mods for Factorio. Reading that a SINGLE Pyanodon run could take 1000 hours would excite me. Here I open another parenthesis… People usually get turned off by something like that. They hear: this takes 500 hours, and they NOPE out, thinking “this is not for me.” YOU ARE WRONG. Of course the number of hours in not indicative of quality time, but in these cases the prejudice is built on false premises. People who shut the door when they hear a game is too long is simply because they think they don’t have so much time. That’s the part where they are wrong. I came from a generation when games weren’t “meant” to be finished. From the penny arcades to the first home computers, you just played for a while with whatever you felt like playing. Everything changed, of course. But these types of games like Factorio are different from those linear AAA games that try to ape movies. A movie and a book have their meaning as a finite thing. But in a game, more content or a very long progression are just a guarantee of entertainment. It’s like you have a distributor of Fun Pills, but the can only contains 10 of them. Now imagine if they were INFINITE. The point is never “reaching the end”, but having fun WHILE you’re playing. Stop WORRYING about the end. And if you’re having fun, why do you want it to stop? It doesn’t matter if you have one hour or thousands, you simply get to the point you feel like getting to. You stop where you want, it’s fine. The game gets too complex? That’s also fine, you can stop. It’s not like only hearing half of a story makes it pointless without hearing the rest. If a game like Factorio has tons and tons of content through mods, that’s great. It’s like a huge bag of toys, that you explore at YOUR OWN pace, for as long as you want. You shouldn’t be scared that this bag is too big, because it’s always for you to employ however you like. It’s not a challenge impossible to match, it’s just a long, steady progression that presents new problems to solve. The game will be with you for as long as you want, and if you want to take a vacation it will still wait there for you when the desire comes up again. These are sandboxes, and you simply use as much sand you’re comfortable with. The fact the amount of sand is huge encourages you to play, because it means it will be there, ready, when you feel like stepping up the game. Scale to bigger things once you feel like you mastered your current level.

…So there was me, reading about the greatest, most complex mods for Factorio… and eventually I found mentions and comparisons of similar games. Satisfactory, Mindustry, Dyson Sphere Program, Oxygen Not Allowed. Until I found another obscure reference… GregTech.

Turns out GregTech is a Minecraft mod that makes the game more similar to Factorio. I started looking around and found some wiki pages. I learned there were multiple GregTech versions, and that they added block-machines to create some processes. It was interesting, but not especially mind blowing. The weirdest part for me was that I know pretty much everything on the field, at least superficially, but for some reason all this big section of Minecraft modding never surfaced. I knew there were mods for Minecraft, but they all seemed about people making big structures and all that decorative fluff.

Oh, I was wrong.

A door to a whole new world opened. And I spent the last 7 months reading about all of this, and a little bit of playing too.

Once I realized that the modding scene was way bigger then I thought, I took my usual approach: show me the deepest end. I was pointed to something called GT (GregTech) New Horizons (GTNH). In Minecraft, these “modpacks” dominate the scene. There are single mods that develop their own thing, but these individual mods are then organized together in what essentially are “total overhauls”. Part of this is because Minecraft modding is messy. It’s not like Factorio with an explicit mod support. The mods themselves have to be written in Java and are generally “dirty”, hacky work that require lots of expertise and skill. And because everything is quite messy, there will be bugs and problems, and solving them requires serious work. All this means that you need a good team to make a good modpack that can be well supported. You don’t just throw together some mods and play, you have to rely so much more on “curated” packages. The modpacks.

I launched GTNH.

And wow. This is the Minecraft I wanted, with what I hated removed. Not a survival exhausted in 20 minutes, but blazing onward to 600+ hours, of actual, “hard” content added to the game. And the most amazing, unexpected thing: …a questbook.

If my hugest issue when playing Minecraft was not having some incentive to push me onward, some clear goal that would enlighten the progression, this HUGE questbook, with more than 2000 quests, was at the same time a great guide to erase the problem of guessing recipes, and a clear path. It was finally Minecraft… with actual CONTENT to play with. With immediate activities, rewards, and long term goals.

I always thought Minecraft was just fluff, players spending hundreds of hours building pretty houses and castles, but functionally pointless. Because they were just abstractions. But now the whole thing takes a new light. I don’t care spending hours decorating something, for fluff, but if I’m going to spend hundreds of hours in a factory, then the way it’s functionally built, BECOMES IMPORTANT. You can plan and carefully design your places because the design has a function. You’re going to actually “live” in there. It’s not a backdrop, it’s your working environment. The same way you can spend hours setting up a programming IDE so that you are familiar with it. Things start making sense. You jump around like a bunny, you’ll get hungry sooner, need more food. If you build a path, then your speed is enhanced while walking on it. You want doors, windows, a place well lit. Stuff you build and use because it’s functionally active in that world. Stuff that has a purpose, a role to play. The survival aspects start making sense when they come together like this. You don’t just eat bread, because you need different types of food and nutrients. The world around starts to take a shape that is meaningful, where every “block” joins into a system. Onward.

If difficulty is a problem, it’s always because of accessibility. Having fun in a game is all about solving problems, but if those problems are too hard they become insurmountable walls. Even a small obstacle that doesn’t have a clear solution can become frustrating. The great thing here is that the functional complexity available in a huge modpack is accompanied with an equally huge questbook that works as a guide. Here’s your mountain of content, don’t be daunted, take my hand, I’ll guide you all the way. You just have to put the time, patience, and fun. But it’s all there because it is MEANT to be enjoyed. Your sandbox, with your guide. It is a huge mountain, but it is accessible. You just start to climb, setting your own pace and goals, step by step.

Now my Minecraft folder is… let’s see… currently at 52Gb.

I also intended to make a sort of guide here. So here’s what you need to dive into all this.

You need the Java version of Minecraft, avoid everything else. I don’t think the Java version is still available from Mojang, so you’ll have to deal with Microsoft. But once you got your account information, you don’t have to touch Microsoft stuff anymore.

You get this (instead):

(Note: community projects sadly often derail into lots of drama, and unless you’re directly involved, it’s drama that is very complex and hard to judge. I know very little of the present one, but MultiMC has also “forked”: https://polymc.org/news/moving-on/ …It can’t be too bad to have a more open platform, but otherwise, I have no clue on the matter.)

This is the program you use to download the game assets locally and the modpacks. Everything will be held within, without contaminating other directories, Windows main drive, profile and everything. The modpacks themselves, along with their options, configs and savegame data, will be put inside the “/instances/” directory. If you want to move all your stuff you simply have to backup your MultiMC folder and you won’t lose anything.

Beside MultiMC, and your user and password to access the main assets, you’ll need a Java version. Now… Modpacks depend on a certain Minecraft version, you don’t just download and play the latest. Most of the relevant modpacks are either 1.7.10, or 1.12.2. Those are the big “plateaus” where Minecraft modded has taken shape. But today there are also popular modpacks for 1.16.5, and a few things are trying to stay up to date (1.18.2, currently). Mods take time, questbooks too, good modpacks take even more time. That means that the more bleeding edge is the modpack, the more you lose in terms of mod integration and complexity. Many mods that define what modded Minecraft is haven’t moved past 1.12.2.

All this is also important because when you are PAST 1.16.5 you need Java 17. If you instead play a modpack based on 1.16.5 or earlier, then you need Java 8.

This is where I suggest grabbing Java:

Take a recent version if possible. But notice that the current one, doesn’t have a Java 8 package. So you need to scroll to a 21.3.1 or 21.2.0, for example “graalvm-ce-java8-windows-amd64-21.3.1.zip”, since you are looking for Java 8, and Windows (“amd64” indicates both AMD and Intel processors). Once you have the zip, you unpack it somewhere, and then configure MultiMC so that it will use that java version. Just look in the /bin directory for “javaw.exe”. Done.

It’s important you set the parameters, and every modpack has its own recommendations. This is what I use:
-XX:+EnableJVMCI -XX:+UseJVMCICompiler -XX:+EagerJVMCI -Djvmci.Compiler=graal -Dfml.readTimeout=120 -Dgraal.ShowConfiguration=info -XX:+UseG1GC -XX:+UnlockExperimentalVMOptions -Dsun.rmi.dgc.server.gcInterval=900000 -XX:+DisableExplicitGC -XX:G1NewSizePercent=20 -XX:G1ReservePercent=20 -XX:MaxGCPauseMillis=50 -XX:G1HeapRegionSize=32M

Also set the minimum and max memory allocation BOTH to 8192 MiB. All these settings aren’t perfect, and every pack has its quirks, but it’s a general default that should be working well. You can then individually tweak each instance while leaving the general settings alone.

That’s it. There’s an “add instance” button at the top left. You press it, go for example at the CurseForge tab and look for a modpack to install, the program will download the mods and create the instance. You launch it and play. These days I follow closely dev work directly on Discord channels, and often packs are available there as downloads. So you just import the zips.

At some point, for a reason or another, you’ll start tinkering. So it’s useful to know some general aspects. A modpack is generally built of three components: mod code, scripts, configuration files. Consider that MultiMC won’t automatically update a pack for you. You do it manually. It usually means creating a NEW instance, so a new subdirectory. You can then navigate to the old, and copy those files you need, to the new. Usually game options (options.txt), the “/saves/” directory, and some other stuff depending on mods, like minimap or tomb data. in any case, the instance directory will contain a “/minecraft/” directory, that’s where’s your stuff. The mod code is contained in .jar files, in the “/mods/” subdirectory. The scripts, that generally contain custom recipes, are inside “/scripts/”, and configuration files are under “/config/”. You can edit scripts and configuration files with just a text editor. When you manually move your data you don’t touch these, since they are set by the pack developers, and so might change when there’s an update. Other directories are usually generated at launch, so you generally don’t touch them.

Now, what do you PLAY?

Here’s a list. With a few notes, more or less relevant. I have less than 100 hours logged overall, when each one of these can take several hundreds. I really know nothing, but I read a lot.

My focus is of course on “industry”, complex processes and depth of gameplay in general. For reasons I’ll elaborate later, this generally means everything GregTech, but there will be other stuff listed.

– GT New Horizons [1.7.10] This is the big daddy of Minecraft modding. It’s one of those with the most active development, still to this day. It gets criticized because it’s “grindy”, but we’ll see later that grind can have a meaningful design purpose. Objectively, it has two strong positive aspects, that are almost unmatched in other modpacks: integration and progress. Integration means that this pack puts together the whole breadth of mods. It has many different biomes, types of food, monsters, along with magic and everything GregTech. These mods are integrated not only because they are in the same pack, but because the recipes are tweaked to depend on each other. Leading to an overall semi-linear progress, of a monumental “size” and scale, that is kept still accessible thanks to an expansive questbook. It’s essentially a flagship. The central pillar of this pack is GregTech 5, but after it was pushed by the community in a whole new directory, now known as GT5U (U-nofficial).

http://downloads.gtnewhorizons.com/Dev-Pack/Pack/Client/ The latest versions usually appear here. What you can find on curseforge is usually a bit outdated.
This is the main Github, the group of devs maintains a large number of 1.7.10 mods, at least those that can be messed with because set as open source.

Note: there are a couple of GTNH “forks”. One is GT Mega, but you need to hunt on discord for this one. It’s made by some embittered GTNH devs that left because of some drama and different vision for the modpack. The other is GT Impact, that you can find here. This one is set on “peaceful” mode, no monsters, only automation. Known to be very good, with interesting multiblocks and some other interesting choices. It has a significant problem though: no questbook. Because of that, you usually need to be already familiar with GTNH.

– Technlogical Journey [1.12.2] This is another unofficial GregTech. It’s based on GTCE (Community Edition), that is a port of GT5 for this new version of Minecraft (all official versions made by Greg didn’t move past 1.7.10). But this is not a well done and “full” version of GregTech, and the main reason why it was completely rewritten recently (but still not in this pack). The main show here is Gregicality, an extension of GregTech, only available here, that pushed the mid to late game toward future science technology. This is here because it represents another interesting extreme, in the complexity of the chemistry chains. It goes one step beyond GTNH itself at the late game, but it is much, much more stripped down in non-GregTech content. There isn’t much integration, and the questbook is more a general progress guide to follow than a complete tutorial. So it’s generally for those who have experience with modded Minecraft and GregTech especially.

https://www.curseforge.com/minecraft/modpacks/technologicaljourney This link is only useful to follow the Discord link. The updated version of the pack is distributed on the Discord link and you absolutely should avoid the Curseforge version. Even the questbook is incomplete in that version.

– Supersymmetry [1.12.2] Only for future reference, since there’s nothing to see here at the moment. It’s an ambitious modpack, science-based, built around the rewrite of GTCE (GTCE-unofficial) and a new version of Gregicality. But a new version of Gregicality (now called Gregicality-Science) is still rather far from release, and the pack, with the ambition to join Gregicality with NuclearCraft Overhaul and QMD, is even further away. Right now the pack is a meme, but it could become important.

https://github.com/Zalgo239/Supersymmetry (Zalgo, Tech22 and Pcm_Keywielder are literally doing God’s work in the proverbial sense, “work that is very important and necessary, especially that which receives little or no recognition or pay.”)

– Omnifactory/Nomifactory (STE) [1.12.2] Still the “lousy” GTCE, but the best introduction to GregTech if you want the focus on the factory rather than the whole modded world, as in GTNH. Since I also was not practical with GregTech, I needed some guide to then “graduate” to Technological Journey. My choice was Omnifactory STE. STE stands for the ominously named “Self-Torture Edition.” For the time being, it helped me. Omnifactory has now be renamed Nomifactory, so refer to that. Omnifactory STE still hasn’t transitioned to the new name. The difference, early game, is that it has much more expensive recipes and enables the steam age, that is instead skipped in the standard version of Nomifactory. Since I play to get familiar with GregTech, I do need that steam age, and playing through that first questbook page helped me starting to define the GregTech mental space. I’ll soon try to reproduce and match the progress into TJ. Omni/Nomi is mainly a GregTech pack, rather lean, and meant to be played without monsters. So it’s like a focused slice of Minecraft. All survival aspects are essentially removed. But there’s still plenty to keep you busy, and work hard.

Nomifactory dev (only use the dev version on github, the main description page has a link to the nightly builds and an info page)
Omnifactory STE Get the client on that page, I manually updated a few things myself, since it’s not as well maintained as the main Nomifactory, but it should be fine

Both STE and Standard have a port to the new GTCE-u, but it’s still in beta.
The STE version is currently only on the Nomi Discord channel.

I’ll add here that there are other GTCE-u modpacks in development. This includes Technological Journey 2. But I’d stay away until Gregicality comes out. I’ll link instead three other packs:
GregTech Community Pack, a lean pack with a tutorialized questbook. This is only GregTech base version + some small support mods. It’s meant to be an introduction to GregTech.
GregTech Expert 2
TerraFirmaGreg You may soon realize that GregTech seems to attract some niche Russian, Chinese and Japanese communities. This is a Russian guy who’s putting together GTCE-u with TerraFirmaCraft.

– FTB Ultimate [1.4.7] This is a jump back in time to a much, much earlier version of Minecraft. Ancient history. This is GregTech 2. But I played this to have an overall feel of the starting point in GregTech. It’s still greggy. The biggest difference is that ore generation is traditional. So you just start digging down and find plenty of minerals to use. Because ore generation is scattered all over the place, it means it’s more “exploratory”, and classic Minecraft experience with mods. There’s no questbook. This is a typical “kitchen sink” pack. Every mod does its own thing, there’s no “intended” progression, and you just take your own path. At the time there weren’t many mods, so players were familiar with everything available. They knew what to do and the game was more about creatively using those tools rather than structuring some intended progress. But it’s also the point where mods started to be aware each other, guiding toward a richer, complex experience. It’s fun to play. Use NEI, make a Pulverizer to double ores.

(Old, but it still lets players build… this)

From the MultiMC instance page, look at FTB Legacy, order by game version, scroll down close to the bottom for the correct version for 1.4.7. The pack version is 1.1.2… but there are a few caveats. You need to add a few things that are indispensable.
Block Helper
https://bdew.net/old-downloads/ (the one for Minecraft 1.4.7: “neiaddons-1.4.7-1.6.1.r8.jar”)
Mouse Tweaks

– Divine Journey 2 [1.12.2] Not GregTech. This is a good example of a “hard” progress based pack. Recipes, even of basic things, are modified. And the mods included are organized to provide a semi-linear progress. Since everything in it is modified, this gives something fresh to play for everyone


– Lost Era [1.7.10] This is another large pack for this early Minecraft version, despite being a recent one. It has GregTech 4, that was mainly a minecraft 1.6.4 mod, so this one here was an unofficial port. But GregTech is not the core here. It’s a much more simpler pack compared to GTNH, with meaningful but not “hard” progression. It’s especially great as an overall tutorial for mods. Featuring most of the main ones, including tech and magic. Stuff you learn here is always useful whether you move to newer or older versions. A great access point, with an excellent questbook.


– TerraFirma Rescue [1.7.10] This is the merge of TerraFirmaCraft and GregTech 6. It’s actually GT6 unofficial, it’s a bit outdated as a pack, not so well maintained. But TFC has some excellent gameplay aspects. I’ve only tried the early game, and the quests could use some polish, but once I gasped what I was meant to do it became quite satisfying and more “natural” than even standard Minecraft gameplay.


– Bears Den surviving Take 2 [1.7.10] Simple GT6 pack. Basically a ready test environment for GregTech 6. You can always drop some more mods in there, if you want.


– Test Pack Please Ignore [1.6.4] This is another reference point for GregTech, since it contains the last version of GT4 before the move to GT5. Despite its age this is a large pack, somewhat inheriting what FTB Ultimate was. In both these cases there is no questbook, so playing through it is not simple at all. you can probably look some older gameplay on youtube to get some ideas. I have a questbook for this version of GT, but based on a Russian hard pack with all the recipes changed, and if I backport the questbook, it crashes. But at least it can works as a general reference. It’s especially with one of the late GT3 versions, and then the move to GT4, that GregTech grew in ambition and also started “greggifying” recipes. This was a controversial design decision because if for example before you needed metal plates in recipes for GT machines, now metal plates are much more widely used, in order to justify building the plate-making machine, rather than crafting those plates manually with a hammer. Same as modifying some Minecraft canons, like 1 log only producing 2 planks, as long you don’t use a saw or a sawmill block. Leading to the general concept of “microcrafting”, also often considered as a bad thing.

This one is on Technic. Simply “add instance” in MultiMC, select the Technic tab and search for the pack name. I heavily tweaked my own version, with minimal testing, so it makes no sense to give more specifics.

– FTB Unhinged [1.5.2] Another GregTech reference point. I’m not sure if it’s really that interesting as a reference, but this, being late GT3, is right between the GT2 in FTB Ultimate, and the GT4 in Test Pack Please Ignore.

Use again the FTB Legacy tab in MultiMC.

– InfiTech 2 [1.7.10] To complete GregTech reference points. This is version 5 before it moved to the Unofficial version, and then GTNH. It is an important pack because it comes with a classic questbook. So it can be followed to see how GregTech was intended to work at this point in time. And how it spread to fundamentally change a lot of the early game.

https://www.curseforge.com/minecraft/modpacks/infitech-2 (yes, it says it’s outdated)

– Revolution 3 [1.7.10] Another generally ignored but important niche. This modpack includes Reika’s mods. Like Greg himself, Reika still maintains his mod suite to this day, but they are very rarely included in modpacks. The main reason is that Reika forbids modification and integration, because he thinks his stuff is precisely designed with a certain progression, but that goes against the intention of those who put together modpacks. These choices ended up in a sort of walled off world. This pack is a rare one that includes those mods, and also has a questbook. Reika’s mods come with their in-game documentation, but they still assume one is quite familiar with the modded games and tools.

This one’s on ATLauncher. So add instance, select the tab and search for “Revolution”. You want the “3” version. Don’t go to 4, it’s a different thing.

– Dragon Realm [1.7.10] This is a recent thing. Reika had his own server and modpack, where he played along the years and tested all his mods. He never released it because he didn’t want to maintain it, answer questions, deal with bug reports and all that. He recently decided to still release it. There’s TONS of information on the site, including specific install instructions that need to be followed. What’s missing is again… a questbook. So you either use Revolution 3 as a “map”, or you’re left figuring stuff in the game or watch some video.

https://dragonrealm.overminddl1.com/index.php Read everything here. Follow instructions carefully.

– FTB Academy + FTB University [1.12.2] These are “FTB” packs. These are usually well done, especially in this case. They are essentially big tutorials, making you familiar with all (most) of the mods. No GregTech, but you have a guided approach that shows you what’s the deal with Minecraft modding.


– Enigmatica 2 Expert (and Extended) [1.12.2] One of the most famous “hard” packs. It messes with some common recipes, like chests, but it is generally considered as one of the most accessible hard packs. Built to have a certain progression and integrating both magic and tech, similar to Divine Journey 2. No GregTech.

https://www.curseforge.com/minecraft/modpacks/enigmatica2expert/ Original
https://www.curseforge.com/minecraft/modpacks/enigmatica-2-expert-extended Extended

– Enigmatica 6 Expert [1.16.5] The first modpack I mention in this Minecraft version. A spiritual successor to Enigmatica 2 Expert, released days ago at the time of this writing. It’s actually way different from E2. Like, Enigmatica Exotic edition. It demands a lot more exploration to find useful random loot, and fighting enemies in generated structure. It heavily depends on magic. I suppose it’s less “industry” than usual, but will require automation. The pack is identical to the non-expert version. The only changes are “hard” recipes. Most of the questbook is also identical, but hardmode enables a page to show an ideal order of progression for the mods included. Whereas in non-expert those mods are relatively independent, in expert the recipes have many cross dependencies, so that you’ll need to progress in “x”, in other to unblock something in “y”.


– Create Above & Beyond [1.16.5] Hugely popular. Classified as hard pack, but nowhere close to the standard. It’s mostly about the popular mod Create, that is about automation but in a way that is conceptually opposite to GregTech. Create is about building Rube Goldberg contraptions. Think about “analogical” technology rather than the industry blocks of GT. But it’s fun for a lot of people and now in a pack with a defined progression. Most 1.16.5 packs are just “kitchen sink”, without a definite progression, and more “fluff” mods about the standard aspects of Minecraft, like exploration and combat. So there’s still a huge demand for something deeper, and on more recent Minecraft versions. This one is a decent mix of something that feels fresh, but also not shallow as most more recent things.


– Multiblock Madness [1.12.2] This is another tech-first modpack, oddly not GregTech. But it’s one of the more rarer packs that contains some of the most complex tech mods, like NuclearCraft Overhaul and QMD (particle physics). Another ambitious modpack is being planned that will include this, with GregTech (Supersymmetry), but it’s a long time away from a release. The only other modpack with a similar set of features, available at the moment, is Quanta. This one (Multiblock Madness) should have a decent questbook, that i think is important when the complexity scales up. I haven’t played it, so I don’t know if the questbook can be a good guide on its own, or if it’s better to build some experience first.


– SevTech: Ages [1.12.2] Another popular modpack next to Enigmatica 2. Rather unique because it has a technological progress that is gated through various ages. Rather than using a questbook, it goes for an enhanced achievements page, that can still be used as a general guide about what to do and how to progress.


– Compact Claustrophobia [1.12.2] I can’t remember if there’s a more up do date version out there. But this is interesting because you have a series of problems of increasing complexity, and you are stuck in tiny rooms. So the challenge is to both solve the problem, and use as less space as possible. The forced limited focus helps to concentrate on the problem only.


– FTB Oceanblock, Cuboid Outpost [1.16.5] Both recent packs I’ve seen played on Twitch.

As far as I know Oceanblock doesn’t have a dedicate page, for some absurd reason. But you can again “add instance” and look for it on the FTB section.

– FTB Infinity Evolved Expert [1.7.10] I haven’t touched this one, but it’s one of the classic ones, hugely popular.


Different, semi-incomplete sidetracks (pursuing complexity in different directions than GregTech, these are even more “niche”):

– TechNodeFirmaCraft https://www.curseforge.com/minecraft/modpacks/technodefirmacraft
– Ad Astra Per Nucleon https://www.curseforge.com/minecraft/modpacks/ad-astra-per-nucleon
– Per Fabrica Ad Astra https://atlauncher.com/pack/perfabricaadastra
– Fabrica Atlantica https://github.com/wormzjl/Fabrica-Atlantica
– Quanta https://www.curseforge.com/minecraft/modpacks/quanta

– Valhelsia 3 [1.16.5] Popular big “kitchen sink” pack. Quests were planned but never appeared. Just a collection of mods, supposedly well put together, and it lets you experiment with the best stuff available in this version of Minecraft. Minecolonies, for example. This pack essentially contains many of the popular big mods, but it doesn’t have a well planned progression, and it won’t guide you through that content. So it’s a mixed bag.


– Better Minecraft (Plus) [1.16.5] Another “exploratory” modpack. Extremely popular. I think the video looks quite amazing. There are versions for 1.18, both Fabric and Forge. But of course less meaningful mods, since the newer version are always weaker on content.


– Crucial 2 [1.16.5] This one is a well thought, minimal pack that voluntarily stays away from Minecraft modding complexities. It’s basically an improved vanilla Minecraft.


Misc 1.16.5 “questpacks”. All of these have lots of quests, and slightly different sets of mods. Sometimes they use the same quests. They are all kitchen sink without a really defined progression. Quality may be variable. Age of Fate seemed to lag for me. Despite the huge number of quests don’t expect them to cover everything. Some “branches” are more detailed than others, some could be missing entirely. In the end, despite the presence of quests you could feel like not knowing what to do:

– TNP Limitless 3 https://www.curseforge.com/minecraft/modpacks/tnp-limitless-3
– Monumental Experience https://www.curseforge.com/minecraft/modpacks/monumental-experience
– Dungeons, Dragons and Space Shuttles https://www.curseforge.com/minecraft/modpacks/dungeons-dragons-and-space-shuttles
– Age of Fate https://www.curseforge.com/minecraft/modpacks/age-of-fate

– Craft to Exile: Dissonance [1.15.2] Weird choice of Minecraft version. You try this yourself. I’m just pointing you to this image


– Chroma Technology 2 [1.16.5] Not on my radar, this one seems for the cool kids. Fighting dragons and collect magical weapons. It has the “Silent Gear” class of mods.


Unordered misc:

https://www.curseforge.com/minecraft/modpacks/telomerase (TerraFirmaCraft+ 1.7.10 pack)

It’s all stuff I bookmarked for a reason or another. There are MANY more modpacks that are better and more popular than these listed, like many of the FTB ones. I just directed my searchlight in some specific directions.

Some notions about GregTech.

The latest “offical” GregTech version is GT6, for minecraft 1.7.10. As I said above, there aren’t many modpacks for this GT version. Same as what happened to Reika’s Rotarycraft, another “complex” mod made by an engineer, with real physics simulated in the game (praise for Reika’s mods is more about the concepts involved, but much less for his coding skill and performance of those mods…). I’m currently trying to build a “mental map” of those versions of GT, to have a general idea of what changes from one to the other, and how they evolved in complexity and design. It will take me a while.

GregTech originally started (…okay. Remember that all you read here doesn’t come from a position of authority. I just gathered SOME knowledge. What I write is usually pertinent and documented, but it may be a generalization or a simplification) not as an individual mod, but as an “extension” to a much more popular mod at the time: IndustrialCraft 2 (by the way the FTB wiki can be quite useful, but there are two versions, with different content. Here’s one and the other). IC2 already provided a number of machines for ore processing and other conundrums. GregTech Intergalactical was meant to expand the scope, especially in the middle to late game with more advanced machines, more materials and processes. But as the mod became more popular and Greg kept working and adding to it, the scope of the mod increased.

You have to consider the modded game landscape at the time. There wasn’t much organization, and there were an handful of popular and well known mods that players had fully mastered. Those mods weren’t well coordinated with each other, there wasn’t an overall vision or progress. So the individual mods were extremely powerful tools that allowed players to conceive creative contraptions. But they were also kind of overpowered once you knew your way around. Rather than a balanced progress you had players bee lining right to end game in no time. This created a demand for “hard” modpacks, where the overpowered shortcuts were nerfed so that you felt like earning the better tools, and experience the technological progress within the game. If you have everything you want, on demand, the game gets kind of boring even if you have endless possibilities about what you build. Without some restraints, the lure of a reward becomes weak.

As the scope of GregTech widened and deepened, Greg started to “override” the landscape. He started to expand the game design, so that a certain progress was forced. He was nerfing certain recipes so that the use of machines was more rewarding, and also modified the recipes of the IC2 machines to require more complex and expensive materials. The motivation is obvious, he was transforming the technological progress so that mods were better integrated and so that crafting a new machine felt more rewarding. It’s a delicate balance, but required at the time when players had available overpowered machines from other mods that would immediately make a large portion of the content irrelevant. At the same time, when you start touching these aspects lots of players are disappointed, because you are adding “grind”, for example creating artificial dependencies just to justify the presence of a machine. If the metal plate machine in GT is only used for GT machines, then you could decide to ignore it, and in case just craft a few metal plates with a hammer. But if Greg modifies the recipe of EVERY other machine, now all requiring plates, then the plate machine becomes mandatory. And so more restrictive. Up to the point of creating a large drama, especially with the developer of another hugely popular mod (to this day): Tinkers’ Construct. With Greg going for the infamous choice of making the game CRASH if the Tinkers mod was present. Responsibility was bounced back and forth, it is not my role to be judge here, but the result was that the community started to get split, and Greg, not unlike Reika, grew more “radical” in his design choices, that ultimately pushed his work in its own niche and more insulated to the rest of the modding space.

This “greggification” of recipes started especially with GT3 and moved on to GT4. And from there the scope of the mod kept growing, moving away from a mere add-on for IC2. Today, GregTech 6 doesn’t depend on IC2 anymore, and its impact on the game is so wide that it can be considered a modpack on its own. With a specific design vision that affects the whole game.

Despite this, the official GregTech, again like Reika, never moved past 1.7.10. The scope of the mod was way too large for Greg to reshape around a radically different of Minecraft. But this didn’t stop Greg from radically redesign his mod, with GT6. As with happens with another hugely popular mod, Thaumcraft, versions start to differ so much in design, there there isn’t a “best” one. And that’s why players who liked GT5 decided to “fork” Greg work, leading to GT5-U, first, I think lead by some guy named BloodAsp, and then eventually handed over to the GTNH team that continues to this day, working on that branch of GT5, and expanding a lot more the complexity of the chemical processes.

When the modding community largely moved to the new standard Minecraft version (1.12.2), Greg stayed behind to do GT6 on 1.7.10, but some other devs/players tried porting GT to 1.12.2 (mainly a guy known as Archtech). Not GT6, but GT5/U. This version was GTCE, that never got a good reputation, both in quality of code and content. But it was the only version available, and when carefully worked in a custom pack like Omnifactory… it wasn’t bad. Another team started to work on extensions to GTCE, like “Shadows of Greg”, to add back and flash out what was missing, and then to expand further the mod, with “Gregicality”. Eventually, having to constantly deal with the limits of the code, they decided to do a radical rewrite of the whole of GTCE… leading to GTCE-U, released just this past December (which is impressive considering the redesign only started about 6 months before)… But still going through significant redesign phases as more interesting ideas from GT6 are backported, moving again the scope of the mod, from a loose port of GT5U, to the aim of making the “best” GT version, integrating the best ideas and practices (but it’s not an exact science, and there are always ambiguous debates on how “hard” the mod should be).

Today, there are a number of GregTech versions still maintained and relevant. Here’s a list:

GregTech 6 [1.7.10] The official one, still maintained by Greg. It’s considered “feature complete”, so Greg is mostly fixing bugs and compatibility.
GT5U [1.7.10] The flagship that is integral, inseparable from GTNH.
GTCEu [1.12.2] The recent rewrite by the Gregicality team, the most promising version, especially when the new Gregicality Science comes out and more modpacks are developed.
GregTech Intergalactical [1.18?] The only attept to port GT to the newest Minecraft. Despite you might expect lot of attention on this one, this seems a one-man work, and it develops at rare bursts because that main dev can’t dedicate time to it. I don’t really know why it’s much, much smaller than the 1.12 team, but… It is claimed to be almost feature complete, and still generally ignored for some reason.
GT4 Reimagined [1.18?] This is a port of GT4 that is using the same API/infrastructure of the GT version just here above. Test pack here
GregTech 4 [1.7.10] GT4 was for Minecraft 1.6.4, this version is a port to 1.7.10. Used for example in Lost Era (see above), it’s a smaller, simpler version compared to GT5, so preferred in this case if you don’t want GregTech to “monopolize” the design of the pack.
GregTech 6 Unoffical GT6 also has a “U” version. Used mainly in TerraFirma Rescue, but the mod is a bit outdated and not well maintained, so the main 6 is now ahead. Greg has “complained” that rather than fork GT6 it could have been a better idea to create it as an extension. So that the merge of new GT6 features could have been more automatic, and even offered the possibility to port the most liked features of GT6U in GT6 itself.
GregTech Experimental [1.12.2] This one is a port of GT3.
GregTech Classic [1.12.2] I don’t really know. As the description says it’s a mod to match a port of an earlier version of IC2, so it should be a modern port of how GT1 was originally.

Now I have my own plans, most (all?) of which won’t probably see the light. I’d like to write, or contribute, to a questbook. For example it seems there’s not a good, complete questbook for GT6, and my original idea was to make a large pack including both GT6 and Reika’s mods. Now the idea moved to try to use the lost Era modpack as a base, eject GT4, replace it with GT6 and Reikas’, and rework the GT quests from there, since the pack is already meant as a guide for all the mods it includes. But it is likely than when I start working on that it will evolve to become more like a “hard” pack with some changes to the progression. Another, very long term and probably impossible for my technical skills, would be to modify the code to TerraFirmaCraft, to make it compatible to general modding, and overhaul all the early game, convincing GTNH devs to embrace this vision. This is “unlikely”, because both players and devs are strongly against TFC, but I have my reasons and my own way to rearrange those mechanics. The actual hard part is the code, and that mans being highly unlikely, especially if I’m alone working on that…

…But, even writing a GT6 questbook is a very long project. I don’t know GT6. The path leading there would be watching Bear’s videos on GT6, reproduce all that stuff in game, and putting on the questbook everything I learn. right now, I’m only playing through Omnifactory STE, to get an idea of GT, and eventually move to Technological Journey to reproduce what I know over a “legacy” Gregicality pack. And that’s already a significant commitment…

The discovery, seemingly coming out of nothing, of modded Minecraft was for me an amazing experience. Like a kid walking into a gargantuan castle filled with new toys. Hard to believe. The “Recipe for Fun” is quite simple, and very similar to Factorio. The game throws at you a constant flux of tasks. To complete these tasks you need to fill a number of sub-tasks, and many of these will have cross dependencies. So that in order to do X, you also need A and B. But doing A also unblocks a new path, that might lead you to F and G, in a complete new direction, that eventually will lead back. This continuous flow of problems to solve, micro and macro, is extremely addicting because it signals clear objectives and then their completion enables new stuff to see and experiment with, to create new sets of problems, and new branching tasks. New machines to experiment with, new stuff produced, new places to explore…

The progress, especially in GT-themed packs, also follows a well tuned formula: you have to work hard to get to a specific goal. In order to get there you have to complete a number of different activities, it’s a journey. But once you reached the objective the reward goes in two different directions. It goes forward because you are unlocking a new branch of the tech tree, so new gameplay to explore, machines you can build, new things. But it also goes back, because sometimes you open new ways to get the same resources in much less time and effort. That’s what makes it rewarding. You aren’t simply leaving everything behind, making it all obsolete as it happens in many (not sandbox-y) games, to move to something else, and neither you have to repeat over and over the same process. You simply unlock backward-facing shortcuts that let you “optimize” what you’ve done up to that point. As in Factorio, you have sometime the meaningful choice of keeping your own “slow” line, or “refactor” and redesign it so it’s much more efficient once you’ve unlocked some “power-ups”. No one prods you annoyingly onward, you decide what to prioritize. The sandbox provides you the good tools, it’s up to you doing what you want with them.

I can even analyze my own experience to better understand what works so well, and what doesn’t. For example when playing Omnifactory STE I got to a point that felt like a significant stagnation for my own fun. It was as soon as I unlocked the new quest page after completing the first. This is not normal, because I got to the place where the pack actually becomes interesting (Omnifactory standard starts from this point, basically), so why it was the opposite for me? Because I didn’t have a clear objective. There are a bunch of new machines I can do, but I don’t have anything they need to be done, FOR. I can work to build those new machines, and activate some new processes, but I don’t see anything, at the moment, that I need these new things FOR. I have things to do, but not a clear goal. In the previous “page” of the questbook, instead it was different. I was struggling for scarcity everywhere. So I needed to do stuff, and had to work with important restrictions. I made a coke oven multiblock, that let me transform wood logs into charcoal and coke, but I couldn’t use it because it was getting immediately clogged in creosote oil. So I then built a big steam furnace powered with that creosote oil, and then went to create a giant, “undocumented” buffer steam to power a couple of macerators and start ore processing before it was intended to be reasonable. Basically I was doing one step while thinking at what that step would let me do. Planning ahead, always with another goal on my radar. As it usually happens, good game design here doesn’t even depend on the mod. It depends on… the questbook.

And that’s why I want to go there. I enjoy tinkering with game design, and in modded Minecraft the quality of the experience depends so much on how the different mods are used, how they are integrated, creating a system that lets the game come alive. The structure and organization. It’s also the real distinction between Minecraft and Factorio. In Factorio you’re always at the bird’s eye. Always planning. Factorio is relentless with its lure because there’s nothing in there to distract or slow you down. In Minecraft instead you live inside the factory and are part of it. You tinker all the times with wrenches and other tools. You manually take an empty tank, walk down to a river, place it on the sand, slowly fill it with a bucket in your hands, and then drag it back to put it in its proper place, and maybe in the process you get hungry, or a creeper explodes half your base. Incidental annoyances that depend on your previous choices, that form a complex system. You plan your factory as in Factorio, but you also walk inside it, manipulate it directly with your virtual hands. In Factorio you plan and design, and it’s a pure mental drug, in Minecraft you’re “doing” too, in a way that is fulfilling and also relaxing. A mix of micro and macro that create a varied, absorbing experience.

Why I wrote all this?!

Not for you. You, meaning a hypothetical reader. This blog/website has existed for a long time. The purpose is still the same. A bit inconveniently named, it was always meant as an archive for my own use, and incidentally whoever would find some value or interest in its content. I’ve always been on the forums, engaging directly in discussions. On the blog I was rallying knowledge.

I’d cut pieces of discussions and paste them here to give them emphasis. Set milestones in recurring debates. As if clippings from newspapers. It was necessary for the organization of my mental space, because if that space is well organized then it will eventually have an effect on the quality of my thoughts.

The title is a reference to a famous movie, and Polybenzimidazole is one of the most complex production chains in GTNH.

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