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Should Do

My friends and I are once again in our go-to game: Minecraft. We have a server up and running on Feed the Beast Monster which contains like 100+ different mods and all sorts of crazy addons. The biggest problem I run into with modded Minecraft, especially with so many mods, is an overwhelming sense of having no idea what to do. I feel like there’s so much to do, and so many options, that I spin my wheels and almost do nothing because I can’t decide what I want.

I said to my friends, “I don’t know what I should do first,” to which one replied, “There is no “should do” in a sandbox.” Fascinating concept, and at first I felt like that was totally true and chastised myself. Now the more I think about it, sandboxes or every game for that matter need a ‘should do’ even if it’s a loose direction. Sometimes that ‘should do’ is a little hard to identify — that’s okay. Thinking over Minecraft, my ‘should do’ is gather resources and accumulate resources like electricity and power. In a MMO the should do is advance my character (whether a prescribed way or however I choose).

There’s a balance in there somewhere. Too much and it becomes a themepark leading you by the nose to every objective. Too little and it ceases to be gamelike. All of that said, I’ll err on the side of less ‘should do’ and more freedom any day. For me it’s all about having something to constantly work toward and achieve. Once I identify what that is, or I can create my own objective and it’s truly meaningful, I’ll play for years. As soon as that objective seems pointless, like a stopping point, or too easy to obtain, I’ll put it in the ‘why bother’ category and move on.

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Comments

  1. I absolutely love modded Minecraft. It takes a very basic survival game and turns it into an engineering paradise.

    And the “Should do” is as you say. Gather resources in order to create systems. The problem I run into though, is that with Mods and whatnot installed, the survival part almost becomes non-existant once a certain stage is reached. This leaves you with the act of simply gathering those resources to build those machines or systems. And the point of those machines and systems is for the game to automate certain things.

    You quite literally play Modded Minecraft with the sole intention of getting Modded Minecraft to eventually work without you. This is self defeating for obvious reasons.

    The only way past that hurdle is to play multiplayer, with large amounts of people, that can and will kill you, and to involve strict penalties to death like losing materials or items. This keeps things interesting by always having the possibility that you will need an actual reason for those automated systems.

    I guess my point is that a sandbox in a vacuum is rather boring. Maybe we need a bully to come by every once in a while and kick our sand castle to keep it interesting?

  2. I don’t use any mods normally. My goals are pretty much always the same:
    1. Home with a Bed.
    2. Food Stability, usually I kill all the pigs I can find while initially exploring before I get wheat and cows going.
    3. Branch Mining for resources.
    4. Enchanting Table, Bookshelves, and Anvil.
    5. Experience Farm of some sort, usually a relatively simple mob farm.
    6. Find a Nether Fortress for Blazes and Netherwort.
    7. Experience Farm built around Blaze Spawners in Nether Fortress.
    8. The Ender Dragon… I’ve never actually gotten this far.

    Usually I burn out on Minecraft sometime around or just after Number 7 above.

  3. There are several Mod Packs which have direction. A few of them even have a book of quests and numerous tweaks to give the game a theme. Crash Landing and Agrarian Skies are excellent examples of this.

    Others add more mechanics to survival modded minecraft to make progression a little more deliberate. Magic Farm 2 is a bit more challenging. BloodNBones is a LOT more challenging.

    The ones I mention are on the FTB launcher, some in the 3rd party packs. The ATLauncher has a variety of packs, some of which will give you something more directed than FTB Monster.

  4. Someone mentioned Agrarian Skies above – I highly recommend that for you at some point. It’s a GREAT new-ish way to play Minecraft. I say new-ish because skyblock maps have been around for ages, but Agrarian Skies adds a quest book. The quest book can be looked at in a few ways… first, as a todo-list, but secondly, as a how-to for skyblock maps.

    So I’m much like you in that when I start a new world, I spend to much time not doing anything, because I have no direction. There’s a 1.7.10 modpack that’s being worked on called ImpactFlux. That pack is a good tech pack, but it also includes the HQM mod (the quest book). The pack creator has created almost 250 quests to go with it. To me, that acts as a “todo” list.

    It’s really cool to see where modded minecraft is going. The HQM mod really adds a lot to any pack, if the quests are done well. Looking forward to the future! :)

  5. Then of course, there are “should not do”s, such as
    (disclaimer: any resemblance to persons or actions, past, present or future, is entirely accidental :P )

    “I should not explode stuff around home base”

    “I should not ignore the holes creepers made chasing me and leave others to fill them in”

    “I should not plop down a freakin private chest in the middle of a public area where it will interfere with other things”

    “I should not make a small underground room for myself, then break the ceiling for ease of access, then connect that to home base via a tunnel.. and flood the place with zombies”

    On a separate, slightly more serious note — the “must gather resources”, at least at the scale you are thinking of, is a (faux) perceived need imposed by many/most tech-type mods, which tend to revolve around highly grindy progression grinding.

    On the other hand, cutting down a handful of trees and building a tree house town, is a lot less “gather” and a lot more “build”, what do you think?

  6. Reading people’s comments, there seem to be a strong sentiment of

    “oh wow, me happy, minecraft now has a road map and a pre-sequenced to-do list for me, yay! i just need 5 minutes to post about how much like i sandboxes, and then i can play enjoy the
    -structured
    -linear
    -linked
    -progression
    in minecraft!”

    I wish I could smelt the irony

  7. @Blargh: There can be guidelines on what to do in a sandbox without stopping it from being a sandbox or being ironic. Same with to-do lists. Sandbox just means you can do the to-do list however you choose instead of there only being one or 2 methods of actually doing it like in other games that lead you by the nose. They also never said anything about them being linear. It could be something like “Build a house” or “Find a vein of iron” which is a to do list, but very open.

    On another note: I had actually just started getting back into minecraft when I saw this post, and was wondering what other peoples thoughts were on some of the best mods if you only play single player like me (don’t really know anyone else who plays).

  8. @Drathmar: I think you’re missing the point. There’s nothing about that “to-do” list that requires it to exist in the game.

    In other words, players are saying “We like sanctioned To-Do lists in our games, it provides us structure!”
    when in fact, there’s nothing stopping you from being dropped in a sandbox, getting out a piece of paper and writing “Stuff I want to get done” on it.

    That’s the irony. It’s a great example of what people “think” they want, vs what is psychnologically appealing. In other words, people *say* they want completely open sandboxes.

    That they’re really saying is “Please give me structure, but let me be free to ignore it when I choose too”.

  9. Guildwars 2 early on had no “Heart” markers on the map what so ever. You were just dropped in the map and expected to go explore.

    After a heap of internal testing, they got the feed back that players would just wonder around aimlessly, not really knowing where to go, or what to do next.

    That’s why they ended up shoe horning the “Hearts” into the map. To draw people’s attention to the stuff that was going on, to try and provide structure, because the players were overwhelmed when given a completely open world to play with.

    It’s an interesting study into the way human beings think and operate.

  10. “It’s an interesting study into the way human beings think and operate.”

    I would totally change this sentence to say, “It’s an interesting study into the way human beings sheep and congregate.”

    But that’s just because I’m a cynic. Baa-aa-aaahhhhh.

  11. Pick a mod you like the sound of and work on that. That’s what I do (last time it was the magic and bookworlds thing)
    There’s one in this pack I’ve picked in the unlikely event I play, my ‘goal’ will be to progress in obtaining the end-goals of that modpack.

    Too much choice only becomes bad when it leads to deserted areas (anarchy online and its massive amount of zone-expansion)

  12. @Rawblin: You’re very very correct. Thing is, there is no such thing as people–think about it–the word “person” lacks a plural for a reason.

    One is a person, Two are a couple, Three+ is a herd.

    Note the verb form in the last bit. Herd is singular. With a mind, if you can call it that, of its own.

    —-

    @Eva: I’m not convinced that the low/medium level area desertification, in a well-aged MMO with a well-aged (in power/level/gear terms) population, applies here.

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