The Secret of Time Travel using Mystcraft and ExtraBiomesXL

Velotican

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Jul 29, 2019
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This guide is aimed at server admins and adventurous solo players looking for a slightly different gameplay experience. It could also be useful for building themed adventure maps.

Now with an example world download at the bottom of the post!

I've been sat on this guide for a while waiting for the new version of Mystcraft to show up and make sure this still works. It does, but not quite as well. Still, it's good enough to post this guide, so here we go. Fun fact: Mystcraft's dev team are on record as not wanting to support time travel symbols E: Neither Mystcraft nor EBXL are as yet designed to handle time travel gameplay, therefore to do this you have to think laterally. Because we're using mods in ways other than they were intended and designed for, the process involved in setting this up is pretty elaborate. However, once set up, it'll generate terrain automatically as usual.

So what exactly are we going to do here? For context, have a look at this:


If I had a favourite game of all time it would be Sonic CD. This game has influenced me more any other and has made me interested in time travel for life. It's Sonic CD's timezone effect we're going to recreate here. In the video you will see the same place go through major aesthetic transformations with only minor changes to the actual map layout. The effect is still very striking. Mystcraft and ExtraBiomesXL make it possible to recreate this effect, but to pull it off you will need to put some thought into it.

The key is knowing how a seed influences worldgen: whilst it places biomes intelligently(-ish), it also defines the terrain's height map. This is what creates the hills, mountains, valleys and sea floors you see in Minecraft. Cave and ravine generation are added after the base world map is drawn. Biomes can affect this height map however, in that the cut-off point for adding rock changes with the biome you're using. What this means for you is that you could have a mountain in an ocean biome, for example, except that the cut-off point for generating rock is too low to draw it in that spot. If you change the biome in that area to one that can draw at that height, the hidden mountain appears.

Up until the latest release of Mystcraft, ravines and caves also generated based on the world's seed, which gave you the option of using caves and ravines to increase the impact of this time travel effect. Sadly, this is no longer the case and caves and ravines now generate based on a hidden number you can't change. Of course there's nothing stopping you from making the caves and ravines you want yourself, and the shifting underbelly of the world is a nice effect in itself. It depends on what you're going for.

In short then, every timezone must use the same seed and you have to be creative with your choice of biomes to get the precise set of mountain ranges, plains and oceans you want. There's a lot of room to be creative here, but to make the effect work you need enough landmarks in common between all timezones to make people believe you're in the same place at a different point in time. Ravines and caves were really good for this, but c'est la vie.

Now for the actual procedure. Before you begin, disable instability in the Mystcraft config file. This prevents you griefing yourself later. Moving on:

First, you need a seed you like. You need to know the seed as a numerical value. If you use a text seed when creating a world, it's converted to a numerical seed in order to work. It's this number you need to know, as it's the key to making this work.

Second, you need something that can edit NBT files. NBTExplorer is the only NBT editor I know of that is kept up-to-date and is the editor I use myself. A more well-known alternative is NBTEdit but it's aging now and may be less reliable.

Third, you will need to put some thought into what you roughly want each timezone to look like. You will need to consider carefully details like sky and cloud colour, weather patterns, lighting - all features that add to and complete the effect we're aiming for. Here's one set of options and the one I've been using.

For convenience it's useful to use the Overworld as the Present - it saves you one dimension ID, it would exist anyway, etc. The Overworld's biodiversity being so extreme and ranging from very hospitable to a deathtrap gives it a neutral, the-world-could-go-either-way-right-now feel, which is very useful for this theme. The Past can benefit from being overloaded with greenery biomes, the Huge Trees symbol, a cyan-blue sky; anything you can think of to give the sense of a primordial time. The Future is a desolate place with a completely shot biosphere - Mountain Ridges mixed with Wasteland make an amazing effect of a dead world with no water left. You can also use the Eternal Storm symbol to add impossibly bad weather and "ash-snow" to the mix. The Good Future tends to be the one that requires the most manual building: I went with Sequoias and heavy use of expensive building materials to drive the sense of advancement home whilst also tying the Future into the Past; something else I've borrowed from SCD.

Of course this is just one possibility of many, you could choose to go much wackier than this if you want.

Fourth and finally, this is a Creative project that requires directly modifying your save data by hand, so you should be using a Creative Mode Mystcraft Notebook to speed things up.

Most of the difficult part of this procedure is working out the correct mix of biome, weather and sky effects you want. The new Mystcraft is much more flexible when producing exotic/distorted skies so be willing to experiment to get the best results. You will have a lot of false starts so be prepared to delete a lot of failed attempt dimensions before you find the combination that works for you. Focus on getting these right first.

Once you have a set of dimensions with the biome layout and effects you want, do the following:

1) Open up your world save folder.
2) Delete the folders for the dimensions you're using for this project.
3) Open up the data folder and find your agedata_<dim>.dat files
4) Open the .dat file for the dimensions you're modifying with your NBT editor
5) Find the Seed value and change it to your desired seed
6) Save the changes
7) Load up your world and test the adjusted worldgen in each dimension.

You may find that biomes aren't in the places you'd like so you may still need to make adjustments to your biome choices. I personally found adding multiple Ocean biomes helpful in producing landmasses that better resemble default worldgen, but this may depend on the seed you're using and your personal preferences.

Finally then, some screenshots. :D These are taken at the same position in different "timezones" and were originally built with Mystcraft 0.9.5:









(You can tell where I spend most of my time.)

If you want to look at this world for yourself, the world download is here. It's roughly 140MB, sorry about that. :(

Copy the contents of the ZIP into your saves folder and enjoy!

This world is designed to run with the mods supported by my Universal Config Pack, which you can find in my sig. Standard FTB packs do not have all the mods required, so you will need to merge the packs together.
 

XCompWiz

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Jul 29, 2019
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I didn't think Caves and Ravines had been using the world seed in some time. I thought they'd at least been moved to using the age specific seed.
Fun Fact: Mystcraft's dev team = Me, and I'm not sure when I said I didn't want to support time travel symbols. I don't know how they'd work, though.

If all of the dims have the same seed, and the symbols are all in the same order for each age, then caves will generate the same in all ages as they will have the same unique seed. So if the third symbol of every age is caves then they will all have the same cave structure.
 

Velotican

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Jul 29, 2019
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That's interesting, thanks for that. I know I read something about time travel and Mystcraft at some point that I must have mistaken for an official response on the matter so I apologise for the misunderstanding. If I could remember where I read that response I'd link it.

At any rate, the info on symbol order is very helpful and I'll have to see what I can do on that front. :)
 

Velotican

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Jul 29, 2019
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I knew I'd forget something!

MAKE SURE YOU DISABLE INSTABILITY IN THE MYSTCRAFT CONFIG WHEN BUILDING THESE!

You might actually need a combination that would normally be unstable for the right look.
 

Velotican

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Jul 29, 2019
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This is eventually going to be the map for a private server running FTB Ultimate. Or at least that was the original plan.

I've been repeatedly refitting the map as mods have updated and in its current state I'm not comfortable releasing it, it's not something I could call complete.

Once it's tidied up though, I don't see why not. :D
 

Velotican

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Jul 29, 2019
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I've added a world download to the original post. This is the world in the screenshots and it's a decent size. Remember that this world map was originally designed to be a server map for a private server where full access was unlocked by the players over time and as such wasn't really designed for public consumption.

Shortcut books for tourists are added on lecterns. If you actually want to play the world as intended, destroy any books you find on lecterns. However, one particular timezone was designed to be an admin-only area. You'll know because it's the most detailed timezone and you can't get to it without a lectern book.

If there is enough demand, I'll consider building a public time travel map. :)

I was building this world for FTB Ultimate so bear that in mind. This world is designed to run with the mods supported by my Universal Config Pack, which you can find in my sig.

Edit 4/3/13: This world download is fully compatible with FTB Ultimate as hoped, so just use that now. :)
 
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