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To design a Hardcore or Expert Mode pack

Discussion in 'General FTB chat' started by ShneekeyTheLost, Oct 2, 2018.

  1. ShneekeyTheLost

    ShneekeyTheLost Too Much Free Time

    So, I'm working on a project of mine, having gained valuable insight from playing Infitech 2 and FTB Continuum as well as others, and there's some things that I have discovered which I feel are kind of interesting as to what makes a 'good' hardcore pack vs a punishingly grindy pack that isn't much fun to play.

    The first and probably most fundamental question to ask is: What is the Player's role in the pack? What is the player's job? What does he spend most of his time doing? This is a subtle but very important question I feel one needs to ask before undertaking a project such as this, because it will color how your pack unfolds. For example, in Infitech 2, I felt that I was a prospector and tinkerer/engineer. Everything had dozens of subcombines, and so I had to make the plates, then make the rods from the plates, then make the bolts from the rods, and so forth. There were oodles of 'fiddly bits' to produce, and producing a batch of them before starting any major production project was probably a Really Good Idea. In FTB Continuum... I felt more like my job was 'grind basic resources and sit on my arse'. Because that was most of what I did.

    The next question, once you have determined what you want your player to be doing most of their time, you need to ask yourself... what kind of tools should they have access to at a given point? This is another place where Infinitech 2 did an amazing job, particularly in the very earliest of the early game. Once you got your flint tools, you had made resource acquisition much easier. The basic entry level flint axe in Infinitech 2 could chop down multiple blocks of wood at a time, even if it couldn't fully treecapitate just yet. In Continuum, however, that was simply not the case. Hammers and lumber axes were put off until far later, gated behind obnoxious time gates. This, if anything, was one of the primary reasons why the early game of Infinitech 2 felt better than Continuum, despite a nearly identical resource rarity and wood nerf. Continuum just felt like it was saying 'lulz', while Infinitech 2 said 'okay, welcome to hardcore, but here's something to make your life a little easier'.

    After that, you want to look at your player's 'natural progression' as he makes his way through the pack, and what he unlocks. With Infinitech, the bronze age opens up your macerator, your hammerer, and so forth. They were relatively slow, but it was ore doubling, and it ran on steam, so you could leave a big batch running while you did something else, and you could produce multiple machines to make things run faster. By the time you got to LV tech, you had machines that could make many of the 'fiddly bits' you needed for production in specialized machines. Continuum, on the other hand, continued using EFab as a time-gate, and kept preventing you from achieving anything too relevant too early. It didn't reward you for your progression until later on, and then all of your rewards hit in one lump sum.

    So for my project... I have my own set of criteria that I'm going to set down for myself.

    The player's job will be to build and explore. I want the player to have something relevant he can do at all times. I want to be sure that he never gets stuck simply waiting for a timer to tick down before he can do anything else. I want to provide him a world to explore, one which is filled with wonders and terrors, with riches and dangers. I want to provide him with small but meaningful rewards at every step of his progression. To this end, I will be re-routing the tech progression in the pack. The first tech mod you will likely be getting access to is Immersive Engineering, with Thermal Expansion machines and dynamos requiring higher-end stuff obtained through IE. This way, you have a natural progression. First, you build large and expensive multiblock structures, then you learn how to miniaturize them down to something more easily automated.

    I want to interweave magic and tech. In many packs, they are divorced, separate, you can go down magic research or tech research, but they never interact with each other. I want to change this. I want to make certain advances in tech unlock certain advances in magic and vice versa.

    In that same vein, I want to be able to help the player be productive in the early game. Maybe make the tool forge available early on... make it produced from the Astral Sorcery first tier Altar? The thing is... lumber axes and hammers don't trivialize content, especially not when you have nerfed resource spawning the way this pack will. It just makes it less grindy to obtain what you need. However, while you have access to axes and hammers even in the early game, you won't have access to metal tools for a while, because the smeltery won't be accessible for some time, so you'll be stuck with flint tools (stone will be prohibited for a tool head) for a while. But even a flint lumber axe will make resource acquisition early game much less painful. You'll still need to set up a tree farm, of course, but it will be less annoying to maintain it.

    EFab will be in the pack, but its role will be re-imagined. Instead of being used as a time gate, it's going to be used in complex crafting, particularly crafting involving one or more fluids in addition to items. I'm still learning how EFab's customization works, but I think I can even set it up for being the first psudo-autocrafting mechanic.

    Oregen is going to be a touchy subject, and one that is easily done wrong and difficult to do 'right'. There should definitely be resource scarcity, that much is a staple of hardcore expert mode packs, but how this should be done is tricky. One of the things I liked the least about Infinitech2 was the ore generation system, because I couldn't find the ore deposits that I needed, and how one should go about finding them was never explained in the in-game texts (and even with Pyure and CelestialPhoenix and others giving advise in the threat, I still had troubles with it). To this end, I am looking into a way of including a prospecting system, so that you could discover the veins of ore without needing to branch mine. I want ores to be rare enough that they feel like a precious resource without either preventing the player from accomplishing his goals or making him spend more time digging than playing. This is another reason why providing the player with a hammer in the early game isn't particularly game-breaking for the pack's concept, in effect you've ensured that he's going to need one just to make progress.

    My two biggest challenges are going to be re-imagining Efab's place in the pack and oregen, I feel. Both will require a lot of thought, a lot of testing, and a lot of coding and hard work. But I think that if I can meet these challenges, I can make a pack that will be as engaging as it is hardcore.
  2. Reddis

    Reddis New Member

    @ShneekeyTheLost I like the thought and effort you are putting into this. I look forward to watching the updates.
  3. Pyure

    Pyure Not Totally Useless

    "First, you build large and expensive multiblock structures, then you learn how to miniaturize them down to something more easily automated. "
    This is a concept I've struggled with. I've always wanted to take this approach, but I'm continuously faced with the feedback that "the big structures are cool and awesome" while the small structures are less impressive, and therefore a "visual" downgrade.
  4. ShneekeyTheLost

    ShneekeyTheLost Too Much Free Time

    Think of Thermal Expansion machines less as individual machines and more as part of an automated process.

    For example, you want automatic ore processing. Ore gets fed into the Pulverizer, heck give it Tectonic Petrotheum upgrade as well. Which means providing it with power, ores, and the fluid (as optional). Adjacent to that is the furnace which then smelts the pulverized ores into actual ingots for storing. These two blocks are adjacent to each other, and effectively function as a multi-step multiblock structure, something like auto-crafting for non-crafting processes. This is compact enough to tuck into the bowels of your base, never to be actually viewed. It isn't there to be seen, it is there to be the behind-the-scenes infrastructure you can hide behind your base's main structure, rather than being showcased by your base's main structure.

    That's why TE is going to be later-tech, because I basically treat the machines as part of a larger automation feature.
    GamerwithnoGame and Pyure like this.
  5. Celestialphoenix

    Celestialphoenix Too Much Free Time

    Aww C'mon @Pyure isn't that scary right? :p

    If you're using CoFH for ores; you're welcome to borrow/reverse engineer my world-gen scripts.

    This is something that Gtech does very well; as certain components/materials/fluids require a number of machines and some complex automation- to the point where its more convenient to build an individual processing line dedicated to that product than to have X of each machine type set for craft-everything. That 'assembly line' is only a short step off a full multiblock.
    Pyure likes this.
  6. Pyure

    Pyure Not Totally Useless

    Oh, you and I get that. Realistically speaking it makes lots of sense. I'm just talking about the wow-factor of the IE grinder thing vs the TE pulverizer.

    IE looks cooler, and therefore it must be better and should be later tech, obvs obvs, right?
  7. Cptqrk

    Cptqrk Popular Member

    I'm particularly interested in the early tech in packs, as they are the ones that will determine if anyone progresses past a basic tree farm before quitting and playing something else.

    For example, I've tried, multiple times, to play a pack called Bounds, by ChosenArchitect. The concept looks cool, and uses Tiny Progressions. The main problem is, the tools you have don't last anywhere near long enough to do a damned thing of any worth.

    For example, the Stone Axe you use, can not last through 6 Ironwood Trees, that you need in abundance to get the Iron Berries to squish and dry. It's also painfully slow, so much that my finger starts to hurt from holding down the mouse button to try to cut down a tree.

    Sure, you can upgrade to an Iron Axe, or cross your fingers that RNG Jesus smiles upon you with a lucky drop from a mob (also boosted to hurt you bad) but when the Iron is needed other places first, and the cost so expensive, you end up either killing your mouse's left click button, or you click quit.

    So please, give your tools some decent durability, and don't make them painfully slow to use.
  8. ratchet freak

    ratchet freak Well-Known Member

    I'm kinda worried that steel is going to become too much of a hurdle with early game immersive engineering. You need a pretty large investment of steel for the machines so it's far too easy to get stuck waiting for your steel to finish smelting before you can do anything further.

    Sevtec (sp?) ages did big ore veins spread apart with little chunks on the surface pointing to where they were. This means the player is exploring the surface to find his resources. Having some resources only available through those ore veins and others through vanilla ore gen would allow resources required for early game to be gathered through a cave dive but later resources need the big ore vein. But by the time you need them you can afford to set out into the world to gather them. Or have the can never have too many type resource be vanilla ore gen but the gating resources (only need them once in a while to get through the next gate) in the ore veins.
  9. KingTriaxx

    KingTriaxx Forum Addict

    Realistically, steel production enmass comes down to the simple expedient of not building just one Blast Furnace. I mean I am also guilty of doing it, but not building big enough to make a pack livable and comfortably workable.

    I'd also suggest checking out Automaton. The pack dev there has done something similar. You can't progress into AE2 (apart from simple 8-channel networks.), until you have some IE infrastructure. You need IE Circuit Boards, and HOP Graphite Ingots to build AE2 controllers, and then to proceed to Mekanism, you need AE2 power cells and a IE steel sheet metal.
  10. ShneekeyTheLost

    ShneekeyTheLost Too Much Free Time

    Oh yea, that's going to definitely be a thing I'm working on. And that's why I'm using Tinker's Construct, actually. While you aren't permitted to use stone as a head material, you can use flint. And one of the early quests will involve building a number of flint sharpening kits, because a sharpening kit will completely repair your tool and stacks, so you can carry a dozen of them and be able to repair your tool on the fly so you don't get interrupted. Also, seriously giving consideration to an early Tool Forge for access to Lumber Axe and Hammer. The key isn't going to be restricting access to tools, it's restricting access to material processing. The smeltery is going to require steel to craft, so you won't have access to it for some time. Which means you won't be able to cast tool parts, only build them, which gives you an upper limit of what sort of tool materials you can utilize in the early game. It should give a nice balance.

    The basic idea I have for tech progression is 'figure out how to do it at least once', followed by 'how to set it up to make it in small batches' followed by 'how to mass produce it', and resource consumption should match it so that you won't need hundreds of steel until you are capable of producing hundreds of steel.
  11. KingTriaxx

    KingTriaxx Forum Addict

    Hmm... Wood Rod and Plate, Flint Head and plate. Forget the sharpening kits. Just bring a tool station and a couple stacks of logs.
  12. ShneekeyTheLost

    ShneekeyTheLost Too Much Free Time

    Sure, do that. Only bring wooden sharpening kits and forget the tool station. Might want to disable wood as a tool head material as well.
  13. GamerwithnoGame

    GamerwithnoGame Forum Addict

    I'd say keep wood in for some things but not others. Example: There's nothing innately wrong with a wooden shovel. Its just got to shift soft material, right? A wooden axe, however, that might be a different story.
    LordPINE and Celestialphoenix like this.
  14. KingTriaxx

    KingTriaxx Forum Addict

    Honestly you can use either of the plate materials for repair. In the case of the axe, the plate material is only the binding, but is still an important part taking damage. In the case of the hammer, you'd end up using the flint plate for the striking.
  15. Cptqrk

    Cptqrk Popular Member

    Either way, @ShneekeyTheLost when you get a pack together, if you want a tester, I'll be the good analog for a casual that hates time sinks just for the sake of time sinks, so I can help :)
  16. APEX_gaming

    APEX_gaming Active Member

    Alright, I like where this is going, but there's one thing I have to fundamentally disagree with. "Resource scarcity is a staple of expert packs". The reason I disagree with this is because it doesn't add much to the gameplay. For example, One of the best Expert packs out there is Divine journey (if you can get past DRPG), And While everything is super expensive, Resource scarcity is rarely an issue. The pack has vienminer and easy access to unbreakable tools, Magical crops are unlocked incrementally, and Mods that other expert packs would lock into the endgame such as Big Reactors or AE2. And the reason for this (from what I can tell) Is simply because that's not what the pack is about. DJ is about building Big Hecking (are we allowed to swear on here?) automation for absolutely hecking everything.

    Now Your pack, According to you, is going to largly be built around Exploration, So instead of having an ore scarcity, make the player *want* to go into the caves and explore. probably the best method to do this would be to do something similar to what *A Polychromatic journey* does. Nerf Strip mining (in APW's case, that means removing the tool forge) and Buff caves, either by making them more expansive and/or by having lots of underground structures to explore. This way, It doesn't feel grindy to have to go down into the caves because you were 3 iron or a diamond short and you're further enforcing the themes of your pack.
  17. Golrith

    Golrith Over-Achiever Trusted User

    You might want to reconsider EFab, I used it in my Factorio style modpack, but it was reported to me that auto-crafting was unreliable (would randomly stop, and never restart) and there are apparently reports of this on the mod page.
    I switched over to Modular Machinery and made machines to craft specific items, with true 3x3 autocrafting restricted to the IE Assembler. End result the machines looked better, and they can be made from any blocks.
  18. KingTriaxx

    KingTriaxx Forum Addict

    Alternate design thought: Angels mods from Factorio has a material that doesn't do a lot, except act to expand the amount of resource return on certain products when mixed in during the processing. Perhaps that can be a reason to explore, having it be unnecessary, but extremely useful to expand the amount of material.
  19. GamerwithnoGame

    GamerwithnoGame Forum Addict

    A bit like mimichite, but more incorporated into the process?
    I've got to say, APcW does this VERY well :) there are so many caves, and caves are better at revealing things like crystals and stuff than strip mining, so you just do a lot of spelunking!
  20. KingTriaxx

    KingTriaxx Forum Addict

    Yeah, that kind of thing. Or like Midasium from Metallurgy which was basically any metal blended with gold became more Midasium. Except make the process actually useful. :p

    Yeah, but APcW has the advantage of being in 1.7.10 which can have Reika's Cave Control which makes awesome caves.

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