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.