Monday, May 18, 2015

Checking In.

News:  3 credits from Master's degree.  Will finish by end of June.

Hey guys, if you're still around, thanks for sticking with it.

So...about the last post.  As some of you may have known, Femtocraft was graciously included in the Genesis modpack, released by Xaethon several months ago, despite being in an alpha state.  I am extremely thankful for him, as well as the players of OTE who tested Femtocraft.  Many bugs were found, such as faulty research saving, and item-save-state interactions.  Most importantly, however, I got feedback on the gameplay of the mod itself.

So...on to that.  Femtocraft was both a great success and a monumental failure.  The success portion is that, everything I designed was exactly how the mod played.  Players were guided through the tech tree, crafting got progressively more difficult the further they got.  Resources were used in abundance, tons of schematics floated around, and all in all Femtocraft was a hard mod.  Much, much too hard.  Also, both surprisingly and unsurprisingly, the "core" of the mod, the EE2 functionality, was pretty much ignored.  As I had guessed, it was far too difficult to do anything with, except for very extreme use cases.  Also, the UI design to show these recipes was sub-par, there was a lot of work on the machines I could do to make it easier, but...all in all those will turn out to be a moot point.

I realize, I don't want to do an EE2 replication.  There's already MineChem, Project E, and the recently re-announced EE3.  If I do something like that, it will quickly take over any and all design I do in the mod.  I immediately have to think about "undoing" recipes, about potential resource loops, etc.  It just takes the focus from making cool things to "how do I not screw up this system."  As such, I am doing what I should have done awhile ago, and scrapping Femtocraft Alpha 1.

It was a great learning experience.  I learned more than I ever expected to learn, and I had a blast doing it.  It's time to scrap my prototypes, recycle the good, and move on.

Femtocraft Alpha 2

Some people on Reddit had taken to calling Femtocraft "the Thaumcraft of Tech Mods."  You know, without really realizing it, I now recognize that that is in fact what I had wanted to try and do from the beginning.  Thaumcraft has been a huge inspiration for me, and is one of my favorite mods to play.  I love both Sci Fi and Fantasy, but one of the things I haven't seen in Minecraft is a "Magic-y" Sci Fi mod.  All the tech mods are about ore multiplication, quarries, scriptable computers, or reactors.  What about some fun things you can do?

So, to that end, I reintroduce Femtocraft.  It is a Magic mod, themed as tech.  Some of the key points I want to hit are as follows.
  • "Loose-ness" :  Botania, Thaumcraft, Ars Magica.  Though these may have particular block layouts for certain structures, something that follows from all is that you have artistic freedom in the larger shape of your base.  You aren't constrained by wire placement or having machines touching each other to propagate items.  To this end, Femtocraft will have a (mostly) wireless power system.  Additionally, there will be wireless item/liquid transfer, hopefully in a manner such that it can interface with other mods with ease.  
  • "Replay"  :   One of the selling points for Magic mods is that you can play through the mods differently in different playthroughs.  Though not everyone does so, the option exists.  I want to have Femtocraft be replayable, through and through.  No two playthroughs should feel the same.  See: Nanite variations.
  • "Tweakability" : This hits more towards Tech mods.  Once you have your setup, it's time to start tweaking numbers.  Maybe I can speed this machine up, at the cost of more power, etc., etc.  The main mechanic of Femtocraft is tweakable machines.  See: Nanite variations.
  • "Non-tiered Progression" : This is more a nod to Thaumcraft.  Though there are Tiers in Thaumcraft (see: Wand), that's more a tiering of tools, rather than machines.  The things you make in early-game Thaumcraft are still used in late-game.  The Tech equivalent would be upgrade cards, to keep older machines viable compared to later ones.  Femtocraft will use Nanite progression to keep machines created early on in the mod viable for use, as they will upgrade as your nanites do.  The only thing with tiers should be the tools you use to do so, not the machines you make.  

Last but not least, I want to say something about "Fun."  With Femtocraft Alpha 1, I was adamant about "doing things never done before."  That's great and all, but I kinda designed myself into a corner with that one.  It is tough to think of things in Minecraft that haven't mechanically ever been done, and to try and implement them in a reasonable amount of time.  I realize now that a lot of fun in Minecraft comes from alternative ways of doing something.  People don't progress through every mod simultaneously, and when they need to do something, they'll probably go to the mod with the most progression to get it done.  This is only possible if that mod actually offers that Mechanic.  Femtocraft Alpha 1 kept screaming "i offer different and unique mechanics, use me for those", when it really should have done "I do these things you already can do, differently."  I would rather offer unique and fun alternatives, instead of forcing myself to try and come up with completely unique, niche uses that will probably never see the light of day.  That isn't to say, I won't try and do those, I'm just saying I'm not going to blacklist mechanics that already exist.

So that's that.


Femtocraft Alpha 1:  Done, and scrapped.  The code is still publicly available on my Github.  I'm still going to recycle the useful bits out of it, but the majority of mechanics in that are staying in there, where they belong.

Femtocraft Alpha 2:  In design.  I'm not falling into the trap I did before, where I designed as I coded.  This time, I am spending as much time as is needed to ensure interesting mechanics and interactions exist, before I start to code.  This also means that, once I get the designs finalized, I know exactly what I have to code, and when I am done.  No more random expansions, extra systems, none of that.  No more scope creep.