My son Merritt is working on a modpack. This means he is gathering together a number of mods, editing their config files and packaging them together. As he works I’ve been noticing the different educational aspects of what he is doing.
Merritt has explained to me that a large part of making a modpack is thinking about gameplay. Some of the mods offer players amazing technologies that if they could obtain right away would make other technologies useless. The player would become overpowered right away. In order to allow the modpack to function as a game of evolving technologies and skills which the player can improve at, he needs to create a tech tree and progression. Then he uses a mod called Minetweaker to make the other mods work together and to alter their recipes and gameplay, so that they follow his tech tree.
Does this sound complicated? The basic idea is that he wants to make it hard to obtain items, such as pickaxes that can mine obsidian. So he eliminates the diamond pickaxe and replaced it with a steel pickaxe. Then he says that before you can get the steel pickaxe, you need a blast furnace, and to get that you need hammers and coal coke. To get coal coke you need a coke oven, and so on, and so on. You can see his handwritten notes.
I love his working on this, because it provides him with incentive to think about changing technology. He’s talking to me about creosote and its role in treated wood. He is talking about coke ovens and blast furnaces. He’s talking about electron tubes, the predecessors of diodes.
I am so proud. Besides the content he is learning about, he is also learning about how to learn. He is doing the research himself on how to make the mod pack, and he is dealing with the technical challenges. He hopes eventually to distribute the modpack through the technic launcher.