I am not sure how I got sucked back in to Minecraft. I think it was hearing somewhere along the lines about Mystcraft. Mystcraft is one of many fine mods where players can write in books to create ages, warp to those ages, and profit or die. One simple mod completely changes how the game is played.
I got seriously, seriously sucked in. Modding has come a long way since I really played Minecraft. The big pre-official mod API seems to be Minecraft Forge because it allows mods to be used on multiplayer servers quite well. I think everybody is hoping for an official mod API for Minecraft 1.6, but Mojang seems to be tight-lipped about when it could be ready. Either way having Forge raised the water level quite a bit, in my opinion because mods didn’t have to be coded differently to handle multiplayer.
The other thing that raised the water level (again, in my opinion) was Feed the Beast (FTB). Feed the Beast is one of the best modpacks just overflowing with toys. Modpacks are still tricky-ish to make because all the mods don’t necessarily talk nice to one another. FTB made sure a huge swath of excellent mods could talk to one another. This meant that Mystcraft could run with Buildcraft and automated mines could be created in the Age of Diamond Tendrils. Dark thaumaturgic rituals in Thaumcraft could modify how bees pollinate trees in Forestry. This was a whole new game, and I sometimes find it hard to go back to vanilla in lieu of FTB.
I felt like I was graduating from Basic Lego to Technic Pirate Ninjago City with Mindstorms attachment.
I added Ruins, Floating Ruins, and Battletowers to make a Minecraft instance where I decided I would just wonder around like a vagrant living off the land and any treasure I found. For my daughters I amplified the amount of nature with Mo’ Creatures and Weee! Flowers to modify their experience. I’ve been eyeballing Fossils and Archeology Revival to consider making a family server to build our own Jurassic Park. I am finding it hard to not also key in FTB for my own toy-building glee.
Launchers like MultiMC made running variations of mods at any given time quite easy. When I feel like roaming and battling, I launch my “Vagrant Story” instance. Sometimes I head in to my “Equivalent Vanilla” instance where took vanilla Minecraft and I added Not Enough Items for an in-game recipe book and Equivalent Exchange 3 to deal with a surfeit of cobblestone and a dearth of diamonds. I just started learning about Industrial Craft 2 in FTB so I can make power tools.
Minecraft is not an MMO, but it feels darn close. I have progression. I have tribes of people I can play with. And, I have persistence. It hits a great creativity itch too, which I feel usually goes scratchy in most MMOs. I wouldn’t be surprised though, if in a few iterations, Minecraft butts up against MUDs or A Tale in the Desert as server ops turn their servers in to a bigger metagame. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody told me that for some servers that is already the case.
If like me, you have not played Minecraft in quite a while I highly suggest all of the above mods or modpacks. I would grab MultiMC to make your mod installation fairly painless, and if you do foray in to FTB, I highly suggest Direwolf20’s seasons of actual plays. I would be lost without them as a pseudo-guide. It’s worth checking out again.