We’re taking a break from How-To posts to let you admire me standing in my survival workshop, wearing Traincraft Engineer’s overalls and hat.

The 0.8.30+ update to Factorization not only made a mess of my wheat farm, but it creates a slight problem with my Servo tree farm, as well. Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to be as much of a problem as the wheat farm, but I need to check it out and make some updates before posting the design. But this change combined with the fact that I celebrated my birthday this weekend got me a little behind on my blogging commitments. Not only are more Factorization posts coming up, but I’m also working on some ideas for using Thermal Expansion’s Itemducts in an on-demand autocrafting system (akin to what you get with Logistics Pipes, Applied Energistics, and Project Red’s pipes). Itemducts don’t lend themselves to such autocrafting systems naturally, but with a little imagination and some help from Project Red’s Redstone logic chips it is possible and satisfying to build.

Nevertheless, I am not writing about Thermal Expansion or Factorization or Project Red. I am, in fact, breaking a string of How-To posts. I didn’t start this blog exclusively to write How-To posts. There are lots of people with far better ideas than I have, and most of them are making videos, which is generally a better medium for communicating How-To ideas, anyway. I just love the game of Minecraft, and I love the vibrant modding community that it fosters. I love seeing other people do amazing things, funny things, creative things. At the risk of overstating it, and thereby venturing firmly into the realm of cheese and sentimentality, in many ways, Minecraft and its community helps me celebrate the beauty of humanity when other parts of my life make perfectly happy never to see another living soul ever again. I started this blog simply as an outlet for me to share my experiences and thoughts in a medium for which I am very well suited: writing. Sometimes that means How-To posts. Other times, like this time, it means something perhaps a little less well-defined, though what I am about to do is kind of like a mini-mod spotlight.

There are two mods that I’m using in my current survival game that are specifically for making in-game transportation cooler: Small Boats by Awger and Traincraft (formerly called Trains and Zeppelins) by the Traincraft team. Small Boats adds three sail boats of different sizes to the game. All three have an onboard chest or two, which is a very cool feature, but most of all they just look cool.

Here I am sitting in the Hoy, the largest of the three ships. Off to the right you can see the punt, the smallest of the three.

All three ships have sails that are raised as you travel. With the smaller two, the punt and the whitehall, this sail can sometimes obstruct your view in first person, and with all three ships it’s really easier (and nicer on the eyes) to hit f5 and go into third person. But not only do these ships look cool and have an inventory for transporting items, they don’t break in a stiff breeze like vanilla boats do. I have had it up to here with my boats breaking in the middle of the ocean because some stupid squid decided to go all kamikaze on me. Another cool feature is that the controls for the boats are more like pre-1.6, meaning you steer with WASD, not with the direction you’re looking. So you can sail and pan again. You still exit the ships with left SHIFT. The mod is a work in progress, so every now and then the boats can get a little glitchy, but overall its pretty darn stable.

Ahoy, there! Something very seaman-like in a Sommerset accent!

Probably a more well-known mod is Traincraft. This mod has been around awhile, formerly being called Trains and Zeppelins before it was taken over by new developers. Traincraft has improved dramatically since the first time I tried to use it, which was back in Minecraft 1.4.6. Back then, while it looked cool, it was so darn glitchy that it was practically unusable. Also, there was no documentation and no NEI plugin (at least for the actual trains, which are built on special crafting tables), so if you wanted to build anything you either had to just experiment or you had to decompile the code and find the recipes that way (which you weren’t supposed to do, apparently). The Zeppelin (there is only one in the mod, making the plurality of its former title something of a misnomer) was a deathtrap. You could not fly the thing without dying. Period.

Formerly known as the Zeppelin of Death, or the Lead Zeppelin, the Zeppelin is now sufficiently safe and controllable that I use it quite a lot. A very satisfying way to fly.

Since then, though, the Traincraft team has done an amazing job not only fixing most of the bugs but adding very helpful in-game documentation (I would love for it to be alphabetized and for tooltips to be added on the recipes), lots of new items, gear, locomotives, and train cars. The Zeppelin is downright usable, now. Just make sure you don’t use SHIFT to descend, as you would in Creative mode. Boarding and exiting the Zeppelin and the trains in Traincraft is just like a boat or a minecart (hint: left SHIFT exits). Yeah. I learned that one the hard way.

Traincraft adds a ton of historical locomotives from around the world. To be honest, I don’t remember which one this is, but it’s one of the larger and more advanced steam locomotives.

Traincraft works well with several other mods, especially Industrial Craft 2. As far as I know, only IC2 power cables can power the high-speed locomotives externally (you can use Redstone as an internal fuel source, alternatively). Traincraft adds really cool-looking alternatives to the bland IC2 windmills and watermills. It also has a BuildCraft generator to produce MJ from its own liquid fuel source, diesel. Its cars, which include box cars with inventories and tank cars, are mostly compatible with Railcraft mechanics (so liquid loaders and unloaders work just swell). This means that Traincraft is not only aesthetically pleasing, it’s functional, too.

The Santa FE GP50 – an iconic diesel-electric locomotive.

Here you can see my character sitting inside the GP50. This tunnel, as you can probably tell, is 3 blocks tall, so that shows you the scale of the Traincraft models.

Railcraft is cool, and I do like the steam engine that it added a few versions ago, but Railcraft’s steam engine really just doesn’t compare with just how freaking awesome the Traincraft models are. If you want to turn Minecraft into a model train set, or you just want to spice up your transportation options, I recommend Traincraft. It’s stuff like this that makes Minecraft such an amazing game with infinite replay value.