Some thoughts on Stoneblock 3

Posted on Jan 8, 2023

At the beginning of the year, when work slows down and I take some vacation, I tend to get an overwhelming desire to play Minecraft. Usually I install whatever the hot new Feed The Beast modpack is that year, and this year I chose Stoneblock 3.

I got pretty far this year: I made ~20 polonium pellets before realizing that I would have to play for several more hours to get my fission reactor setup to a respectable place. Now that I’m done, I’m going to write down some thoughts.

The Incremental Game

Stoneblock is a challenge pack, which basically means that unlike normal Minecraft, with it’s infinite possibilities, Stoneblock has goals. It has progression. This is all part of the fun, to me: it’s easy to know what to do next, because there’s always some progression to be made.

The progression, especially in the beginning, is great. Start out with stone, and make the basics. Slowly you’re able to acquire wood, and some basic metals, which unlocks portions of the Create modpack. Throw gravel into a Create Millstone nets you some random metals, which you can use to (slowly!) bootstrap your way into other mods like Mekanism, and Chickens. Chickens basically solve your resource needs: with enough breeding you’ll have diamonds coming out of your ears.

This raises an interesting question: What does post-scarcity minecraft look like? What does minecraft look like when I can generate several stacks worth of diamonds or iron per minute, out of nothing? The answer, of course, is that it raises the stakes.

Mekanism forms a great progression point here: sure, you can generate near-infinite amounts of nuclear reactor fuel, but have you considered what it’s actually going to look like to turn that polonium? You’re gonna need not only a reactor, but a steam turbine that can actually process the steam. And you can’t leave it running, because it’ll blow up if/when it caps on steam or runs out of water.

To me, this is where the modpack really hit a bump. Up until this point, everything felt more-or-less direct. Yes, creating nuclear fuel is a royal pain in the ass and requires like 10 machines and a degree in chemistry, but given enough space and piping it’s really quite simple. Once you’re back in this world of scarcity, things feel…. much more difficult. Especially because the nuclear reactor generates so much power, that the power it generates is effectively waste! What you really care about is the polonium it slowly generates.

Anyways, all this feels like an incremental game. Each resource is a challenge to generate, until you progress to the point where it’s worthless (usually coinciding with getting the chicken for it). This is fun, and kinda interesting. It’s a very cool twist on the typical modded minecraft systems, and I think the modpack presents them really well.

My criticisms

To be clear: I really, really, enjoyed playing Stoneblock 3. There are also a few things that I disliked about it. In no particular order:

  • Getting your first chicken shouldn’t really require the loot bee. I cheated one in and don’t feel bad at all.
  • The mod could use a few more quests. Certain resources have a very long production chain (e.g. netherite scraps), and it can be helpful to have a thing to say “yes this is really how to get this”
  • I dislike the nether. A big part of the fun of this pack is that it’s relatively peaceful, and resources are plentiful. Going out 1000 blocks to hit the nether is a pain and I didn’t like it.
  • The game will randomly give you a stick. That stick has a unique name, so it takes up a dedicated slot in your inventory. It is the worst thing in the world. There is no point in the game where this is helpful, sticks are so plentiful even from the beginning. Please just remove this in stoneblock 4.