If it's been a little while since you booted up Minecraft, I don't blame you. While Mojang has been pumping out the updates, adding more content to the endgame, the core of the Minecraft single-player experience has been unchanged now for some time.
But there's a way you can recapture that heady thrill of finding iron, building a minecart or crafting your first diamond pickaxe. It's a collection of mods under the banner of the Minecraft Technic Pack that work seamlessly together to significantly expand the possibilities that Minecraft's blocky world holds.
"Like what?", I hear you demand. Like solar panels. Like mining complexes that smelt resources automatically and sort them between chests through a series of interconnecting pipes. Like vast terraforming machines. Like nuclear reactors and teleporters. Like lasers and jetpacks.
Okay, that sounds good. I want it. How do I get it?
Good. The first step is to head on over to technicpack.net and grab the relevant link for your operating system from the left hand column. Assuming your Minecraft installation is in the usual place, and you've got Java installed (there's a handy link to install it if you don't) then Technic should find them automatically.
From there, all you need to do is enter your Minecraft username and password in the box in the bottom right, select Technic (or Tekkit if you're ever going to be wanting to play multiplayer) from the drop-down in the top left and then hit login. It'll automatically patch everything it needs and then load the game.
How do I start playing?
Generate a new map just like you'd do in Minecraft and have a wander around. Chances are you'll begin to see unfamiliar things, like unusual-looking ores, blocks of marble, pools of oil, massive trees, and perhaps even a volcano . Then do as you'd normally do -- go punch a tree.
Once you've got some wood, built a shelter and some basic tools and begun your mine, it's time to get started with some of the included mods. The best one to begin with is IndustrialCraft, but before you do that, make yourself a divining rod . There are two recipes you need -- combine eight blocks of cobblestone with a piece of coal to make low covalence dust , and then surround a stick with that dust to make your divining rod. Once you have that, you can scan a short distance into walls, making mining immediately easier. The higher the number that it reports back, the better. If it shows 8194, you've struck diamond.
Once you've done that, head back to the surface, make a treetap with wood and find a rubber tree. They're recognisable thanks to their higher-than-normal tops and the orange splodges on the trunk. Use your treetap on a splodge to collect resin, which can be cooked in a furnace to make rubber. Combine rubber with some copper that you dig out of the ground to make copper cable . Don't skimp, you'll need lots of it.
Your machines will be useless without power, so dig deeper and find some redstone. Combine that with tin and copper wire to make a battery , and then combine that with a furnace and a machine block (made of eight refined iron, which in turn is made from iron that's been put through a furnace again).
You can put the power you're generating into batteries, but a better way to store it is in a BatBox, which is made from three more batteries, combined with wood and copper wire. From there, you'll want to start making extractors , macerators and probably an electric furnace, but the Tekkit Wiki (and the various mod-specific wikis that it links to) is the best place to teach you how to create those.
What can I build later on?
After poring over the various wikis and putting in a bit of legwork, you'll have a fully automated mine piping resources directly into your house, and the luxury to explore other parts of the Technic Pack. Equivalent Exchange lets you turn anything in the game into raw energy, and then turn that energy into other items, like alchemy. Buildcraft enables automatic crafting tables, item transit pipes, wells and engines.
RedPower2 massively extends the redstone circuitry portion of the game, just as Railcraft does with minecarts, and both can be enjoyed alongside ComputerCraft for programmable machines and passworded doors.
Even if you just stick with IndustrialCraft , you'll be using jetpacks and mining lasers , terraforming , teleporting , setting off nukes and tesla coils and building reactors before you know it. Good luck, and tell us all about the most amazing things that you've built in the comments below.