Minecraft Projects

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Nov 18, 2014

Filed under: Video Games 63 comments

My work week begins on Sunday. Write a columnI COULD write a column before this, but I don’t like to write too far ahead, because news can change and render the topic moot or my comments out-of-date., edit the Diecast, write the Sunday post. Generally in that order.

But for whatever reason, I was almost inert this Sunday. No column this week. The Diecast was late. I just… meh. I think I spent all my Ubisoft outrage in the Diecast and didn’t have any left for fueling a column. (Plus, it’s not like I haven’t done that rant before.)

So… can we talk about Minecraft?

The GLSL lighting mod looks great outdoors, but kind of falls apart inside of complex structures.

If you’re not keeping up on the modpack scene, you might be surprised at just how far that hobby has come. The days of manually editing JAR files, resolving mod conflicts, or hacking your core Minecraft install are over. There are mod launchers these days that are completely turnkey. You fire up the launcher, pick a modpack from the list, and the launcher handles the rest. It downloads the package, and installs the mod its own directory so that each mod can have its own texture sets and saves.

The two major launchers I know about are Tekkit and Feed the Beast. Both of these started of as simple installers for modpacks of the same name and grew into these multi-mod management behemoths.

The two mods I’m playing these days are MoonQuest (under Tekkit) and Feed the Beast Unstable. The latter is a sort of Alpha-build of upcoming mods. It’s supposedly unstable and unsupported, but it seems to be in pretty good shape right now.

A massive hall. It’s about 50m long and goes from the surface down to bedrock level.

MoonQuest is supposedly about building rockets to go to the moon. I’ve never touched that end of the mod. I actually have a low patience for mods that require complex resources for complex parts to build complex machines to process even more complex resources. I don’t mind complexity for the sake of game balance, but a lot of mods just add endless layers of busywork for its own sake. You spend half your time reading wikis and the other half juggling inventory to cope with the extreme proliferation of items. Sure, going to the moon ought to be pretty involved, but meticulously following a step-by-step wiki of recipes and maintaining a dozen chests of various crap is pretty far from the creative building stuff that keeps me coming back.

I actually installed MoonQuest just because it’s the most convenient way to get the shaders mod that gives you real-time shadows and the ability to carry light sources. I play FTB Unstable because it’s one of the precious few modpacks that’s been updated to Minecraft 1.7The vast majority of mods are still in 1.6. I strongly suspect that there’s some annoying hurdle to moving mods from 1.6 to 1.7 that’s holding the community back. and I like to use the map-framing features in 1.7 to make huge wall maps of the surrounding region.

Yeah. I kind of have this thing for bringing daylight all the way down to the bottom of the world.

The mods I find interesting these days:

  1. Tinkerer’s Construct: You build a giant smelting furnace (53 blocks) where you can smelt ore for double output and combine metals to form new alloys. You pour metal into casts to make parts and then combine parts to make better tools. So you can make a pickaxe with a bronze handle, an iron binding, and a [some fictional alloy] head, each of which affects how the tool performs and what it costs to maintain. When tools break, they don’t vanish. They just stop working, and you can go back to your shop and repair them.

    Eventually you’ll get the ability to make advanced tools that will let you bash down 3×3 blocks in a swing, or cut down whole trees by breaking the base. This is a must-have for some of the crazy projects I take on.

  2. GLSL Shaders Mod: Yeah, this kind of breaks the intended lighting model of Minecraft. And you can get yourself into trouble with it. The game still uses the original Minecraft logic for Monster spawning. You might think you’re safe because the sun is entering through a window at a low angle to make it bright in the room, but as far as the game is concerned you’re standing in a black tunnel. Also, walls far outside your field of view don’t cast shadows (because the core game culls them from rendering) so shadows don’t work right inside of complex structures. You end up with shadows popping in and out as your turn your head.

    But dangit, I just think it’s so pretty.

  3. ANY Minimap mod: I’m so used to having a minimap that I actually get confused when I boot up the core game and it isn’t there.
  4. Pam’s HarvestCraft: This one breaks the rule I gave above about not adding tons of items and recipes. But I think this is a case where it’s justified. The mod adds a ton of different crops and foods. I think the full list of fruits and veggies will almost take up a double-size storage chest. It also goes kind of overboard with kitchen utensils. (Do I REALLY need to maintain tools as distinct as “cooking pot” and “saucepan”? I can’t even be bothered to make that distinction in real life.) But it’s fun and makes farming and cooking more interesting.

    This one does involve a lot of busywork, though. I expect once the charm wears off I’ll go back to ignoring it and just eating bread all the time.

  5. ALL THE INVENTORY MODS: The default Minecraft inventory system is atrocious, especially in survival mode. You can’t look up items. You can’t look up recipes. You can’t see what things are called, what their ID numbers are, or what devices (like the furnace) are needed to produce them. It’s a game that requires you to use the Wiki to do even the most basic things. The various inventory mods – and there are a lot of them – add tooltips, the ability to see the recipe for an item, the ability to see what recipes use the item, the ability to figure out which mod an item belongs toReally handy for those moments where you find something new and you have no idea what it’s for or if you might want or need it someday., and the ability to search for items by name.
  6. Iron Chest: Once you add on a bunch of mods, the default inventory and container system is no longer sufficient. There will be too much dang crap in the game and without a way to manage it all you’ll spend all your time shuffling stuff around in vast chest-rooms. The Iron Chest mod adds a bunch of tiers of new chests from iron to diamond, with increasing levels of capacity.
  7. Furniture: Another thing that is still astonishingly absent from core Minecraft. Given how many peopleMy kids, and basically all of their friends. treat Minecraft as a kind of first-person sims RPG, the omission of proper furniture is really puzzling. There are a couple of mods out there to (BiblioCraft is one) that add things like tables and chairs for you to build.

So that’s what I’m doing in Minecraft these days. Who else is still playing? What modpacks are you using?



[1] I COULD write a column before this, but I don’t like to write too far ahead, because news can change and render the topic moot or my comments out-of-date.

[2] The vast majority of mods are still in 1.6. I strongly suspect that there’s some annoying hurdle to moving mods from 1.6 to 1.7 that’s holding the community back.

[3] Really handy for those moments where you find something new and you have no idea what it’s for or if you might want or need it someday.

[4] My kids, and basically all of their friends.

From The Archives:

63 thoughts on “Minecraft Projects

  1. Seb says:

    I play with FTB too, and my favourite modpack is the Horizons bundle. It has the Pam’s Harvest mod, a few good minimaps, as well as so many others, but I think my favourite mod is Mystcraft. It lets you create new dimensions by using different pages to make books. Depending on your formula, you can get any sort of world possible with new kinds of trees and spawns (I think) and ores too. Linking books also make it sooooo much easier to travel huge distances. I always walk for days, and then I just use a linking book to get back home when I have (or haven’t) found anything interesting.

    1. Rob says:

      Thanks for that Mystcraft recommendation! Forget about the exploration and puzzles, the main thing the Myst series instilled in me as a child was a burning desire for a game where you could create/link your own ages. I’m glad that two decades later modders have finally seen that dream realized.

  2. HeroOfHyla says:

    I’ve only ever played vanilla. The game never holds my interest for very long. I make a world, play for a few days, and lose interest. It’s the same with Terraria.

  3. Corpital says:

    Oh boy, chest management. Favorite mods? Applied Energistics (2). It needs quite a bit of work and fiddling around, but once it’s set up, you’ll never have to sort through anything ever again.
    And, of course, Pam’s Harvestcraft. Eating garlic all day, every day.

  4. mhoff12358 says:

    I’m a big fan of the Thaumcraft mod. Its made its way to 1.7, and its main gimmick is that you need to scan and research as many different kinds of items in the game as possible in order to invent new magic items and spells and such. The fact that the mod requires you to work with the core minecraft stuff in order to research, but doesn’t require too many advanced resources from the tech tree makes it a fun thing that doesn’t really take over the game but still adds a lot of stuff to do.

  5. Museli says:

    I’m waiting for the 1.7 packs that include Hardcore Quest Mod, so I’m replaying the Agrarian Skies modpack on 1.64 (FTB Launcher, under Third Party Packs). I like modpacks with objectives, as I have the most fun in Minecraft when I don’t have an essentially infinite amount of resources, and the quest chains in AG require millions of items.

    It starts off like a normal skyblock map (one small platform, a tiny amount of resources), but thanks to the Ex Nihlo mod you can gradually get everything from the most basic items. Items that you take for granted on the ground like stone and dirt start out as precious resources, although as with most items in the pack, the goal is to create systems to automate large amounts of them to complete quests. I love creating systems to automate things in Minecraft, so this modpack suits me perfectly – I normally flit from world to world every week but an AG map can keep me going for months.

    By default, the map also plays by hardcore rules, but with a life system. You can gain extra life by completing quests, but to start with at least you have to be very careful. Hunger Overhaul is also in the modpack, making food extremely precious early on, but that just makes Pam’s Harvestcraft even better – it’s worth fiddling to make Pam’s food because in this pack, normal food just doesn’t cut it for long.

    1. Shamus says:

      That sounds really interesting. I’ll check that out.

      1. Museli says:

        I forgot to mention this, but you need to download the map file separately, but that’s straightforward as they’re under the ‘Maps and Textures’ tab on the launcher. The Default map starts you inside a small house, and the Flat map is a more traditional skyblock start, a small platform.

        1. Mark says:

          Have to say that mod doesn’t exactly have a good sense of a difficulty curve. I beat the first few quests, grew a tree, dropped wood into the hopper, and then the next quest is “Grow a forest and collect a zillion resources and build all this furniture you’ve never seen before and make a composting heap and…”

    2. Gilfareth says:

      I’ve been doing Agrarian Skies as well, alongside a couple of friends who all have their own separate maps going (we decided it’d be too difficult in the early game for six people to all be fed enough not to die). It’s fascinating to me the different ways people come up with automating things when you have so many mods available and only one goal to tackle at a time.

      For instance, one of us insists on using MineFactory Reloaded machines (machines that generally affect a square area in front of them and, so long as they have power and somewhere to pump their items, will plant or harvest or fertilize crops, breed animals, etc.) whenever they need to grow specific plants for quests, like making burgers. I, on the other hand, tend to use golems from Thaumcraft to plant and harvest my crops because to me watching barely autonomous metallic midgets frolic about in fields is absolutely hilarious. Yet another of my friends likes to conserve space, so he has a pair of autonomous activators from Thermal Expansion and a MineFactory Reloaded Harvester all pointing at one plant to plant, bonemeal and harvest it repeatedly, with pipes to move the seeds and fruit where he needs them to go.

      I suppose Shamus and I are fairly different in what we look for in Minecraft; he loves to build interesting and complex structures, I can barely manage to make a barren aircraft hangar even with half a dozen decorative mods. He dislikes working with complex crafting chains, I love tackling mods with technological progression and finding ways to automate every step of every process involved.

  6. Chris Robertson says:

    I don’t often play modded Minecraft, but I watch Lets Plays of some who do. You might want to look into barrels for bulk storage.

    As well, if you make your tinkerer’s tool rods and bindings out of paper, you’ll have more room for modifiers.

    Perhaps you already knew this, but I thought it was neat…

    1. Axcalibar says:

      There’s a mod just for barrels, JABBA, in case you don’t care for the rest of what Factorization has to offer.

  7. Axcalibar says:

    I don’t use launchers such as FTB and Tekkit to play from as often anymore. Now I use them as fodder to feed into MultiMC to create my own modpacks, pulling the mods I want in from FTB. This keeps down the clutter from mods I don’t use. There are occasions I have to fiddle with the config files to adjust item IDs, but fortunately not too often.

    My essential mods of the moment include: TConstruct, Chisel, Mekanism, Minefactory Reloaded, Thermal Expansion, and Carpenter’s Blocks. I used Galacticraft for a while, but felt that the rewards of space travel aren’t worth the effort. I loved the variety of Harvestcraft, but have since settled on Useful Foods instead.

  8. Alkydere says:

    Other individual mods you might be interested in:

    Applied Energistics 2 (AE2): Iron chests are amazing. Iron chests are sexy. Iron chests are…obsolete. If you can stomach tech mods this is THE end-all goto to storage. Even making the smallest setup with some AE2 chests and a power source and the smaller memory cards (1K or 4K) will let you store a massive amount of items, literally thousands of items in a single block. And that’s before you get into the item transport, sorting, auto-crafting, etc.

    Thermal Expansion: Was basically the machinery mod that killed the original Buildcraft by doing 95% of what Buildcraft did but better, less laggy, and so on. Seems to be having some toothing difficulties with 1.7 (still lacked power cables and item/liquid pipes last I checked) but still a solid mod.

    Ender IO: Seems to be doing to TE what it did to Buildcraft right now. Basically it looked at all the other tech mods and their giant tangles of energy/power/liquid transport tubes and asked “You know, what if the player could bundle multiple cables in a single block?” and now you can. Great for prettying things up as well due to having a “painter” machine that can paint vanilla stairs and fences, as well as its mod-specific facade blocks, as pretty much anything. Also, has some of the most interesting power production possibilities for a tech mod. Would you like to power your base off of hootch, or zombie brains?

    Chisel: If you want to make ANYTHING pretty, you NEED Chisel. An amazingly simple mod that gives the player an obscene amount of decorative blocks to play with. I cannot overstate how good Chisel is for making pretty things.

    1. Veylon says:

      The crafting in AE must be mentioned.

      Patterns can be created to store recipes so that you can simply go into the system, say, “I want this item”, and the system will craft it for you, if you have the resources. If it’s made out of other items, and you have the recipes for them, it will chain together the crafting for you. It massively cleans up those situations where you have to build a thing to build a thing to build some other thing that many mods (including itself) throw at you.

    2. Corpital says:

      Don’t forget the spacial storage units. They let you literally save a complete room/building on a memory card and deploy it, whenever you want to use it.

  9. Paul Spooner says:

    My wife and I have been playing Minecraft on and off for years, but now our kids are old enough to play. They are nearly always playing stock Minecraft in 1.8 on a server with some of our friends’ kids.
    I’m glad for it, as both our two year old and our four year old are learning to read and type just so they can search for items and block types by name.

  10. Tulgey Logger says:

    I haven’t played minecraft in a while, but this post really makes me wish my computer’s screen wasn’t dead. Unfortunately it will be several months before I can access my favorite minecraft world, in which I had a giant pit with a minecart link to the basement of my house and to a chamber just under a mountaintop on which I was beginning to build a castle. I never did use mods; they usually seemed to involved to set up, and never really offered what I really wanted, which is the ability to rappel with a rope down into a cave shaft or ravine. I never had much use for redstone or potion-brewing either. I seem to spend most of my time doing more basic things and then wonder at where other people get all those resources when I see what they do.

  11. TouToTheHouYo says:

    I still haven’t played around with mods beyond Optifine HD, which is insufferably slow to update. I can’t stand survival – though maybe I could with one of the more objective focused or varied mod packs – so instead I play strictly creative making all sorts of whatever, usually on the same ancient flat land map I’ve had for the past several versions.

    This functionality’s be available to modders for some time now, but I love how I can copy and paste constructions in 1.8. Makes it infinitely easier to populate my various makeshift social centers. I also love sea lanterns, they fit perfectly with my frequently employed quartz/diamond block aesthetic.

    Now, if only I could give my many constructs purpose beyond appearances and storage…

    I should assume there’s a mod for that.

  12. Joseph says:

    Whenever people mention Minecraft I get the feeling that I might be missing out on something great by never having played it. Then I take a look at it and remember that it’s one of those games that seemingly requires mods to really shine. I try to avoid these games, as a sufferer of severe “after 100 hours of modding I’m finally ready to begin playing, now lets go play something else”-syndrome.

    At some point during that train of thought I realise that it sounds pretty much like Dwarf Fortress anyway and decide to go download that again.

    1. Adam Fuller says:

      I almost always play unmodded. Mods add a bunch of things, but the base game alone is definitely worth playing.

      1. Vanilla is still pretty solid, especially for your first time. And the modding is dead simple. It’s not like Skyrim or something where you take hours and go and find a whole bunch of mods that sound good and you hope work together. You just pick a modpack and go.

    2. Noumenon72 says:

      It’s sold as an XBox game. So obviously it can stand alone without mods. I played it, beat it, and have only played a little bit of dinosaur-fossil mod on the PC because the mods just don’t tempt me.

  13. Andy_Panthro says:

    I’d really like to see a simple mod for new ores/alloys but I haven’t found anything decent yet.

    Mind you, I’ve not been playing it recently. I was hoping that modding would be made simpler/easier, and perhaps I could have done more than just a texture pack. But I have no idea what sort of development is going on right now, and if any new content is going to be added.

  14. Retsam says:

    I think the name of the mod is Tinkers’ Construct, not Tinkerer’s Construct

  15. RTBones says:

    I generally play vanilla (1.8 at the minute). I do watch Lets Plays of various folks playing modded Minecraft. I also like watching folks tackle various maps (like Vechs Super Hostile series of maps). My gaming urge to play Minecraft took a dive somewhat when a certain Software House bought Minecraft/Mojang for lots and lots of beans. I’m sure I’ll come back to it, eventually. Right now, I have to cure my urge to play LOTRO, ’cause I’m in Moria and stuff.

    1. Oh god, Moria. So much time lost trying to navigate a 3-d world with a 2-d map, so many orcs and goblins slaughtered because I went the wrong way. My kinship had a running joke for a while about how they should all get deeds and titles for coming in and helping me find the right spot for whatever I was looking for. Still have part of the epic quest to do there too, but um, that can wait until my sanity recovers. Or I manage to hit max level and need the deed for something. I’m hoping it’ll be better on my RK but I kinda doubt it since I won’t have all my hunter ports and campfire escapes and speed.

      It was pretty damn cool to watch Desolation of Smaug and go “ooh, that bit looks like Moria, and that bit does too…”

      1. RTBones says:

        Funny you mention an RK – that is what I am playing at the moment. I have a Landscape Soldier that has been with me since I got him after running the odd skrimish around level ~28. It has helped me immensely (I am a solo player, no kin, and dont fellowship). My hearthstone is set to the Twenty-first Hall, so when I get in trouble – I just start running until the I am left alone, then stone home if I cant regroup. So far (touch wood) it has worked for me.

        I have not run any of the epics inside Moria yet. I figure I will quest my way to close to 60, then work on them.

  16. Shinan says:

    I’ve been going back to Minecraft a bit lately. Though I only play vanilla. Recently I decided on a project and it took a while to do. I sort of through browsing the wiki finally discovered the fun you can have with rails. So off I went to dig for iron and build my own railway.

    Sometimes I find that there’s too much stuff in vanilla Minecraft and I don’t understand what any of it does. But in the end I just like digging out giant mineshafts and exploring every nook and cranny of the tiny bit of land that I’m actually around.

    I mean I’ve probably gone further down than I have in any other direction (this is probably not actually true since you can’t go that far down). I mean I’ve only seen one biome in the world I’m playing :)

    But for me mining in minecraft is great while listening to a podcast or two.

  17. Vextra says:

    I played vanilla Minecraft for years, from 2010 untill late 2013, only occasionally dipping my toe into attempted mods, with my one notable success being the early form of the Millenaire mod, which I recently reinstalled and now play using the Forge client.

    My first vanilla world is still around, though. I spent some time here and there over the years whenever I was bored just adding more stuff to it. I actually spent months just trying to build a complete Railway network connecting all my various build projects and places I’d been. I mostly succeeded, save for some pretty large Ocean Biomes I couldnt be bothered to build ridiculous looking sky-bridges over.

    I’ve often thought about sharing this world, but for whatever reason I’ve been reluctant to actually look too much into the wider Minecraft community.

    I wonder now how many people out there are like me, and quite happily spend years playing an elaborate version of Lego alone in single-player before the idea of mods or online-play even occurs to them?

  18. lucky7 says:

    One of these days I want to find/make a mod to make the game a good chunk more survival-focused. Storms, having to eat and drink more frequently, etc.

    1. Burton Choinski says:

      Me and my brother play with the MITE (Minecraft Is Too Easy) mod, which only runs at 1.6.4. We were playing 1.8 with hardcore, trying to see if we could survive to some set goal (all iron armor and tools, no food problems). Even with hardest difficulty it was still easy enough to constantly beat.

      MITE makes it extremely hard. Still enjoying the challenge even after many weeks.

    2. Adam Fuller says:

      You might consider terrafirmacraft

    3. Gilfareth says:

      There’s a few things you might want to look at! There’s Terrafirmacraft as a singular mod by itself if you want to overhaul everything with as little effort as possible. Alternatively, there’s a number of survival-themed modpacks–many with their own custom worlds to work with–including Magic Farm 2, Blood n’ Bones, Agrarian Skies and Crash Landing. All four of those can be found on the FTB Launcher, which you can find here if you’re interested.

      1. lucky7 says:

        They all look so good I don’t know where to begin!

  19. Mr Compassionate says:

    This just inspired me to try Technic pack again and give Minecraft another look for the first time in years. What I forgot about Minecraft is that Minecraft hates working, ever.

    I start up the launcher, click Play on the latest recommended version (the one with super suits and spacecraft) and it doesn’t work. The console text suggests it gets to a point then freaks out. I try Technic classic and it works fine apart from it assumes I want to have creative mode s**t like infinite building materials. I tried googleing to see if anybody else has the No Play problem but it’s not clear. Anybody else know how to solve this? I would play standard Technic or Minecraft bu… but super suits!

    1. Shamus says:

      Make sure Java runtime is up-to-date. The mods often depend on the latest but the system doesn’t have any way for the mod to let you know about this.

      If you’ve got a 64 bit machine, make sure you’re using 64 bit runtime.

      Good luck!

      1. Mr Compassionate says:

        Thanks Shamus! I had a feeling it was something to do with Java and I am using a 64 bit processor with a 32 bit Java so that’ll probably be it. Thanks again!

      2. Demo says:

        Since catching this might save you or someone else some problems in the future; make sure Java 7 is on the latest version. Forge (the core thing that loads all the mods) does not support Java 8 at the moment.

        1. Rick C says:

          Forge doesn’t support the current release of Java 8. But someone wrote a fix for the problem; there’s a small class file you can get for Minecraft 1.6.4, 1.7.2, and 1.7.10, that you have to put in the Forge jar file, and then you can use the current version of Java, not an outdated one that might have security issues (I’m not sure about this, but I think it does.)

  20. It fascinates me that you write this now, because just recently (like, just in the past week) my friends got me back into Minecraft by talking me into installing the Yogscast Complete Pack. It has fucking everything. It’s so huge.

    The mod I’ve been digging the furthest into is Ars Magica 2. It allows you to create and customize magic spells. It’s got some of that complexity bullshit, but it’s pretty interesting.

    1. DIN aDN says:

      You know, one of the mods I appreciated most in that pack was growthcraft – not even for the brewing, just for the fact that it introduced harvestable plants with different growth patterns to each other.

  21. Lord_Bryon says:

    I still have quite a bit of fun with Minecraft(When I’m not playing SWTOR). I have a little server set up for my siblings and I with ForestryTthe beeees), Buildcraft and Railcraft on it. Gives me enough fun things to track down and tech up to without changing the game too much for the other players.

  22. MintSkittle says:

    I haven’t played Minecraft in a long time, but when I did, I used Tekkit Classic, which gives access to quite a few mods under one roof:


    Never really tried anything else, and I really don’t want to go back to Vanilla Minecraft.

    Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m way behind in my podcast listening, so some Minecraft would be just the thing for catching up. I’ma go do that.

  23. Mr Compassionate says:

    So I got it working by downgradeing to Java 7 and I have started playing Technic and remembered that it is mostly if not all about facilitating the building of things. Which is awesome and all but not what I’m into.

    You could argue that the game is Lego and I should be striving to build imaginative projects but I find the sensation of building something impressive diminished because I only play single player and don’t have a strong desire to express myself architecturally. I play Minecraft the same way I played Lego when I was little, a vector for stories and adventure and conflict. Technic feels to me like building armor and weapons and factories and spaceships and castles and robots in order to conquer an empty world of creatures you can overcome with a stone sword, landscapes you can explore off the bat and mysteries that don’t exist.

    I’m looking for stuff like Thaumcraft and procedurally generated adventure locations and roaming beasties and preferably some vague sense of danger involved. I used to know of a mod in Tekkit that did all that but I can’t see it now.

    So anybody know of a mod pack like that?

    Edit: Just to clarify I don’t mean I expect minecraft to be like Terraria, all combat and superpowers. I just want a version that has all the awesome building/factory/architecture components but also with some stuff to actually do with all that freedom and power. Like my project to corrupt my world in Thaumcraft, that was awesome.

    1. Mr Compassionate says:

      I just figured out the mod I remember is Yogbox, which is apparently discontinued? Curious. Does anybody know of anything similar? Something with a good balance of construction, adventure and danger.

  24. V8 Ninja says:

    You know, I always find it weird that whenever Minecraft pops up no one ever talks about vanilla Minecraft. It’s always this mod or that mod, with the only mentions of vanilla Minecraft being echoes of slight disappointment and that everybody finds it hard to go back into.

    To be fair, I’m of the same mentality. Even though I’ve spent dozens of hours in vanilla Minecraft, the only thing that sticks out in my mind is occasionally frustration and that it was a time-waster for me to binge on podcasts. I just can’t have fun with vanilla Minecraft because vanilla survival mode is good at nothing and the days of my LEGO obsession are far past me.

    I should really try out some of the more intricate mod packs for Minecraft. I tried out Hexxit but I wasn’t too entertained by it, partially because it didn’t do anything to alleviate Minecraft’s horrible-feeling combat. (Seriously, it feels like I’m waving weapons at mobs rather than participating in some form of combat.)

  25. Retsam says:

    I’ve mostly played modpacks and not individual mods, so I often struggle to figure out where one mod ends and another begins. Mostly my minecraft play has fallen into three categories:

    Vanilla: When I actually want to build cool things and collect stuff and have a fairly balanced experience.

    Tekkit/Tekkit Lite: When I want recapture that “what the heck does this do and how does it work” feeling that I enjoyed when I was still figuring out bits of original minecraft; or when I want to build massive sorting machines that automatically mine everything; or when I want to make myself Iron Man armor and fly around.

    Hexxit: A surprisingly fun mod for multiplayer; when I want to basically play a weird RPG, collect a ton of magical items; wipe out dungeons and towers filled with enemies. This also included the Tinkers’ Construct mod listed above, so it was my exposure to that mod as well.

  26. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Its funny how someone who constantly talks about himself as having an engineering mind is not fond of all the stuff necessary to build a rocket,yet loves all the crap that goes into various foods and their preparation.It also puts in the perspective one of your most often used questions of “What do they eat?”.

    Shamus,it looks like you are a food engineer.

  27. Scerro says:

    Ah, my friends and I have also been on a Minecraft kick.

    Currently we’re playing Test Pack; Please Ignore (tppi), a mod recently added to the Technic Launcher. I’ve modded it a little bit further to add the Shaders Mod and Optifine, it was really quite easy.

    tppi is a lot more balanced that a lot of the conglomerate modpacks, and has the solid modpacks like tinker’s construct (which has grown to be my starting mod in nearly every new world), thermal expansion, and industrialcraft.

    Before that we were playing on a custom modpack called Ultra Modded Survival. It’s decent, but honestly Orespawn broke the game. Still, kinda cool.

    A couple more mods to look for:
    Chisel – Amazing increase in block diversity.
    Openblocks – Elevators. That is all.

    Oh, as for the reason why many mods never updated, or are still working on updating is because 1.7 changed a huge number of things. They re-worked the lighting engine again, and they re-wrote the item code. Formerly blocks were identified by a block ID number, and 1.7 changed it so that they’re identified by name. This wrecked virtually all of the Minecraft Coder Pack (MCP), because they had decompiled and identified all the blocks, and had to start anew. The MCP is what all mods require to get a basic start on as well… and it took at least three to four months to get the MCP in a solid state to work off of. Then most modders had to re-write large sections of their code to get it compatible… and the rest of the story is pretty obvious. Just in the past few months have enough mods gotten updated to start putting together solid packs.

  28. Halceon says:

    I’ve returned to mundania and am playing a vanilla world. I’ve also abandoned survival, since all the excitement of that usually dies way before I even get diamonds.

    But yeah, vanilla minecraft build projects.

    One is a 3D maze map where all you have to do is escape. And maybe find the easter eggs. http://www.minecraftforum.net/forums/mapping-and-modding/maps/1554577-cube-the-labyrinth

    The other is a very dense favela-style village I’m building for no real purpose. http://imgur.com/a/uk27J

  29. Lazlo says:

    This is sort of tangential, but something I’m kind of curious about…

    I actually play very little minecraft. I like it, but what precious little gaming time I have tends to get sucked up by other games (mostly KSP). However, both of my sons dearly love it and play it constantly, and they *love* trying out new mods.

    I’m not sure what it is about minecraft, but from what I’ve seen, the places where most mods are found tend to be wretched hives of scum and villainy (but mostly malware). It’s not so much that the mods themselves are malicious (so far as I know), but any time you actually try and get one, if the web page it’s hosted on doesn’t manage to auto-launch some sort of malicious installer, it will at least present you with fifteen different download buttons that make you feel like Indiana Jones trying to choose the grail wisely.

    Back when I played WoW, I used add-ons really extensively, and this wasn’t a problem, because all of the repositories for add-ons were generally pretty clean. The KSP forums are full of awesome mods, and I’ve never felt like they were even slightly a ‘bad neighborhood’. I’ve never run into this before, and I’m sort of curious as to why it is. Is it something about the game itself (like it doesn’t seem like an easy mod integration framework is one of the core goals of the game)? Is it something about the community of modders? Is it something about the community of players (like maybe a tendency towards a younger audience)? Is it the fact that Mojang hasn’t set up a safe space for modders to host their projects (and if that’s true, will MS fix that)? Is it all of the above, or something completely different? Or am I completely wrong about this, and my sons just manage to go to the worst places possible to get things?

    Overall, Minecraft has meant that I have to explain the what why and how of malware to a trusting 8-year-old, and let me tell you, that’s not an easy thing.

    1. Shamus says:

      Yeah, this was my experience a couple of years ago: Go to the forums, read a long, ad-filled post of a mod to figure out if you want it. Then download the mod from ad.fly or one of the other download sites that wrap your download in misleading links and try to get you to download other things. Then spend twenty minutes trying to get the mod installed.

      I played a lot of vanilla Minecraft in those days.

      The modpacks do solve this. Feed The Beat and Tekkit both have launchers that you can download from the site. No sketchy links. No messing around. Those launchers get modpacks without you doing any work or taking any risks.

      However, if you don’t want to settle on these pre-set modpacks and you’d rather get mods one at a time right from the source, then I imagine it’s as messy and dangerous as ever.

      1. Gilfareth says:

        To be fair, the Technic Launcher and ATLauncher (a different, somewhat lower-profile launcher) aren’t too bad about letting you add mods to a pack. I’ve often taken smaller modpacks with some stuff I find interesting, then tacked in a few mods I can’t live without manually since all you have to do nowadays is stick them in a folder and run the launcher, no questions asked.

      2. NotDog says:

        Is there no Nexus Mods site or Nexus Mods equivalent for Minecraft?

      3. masa says:

        Actually FTB and Curse have been working on solving this kind of a problem for some time now. There is a section on the Curse site for Minecraft related things, and also a separate section for Minecraft mods. That is a good place to start looking for mods. Quite a few of the modders have adopted that site as their official distribution channel. http://minecraft.curseforge.com/ There is also a new launcher in the works, which is supposed to replace the FTB launcher at some stage, and it will use the curse site and infrastructure as its backend.

        If the mod you are not looking for is not on CurseForge, then I would just check the official Minecraft Forums, and the official thread for the mod in question. Granted, those often lead to the somewhat nasty adf.ly site or some other random places, and that’s where the problem starts. I would never trust any of the other random phishing and scam site like minecraftmods[insertnumberhere] dot domain or whatever. Those are the real problem. So just stick to CurseForge and Minecraft Forums. If the mod can’t be found there, then it’s probably not worth it anyway.

        And as has been mentioned before, the big modpack launchers like FTB, Tekkit and ATlauncher are the best way to go for ready made mod packs, often built around a specific theme of gameplay. Unless you are building your own mod pack, there is usually little need to go hunting for individual mods. That is kind of a thing of the past, especially for casual end users.

    2. Retsam says:

      Yeah, I’ve had the same experience… which is fine, “spot the real download link” is a game I’m pretty good at by now… but I often play Minecraft with my 11-year-old cousin, remotely, and it’s a real pain trying to guide someone who doesn’t have the same internet sensibilities through that malware infested minefield over a telephone.

  30. acronix says:

    I haven’t played the latest minecraft update much thanks to the a certain mod not working on it yet (or at least the last time I checked it wasn’t compatible). The mod is the “Custom NPC” mod and it was a pretty great way to fill your world with…well, NPCs. It even lets you give them dialogue and quests and some basic functionalities (guarding places, patrolling, giving you free stuff). I imagine some part of it can become a good way to cheat (get a stack of iron and, instead of using it, give it to the NPC and program him to give you a full stack of iron once every 10 seconds and the like). But I’m not that bad at restraining myself and I like to build towns that actually have people in them, so it was a great mod for me.

    The other mods I ran consistently were Battlegear (it added shields and dual wielding!), Treecapitator (cutting one piece of a tree cuts the whole tree from there up) and one that allowed you to make airships. Which…I used to make elevators instead. Fun times!

  31. Namfoodle says:

    I’m still playing in the same un-modded vanilla world that I started the day we bought Minecraft over 20 months ago.

    Is there something wrong with me?

    1. masa says:

      Nope, nothing wrong with that.

      One of the great things about Minecraft is, as can also been seen in this comment section, that everyone can play it the way they enjoy it the most. Be it vanilla, or some of the dozens and dozens of mod packs, or maybe some custom built pack. And after the actual selection of mods or just plain old vanilla, becomes the free choice of what to actually do in the game.

      Me and a few IRL friends also still play (semi-)regularly on our first vanilla world/server, which was started during Beta 1.8.1 in September 2011. There have also been a couple of other vanilla worlds since that, but none of those got more than like 5-40 hours of play time per player. The original world has per-player play times in the range of 200, 600, 700 to about 1100+ hours (that’s me btw ;))

      To me one of the most fascinating things about vanilla is its continuity. Our world is over 3 years old, and there are really old projects all over the place, which are nice to go and visit every now and then. And most everything works even when new versions of the game are released. And some old features or items occasionally become nice unobtainable precious relics during new version releases :p

      I also have several modded worlds/servers using different packs, and personally I have been playing more modded lately, but every now and then I do hop onto the vanilla server and sink a few dozen hours into some random grinding and hoarding :D

      I have never and will never reset or delete any old Minecraft worlds. I love having them all around, and if the urge comes I can just boot up a server and go and visit some old stuffs and have nice memories. For this purpose I have set up a small website admin panel thingy, through which my friends can also start and stop the servers whenever they feel like playing. And I don’t have to run them all constantly, wasting processing power and electricity and increasing the backup sizes.

      Wow, that became a real wall of text :p

      1. Namfoodle says:

        I was just kidding, I didn’t really think there was anything wrong, but thanks for the positive feedback :D

        Having all those old worlds saved sounds like fun. 1100 hours is impressive. I wish I could get an accurate count of hours I have spent, but I think the stats got reset during one of the updates.

        I’m looking forward to setting up a server someday so my son and I can do some cooperative stuff.

        1. masa says:

          Yeah unfortunately the stats built into the game have reset or been messed up several times. Luckily for me, I have really only played on my servers that I set up for myself and some friends, and that’s why I can get a pretty accurate play time by parsing the server logs. (I made a stats parser/web page for that. Still WIP as are most of my projects :D)

  32. Axcalibar says:

    I never wanted to fiddle with the utensils, so I ignored Pam’s Harvestcraft for a long time… but then I played Blightfall on Technic. It introduced me to a relatively new mod called Cooking for Blockheads that solves the kitchen problem.

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