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Minecraft: Modder’s Advice

By Shamus
on Thursday Nov 20, 2014
Filed under:
Video Games


I know for a fact that at least one Minecraft mod author reads this blog, and I’m willing to be there are others lurking. So I thought I’d use this space to offer some armchair game design advice.

By nature this advice is going to be really subjective. If you disagree with it, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad modder. But I offer this viewpoint as someone who has spent thousands of hours in dozens of modpacks. I know my way around the world of Minecraft mods, and I’ve seen a lot of stuff that works and a lot of stuff that doesn’t. If you’re going to disregard this advice, make sure you’re doing so on purpose. Even if these details aren’t important to you, it’s probably important to some portion of your players.

1. Don’t spam the World With New Resources

You know you’ve got too many mods installed when stone becomes a precious resource.

There’s nothing more irritating than playing a modpack that has added an overabundance of some new resource. I start a new game and spawn right on top of a vein of Awesomeite. Then I find another. And another. It exists at all mining levels and my pockets are overflowing with it. Then finally I look on the wiki and see that I need just 4 units of it to make the new laser pistol, and it is otherwise useless.

If your new resource is only used in one recipe, then maybe you don’t need to add a resource to the game. Consider using diamonds, gold, redstone, iron, or whatever else is of the proper rarity. And remember you can use blocks of 9 if you want to make something really expensive.

If you really need to add something new to the world, make sure the supply is right. It’s better to have slightly too little than way too much. If your ore (or plant, dirt, etc) is so common that it becomes useless, then it’s unwelcome clutter. I should be excited when I see it, not irritated.

2. Figure Out What Phase of the Game Your Mod Belongs In

Your mileage may vary.

Broadly speaking, Minecraft has three major overlapping phases: There’s the initial couple of days where you struggle to obtain food, build basic tools, and gather resources. Once you’re safe and you’ve got some form of protection, you usually begin building whatever strikes your fancy and working your way up the tech tree. Once you reach the top tech, you get to play around with the powerful toys and finish off your creations. A lot of mods vary the length of these phases, to extend or shorten the survival and endgame phases according to taste. But this same basic game structure holds on a vast majority of modpacks.

There’s a temptation to make your mod “endgame”, because your mod is really cool and the player should have to work for it, right? Or maybe you want them to have the items in your mod right away? But for the sake of balance you should try to think of your mod in terms of what phase it belongs in.

A good example is the Forestry mod from a year or two agoThe beekeeping mod has gone through a LOT of major revisions. The version I’m using now no longer works this way.. It included a beekeeping mod. Beekeeping is fun. You check on your bees in the morning, collect their resources, shuffle them around a bit, and then you’re done with bees for the day and its time to go do something else. However, to get a bee hive you had to build a carpentry station. (A very complex machine.) You needed a ton of oil squeezed from seeds. (Thus cutting into the supply of precious seeds you have to use for growing food.) You also needed some engines and power and containers. All this, just so you could craft a box to put your bees in.

The once-a-day gameplay is clearly ideal for the building phase of the game. Get up in the morning, check your bees, then get to work on your houseBy “House” I mean “whatever you’re building”. Castle, dungeon, fortress, city, etc.. But the requirements clearly put beekeeping as an end-game activity. By the time you finally craft that first box, you’re long past the point of the game where you might care about the resources the bees have to offer. So now you check on your bees once a day and then… what? You’re probably done with all your major building projects.

There are a lot of mods like this, with requirements that offer their gameplay too soon or too late to fit into the proper phase of play.

3. Don’t Bury The Player in Recipe Busywork


Minecraft is a game where you can put three cubic meters of rubble on top of a pair of twigs and you’ll end up with a pickaxe. The crafting system was designed to be simple, intuitiveAside from needing to look up all the recipes in the wiki, which I STILL consider to be the game’s greatest shortcoming., and fun. Crafting realism was never a priority.

Recipes serve the purpose of limiting your access to items until you can gather the resources needed to craft them. You can’t get a compass until you dig deep enough to get redstone. You can’t get a diamond pickaxe until you find three diamonds. This raises the value of these resources and pushes the player to collect them.

Not pictured: Use sticks to craft a wood gear, add stone to make a stone gear, and add tin to make a tin gear.
Not pictured: Use sticks to craft a wood gear, add stone to make a stone gear, and add tin to make a tin gear.

In the Thermal Expansion mod there’s a device called the “pulverizer”. It’s a really useful device. But to craft it requires you to look up 8 recipes. The whole thing takes something like 15 distinct items or ingredients to build. That’s going to put a lot of inventory pressure on the player, probably sending them to multiple chests to load and unload supplies in between their alt-tab trips to the wiki. Maybe the author of Thermal Expansion loves wiki-reading and inventory juggling. And if that’s the case, then fine. But often I suspect that recipes are complex because inventing recipes is fun to do. The mod author is amusing themselves, while at the same time burdening the player with lots and lots of busywork.

My suggestion: Avoid unnecessary intermediate parts. Don’t make me craft a spoke to make a wheel to make an engine to make a sewing machine. If the spoke and wheel have no other use aside from sewing machine parts, then just cull them and let me make the engine directly. And if the engine is only used in the sewing machine, then just let me craft the dang sewing machine directly.

Again, some people like the busywork of recipe-wrangling, and just about any half-decent modpack will have a way to look them up without booting you out of the game for another wiki-run, but if you’re going to have complex recipes, make sure they exist for the right reason and make sure each step is meaningful to the player.

4. Don’t Add Massive New Structures.

I know something has gone wrong when I spend more time on my smelter than on my house.

Many mods add large interactive structures. For example, you need to build a 33 or 53 pattern of blocks in order to make a single device with a single interface. I very rarely appreciate these, particularly if they’re aimed at the building phase of the game. Again, it comes down to busywork. If I need a machine to make aluminium siding for my house, then I probably want it available while I’m building my house. Which means I need to build this structure before I build the house. But once the house is done I probably don’t want this giant piece of industrial infrastructure sitting in the dang yard. So now I have to tear down and move this huge thing. That’s not particularly fun.

I wouldn’t mind if I saw some point to it, but as far as I can tell mod authors do this kind of thing for the sake of “realism”. In vanilla Minecraft, you can build a one-meter furnace that can hold sixty-four cubic meters of smashed stone. We are not here for realism, especially when that realism is just “tear down and rebuild things in a preset pattern”.

Tinker’s Construct is a great mod, and I will admit the multi-tier furnace is pretty cool. Large machinery has its place. But if you’re going to make me build (and rebuild) something that specific, then consider doing what TC does and giving me some freedom in the layout and a way to switch out different functionality.

And even allowing for how fun TC is, it’s not like the mod would be strangely incomplete if the furnace was a single block.

6. I want New Light Fixtures.

Previously, I’ve built tunnels in excess of 7Km. That’s a LOT of torches. This one is only 250m and already uses over 180 torches.

Uh. This one isn’t advice. This is just feature-begging. I build a lot of crap underground. I hate building these vast underground systems and then hanging medieval-style torches on the walls. There are a lot of great mods that add new light fixtures, but they all use glowstone as a component. I can’t use those or I’d spend more time harvesting glowstone than I spend building. What I’d like is some kind of modest wall fixure that works exactly like a torch – and probably has a torch as its main ingredient – but looks like… I dunno. Anything else. A lamp. A naked lightbulb. A florescent light. A glowing orb. A glowing block. A rectangle. Something. Anything.

I’ve been waiting for years for something like this to show up. I can’t believe it doesn’t exist yet.

7. In conclusion.

It’s daytime and the skeleton isn’t on fire? MY IMMERSION IS RUINED!

In conclusion, you are awesome. Thanks so much for the tremendous work that has given us so much gameplay over so many years.


[1] The beekeeping mod has gone through a LOT of major revisions. The version I’m using now no longer works this way.

[2] By “House” I mean “whatever you’re building”. Castle, dungeon, fortress, city, etc.

[3] Aside from needing to look up all the recipes in the wiki, which I STILL consider to be the game’s greatest shortcoming.

Comments (83)

  1. Brian says:

    For what it’s worth the “Stone Lantern” from Railcraft fulfills your light requirement neatly. http://wiki.feed-the-beast.com/Lantern

    • Ysen says:

      Other mods with early-ish light sources:

      Ars Magicka has blue magic-y torches made with Vinteum, which isn’t too uncommon.

      Pam’s Harvestcraft has candleberries. If I recall correctly, they give wax which can be combined with string to make candles.

      Tropicraft lets you make tiki torches from bamboo.

      Thaumcraft has candles and magic glowy orbs which aren’t super expensive, but they’re kind of annoying to make.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You forgot the most important modding advice:Insert nekkid everywhere.It doesnt matter if its nekkid sheep,pigs,or zombies,nekkid is the way to go.That way youll mod will become the most popular.

    • NotDog says:

      Eh, skins and texture packs likely have that covered already.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        So?Do you know how many nekkid skyrim mods there are?More than there are skyrim mods.

        • NotDog says:

          The one annoying thing about Skyrim body/clothing/nekkid mods is incompatibilities between body models and clothing models. If Bethesda started using Saints Row style body sliders things would get much easier.


        • MrGuy says:

          Rule 34 of mods? If there exists a mod, there exists a nekkid version of said mod.

          • Ciennas says:

            I want the inverse of that as well. I found a neat looking helmet on an armor mod that went with an NPC that was developed with it, which sounded uber nifty…. until it became obvious from the remainder of the screenshots that the whole mod seemed to appeal to some rather personal fantasy.

            I wasted ten minutes trying to find the rest of the nifty armor that went along with the helmet.

            It was clearly what the guy wanted… but I would have liked him to do a ‘serious’ armor mod. Flak bikinis never really did it for me.

        • Felblood says:

          I was really shocked by the number of “nude” mods when I first started modding Skyrim.

          It turns out that “nude” mods replace the “nude” texture, which is actually just the basic skin texture of all characters. Any mod that replaces the basic body mesh will also want you to replace the “nude” texture, even if it doesn’t remove the underclothes meshes (though most of them do).

    • Felblood says:

      On the other side of the coin, there are going to be a lot of crappy mods that use nudity as a marketing gimmick. So, it can make it harder to stand out from the pack.

    • Anachronist says:

      What would be the point of a nude mod in Minecraft?? Blocky people and animals will still be blocky people and animals no matter what textures you slap on them, unless someone figured out how to make Minecraft reunder realistic organic shapes — I’m not familiar with Minecraft mods so I wouldn’t know.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        What do you mean?They would be nekkid.Thats the point.You must be new to the modding scene.There are nekkid mods for strategy games.

        EDIT:I was joking when I typed that,but then I found this list.Amongst the games with nude mods,there are diablo 3,black and white 2,kings bounty armored princess,spellforce 2,….So,yeah,there are nekkid mods even for strategy games,whether they be turn based or real time.

        Also,system shock 2.For nude monkeys,I guess.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “Aside from needing to look up all the recipes in the wiki, which I STILL consider to be the game’s greatest shortcoming.”

    Isnt there a mod that puts the recipes in game somewhere?For example,you find them as drops from enemies,or once you get the necessary stuff,or the first time you get one of the materials,or something like that.

    • Lee says:

      There is, and the screenshots in section 3 are from the most popular of those mods, NEI (or Not Enough Items).

      Shamus has some conflicting advice here. The point of adding component recipes, and somewhat also the point of multi-block structures, is to push your content into midgame(or even endgame) without creating some new resource. There are only so many recipes that fit in a 3×3 grid using the original minecraft resources. Especially if you want to make sure to require some later game resources like redstone or diamond. And with most modpacks, there are a lot of items floating around.

      Another point is to guarantee that your recipes won’t clash with someone else’s mod. If three different mods all use 8 smooth stone in a circle as a recipe, they either can’t go into the same pack, or the modpack author has to do a bunch extra configuration to get them to work. But if one mode is 8 stone and 1 awesomite, where awesomite ore is generated by that mod, another mod can use 8 stone and 1 unobtanium.

      • spelley says:

        I think the key here is moderation. None of the things Shamus talks about are, in and of themselves, bad but using them like a cudgel/going overboard with them causes most of the headaches.

        It’s okay to introduce a new resource, as long as you make it the right rarity (which in effect determines what part of gameplay it exists in) and (preferably) it works for more than a single recipe. Single-recipe resources are the issue, not the resource itself.

        It’s okay to have an intermediary step in your recipe, as long as it has potential uses for other things. Making a Gizmo Widget that is a component is fine, as long as that Gizmo Widget can be used for *something* around when you can start making it. And make sure that a single recipe doesn’t need a Gizmo Widget, a Whatsit Widget and a Whodunnit Widget.

    • Destrustor says:

      In the console versions, the crafting interface is just a series of recipe lists. If I want to craft an enchanting table, I just go look up the recipe, where the game automatically detects if I have the ingredients and allows me to craft it with a single button press.

      So basically the recipe wiki is in-game, and is the entire crafting system at the same time.

      I wonder if/why no one has made a mod for that yet.

      • acronix says:

        What you should really wonder if why the developers haven’t added that to the PC version. It would be the best thing ever.

        • NotDog says:

          People would probably complain about it being “dumbed down”.

          Now, the recipe when arranged in a crafting grid is supposed to look like the thing being crafted, but yeah.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Someone will always complain about that.But convenience is not dumbing down.If an in game map can help you focus more on exploration instead of drawing pictures on a piece of paper,thats a good thing.But if that map gets turned into a narrow corridor with flashing neon lights when it was previously a sprawling savanna,thats dumbing down.

        • MichaelGC says:

          I blame Microsoft.

      • Kalil says:

        That sounds like how Terraria does it?

      • Retsam says:

        I think I’m in the super-minority but I really enjoyed figuring crafting recipes out when I played Minecraft. I played for a long while before I got to the “looking stuff up in the wiki” stage. (Amusing result of this: I figured out how to make redstone torches before I figured out normal torches. “coal on a stick” just was too ridiculous to occur to me until I saw how the redstone torch did it)

        So, while I partially wouldn’t want to see that go away; at the same time, the game has been clearly is built on the assumption that you’ll just look things up. Most of the crafting recipes in vanilla were pretty guessable. But something like the Enchanting Table? No way.

      • modus0 says:

        I did find a mod pack once (don’t remember the name though) that had that.

        I stopped using it primarily because the pack added about 2 dozen more mods, most of which I had no desire to use.

  4. Dt3r says:

    If you want something that works exactly like a torch then inventing a new item to act just like one seems overly complicated. A texture replacement seems like a better solution.

    Alternately, if the recipe uses different resources it could have a purpose… but coal/charcoal is so plentiful that it’s hard to justify.

    Edit: An idea, torch + paper = Chinese lantern. Make it mechanically different by letting it be placed under a ceiling.

    • Destrustor says:

      Or just torch + single glass pane = some kind of glowing, stylish wall fixture that can only be put on the sides of blocks or something, just for the sake of differentiation.

      • acronix says:

        I think the Custom NPC mod (that doesn’t work on 1.8 because of course it doesn’t) added a bunch of lamps and the possibility of in-game modifying the recipe to whatever you wanted.

        It’s still surprising that there aren’t that many mods that just add more light sources, to be honest.

  5. James Porter says:

    In thaumcraft(a magic based mod) you can make magic light fixtures out of torches basically. Think like College of Winterhold glowy bits.

  6. Rats says:

    Bibliocraft has golden lanterns, which still contain a candle, but look rather nicer – and much more modern than a wooden torch. These have the bonus of already being in one of the modpacks you use.

    Alternatively, you could install one of the following mods,


    The first is purely to give a recipe for glowstone, and the second gives new things to do with glowstone, so gives you a slightly harder crafting recipe.

  7. Wide and Nerdy says:

    I really ought to try this minecraft thing sometime.

  8. Aanok says:

    Eh, I quite disagree on a few of your points.

    The overall idea behind technical mods (like Thermal Expansion) is to allow you to set up complex and expensive machinery for a tangible, longterm gain. Usually it means doing some immediate work so you have less to do in the long run, automating an otherwise manual process, doubling (or tripling or quadrupling, even) the ingot-per-ore block output etc.

    Long crafting processes with lots of intermediary steps imho are not put there thoughtlessly. They’re part of the expense, in time, hassle and resources, you’re meant to incur to balance your future gains. Of course this is debatable but I’d gladly spend two hours gathering resources and setting up some ridiculous machine for automatic mining if it means I never have to go spelunking again.

    Naturally, you have to enjoy how Minecraft becomes less of a survival game and more of an engineering simulator. Then setting up machinery becomes fun in and of itself: constructing power infrastructure, item and player transport networks, automatic farming etc. Crafting can be unpleasant, I agree, but an Applied Energistics network removes most of the hassle and is really fun to build.

    And about building, I really disagree with you on multiblock structures. I think they make for some really awesome, majestic sights. I enjoy massive machinery because you can build big, imposing structures around it. Sure, it’s not as practical in terms of occupied volume (though many mods need to interface with machines and sometimes exposed surface becomes a surprisingly scarce commodity), but imho it’s more than worth it.

    • Felblood says:

      Long crafting processes with lots of intermediary steps imho are not put there thoughtlessly. They're part of the expense, in time, hassle and resources, you're meant to incur to balance your future gains.

      That’s okay, as far as it goes, but as Shamus says, more modders need to be mindful that they may only break these rules if they have a good reason. Too many modders break these rules in frankly thoughtless ways.

      The Wooden-Stone-Iron-diamond gear situation is a great example. It’s clearly a holdover from early in the mod’s design. If you can blow 4-16 diamonds on a single machine, making me input the same number of stick and cobblestone blocks is just silly busywork. If you have diamond to spend, you already have a wood and stone pipeline functioning.

      Plus, making a wooden gear and then plating it in large volumes of increasingly expensive minerals feels really janky. We’re not here for realism, but how exactly is a diamond-studded, but still wooden gear better for making gasoline-powered water pumps?

      • Aanok says:

        “If you can blow 4-16 diamonds on a single machine, making me input the same number of stick and cobblestone blocks is just silly busywork. If you have diamond to spend, you already have a wood and stone pipeline functioning.”

        Eh, I dunno how silly it is. If you’re looking at crafting manually, yeah, after a while it becomes really irritating. But you generally won’t do that. And then, the more steps in a recipe, the longer your autocrafting pipeline needs to be. It takes more space, more resources, more time. Having shared shared ingredients for multiple modular designs calls for clever inventory management.

        It’s an engineering challenge that you’ll want to overcome. And, since we’re talking about an engineering simulator, that’s rather a good thing.

    • Museli says:

      With regards to the Thermal Expansion recipes, the recipes tend to follow a pattern that allows the experienced user to know what pieces may be needed to build them without looking it up.

      Lets use the coils as an example. There’s one in the screenshot above, made with redstone and a gold ingot, but there’s also a couple of others that use silver or electrum ingots in the recipe instead of the gold. The gold one is always used in machines that use power, the silver in machines that transmit power, and the electrum in devices that can store and export power. Once you know this, you never need to check which type of coil is used for a particular device. I’m making an dynamo to generate power? Must be the silver coil.

      Different types of the same type of machine will also have similar shapes, just with different materials. You only need to remember one dynamo shape to make all of the dynamos – just make the rest of the parts out of the relevant metal. Steam dynamo is dynamo shaped, made with copper. Magmatic is dynamo shaped, made with invar, and so on. The same applies to the machines too. Yes, the parts are more varied, but they’ll generally all have a machine frame in the center, a coil below, ingots in the bottom corners and empty space in the top corners.

      I also generally like multiblocks, but with a caveat: let me make them in different sizes with different levels of effectiveness. As an example I’ll use the Big Reactors mod. A bigger reactor will give me more power, but I’ll need to sacrifice more space in my base for it. I believe that Tinker’s Construct has fully embraced this with the Smeltery in the 1.7 version – rather than a fixed 3×3 base, the Smeltery can now be as small as 1×1, and rectangles as well as squares are now accepted.

  9. Gilfareth says:

    So I’ve been working on a mod of my own for a month or so now, something like Extra Utilities or Open Blocks for now in that I have no defining theme to it or even much of an idea what level of the game most of the aspects would be available to.

    Basically, I wanted to ask for any ideas you guys (Shamus, other posters, etc.) have for little ideas to go into Minecraft. I’m open to ideas and hell, I’m probably going to credit everyone in the mod post when and if it finally goes up. Because you’re all cool like that.

    • Destrustor says:

      I don’t know if this already exists or not, but:
      Have some sort of machine where you put nearly-broken, worn-out or just plain obsolete items, and it grinds them down to lesser versions of its ingredients. For example, an iron pickaxe would get shredded into “iron scraps” (and maybe wood chips or something)
      Then the scraps can be crafted into the base material again.
      Iron pick > 1-2 iron scraps, 9 (or 6) iron scraps > 1 iron ingot
      And then this could apply to almost anything else than the base materials, with stone fragments for anything made of stone, gold nuggets could be used for anything with gold in it, diamond dust for diamond stuff, and so on.
      But that would require making a lot of new items, which might complicate things, so I’m not sure how feasible this is.

      • Veylon says:

        It’s not so much the number of items as their diversity. Wood/Iron/Gold/Stone scraps are basically the same thing: little pieces than can be merged back into the full-size ones. They occupy the same mental space. It’s intuitively obvious what they are and what you do with them. I’d even make them shaped just like gold nuggets to drive home the point.

        The problem is when there are a host of incomprehensible things with complicated recipes. You want a Disentagler to turn wool into string? You need two Composite Combs, two Multi-Actuators, a Disentangler-programmed Redstone Control Circuit, a Steam Pipe, a Steam Rotary Assembly, a Redstone Rotary Generator, and a Repeating Gear Assembly, all of which must be put in exactly the right places and themselves crafted.

        Compare that two using a couple iron grates, a couple pistons, an iron block, some glowstone, and a bucket. Stuff you might actually have or at least know how to make.

      • Gilfareth says:

        Tool deconstruction and repurposing is actually something I’m considering; I have a block with a 9-slot output inventory and 1-slot input that takes RF power and breaks down items into a small amount of what into them, so long as they are relatively simplistic; I’ve worked out most mods I want to work with (Invar gear from Thermal Expansion, thaumium and voidmetal materials from Thaumcraft, even the Tinker’s Construct armor can be broken down for leather). You basically get around 1/3rd what went into the tool or armor; shears will break down into 6-7 nuggets of the metal it’s made from (iron, invar, manasteel, elementium, semi-stable nuggets…), a pickaxe would give you one stick and an ingot, a shovel would be a stick and three nuggets, etc.

        Turns out, setting up for this kind of thing is kind of troublesome for anything besides regular tools, but the other option is having a way to fully repurpose every craftable item and just have it cost you something–experience or a large amount of power, diamonds for precision cutting tools, something to balance being able to uncraft things.

        …plus, Twilight Forest already has exactly that in the form of the Deconstruction Table, so I’m sticking with the minimal returns, relatively low-cost approach for now.

        • Nixitur says:

          I know absolutely nothing about Minecraft modding, but isn’t there a way to check for recipes?
          So, if the player puts an item into the machine, you get its recipe and just count what it’s made out of. So, it returns, say, 5 gold ingots, 3 wood planks. Then, you calculate its output by returning 3 gold nuggets for each ingot and 1 stick for each wood plank.
          That way, it would work for new items, too, and you wouldn’t have to manually write down what it does with every item.
          However, this would get complicated if you had multi-step recipes. So, you might have a machine that doesn’t have any gold ingots in its recipe, but its crafting components do. In that case, you’d probably want it to return some gold nuggets which you’d have to do recursively.
          Of course, this all becomes really complicated when there’s multiple recipes for one item.

          I ‘unno, I’m just talking out of my ass here. How did you solve it?

    • Felblood says:

      Compatibility is your new god. If you want people to use your mod, plan for them to use it in conjunction with at least a couple of other mods.

      If you’re doing your job right, there are at least a few mods you already have in mind. Don’t duplicate anything those mods can do well, and test in that environment, as well as in vanilla minecraft.

      • Gilfareth says:

        Trust me, I’m keeping an eye on all the mods I love to play with myself. Anything Thaumcraft (including its addons), Tinker’s, Botania, Thermal Expansion, Extra Utilities or Open Blocks can do easily is something I’m going to leave to those mods. I’m also keeping them in mind for integration purposes; if I add any kind of special armor, I intend to allow you to affix goggles of revealing to it if Thaumcraft is installed, or allow it to be repairable so Timeless Ivy can be attached, that sorta thing. All machines are RF-compatible and I’m working to make sure most forms of fluid, item and energy piping I’m aware of work with it all. I’m even making sure Applied Energistics works without too much problem (I’ve found a couple mods have inventories that really, really don’t like being attached to storage buses and I don’t want to run into that sort of thing with my mod).

  10. The Snide Sniper says:

    Points 1-3 are all valid, in my opinion, but I would debate point 4. (And while I’m at it, where’s point 5?)

    When I played Minecraft, I was a redstone junkie. A large part of my build phase was devoted to planning exactly where I could place redstone circuitry and pistons, without letting them become visible. The challenge of keeping form and function from interfering was half the fun.

    A rough basement/workshop room (dig a pit, put large construct in the pit, cover the pit to preserve the appearance of your yard) is also an option.

  11. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I second the call for more lighting options, but direct it at Mojang themselves.

    The lighting mechanics in the game make thoroughly lighting things up very important, but you list of options is really small when you consider the downsides of many of them.

    Torches: Make everything look too primitive, and can be washed away/accidentally punched off too easily. Especially when they’re on the floor, which large spaces require. Even an actual medieval castle should have nicer lighting fixtures.

    Glowstone: Requires going to the nether or trading for. It’s also a full block, meaning it will either take up a lot of space or has to be embedded in the wall. IMO, they’re also kind of gaudy looking in a lot of places.

    Glowstone lamps: All the problems with glowstone, except they look nicer- but they have to be lit up with redstone, which isn’t always possible in some spaces.

    Fire: Cool, but might set you and or your house on fire. It can also only be on the floor or embedded into a wall since it needs a netherrack block underneath.

    Lava: The Underhall is mostly lit up with lava lighting, but the lava block needs a block on every side of it, requiring three-block thick floors, ceilings, walls, or wherever you’re placing it.

    Sea Lanterns: Also a full block, and is hardest to get of any of the lighting options.

    An actual lantern block would be cool- especially if it could be hung from the ceiling with chains or string.

    • mwchase says:

      There’s also jack-o-lanterns. Solid blocks, and putting a candle in a pumpkin somehow makes it brighter.


      Anyway, main downside there is that initial placement requires a block underneath. But, you can replace any floor torches with a jack-o-lantern below, and you’ll get the same light without any of the torch downsides… except for parts of your floor are orange for no reason.

  12. Question for the more recent mincrafters: As of the latest PC version/snapshot, are villages still better off without the player nearby?

    It used to be you could bathe a village in light, and that would keep the monsters at bay. Then, they (especially zombies) would spawn the second the sun went down, apparently regardless of how much fire or glowstone you put around your villagers’ homes. I’ve even had skeletons spawn inside well-lit homes, and now that Iron Golems are hostile to creepers, I’ve come back to a village to find huge craters in the ground and holes in my buildings.

    Since they seem to poof into existence no matter what I did, I usually stayed well clear of my nearest village if I wanted to go mining, paying special attention that I didn’t tunnel back towards the place, lest that bubble of time I carry around intersected with the town, creating monsters and killing the people I need for trade goods. Is this still the case?

  13. Axcalibar says:

    I wish mods that use copper/tin/bronze could at least recognize the presence of other mods and agree to use one for ores/ingots. Point 1 is why I find mods like Metallurgy and MineChem so absurd. Point 3 really gets me… I feel like my time is deliberately being wasted. Mr. Crayfish gets it… his furniture mod uses all vanilla blocks with intuitive recipes.

    • ulrichomega says:

      Metallurgy just looks ridiculous. There cannot possibly be a use for that many different ores, especially when half of them are variations on “Slightly more/less powerful than X vanilla ore.” What does mining look like? Are you just constantly mining ore and there’s no cobblestone left?

      Also, is Steel really better than Damascus Steel, and was there really a need for that distinction in the first place?

      • Corpital says:

        Weeell, if you use this iron+1 alloy you can mine the diamond+1 ore, which in turn lets you mine the double diamond+15 ore that you can find in the end and that’s 5% faster. But don’t use the diamond+1,7 ore. That stuff is even faster but has little durability and cannot mine the double diamond+15 ore.

        In all seriousness, Metallurgy has seperate armor/weapon skins for each metal, so it’s quite decorative on armor stands or in item frames.

      • Look at it this way: Minecraft is the ultimate engineering RPG, and part of the “fun” is incorporating rules that make it as complicated as the player(s) desire.

        If I was running a D&D campaign and my players think maintaining their bowstrings and keeping a stockpile of armor polish was a good time, so be it. It’s nice when a game can incorporate optional elements, no matter how (to some) cumbersome or overly-complicated they seem.

      • Asimech says:

        Why are bronze and brass ores a thing? I could understand it if zinc and tin weren’t added, but they have been, so what the heck?

        • They aren’t ores. They’re craft(smelt?)able alloys using metals from real-world ores.

          They also have a ton of made-up ores/metals if you want to complain about those, though. :)

          • Asimech says:

            So the blocks are not in the order they’re being mentioned in the screenshots? Explains the pink “bronze”, now that I think about it.

            (I attributed the colour to the modder intentionally differentiating it from other materials.)

            I won’t complain about imaginary materials, but I will complain about the post not mentioning things in the order they’re in the image. That’s just needlessly confusing to newbies.

  14. Wilko says:

    One of these days I’m going to have to have a go at this Minecraft thingie.

  15. Goddamn, now I want to play Minecraft again. My floating castle needs to connect to some tunnels, preferably leading to an underwater lair.

  16. RTBones says:

    Talking about asking for features…when I play, I tend to build LOTS of rail. Village to village to temple to my house to nether gate etc. I typically have lots of single lines everywhere, with an odd switch or two every once in a while. It would be really nice if you could build some sort of ‘locomotive’, such that once you ‘board’ the locomotive, a map of possible stops comes up and you could with one-click send your loco to its destination.

    • Aanok says:

      You can do that with (lots of work in) Railcraft, except you put a ticket in the locomotive instead of clicking on a map.

    • I’d do more rail if it wasn’t for the “time bubble” around me. Knowing my mine carts will come to a halt, powered rails or not, the second they leave my zone of influence annoys me greatly.

      I dunno if mods can “fix” that, or if it’s just me that doesn’t like that sort of thing, but there you go.

      • Rick C says:

        “time bubble”

        There is, or at least used to be, at least one mod that has “chunk loaders”, which do exactly what they sound like: keep an area loaded in game so things happen even if you’re not nearby.

      • evileeyore says:

        Be wary of chunk loaders though. They do what is advertised on the tin: Load more chunks.

        This can have a serious impact on your FPS.

        • Yeah, that was a big problem with the snapshots for me as they messed with how (and if) chunks loaded. Boats were REALLY laggy. I once managed to “outrun” the world being placed an fell to my death off of a watery precipice into a nonexistent oceanic void.

          Also, I presume this means that villages would get zombie-horded while I was off doing other things, right?

  17. Mpjama2 says:

    You could go for nitor in thaumcraft which are little magical balls of light, and you can use coal to make it

  18. acronix says:

    The one mod I’d like to see is one to change the spawning of enemy monsters into something that makes more sense. Probably hard to do, but it was pretty tiresome to find that a creeeper spawned inside your defensive wall because you refused to fill your courtyard’s floor with torches. It makes most builds look very silly, if you ask me.

    • Bloodsquirrel says:

      All they really need is a block that prevents mobs from spawning nearby. Something you could stick under your floor to allow a dark room to still be safe.

    • Retsam says:

      I had a problem with spawning mobs getting into my base and blowing up… not because I didn’t leave lighting but because my base was literally in a cave and I kept leaving the door open.

      Now I could have solved this many ways… (like closing the stupid door); but I picked the solution that I think was the most practical and made the most sense. So I installed an Industrial Tesla Coil and set it to zap all mobs within a decent radius. Problem solved.

  19. Ysen says:

    I fully agree with 1-3, but I don’t mind 4 so much as long as they don’t go overboard. It’s kind of neat to make a smithy to put your Tinker’s furnace in, particularly since you can actually see the molten metal inside if you look down from above! Since the furnace has multiple functions / different ways of getting input and and output, it also means you don’t have to try to cram too many options into one interface.

  20. Bropocalypse says:

    I’m one of the fiddly tinker-types, so I’m the kind of jerk that these overblown mods pander to.
    I enjoy these types of systems with complex recipe trees just because it tickles my resource management itch and lets me indulge a sense of long-term accomplishment.
    Not that I’m arguing with your article. I agree it’s annoying when a mod adds a bunch of crap you’ll never use. And some of the recipes in some of these are complete nonsense. I remember when the solar panels mod added a requirement to the tier 3 solar panels that was only available when you’d already become the equivalent of a techno-god. The power requirements to make the item were roughly equivalent to capturing the entire sun in a bottle, rendering the need for solar panels moot. These aren’t even the highest-level solar panels, here.

  21. RWTema says:

    “I know for a fact that at least one Minecraft mod author reads this blog, and I'm willing to be there are others lurking.” – Gasp! Did senpai notice me?

    In all seriousness, it’s great to get advice that’s well thought out and explained as opposed to the usual ‘you should make it more deep’ advice I tend to get. I don’t necessarily agree with some of the points but I thank you very dearly for the fact that you were willing to make them.

    I’m currently working on an official add-on to Thermal Expansion, called Thermal Dynamics, which is basically meant to port item ducts, fluiducts and energy conduits to 1.7. However we’re not looking to do a straight port and in fact many tweaks and changes have already been made to the way they work. I’d be interested to know if you had any thoughts regarding item, fluid, power transfer in modded MC?

  22. Pope says:

    Hey, do you believe in me? I heard you are christian, but I can see gambling in your background.

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