Block By Block: Modding Minecraft, Part 3

By Craig Pearson on May 5th, 2012 at 12:30 pm.


This is the third and final part of our Minecraft modding guide. Previously: part 1, part 2.

*Roll of thunder, flash of lightning*. You thought these Minecraft mod walkthroughs were benign, helpful explorations into the fan contributions to Notch’s masterwork, didn’t you? Well I’ve been into the Moria-ish depths of the Minecraft mod world, you fools. I’ve seen what can be wrought from diamond, moulded with obsidian. You sent me there, with a pickaxe and nothing else! Down, down deeper down I went to the unseen depths, the lava glinting off the fear wrought sweat on my brow. I’ve stared into the flames and dust, and I brought something back.

The trip there was eventful, enlivened by the discovery of fossils. Fossils & Archeology makes perfect sense in Minecraft’s stratified world. Dig down and you’ll come across stoney blocks. Mining them will yield bones, skulls, ancient swords, and bio-fossils. What’s that? Well, like the impressive documentary Jurassic Park, you’re able to analyse the DNA held within, in this case using the analyzer to hunt for DNA then feeding it into the cultivator to… raptors. You bred raptors. And a T-Rex? Movies aren’t for your entertainment, you know? If you came out of Jurassic Park thinking: I really want to see the world overrun with dinosaurs, then you took the wrong message. But also: this is the mod for you. A massive compliment of dinos are craftable, controllable, and there’s even a hidden lore, told in stone tablets, to unravel. It requires Forge and Modloader. Here’s an early look.

At least the dinosaurs were recognisable *things*. I wasn’t so lucky the deeper down I went. Someone had decided that playing Dino-God wasn’t enough. That person, who may or may not have been a drunker version of me, had installed Genetics Mod and spliced together a Zombie and a Spider lengthways. Oh John’s God! In order to understand what I was up against I learned how it works: you load the game and in the inventory is a DNA extractor. Poking creatures with it will drag the creature’s DNA. Mixing that with another creature’s DNA, got in the same medical manner, in an egg delivers the hideous mongrel into your world. But if you do you’re a horrible, horrible person.

I took a breather after an encounter with a Spider with a Creeper’s head poking out. If only I had more power to fight the poor confused creatures. Of course! Magic! That’s what was needed. I dipped into my backpack and discovered a tome on Thaumcraft 2: I walled myself into a natural cave and started to read up on it. It’s an incredibly complex mod about harvesting the natural energy of the world, using the magical force known as Vis to imbue the world with magix, all the while hoping that the negative energy, Taint, doesn’t take over: That’s bad natural energy that corrupts the world around it. It’s a mod that rewards careful crafters: you make a crucible to smelt items you toss into it to release the energy, which is then captured with a series of glass conduits connected to a storage tank. All this is crafted. With Vis you need add it to a Thaumic Infuser, which you use to make amazing magical things: I crafted a magical singularity to toss at those freaky DNA meddled bastards. But you can also use it to craft research tables, magical bores, automated flame throwers. I’d urge you to watch the video below: some will be amazed at the depth it adds to the game; others will be scared and run head first into a wall.

So far my Minecraft world has dinosaurs, mutants, and is now thrumming with inner magical potential. It’s time to cleanse it a bit. As I’m about to destroy this ugly, broken, terrifying realm of Hades I might as well have fun. To do that, I climbed out of the mine I’d made, blinking into the bright, crisp morning above ground. I looked around and said my goodbyes, before rummaging in my pack and activating a tornado from Tornado Mod. It could only be more descriptive if someone burst into your room with a portable fan an started throwing straw in your face. Now let’s assume I haven’t won the Euromillions and arranged for that to happen whenever anyone opens this page: Tornado Mod adds a gun to your craftables that creates giant, world scouring tornadoes. The huge twisters aren’t just a visual add-on: they grab animals, blocks, players and yank them into the air: you can tell what terrain it’s covering by the swirling colours on the outside of the spout, and you can see a thin line of destruction in the top soil.

With the world scoured, I deleted it and wiped my .jar file to rid myself of the inner demons. But what now? Vanilla Minecraft holds no interest other than the aesthetic delights of wandering lumpen worlds. Then I remember facetiously telling someone that if Minecraft could do what I wanted it to, create infinite worlds, then within them every game would exist. I made such a claim because I’m not very smart, but there are people out there using Minecraft as the basis for recreations of their favourite worlds. WesterosCraft are currently recreating George RR Martin’s magnificent fantasy world on their server. While you can’t download the world yet, there’s at least a texture pack if you want to make your own Wall.

A bit more involved is Skyrimcraft. It adds the crafting, armour weapons from Bethesda’s Dragony game. It even has the dragon shouts, but not the dragons, so you can Fus Ro Dah without the worry of being overshadowed by an actual winged beastie.

It needn’t be a fantasy RPG reworking: AssassinCraft‘s goal is to provide a flavour of Assassin’s Creed to Minecraft’s chunky bum. You can dress as Ezio, which is cool in and of itself: he’s reclaimed the hoody. But it’s his blades that make it a sharp mod. The Hidden Blade pokes cutely out of your sleeve, and it’s frankly not-so-hidder, but not matter as it allows one-hit kills on unsuspecting NPCs. But even more assassiny is the Hookblade: with it extended the player has more freedom of movement, enabling scaling of walls, and even wall-running. There are some distance based weapons, including a gun, a crossbow and a throwing knife.

If you’re looking for something that uses the world as a basis for something a tad different, how about a mod themed around Anno 1602? MineColony‘s schtick is adding a bunch of new buildings and NPCs to the world. You fill your population with Miners, Lumberjacks, er Delivery Men. It’s another attempt to create a world within Minecraft, and it uses their output to drive the economy of the settlement. You have to ensure they have the correct tools to function, and provide them with food. In return, your colony will grow. Being an amazing, adventurous type, I soon got distracted by the sunset, but for someone looking to automate and rule, it has the checkboxes for you.

Or you could turn the blocks of Minecraft into a more complete dungeon crawled: Better Dungeons turns the world around for the more violent, adventurous type: adding mobs, weapons, and, of course, Better Dungeons. The themed barracks of evil have the crafted feel that the current Minecraft ones don’t: pyramids, castles, trees dungeons, traps. The most amazing is the volcano, though: multi-levelled, lava-filled mountains filled with delicious items.

I’m coming to an end of my, frankly, random selection of Minecraft mods. I’ve been beaten by the scale and quality of what’s on offer, and couldn’t possibly offer a complete view of what’s out there. While I consider myself a miserable failure, it’s only because the Minecraft community’s abilities and size make it so. It’s not really my fault if you think about it. As a parting gift you should totally download Jetpack, Parachute, Paraglider Mod. If I need to describe it, then you’re nowhere close to being my friend: everyone who matters knows what a jetpack is, and if you’re in a jetpack you probably should invest in parachute. But I’m a sucker for gliders, and this is why I have it installed. They’re all craftable and lovely fun.

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13 Comments »

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  1. Maldomel says:

    Those mods really are impressive! I’ll probably try the tornado one, it looks really good, and I’ve always wanted to scour my worlds, or at least watch some disaster go down from afar.

  2. Spoon says:

    I’ve been playing the TerraFrimaCraft beta, and I recommend it to people that want a greater challenge out of minecraft. It basically makes minecraft more realistic, so there are things like different stone types, tons of ores and alloys, cave-ins, you can no longer punch down a tree, the furnace is a multi-block structure, etc. Pretty neat, though not completely finished yet.

  3. Vegard Pompey says:

    So this article has been up for half a day and my browser tells me there are still just two comments. Maybe there’s a secret party somewhere everyone’s at except me. Maybe people just don’t care. In the latter case, I would like to express my appreciation for this article:

    I appreciate this article.

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      AlwaysRight says:

      I also appreciate this article. although I no longer play minecraft, I am happy RPS is still bringing news that there are still people who do, and that some of them are doing some really really interesting things with it.

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    hippocrat says:

    Minecraft is out-modded? Everything is transitory, but I still look forward to playing Minecraft once I have a proper PC for the job. This Asus Eee PC chokes on block, even with fog so close you can’t see your stick. I might also try a mod or two. I appreciate this series, and thank RPS for continuing to write about one of the best games I’ve had the pleasure of playing.

  5. Consumatopia says:

    These are absolutely amazing. I have a lot of stupidly ambitious ideas about games (because thinking of ideas is more fun than implementing them) but I don’t think I’ve ever had an idea about something to do in Minecraft that would be more amazing that these actual accomplishments. In that respect, they are literally beyond my imagination.

    • noodlecake says:

      Ooh God. There are so many amazing mods for Minecraft. This article barely scratches the surface. I’m surprised at the lack of interest in this article. I guess maybe people are sick of hearing about it. They just keep coming and probably will do for years and years to come.

      I would highly recommend the technic pack to anyone who owns minecraft. It comes with a few of huge modpacks that you can very easily customize:

      Yogbox adds a lot of exploration and adventure mods including Millenaire villages and Minecolony mentioned above.

      Technic is for building all kinds of machines like quarries, combustion engines and oil pipelines. Also programmable robots and advanced railway stuff. I’ve spent a lot of time with this and barely scratched the surface.

      Tekkit is a slightly stripped down version of Technic but is compatible with multiplayer.

      Mine/Hack is a sort of diablo type thing with loot and levelling and dungeons and a class system with diffferent abilities for mages/rogues etc. It’s in alpha at the moment though and could use a lot of work but there’s definitely potential there. Also multiplayer.

      I haven’t really tried many mods outside the Technic pack but I will definitely check them out at some point. The Aether mod looks great too.

  6. Moonracer says:

    I’ve been getting back into Minecraft lately with help of ‘Better Than Wolves’. It adds a rather complex tech-tree that encourages resource acquisition and constantly reviewing tutorials to figure out how the next gadget works.

    It almost adds a Dwarf Fortress level of learning curve and depth.

  7. Urthman says:

    If, on the other hand, you’re looking for more of an authored, crafted adventure in Minecraft instead of just these vast new piles of amazing toys for the sandbox, let me recommend The Tourist: a Playable Adventure in Paris which manages to do all this with vanilla Minecraft using no mods at all, just clever ideas, beautiful architecture and landscape design, and some crazy redstone & piston contraptions:

    * an exploration game with caverns, cathedrals, gardens, & 3D mazes to climb and find your way around and lots of secrets to find
    * puzzles – exploration puzzes, logic puzzles, even a music puzzle
    * traps; huge crazy machines to activate
    * parkour and base-jumping challenges
    * basically all the fun stuff from a good Tomb Raider or Assassin’s Creed game with none of the lame parts (no combat, no terrible dialogue, a story that can be easily ignored but that might amuse you).

    http://www.planetminecraft.com/project/adventure-map-the-tourist/

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    Wisq says:

    Interesting coincidence that the article mentions Thaumcraft 2. I was just looking into that today, as an alternative to Equivalent Exchange.

    I credit this article series for getting me back into Minecraft — although not so much for the article content itself (which is still awesome) but for the one of the comments. The first article got me re-interested and I started installing a ton of mods, but I quickly discovered all the little ways they can conflict, and how much of a pain many of them are to install in general.

    So I started looking for modpacks. I was particularly interested in anything that contained Buildcraft, as I figured the Quarry and whatnot would be the ideal way to relieve some of the tedium of mining. One of the RPS comments mentioned Tekkit, which fit the bill nicely, as I also wanted to play SMP on a small private server with my sister.

    The whole Buildcraft thing fell flat when it became clear that I would need a ridiculous amount of power to run it in any meaningful amount of time, most of which had to come from non-renewable sources like coal (more than what the quarry itself would find) or oil (way too finite). But thanks to Tekkit having so many mods to choose from, I quickly settled on using IndustrialCraft machines instead.

    And so IndustrialCraft powered our little house with renewables (my brief foray into nuclear was rather underwhelming), supplied us with handheld mining drills and chainsaws and even lasers, and I could set up little automated mining stations that ran on our plentiful solar power (first wired, then from portable batteries). It eventually made us invincible, but in a way that felt like we earned it — and later, into superheroes (quantum armour), which really felt like we earned it (after days and days of accumulating materials).

    I started bringing BuildCraft back in for certain tasks. I managed to make an automated chicken pit, which produced thousands of eggs, via filling the pit with water and using an obsidian pit as the drain (with the poor chickens flapping about trying to stay dry). My sister pointed out that we don’t really need eggs for anything except cake, and each cake only takes one. However, she did make the mistake of reminding me that eggs can be thrown to occasionally produce chickens. And so I came up with a plan — I would toss a thousand eggs into the pit, wait for the hundreds of chickens to grow up and produce the next thousand eggs, wade into the pit with my chainsaw and commited mass chicken slaughter, and repeat. (We began eating nothing but cooked chicken from that point.)

    But then, our semi-idyllic world was destroyed by Equivalent Exchange.

    I remember how it started so innocently. “Oh wow, I can turn anything into anything? I’m hooking the Chicken Pit into this!” And so we started turning our thousands of chicken eggs into diamonds. And anything else we could get our hands on. Our sub-basement bulk storage room was emptied, all the thousands of rock turned into maybe one diamond. Soon I had an Alchemy Bag (still awesome), a Transmutation Tablet (“Run out of torches while mining? Throw some rock in and conjure more! Awesome!”), and some Red Matter tools (overpowered, but we’re wearing quantum armour, so it fits better than the “out of power again?” mining drills / lasers).

    But most of all … collector clusters, a.k.a. Power Flowers.

    Today, I came back to our house after making a Crazy Party Lighting system for the oversized bedroom-slash-dance-floor — a secret underground facility housing the (highly excessive) redstone logic circuitry + wireless transmitters, with out-of-phase timed sequencers and four XORed inputs per each of the 21 lights — and discovered that in the few hours I was gone, my Power Flowers had made several hundred diamonds, which was enough to pretty much double the size of my flower cluster. And that’s when I started wondering if maybe Equivalent Exchange wasn’t a teensy bit overpowered.

    I was looking at Thaumcraft 2 today. I like the look of it. I like that you’re supposed to learn things yourself via research. I like that it gives you magic without just conjuring things out of thin air at zero cost. I love that overharvesting can have dire consequences, and that areas can have different characteristics, both of which lead to more exploring.

    The catch? Singleplayer only. :( Apparently an SMP version will be in the works just as soon as the new API shows up (so the author only has to do it once). I can definitely appreciate that, but even if he were working on it right at this moment, it would be too late for us anyway.

    Would it be enough to just avoid the Power Flowers (or indeed, any automated conversion) and use the rest of Equivalent Exchange? Not sure. I love the power it gives you, but the very notion of cost-free transmuting singlehandedly eliminates most aspects of the game. My automated “push button to harvest wheat and make bread” farming machine is completely ridiculous with EE, because I could just conjure bread as needed from my tablet. Or hell, conjure Mushroom Soup, eat the soup, and recycle the bowl for energy. Our farms were quaint reminders of our past life, as wool and porkchops and steaks and milk (and yes, chicken) were all a click away. Only the mod-specific items were out of reach, most of which could be easily crafted in bulk from conjured items.

    Sure, it’s my own fault for (ab)using EE so much. But it’s the kind of thing that makes it hard to set limits, because it’s designed to give you none. Which sounds great, at first, until you finally stop and look back and realise that it just catapulted you from “doing pretty well” to “no point in playing any more” pretty much overnight.

    Ah well.

  9. kwokkang says:

    I know it’s worth it to try to date someone online, for you can meet so many people who can potentially become the one for you. Meeting the right one was not an easy job, but I found the one for me on –sugarmommydate dot com–, a place where you can meet people who are serious about starting a relationship. You can check it out, it’s a great site for ones seeking a partner online.

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      Wisq says:

      It’s kind of depressing my own giant comment re: Tekkit, Equivalent Exchange, Thaumcraft, etc etc. gets eaten by the spam filter and still hasn’t been pooped out the other end, yet this sort of stuff gets through unmolested.

      Is anyone actually monitoring the suspected-spam queue these days? :(