Soul Survivor: Survivalism Mod For Minecraft

Cows are always good company when fishing.

My dream has come true! A mod that brings proper survival in Minecraft. Back in September 2010 I wrote about the game I wished Minecraft could be. As much as I’ve spent a worrying number of blissful hours with the game, a part of me still wishes that it could let me live out that lone survivor fantasy that I must have had embedded in my brain by too many adventure stories as a kid. What I wanted, I said, was a gentle, careful introduction of thirst, hunger, and the need for sleep. It had to be precisely right – not a constant, unrealistic need for unrelenting intake of food and drink, as most games alluding to this theme seem to demand. It had to be something I needed to always be planning around, but still able to spend a pleasant time digging a massive mine. As of yesterday, Nick Stevens might just have gone and created the mod – Survivalism – that makes every one of my wishes come true.

Three new bars are introduced to the bottom left of the screen. One for hunger, one for thirst, and one for energy. The first two are fairly self-evident, the third a measure of how tired you’re getting based on running around and swinging your arms (i.e. fighting, building, mining, etc). There’s also the addition of “lives”. Three of them. Die a third time, and should you be playing the mod in its Hardcore mode, your save file gets permanently deleted.

It really addresses all the key elements I’ve been wanting. It’s otherwise still vanilla Minecraft, and all the joy that brings. But with some more reality thrown in. Food, water, and perhaps most interestingly, sleep, all serve a greater purpose now. There’s also a few new recipes, including a water sack made from cow hide, that means getting thirsty isn’t a massive imposition. There’s also energy bars (sugar and wheat), and the much more mysterious Soul Orb, an item that lets you survive a death so long as it’s charged. That’s a combination of eight diamonds and a Soul Sand, used along with a Soul Shrine to charge it, via Netherack, Glowstone and Redstone Dust. And then to charge it you’ll need a whopping 64 further Redstone Dusts. It doesn’t come easy.

Of course, hunger, thirst and energy needs can be a pretty subjective measure. If you wanted to play in accordance with the rapid day cycles of the game, you’d want them falling quickly. If you’re like me and you would prefer it to be a more occasional need, although still something that has to be on my mind. Perhaps you want it in there to make food more meaningful, but you don’t want it getting in the way of a marathon building session. So fortunately the mod allows you to fiddle with such settings in its properties file. I’m still working on finding the exact right balance. The default settings for food and water seem pretty spot on to me, but energy runs out far too quickly and recovers very slowly. I’ve realised I want recovering energy to require a sleep, or food, so actually slowed its recovery down slightly. Instead I’ve made it take a lot longer to ebb away, such that a day’s mining can really take it out of me, rather than thirty seconds. It’s taking experimentation to find the sweet spot, and fortunately you can edit the properties and carry on with the same world after.

I’m down to one life already. An early discovery of a zombie-generating cave led to one stupid accident, and one even stupider recovery attempt. And since I’m determined to play this on Hardcore I almost daren’t move. I’ve got the perfect island in this world, large enough to take a good few days to fully explore, small enough to let me feel stranded and fighting to survive. It’s the dream. I’ve just got to hold on very dearly to life. (Oh, just typing it was too much. I switched Hardcore off, and also learned that the mod doesn’t let you cheat by adding more lives once you’ve started a world.)

For those not familiar with Minecraft modding, my instructions here will be slightly less obfuscated than you’ll find elsewhere. To get this running you’ll first need the ModLoader Beta 1.6.5, which will allow Survivalism to work. You can get that from here. And you may as well download the Survivalism mod at the same time, from here.

Extract both the zips to their own folders of your choosing. Then you’ll need to locate your .minecraft directory. It should be in your Application Data/AppData folder, which you can find super-quickly by clicking Start > Run, and typing “%appdata%” in the box. Open up .minecraft, and then the “bin” directory. You should probably make a backup of the whole thing, just in case you do something silly. Then find “minecraft.jar” and open it up in something like 7-Zip or WinRAR. I can attest to WinRAR working splendidly for this, and really it’s the only archiving thing you should be bothering with. Once it’s open in that, you’re just going to drag and drop some files into it.

The first set are all of those in the ModLoader zip. Not the directory they’re in, just the loose files, dropped into the mix in minecraft.jar. Then grab everything that was in the Survivalism zip as well and do the same, including that voodoofrog directory. Then you want to delete the META-INF folder, for some reason.

That done, when you start Minecraft and create a new world, it’ll have introduced all the changes, unless you did something wrong, like smear jam on the screen or similar. Of course, that means you can’t start a regular Minecraft world any more, which is why you made that backup. Still, if you can’t be arsed putting it back there’s a super-quick shortcut. You just delete the file called “version” in that same /bin directory, and the next time you load the game it’ll automatically put itself back to normal.

To fiddle with the mod’s settings, changing hunger etc, you need to once again be in .minecraft, and then head for /mods/RealismMod. In there there’s just one file: Open it up in something like Notepad and you can meddle with the settings. Follow the instructions here for what numbers do what.

EDIT: The latest version, as of a couple of hours ago, now also requires MOAPI (installed in the same way as the other two), which will let you make changes to the settings from within the game’s option menus.

And then enjoy! I certainly am.


  1. terry says:

    It’s a neat idea – I’d like for falling damage or combat to cause injuries that you would have to heal with bandages and splints :-)

    Come to think of it, I really need to play Unreal World again. Nothing like bleeding to death because you angered a badger.

    • CMaster says:

      And in the game?

    • Defiant Badger says:

      Oh sorry about that.

    • psyk says:

      RPS ever have a write up on Unreal World was a fun game.

    • Coins says:

      Yes, they should, although I doubt it classifies as a new game.

    • Kelron says:

      Unreal World is excellent.

    • JB says:

      I’d love to see Quinns look at UnReal World, we’ve spoken about it in the past (not long after Onionbog tailed off actually).

      URW may not be a new game, but it’s being constantly developed further.

    • Quirk says:

      I very much like Unreal World. It’s a little glitchy with its nutrition at present, making it somewhat harder to survive than it should be – that system’s currently being overhauled – but it’s been going exciting places lately with lots of additions including modding. For me it’s still the best survival game out there by some way.

    • nimnio says:

      @Defiant Badger: Applause.

    • tehfish says:

      Reminds me a lot of playing Fallout 3 with the ‘amplified cripple effects’ and ‘triage’ mods installed.

      trying to fight your way out of a building when so injured you could barely walk or see anything was fun :)

      would be awesome to have a similar thing added to minecraft

  2. RCGT says:

    Oh no! I’ve bolloxed it all up. Jam everywhere.

  3. Inigo says:

    I like the meter in the corner that tells you how much you’ve pissed off Zeus.

    • CMaster says:

      No no no. Minecraft is of Swedish extraction.
      It’s how much you’ve pissed off Thor

    • Groove says:

      That’s the next mod, angering the gods spawns increasingly constant thunderstorms. Wrath of the blue creepers.

  4. tanith says:

    Robinson’s Requiem anyone? (:

  5. pakoito says:


    Now we only need to double and finetune enemy mobs, and make mods available from one version to the next, because it’s annoying you have to re-apply them every fortnight.

    • zxc says:

      @ Frightlever,

      Try the mod Finite Liquid, and when it gets updated, Nature Overhaul. They’ll complement this mod quite nicely I think.

  6. danimalkingdom says:

    ‘You just the file called “version”’ You just what the file? Delete? Eat? Please tell me

  7. Gap Gen says:

    I’m gonna build an underground lair and stand in the entrance saying “Don’t just stand there, come in” over and over.

    • CMaster says:

      Get out of here, Stalker.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Grow grain, craft a glass bottle, craft vodka, cure radiation sickness.

    • CMaster says:

      Turns out redstone dust is actually moderately radioactive. All those fancy mod-cons you’ve been installing in your house have been slolwy poisoning you.

  8. Turin Turambar says:

    I am in the same boat, more or less. I thought Minecraft was a pretty cool idea… but i am still waiting for the game to implement some actual gameplay. I mean, at first i thought the alpha version was like that… because it was a real alpha, with only the technical part done and the real gameplay would be implementated later. Hah, it seems the idea of the game by Notch was only what it offered since the start.

  9. nickylee says:

    I’m working on this every spare moment I get at the moment. I’m considering having optional injury and diseases, and a bunch of other ideas. I want to be careful to not overcomplicate it though. :)

    • Mistabashi says:

      I always thought ‘hunting’ was something that would fit well into Minecraft – at present you have animals that wander around waiting to be punched and hostile monsters, but some more elusive creatures would be a nice addition, along with ways to set traps or lay bait to tempt them out. I’m thinking maybe lizards in desert biomes, squirrels in forests, maybe some kind of badger type thing that digs small tunnels in dirt blocks and can be caught by laying traps etc.

    • Coillscath says:

      Temperature variance would be fantastic. Heat stroke in deserts, or when close to lava and hypothermia in frozen areas, or deep caves would be a welcome addition. Brings us a few steps closer to making it the new Robinson’s Requiem. :P

  10. Gap Gen says:

    Actually, one thing that’s always bugged me is how you don’t have to bake bread or cake. I guess it’s a layer of faff too far, but still.

    • nickylee says:

      No it sort of bugs me too. Again it’s something I’m considering.

    • Daoler says:

      That always bugged me too. What, am I just putting wheat together in the shape of bread and eating it?
      Am I dumping ingredients on top of each other and it becomes cake?

    • Gap Gen says:

      I guess an alternative would be to have a more complex bread-making thread:
      1) Craft grain straight into flour
      2) Put flour in furnace -> Bread
      Maybe have a dough stage, with a bucket of water and say 5 grain making 5 dough.

    • Dao Jones says:

      What the? Oh wow. Now “baking” makes sense!

  11. lunarplasma says:

    Next version should have Social and Hygiene bars.

    Or not.

    • nickylee says:

      Heh, don’t forget toileting needs.

    • Stuart Walton says:

      I want a sanity bar that makes the player hallucinate when it gets low. Not that it really needs it. I’m always seeing non-existant creepers in the dim light of unexplored caves.

    • Coillscath says:

      A sanity bar. Oh that’s evil. Even if you have it on peaceful, suddenly seeing a creeper come out of the shadows would give you a moment of “OHSHIT I FORGOT TO RESET THE DIFFICULTY”, then you run, and turn around to see how far behind it is… And it’s gone! D8

  12. Carra says:

    Good thing there isn’t a loneliness meter.

  13. GCU Speak Softly says:

    Oh, now I need to go back to Minecraft, just as I thunk I’d beaten that particular addiction.

  14. Out Reach says:

    I’m sure there is a tool to export a maps seed out of a save file. And Once you have the seed it doesn’t matter if you die :)

    • DrazharLn says:

      There are easier ways to cheat death than that, but it’s not about the physical restriction it’s about the gameplay. You probably shouldn’t do that for the same reason you wouldn’t use an aimbot in an FPS or fill your inventory full of iron in minecraft. It probably wouldn’t be a lot of fun and it would be missing the point.

  15. Fwiffo says:

    I look forward to some point in the future where Minecraft is a fantastic game thanks to the efforts of talented modders, much like what’s happened to Oblivion.

  16. Oozo says:

    Are there any plans to maybe implement popoular mods into the ‘real’ game on Notch’s side? This would qualify,I guess,since it’s a thing people have been asking about from the beginning… Wouldn’t mind having a survival mode in the default menu.

    That said:thanks for this,really! You made my week(s to come).

  17. Wetworks says:

    Survival mod sounds like a nice touch but it still doesn’t add much gameplay imo. I’m still waiting for Notch to add different game modes to Minecraft. Instead of adding trivial stuff like maps and wolves he should start thinking about rpg elements and mechanics. Terraria is showing that there is a large audience out there that would love to see Minecraft merged with a more traditional RPG.

    For instance Minecraft likes to brag that it has such a large, randomly generated world but I find that there really isn’t much of an incentive to go exploring beyond a few minutes walk in either direction. How about an Artifact Mode, where the goal of the game is to hunt down and piece together the pieces of an ancient artifact. The pieces would be randomly scattered around the game world and placed inside pre-made dungeons. You’d have a compass that points to the nearest piece of the artifact. You would then have to journey to the dungeons, and then defeat the minions and bosses guarding the artifact shards. Once you assemble the artifact you get to keep it.

    • DainIronfoot says:

      There’s a mod which does something like that.

    • mwoody says:

      The next patch is the “adventure” patch, according to Notch. Meaning he’s working right now on much of what you describe.

  18. Stuart Walton says:

    If you want to keep your default Minecraft as it is and run mods in a seperate install then just create a batch file that first sets the %APPDATA% environment variable to a custom location. Here’s one I use for testing the latest version, it sits in the same directory as the Minecraft exe.

    set appdata=D:\Program Files\Minecraft\TestLatest

    When you run it the first time, it’ll download the latest version from Mojang and you can then go about modding it.The %APPDATA% environment variable is only changed for commands and programs run in the batch file so don’t worry about messing up the data of any other applications.

    • DrazharLn says:

      That’s a neat trick. I don’t often see such hacks in windows.

  19. ili2 says:

    This got me thinking – are there any good multiplayer survival sort of games?

    My friends and I have been craving for something like this, but neither of us can bear to touch Minecraft again, way too many hours spent on that game.

    Gfx are obviously no concern, anything goes really.

    Any ideas?

    • Stuart Walton says:

      I’m trying to think of one that doesn’t involve zombies… nope, I can’t.

    • Kaira- says:

      Stranded 2 was rather nice.

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      Surely someones ears should be burning right now? Because this is a fiendishly attractive idea for a game.

      And what’s the deal with all co-op games being four player? (when I say all I mean Left for Dead (2) and Borderlands). I only have one friend that plays computer games. And he doesn’t like multiplayer. What was this about again?

  20. Vinraith says:

    Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention, John. Like you, it’s pretty much exactly what I was wanting out of Minecraft. It’s good to have a reason to go back!

  21. McBeeferton says:

    Could use a few more features, such as temperature affecting you. Then it’d be perfect.

  22. Moonracer says:

    oh great, I was feeling satisfied that I could take a break from minecraft until 1.7 when adventure aspects will supposedly be added but this and fineiteliquid will ruin that plan.

    Time to grab my pick once again.

  23. Dozer says:

    Anyone else entertained by the title of the article?

    • tomeoftom says:

      Oh, now I get it! It’s brilliant, but impossible to understand until you’ve read the article. An exclusive pun.

  24. Baines says:

    Has any mod trying sufficiently aging a world as a penalty for death?

    What I was thinking of was instead of deleting a world, “adjust” it to simulate time passing. Not necessarily a detailed time passage algorithm, but enough changes that the next life doesn’t just pick up where the last life left off.

    Randomly fill in some tunnel blocks as “cave-ins”. Extinguish some torches and fires, but not all of them. Destroy some wooden items, which had “rotted away”. “Crumble” some exposed stone blocks. Turn some water blocks into land, and some land (touching water) into water to simulate erosion and water paths changing. Grow a lot more trees. Run a check of the block distributions and repopulate anything that has been run drastically low, in case a player has dangerously strip-mined that chunk. If the player has explored large sections of the world, then perhaps just delete a few chunks entirely, starting them fresh if the player ever goes to them again.

    Ultimately, make it look like time has passed, with the new character coming in maybe decades after the previous character. The player can try to pick up their old work, or maybe just start over. (Chance the spawn spot too. A player coming in after an early character death might not even find the camp of his previous life.) If a player did decided to start his new life in a new area, you might get some nice ruins after a few deaths.

  25. MythArcana says:

    Heh. It sounds like everyone is working their asses off on Minecraft…all except Mojang. I’m staying at v1.5_01 until they hash out v1.7 as it’s stable and never crashes with texture packs. I must say that as much as I love the game, it’s falling behind in momentum with way too many distractions at Mojang.

    And I finally get some Glowstone love in this patch…and it STILL doesn’t do anything other than make a cube. Ugh. There really is no reason to visit the Nether after all this time. It would be too difficult to use that ingredient for a lantern I guess… o_0

  26. Froibo says:

    You should give terraria a go if you havnt yet. It feels like a complete version of minecraft as a game instead of just a sandbox. Only 2D of course.

  27. Bootstraps says:

    Sounds like somebody hasn’t played Unreal World…

    Best survival game out there, I recon.