On Moddin’ Pond: Life In The Woods Mod Pack For Minecraft

There are thousands of Minecraft mods threaded through dozens of forums and fansites, but it takes some effort to find tweaks, shaders and texture packs that fit well together. Life In The Woods has done the hard work for you: it’s a mod pack “about exploration, simple living, self-sufficiency, creative expression and veganism”, inspired by the writing of Henry D. Thoreau, and its three-minute trailer shows Minecraft more gorgeous than I’ve ever seen it.

I am a sucker for pink trees. The mod pack was released back in late March, but I’m only finding it now because Jim only linked it to me this morning. Why was he hoarding it all this time, keeping it from my hungry eyes? Only Jim can know.

There are 24 mods in the set, some of which any occasional Minecraft modder will recognise – Biomes o’Plenty, for example – but there’s plenty more in the set I’ve never played with. Including Chickenshed, which is not a shed for chickens but a code change that causes chickens to shed their feathers.

The modpack also comes in two flavours: basic and hungry, where the latter incorporates the Hunger Overhaul mod and makes survival in the wild a more involved and stressful experience.

Installing it is a slightly fiddly process, since you need to install Forge, grab an old version of Minecraft (easily done through the Minecraft launcher) and then pop the Life In The Woods pack into the appropriate place. There’s brief instructions on the modpack page, but if you need more detail this short video will guide you through.

Downloading Life In The Woods will quickly have you writing your wistful Moominpappa memoirs while staring upon a forest of giant trees, but at least some of the loveliness in the trailer above comes from shaders which aren’t included in the pack itself. That’s a shame, though you can download the set used, Sildur’s Vibrant shaders, easily enough.

I’ve returned to Minecraft recently, falling in love again with the simple beauty of its landscapes, its weather, its sense of discovery. This modpack’s various additions create a more sensational natural world than Thoreau might have craved, but I think we should allow ourselves the indulgence. It’s a 10MB download from the Life In The Woods site.


  1. padger says:

    Holy god.

    Minecraft modding is like a parallel dimension.

    A dimension which I must now access using my game-dimension-access-o-tron!

    Away! ~o/

    • KDR_11k says:

      There are a ton of modpacks out there that assemble disparate mods into packages that are hopefully balanced or at least themed. It’s even user friendly these days with launchers that just show you what you can grab, one click and you’re on your way. I didn’t know about this stuff until I saw some Yogscast videos so for all their problems they certainly helped me a lot.

      Minecraft is a good foundation for modding, it doesn’t have all that much variety by itself but it provides a consistent world system that’s a perfect platform for placing all kinds of stuff in. I haven’t seen anything that really compares to the action gameyness of Terraria though, it’s usually more like Factorio.

    • PDP-8e says:

      Funny that minecraft is, most likely, the most modded game in history yet it wasn’t designed to be modded. The first mods were made on dissasembled minecraft code.

      But like KDR_11k above me said, they are mostly technical mods, especially modpacks. If anyone is interested in these I would go for TPPI on reddit, it’s very well balanced and has magic and tech, combined with some lovely landscapes.

  2. Cockie says:

    Ooh, pretty!

  3. Monkeh says:

    “but at least some of the loveliness in the trailer above comes from shaders which aren’t included in the pack itself.”

    IMO MOST of the loveliness comes from those shaders.

    • Matt_W says:

      Truth. The time-of-day lighting, soft interior lighting, cloudy sky-box, realistic shadows, waving grass, blowing leaves, water reflections, glowing sun, etc are all due to the shader set. Strange that the video didn’t show any exterior shots at night; the torch/glowstone glow is pretty phenomenal, particularly with the moonlight softly shining through a cloud layer.

  4. Niko says:

    Does it feature a Thoreau’s mother’s house though?

    • Geebs says:

      In the spirit of Walden, Thoreau’s mother has been CONVENIENTLY FORGOTTEN.

      • gwathdring says:

        I thought it was his Aunt. ;)

        I don’t think there’s any reliable evidence that story is true in a meaningful way. For starters, many claim the land was on his Uncle’s land, near his Aunt’s house or near his Mother’s house. He was a few hours walk from his home, in reality, and the land was owned by a friend not a relative.

        Edit: I mention the variation involving his Aunt because to me it represents the real reason for the pervasiveness of the story: it has nothing to do with being literally true (though he did visit his mother and bring laundry), and everything to do with our love of hypocrisy as a leveling tool.

        He mentions going home in the book, but he also mentions going on walks in town, meeting visitors in town, on the road and at the cabin. He stays in touch with local writers, too, in conjunction with the ideas that became Walden. He never makes it out as though he’s trying to be a Wildman living off of the land. That’s a misinterpretation of the book.

        His mother is not conveniently forgotten. She’s really not the point one way or the other.

        Not that Thoreau is unimpeachably glorious or any such thing. He is first and foremost a great writer but frequently his great writing is greatly troubling; some of the ideas in A Plea for the Life of Captain John Brown are rather unsettling when pondered but they are incredibly well placed on the page.

        Walden Isn’t about being alone. It isn’t about isolation. It’s about contemplation, self-sufficiency, and a great many such things … but it’s not about literally doing everything for yourself with nothing but the surrounding woodland.

    • try2bcool69 says:

      No, but it does have cannibals living in seaside huts on stilts.

  5. Baines says:

    That mod might almost make Minecraft playable for me. It breaks up the orthogonal blocky world enough that I didn’t get motion sick watching the YouTube video, which is at least better than vanilla Minecraft manages.

    • Tei says:

      Have you tried this one?
      link to youtube.com
      It either cures you or kill you

      • try2bcool69 says:

        Oh lord, you’re sadistic…uuurp. x_X

      • Baines says:

        For a serious response, I’ve watched that video before. The warped draw rays actually help a little, with both the curving and shifting. But distant images weren’t that much of a problem for me. A mountain made of boxes isn’t so much an issue when a block is only around two pixels on your screen.

        The problem I have is mostly caused by terrain closer to the character, which are only distorted a little. So I’m fine for the first part of video, which is a lot of stationary watching and a little movement on tiny bridges. But then the video goes in the castle, with enclosing walls and the player is looking down at the ground while walking and yeah, right back to the same old motion sickness.

        (And if anyone wonders, no, hi-res textures do not solve the issue for me. The world is still composed of large orthogonal blocks, the only difference being that the completely flat repetitive axis-aligned images pasted on those blocks are hi-res instead of really low res.)

        • Niko says:

          Hm. I suspect you might be a scientifically plausible vampire.

        • Tei says:

          Maybe you can learn to make shaders? they are tiny C programs with 90% math, 10% code. Then you could be able to inyect the same shaders on all games.

          I don’t know a word about shaders, but maybe displacing the X and Y coordinate is enough for you. So you get some graphics similar to Dungeon Keeper. Make X=sin(x), Y=cos(y) , z=z

      • whorhay says:

        That is fantastic. Minecraft needs that built in for whenever you consume a raw mushroom or something, maybe get a lesser affect if you consume zombie flesh.

    • rittenhaus says:

      Most of the blockiness-softening is due to this mod in particular:

      link to minecraftforum.net

  6. NukeWithG says:

    Suomi mainittu! Torilla tavataan.

  7. Matt_W says:

    It’s interesting to contrast this mod-pack with Better Than Wolves, which also features a return to nature at the beginning of a game. BTW, however proceeds with a slow industrialization, characterized by denuded forests of tree stumps, a few straggly animals where herds once roamed, and huge earth and water-works projects: drained lakes, pit mines, etc. Even the return to nature at the beginning is a nice contrast; instead of a rugged, contemplative existence, you are continuously driven by hunger and fear and privation. You’re more a crouching, shivering, half-sane creature dressed in uncured sheep-skins, gnawing on raw pork-flesh, erecting crude dirt hovels to keep out the howling wolves, gibbering in terror whenever you hear the distant mad shriek of the jungle spiders.

    • jigpig says:

      Better Than Wolves is the definitive version of minecraft. Easily one of the best video games I’ve ever played.

      And yet this is only the first time I’ve seen mention of BTW on this site..

      Cannot understand why people continue to piss about in a filthy mod sandpit when Better Than Wolves, the ‘Bekonscot model village’ of minecraft mods, is sitting right there next to them in plain sight.

  8. RagingLion says:

    Good gooly gosh, that is utterly beautful. The most captivating game trailer I’ve seen in months and it’s simple Minecraft.


  9. SquareWheel says:

    This is ooold. Mod packs are onto 1.7.10 now.