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: settings.properties. 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.