I-I’m not afraid of you! You- You’re Woolen!!
Ahem, Anyway, like gazillions of others, I caved in (ha!) and bought Minecraft during beta, and whilst the vanilla is pretty cool, much like the Elder Scrolls games, its the active modding community that I think really makes things special.
Trouble is, there are SO, SO many mods, it can be hard to determine what you want. There are modpacks, certainly, but you may not want everything they provide. So here, I am going to try to provide a look at what I feel are the cream of the crop. If you need installation help with any mod, most of the big ones provide specific instructions; but ~in general~ the following applies:
- You will need WinRAR or 7zip to open the minecraft .jar like an archive, in which you stuff the mods files (literally, by adding them to the jar as if it were a zip or rar file), keeping the directory structure.
- You can search for the .jar by typing %appdata% into your Windows Explorer to find your application settings.
- You need modloader for every mod.
- You need to delete the META-INF folder thats inside the minecraft jar. This prevents mods from working.
What do I look for in a mod? Well, not purely new content, thats for certain. There are dime a dozen hundreds of mods that add some new form of unobtainium and tools to go with it. Different ways to do things that already exist are boring. What one needs is something that actually enhances the game and gives you more to do; and more to appreciate. Tweaks are fine, if they obviously address an issue with the base content thats irritating.
Moreover, Minecraft is more Virtual Lego Set than RPG. Don’t get me wrong, Survival is more enjoyable than Creative for the most part, but this is because you’re building something with honest to goodness problems, limits and hard choices; not because you’re playing an RPG element, which is undoubtably the weakest link of the chain. Therefore, mods that attempt to build on the RPG element really need to change something fundamental or risk building on sand out of straw.
Anyway, enough babbling. Click the links to get to the place to download it and review it in greater detail. If a link doesn’t work, it is because the mod is on a forum, and the author changed the title of the forum topic. I will periodically check the list (especially every time Minecraft itself gets a new version), but if you notice something broken, leave a comment please, thankyou! First of all:
The core element. Without this, nothing else works. Just get it.
He also has a bunch of other cool tweaks that distinctly add stuff. Whilst you’re there, I also recommend his Elemental Arrows, the Shelf, the Recipe Book, and More Stackables.
It really works. Optimises the code for Minecraft alot, giving you an increase of typically 5-10 FPS.
Utterly essential if you’re on a low-end system or using an older version of java. It also tends to smooth out the lag spikes of death that even hit the higher end PCs. I would recommend Smooth Edition. As an aside, it also unlocks support for high-resolution texture packs (higher than 16x), so its even more essential if you want pretties.
Okay, so this one is open to debate; but I find it essential. It imitates the functionality of several other mods; except they’re all different versions written by CJB himself. In many cases, I prefer the way he’s done them, as they’re also all linked to a centralised interface thats easy to control; and you can choose to disable any features you don’t want (I don’t want the cheats or x-ray or his custom mobs~ so I switch them off, easy!)
It includes the following very handy stuff (I also provide the alternatives in case you don’t agree with me):
- Mini-Map: Do you get lost alot in Minecraft? I do, and for that, a minimap is incredible. His map is not as functionally rich as the popular alternative, Rei’s Map; but when I used to use Rei’s, I never used any of the optional features it has, so I don’t miss them.
- Teleportation to waypoints you’ve set: Partially a cheat, I guess, but being able to save travel time between the deepest reach of your mineshaft and your house is what I call a tweak improvement; its only like having quick travel in Skyrim. If you want something less ‘cheaty’, DaftPVF does a mod called Crystal Wing that teleports you back to bed only, has limited uses, and explodes in the Nether for a higher challenge version.
- Improved HUD: If this was all the mod did, I’d still D/L it just for this. Adds alot of really handy information to your Heads Up Display. You can choose what info you need. Clock, Biome, Co-Ordinates, Lightlevel, Arrows, Item held info etc.
- Block and Item Spawing: Allows you to spawn anything you want into your inventory. Definately a cheat on Survival; but when you suddenly realise you’re 10 sandstone short of your new house and night is approaching… nothing beats it! TooManyItems [TMI] is the popular alternative. However, I do prefer the version in CJB. Why? Well, it requires you to go to a different menu with a hotkey rather than overlaying your regular inventory. When I used TMI I became reliant on it; as its always there, and that, I thought, sucked the fun out of finding resources for yourself. With CJB, I can resist the urges to just spawn everything I need; and I only use this in an absolute emergency or to generate exceptionally common stuff that is tiresome to lug back and forth (i.e. Cobblestone and Dirt).
- Mob Filtering: Got Arachnophobia and can’t stand spiders? Creepers ruining your constructions? Then switch them off! Get rid of your most hated mob in a jiffy. Moreover, it allows you to play pseudo-peaceful if you want; switch all the hostiles off but keep the difficulty on, so you still need to eat and don’t get automatic health regen.
- A selection of cheats including X-Ray vision: Can’t say I use these, but there is alot of them for those that do.
- Custom Items and Mobs: I use his extra pressure plates, but none of the others, so I can’t really comment too much on them. Also, his animals are somewhat obsolete if you’re using Mo’ Creatures, so I do have those off too (sounds like he’s removing them anyway).
A New Texture Pack
These are directly supported through minecraft itself, rather than modloader. Read the documentation. However, you need Optifine or MCPatcher to use high resolution packs. Personally, I like the 16×16, and myself will wholeheartedly recommend THE PAINTERLY PACK. It looks very good for its size, but most importantly, is vastly customisable to your preferences from thousands of options.
A note about Minecraft Forge
This is a kind of Standard Development Kit for mods. However, not very many mods require it all (most of the big mods offer alternate versions that support it); so its not essential and in fact interferes with several mods if they’re not Forge compatible. Personally, I’d say don’t get it right now, its not needed. However, I’ve never been a fan of SDK’s since my days working with RPG Maker, since they tend to polarise the community, so I guess I am biased.
A note about having lots of Mods!
If you have alot, then I also recommend ID Resolver. It fixes issues with authors of mods using the same ID’s for their cool stuff (the most common cause of a crash from mod conflicts), and changes their associations automatically during every subsequent launch of minecraft. Obviously, Minecraft has a hard limit on the number of extra blocks and items that cannot be exceeded, and if two mods are trying to do the same thing, neither will work, usually. Keep that in mind.
This bit shows improvements to features already in the game that I like.
Increases the variety of your world generation by adding in new environments to the biome creation. All the ones that Notch missed; like jungles, rainforests, savanna, forest islands etc.
More World Types
Probably Definately not compatible with the above, but is a nice alternative. Changes the types of worlds you can generate during a new world. It’s main features for me is maintaining the beta type generation and creating skylands, since I find single biome worlds to be a little silly (except maybe winter theme worlds and the ocean worlds).
Vastly increases the variety of natural (and unnatural) fauna. Some new hostiles, but again, you can tweak its settings to get your favourites. However, it requires a chunk of extra pre-requisites to work; be careful when installing it (you’ll also need audiomod, GUIAPI and custom mobspawner). Firing your coastal defence cannons against invading sharks is hilarious.
Another one by DaftPVF. Makes it so that when you hit the bottom trunk block on a tree with an Axe, it is insta-gibbed, dropping all of its wood instantly. Saves alot of time if you’re going with slash and burn land clearance on forests!
Fixes Minecraft’s very quirky infinite water source blocks; and makes most water behave properly with real physics! No more slight waterfalls when your cave meets the ocean (just drown like you should)! No more crazy infinite water pools created with just two buckets. Only works on new worlds.
Enhanced View Distance
Only for those with better PC’s (and Optifine); this reduces the fog and increases draw distance.
Vastly improves the enchantment system; allowing you to use less ridiculous amounts of XP, cancel enchantments you don’t like, and repair magic items easily; among other things.
A whole massive selection of very minor tweaks, often annoyance related. Pick and choose what you need. I use Apples from Trees, and Creepers Don’t Damage Blocks myself; since I feel both should be in the original.
Nostalgia Mods [NBX]
A bunch of tweaks that “unfix the fixes”, regressing new versions of minecraft to behaviours from older versions. If you want your favourite good bad bugs back, get your favourites here.
Entirely New Stuff
As I noted above, too much new stuff and you overload Minecraft. So just pick your favourites from these:
Better Than Wolves / Better Than BuildCraft
Despite the title, it has nothing to do with Wolves; instead it adds a massive amount of new content, mostly to do with simple mechanical power.
It’s a cool addition to the stuff you can build; allowing functioning waterwheels and windmills that go on to power pulley driven elevators, circular saws, kilns and turntables for making pottery, and eventually advanced blacksmithery using magical soulforged steel.
Adding Buildcraft in on top of Better than Wolves allows you to put together plumbing and steam engines as well.
Hey, so we have magical enchanting, but no actual magery? What’s up with that, Mojang?
This fixes that issue by allowing you to craft magical staves that act as focuses for up to four levels of elemental spells. Some of these have truly hilarious effects; and some are rather broken, so this is very much a funny mod to unwind with.
Vastly increases the amount of bling you can add to your home. Stained glass, carpets, coloured woods, concrete and craftable double slabs are all included. Essential for any discerning interior decorator. Oh, just realised this is a forge mod now. Stained glass is available individually as Glasscraft here, if you’re not using that like me.
Want minions that aren’t dogs? Here’s a cool alternative. Very comprehensive in its features and includes alot of cool content.
And thats about it, folks. Its not fully comprehensive at this stage; and there are several mods I have my eye on that have potential when they become a bit more polished (eg. Tale of Kingdoms, Swords+); and there are some that are impressive creations but that frankly I would never use the features of (eg. Equivalent Exchange, RedPower2). But for now, these are my picks.
More help for basically everything else is covered exceedingly well on the Minecraft Wiki, so go check that out.
Hope you enjoyed this big report, and happy minecrafting!
<sssssssssss> Oh s4*T, that things gonna blow!!