The ability to choose not just a good mod but a great mod for Minecraft (or any other moddable title) lies in a few key factors. The predicament plaguing PC gamers asks the age-old question: “How far do I want to mod and will it break the game?” From the silly rocket launcher firing chickens to the more seriously constructed overhauls that completely gut and rebuild an entire world, the modding options for any given game are practically endless. In the end it’s up to the gamer’s personal choice and opinion of what they feel is fun, but following some useful guidelines can make choosing a mod easier.
Whether fresh to modding or just excited over a moddable title, we’ve all been guilty of the mod overdose at some point. It can be easy to swamp the experience drowning a game in too many changes at once. Anyone that’s played Team Fortress 2 on PC understands, especially after they’ve been to that certain server running 50 mods at once. It’s pure chaos with mods conflicting, overlapping, overpowering something while nerfing the other, causing all manner of bugs, glitches, and general ridiculousness. Jumping over a two story building while dropping a nuclear bomb that turns all enemies into ice cream sundaes while playing the theme to Monty Python’s Flying Circus is funny…at first. It may take five hours or only five minutes but everyone reaches their limit at some point and the sensory overload is too much. Every gamer eventually figures out that they have the ability to disconnect from the game and disable the insanity.
No conflicts. This rules goes hand in hand with the first rule, but also brings up the point of managing multiple add-ons and mods running at the same time. It’s a bigger issue these days with a lot of games using shared APIs and a lot of mod loader programs make things easier for the modder to detect possible conflicts. All it takes is one mod to change a setting and another mod trying to change that same setting to something else. The result? Bugs, crashes, and any manner of unpredictability. If you’re running multiple mods definitely use a mod loader that looks for these conflicts, because the kid that wrote a mod over the weekend on a whim may not have been as thorough in testing it or keeping it up to date with each patch. If a mod isn’t finished there’s really no point in running it as it will just be more trouble than it’s worth. A good cook chooses flavors that compliment each other and never over-seasons the dish.
Have fun. What’s makes a game fun? Is it the laughs? The story? The challenge? Every gamer has their own opinion. Just make sure that the mods choosen to run don’t suck the fun out of the experience. Sure, first thoughts of what may ruin a game’s fun may drift toward mods that make a game more difficult than normal, but don’t make the game so easy as to be pointless. Being an overpowered deity sounds amazing…until you become bored to the point of not wishing to play anymore.
And now without further ado, five mods every Minecrafter should check out, chosen carefully based on the above rules.
1. ModLoader and MCPatcher
Before doing anything, install manager programs as they help organize mods and add-ons much easier than installing each one manually. They also allow enabling or disabling of any given mod with the flip of a switch. Additionally, they warn about conflicting mods.
2. A good RPG Texture Pack such as DokuCraft
The High Resolution and Photorealistic packs can be pretty, but the challenge lies in the limitations of wrapping those textures around cubic models. By finding a good texture pack that embraces this limitation Minecraft can be much more aesthetically pleasing. A favorite has always been DokuCraft which, to use an analogy, is like upgrading from the NES to Super Nintendo graphics-wise. A good texture pack fleshes out Minecraft’s graphic potential without drastically calling attention to its limitations.
3. MAatmos Sound
Looking at games like Silent Hill that use sound as a big portion of rendering an environment and immersing the player, it can be easy to overlook a simpler game’s sound like Minecraft. When running a sound mod like this, one wonders how Minecraft was played without it.
4. Rei’s Minimap
Anyone that has dabbled around in the Minecraft universe knows how easy it is to get lost, especially while exploring caves underground. The stock map and compass items can be difficult to craft and cumbersome to use. Finding a good mod to help with navigation almost seems overpowered in a game that lacks outstanding landmarks for use in getting one’s bearings… almost. The entire reason mini-maps were invented was to speed up the time it took gamers drawing maps in real life on pads of paper. And in a universe where a man can punch a tree to lumber in a matter of seconds, a scrolling mini-map isn’t a huge stretch.
5. Add more biomes with a mod like ExtraBiomesXL
Minecraft’s inherent scale of difficulty is based on the time it takes to gather and craft things needed to continue exploring. Looking at the same few biomes day in and day out can get boring. Spice things up by installing a biome mod that creates anything from subtle to silly. There are even mods that allow floating dungeon islands or a portal made of cheese that transports players to the moon!
Remember, exploration is half the fun in a game like Minecraft, so feel free to try out any mod discovered. If you keep the three guidelines in mind it will open a door of endless Minecraft possibilities without a closet full of rubbish falling on your head, and a creeper exploding on it.