Hey everyone, it's Andy. I am back.
Previously, on MC+ Mods:
- I have updated a large section of the mods to 1.8, but by that time 1.10 already came out. And while working on 1.10, 1.12 came out (which I'll talk about later)-- there is just not enough time to possibly update all of some 40+ mods to the requested versions (I believe it was both 1.7.10 and the new one). Because of this (and simply because I am human), I will probably only be able to maintain one version of the mods.
But also I would like some feedback on which mods you guys actually are looking forward to. I'm thinking of discontinuing some of the less popular ones to cut back on the work load, and enable me to focus my energy on the more relevant ones. I know the pigeon mod is a favorite among a few (and myself), and that is close to being finished (of course, no release dates yet).
To any developer who is interested: (if not, skip this block)
Through the years of modding, I have developed an api I believe that really streamlines the boilerplate code and provides some very useful tools that I find myself using quite often. It's been refined and reworked continuously, and I believe on the next release of MC+, I will also release the api for public use. It auto-localizes, auto-generates model files, blockstates, lang files, etc. It also provides in-code generation of all resource files (since I'm not a resource pack maker, I'd rather program ;). with the exception of textures) and simplifies registration of most objects in game to single lines. And, to the best of my ability, enforces proper modding habits. I will give further information on this when it comes time for it.
On the flip side, I have decided to update to 1.9.4:
Now I can see why people would think this is strange.
"Why not maintain the 1.7.10 version? That's where most mods are."
- Well, dear sir / madam, 1.7.10, although a versatile and fun workspace to mod, it is getting outdated. Excluding the content updates, the performance optimizations alone should be a clear reason to move on. Of course, larger mods that depend on things like complex custom item renderers are still unable to update because of this. But perhaps it is for the better, since rendering in such a way can cause major performance issues down the line.
"Why not update to 1.12? If 1.8 is better optimized, 1.12 is far better."
- Although that may be true, but the last major optimization to performance was in 1.9. But beyond that, I believe 1.12 made a big mistake in its design choices: in particular, the crafting book. (Be prepared for some game design.)
The mystery of a crafting recipe is a well regarded feature that enforces the idea of creativity, of endless possibilities. I remember the first time I played Minecraft, with no knowledge of anything about it. I was amazed by the endless possibilities. The ability to build anything. With a nudge from the Achievements in the right direction, I was able to get the proper necessities to survive and explore. The achievements didn't tell me what I had to do, but only suggested what can be done. This new found freedom was exhilarating and further encouraged the idea of exploration. But what really compounded the effect (in addition to the voxel-based world), was the implications of a pattern-based empty crafting grid. There wasn't a tutorial or a blueprint to tell you EXACTLY how and with what to make a pickaxe, as neither would there be a blueprint to tell you EXACTLY how to build your home. You were just told that something like this exists. This allows experimentation, which is a core aspect of Minecraft (the crafting grid is even designed to be memorable, as patterns are easily recognizable, unlike the traditional list of items other game crafting system use). Many of Minecraft's systems were designed around this idea: including the infamous redstone. It taught computer logic to people all over the world, but didn't tell them that that was what they were doing. They let themselves experiment and discover new possibilities.
With the crafting book, gone are the days where one searches the web for recipes and/or talk to others about how something is made. Every possible combination, every mystery, is displayed in front of you, at a click of a button. Particularly in the early stages of gameplay, this mystery is essential. At a start of any game, it is essential to establish player knowledge of the limits and possibilities. In some games, it is to recognize the scarcity of health, or in others, it is to realize that clicking on objects reveals further information. Minecraft needs to enforce the idea of creative freedom to create something within a set of tools (creative restraints if you will). Such as building in Minecraft, which is restrained by block types, sizes, colors, etc (sometimes physics), but it is a system that interacts with one another, not a how-to guide. If recipes are given to the player, both the tools and the instructions are handed to the player, completely skipping the "create something" process. This notion then implies to the player of something not akin to the overall Minecraft experience: hand-holding. I am not saying that Minecraft needs to be hard, but it should not tell you HOW to do something. Minecraft is a sandbox game. And I believe, the crux of the genre. A sandbox game should be about exploration of the systems, not a designed path through one. And it is strange that Minecraft is starting to go down the road that it completely diverges from in the first place.
Moreover, not only does this takes a step back from exploration and discovery, but also hinders the collaborative communication between players on forums and during play. With every recipe documented, it removes the joy of discovering new recipes and sharing this knowledge to newer players. One of the reasons for all of the nostalgic posts I've seen, berating the newer updates and glorifying older ones, was that this communication between players is slowly being diminished, or at least discouraged. The sense of mystery and exclusive knowledge is what brings together the Minecraft community, all the way from day one. A sense of belonging and, for the lack of a better term, community stems from these actions. It encourages teamwork and collaboration. The more experienced would share their knowledge to the newer players. And in turn, the newer players would tell the next players about what they have learned. Since there is no ingame source of this information, Minecraft becomes this secret that is cherished and shared between all Minecraft players, either through forums such as this, or youtube, or deviantart, or any other site.
But of course this seems to be stumbling into the problem of accessibility. Newer player would have a harder time getting into Minecraft, as it requires exclusive knowledge unattainable from the game. However, I do not believe this is a problem. For one, there exists too many resources, created by the community, that aid in easing in new players. But also, instead of giving in to the lack of accessible knowledge, Minecraft should encourage players to communicate, forming new relationships, sharing ideas, and encouraging cooperative play. In addition, this exclusive knowledge fosters a tighter community and connections on a personal level. And if the player wants to do independent play, then the player is playing Minecraft for the exploration, which brings us back to first argument. The crafting book pushes the idea of independence and accessibility a little too unnecessarily far.
Of course there exists mods that does this already, but they are optional. Also, their purpose is to efficiently organize hundreds of recipes, where the act of discovering and researching recipes (that may not be intuitive either) would take too long to be relevant. Whereas the crafting book simply reveals its contents like a dictionary or an instructional map. Minecraft has not yet reached the point where there exists too many recipes for newer players to learn (the difficulty curve is not even close to available mods or other games). And even if so, it should not be presented to the player from the get-go.
The crafting book does not reinforce and rather hinders the core Minecraft design of creativity, exploration, and community.
This is for the modders out there:
With that out of the way, let's talk about the modding community. Modders really don't like change (I, and probably you, can attest to this). Extra content is cool. New systems are great to play around with. But if you are telling me to rework my entire rendering setup that I've spent months building and refining, you better be joking. But of course, change is inevitable and often for the better. 1.7.10 is like the old 1.6.4, where a lot of old mods died and refused to update further. But I believe the difficulty to update shouldn't hold you back from updating. It helps you become a better programmer and even develop better skills in doing code maintenance (which I find lacking in the modding community), such as documentation, proper conventions, and error checking. Working with newer code may be less documented, but it will be better fine tuned and often optimized for smoother user experiences. The purpose of a mod is to share your play style, your ideas, with other players. Of course nostalgic mods can stay where they are, but if you don't have anything against the newer content (in other words, it doesn't contradict with your ideas), then you should always update (considering you have the time).
The above reasons are why I will not be updating to 1.12, nor maintaining 1.7.10. But to quickly explain why I chose 1.9.4, and why everyone else (who believes the above) should also, it is because:
1.9.4 is one of the last major optimizations. Future updates are more or less content updates.
It also retains most of what I believe is the look and feel (and ideology) of the original "vanilla" Minecraft.
1.9.4 is not 1.10, which is the beginning of the conflicting content ideas that diverge from the original. (Though there are good ideas, I'm thinking of porting back to 1.9.4)
1.9.4 is not 1.8, which is a bit underdeveloped in terms of code.
1.7.10 is getting dated, particularly in terms of optimizations.
It is also (relatively) easily update-able to future versions (which includes 1.10, 1.11, and 1.12 as of the time of this post) if there is a demand for it.
If you think I should update to a different version than 1.9.4, please feel free to convince me. I would like feedback.
Of course, if you don't believe in this view and want to petition for an update to a particular version, I may consider it as well.
Thanks for sticking around,