Due to the huge popularity of Minecraft, many budding developers have created mods for it that add a wide variety of features. These include new texture packs (which are now supported officially by the game), new monsters, new crafting recipes and items as well as various “cheat” tools.
I am personally very fond of the look of Minecraft, so the texture packs don’t particularly interest me. Some are still very impressive – but I find they tend to break that Minecraft immersion.
You can check the Minecraft forums here for more information on texture packs.
Any other type of mod requires you to modify the game files yourself. This can be a little daunting and could leave you with a broken game. Remember, always back up your original game files before modifying anything.
However, a lovely gent by the name of TomFromCollege has created a Java-based mod manager that does most of the dirty work for you.
TFC’s Mod Manager
Once installed and set up you will be able to choose one or multiple mods to add to your vanilla Minecraft install. Once you have chosen them make sure you click the Finish Modding button. Now the next time you start the game all of the mods you have chosen will be installed. If you want to remove any mods or change to a different selection, simply return to the mod manager and set things up again.
If you want to return to a Minecraft without any mods, simply start modding within the manager, then click the Finish Modding button without selecting any mods.
TFC’s Mod Manager supports mods that are compressed in a .zip archive but does not currently work with any other compression formats. 7zip is planned and WinRar will not be implemented. To get any mod to work with this manager you simply need to create a .zip containing the modified files. A lot of the bigger and better mods are already compatible but a little bit of tweaking here and there should get almost anything to work with it.
One important factor to bear in mind is that some mods may conflict with each other. This is caused by two separate mods changing the same file within the Minecraft install. If this happens, only the most recently applied mod will work correctly and you may experience new bugs in the game. The only solution is for either of the programmers to create a new version of the conflicting file (or files) that includes both of their code – or for you to do the same yourself. Not an easy task without source-code.
Also note that mods need to be updated as Minecraft is updated. When a new version of Minecraft is released, you may have to wait a few days whilst each developer codes an updated version of their mod.
ModLoader, AudioMod and GuiAPI
Some mods are created not to change anything in the game but to provide libraries and tools for other modders to add new things with greater ease. Whilst you don’t need to know exactly what it is that they do, they are often a requirement of other mods. Any mod that has such requirements should list them in it’s description from the author.
ModLoader, AudioMod and GuiAPI are three such examples, each opening up certain features of Minecraft. If you are interested in creating a simple mod yourself then these will be very useful to you and will help to create a more compatible modification.
My favourite mod so far (although I’m sticking to vanilla with my current world). This adds a whole bunch of new animals to Minecraft, including Sharks, Dolphins, Rabbits, Boars and Bears. Some are friendly whilst others are hostile (see the lion at the top of the page). I downloaded this pack mainly for my girlfriend Carla, so she would have a world bustling with cute animals. Every creature included seems to match the original graphical style perfectly. There are even more fantastical creatures available, like werewolves and unicorns, for you to discover.
This mod features highly customisable options that affect each of the creatures.
Handheld Torch Light and Miner’s Helmets
These 2 mods change the torches so that they give off light in your hands. Very useful for exploring underground in the darkness – simple yet brilliant. The Miner’s Helmet mod also allows you to craft a helmet with a torch on it – even more convenient as you can have your sword in your hand and still see, although this feels a bit like cheating to me. I would at least recommend the functioning torches if – like me – you scare yourself silly with the monsters in this game.
Optimine is a code optimisation mod. It can provide a speed increase depending on your PC. Basically, the worse your computer is, the more benefit you will receive from this mod. It’s creator, Scaevolus, has already had some of his previous optimisations incorporated directly into Minecraft. Don’t be surprised if this one does too in the near future.
A pack full of selectable game-play changing mods. This one definitely falls into the cheat category (one of the mods included is even called “Cheat”). However, it can be extremely useful for making videos or embarking on a huge project. Some of the included features are:
- Flying – just piss about in the air or take some nice aerial photographs
- Cart Control – directly control the minecarts with your keyboard
- Wield Key – Set up a “panic” key to bring up either a sword or bow
- Classic Building – Gives you easy access to all of the blocks and allows you to copy, paste and delete in the world (see above). This basically gives you an improved “Classic” mode with all the bells and whistles of the current build
- Cheat – allows invincibility, seeing through walls, the locations of ores, etc
- Critter size variety – create mobs of different sizes and strengths
A varied selection that is sure to prove useful. Thank you Zombe.
For more information on the huge variety of different mods, you can check this Minecraft forum.