text

MineCon 2014 UK!


Of all the venues MineCon has had, the British species has remained painfully unfulfilled. Sure there was Disneyland Paris we could have gone to, a mere 300 miles or so (Sea voyage/Eurostar included) but considering that the UK is estimated to have the second largest Minecraft playerbase it would be a great move on Mojang's part to host MineCon 2014 in Great Britain.


If you're a fellow Brit and would like to see this happen; Have your say by adding your signature to this already popular petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/minecon-2014-in-the-uk

text

Curse and FTB

Curse and FTB Merger

This week Curse announced they would be forming some kind of merger with FTB and Forge. What does this mean and what does this tell us about the future of Modding?


Specifically what will happen to FTB, The staff at FTB, Curse's Client and their staff?

FTB have given a timescale of around 6 months before they discontinue their launcher.

Slowpoke and LexManos will join the Curse team serving 'advisory roles' working on the future design of the Curse Client and CurseForge.

Incase you weren't aware Curse released their own mod-capable launcher and mod repository - similar to Bukkit.

Curse will continue to develop their own launcher and support much of what FTB has today

FTB forums will be accessible from MinecraftForums.net, the moderation team and content will stay the same.


Wait, I heard Forge was involved...

You heard right, Forge - the software that provides core functionality for the majority of the mods will also be shifted to use Curse's systems and be distributed through CurseForge's systems.

Minecraft Forge Forums will, yes you guessed right, also be shifted over to Curse's servers but the moderation team and content will remain the same.


So why is this happening?

Over the past few years we've seen mods get easier and easier to use, the latest set of launchers all support custom mod packs which has turned into a massive trend for many players due to the simplicity of setting up and playing. This latest move by curse puts not only the power to play a pre-defined mod pack in the players hands, but also the whole distribution of CurseForge is behind it putting downloads, legalities and conflicts all in one single network. The result could be something compared to any mobile app store where the content, licensing and front-end is all hosted by a single party. 

The downside is that the 'All your eggs in one basket' scenario appears. Many mod distribution networks, servers and portals have been disrupted in the past by malicious attacks. The infamous DDoS is now accessible by any kid with a credit card and it looks like this merger is providing many points of failure. Technic's distribution on the other hand separates the distribution from the front-end. Modpack authors choose their own hosting independently, Technic provides the interface to download those files and play them, a much more flexible system than what we will see from Curse.

The move of Forge to use Curse's servers is surprising. You could say that the move could be down to funding and the future of the developers who want to see more reward for the efforts. The move to use Curse's network will not make much of a difference to the average player or modder, the files are freely available and no changes to the development of forge been announced.

As for FTB merging it's not surprising at all. They've been having funding problems for some time and with the merge comes a job (And I assume a salary) for SlowPoke and LexManos. They've also had problems with the development of their launcher and are often flamed for its Windows 95 look which has led their growth to slow down. They have always remained smaller than Technic and this is perhaps their chance to try and get ahead.


Sad technic

What about Technic?

This seems to be pretty bad news for the current dominating player, Technic. They've had a majority market share for some time but with a professional player like Curse to compete with it doesn't look like they have much of a chance.

However FTB and Curse have stated that this is for the community and that the community includes other launchers, so Curse will allow other launchers (like Technic) to use the same CurseForge API as the Curse Client to download their mods, Forge and other content.


text

Pocket Edition Mods


Minecraft Pocket Edition (MCPE) has taken off massively on the Apple and Android platforms. It's certainly a feat to get such an immersive and intensive 3D experience running on mobile processors, but perhaps even more astounding is the possibility of extending MCPE and adding mods.

There's a petition to the developers at Mojang to implement an API that's officially supported and maintained - Something we haven't seen implemented in any versions of MC yet. With the announcement and progression of the Plugin API for desktop clients it wouldn't be surprising to see the pocket edition follow suit. We've seen the trends from the desktop come over to MCPE in the past, take MC Realms and Pocket Realms for example, an announced upcoming multiplayer server 'rental' service from Mojang. And the updates for MCPE have been mounting up slowly getting all the functionality from the desktop version into MCPE, a notable leap has been the addition of external servers for mobile devices making it possible to join PocketMine servers without having to hack your way around.

This takes MCPE to a similar point in development as normal MC, we've got a successful API for the server versions (Created by a 3rd party - similar to Bukkit) but nothing out yet in terms of an official Plugin-like API.


This isn't the end of the world, if you're looking for mods to play with some people have managed to hack their way around the MCPE code and an ordered list of mods can be found here. The modding scene for MCPE is just kicking off and is looking very promising but official support would be very welcomed in the form of a Plugin API-like mobile adaption.

text

Redpower


I'm afraid that this isn't an update announcement, nor is it another message slagging Eloraam off. This is just a constructive analysis of the past few months of RedPower, it's development and it's controversy.

Redpower has been around for ages (2010?) and has played a major part in the original breakthrough Tekkit as well as FTB. It became the mod of choice for anyone seeking an industrial twist to MC with a lean on Redstone and the revolutionary Bluetricity providing an endless amount of machine design. So after all of this accomplishment why have we suddenly seen this mod disappear from our packs and our game? Below are the three main reasons i've put together to explore:

The pack doesn't update

Many people have been unable to use the mod due to a lack of updates. As of now the latest version of RedPower is 1.4.7 and given that the current MC version is 1.7.2 you can see why people wouldn't be able to play given that their favourite mod packs are well ahead.

So why doesn't Eloraam just update the code? Maintaining a mod of this size and complexity is not an easy task. As I understand it Eloraam has a pretty busy job and has tweeted in the past of her work stopping her from doing further development towards RedPower - This is understandable but it has been over 6 months since the last update.


People aren't appreciative of RedPower any-more

Many people saw the release cycles grind to a halt and bailed out towards the end. On top of that Technic pulled the mod from newer variants of Tekkit:

And to quote Cheap Shot from Technic:

We're most interested in delivering a solid experience. Can't make it a popularity contest and stubbornly stick with the celebs just because they're well known. IC2 and Redpower were both cornerstone mods but new modders have stepped up to produce some amazing work. We've always been about highlighting the amazing work of modders and showing them off to the community. With the new mod lineup for Tekkit, we see a lot of those modders who are easily going to become the next big recognized names. Most of their mods replace a lot of the IC2 and Redpower functionality with their own takes, which in many ways are a bit more cutting edge and easier on computer performance. Take that with the fact that Redpower has always been the major holdup for every pack update adding weeks onto release dates. We think it's just time to move on. Just have to grit our teeth and weather the initial knee jerk reactions until people realize that these new mods are on a whole new level, and this update is probably going to be the best in a long time.

Response to a forum post on Technic's Forums

Which caused her to cut ties with them - 'I like that modpack' clearly an underlying message intended for Technic. FTB's continued support in their older packs seem to hold Eloraam loyalty. It's understandable that you would seriously consider stopping development if such a large chunk of your fan base was forced to move away from your mod, but the underlying fact remains that Eloraam couldn't stay on top of updates.


There are many mods that perform similar functionality

The mechanical and industrial implantation is no longer a RedPower exclusive feature. There's always been Buildcraft and IC2, but more recently the likes of Universal Electricity and its fleet of interconnected mods have been introduced into the Technic and FTB platforms. They have given old mod fans a new experience and new players will not even be aware of what RedPower was like.

On the controversial side of things Project Red is a new mod that has sought to become a replacement for RedPower 2. Unfortunately Eloraam made the sourcecode for RedPower unavailable and thus the authors of Project Red had to start from scratch. Many questions have been raised since its launch, mainly regarding the ethics of taking someone's idea and putting it into practice. Eloraam is given credit but it is clearly a new and separate mod. This mod has continued to grow and has been put in many packs, no real trouble has brewed since the release of the mod.


So to conclude...

It's fair to say that Eloraam has done more than enough by creating the original ideas behind RedPower. And although she still receives credit for the new implementation of RedPower she must clearly be unhappy with its arrival given the closed source of RedPower and general secrecy of the project.


Be sure to check out:

Eloraam's Twitter

Project Red on MCF

RedPower + Eloraam's Official Blog

text

1.7 And The Long Wait

As you may well be aware, MC 1.7 was released a few weeks ago, but unusually there seems to be no Bukkit or Forge releases!

This is mainly down to the massive log of changes Mojang made. Out of the long, endlessly rolling changelog, two things stood out:

  • Completely rewrote how the network (multiplayer) works.
  • Completely rewrote the sound manager.

The past few updates have been a major overhaul to some parts of the game, most notably content packs and the new approach for sounds and textures.

All of these look to me like a serious effort to prepare MC for The Plugin API - This wouldn't come as a surprise given that much of the Bukkit team have been working at Mojang since February 2012 on this project.


At Minecon 2012 there was a lot of talk about The Plugin API, but since then we haven't had much in the way of demos, teasers or feedback of any kind. This seems to be very much still in the planning stages. But they did explain very clearly what we're looking to expect from it, something similar to the current Bukkit system where independent JAR files are added or removed from the game to change functionality. Also the development method will also be similar to what Bukkit has, you'll be expected to compile a JAR file with popular IDEs like Eclipse.


Why will Authors prefer Forge? There's been a lot of talk over how distribution will occur, Mojang have said that they're going to be releasing all the files from a platform they control. This may be safe, but current Authors receive donations and monetise the use of Adfly links, Mojang have made it clear that there will be no monetisation of Plugins hosted on their platform, raising the question of whether Authors will prefer Forge for its decentralised approach.


At Minecon 2013 we were introduced to Michael Stoyke, the founder of MCP - A popular tool used by the majority of modders. This shows an increased effort by Mojang to get the API out ASAP, and this guy will hopefully bring a lot of the features modders love to the upcoming API.

We also got introduced to Ryan Holtz who is covering graphics and rendering - Something Mojang expressed needed a lot of work to make it less intensive as Plugins are expected to add a lot of stress to a currently heavy game.



So as you can see there's a lot of good ideas and developments behind these radical updates. We've been told to expect a release in 2014 for The API which isn't that bad, but it would be nice to see some spoilers and releases of the system in the meantime!