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Tips for Making Better Minecraft Mods - Volume I

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Geforce avatar Geforce
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Level 63 : High Grandmaster Modder
Hello, and welcome to the first (and hopefully not last) edition of my "Making Better Mods" series of posts. In these posts, I hope to provide some tips and suggestions for new and beginning modders on making their first mods. Hopefully, this will help people to avoid some of the mistakes that I made when I first started modding back in 2013. Also, I'll try to provide some insight into growing your mod's userbase and making a more well-liked and popular mod.

1) Hand-made mods > MCreator mods

Yes, this one was inevitable. “But, but…. that means that I have to learn how to code!”, you scream at me. Java is one of the easiest and most intuitive programming languages for beginners that I have seen. It really shouldn’t take a whole lot of time for a beginner to learn the basics of Java. While a lot of people resort to using MCreator as a way of making Minecraft mods because of a lack of programming knowledge, 99% of mods made using that tool are very similar. They usually add a few new sets of (typically overpowered) tools and weapons, a few new ore blocks, a basic biome, and maybe a mob or two and that’s it. When mods were first coming out for Minecraft back in 2010 or 2011, this may have been enough for some players to start using your mod, but this is not true now. Mods today can add hundreds of highly customized mobs, dozens of machines that consume electricity and communicate with each other, or entirely new dimensions that have been developed and worked on for years. A simple tool or ore mod made by MCreator just won’t cut it nowadays.

2 ) Be original!

Going along with the above point, originality is key with new mods. There’s nothing to differentiate your new emerald tools mod from the other 763 identical emerald tool mods already out there. Unfortunately, new ideas are hard to come by nine years into Minecraft modding. A lot of mod ideas that you can come up with have either already been made or are currently being made. Don’t fret though! If you can find a small niche idea to work on, that’s perfect. Even if your mod isn’t huge, if it’s different and is something that other players want, it’ll be noticed, and exposure is what you what. If you can get a few Youtubers to make videos on your mod, that’ll really help to advertise your mod and promote downloads.

                  Tips for Making Better Minecraft Mods - Volume I

3) Don’t ignore visuals

It’s not only about what your mod does that will help its success. Players also want features added by your mod to be visually appealing. There’s a reason why resource packs like SphaxBDCraft or Faithful have millions of downloads, and that’s because they look incredible. You can immediately tell once you toggle those packs on that a lot of effort went into making them look awesome. The same principles apply to mods. Spending four minutes using the fill tool in Paint probably won’t make your textures look all that great. Take some time to make the textures of the blocks, GUIs, or mobs that your mod adds look really detailed. Doing so will leave a really good first impression on players.

4) Open-source code

Making your mod open source is one of the most helpful things that you can do when it comes to mods. First of all, if you use a website like GitHub, you create an online backup of any and all changes that you make. If you ever end up (and you will!) accidentally making a mod-breaking or conflicting change, you have everything backed up on the cloud and can easily revert to the old code. No more having to worry about keeping physical backups on your PC! Secondly, open-source code allows other modders to contribute to your code. If a person that uses your mod happens to stumble on its GitHub repository and knows of a feature that they would like to add, they may decide to make it for you instead of asking you to add it for them. Who wouldn’t like free additions to your mod? Even if someone doesn’t want to create a totally new feature for it, they may be able to contribute translations or textures for it. Every little bit helps. Third, open-source project benefits other modders. If you have a unique feature in your mod that other people want to use, they’ll be able to look at your GitHub repository and use a portion of your code (depending on your mod’s license). This helps everyone improve their mods by allowing modders to share ideas and code. Lastly, if you ever happen to stop developing your mod, by making it open source, you allow other modders to pick it up and continue updating it in the future. You have no idea how many awesome mods I’ve seen abandoned because the original author stopped working on it, and because it’s closed source, no one else can legally update it. At that point, it just becomes a dead legacy mod that exists but can’t be updated, and you don’t want that if you want your mod to be used for a long time.

5) Testing your mod before release

You would be surprised at how many modders don’t do this. They spend so much time making their submission look really pretty with artwork and writing out a detailed description of every single feature that their mod adds, and that’s great! But…. when you download the mod, it crashes at startup or the feature that you were so excited to use doesn’t work. That doesn’t leave a very good taste in players’ mouths. Who knows, they may not wait for you to fix the problem and may end up deleting your mod for good. You don’t want this to happen to your hard work! In my experience, so many of these issues could have been avoided if modders simply took ten minutes to try out their own mod in a regular modded game of Minecraft instead of in a development environment. Export your mod, install it into your own Minecraft installation, and start the game up. This way, you’ll be experiencing your mod just like how other players will be experiencing it. If you don’t run into any problems, you know that it’s working and is safe for other people to use. Obviously, you won’t be able to catch every bug in your mod, but at least problems like not being to start Minecraft with your mod installed won’t be an issue.

Five seems like a good number of suggestions to stop at. If fellow PMC users enjoy this, I'll definitely make some more. Be sure to leave any suggestions or feedback for me or other users down below.

Thanks for reading!
CreditRazzleberryFox, for creating my avatar used in the thumbnail of this post.

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05/10/2022 2:28 am
Level 29 : Expert Modder
Sweetygamer2 avatar
Great tips ! But i'm not sharing your idea on Mcreator as a member of the Unusual Squad :O The fact Mcreator is TOO easy to a point everyone can make an horribly ugly mod with basic elements and bad texture doesn't mean all Mcreator mods are bad, especially because most of the real modders (i mean by this : not 12yo kids) using Mcreator are editing a lot java code, and only using it because they want a way to create faster. That's in fact annoying to a point a good mod made by Mcreator, with great textures and ideas will be eliminated of every famous modpack "because it could be bugged or not optimized". Yes it's better not to use Mcreator but only because modpackers don't want to use Mcreator mods most of the time, even if they are great, bug-free and provide configs
02/24/2022 2:46 am
Level 1 : New Miner
Brian Mitchell
Brian Mitchell avatar
You can download mods here https://minesters.com/
12/04/2021 11:32 pm
Level 2 : Apprentice Miner
paulrmortal avatar
You can still code in MCreator, I just use it to make textures
12/24/2020 1:08 pm
Level 46 : Master Artist
Whispearl avatar
Good tips!
I actually personally use Mcreator, but not for everything. The thing about Mcreator these days actually recently, is that you can actually still use coding to do everything, and just use Mcreator for organizing your mod better ( which is what I do ).
10/24/2020 9:29 am
Level 14 : Journeyman Artist
BravePeas avatar
This article is amazing!
I like articles like this...
Could you pls do more?!
07/12/2019 10:22 am
Level 36 : Artisan Engineer
Ijd avatar
This is Great!
06/23/2019 5:37 am
Level 37 : Artisan Princess
Phrozen avatar
Definitely a good read! thanks for the tips! I'm currently working on something web-based and skin related and these tips apply there as well. Usually i don't care for visuals up until I have functionality implemented, maybe I should look at visuals a little more early on in development. Looking forward to more of this :D
06/23/2019 4:35 pm
Level 63 : High Grandmaster Modder
Geforce avatar
Oh, thanks for the compliment! Means a lot coming from an experienced developer like yourself. :)

(just a side note, the fan art on your profile looks amazing.)
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