There is no denying that Minecraft has taken the internet by storm. First surfacing in mid-2009, the game went viral at its beta release in 2010. One of the biggest online gaming communities ever sprang up over the space of a couple of years, and we are constantly reminded of the game’s success with some Minecraft videos reaching over 1 million views each on youtube. As more and more features are added by the game’s developers, even more are added by users in the form of mods. This allows players to immensely add to the already-huge array of tools and blocks at the game’s disposal, as well as giving the player characters entirely new features and advantages against their enemy. This raises the question: is having no restrictions a good thing for Minecraft?
Let’s start with the good points. I couldn’t write an article about Minecraft mods without mentioning Tekkit. A combination of the finest mods ever made, Tekkit adds countless features to the game that cater for nearly every type of character. IndustrialCraft, BuildCraft and RedPower come with tekkit, three mods that allow high-tech machines such a quarries, terraformers and even teleporters to exist. Complex circuits with logic gates and ICs can e made, almost imitating real-life electronics. Combine features from all three of these and you can make an automated factory, producing anything from bread to electronic circuits. Tekkit also includes Equivalent Exchange, which adds sorcery to the game that far surpasses the enchanting and potion-making in vanilla Minecraft. The mod pack even includes ComputerCraft, which allows you to programme computers using a real programming language.
Tekkit is just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to Minecraft mods, however. Endless mods exist that add anything from a simple lighting upgrade, to paintball guns, to mini clay soldiers that fight each other to the death. This gives players enormous amounts of freedom, adding only the features that they like to enhance their experience. Also, bear in mind how easy Minecraft developers made it to mod the game. They practically welcomed experienced Java programmers with open arms. Even amateur programmers join in, seeing the opportunity to add to their favourite game irresistible.
Of course, there is downside to Minecaft mods, and in this case I’m referring to hacked clients. These are edited versions of the minecraft.jar file that give players abilities such as climbing walls, flying, chest-finder, radar and much more. These clients are used on multiplayer servers, where players using the normal client are left at the mercy of players who, thanks to their aimbots, never miss their enemy. Is this really fair? Many of you will comment on how you couldn’t care less about other players’ experiences, but bear in mind that anyone you unfairly kill and rob paid for the game as well as you, and they deserve a better experience than being slaughtered mindlessly.
What’s more, some clients are designed for destruction. Occasionally, a group of friends with a client will run rampage on a server, destroying the landscape and leaving nothing but a barren crater for the admins to clean up. As a former admin myself, I can’t stress how annoying this is. On some servers, admins spend hours building the perfect town or spawn area, only to see it destroyed by a player with a nuke or instant-break mod in their client.
To conclude, mods can shape Minecraft for better and for worse. While some mods ruin the game for everyone except the user, others add an entire new experience, and a whole new way of spending your time in the already-expansive in-game world. In my opinion, the sheer freedom of being able to add anything you want to the game, is the best thing that happened to the world since a guy named Markus Persson decided to put the words ‘mine’ and ‘craft’ together.