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Mojang: “Kind of silly” not to put modders first

Monday, 30th January 2012 03:02 GMT By Brenna Hillier

A proper modding API is high on Mojang’s priority list because modders have way more Minecraft development manpower than the tiny independent team.

“We really need to open up the game for other developers to add mods, and share mods, and run servers more easily. So, what I mean is I will work less on features, and more on the engine part of the game,” Jens “Jeb” Bergensten told Gamasutra of his intentions as newly incumbent lead designer on Minecraft.

“It kind of feels silly of me to sit and work three days to add a new animal to the game when there are thousands of people who would like to spend three days to add an animal to the game, so that’s why I changed my priorities.”

Minecraft’s development team is essentially one, although a new staff member joined the studio early this year to assist with both Scrolls and Minecraft. Bergensten said improving mod support will help people get to the game they want to play, independent of Mojang’s vision.

“People have very different opinions about what you’re supposed to be able to do in the game. Like, some people really hate the adventure and RPG part of the game, and some people want more of that, more dragons and whatever. Some people want more engineering tools. Some people hate engineering tools because they don’t understand how Redstone works anyway,” he explained.

“So, the good thing about mods is that then we can let people who really want to specialize on one part of the game, we can tell them, ‘Here’s a really great mod. Just install it. You’ll have fun.’”

Unfortunately, it’s not an easy task, and it will be some time yet before people cna make entirely new games using Minecraft,

“We would have to put a lot of effort on the mod API because that will have to allow the game to really change,” Jeb said.

“I’m not sure if you’ve heard of a game called Ace of Spades. It’s a Minecraft game but with rifles, so it’s kind of like Day of Defeat combined with Minecraft. And it would be really cool if you could actually do that without actually hacking the client. If everything just sort of started the game in that setting, and that worked. I mean, it will take us a while before we have reached that point, but it will be nice.

Thanks, Blue. [image]

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1 Comments

  1. TheWulf

    Those are good priorities to have, Jeb. It seems like their focus is in the right place.

    I’ve always agreed with this, actually. I’m a coder, so I’m more than well aware that bug fixing is actually more difficult than adding new features. Anyone can add a new item, or a new feature, and then they’ll discover down the line that it doesn’t actually work that well – and it doesn’t play nicely with all the other elements of their mod.

    What happens then is that there are tens or hundreds of versions of that mod which are in an endless beta as the designer tries to clean up functionality before adding in new features, and then they get caught up in a bug fix cycle and they leave adding feature requests to other modders, since they have a lot on their plate.

    If Minecraft were to add features in the way the mods do, with only one person developing, then the game would fall apart. Because as anyone with a good head on their shoulders should realise – down that path lies madness. Even with a team of 10 they would never be able to keep up with lal the modders. So their priorities are in the right place.

    Their priorities should be to make modding easier for modders, to make in-game integration easier for modders, and to keep the game optimised and bug free for modders. That way, people can pick and choose the features they want from what modders have on offer, and they can decide what’s too much, what’s impacting their gaming QoL or performance.

    Here’s something to think about…

    Early on in its life, Firefox was exceedingly popular for exactly this reason – though I feel that lately Mozilla has lost their way, and Firefox has become a bit of a buggy mess because of it. But early on in the life of Firefox, their position was that they just wanted to make a barebones browser that was stable, optimised, and performed well.

    They also introduced a modding API via Jaavscript and XUL.

    Now, early on in the days of Firefox, you could pick out your extensions and decide how much you wanted. Was that tabulation extension too much, did it eat into your system resources in ways you didn’t appreciate? Then you’d pick that tabulation plugin, which was much lighter. Or perhaps no tabulation plugin at all.

    And so it was. Though Mozilla eventually lost their way and they kept piling on features on top of features, and this resulted in Firefox having memory leaks and CPU usage spikes. They’ve got the memory leaks partly under control of late, at least, but it’s still a mess.

    The moral of the story is that if we let Mojang handle the content updates, then it’s going to go the way of Firefox, and as I said – down that path lies madness. They need to concentrate on the core software, because bugfixing what they already have and providing a strong, stable base with good performance for modders and mod users is the best thing they can do with it.

    #1 3 years ago

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