Thursday, December 8, 2011

Status of the Modding Community

It has been some time since I last posted, so I thought I'd better bring anyone who reads this up to date on our current status. Minecon has come to pass, and with it the final release version (1.0.0) of Minecraft! While this is a landmark indeed for Mojang and all the fans of the Minecraft game, it leaves the community split for a temporary time.  For those who want to upgrade their clients to version 1.0.0, it means leaving behind (most) community mods and plug-ins. This is until the developers of those mods and plug-ins can update their code for 1.0.0 compatibility. However, since Mojang has not released an official mod API, the developer community have some of their own tools to support altering code.  This can be frustrating enough, with some mods that use the same API tools working well together while conflicting with others that use a different developer environment.  But it gets more complicated when one group of devs are trying to update their API, other devs that use that API cannot update their mod until the underlying API has completed the update process.

This is especially predominant with the Bukkit tool. A very useful tool, Bukkit has a huge following of server administrators that use this powerful tool for multiplayer plug-in support. While working as fast as they can, the Bukkit team have the monumental task of re-writing the Minecraft Java code, with only an obfuscated version of the code as a blueprint. People are getting anxious, but it takes time laying out such a powerful platform, and finding all the important bugs, going back and tweaking it endlessly. The real advantage of the Bukkit plugin software is that it can bring lots of neat server-side features without the players worrying about client incompatibility. It is with its own limitations, however. If one wants to add new kinds of blocks, recipes, or a major functionality to a game server, you need client mod support.

So far, the only way in which a community can play together with mods installed, is if every client has a version of the same mods installed. This is very troublesome for system admins, since any player wanting to join without the correct modifications to their game installed (and the same version numbers) will be left out in the cold, unable to join. It is important to understand that for most PC/Mac users it is difficult to modify their game client. Some devs include a nice installer for easy accessibility, while many do not. Even when all mods in question have an easy method of installation, it fall on the players responsibility to install each and every required mod, and to update them when new versions are released. For many who just want to join in on some fun without any hassle, it becomes a tedious process.

So in short, I am patiently waiting like so many other admins out there. Some are waiting to update their server application to version 1.0.0, instead still using the older 1.8 CraftBukkit in order to still use any mods or Bukkit plugins. Since we have a fresh new community, I have full release version compatibility, and instead I am waiting for the modding community to catch up. I have been keeping my eyes on many different mods that can add a whole lot of content to my server, and it is clear that the best way of attracting players is by providing lots of new activities. My next post I'll go in depth on that subject.

Until then, may your patience reward you with satisfaction.

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