Iberia: Goals

So, in my last post I outlined how I went from being a vanilla Minecraft player to deciding to create a mod of my own. In this one, I’ll lay out the goals for Iberia. In short, they are to:

  • Increase the difficulty of Minecraft while
  • Preserving the vanilla feel,
  • Enhancing the gameplay, and
  • Encouraging the user of under-appreciated Minecraft features

Increasing the difficulty of Minecraft

This first goal is really the core¬†of the mod. After playing for a few months, vanilla Minecraft was just too easy. Even on hardcore, it’s mostly not hard to stay alive, which means that when you die its due to a stupid accident. That makes hardcore engaging in some ways, but once you’ve made that one misstep the whole game is over. I like a good hardcore game, but I also want to be able to keep playing (with serious consequences) after a death. So Iberia is trying to make Minecraft harder than hardcore in some ways: let’s make the actual gameplay take some thought, require some work and skill that just isn’t necessary in hardcore. But it’s also letting it be easier, in the sense that you can respawn after death.

Preserving the vanilla feel

The goal of preserving the vanilla feel comes from my own enjoyment of vanilla Minecraft. I don’t want a big mod with so many esoteric changes that it requires a whole new wiki to document everything. I want to spend my time playing Minecraft, not reading a wiki. Where possible, Iberia should be usable without knowing anything about it, just by playing the game and adjusting to the challenges that naturally present themselves to you.

Enhancing the gameplay

The goal of enhancing gameplay is really about recognizing that making Minecraft harder should never make it boring, or a grind, or just plain silly. Enhancing gameplay is about making Minecraft more fun and more realistic. But not too realistic. Because perfect realism would make Minecraft as boring as real life. The challenges in Iberia should be challenges that make you grin and say, “yeah, let’s do this!”. When you fail, you still feel like it’s possible and want to try again, because it’s fun no matter the outcome. And if you accomplish them, you should be proud, more so than in vanilla Minecraft.

Encouraging the use of under-appreciated Minecraft features

While it’s clear that mods greatly expand the number of cool things you can do in Minecraft, Iberia should point players to all the cool things in vanilla Minecraft that are under appreciated. It’s so easy to start a new world, start your mine, get all the stuff you need, and build a base, while not ever enjoying significant parts of the game. Have you ever built an armor stand? If so, have you ever used it? Have you ever dyed leather armor? Have you ever gone caving for diamonds? Do you ever write in books? If we can make those features fun to use and fit into accomplishing new challenges, all the better.

So, how does Iberia do all this? Well, it’s still a work in progress, so your ideas are welcome. But it does exist, with at least a few unique challenges already available. Plus, I’ve got a decent backlog of ideas that I’m excited to add and then use when I’m playing. But I’ll save the challenges for future posts.

Iberia: Genesis

After playing Minecraft for over a year, I thought I would never use mods.

So how is it that less than a year later I’m now developing a Minecraft mod?

Well, let’s go back about a year. At the time I really enjoyed playing Minecraft single player. I was building cool stuff, and just enjoying myself. To add to the challenge of the game I would limit¬†myself in certain ways. For example, I might start a new world and not allow branch mining until I had diamonds. Or I just wouldn’t allow branch mining at all. Combine that with hardcore mode, and you’ll have good incentive to stay on your toes.

Even so, I was getting a little bored with it, so I decided it was time to try out multi-player. I found a great vanilla server and joined and played for quite a while. When looking for a server to join, I knew I wanted vanilla. Vanilla Minecraft has plenty of complexity and I was excited to change up my gameplay by doing it with other players. The server I joined was resetting when I happened upon it, so I got to be there on day one, and helped build out the spawn area, and then built up a nice base for myself in a mega taiga. I found a double spawner near my base, tackled an ocean temple, helped defeat the ender dragon, etc. Life was good.

And then I quit the server. Well, actually, not officially. I may go back at some point. I keep an eye on the forum, and love to see the cool stuff they’re building, but my time got sucked away when I set up an SMP world for me and my three sons. And it was awesome. And it was vanilla, of course. We built our own spawn area, conquered the ender dragon, defeated a wither, etc. I started a nice base, and helped them work on their bases. But after doing all the “achievements” the boys slowly lost interest, and we stopped playing together.

So, because my kids lost interest in Minecraft I was on the lookout for a way to renew it. The only mods that had ever appealed to me were biome and terrain generation mods. But I stumbled on Quark one day and it felt like the perfect extension of vanilla Minecraft. We restarted a new world with two mods: Quark and Biomes O’Plenty. And it’s really cool. There’s all kinds of new stuff to explore, and all kinds of new stuff we can build.

As a software developer, I was impressed with the rapid releases of Quark, and, after looking at the github repository, how well organized and clean the code was. So I decided to go back to my original attempts to make Minecraft more interesting and see if I could make a mod in the style of Quark that was focused on upping the difficulty level without losing the vanilla feel of Minecraft.

Even better: what if I could up the difficulty level in ways that encouraged people to more fully explore the opportunities present in vanilla Minecraft?

And thus Iberia was conceived.