Thursday, November 17, 2011

Notch acknowledges Minecraft's modding mess

Last week I wrote about the horrendous situation with Minecraft mods that resulted from Mojang's lack of leadership: Minecraft itself has some inconvenient limitations, incompatibilities between mods are common, there are multiple incompatible and competing mod APIs, and the difficulty involved with creating and installing mods has led to much frustration among mod developers and users.

I've been hoping that Mojang would take the opportunity offered by Minecon to address the mod situation and announce a solution, or at least a roadmap, and apparently that is a possibility. In his blog entry Soon., on Tuesday Notch said:
we have many exciting plans for the next year.. some of these will be announced fairly soon.

One thing that kind of fell between chairs is the mod support.. Sorry about that, I take full responsibility for letting that get forgotten about. But when it comes to the new launcher, it got folded into a new exciting project I won’t talk about yet.
It's unclear if the new exciting project involving the launcher is something we'll learn about at Minecon, or if "yet" is further in the future. Since he discusses them in practically the same breath, apparently the new launcher will include support for installing mods. One can only hope.

Unfortunately for Mojang, this delay by Notch in addressing the mod situation could end up proving to be costly. When you have an energetic user community numbering in the millions, many of whom are technically capable, they don't stand around waiting.

Last spring the Bukkit project was established as an admin and plugin API for Minecraft servers, and its use has become widespread. On its About Us page, Bukkit has made a clear statement of its independence:
...our design choice to keep in the mind the possibility of 3rd party Minecraft servers needing a modding and plugin interface. That being said, when any 3rd party developed Minecraft server becomes stable, Bukkit will be there to allow our collection of plugins to work with them too through a new interface, without any work required for the plugin author to make it compatible. [Emphasis not in original text.]
I've previously linked to Tim Edwards's PC Gamer article The game’s industry’s massive fail: where are all the Minecraft clones?, but one of the points he made bears repeating:
I honestly think the market for games like Minecraft is far, far larger than even Mojang have been able to exploit.
2012 will be the year that Minecraft begins to move beyond Mojang, and a viable third-party server could prove to be a significant factor in Minecraft becoming independent. This week at Minecon we may get an indication from Mojang's announcements regarding mod installation and APIs just how firmly Mojang will remain in the driver's seat.

1 comment:

  1. You are so right. The Minecraft mod situation is probably the biggest mess I have seen in 20+ years of building and using platforms. I cannot believe the lack of foresight and leadership from the Mojang team. Must be eating way too many magic brownies over there :-)