Sunday, December 4, 2011

A statement on Minecraft mods copying features from each other

[Update: See also Notch doesn't really mind direct ripoffs of Minecraft and Jeb's statement at Minecon 2012, Mojang addresses copying and Minecraft modder conduct.]

In No One Cares About Your Cool Game Idea, Mike Birkhead, Senior Game Designer at Vigil Games, said:

Ideas are worthless. The only currency that holds any weight is the ability and drive to execute. That awesome game idea you have, the one that’s going to “change everything”, the one that you’re going to sell for a million dollars, the one that no one has come up with yet… frankly, no one gives a shit. Harsh, but then, the truth is not pleasant; it is just that, the truth. [my emphasis]

Copying ideas and features is okay. (Copying code or textures is not, unless it is open source and the copying is compliant with the license.)

Notch himself copied the idea of the final boss fight. Years ago, before many Minecraft players were born, someone named Scorpia used to write a column for the magazine Computer Gaming World. So many games ended with a final boss fight that she coined the name Foozle as a generic one for a final boss. Since we hadn't expected it, many of us were surprised when Notch chose to make Minecraft a Kill-the-Foozle game.

The game industry has been copying itself for years! The software industry, too. Have you ever used a spreadsheet? I bet it wasn't Dan Bricklin's VisiCalc.

Many of the cases so far of mods implementing each other's features are the result of parallel development, not copying.

We've been in the early, "wild west" phase of mod development, where it was frequently possible to write the first mod to implement a particular feature. As the Minecraft mod scene matures and it becomes harder to achieve a "first", we will increasingly see mods incorporating each other's features.

In cases where parallel development isn't involved, when implementing a feature from another mod the polite modder will acknowledge the mod that served as inspiration.

But above all, no modder should criticize another modder for copying, or imply a lack of creativity. Copying is merely a sign that the "wild west" phase of Minecraft modding is coming to a close. 

[This post first appeared on the Minecraft Forum.]


  1. Steve Jobs knows this all too well.

  2. "I bet it wasn't Dan Bricklin's VisiCalc."
    I used VisiCalc on Apple ][ :)

  3. What surprises me is how unselective people are in their accusations. People made out that the developer of RedPower (Eloraam) copied Flax (a fibrous plant for making string & some other stuff) from Better Than Wolves... Yet BTW had already copied the idea from other earlier mods...

    Whether or not these were genuine copies or great minds thinking alike I won't dare to guess, but nobody cared that BTW had 'stolen' earlier ideas.

    1. Yeah flax is in Runecraft too, where it is solely used to make... bowstrings.

    2. Not to mention the fact that flax is a real plant that does real... whatever it is that plants do...
      The point is you can't accuse that as copying any more than you can accuse having playable characters in your game coping

  4. BTW died for me when it was released for 1.0.0.
    *** The Mod That is Incompatible With Everything!!! *** (cite from MFforums)
    Seriously, when you can't ose ANY of the mods you used before, just to get some crap from wolves and use of elevators (that one WAS quite usable ok 1.8.1, when you could transport for example Flan's planes), with serious limitations (redstone, FLAT tracks and etities only).
    On the other hand, Eloraam's RedPower made great "IT" platform (when that announced computer block is in usable shape, there's no need for those quotes, really) that's compatible with nearly anything (of course, that anything must be programmed to allow compability with other mods, unlike, for example, BTW), that makes that mod quite essential for me. Seriously, if I have installed modLoader, then you can be damn sure there!s also RP. (and Forge too of course).

    As for the copying, all mods are old ideas. Minecraft itself is collection of old ideas, just being among the first and most known for bringing them in computer gaming world. When you mod something, that's at least partially based on real world physics, you'll most likely end up using idea from real world to make it work in minecraft. Flax? Used a lot to make string and fabric of it. Hemp? Ropes, sacks. Planes? Windmills? Do you know any mod that isn't already something in real world, another game, movie, book? It's just a matter of time when somebody comes and makes that mod. Minecraft is a good platform for that (theoretically, meaning it's a sandbox, not so great to make mods for... It has its bugs and weaknesses).

  5. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery

  6. If Eloraam didn't have ten times the class of FC, I'd recommend she rename RP to BTD...

    Better Than Dung!

    1. ^ this
      I have two issues with BTW
      a. "Better Than Wolves" I thought it was that mod that let you dress up your wolves for months.
      b. Why did he quit Forge?? Have a look at pneumatic tubes, they are worlds away from BC tubes both have their own uses. And to be honest the mod isn't that amazing (he seems to think it is the next big thing) mainly due to its lack of functionality (BC showed us that mods are funnest when you can mix and match things to get amazing results).

  7. @Agahnim
    You dont see the point of BTW. It's not about making a whole new system like other tech mods do but rather about extending the exsisting capabilitys of minecraft. Personally I have 2 minecraft folders one with BTW and one with the other major tech mods. They both feel entirely different and are part of any minecraft version i download. I'm really sorry for thoose whho aren't able to enjoy both packs because of the hate they feel.

  8. As a user I like it when mods copy each others features. It means that I can choose thoose which implement it the way I like it.

    A mod author complaining abaout "stolen" Ideas is only a author who fears competiton.

    Competion makes all mods better. Also there are alternatives in case someone stops development.

    Do not make war. Make mods! :)

  9. I personally think the time has come for all modders to unite and make modding standards. A bit like Forge and Modloader do. almost every mod that uses these two mods is compatible with each other (asides from identical block ideas, and that's changable) and what do we see?

    The Yogbox and Technicpack, two large mod compilations, where dozens of mods work together to make from Minecraft a game unseen in the past.

    Yet still we see that it could be better. The Aether and BTW - two beautiful and incredible mods - left out of these packs. because they are not compatible.

    1. Yeah it's a shame the Aether uses its own API (the shock-ah API better known as the Aether API) and that BTW left the Forge zone. But yes they would be awesome together.

  10. Every mod has its downfall and every mod has its upside i.e.

    Minecraft Forge: When minecraft updates your looking at a good 2 weeks until a new version, though they do have THE BEST API for modders.

    RedPower: This mod is compatible with anything, but it implements stuff a lot of mods already have.

    BTW: This mod (as stated before) is incompatible with almost everything, but it does have almost everything.

    1. Have you used Pneumatic tubes??? They are so much better than anything I have ever seen. BC & IC2 got in early with their ideas but Eloraam took them and made them really really really really nice.
      MC Forge does have pretty slow update times, really they need a better version control so they can have lots of people working together on the updates.

    2. What about Logistics Pipes, they are (in my opinion) far better than Pneumatic tubing.

  11. I find it is one ol whom the idea one copy mods to post his own mod as long as one does not steal the surce code.
    (sry 4 bad English)

  12. All of the copycat drama is just a product of the immaturity of the Minecraft fanbase. Many Minecraft fans are young and dumb and it shows.

  13. Mod making seems to not follow with the ideals of capitalism:

    You get competition, make your version better.

    Their ideals (As I see them...):

    You get competition, rage and complain about it. Then keep going down the exact same path you were before.

    There's a reason capitalism works. Try going with it, and see what happens. (Anyone who denies that capitalism works needs to look at the U.S. during WWII, that much industrial might was only capable through competition for contracts from the gov't. If it wasn't for that: D Day wouldn't have been possible; Pearl Harbor would have forever destroyed the U.S. navy; the Allies would have lost; etc.)

  14. It is rather a problem the way many people may think than competition or capitalism. (Both are consequences out of it, for example)
    Most people are like little kids. They reach a point where they stop to develop further and just getting older.
    They sould learn 2 share and expand their minds for everyone's sake.
    Keep up the good work and dont let you drag down!

    (Hope i made myself clear, havent had training in english for a while :) )