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Mods (short for modifications) are anything that changes Minecraft's game content from what it originally was. Mods are becoming increasingly popular and in-depth, adding whole new experiences and goals to the game.
Purpose of mods
Most mods in Minecraft add content to the game to alter gameplay, change the creative feel, or give the player more options in how they interact with the Minecraft world. Most people who mod Minecraft (known as modders) use Minecraft Coder Pack and either ModLoader or Minecraft Forge to do so. Some mods may be bigger expansions, such as the Aether, OreSpawn, and Twilight Forest mods, which add a significant amount of new content to the game, such as new blocks, mobs, abilities of the player(s), items to create and use, and even more dimensions to explore. Other mods, such as Optifine, add more settings and options to optimizing speed, graphics, or gameplay of the game. Others, such as MystCraft and Portal Gun, bring another game's features and experiences into Minecraft. Others are "Toy mods" that bring another less useful but entertaining and playful experience to Minecraft. Still others make the game harder, like the Hostile Worlds Mod, or easier, like the Familiars Mod. An example is tech mods, such as Buildcraft and IndustrialCraft2, which can make Minecraft easier, but often add harder objectives of their own. Another example is magic mods, such as Ars Magica 2 and Thaumcraft 4, which add forms of magic into Minecraft, and just like the tech mods, can make Minecraft easier, but often add harder objectives of their own. Server mods or plugins mainly give server admins more options and ease of use, and most mods for single-player have a server version that allows or optimizes the mod in multiplayer.
Ideally, the creator of a mod updates the mod whenever the game updates (often however, not all updates are made, only popular updates such as 1.7.10, 1.6.4, and 1.5.2) - bringing more content, bug fixes, or optimizations. Otherwise, the mod may not work with a newer version. Many in the community appreciate the additional experience and ease of use that come with mods, while others play the vanilla (unmodded) game with only the original content. Minecraft mods are generally safe to install, but one should exercise caution with mods to prevent crashes, deletion of game or save data, system instability, or potential malware infections from a bad link or the mod itself. Mods on the Minecraft Forums are almost always safe to install (and anything that isn't usually has either no replies or replies saying that it isn't safe). A useful way to protect your game from such problems (excluding malware, which requires anti-malware software for protection), is to back up various files, such as the .minecraft folder, if you choose to use mods.
Mods are also available for the Pocket Edition, Via Jailbreaking on iOS, and through an app named "BlockLauncher (Free and Pro)" on Android devices. Mods are not available for the Console Versions.
Client mods are modifications to your game files themselves. They are not custom clients, and they require modification of minecraft.jar. Like high resolution textures, they only work with the launchers, and won't work if you play through a browser.
As the Minecraft server software will ignore custom content from client side, most of the client mods which add new content to the game do not work in SMP unless a modification has also been installed on the server. Some authors of client mods have made server versions of their mods available, and others have not. A few of the Loader/API type client mods (e.g. ModLoader and AudioMod) and many of the functional client mods (e.g. Optifine, Rei's Minimap and TooManyItems) have effect in SMP straight away, without any modification on server side.
Server mods are modifications to the official Minecraft server software.
Server mods are commonly designed to make administration of servers easier by implementing tiered privileges for commands (such as kicking, banning etc.). They are frequently implemented as "wrappers" which do not actually modify the main server .jar file, instead monitoring its output and sending commands to it.
All-in-one server mod with great stability and lots of features.
Successor of Canary Classic, a fork of hMod
|CanaryMod QR Special Edition||Homepage
A popular mod API with its own server software.
Spoutcraft is a work of the Glowstone Project
|LoginMessage||Adds login message (similar to motd) to the vanilla server. Allows for cave mapping and entities radar in Rei's MiniMap to work in SMP on non-Bukkit server. (To see it, show the spoiler under 'How to Enable Cave mapping / Entities radar on SMP'.)||v0.5||Forum||1.6.2|
|MC Port Central||
Modified Server combining forge with Bukkit allowing you to play mods and bukkit plugins on the same server.
|Build #18||Ported Mods for 1.4.6||1.7.2|
Mod packs (often called modpacks or just packs) are collections of (often 50 or more) mods that have been put together and configured so that they will all work together. Mod packs are often centered around a general theme like tech, quests, or magic. Mod packs often have either custom launchers or installers that make installing and running the mod pack easy. Some of the more popular mod packs are Feed The Beast, Tekkit, and Hexxit. Mod packs are almost always to be installed on the client (and the server if you want to play multiplayer), rather than just the server.
Mods and bugs
If you install a mod, no matter how simple, it may stop the game from working properly. If that happens, there is not much point reporting bugs on the bug tracker, because Mojang does not support modified versions of the game. If you encounter a problem while using mods and want to report it, first remove all of your mods and see if the problem still happens. To use an unmodded version you must go to "Edit Profile" in the launcher, choose a version, and then log in. If the problem continues to happen, it can be reported on the bug tracker. Otherwise, try to reproduce the problem with the fewest possible number of mods, and then report the problem to the author(s) of those mods; Mojang won't be able to help.
If 'Minecraft crashes, a modified game is flagged in the crash report. The following link explains how to obtain a crash report. (Note: If your Minecraft has never crashed, following those instructions won't find anything.)
The crash report text will include a line near the top which will say one of:
Is Modded: Probably not. Jar signature remains and client brand is untouched Is Modded: Very likely Is Modded: Definitely: client brand changed to (present loader, such as "fml,forge" or modloader)
A shortened example crash report is given below:
Minecraft has crashed! ---------------------- Minecraft has stopped running because it encountered a problem; Unexpected error --- BEGIN ERROR REPORT 1aa09c6 -------- Generated 03/09/12 12:00 - Minecraft Version: 12w34a - Operating System: Windows 7 (amd64) version 5.2 - Java Version: 1.7.0_03, Oracle Corporation - Java VM Version: Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (mixed mode), Oracle Corporation - Memory: 500000000 bytes (500 MB) / 600000000 bytes (600 MB) up to 900000000 bytes (900 MB) - LWJGL: 2.4.2 - OpenGL: NVidia ABC 999 Ti/PCI/SSE2 GL version 0.9.0, NVIDIA Corporation - Is Modded: Probably not. Jar signature remains and client brand is untouched - Type: Client - Profiler Position: N/A (disabled) - World MpServer Entities: 1 total; [anx['Blockbuilder567'/1135, l='MpServer', x=8.50, y=66.62, z=8.50]] ...
The code that checks for mods is fairly simple, and it's not always correct; it may say 'probably not' even with mods installed. However, it's very difficult to get the 'very likely' message if you haven't modified minecraft.jar somehow, so that's essentially a 'yes'. There's also a 'definitely' message, seen when a Bukkit server crashes and under other similar circumstances, like when the Minecraft Forge API is installed.
'Probably not' appears when the client/server brand appears to the in-game check to be unaltered (often termed 'vanilla') and the META-INF folder is still there. 'Very likely' appears when the META-INF folder is not present but the client/server brand seems to be vanilla. 'Definitely' plus the client name appears when the client is not vanilla. For example, you might see something like:
Is Modded: Definitely: Client brand changed to 'fml,forge'
Official Plugin API
The Plugin API is an upcoming feature that allows modders to easily add more content to the game. For more information, see the above link.
How to install mods
The above links provide comprehensive guides on how to install mods using Modloader and Minecraft Forge (Please note, Forge is no longer dependent on ModLoader). Some mods have auto-installers that make adding mods to Minecraft extremely easy for the beginner mod user. If you are an advanced mod user you would know that it also involves extracting and adding modified files manually which create a different feel or certain type of gameplay to Minecraft.
How to create mods
The above link will try to assist in how to create mods, including the usage of APIs.
Modding programs and editors
The above link gives showcases tools for installing and making mods.