Is modding right for your project?

Getting started in game design is tough.  Starting your own project from scratch and trying to build it into a real game is a long and challenging road.  The learning curve is steep.  What if you want a gentler introduction into game design, an easier learning curve?  You can mod other peoples games.  On Tuesdays we’re going to start exploring modding a popular game.  This week, as an intro to modding we’re going to discuss the pro’s and cons of modding, and reveal my selection for the game to mod.  In future weeks Tuesdays are going to be all about modding that game.

Pro’s of Modding:

  • Fast
  • Low pressure (your not on a development team after all)
  • Overhead is done
  • Good way to learn design of game mechanics


  • Most likely not going to be doing it professionally.
  • Not going to make much money from it.
  • Possibly confusing if there aren’t any other modders out there.

What are some great games to Mod?

  • Starcraft
  • Starcraft 2
  • Any Unreal engine
  • Minecraft

We’re going to focus on Minecraft.  This may not seem like the best choice from a coding standpoint.  Java is not optimal for game design.  This has to do with how Java manages garbage collection.  Basically it tries to handle it automatically, which is hard to code around.  However Java has some major advantages.  It works well on the net.  Minecraft can be played in a browser window.  Additionally Minecraft has a large and growing fan base, and finding good tutorials, video, and other information is getting easier all the time.

Getting started with Modding Minecraft
Once the code is no longer obfuscated (there are programs to help you do that) Minecraft is actually really easy to work with if you want to play around with some basics.  As you learn more you can explore more deeply into the engine, like the fellow in the linked letter to Notch.  I have not yet done this, so I don’t want to speak to how easy it is to alter the basic game engine…  Well not at this time anyway.  But the learning opportunity is there.


  • The New Boston: Start with this site to learn the basics of Java, and also the more advanced Java Game Programming.
  • AKAhenry: Henry has some Minecraft Specific tutorials on the basics of coding minecraft.  His website is brand new, and it looks like he’s planning on adding more content and more videos.
  • On my Youtube channel there are some links to various tips and advice.  They are mostly the same topics as AKA Henry, but it’s worth while to check them out and hear the same information put in a different way.  More will be added over time.  Also check out my liked videos for lots of Minecraft related stuff.

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