The silly and dramatic world of closed source Minecraft mods

The silly and dramatic world of closed source Minecraft mods

bart's picture

I likes me some Minecraft.  I bought it for $10 back when it was in alpha or pre-alpha or whatever, and I've gotten a lot of enjoyment out of playing it.   In the last half year or so, I've started getting into playing with mods and modpacks (that is, collections of mods that ostensibly function well together), which I feel add a lot to the experience and longevity of the game.  While Mojang isn't the greatest about mod support (they've been promising and failing to deliver an official modding API for ages now) they're at least not openly hostile toward modders, probably because they realize that people who like mods are a significant portion of their revenue source.

On the subject of mods and modpacks, it's interesting (if somewhat annoying) to see the frequent fireworks that occur when someone distributes someone else's mod without asking, or makes a mod that mods a mod, or includes code that will crash your client (seriously!) if you're running a mod that that mod author doesn't like, or writes a really big mod that a lot of modpacks use and then doesn't have time to update it for months at a time (forcing people to either stick with old versions of everything else or delete their world and start over without those features in order to be able to use new mods).

Lately, this has become a reminder to me about why free and open source software is such a good thing; as a user, you're a lot less vulnerable to developer pettiness.

On one hand, it's frequently pointed out that people develop minecraft mods in their own time and without any type of payment, so they ought to have a right to control the distribution of those mods.  However, when you get into deliberately crashing peoples' games because they're using some other mod that you don't like for whatever reason, that crosses the line into unethical territory, since you're now doing something to your users that deliberately causes data loss.  This is doubly bad because most of the people using your mod aren't even aware of whatever petty squabble you may be involved in with some other mod author.  They just want to enjoy their game.