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Minecraft Mod Spotlight & Interview - Nordic & Tropic

Welcome to the first Minecraft Mod Spotlight & Interview! In this issue we are featuring "Nordic" and "Tropic", two server mods created by s1mpl3x.

Have you ever desired to experience a Nordic world ...from within Minecraft? Or perhaps a tropical forest? Fear not, these mods will make it possible!

Both mods are world generators that work the same way and are very easy to use. All you need to do to create your new world is execute a single command, with or without specifying a name, and a seed. After the process is completed you'll get teleported automatically to the newly created world.

The Nordic world consists of large stretches of land and small islands, where you will find plenty of lakes, mountains, cliffs and more. However, for a Nordic world, the density of tree placement did feel a little thin. Food for thought.

Compared to the Nordic world, the Tropic one is a totally different experience. The generation process takes much longer to complete, but it is surely worth the wait! The result is an overgrown rain forest filled with various types of trees, bushes and other foliage. Elements that stood out were the mushrooms that glow at night, and the enormous trees reaching above the clouds. These trees are large enough to build your own home in! Of course, this map has more to offer than just trees and foliage - there are many lakes, creeks and beaches as well!

If you are bored with Minecraft's default world be sure to check these out! All in all, both are unique enough to change your Minecraft experience, especially Tropic. It really shows how much time went into creating these mods. Check out the interview below to find out more about the creation process!

What inspired you to create these mods?
I saw a thread in the bukkit forums where the basic use of the new world-gen API was explained. The Pictures that were posted there showed terrain which looked totally different form the vanilla Minecraft terrain. I really loved the unusual look and from there I started to experiment with the API, but I didn't had a special sort of terrain in mind. After like a month I finally got some sort of useable terrain which then ended up in Nordic :)

Approximately how much time goes into developing a world generator?
Compared to normal Bukkit Plugins it is extremly time consuming. The only way to check your code is to let the server generate a new world (which takes its time) and then fly around to see if it turned out the way it should, so I normally end up having about 200-500 worlds generated and moved to the bin during a week of development.

To sum it up, Nordic took around 3 months of development, Tropic around 2 months if you account 2-4 hours per day with exceptions.

Have you encountered any problems while working on your mods and, if any, how did you solve them?
There were quite a few, but one of the biggest problems was/still is how time intense Tropic is. Caused by the way Bukkit generates the chunks, big objects like the Worldtrees in Tropic also makes Bukkit call the populators on the chunks around the initial chunk, which then might request the chunks around them and the circle begins again.. so this could easily end in a StackOverflow and therefore a server crash. I used some hackish workaround where the foliage is generated after the terrain is generated, it is not pretty and a suboptimal solution, but afaik the only way to generate such dense foliage without causing a overflow.

What tools did you use to make these mods possible?
I'm using Eclipse as IDE and a self written tool that previews the generated terrain as a heightmap

What part of the creation process of your mods did you enjoy most?
When a part i've been working for a while finally does what it is intended to do :P As an example the small creeks I did for Tropic really took alot of time until they didn't kill the server or cut every mountain in half. But after they worked as they should, I re-enabled the other populators and it just looked so beautiful with all the parts of the plugin coming together.

Could you tell us about any other mods you have planned for the future?
I am working on a desert/canyon world gen, but its far from done. I'm also working on a better cave/underworld system for both, Nordic and Tropic. But as I'm currently pretty busy with university these won't be completed any time soon.

Do you have any advice for others who would like to start modding?
You should have a basic knowledge of Java and OOP, and from there on just read some basic getting-started tutorials, then start with some smaller projects and read the code of other developers, the source of most plugins is available on github or elsewhere. Imo you can learn a lot from seeing how others solved their problems or did things in a different (maybe better) way than you.

 Thanks to s1mpl3x for creating these mods and for participating in the interview.

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