Similarly to the previously featured Silent Hill Texture Pack, this pack aims for a specific style as well: steampunk to be specific. For those who are unfamiliar with the genre, steampunk is a retro futuristic sub-genre of science fiction that usually features steam powered machinery and often takes place in a post-apocalyptic, alternate reality during which steam has become the main power source.
What makes this texture pack stand out is the prominent use of animations, such as pulsing lights and turning cogs. Even some parts of the completely redesigned user interface are animated! The building blocks are designed to resemble 19th century architecture, so you will find cast iron, brass, copper, marble and much more to suit your steampunk needs. Another hallmark of steampunk is the appearance of mysterious devices that would have been considered futuristic in that time, an aspect that has not been left out either. For example, many of the mobs have been turned into automatons!
Texture packs can be installed easily by using Curse's very own client. After opening the client, navigate to the "Get More Textures" page, type the name of the texture pack in the search box, select the pack of your choice and hit the install button. Be sure to patch your game using MCPatcher, otherwise many of the pack's features will not work properly.
We also had the chance to hold an interview with Glimmar, creator of this texture pack. Be sure to read on to learn more about the pack's development process!
How did you get into Minecraft?
Back in 2009 I had been playing a very nice PC game called 'Stranded 2' and was searching for another 'survival' game along the same lines (until 'Stranded 3' came along), when I stumbled upon Minecraft 'InDev'. I was already aware of Minecraft as a block building game, but discovering the almost infinite scale of Indev through user pics instantly blew me away. So in May 2010 I purchased Minecraft and haven't stopped playing and building with it since, making all other games take a back seat.
What made you decide to become a texture artist?
I don't really consider myself to be a texture artist. All my long years playing with PC games and working in museum and gallery admin and as a freelance artist had not resulted in me merging my work and PC gaming interests. I'm an old school artist who uses canvas, oil paints, paper and watercolour and I know a little bit about art history too. Minecraft married my artistic and gaming interests and gave birth to a strange little child called 'Glimmar's Steampunk'.
What was your inspiration for this specific project?
I realized early on, after joining the Minecraft Forums, that it was fairly easy to tinker with the graphical innards of the Minecraft jar file and naively thought I could make the game look and work more imaginatively with some fanciful machinery, that on the one hand might function as intended, yet be useful for some other purpose. There were so few blocks back then! My first ever texture was the craftbench, designed in such a way that it could also be used as a control console for an airship or submarine. The desire to try to make the blocks in Minecraft more ambiguous and thus more useful, resulted in some of my first attempts looking slightly 'steampunkish' and Glimmar's Steampunk began forming as a theme...meaning I didn't wake up one morning and decide to make a Steampunk pack!
I've always been interested in science fiction, fantasy, history and weird and wonderful technology. The Steampunk theme nicely merged all my various interests, and in it's loosest possible terms, gave me free range to make textures into almost anything I wanted them to be. I would argue my pack is mostly based around a Victorian/Edwardian theme, a kind of retro sci-fi industrial style that borders on fantasy. It gives me a perfect excuse to include 'alchemical' magic, and future technology using a Wellsian 19th century understanding of science. At the same time I am still striving to make blocks do more than their intended purpose...for my own selfish reasons the theme is perfect.
How did the community respond to the pack’s first public release?
Looking back through my rather voluminous MC Forum thread, I think I was fairly lucky in those early days and visitors were quite enthusiastic. Along the way I've been helped and inspired by many who have chosen to look in on my thread. It is incredibly hard to get noticed now as there are so many great texture packs, and unless you're very talented and/or very good at publicising yourself, it's too easy for a new pack to fall by the wayside. I fail in both areas sadly, so perhaps if I was starting today, Glimmar's Steampunk would just be another abandoned and forgotten project.
Roughly how much time did you spend on the initial version of Glimmar's Steampunk?
Although I'd been tinkering with various textures for my own use throughout the summer of 2010, I launched my thread on the 4th October with a few sample pics and released the first humble version of my pack on 29th Oct 2010. It was fairly crude by today's standards, but most folk who had been following my progress seemed to like it well enough, either through politeness or some affliction of the eyes. Initially I was only concerned with changing the building blocks...items, guis, mobs and almost everything else was unchanged. I'm still not finished on all of those things even now! Let's just say I wouldn't start again from scratch knowing what I know now and I have the utmost admiration for anyone starting a new texture pack today.
Have you come across any challenges during development and, if any, how did you handle them?
Everything has been a challenge along the way. I had no experience as a pixel artist or any real skill with a graphics editor when I started and I still don't consider myself as talented or experienced as most other 'texture' artists.
What was your favourite development tool for this project?
I had Photoshop for editing my photographs, another of my passions, but I was more familiar with Gimp for the limited graphical work I had to do. Gimp has always been my preferred editing tool and at the time of my initial experiments with changing the look of Minecraft, it was the only thing I had some experience with as an amateur digital artist. I haven't had the time since to really get to grips with anything else, but it suits my purposes to this day...and I still only use it in a very simple way. Two years after launching Glimmar's Steampunk and I am just becoming familiar with 'layers'! I did have some advantages though, in that I have lots of experience with real art materials, and so with graphics tablet by my side I knew exactly how to pick up my tablet pen! The rest was painstakingly hard, but the results were always worth the effort, even if only for my purposes.
Have you learned anything new from this project?
I am painstakingly slow and I don't work well under pressure...but I've learned a lot of nifty little things about Gimp and digital art in general, especially animation. Having to work to order, to keep my texture pack as up to date as possible, has driven me to understand how to do many new things...'necessity being the mother of invention' and all that.
What stage of the pack’s development process did you enjoy most?
As tedious as the process is, I'd have to say I mostly enjoy experimenting with animating textures. A little like photography used to be, back when I used rolls of film in my SLR rather than happily clicking away with a digital camera...animating stuff requires a certain amount of patience and faith. Patience...for all the tedious work on sometimes hundreds of frames of animation...and faith that the idea you have will work. Sometimes it doesn't work as expected, but when it does I experience a great sense of achievement and delight, entirely out of proportion to the scale of the finished artwork. Sadly. Adding more and more animations each update has had a detrimental effect for a number of users with modest computer setups and so I now have to be more circumspect in what I choose to animate. Anything I animate from now on will probably mean something less deserving of animation will need to be edited or deleted.
And what is your favourite aspect of the texture pack itself?
Curiously I'd probably say my gui work. This is a strange choice because for the past two years I've only ever played Minecraft in creative mode...so I don't ever really benefit personally from all the time/effort I put in to making them. It was something I least looked forward to working on, but now every time Mojang bring out a new gui it gives me an opportunity to play around with another odd looking over the top gizmo.
Are you currently working on any other texture packs, plugins or updates?
There's way too much MC stuff to texture for now...and growing...by comparison with what was in a pack and on the forums in 2010, and the demand by users to make supporting textures for all the most popular mods would now easily make for a full time job. Although I enjoyed working on the first textures for the steampunk 'airship' and 'steamboat' mods. I now only work on the basic pack and leave complimentary mod texture work to supportive and talented GS users. Mostly these are based on my extensive collection of 32x textures under licence in my OP.
In addition to your Minecraft texture pack, have you ever released any custom content for other games?
None whatsoever. I wouldn't even know where to start.
Aside from your own projects, what are some of your favourite texture packs and/or plugins from other authors and why?
My two most indispensable plugins for Minecraft are 'MC Patcher' by kahr and 'TooManyItems' by Marglyph. I really wish I had the time to try out all the other marvellous mods that exist, but due to RL commitments and my painfully slow and tedious way of working, I've never had the time to try any of them out...definitely my loss.There are hundreds of texture packs out there that I've come to admire and all of them have made me wish I'd been as ingenious or talented. If I was really forced to choose just one though, it would be John Smith, especially for survival play.
Do you have any advice for other potential texture creators?
Don't make a texture pack to be rich and famous, make it because you absolutely love Minecraft and need to make it for yourself. It's the icing on the cake if others like it too.
Special thanks to Glimmar for both participating in our interview and creating the texture pack!
Glimmar's Steampunk is an excellent texture pack that will certainly appeal to fans of the steampunk genre. It includes many characteristics of the genre, such as the Victorian architecture, brass, copper, retro-futuristic devices, and so on. On top of that, the pack includes a redesigned interface, making for a complete steampunk experience.