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Minecraft Spotlight - Sanity

Welcome to the latest Minecraft Texture Spotlight! In this issue we will be taking a look at Sanity, a 16x texture pack created by Alvoria.

Sanity is a texturepack that strives for realism, without keeping to the game's original style or upping the texture resolution to extreme levels.
Due to the size, which is identical to vanilla Minecraft, the textures do not look out of place at all; they fit right in with the blocky style of the game. Still, Alvoria managed to create a pack with its own look and atmosphere. Colours for example, are more subdued; meaning there are less flashy colours to be found. But it is not only the colour scheme that makes a difference; all patterns and details have been recreated too.

In addition to the game world textures, the texturepack also comes with its own interface; which appears to made out of wood and matches the rest of the pack very well. On top of that, the redesigned items complete the Sanity experience.

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. Optionally, you can patch your game using MCPatcher, for some additional features.

We also had the opportunity to hold an interview with Alvoria, creator of the Sanity pack. Read on to learn more about the development process behind the pack!

How did you get into Minecraft?
There's a long version of that answer, and a short version. The short version is that I saw some people live-stream it one night as I was looking around randomly. At first I thought it looked like a pretty stupid game, until they showed off stuff people had made on their server. It was the first game I had seen that allowed for that level of creativity. To be able to build huge interactive environments in-game... that was a dream come true. I bought a copy before the stream had ended.

What made you decide to become a texture artist?
They changed the cobblestone texture. I know that sounds silly, but that's what got me started. I liked the old cobblestone, so I made a pack to change it back. Then I thought to myself "you know... I can probably do better than that." Once I made a better cobblestone texture, then dirt looked bad by comparison. So I made a better dirt texture. Which meant I needed better grass textures. And so on and so forth. A year later I had a texture pack.

What was your inspiration for this specific project?
Again... there's a long version of this and a short version. I already gave the short version: I just thought I could do better than the default... and then did!

How did the community respond to the pack’s first public release?
I'm not sure that the community knows this pack exists yet, to be honest. Really the response, at least as far as what people have told me, has been pretty sparse since the beginning. There have been a few people who have commented, and what they've told me is mostly positive, so that much is good at least.

Roughly how much time did you spend on the initial version of Sanity?
The first record I have of the pack was created on 10/23/2011. My forum thread for the pack was created on 01/14/2013. So from beginning to initial release took just over a year. Keep in mind, though, that I was only able to work on it an hour or two a day (if at all) due to my work schedule. I can't say for certain how long it took in terms of hours spent since I wasn't at all consistent, again due to my paying job. Well over a hundred hours. That much I know for certain.

Did you come across any challenges during development and, if any, how did you handle them?
Most of the challenges I faced were because of the wonky way things are sometimes laid out in Minecraft. The anvil side textures being 90-degree rotations using only a single tile is a prime example. Usually when this kind of thing came up, I'd try to find a way to make it look good with the limitation... though admittedly I didn't always succeed. Sometimes the way things are laid out just doesn't make it possible to get something exactly the way I want it, so I just do my best to make it look good in vanilla... and then use MCPatcer to overwrite the restrictions and do what I really want. ;-) Finding creative solutions to annoying problems, basically.

What was your favourite development tool for this project?
That's hard to say. I use a lot of different software for different circumstances. As cliche as it may sound, my own imagination, creativity, and ability to solve problems creatively were probably the most essential tools, all things considered.

Have you learned anything new from this project?
Aside of "how to make a Minecraft texture pack", no not really. I trained to do art for 3D platforms in college, so this was pretty much just putting those skills to use in a pretty simplistic sort of a way. Different and fun, but not all that new.

What stage of the Sanity’s development process did you enjoy most?
Hmmm.... again, hard to say. Everything is a bit of give and take. For every few things that I had a great time working on, there were also some that frustrated me no end to balance it out. How does "everything except mobs" sound? ;-)

And what is your favourite aspect of the texture pack itself?
I like that it's a great blend of realistic and pixelated. It has a feeling all its own, but not one that detracts from or completely changes the feeling of Minecraft. You can use it in creative, survival, or anything else. Ultimately, I like that it looks the way I want it to.

Are you currently working on any other texture packs, plugins or updates?
I'm working on a few things at the moment, but I don't want to spoil any of them. As far as packs go, I have a "To-Do" list for Sanity that I want to complete before I really start working on another pack. I have one started, of course, but I'm not ready to reveal anything about it.

In addition to your Minecraft texture pack, have you ever released any custom content for other games?
Not for other games, no.

Aside from your own projects, what are some of your favourite texture packs and/or plugins from other authors and why?
A few shoutouts to my fellow texture artists:

Glendale by Taiine.
I like this pack for a lot of the same reasons I like my own. It's just a good, consistent look for Minecraft. If this had been available when I started, I would have probably just used it instead of making Sanity. If you look at Sanity but think that it's good but not quite what you want, go look at Glendale. It's probably perfect for you.

Chroma Hills by SycloneSJS
This pack reminds me of some of the very best graphic novels I've ever had the pleasure of reading. The art style is a very sharp illustration style. Words don't do it justice, so check it out.

Glimmar's Steampunk by Glimmar
This is the only "themed" pack that I've used at length. Of course it's famous as all get out because of the superb quality of the art and the unique feel. Chances are anyone reading this already knows this pack, so I won't spend a lot of time talking about it. Sufficed to say, it's amazing.

SixtyGig by Rayvolution
This is one of the few packs of it's style that I really like. Rayvolution has put a load of time into this pack, and it really shows. Make sure to use MCPatcher when loading this pack. If you don't, you're missing out on a lot of the extra features that makes this pack great.

For more, find the Indie Pack Central thread on MinecraftForum. There are loads of little-known packs that are deserving of your downloads. ^_^

For Mods, I want to give a couple of shoutouts

Utility Chests by Watkins577
Full-disclosure: I did all the textures for this mod. That said, it's a fun mod that adds a few very functional storage options to Minecraft. It's a bit overpowered, but it becomes more balanced with every version. Definitely a fun mod.

Animated Player by thehippomaster21
With 1.6 the graphics creep in Minecraft has gotten a bit ridiculous with the horses. Seriously, they have more points of articulation than every Beta mob put together. Where's the love for the player? It's right here! This mod adds a much-needed update to the player model without breaking existing skins. It's still an early version, so it's a bit buggy, but it's still an amazing mod that gives some much needed attention to us, the player characters.

I could go on for a LONG time listing great mods, but just look at the list of mods that Sanity supports (or will support in the future) and you'll find out what I like and think is worth downloading. ;-)

Do you have any advice for other aspiring texture creators?
Do it because you want to. Do it because you love it. No other reason. If you think you're going to make money doing this, you're not. If you want to get famous, there are better ways. Unless you want to make a texture pack because you want to make a texture pack, then don't. There are better ways to do whatever you're really after.

And to those who do genuinely want to make a texture pack, or practice any form of art for that matter, learn to accept criticism and critiques gracefully. You get better through learning what you're doing wrong as much as from learning what you're doing right. Don't forget that, and don't feel bad if you don't get it right on the first try.

Having reached the end of the interview, we would like to thank Alvoria for taking the time to answer our questions and of course for creating the texture pack in the first place!

Sanity is an excellent choice if you are interested in bringing more realism into the game without sacrificing performance. Unlike many other packs, it does not require the use of MCPatcher for the complete experience, although it does enable some minor features.

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