An Unmeasured Response to Minecraft’s Mod Loader Epidemic
A poorly written wall of text about something that made me hate this community even more
- This post is not about criticizing, praising, or otherwise discussing the failings of specific individuals. This post revolves entirely around the Minecraft modding’s ecosystem and the affect it has been given with the existence of multiple mod loaders. If you really want to ask me about what I think about certain individuals, you can find ways to find me in other places to ask me that yourself.
- As of writing, I am currently on Lex’s new triage team for Minecraft Forge. However, this does not affect any of my personal leanings on the matter. I will discuss later in this post as to why I am and what my stances are on these mod loaders.
- This is an opinion piece. It is not thoroughly researched and merely contains the complaints, ramblings, and thoughts of a random bozo online. Anything that is phrased as a fact is merely gathered from my own experience, and should be taken with a grain of salt.
How it used to be
Minecraft’s modding space is now ever-changing, but it wasn’t always the case. In the earliest days of modding, there was only Risugami’s Mod Loader. Later on, Minecraft Forge rose as the mod loader of choice, especially after the invention of the Forge Mod Loader during Minecraft 1.2.5’s life cycle. And from then on until Minecraft 1.13, Minecraft Forge was the dominant general-purpose mod loader in the space, save for a few complementary systems such as LiteLoader and server-side systems like Sponge and Spigot.
What started it all
The beginning of all of our pain and suffering began during Minecraft 1.13’s life cycle. Minecraft had gone intense internal changes, such as the upgrading of LWJGL and many of its internal systems. This pushed the Forge team to work on a complete rewrite of the Forge Mod Loader, as well as a couple of Forge’s other internal systems. I do not know whether it was out of impatience or out of spite, but during the midst of that, the first abstraction-layer mod loader, Rift, was born. I don’t know much about Rift other than that it got into some trouble because it used MCP mappings when (or in places where) it probably shouldn’t have been used. Regardless, the creation of Rift eventually led to the creation of Fabric.
For the unaware, Fabric is an extremely popular mod loader for Minecraft. It acts as an abstraction layer (as its whole purpose is to be ported to new Minecraft versions as quickly as possible), while an optional, supplementary mod named “Fabric API” acted as Fabric’s general-purpose API for modders to use. After Forge, it has crowned itself as the second most-popular mod loader to date.
Many, including myself, believe that this is where Minecraft’s modding community took a turn for the absolute worst. I have no authority to comment on what actually happens in the Forge vs. Fabric hellscape, but its effects are clear and it has caused a lot of people to live their lives in this community in anger. Since Minecraft 1.14, the divide that Fabric has caused within the Minecraft modding community is still present to this day.
Now, it’s gotten even worse — NeoForge
This past July, the entire Forge team, aside from LexManos, the project maintainer of Minecraft Forge, quit the Forge team and forked the project into NeoForge. If you want to learn more about NeoForge itself, you can do so on their website: neoforged.net. There are a lot of details surrounding why this is and how we got to this point, but there are many other people who are more aware of the situation than me who you can find to answer those kinds of political questions for you. For now: it happened, and I believe that this fork will cause many, many problems for the Minecraft modding community down the line.
Why this is a problem
Most people have argued that this is a problem for the Minecraft community because the majority of users (and even modders) are unaware of the changes that have been happening as a result of this. While this is true, I believe that this has been a dangerous move to make because it sets a couple of precedents about Minecraft modding and even FOSS software in general that will begin to drive people away from both. As I mentioned in my disclaimer, these are my opinions.
- From an outsider’s point of view and in the least political way I can describe, the forking of Forge was (primarily) caused by several gross miscommunications between higher-ups of the Forge team. This is arguably my biggest issue with all of this, because a lot of the drama and after-effect of the forking could have been prevented if the team took more and/or took greater attempts at trying to solve miscommunication.
- The forking of Forge has corroborated that trying to work on FOSS software as a full-time job is much more dangerous and unstable than it should be. This also has the implication that FOSS software is only sustainable if it is backed by a larger company or by higher governance. This is a point the NeoForged project is attempting to address in their new community, but something that they should’ve at least tried to do within the Forge project itself.
- The forking of Forge is contributing to the over-inflation of popular Minecraft modding ecosystems already present in the community. The argument could also be made that LexManos is also at fault for not giving up on Forge after his team abandoned him, but the root of this complaint of mine is the forking happening in the first place.
This list may seem incomprehensive, but this post is not meant to be a fully-researched article on the state of affairs in the Minecraft modding community. Arguably, it is merely a portrayal of one of the many reasons why I have lost my patience trying to actively be a part of the Minecraft modding community.
What I think about moving forward
The damage has been done to, and from, all sides. Nothing can really be done about it at this point. What we can do moving forward is change our approach to the community as a whole, the projects we work on, and how we interact with each other on a fundamental level.
Before anything else, I want to share my general idea of what each mod loader will look like as time marches forward. It is important to note that I am disassociating the people who work on these projects from what they actually are, as there will always be people on each one of these projects who I really like and really hate. The only exceptions are for when I mention specific names because of their involvement in development, not because of their involvement in drama. Evaluating these projects based on that is not fair to their own merits or the future of the modding ecosystem as a whole.
The NeoForged project is very fortunate to have the talented people it does working on it. Compared to Minecraft Forge, the only person who has a solid understanding of almost all of Forge’s systems and toolchains is LexManos himself, so it gives NeoForge a huge leg-up in this situation. For that, regardless of how long it takes, it is likely that NeoForge will succeed and take the throne as the dominant mod loader for Minecraft.
cpw, one of the Steering Council members of the NeoForged project, is the original inventor of the Forge Mod Loader, and has the drive to continue working on its fork, Fancy Mod Loader, as well as relevant systems such as modlauncher. The large community currently working on getting NeoForge off the ground has a solid understanding of the APIs that the community uses and wants more of.
LexManos has stated his intent to continue working on Minecraft Forge on his own and with the little volunteer help he has, myself included. After all of this, I believe that Minecraft Forge will diminish back to being a low-level hobbyist project, but I believe that that might be for the best considering the current landscape I just described prior in this post.
While my original intent for joining Lex’s new triage team was somewhat out of sympathy, I’m also interested in joining him on where he decides to take the project’s mod loading as a whole. My involvement in Forge is more-so about the Forge Mod Loader rather than about the API, and also about working on something cool to brag about later.
Aside from the recent unstable release of Sinytra Connector, Fabric (and by extension, Quilt) remains unaffected by all of this. I personally have not had the best of experiences interacting with those who favor Fabric (again, as a disclaimer, these are my own experiences), but I think its continued existence sheds a light on how unapologetically divided this community can be.
The Quilt toolchain, forked from Fabric, was born out of controversy that brewed within the Fabric community. However, unlike NeoForge, Quilt still supports the loading of Fabric mods into its system. This is important to note, because the NeoForged community and maintainers have stated their desires to hard break from upstream and not work on any sort of compatibility with the original Minecraft Forge in any way.
What does this mean for my projects?
Nothing, really. This all just annoys me to an unreasonable degree. A lot of people from all sides have done really questionable or malicious things, and the overall outlook of the modding community seems more grim now than it ever once was. However, I would like to share my personal intentions with my Minecraft-related projects real quick.
Cryptic Mushroom’s Minecraft project, The Midnight, will be switching to NeoForge. This is due, in large part, to our dependencies switching themselves. However, we also believe that the API being worked on by the NeoForged community will be the best one to work with for our project. Our projects have always been about what we create from them, not about what mod loader it uses or what projects it depends on.
Most of my personal Minecraft-related projects are on hold as I continue to dive deeper in other kinds of projects. However, my work as a potential Forge team member remains disconnected from my work on my own/Cryptic Mushroom’s projects, and potentially my work on NeoForge, should I want to contribute to that as well.
This event has proven to me that I have no desire to partake in the larger part of the Minecraft modding community. While there are most certainly many other communities that are just as bad or worse than this one, this community has given me the unhealthiest experiences online, even if they didn’t involve me (which this one certainly did not). At the very least, it helped reinforce the idea that I should always be clear with my intentions, communicate better with people, and watch my back around those who I don’t fully trust.
I am investing efforts into Cryptic Mushroom’s The Midnight because I believe in the merit that project holds (and am eternally grateful for my teammates who work on this with me, especially FlashFyre). I’m also going to start investing effort into reviving an ancient community server known as the Dimensional Hub, which serves as a single server containing representatives from several different Minecraft dimension mods. The reason for this is to provide a place where people can talk about The Midnight without needing to opt-in to the Cryptic Mushroom Discord server’s ridiculous antics (that I am responsible for, of course) or have to be bothered by the other projects that my team wants to expand out towards.
tl;dr i don’t care about this community anymore but i still like the midnight and the effort i put into it so i’m going to keep at it for as long as i can