Principles in Design of FTB Modpacks

Discussion in 'Feed the Beast News' started by Feed the Beast, Nov 3, 2016.

  1. Feed the Beast

    Feed the Beast Administrator Team Member

    FTB

    Principles in Design of FTB Modpacks


    Introduction



    This article is designed to give an overview of how FTB designs Minecraft mod packs. This will cover everything from planning to mod selection onto config changes through to beta testing and release.



    Philosophy


    We are often asked what our goals are with FTB Modpacks, what is it that makes us choose one mod over another. Why was X mod included and Y mod excluded. From day 1 of FTB we have always strived to stay as neutral as possible when it comes to what mods we choose. Our primary goals are to respect the wishes of mod developers irrespective of any licences that may be attached to a mod (In other words if a mod developer wishes us not to use a mod, even though the license says that legally we can. Then where possible we will respect those wishes.) Equally we also strive to do our best to respect the wishes of Mojang and continually work to ensure we stay within the Minecraft EULA. Whilst this has not always been possible, it is something we work hard to try and achieve.


    Following on from that we work hard to provide our users the best possible experience we can within the limitations of both the game and any mods that we may use. From almost the beginning, FTB modpacks were played by an extremely wide player base of all ages. When designing our modpacks we do our best to ensure that our packs are accessible to as wide a base as possible. With packs like Infinity, our goal is to try to balance our packs around our mod choices and whilst we do make a small amount of changes to the mods in the packs, we aim to both keep the vanilla side of Minecraft as close as possible to the original experience we also try to keep the Modded side as close to the original author's vision as we can. We want our players to be able to go to the various wikis and websites and for the most part be able to get accurate information about the mods they are playing.


    With the introduction of Expert mode in 1.10 we have expanded on this to also provide a pack that offers a more expansive long term modpack where we try to encourage the use of more mods. We do this by changing the recipes for a large number of items that will encourage the building of infrastructure (both magical and tech based) However we don't want to see players have to build a complex machine for one task, so our goals are to to give the infrastructure multiple purposes so that you continue to use throughout the life of the world you play in.



    Planning



    Production of a new pack will first begin during meetings between Slowpoke and the principle modpack developers of FTB which at this moment in time include tfox83 (Lead Modpack Developer), SnowShock35 and Darkosto. During these meetings we will plan out what packs we want to create for the coming iteration of minecraft. We then work out a rough timeline for what order we want to release those packs and in what sort of time frame. So taking Minecraft 1.10 for example, we currently have firm plans in place for 6 packs with the potential for another 4 on top of that.


    Once that stage is complete, we start to take a close look at mod availability. During this period we will initially look to mods that we have experience with and see how updates are proceeding with that mod and gauge what sort of support we expect that mod to get through this iteration of Minecraft (Normally based on our experience with the mod developers working on the project) We also start the process of identifying what potential new mods we may be able to use in upcoming packs.


    Having put together an initial list of mods to work with, we then look to start a process of actual individual mod testing. Over the last couple of years, the way we approached this has changed dramatically and these days our highest priority when choosing mods has become mod stability. This means we take a close look at how that mod performs on a server, when used alongside other mods. We take a look at any end game items and how they made affect long term server stability. With the gaps between Minecraft updates taking longer, we now need to try to make players worlds last months instead of weeks where possible.


    In addition to stability, our mod choices for unstable are also based upon recommendations from either members of the FTB core team, The Stream Team, The beta team and also from general recommendations from other members of our community. These are normally mods that we feel have the potential to make it into one of our future packs.


    Having put together a list of the mods that we want to take a look at, we put together our initial pack for the iteration of Minecraft which is FTB Unstable. This pack is designed to achieve several goals. First it allows us to aid mod developers by allowing them to see how their mod performs in a modpack environment. We try to include as many mods as is practical in this pack and don't really spend a lot of time on either pack balance or ensuring that worlds do not get corrupted. The pack has a secondary goal of allowing us to take a closer look at some of the mods that we may want to include in our upcoming pack releases.


    Finally we start to take a closer look at mod configs, to identify any general config changes that may need to be made for future packs in order to facilitate the design of future packs. We also make our initial decisions with regards to world gen configs including areas like Ore Generation. We also plan out the custom menus that FTB use.



    Pack Design


    During the period of the Unstable release we start to pencil in the mods that we want for our early packs. In the case of 1.10 and moving forwards our intention is to always release a version of Infinity as our first FTB pack (this excludes packs maintained by FTB for third parties such as Direwolf20 or Hermitcraft etc) During the 1.10 development phase in order to aid in the construction of the pack, we set a hard date for mods to be included within the release version of the pack. This allowed us a period of a month to thoroughly test the pack leading up to release.


    Once we have chosen the mods, the principle pack designer with make an initial pack, pulling all the mods together and doing a rough pass over the configs. This is designed to just make the pack playable for initial testing and may include any balance changes that have cropped up during Unstable testing.


    Once completed this pack will be passed to the beta testing teams. In normal circumstances beta testing will last anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 weeks depending on whether or not we foresee any potential issues that may crop up (for example, using a mod we have little experience of). After this a release candidate will be passed over to the teams for final testing. At this point any new artwork that may be required is commissioned and from 1.10 onwards we plan to include press packs for our packs which will include a full list of mods alongside high quality versions of artwork for use in things like overlays and thumbnails etc.



    Beta Testing


    As of 1.7.10 we introduced a full beta team to FTB which as grown from less than 10 people initially to over 50 people today with plans to expand that further. Our beta testing is run in 2 stages. Behind the scenes we have a closed beta team that are given specific areas of a modpack to look at and report back to whoever the principle modpack developer for the pack is. In addition to that we have expanded the FTB Stream Team which contains YouTubers and Streamers who play through packs in a normal manner to look at general gameplay balance.


    During beta testing pack developers will start to refine the configs and make any potential balance changes that need to be made. In addition to this we also start to profile the servers looking for potential memory leaks and other stability issues.



    Modpack Overviews 1.10.x

    Mod pack ETA’s are dependant on mod availability/stability and subject to change.


    FTB Infinity Lite. (Release 04/11/2016)


    Recommended minimum 64bit java 8 with 4gb assigned to Minecraft for single player.

    Recommended minimum server 4gb.

    General modpack designed for use by a wide variety of players of all ages.



    FTB Infinity Lite will be our initial 1.10 modpack offering (excluding official FTB 3rd party packs like HermitPack). Infinity Lite will follow the same design principals as Infinity 1.7 mainly catering to a large player base with a mash of tech/magic content among other mods with no pre defined end game goal, leaving it in the player’s hands to decide progression. Based on the amount of content during the time of planning/development and the early stages of 1.10 mods, we decided to create a “Lite” version so we could get content to our player base in a timely manner.


    When planning packs like Infinity Lite we choose mods that will naturally fit into a pack with minimal config changes so a player can refer to the respected wiki for accurate information regarding the mod. Configs that we may decide to change are solely based on notable performance gains and preventing obvious cross-mod exploits. These major changes will be noted in the press pack. Other configs that we change are disabling ore generation from some mods so there isn't three different types of one ore in a world. If at anytime we find ourselves disabling major content from the mod to make it fit in the pack we will normally decide to pull the mod, since that’s not the way the developer of that mod designed it to be played. One of the hardest parts of planning packs like Infinity Lite, is which mods not to include, whether it be balance issues or even minor performance related issues.


    FTB Infinity Evolved (ETA - Q1 2017)


    Recommended Spec to follow.

    Expanded version of FTB Infinity lite, includes a greater variety of mods. Will provide a base for future game modes.


    FTB Infinity Evolved will be an expanded pack based off of Infinity Lite with more content and the return of game modes, which were introduced to Infinity (Evolved) in 1.7 approximately a year ago. Initial planning will be very similar to Infinity Lite with the main difference being mod selection based on future game modes. For example if we know that mod “a” cannot be adjusted in a way to work with a planned gamemode like “Expert Mode” we may decide not to include that mod thus preventing future problems that arise with expansion to the pack after release. This is a huge advantage that we have currently over the initial development of Infinity 1.7. Our goal is to release game modes as updates in the same way we did in Infinity (Evolved) 1.7 allowing players to simply update and continue in their current worlds if they choose to do so.


    Upon initial release Infinity Evolved will not contain any game modes. Expert Mode will be developed first, (For more information on Expert mode visit https://forum.feed-the-beast.com/threads/ftb-infinity-expert-mode-behind-the-scenes-with-tfox83.117216/) which when added to the pack 6-8 weeks (est.) after release that will introduce two game modes, Expert and Normal (Normal mode will be the default gamemode and will not introduce any changes). At this time we are discussing more game modes that may be introduced later in Infinity Evolved.


    FTB Infinity Skyblock (ETA Q2 2017)

    Recommended Spec to follow.


    FTB Infinity Skyblock will be a spin off of FTB Infinity Evolved with a slightly modified mod list. The intention is to give players both the infinity and expert mode experiences in a skyblock environment with a whole new set of end game goals. Infinity Skyblock is designed with both a single player and multiplayer in mind with the ability to generate multiple islands on a server.


    FTB Presents Sky Factory 3.0 (ETA Q1 - 2017)


    Recommended Spec to follow.


    More details to follow.
     
  2. Boqzo1

    Boqzo1 Well-Known Member

    Quite an interesting article to read! Glad to finally hear something concrete from you guys, seems to have been a while :p
     
    tfox83 likes this.
  3. Gideonseymour

    Gideonseymour Relatable Gamer Trusted User Retired Staff

    Hey, a couple of questions.

    Firstly, happy to see that Expert Mode is coming back. It's nice to see consistent innovation from you guys. Secondly, here are my Qs:
    1. Previously, Lite was a pack loosely based off of the flagship pack for the 1.7/1.6/1.4 seasons, intended for computers that aren't able to run Minecraft as well. While more RAM was good, it was able to be played on 32 bit Java w/ 2 GB. However, it now requires a minimum of 4 GB.
      1. Is this still be considered the same type of pack? If so, how much more RAM will the flagship Infinity require?
      2. If not, will we be seeing an actual Lite pack for 1.10, or has that idea been dropped? What caused the name change?
    2. Infinity Evolved had two game modes, Expert and Regular. You mentioned here that you plan at looking into further game modes - will they be game modes based solely on crafting, or will there be other types of changes in those modes?
    3. Avaritia, and it's famous 9x9 crafting table, have not been updated to 1.10 yet. Do you have plans for similar large-scale end-game crafting?
    4. When you were working on Infinity Evolved, you tried to avoid any config changes whatsoever, regardless of the tester's suggestions. For instance, we heavily advocated for turning off Agricraft's weeds, but you were against it for that very reason. What has caused the change in philosophy in regards to at least Quark? Will we be seeing similar changes in other mods' configs?
    5. After it is out, will Infinity Evolved's mod list continue to evolve (pardon the pun)? Or will it remain fixed?
    6. Recently, with the 1.9, 1.10, and possible the 1.11 updates, mods have easily transitioned between versions with very minor changes. Do you expect to be able to update packs in a similar manner, keeping worlds and mod lists alive between versions?
    7. You've mentioned here 4 of your 6 / maybe 10 planned packs. Will we be seeing packs similar to Horizons or Relentless, or something new entirely? Can you give us any hints regarding those packs?
     
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  4. Baconus_Yum

    Baconus_Yum Active Member

    Welp, messed around with lite, and found a bug:
    (I don't see the bug report page for it yet)
    Clicking on the player heads tab in the creative inventory crashes your game.
     
  5. slowpoke

    slowpoke FTB Founder Team Member FTB Founder

    I will try to a
    I will try to answer your questions as best as I can.

    1. Infinity lite should not be viewed as the same as FTB Lite. With this pack the original plan was to just call it FTB Infinity. It was my initial call to make the change to the pack to Infinity lite. The goal behind this is because we still plan to release a 2nd version of Infinity in a couple of months time. So if we look back to 1.7.10, we first released Infinity and then followed that up with Infinity Evolved which added just a couple of new mods over Infinity and Expert mode. When it came to 1.10, we realised a couple of months ago that it was going to take a good chunk of time for some mods to update. Longer than we were comfortable waiting before bring out our first 1.10 pack. So we decided that we would first release infinity with the mods that we considered stable and suitable for the pack. Then in a couple of months come back and then release a 2nd pack under the Evolved name. With this pack I am giving Tfox a bit more freedom to make basic tweaks under the hood to the configs. Then once that pack is out, we are going to start work on Expert Mode.

    As to an actual lite pack designed for 32 bit operating systems, I am told that due to changes brought in with 1.10 producing a 32 bit pack that runs reliably would be very difficult once we start adding any new blocks into the game.

    2. Right now we have no plans that we would be comfortable making specific details public with regards to upcoming gamemodes. However no its not going to be restricted to crafting no.

    3. With regards to 1.10, our plan is to expand beyond FTB Tweaks and FTB Utilities into a new mod that will be adding more custom content. Do not expect that end game crafting to follow the same route that we had in 1.7.10.

    4. With regards to Infinity lite, I want to still maintain this idea of absolute minimum changes. Even with the base Evolved, whilst there will be still be minimum changes, I have given Tfox a bit more freedom this time to bring in some balance changes. With regards to Quark, it was discussed internally and we felt as a group that it did not really fit in with our plans for Infinity at the time. I have already discussed this extensively in private with Vazkii.

    5. In 1.10 we have a lot more flexibility to add mods after the fact due to the new retrogen tools that CPW has built. So whilst I cannot say whether new mods will be added later on, we certainly have that ability now.

    6. Right now, It is hard to answer this question. We will take a closer look once we have a more complete understanding of what 1.11 will bring.

    7. The new packs will be totally new IP's however at some point in the future we may revisit some version of Horizons, but that will probably depend oh how long 1.10 lasts.
     
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  6. tfox83

    tfox83 FTB Pack Dev Lead Team Member FTB Pack Developer

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  7. SephirothWS

    SephirothWS Active Member

    So you're telling me FTB Infinity Lite was released almost 7 months ago? Where has the time gone? (In all seriousness though, Date formats are confusing as heck; I tend to read these as "MM/DD/YYYY" when formatted this way.)
     
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  8. Gideonseymour

    Gideonseymour Relatable Gamer Trusted User Retired Staff

    Nice! Thanks for shedding some light (or FTB infinity lite) on the situation and your motivations!
     
  9. Yusunoha

    Yusunoha Never Leaves Wiki Staff ModMyMC Editor

    I've been wondering... is FTB considering the option of releasing a modular pack?

    I liked the idea of Resonant Rise, where you could pick certain modules that contained mods to create your own custom pack. with this the players or servers were able to create their own unique type of modpack pretty easily, so you could play the same pack several times and each time it'd be a new experience.

    I do realize a pack like that would take a looooong time to develope, as you'd need to test the pack constantly with all the different modules, but I was just wondering if FTB ever considered releasing a pack like that.
     
  10. slowpoke

    slowpoke FTB Founder Team Member FTB Founder

    Yes, but it wont be any time soon and certainly not in 1.10. The stuff we want to do requires a lot of custom content and we are still in the early planning stages.
     
  11. xbony2

    xbony2 WikiWorker Wiki Staff FTB Mod Dev

    Would a transition of worlds from FTB Infinity Lite to FTB Infinity be possible?
     
  12. pAznik

    pAznik Active Member

    Can we expect any big pack with quests? (not skyblock)
     
  13. tfox83

    tfox83 FTB Pack Dev Lead Team Member FTB Pack Developer

    As of this time so am going to safely say no, due to the amount of newer mods that will be added, you will be missing ore gen, structure gen and more than likely the biome mapping will change. Will it convert over and load, probably, but I don't suggest it.
     
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  14. Cptqrk

    Cptqrk Popular Member

    Hey Slow...

    There isn't a mod list associated with this on the launcher. Could we get mod lists on the launcher instead of having to track them down elsewhere?
     
  15. Magzie

    Magzie Well-Known Member

    in some countries the day comes first in the date. examples. US dates Month/day/year. Some countries in the world do it like so day/month/year. This makes the date from smallest to largest unit of time. so the release date of the lite pack is 4/Nov/2016. Hope that helps. going to play around with it this week end and get a quick start guide up on youtube. :)
     
  16. SephirothWS

    SephirothWS Active Member

    And this is what I'm pointing out, Magzie. This can be confusing for some people, and I'm suggesting they change the format to something a bit more widely understandable, such as maybe <Month name, Day, Year> or <Day, Month Name, Year>

    Right now I read the above 04/11/2016 as April 11th, 2016.
     
  17. pAznik

    pAznik Active Member

    For most of the world is logical that is D/M/Y.
     
  18. Magzie

    Magzie Well-Known Member

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Date_format_by_country

    The US for the most part i s one of the only countries that uses middle-endian. Most of the rest of the world uses the Little-endian. I don't see why they should have to change it just for the US. It would be just as easy for them and us if the just wrote the month out instead of putting the number.
     
  19. Scottly318

    Scottly318 Well-Known Member

    He's not saying they should @Magzie . Even if it's common place, that doesn't make it any less confusing for someone who isn't used to that particular format.

    But anywho... I appreciate knowing the thought process behind pack design.
     
  20. mjevans

    mjevans Active Member

    2016-11-04 :: Everyone should use ISO 8601 for dates. Relevant XKCD https://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1179:_ISO_8601
     
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