Why no new launcher.

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slowpoke

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Jul 29, 2019
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I know everyone is asking this question. Where is the FTB launcher for 1.6.4 onwards. I understand that there has not been a massive amount of information forthcoming and the truth is that its been a question thats been difficult to answer. Quite honestly it is still a difficult question to answer. However I hope that this post is going to go some way into explaining why its been such a problem.

When the first launcher was released, whilst it was functional, a lot of lessons were learned and people like UNV_annihilator joined the team. They started to work on cleaning up the code as much as was possible. However back then the original launcher was written inside of 2 weeks and we could never have anticipated how popular it would be. Soon after that UNV and JJW started planning a new improved launcher that would take the place of the existing launcher and address some fundamental problems with the original one.

The first of these was the way we distributed the packs themselves. To try and explain, we first need to look at how the current launcher distributes mods. Right now what happens is that when you download say the Unleashed pack. you actually download the entire pack in one go. Then say we update that pack, you have to again download the entire pack. Then lets say you download the Direwolf20 pack, you again download everything in one go. This method is simple to operate, however its totally inefficient.

The new launcher is designed to work differently. Now we are looking at a system where you only download the mods and specifically the versions of the mods you need. So for example, you download the unleashed pack and then an update comes out. Instead of re-downloading everything again you will now only download the mods that have been updated. Then lets say you want to install Direwolf20, the new launcher will check what mods you have downloaded and first copy mods from there, this means it only has to download the mods you actually need from our servers. This makes pack construction more efficient. However it changes the way we have to make packs, instead of making the packs like normal, we essentially write out a list of the mods a pack needs, and then send that list to the launcher. Then the launcher uses that list to make up a mod pack.

So this is where the first problem comes in. This list that we have to make up is fairly complicated and for reasons that will be explained more a little later in this post, we cant just let people write these out by hand. There needs to be a way of automating this list and we need to be clear what information is in the list and where it is put. Right now this is still up for discussion and has been changed several times. Next is the look of the launcher, getting this right has proved challenging, especially as one of the things planned for the new launcher is the ability for people to add their own custom skin to it.

Moving on to the next bit and this is something that has been planned for a long time but we have not spoken about it outside of people in FTB and in private messages to mod developers. In the new launcher the plan is to totally revamp the way third party mod packs work. Right now if you want to design your own mod pack and have the FTB launcher install it for you, you can. However the method to do so is quite honestly horrid. Third Party pack developers have to jump through a thousand hoops in order to get a pack on the launcher and then to get one updated means they have to go through even more and then if a mistake is made it becomes a bit of a nightmare for all. Then there is this whole business of permissions for mods. Right now we ask that each mod-pack developer is responsible for getting their own permissions. Whilst this is ok for general packs meant for general use. Those packs that are designed for individual servers (what we used to call private packs) then the permissions system wasn't really appropriate.

With the new launcher this is all about to change. The idea is this, say you want to run a server and want to make your own pack and configs etc for it. You will come to the FTB website and essentially log into an area of the website set up for this purpose. There you will see a list of pre-approved mods. These are mods where we have general permission from the mod developer to allow us to essentially pass on our permissions to the third party. Either this or an open source mod that already gives open permission. From this list, you will be able to essentially tick the boxes next to the mod that you want in your pack. Then if there is a mod that you want to use that isn't on our list as long as you have permission for that mod, you can just upload it yourself along with a config file and a couple of images and your pack will be constructed automatically and added onto the launcher. Then if you need to update, just log back in make the adjustments, hit submit and again the changes are sent to the launcher automatically. This isn't the whole story but its enough of it to give people a basic idea. The point is, this will simplify the process of constructing and updating third party packs hugely and will open this up to a lot more people. (For the sake of clarity, this is not something saying people wont need permissions for mods in mod-packs that we distribute any more, this is me saying that once this is up and running, in the case of packs designed for individual servers as opposed to packs meant for general use there will be a large list of mods that you will be able to use the permissions that FTB has. (These permissions only extend to the actual packs that we distribute and do not extend to other methods of distribution)

There are other issues, but these are the main ones and unfortunately for one reason or another we have been faced with ongoing delays. So, lets talk about what are we going to do about it. As I said a couple of months ago, we were going to make changes to FTB so things were run a bit more professionally. We are still in the same position where no one is getting paid, everyone is still a volunteer and I cant force people to work. However there are thing that we can do and have done.

First - Although I cant mention a name yet. I recently added a new member to the FTB team. This is a person highly respected in the minecraft modding community. This person has essentially been taken on to oversee launcher development. This in and of itself has added to the delays as this person has made some changes and suggestions that we will be making to improve the launcher.

Second - Internal communication. We have now added a new system for internal communication and started having actual meetings between a large group of FTB staff to help get things more organised.

Third We have pulled in outside help from the modding community to help with work on the launcher itself.

Forth - Whilst Wyld has resigned from FTB to allow him to focus on streaming. Jadedcat has returned and we added in Eyamaz onto the mod-pack team. Together they are working extremely hard to make sure that when the launcher is ready, we have mod-packs good to go. The plan is on day 1 to have 3-4 proper, fully tested FTB packs for 1.6.4. Alongside this, as soon as we can, we are going to open up the tools for mod pack creation to the third party pack people to allow them to transition over to 1.6.4 as smoothly as possible. Finally, we will be releasing in full the FTB master config list in order to help in the construction of packs.

Right now, FTB is at a pretty low point, I know it and everyone around here knows it. It isn't like this because we don't care, its the exact opposite. This new launcher has to be right and I have said all along, I don't want us to release it until it is right. I would love to give an ETA, but honestly its just an invented number. The truth is we just don't know at the moment. The list of things that need doing is not very long but some of them are pretty big. Making the web interface for all this is no small task.

As a final note, FTB has largely been built on the backs of help from the many volunteers. This remains and if anyone feels they have the skills needed to join the team and help (right now specifically on the Launcher development and website development) please feel free to contact me via a pm on the forums. Whilst I always appreciate offers from people, right now unfortunately we do not have room to take on people who are still learning how to code etc. We need people who are already experienced and ready to join the team.

Anyways I know that for most of you, this isn't what you wanted to read, however at least now you are all up to date with where we are.

Before I sign off here, I want to mention something briefly. I am told that this post comes across a little bit doom and gloomy. If you gt that impression then I apologise.(Seriously screw you spell checker, I will spell my ise's with an S and not a Z and you can take your squiggly red line and well moving on) What I tried to do is tell stuff like it is, however I don't want you to get the impression that things are like terrible here right now. Honestly if anything the opposite is true, I am genuinely optimistic about a lot of the work that's going on round here at the moment. Whilst there is no new launcher out and just like everyone else I really want to see one, I don't want to see it rushed out for the sake of it. Some of the ideas that we have for the future are pretty ambitious if they are done right. This isn't stuff that's being done in the future, its being worked on right now and my hope is this wont take a lot of time to do. Once we are through this painful bit, then we should be set up for the future and this launcher whilst it will evolve shouldn't need another rewrite. If further information comes up then I will get that information out as soon as I am able to.
 

Woodopriest

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Jul 29, 2019
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Read it, watched the stream, I am looking forward to the new launcher. Slowpoke tnx for the update, keep on the good work. And for the rest of the FTB team thank you all for the good work you are doing.

Looking forward to the new launcher and all that is going to happend to the mod packs :-D
 

luacs1998

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Jul 29, 2019
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I only have one question, and I feel it's better to ask now then later:
How will these changes (both launcher and team) affect the average user, and will it in any way impact the FTB/modded minecraft experience?
 
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groundhog

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Jul 29, 2019
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Well that's a huge downer.

It doesnt sound like you need coders, rather people with decent project management skills who can take your vision from ideation through analysis and solution design to build. There are so many reasons why major software projects fail, and right now what you really need is someone who has experience with these issues and can guide your endevour through to success. We're still rooting for the team.

From your post, I didn't get a sense you have a robust solution design in place - otherwise you wouldnt be raising these issues around how to develop configuration registries, distribution methods and the like. Hope Im wrong about that, otherwise this is quite disconcerting.

So I hope your new wunderkid has experience with leading a team, not just a gun code monkey, because without a strong focus on collaboration and communication, you're done for bud. That said, Chin up, Good luck!
 
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slowpoke

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Jul 29, 2019
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Well that's a huge downer.

It doesnt sound like you need coders, rather people with decent project management skills who can take your vision from ideation through analysis and solution design to build. There are so many reasons why major software projects fail, and right now what you really need is someone who has experience with these issues and can guide your endevour through to success. We're still rooting for the team.

From your post, I didn't get a sense you have a robust solution design in place - otherwise you wouldnt be raising these issues around how to develop configuration registries, distribution methods and the like. Hope Im wrong about that, otherwise this is quite disconcerting.

So I hope your new wunderkid has experience with leading a team, not just a gun code monkey, because without a strong focus on collaboration and communication, you're done for bud. That said, Chin up, Good luck!
Actually no, as I said in the post, although maybe it kind of got buried, we have taken someone on who can help with exactly that. To be honest we think most of those solutions are in place now and people have a good idea of how we are going to deal with these last few problems. It is just a case of them actually getting done now.
 
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vasouv

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Jul 29, 2019
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I hope your time and efforts will be fruitful, FTB team. The new MC launcher makes installing mods really easy, the one you're developing better deliver. Quite honestly I don't expect much, after a year on FTB, only the website is semi-changed. Keeping my fingers crossed.
 

groundhog

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Actually no, as I said in the post, although maybe it kind of got buried, we have taken someone on who can help with exactly that. To be honest we think most of those solutions are in place now and people have a good idea of how we are going to deal with these last few problems. It is just a case of them actually getting done now.
Thanks for clarifying. What you said was they are "respected" in the modding community and what you were tasking them to do. Technical expertise and project management competencies are not one and the same, hence my apprehension.

Given the high project failure rate in IT and the inherently complex and risky nature of your project, I believe that careful and effective planning is essential to the success of your business. So glad things are not as bad as they came across.
 

Lawbroken

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I hope your time and efforts will be fruitful, FTB team. The new MC launcher makes installing mods really easy, the one you're developing better deliver. Quite honestly I don't expect much, after a year on FTB, only the website is semi-changed. Keeping my fingers crossed.
A website isn't the same as coding a launcher and the forum's is was just a forum update with new custom skins thanks to Nana.

Comparing a Website to a coding a launcher that will download/install and handle user profiles/instances and configs a long with how it's done is way harder then a lot of people think it is.
 
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Jammie

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Jul 29, 2019
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I'm sorry to hear that everything has gone a little wrong. From what I've read it sounds like the team has bitten off more than they can chew, trying to get all these features released at once, maybe in hindsight it might of been better to work on each feature one after another. I'm glad that you're attempting to rectify it and that the team has finally spoken up about the issues, still a little more communication would always be nice. Maybe a post a month, just to let us know how it's getting on?
 

Darkdisease

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Jul 29, 2019
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Thanks for the update Slow, and thank you to the entire FTB team, your efforts do not go unappreciated. As "doom and gloom" as the post may come across, I really think that it can be viewed positively. FTB sounds like it has a solid plan, and a focus. The team sounds like they are reinvigorated and ready to tackle the problems. For me, I am glad to hear this news. I only wish I had a bit more experience in Java to offer some useful help, as right now, I am certainly not lacking in time. For the next 6 months I am sitting around on doctors orders not allowed to work with a broken - but totally usable for coding - wrist. (I abseil high rise buildings and can't work without it 100%)

Good luck with everything, and take your time to make sure FTB will live up to highest of standards. I certainly appreciate it, and I hope others do to!
 

Jinbobo

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A website isn't the same as coding a launcher and the forum's is was just a forum update with new custom skins thanks to Nana.

Comparing a Website to a coding a launcher that will download/install and handle user profiles/instances and configs a long with how it's done is way harder then a lot of people think it is.
Oh come on, all you do is type instructions into a text file, how different is that?
 
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DanteChaos

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A website isn't the same as coding a launcher and the forum's is was just a forum update with new custom skins thanks to Nana.

Comparing a Website to a coding a launcher that will download/install and handle user profiles/instances and configs a long with how it's done is way harder then a lot of people think it is.
I dont think it is even comparable.
A website is most commonly made in HTML/PHP (ASP in some cases) while the launcher is made in Java. Syntax is different and much stricter.

Glad to see information on the 1.6 update this makes the wait much more tolerable and once it does come out people will rejoice.
Goodluck with the launcher, all the work the FTB team does is so much appreciated.
 

Bashful Giant

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any chance of a broad ETA .. deffo after christmas but before easter maybe ?? lol
Ok- you want an ETA?

Definitely after Today. But before The Day After it's Released.

I completely understand the position of the FTB team. They're trying to turn the (very) disorganized world of Minecraft Modding into an organized, structured team- whilst also trying to remain within Copyright Law. Not an easy task, and I tip my hat to them.
 

slowpoke

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Jul 29, 2019
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OK so a broad ETA, the FTB launcher may or may not be out around the same time as Half Life 3. No actually seriously, I dont think I am even going to joke about this. Its not that I dont want to give you an ETA, its just that we really dont have one that has any bearing on reality. The problem is again that we cannot predict how much time people will have to complete what needs to be done. Without that knowledge and ETA is just a guess and means nothing to anyone.
 
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