Map Mods for our Minecraft Venture

As I wrote previously, we are being a little more direct and focused with our run into Minecraft 1.19.  It started with the world itself, where I wanted a peek into what we were getting, sifting through recommended seed values before picking one.

The map based on the seed value we chose

That set, and the world generated on Minecraft Realms, I gave some thought to maps.

If you were here during the first big world experience with Minecraft, you might recall I spent quite a bit of time fiddling around with maps.  It is one of those blank spots in the game.  While there are in-game maps you can create, they are very small, displaying just 128 x 128 blocks.  So I spent quite a bit of time with things like Minecraft Overviewer, which takes a copy of your world and renders it into the Google Maps format so you can view it in a web browser locally.

I ended up with some interesting maps, like this one with the stations on the mine cart rail loop I built.

Stations… you may want to click to enlarge that…

I would copy and update my local map regularly, though as we carried on with the world and explored further and further afield, it started taking longer and longer to render the maps and the map itself grew in disk space required as the world did, taking dozens of gigabytes on my drive.  Us going after those forest mansions didn’t help with that.

Aaron, straight west, me, northish…

That will increase the size of your world directory.

I wasn’t really keen on going down that path again, but I still wanted some mapping.  Skronk suggested a couple of client mods he had tried, Xaero’s Minimap and Xaero’s World Map.

I had previously avoided mods, in part because when we went to Realms server mods were no longer an option, and I wasn’t keen to start screwing around with .jar files for local mods… no doubt a reaction to the fact that at that time I worked on a Java based development environment and spent my share of time screwing around with .jar files.

There was also… and always is… something of a desire to keep mods to a minimum, both to experience the game as intended and not to get hooked on some great mod only to have the author wander off because they stopped playing the game.

This time around I was a little more willing to go after mods, mostly because I find the map thing somewhat indispensable.

It took a bit to get setup.  I had Overwolf/Curse Forge already installed as I use it to manage my World of Warcraft addons, so I spent some time figuring out how to use it for Minecraft client mods.

It wasn’t too tough.  You create a profile for a specific version of the game you want to mod and then just go to the Curse site, find the mod, tell it to install the mod, and then let it activate the client to do it.  Theoretically I should be able to find the mods from the client, but the search seems broken in a few ways and it was just easier in the end to use the web site.

The profile screen with the mods installed

Once you get the profile setup you have to launch it from the Overwolf client and it has to assemble the .jar file each time, which means it takes much longer to launch the game than it does with just the vanilla client, though nowhere as long as it takes to launch New World or Lost Ark, so I can manage… though if I want to just pop in and check something quick, I’ll launch the vanilla client.

The .jar it builds also, for whatever reason, doesn’t trigger Discord to show that I am playing Minecraft via its activity status option.  But it works.

The mini-map is nice, though I am not a fan of mini-maps that rotate with you rather than keeping a fixed “up is north” perspective.  But that is just me I am sure.  It shows what is around you and, if you hit the TAB key, it displays mob types and players.

Mini-map default and with TAB key

The map, however, is excellent, all I could have asked for.  It is every bit as detailed as the maps I used to render, and accessible within the game by pressing the M key.  It shows you the section of the world you have explore so far and updates automatically as you pass through a location you have already seen.

Where I have been in our new world so far

As with the rendered maps, I can zoom in and see greater detail.  The map isn’t especially high resolution, but it doesn’t have to be as the game is made up of 1 meter square blocks, so no resolution greater than that is needed.  I can zoom right in and see the layout of our town.

The center of our current world

And, if I want to play around with the map offline, it even has an export button that allows me to save off a copy in PNG format to work with.

So I am pretty happy with the map options I have at the moment.  One of the problems with Minecraft and its graphics is that it is often tough to distinguish landmarks at ground level because one forest looks like another and one green plain isn’t all that distinct from the next.  Having a map is pretty much essential for me not to be completely lost whenever I explore.

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