After years of being available as both alpha and beta, Minecraft is finally available as a finished (though never truly finished) product.
Yet for all the fanfare, I haven't played the game in over a year. Talking to lots of other people, I hear the same thing. They dabbled in it in 2009 or 2010, appreciated it, then moved onto something else. The release of v1.0, however, gives us all a chance to check back in with the game.
For the next few days, then, I'll be doing just that. And today, we're looking at the multitude of ways that have been developed in the past year or so to get the game looking better.
Don't get me wrong, I like how Minecraft looks. There's a rustic charm to its blocks and textures. But just as the game itself is built around carving your own experience to suit your tastes, so too has the Minecraft community built itself a myriad of ways to help you get the game looking just how you want it to look.
You can't change the block-based nature of the worlds, but you can change just about everything else via texture packs, a form of modification that's built into the game menu itself. Below you'll find some of my favourite packs, along with what you need to install them.
MCPatcher HD - First things first! Minecraft texture packs come in all shapes and sizes. To make using them easier, as well as for allowing you to switch them on the fly, you should install MCPatcher HD. Indeed, some of the texture packs I'm about to recommend require you to have it, so before you go any further, get it installed.
Tronic Revamped - Probably my favourite visual overhaul of the game. Tronic turns the muddy, low-res textures of the game into sharp, clean cubes. It's not for everybody, as in many instances it can make the game look even more unnatural, but I like the effect enough to look past that.
The Painterly Pack - Less of a single pack and more of a massive collection of them, TPP is a long-time favourite of Minecraft fans, and it's not hard to see why. While keeping the overall aesthetic of the vanilla game, Painterly lets users choose from a range of slightly-improved textures, many of them looking adorably 16-bit in comparison to the originals. Definitely worth a look for those who want to keep things samey, only a little better.
LB Photo Realism - And, this one's for those who want to go in the opposite direction. Scuttles' wildly popular pack adds realistic, highly-detailed textures to the game world to stop everything looking like a plastic toy and more like the real world. If the real world was made out of blocks.
Ovo's Rustic - Adds a clean, cartoony sheen to the game world, that while now rendered in a much higher resolution, still has a ton of rustic charm. Hence the name! Perfect for people who wish Minecraft looked more like Dragon Quest, or a Studio Ghibli cartoon.
Jolicraft - I love Jolicraft. While keeping things low-res, and for the most part not looking that different to the vanilla game, it's only when you start to look a little harder you see the scale of the changes here. Everything looks a little more homely, a little more worn, and the colour changes it makes to the game make everything feel warmer.
Well be looking at Minecraft a little more in the days to come, ahead of, believe it or not, an actual review of the game. These are crazy days we live in.