As many of you are well aware by now, my PC is not the greatest – though I’m eternally grateful that I have a PC at all, let alone one that can run Minecraft with any semblance of playability. So as much as I admire the sheer ingenuity which goes into mods, I’m reluctant to try them out, for fear it might strain my poor computer into a premature demise – until recently, I had installed just TooManyItems, and Single Player Commands.
But there’s a mod which some people still aren’t familiar with, and they really should be, especially if their machine isn’t cutting-edge. That mod is OptiFine (named for the amalgamation of Optimine and OptiFog).
The original Optimine was created by Scaevolus, author of the McRegion file format which Mojang incorporated into Minecraft. Development has since been taken over by sp614x, and a lot of dedication has been put into working towards a much better Minecraft experience. No less than three different versions are available, all configured to work with 1.7.3: Classic, Smooth, Multi-Threaded (for if you have a dual-core processor), as well as the original Optimine (for older machines, yet still updated to 1.7.3 compatibility). As the article linked above states, doubling of the frame rate is common (Optimine users can experience gains of 20 frames per second, or greater). Oh, and Classic can handle HD textures, HD fonts and the Better Grass plug-in, while Smooth is so named for its much smoother, more consistent frame rate.
Now, I have to admit to a lack of sensibility here… I was reading quickly through the article when I was wanting to try it out, and didn’t get as far as Optimine, so perhaps I should be using that one. But instead, I tried out OptiFine Classic. I know it’s probably a tired meme by now, but my goodness… Mind = Blown. Seriously.
After you’ve done the usual modding techniques, you’re ready to go – and the first thing you see, when you open the Video Options page, is that there’s now more than one page: Video Settings, Animation Settings and Detail Settings (the latter two being accessible through the bottom two buttons on the Video Settings page). Each page has a whole host of tweakable options, as illustrated in the pictures below:
So, I set the options to what I thought would be suitable for my machine, and got going – though I quickly found I had to turn fire and flame animations back on, because with them off, I got the “FIRE TEX” squares. Very disconcerting when you’re on fire, and you can barely see a bloody thing.
I’m still getting considerable variation in frame rate – but bear in mind I’m probably using the wrong version of the mod, and the graphics card is a 256MB DDR2 PCI card (my PC is so old, it only has PCI slots), but generally speaking, the performance really is a huge improvement over vanilla Minecraft. Previously, I’d be averaging 11-15 fps, occasionally getting as high as 30-35 (and by “occasionally”, I mean “rarely, with a following wind”). And considering that, before I installed the PCI card, I was getting 1-2 fps from the on-board card, I was happy to get more than 10… Since installing OptiFine, most of the time I get a decent 20-30 fps – even on Far – and depending on the amount of detail, I’ve seen it as high as 50-70. Outstanding.
There are some things which Minecraft still struggles with, under OptiFine modification. One such thing was the humongous mob smasher which used to be on the Minecrap server – but that’s not a criticism of OptiFine. Heck, I believe even BitBurner’s kick-ass gaming PC, which normally averages 100-200 fps, struggled with that behemoth. And the thing was surrounded by so much lava, you’d think the Nether had broken through into topside.
Now, sp614x also recommends some extra things that you should do to further improve performance: updating to Java 7, setting the Java process to higher priority, and setting “Limit framerate” to “Max FPS”. The fourth recommendation is a little counter-intuitive: make Minecraft run in less memory – but the explanation on the forum post (which I won’t repeat here) makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the technique to work (it was fine on SSP, but reported “Bad login” on SMP), so I just ignored that one. And I keep forgetting to fiddle with the priority settings (ahem). But even without those two recommendations implemented, I am totally in love with OptiFine. And I think I’m going to try the Smooth version next, to see if things are even better.
Until Notch and Jeb optimise the Minecraft code (purportedly to be happening between 1.8 and Full Release), I strongly urge you to give OptiFine a try. And I hope that the two of them give some serious consideration to adding OptiFine’s routines into the code, because sp614x has carried on Scaevolus’ work in fine style.