A Sparc of genius

OK, if we’ve got to have farming in Minecraft, so be it. But one particular frustration with obtaining the animals is that the current system of attraction – wheat for all animals – means that you end up turning into the Pied Piper of Hamelin…

Illustrating the perils of only having wheat for attracting and breeding animals.

Illustrating the perils of only having wheat for attracting and breeding animals. I only wanted the sheep. But my goodness, that pork will certainly come in handy.

… and it’s almost impossible to separate your critters into their own pens. I generally don’t bother with separation: I get all the animals into the pen, then do a Lord Voldemort and “kill the spare” (f/x: evil laughter). The other issue, of course, is that if you end up ploughing through herds of animals, you’re left surrounded, as per that pic. I had to switch into Creative Mode in SMP to be able to escape the (frankly uncomfortable) proximity of So. Many. Animals. (though the main reason was to actually navigate around holes and ravines).

It would have been nice to be able to have one foodstuff per animal, for feedin’ and breedin’. Into the fray steps Dan Newman, aka Sparc_Man_d, who has thoughtfully provided us with Animal Tweaks, for SSP 1.0.01.

First up, though, let’s take a look at the changes to the food you need for the animals. While cows will still require wheat for sustenance and getting busy, you use tall grass (collect it with shears) for sheep, pigs will chow down on brown mushrooms, and chickens use regular old seeds. Nice!

I can claim to have a teeny-tiny role in this mod, though of course Dan did the actual work 🙂 When Dan tweeted that he was working on a breeding mod, I asked

AstragaliUSA: Would it be too complex to change the type of food that each animal needs to breed?

Sparc_Man_d: that’s partly what I had in mind. I was going to leave cows and sheep alone since wheat makes sense for both.

AstragaliUSA: True, but on the other hand, filtering out animals when you reach the pen is a pain >.< 🙂

Sparc_Man_d: what would you recommend for cows and sheep then?

AstragaliUSA: Hm. Cows should get wheat, pigs get mushrooms (truffles), chickens maybe pumpkin seeds and sheep… erm… oh bugger.

Sparc_Man_d: sugarcane! Ok, now I’ve got it. Also, I was planning to use regular seeds for chickens

(Links for each name refer to their individual tweets)

Mushrooms become useful again! 😀 (You’re welcome ;)) Oh, and as you can see, sugarcane was originally used in the mod, but revision 2 changed that to long grass; I like the change 😀

Oh, yes: You’re going to need cooked fish, too. Why? To breed wolves! Yes, thanks to Dan, you can now breed up an army of faithful (if derpy) companions/killing machines. And the little baby wolves are so cute! Of course, the wolves have to be tamed in the first place, but all your wolf cubs will be automatically tamed, so that saves you a ton of bones 😀 It’s also a rather nifty use for fish (I stopped bothering catching fish a long time ago, but in my SSP worlds, I’m going to start again – it’ll be so worth it :D).

Give your wolves a stick, and they’ll stop following you and enter free-roam mode. Give ‘em another, and they’ll be right by your side again. Don’t take too long about it, though: If you don’t have your free-roaming wolfies cooped up, they’ll eventually wander off! 😦

Last but by no means least, Dan has made a tweak to the sheep: Their wool grows back! So now it doesn’t take forever and a day to get your wool – under vanilla SSP, there’s no point keeping your sheep, so you might as well kill ‘em once you’ve bred ‘em and sheared ‘em. You can also shear the babies, too, but you’ll only get one block out of them (well, they’re smaller…).

In fact, Dan took the time out to gently chastise Notch and Jeb after he worked out the wool-regeneration algorithm:

By the way, making sheep regrow wool in Minecraft is insanely easy. Shame on you @jeb_ @notch for not having added it already.

Dan’s a quick worker: He had the idea on November 28, and finished it on the 29th… Great job!

It’s a shame that it’s not available as a server-side mod, but Dan pointed out, when I asked about that:

I’m pretty much a noob at modding so I’m not ready to tackle server side mods.

Well, for a self-confessed noob, I think he’s doing fine work, and I heartily recommend this download if you want to make your life as a farmer-adventurer less stressful! 😀

One last thing: In case you’re not aware of it, Animal Tweaks isn’t the first mod Dan’s created. He also made the mod Sparcs Tweaks (now updated for 1.0.0), which makes a veritable smorgasbord of changes to your Minecraft experience, including better loot in dungeons and Abandoned Mineshafts… plus a 10% chance of creeper dungeons, and a 10% chance of spider dungeons containing cave spiders… So if you fancy giving your SSP experience a little more oomph, grab that mod, too! 😀

(January 19) LONG-OVERDUE-UPDATE! (Sorry, Dan!) On Christmas Day – yes, it’s taken me quite a while to get around to updating this – Dan released the SMP version of Animal Tweaks, and you can visit the same link above to find the download link. If you’re a player on a server with the SMP version enabled, you’re going to need to have the SSP version installed in order to correctly take advantage of Dan’s awesome tweaks.

Of course, he’s updated for Minecraft 1.1, and he’s removed the wool-regrowth part of his mod (as far as the adult sheep are concerned) because the vanilla game regained that ability.

One last thing: Hojjosh has released a video, showing off Animal Tweaks, in his Mod Review series. You can check that out by clicking this link 🙂

1 Kristal and I have been following Dan for a little while on Twitter, and neither of us knew he was a modder 😀 The more you know…

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