Minecraft Mod Examination: Random Things
Most publicly released mods for Minecraft are built with a specific goal in mind. This could be to upgrade a certain aspect of the experience or add in a new system, but it is extremely rare to see a good mod that has no specified goal. Most of those were built solely for personal use, and while they do a great job of consolidating all of the needs of the mod's developer into a single file, most people will only desire one or two of the changes, and find fault with the rest. But while Random Things is indeed just a collection of features that the developer wanted while playing, it also comes with the ability to disable any unwanted aspects of the mod, meaning that it should be considered even if only a single feature is desired.
There are a huge number of items and settings to chose from, but the option that will effect most player's games the most is Hardcore Darkness. This setting simply removes most of the ambient light from Minecraft, meaning that the game will be almost pitch-black when no torches, sunlight, glowstone, or other source of light present. Obviously, this makes moving around in caves and at night far less safe, but that is the feature's selling point. By dimming the lights, monsters of all kinds can get closer to players before being spotted. Nights become terrifying again, on a level that most players have not experienced since their first days in Minecraft. Monster-adding mods like Lycanite's Mobs and Mo' Creatures work especially well with this setting, as they can supply other beasts to scare players with, and even more worrisome sounds to the darkness outside of player's homes. It is worth noting that Hardcore Darkness is only a lot closer to pure shadow than regular Minecraft, and if the game is set to the "bright" setting, players can still see in dark areas, but there is an additional option to lock the game's gamma for those who wish to disable that form of "cheating".
And Hardcore Darkness is not the only new reason to fear the nights, players can also choose to include Terraria-style Bloodmoon events in their game. These are nights where the moon, the fog, and all of the lighting turns blood red, and monsters of all kinds start appearing far more frequently. This forces players to always be careful of the time, especially if they have Hardcore Darkness enabled, as being caught out during a Bloodmoon sometimes ends with the player being attacked by upwards of fifty enemies at a time. By default, monsters are generated three times as often, and much closer to the player than on other nights, but both of these settings can be changed for those who feel Bloodmoons should cause massive invasions, or be almost normal nights. The mod can also be configured so that sleep is forbidden during such events, thereby stopping players from simply skipping them, and all of the color changes can be disabled individually as well. Normally a Bloodmoon only occurs on five percent of nights, but this can be adjusted as needed, or the event can be disabled entirely.
But not all of the settings are dangerous, Random Things also includes in a simple change to tree leaves that most players will love: near-instant decay. Normally after a tree is cut down, clumps of leaves will float in the air for a while, sometimes even several minutes, before finally breaking down and occasionally dropping saplings when they do. Beyond being both horribly ugly and ridiculous, this forces players to either clear the leaves manually, or wait before they can use that land for anything else. But Random Things has an option to cause all leaves to decay within just a few seconds of the last piece of wood being removed from a tree, meaning saplings are dropped nearly instantly, and the space is cleared for building within just a few seconds. And like most aspects of the mod, players can tweak or disable these changes if they feel the need.
There are also a number of new items added to the mod, and many of these will require an item dropped by Random Thing's only new creature: the Spirit. Spirits are small flying ghosts that have a tiny chance to be generated anytime players kill an entity, whether from the original game, or ones added by mods. They do not attack or cause trouble in any way, but they can still be hard to defeat thanks to their durability, their ability to fly, and the fact that they vanish within less than a minute of being generated. But if the player can slay one of these spirits, they can harvest the Ectoplasm from them to craft a number of useful items, such as a powerful sword that slows enemies and causes them to generate spirits more often, or armor that heals players after every attack. Players can also make Spirit Binders which will let them to move any of the game's Mob Spawners, allowing them to easily set up monster-farms wherever they wish, and Spectre Glass that only players can walk on, allowing for powerful traps and mob-grinders.
But what might be the coolest item that can be made with Ectoplasm is the Spectre Key, an item that allows players to access their own personal dimension. This item is surprisingly cheap to make, and when used takes the player to a small area in which they can safely store goods, or utilize as a mobile home. Unlike Witchery's Magical Mirrors, players can only have a single area bound to them, but if they lose their key they can simply create another one to gain access to the same location. And while this space is not normally shared between players, administrators, or those who have cheats enabled, can use an special version of the key to access any player's private dimension.
Whitestones are another useful and powerful item, though they can only be found in dungeon chests. They start out uncharged, and require the player to stand outside at midnight during a full-moon to gain power, but once they are charged they can fully heal and buff a dying player once before needing to be re-energized. These Whitestones can also be turned into Bloodstones during a Bloodmoon, and while they lose their life-saving capabilities, the Bloodstones gain a constant healing power dependent on the number of monsters slain by their holder. They can also be used as part of a ritual to force Bloodmoon events for those who wish slay hordes of monsters or cause all kinds of trouble for their friends.
And in the newest version there are an interesting pair of items that allow players to change which biome an area is in, although it is a slightly odd process. Players will first need to construct a Biome Capsule out of several expensive items, such as diamonds, emeralds, and obsidian, and then toss it on the ground in whatever biome they want to change a zone into. After about ten seconds, the capsule will change colors and start charging itself at a rate of about one charge per second, with a maximum charge of two hundred and fifty-six. Players can then store the capsule in their inventory and use a Biome Painter on the ground to change a small area of land into that biome. Each meter of space uses a single charge, meaning that it will take a very long time to convert a city or town, but it can be effectively used to change the color of foliage in an area, or force biome-specific beasts to spawn closer to home.
There are several other neat tools to make as well. Lapis Lamps are light-emmiting blocks that do not stop creatures from generating, allowing players to brighten up dungeons and mob-grinders without preventing their opponents from spawning. Two new versions of Minecraft's old hoppers known as Item Collectors can pull in objects from a fair distance, with the stronger variety able to be configured over a larger radius and to not accept certain items. Players can create moon-phase sensors that will activate a redstone signal on the full moon, and Wireless Levers that do not even need Redstone to power their machines. Those who like alchemy might consider building an Imbueing Station and making one of the new potions, all of which last five minutes on default settings and give powerful effects such as withering opponents or increasing experience gain. Voidstones are a cheap and effective solution for players who have collected unwanted items in their travels, allowing them to delete items without needing to build an incinerator, and Drop-Filters can prevent certain types of items from being picked up in the first place.
A couple of new cosmetic items and machines have also been added by the mod. The new Dye Machine can change the color of tools and weaponry into any of the original sixteen colors, even if the item chosen was added by other mods. Random Thing's Fluid Display blocks also have full support for most other mods, and allow players to decorate their walls with perfectly safe blocks of still-molten lava, Flowing Spirit, or even Tinker's Construct's Pig Iron if they can think of a reason to do so.
But while the general-purpose items are great, several of Random Thing's tools are actually made for multiplayer-use. Magnetic Force is a wonder for adventurous players, as it allows them to quickly warp to the location of a friend, although it is consumed upon use and costs an emerald and Ender Pearl to create. Players might also find several uses for the new Ender Letter, which is a tool that allows items and messages to instantly and quietly be sent to friends over a long distance, even if they are not currently on the server. Online Detectors are another neat item that generate a redstone signal whenever a specific player comes online, allowing for neat tricks such as powering their homes up when they log in, or detonating a nearby block of TNT the instant the player enters the game. But best of all are the new Ginto items, which allow players to resurrect their friends on the spot where they have died, rather than respawn back at home.
And finally, there are also a number of tools to aid users of other mods. Two varieties of Energy Distributes are available for users of Thermal Expansion and its related mods, with the better of the two machines being able to spread Redstone Flux to up to thirty machines without the need of any form of wiring. Player Interfaces can have goods piped into one of three receptacles corresponding to the player's hotbar, armor slots, and storage, allowing players to equip themselves with all they need for a long journey by simply pressing a button. And users of OpenComputers also have pair of new blocks, the Creative Player Interface, which adds a set of new commands, and the Notification Interface, which allows the user to send customized notifications to other players.
While some of Random Thing's items do have occasional problems with bugs, most notably the Spectre Key being lost after warping to the new dimension, overall there very few reasons not to include this mod in a pack. It strengthens many other mods directly or indirectly, but as most of its changes are utility-based, it is rarely overpowered compared to what else is included in a specific Minecraft install. With the possible exception of the Bloodstone, most of the standard additions are not overly powerful either, and even in that case it requires a long time to charge to useful levels. And even if there is an item or setting that becomes problematic either for balance purposes or due to bugs, it can be can be removed in the mod's configuration file, leaving almost no reason to dislike this mod.
Even though Random Things does not try to add to or improve upon a specific aspect of the game, all Minecraft players will probably like some part of it. Adventurers will enjoy the darker nights and caves, while siege-lovers will have a nice challenge every time a Bloodmoon occurs. Tech-users can benefit from the new Thermal Expansion and OpenComputer items, and players in online mode have several new options to play with. Even if any unwanted parts of the mod exist, they can easily be taken out thanks to the well-designed configuration file and mod-options menu. So those setting up a new instance should feel free to add a few Random Things to their modpack. It may not have any kind of focus, but that actually helps it to become one of the most general-purpose mods out for Minecraft.