Principles in Design of FTB Modpacks​

Introduction
This article is designed to give an overview of how FTB designs Minecraft mod packs. This will cover everything from planning to mod selection onto config changes through to beta testing and release.

Philosophy
We are often asked what our goals are with FTB Modpacks, what is it that makes us choose one mod over another. Why was X mod included and Y mod excluded. From day 1 of FTB we have always strived to stay as neutral as possible when it comes to what mods we choose. Our primary goals are to respect the wishes of mod developers irrespective of any licences that may be attached to a mod (In other words if a mod developer wishes us not to use a mod, even though the license says that legally we can. Then where possible we will respect those wishes.) Equally we also strive to do our best to respect the wishes of Mojang and continually work to ensure we stay within the Minecraft EULA. Whilst this has not always been possible, it is something we work hard to try and achieve.

Following on from that we work hard to provide our users the best possible experience we can within the limitations of both the game and any mods that we may use. From almost the beginning, FTB modpacks were played by an extremely wide player base of all ages. When designing our modpacks we do our best to ensure that our packs are accessible to as wide a base as possible. With packs like Infinity, our goal is to try to balance our packs around our mod choices and whilst we do make a small amount of changes to the mods in the packs, we aim to both keep the vanilla side of Minecraft as close as possible to the original experience we also try to keep the Modded side as close to the original author's vision as we can. We want our players to be able to go to the various wikis and websites and for the most part be able to get accurate information about the mods they are playing.

With the introduction of Expert mode in 1.10 we have expanded on this to also provide a pack that offers a more expansive long term modpack where we try to encourage the use of more mods. We do this by changing the recipes for a large number of items that will encourage the building of infrastructure (both magical and tech based) However we don't want to see players have to build a complex machine for one task, so our goals are to to give the infrastructure multiple purposes so that you continue to use throughout the life of the world you play in.

Planning

Production of a new pack will first begin during meetings between Slowpoke and the principle modpack developers of FTB which at this moment in time include tfox83 (Lead Modpack Developer), SnowShock35 and Darkosto. During these meetings we will plan out what packs we want to create for the coming iteration of minecraft. We then work out a rough timeline for what order we want to release those packs and in what sort of time frame. So taking Minecraft 1.10 for example, we currently have firm plans in place for 6 packs with the potential for another 4 on top of that.

Once that stage is complete, we start to take a close look at mod availability. During this period we will initially look to mods that we have experience with and see how updates are proceeding with that mod and gauge what sort of support we expect that mod to get through this iteration of Minecraft (Normally based on our experience with the mod developers working on the project) We also start the process of identifying what potential new mods we may be able to use in upcoming packs.

Having put together an initial list of mods to work with, we then look to start a process of actual individual mod testing. Over the last couple of years, the way we approached this has changed dramatically and these days our highest priority when choosing mods has become mod stability. This means we take a close look at how that mod performs on a server, when used alongside other mods. We take a look at any end game items and how they made affect long term server stability. With the gaps between Minecraft updates taking longer, we now need to try to make players worlds last months instead of weeks where possible.

In addition to stability, our mod choices for unstable are also based upon recommendations from either members of the FTB core team, The Stream Team, The beta team and also from general recommendations from other members of our community. These are normally mods that we feel have the potential to make it into one of our future packs.

Having put together a list of the mods that we want to take a look at, we put together our initial pack for the iteration of Minecraft which is FTB Unstable. This pack is designed to achieve several goals. First it allows us to aid mod developers by allowing them to see how their mod performs in a modpack environment. We try to include as many mods as is practical in this pack and don't really spend a lot of time on either pack balance or ensuring that worlds do not get corrupted. The pack has a secondary goal of allowing us to take a closer look at some of the mods that we may want to include in our upcoming pack releases.

Finally we start to take a closer look at mod configs, to identify any general config changes that may need to be made for future packs in order to facilitate the design of future packs. We also make our initial decisions with regards to world gen configs including areas like Ore Generation. We also plan out the custom menus that FTB use.

Pack Design
During the period of the Unstable release we start to pencil in the mods that we want for our early packs. In the case of 1.10 and moving forwards our intention is to always release a version of Infinity as our first FTB pack (this excludes packs maintained by FTB for third parties such as Direwolf20 or Hermitcraft etc) During the 1.10 development phase in order to aid in the construction of the pack, we set a hard date for mods to be included within the release version of the pack. This allowed us a period of a month to thoroughly test the pack leading up to release.

Once we have chosen the mods, the principle pack designer with make an initial pack, pulling all the mods together and doing a rough pass over the configs. This is designed to just make the pack playable for initial testing and may include any balance changes that have cropped up during Unstable testing.

Once completed this pack will be passed to the beta testing teams. In normal circumstances beta testing will last anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 weeks depending on whether or not we foresee any potential issues that may crop up (for example, using a mod we have little experience of). After this a release candidate will be passed over to the teams for final testing. At this point any new artwork that may be required is commissioned and from 1.10 onwards we plan to include press packs for our packs which will include a full list of mods alongside high quality versions of artwork for use in things like overlays and thumbnails etc.

Beta Testing
As of 1.7.10 we introduced a full beta team to FTB which as grown from less than 10 people initially to over 50 people today with plans to expand that further. Our beta testing is run in 2 stages. Behind the scenes we have a closed beta team that are given specific areas of a modpack to look at and report back to whoever the principle modpack developer for the pack is. In addition to that we have expanded the FTB Stream Team which contains YouTubers and Streamers who play through packs in a normal manner to look at general gameplay balance.

During beta testing pack developers will start to refine the configs and make any potential balance changes that need to be made. In addition to this we also start to profile the servers looking for potential memory leaks and other stability issues.

Modpack Overviews 1.10.x
Mod pack ETA’s are dependant on mod availability/stability and subject to change.


FTB Infinity Lite. (Release 04/11/2016)

Recommended minimum 64bit java 8 with 4gb assigned to Minecraft for single player.
Recommended minimum server 4gb.
General modpack designed for use by a wide variety of players of all ages.


FTB Infinity Lite will be our initial 1.10 modpack offering (excluding official FTB 3rd party packs like HermitPack). Infinity Lite will follow the same design principals as Infinity 1.7 mainly catering to a large player base with a mash of tech/magic content among other mods with no pre defined end game goal, leaving it in the player’s hands to decide progression. Based on the amount of content during the time of planning/development and the early stages of 1.10 mods, we decided to create a “Lite” version so we could get content to our player base in a timely manner.

When planning packs like Infinity Lite we choose mods that will naturally fit into a pack with minimal config changes so a player can refer to the respected wiki for accurate information regarding the mod. Configs that we may decide to change are solely based on notable performance gains and preventing obvious cross-mod exploits. These major changes will be noted in the press pack. Other configs that we change are disabling ore generation from some mods so there isn't three different types of one ore in a world. If at anytime we find ourselves disabling major content from the mod to make it fit in the pack we will normally decide to pull the mod, since that’s not the way the developer of that mod designed it to be played. One of the hardest parts of planning packs like Infinity Lite, is which mods not to include, whether it be balance issues or even minor performance related issues.

FTB Infinity Evolved (ETA - Q1 2017)

Recommended Spec to follow.
Expanded version of FTB Infinity lite, includes a greater variety of mods. Will provide a base for future game modes.

FTB Infinity Evolved will be an expanded pack based off of Infinity Lite with more content and the return of game modes, which were introduced to Infinity (Evolved) in 1.7 approximately a year ago. Initial planning will be very similar to Infinity Lite with the main difference being mod selection based on future game modes. For example if we know that mod “a” cannot be adjusted in a way to work with a planned gamemode like “Expert Mode” we may decide not to include that mod thus preventing future problems that arise with expansion to the pack after release. This is a huge advantage that we have currently over the initial development of Infinity 1.7. Our goal is to release game modes as updates in the same way we did in Infinity (Evolved) 1.7 allowing players to simply update and continue in their current worlds if they choose to do so.

Upon initial release Infinity Evolved will not contain any game modes. Expert Mode will be developed first, (For more information on Expert mode visit https://forum.feed-the-beast.com/th...rd-mode-behind-the-scenes-with-tfox83.117216/) which when added to the pack 6-8 weeks (est.) after release that will introduce two game modes, Expert and Normal (Normal mode will be the default gamemode and will not introduce any changes). At this time we are discussing more game modes that may be introduced later in Infinity Evolved.

FTB Infinity Skyblock (ETA Q2 2017)
Recommended Spec to follow.

FTB Infinity Skyblock will be a spin off of FTB Infinity Evolved with a slightly modified mod list. The intention is to give players both the infinity and expert mode experiences in a skyblock environment with a whole new set of end game goals. Infinity Skyblock is designed with both a single player and multiplayer in mind with the ability to generate multiple islands on a server.


FTB Presents Sky Factory 3.0 (ETA Q1 - 2017)

Recommended Spec to follow.

More details to follow.

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