It’s time for another contest!  Take a gander at this Bearded Lady skin by Exaulted, which was made for the Circus Characters Skin Contest.  Her name is apparently Catherine, and the skin is accompanied by a lovely lecture on the history of circuses, detailing the past appearance of bearded ladies in these traveling venues.

 

bearded_inline

 

The rules of the contest are simple, and of course, not much different from those of past contests:

 

  • Skin must be of the “circus” theme – this can be a character from a story involving a circus, a typical role of actual circuses, or a made up circus character.

  • Skin must be accompanied by a description of how or why it belongs in a circus.

  • All submissions must be made fresh for this contest – no reposts!

  • Submissions must also not be based on old skins, painted over old skins, etc.

  • Only one entry for each person, and each entry may be made by only one person (no collaboration).

  • Skin must be usable within the game.

 

Prizes for this contest are the usual: a J!NX Tee Shirt, pixel trophies, and profile features.  The deadline is October 1st.

 

With that out of the way, let us take a look at this great skin!

 

Catherine’s beautiful beard and color scheme in general are accurate for the time period she is aimed at (14th century).  This type of attire would be typical of one such performer, as well as any well-mannered lady.

 

Easily my favorite detail is a subtle one: her ears.  Very few skinners include ears, and fewer yet do them well.  These ears not only add to the perception of the model as a human, but also provide some interesting style to the hair.  Basically, with character design, anything that breaks up monotony is good (in moderation) – these nine pixels do just that with great economy.

 

The shading is also done well.  The pants and shirt fade to darker shades towards the bottom, giving them the illusion of being puffed out.  The face is a bit lacking in shading, but it works decently well nonetheless due to the surrounding hair.

 

Finally, the layering system was used fairly generously here; the shirt sleeves, pant legs, shoes, and of course hair were all given some dimension.  Bravo, I say.

 

I present Exaulted an award amounting to no fewer than nine out of ten hairless bearded trapezing elephants. (?)

 

Installing the Skin

 

For online play, skins can be installed by simply uploading the file to your profile on Minecraft.net.  Skins posted on certain websites can be uploaded directly from their page, including this one; click on the button on the right-hand side labeled “change my skin” to be taken directly to the appropriate page.

 

For offline play only, the process is similar to installing mods:

 

  1. Download the skin’s .png file;

  2. Hold Windows key and press R to bring up the Run… dialog, or go to Start > Run.

  3. Type %appdata% and press enter, then navigate to roaming/.minecraft/versions.

  4. Open the folder containing the version you use for offline play and view the .jar file using WinRAR.

  5. Create a backup of the meta.inf file contained inside the .jar and store it in a separate folder.

  6. Navigate within the .jar file to assets/minecraft/textures/entity.

  7. Rename the image file titled “steve” to anything else (such as steve_backup).

  8. Change the name of your skin’s .png file to steve.png and insert it here.

 

Remember to keep your meta.inf and original steve texture backed up somewhere just in case.

 

As with all contests, I will be covering this one as it progresses.  So far, the Bearded Lady is the best entry I have observed – but the contest is still young!  Keep an eye out for more entries in the following two weeks.  For now, post in the comments and leave a link to your favorite circus skin!

Especially for new players, Minecraft can be a confusing place.  Most games come with some sort of mapping system that allows players to keep their bearings – without knowing the recipe for maps, however, doing so in Minecraft proves quite difficult.  Allow me to introduce Xaero96’s Minimap mod, the answer to all of your mapping prayers!

 

minimap_inline

 

As you can see, this mod simply displays a map of the surrounding area in the corner.  Why is this helpful when you can already craft maps in-game?  Well, for a few reasons:

 

  • Maps do not actively update as you move from region to region.  Crafting new maps for each area you visit is tedious and a waste of resources.

  • Maps must be held up to your face to actually use them.  They are not practical for adventuring, and can be dangerous when trying to travel through areas with ravines, lava, or hostile mobs.

  • Minimaps are more intuitive.

  • Xaero’s minimaps display a variety of other information not recorded on a regular map.

 

With that said – let us take a look at the options available in this mod:

 

minimap_options

 

Here you can choose to have the map display players, different teams, dropped items, mobs, and even set a cap on the maximum number of mobs/items/players displayed.  Furthermore, you can adjust the zoom levels, choose to show the map when in caves, and even display miscellaneous objects (i.e. item frames).  The “edit mode” allows the player to move the map around on-screen, meaning that you can place it wherever you wish:

 

minimap_map

 

Aside from being incredibly useful, this map is also quite convenient – the zoom can be controlled with the I and O keys respectively, which can also be customized in the keybindings menu (as with most mods).

 

In summation: this map is an excellent tool for anyone who wants to navigate throughout their world with ease.  Honestly, after trying it out, I consider this to be an essential mod – no player should be without it.  There is a certain charm in having to navigate manually without a minimap, but after a while it is just annoying.  Go give this mod a download!

 

How to install Xaero’s Minimap Mod for Minecraft 1.7.10

 

  1. Download and install Minecraft Forge mod loader

  2. Download the latest version of Xaero’s Minimap.

  3. Hold Windows key and press R to open the Run… dialog, or go to Start > Run.

  4. Enter %appdata% and navigate to your .minecraft/mods folder.

  5. Drag and drop the .jar file downloaded in step 2 into this folder.

 

What would you like to see in future versions of this minimap mod?  I would personally love to be able to customize colors and drag the corners to increase/decrease the size of the map.  Leave your ideas in the comments below!

Are you fed up with all of the simple texture packs that have become fashionable lately?  Do you want something more interesting than the vanilla textures, but aren’t ready for a deeply realistic commitment?  Do you appreciate overused memes?  If you answered ‘yes’ to two or three of these questions, the Unsimple texture pack by zobqo might be for you!

 

unsimple_inline

 

Unsimple is a texture pack that has no specific goal other than to provide alternative textures for the game that are not overly simplified.  The textures are not photorealistic either, however – they are simply slightly more detailed than the default pixelly goodness.

 

I usually like to save the best for last, but I’m going to start out showing off my favorite part of this pack: the items.

 

unsimple_items

 

Something about these new item textures just shouts oldschool RPG to me.  I know this was not meant to be an RPG pack by any means, but it’s inevitable.  I mean – look at those awesome 16bit pickaxes and tell me you aren’t having SNES flashbacks!  Unless of course you were born out of that generation.  In which case – let us move on.

 

The new texture for sand in particular is one of the best when it comes to the blocks of this pack, in my opinion.  In deserts, it tiles beautifully to become a hazy expanse of wavy wind-blown sand:

 

unsimple_sand

 

Textures look great from afar as well, as is amply shown by this castle (built by Aandolaf of PlanetMinecraft):

 

unsimple_castle

 

And finally, as with most packs, it looks quite wondrous when combined with some decent shaders:

 

unsimple_shaders

 

This pack is still a work in progress, with only just over half of it completed.  However, with what I have seen so far, it seems as though quite a bit of work is being put into editing the item textures, which is something I can definitely appreciate.  Items unfortunately tend to fall behind in priority for texture packs.

 

Since it is not complete yet I cannot properly judge it, but it is certainly on the right track.  I really love the new sand texture, and most of it looks great from far away.  I do think however that some of the blocks could use more attention concerning their up close appearance.

 

Installing Unsimple Texture Pack for Minecraft 1.8

 

  1. Download the latest version of the texture pack here.

  2. Load Minecraft.

  3. Click on Texture Packs (or Options > Texture Packs).

  4. Click Open Texture Pack Folder OR press WindowsKey+R and type %appdata%\.minecraft\texturepacks

  5. Place the texture pack in this folder and wait until it shows up in your client.

  6. Select the texture pack and click done.

 

How do you feel about simple texture packs?  Do you think they are far too abundant these days, or do you think they have a reason to be so plentiful?  Post your thoughts in a comment!

User EnderCat’s Butterfly Dress skin is one of the best female skins I have seen in a long time.  Depicting a female on the Steve model is a little difficult for obvious reasons, and most female characters end up looking like men with very feminine clothing and hair styles.  Such is not the case with this skin.

 

butterfly_inline

 

First off, let me address the long clothes issue – if you have been reading my skin reviews for any length of time, you know that I am inherently against skins that feature long clothes or hair which drop down below the torso and onto the legs.  It simply looks horrible when animated.

 

However, I am okay with it for this skin – here’s why: this is a long dress.  Dresses often have slits in them.  Therefor, when the legs separate for the character to walk, it simply looks like the dress has a slit in it.  I don’t know if this much thought was put into the skin by the creator, but it works fine nonetheless.

 

Moving on: the style and details on this skin are amazing.  Having it actually shaped like a butterfly is a wonderful touch, and of course the pattern for a butterfly’s wings lends itself well to clothing due to its abstract and repetitive nature.  The hair was also given decent volume using the layering system conservatively.

 

In terms of shading, EnderCat did an almost flawless job.  The arms and face seem appropriately dimensional, the hair looks convincingly styled, and the dress shape isn’t lost in the details.  My only problem is that the wrists (elbows?) have an unusual line on them that doesn’t quite look right.

 

Aside from that, however, I love this skin.  She definitely looks like a female character, and is elegantly modern in a simple way.  I award EnderCat nine out of ten cat bells.

 

Installing the Skin

 

For online play, skins can be installed by simply uploading the file to your profile on Minecraft.net.  Skins posted on certain websites can be uploaded directly from their page, including this one; click on the button on the right-hand side labeled “change my skin” to be taken directly to the appropriate page.

 

For offline play only, the process is similar to installing mods:

 

  1. Download the skin’s .png file;

  2. Hold Windows key and press R to bring up the Run… dialog, or go to Start > Run.

  3. Type %appdata% and press enter, then navigate to roaming/.minecraft/versions.

  4. Open the folder containing the version you use for offline play and view the .jar file using WinRAR.

  5. Create a backup of the meta.inf file contained inside the .jar and store it in a separate folder.

  6. Navigate within the .jar file to assets/minecraft/textures/entity.

  7. Rename the image file titled “steve” to anything else (such as steve_backup).

  8. Change the name of your skin’s .png file to steve.png and insert it here.

 

Remember to keep your meta.inf and original steve texture backed up somewhere just in case.

 

What is your favorite original skin and why?  Leave a link in the comments below!

Today I bring to you an interesting mod that combines the elements of gameplay with a new way to create structures in your world.  It adds some new blocks and items which allow the player to interact with blocks in interesting ways.  Welcome to my review of Unlocked’s Stone Bricks mod!

 

New Blocks

 

For starters, allow me to show off some of the new blocks introduced in this mod.  As you might have guessed, it prominently features stone bricks.  There are actually many types of bricks, some of which are of questionable logic, such as the wooden bricks:

 

bricks_wood

 

There are also sandstone bricks, ender pearl bricks, and end stone bricks, along with inverted versions of all bricks in the mod (as you saw in the previous screenshot):

 

bricks_misc

 

These bricks can be easily crafted by simply surrounding a regular stone brick in a crafting table with the material in question.  Sandstone bricks use sandstone, ender pearl bricks use ender pearls, and so-on.  Inverted versions are made with a redstone torch in the center.

 

Some of the blocks are actually useful, such as the glowstone brick.  This provides light and growth for plants like a regular glowstone, but looks more attractive.  There are also redstone bricks, which function like redstone blocks.

 

Finally, there is an interesting block called the Lucky Brick.  It is crafted using gold ingots around a stone brick, and can be placed in the world.  When broken, it will yield a random “brick” block:

 

bricks_lucky

 

New Items

 

In my opinion, this is where the mod really shines.  I have not seen many mods that include items which affect blocks, especially those placed in the world, and especially not in a way that is aesthetically useful for construction.

 

Four new tools are added with the Stone Bricks mod.  The first of these tools is the hammer.  As logic would dictate, the hammer is used to break stone – but not in the same fashion as the pickaxe.  Right-clicking on a regular stone block will cause it to revert to cobblestone – the only way to reverse the crafting process.  Right-clicking on stone bricks will cause them to crack.

 

Aside from these two uses, crafting any stone together with a hammer will destroy the stone, yielding four rubble which has an interesting use that will be discussed later.

 

Next up on the list of tools is the Wand of Exponential Growth.  This little device serves two purposes: first, it will turn stone brick and cobblestone into mossy versions of themselves upon right-clicking.  Second, it can instantly turn a block of dirt into grass.  It must be occasionally recharged by crafting it with an emerald.

 

The third tool is the Wand of Reversion.  This wand is simple: right-clicking with it will change any stone block to its logical equivalent.  For example, cobblestone will turn into stone; stone bricks will revert to regular stone; sandstone bricks will become sandstone; and so forth.

 

Finally, the Wand of Ender is a tool that can swap blocks in the world with stone bricks.  It is quite expensive and must be stabilized before being used, but can be quite handy.  This is also a great way to grab obsidian or diamonds very quickly without a high quality pickaxe on hand.  It can also be used to harvest ice, to my knowledge, and perhaps even bedrock – I am not sure, I will have to test this.

 

There is one more “item” – earlier I mentioned the rubble item.  This can be planted like a normal seed on farmland and grown into a stone brick plant.  While a little surreal, it is another way to generate stone, although it is extremely slow.  I advise using bonemeal if you wish to grow stone at all.

 

My opinion on this mod: aside from recipes being a little unbalanced (diamonds don’t grow on trees!), the tools in this mod are exceptional.  To be entirely honest, the bricks are a secondary element for me – they are nice alternatives to what is already offered, but without more diversity I just can’t really get excited for them.  Wand of Exponential Growth is my favorite, as I am a big fan of mossy blocks.

 

The crops are interesting, albeit slightly useless due to their slow speed and low quality yield.  Nonetheless, I like the mod and will use it; it adds a few nice features that decorators can truly benefit from.

 

How to install the Stone Bricks Mod for Minecraft 1.7.2 / 1.7.10

 

  1. Download and install Minecraft Forge mod loader

  2. Download the latest version of Stone Bricks Mod.

  3. Hold Windows key and press R to open the Run… dialog, or go to Start > Run.

  4. Enter %appdata% and navigate to your .minecraft/mods folder.

  5. Drag and drop the .zip file downloaded in step 2 into this folder.

 

What other useful tools or items could you imagine for this mod?  Leave your ideas in the comments!

Thanks to the ever-lovely pop reel on Planet Minecraft, I am discovering great new skinners every day.  They seem to have diversified it a bit, which is always nice.  Today I bring to you user electric with her skin, the Ring Leader.

 

ringleader_inline

 

First off – that hat.  Meggles is the original creator of this hat, and it has been around the block a few times (with the permission of Meggles, of course).  Seriously, this hat is on tour – I have reviewed two other skins that use it, and I am sure countless others do as well.  Not without good reason – it is an epic hat.

 

Moving on, I must first say that I am usually not a fan of the overly bright and fluffy pink style of art.  I feel that it is drastically overused and used in the wrong context in most scenarios.  Despite this, electric’s Ring Leader gets away with it fairly well.

 

This character is dressed in fairly fancy attire, with stark black buttons, shoes, and belt contrasting her otherwise near-white color palette.  The detail in the clothing (i.e. the folds and shading) is decent, but could use some work.  The repetition of colors is greatly appreciated, though – black and red both make a few appearances, breaking up the pink.

 

Ultimately, I award this skin eight out of ten pink fluffy objects.  My only gripes for it are that it needs some more attention to the shading, and of course the usual of having a long article of clothing down the back stuck to the legs.

 

Installing the Skin

 

For online play, skins can be installed by simply uploading the file to your profile on Minecraft.net.  Skins posted on certain websites can be uploaded directly from their page, including this one; click on the button on the right-hand side labeled “change my skin” to be taken directly to the appropriate page.

 

For offline play only, the process is similar to installing mods:

 

  1. Download the skin’s .png file;

  2. Hold Windows key and press R to bring up the Run… dialog, or go to Start > Run.

  3. Type %appdata% and press enter, then navigate to roaming/.minecraft/versions.

  4. Open the folder containing the version you use for offline play and view the .jar file using WinRAR.

  5. Create a backup of the meta.inf file contained inside the .jar and store it in a separate folder.

  6. Navigate within the .jar file to assets/minecraft/textures/entity.

  7. Rename the image file titled “steve” to anything else (such as steve_backup).

  8. Change the name of your skin’s .png file to steve.png and insert it here.

 

Remember to keep your meta.inf and original steve texture backed up somewhere just in case.

 

Are there any styles or color schemes that you simply cannot stand?  What are they and why?  Post them in the comments below!