The Shader Situation

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Yesterday I briefly mentioned the issue happening right now with Shaders, but I had a few people ask me directly what exactly was going on.  So I thought I would take a moment this morning to explain the issue from my perspective.  In the original Destiny Shaders were an item that dropped that when applied effected the color scheme and sometimes physical properties of your armor.  It was a purely cosmetic system, but one that the players latched onto with both hands.  The Shaders themselves dropped from all manner of activities and occasionally were attached to achievements.  This happened with enough relative rarity that when you got one…  you noticed and immediately started playing with it.  Each Guardian could carry a total of nine shaders with them at any given time… and I personally found myself swapping back and forth between shaders on a regular basis to fit my current mood or to coordinate which whatever  weapon loadout I happened to be rocking that night.  To say I was engaged in the system is probably a bit of an understatement given that I had 103 of them according to the achievement that tracks such progress.  I was by no means the most prolific however because there were folks in game who had literally every single one… and you can see in the above photo… the ones that are greyed out are ones I had not found yet.  The system itself was pretty limited and some shaders looked good on some armor sets…  but absolutely horrible on others.  However it was something that gave us some license to stand out in the tower from the other Guardians also wearing Iron Banner gear.

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With the lead up to Destiny 2 there was so much talk about how improved the Shader system was going to be.  It was announced that we would be able to apply shaders individually to armor pieces and even our weapons.  As a long time supporter of cosmetic systems this seemed amazing, because it would finally give us some level of granular control over our appearance.  In Destiny 1 it was annoying when your chest-piece looked amazing with a specific shader applied, but your boots or arms looked completely horrible.  This was especially true when rocking the various combinations of black and white like I regularly did…  and it would have allowed us to swap around until we found a specific shader that worked for each individual item.  While playing the “Demo” I found it curiously lacking that they didn’t show off the new shader system, but given this was a build of game originally shown at E3 I thought maybe it was simply left out because the system had not been finished at that point.  It was not until launch that we actually saw the system at work…  and realized that shaders were not a single use consumable item.  The above image is of my shader “collection” in Destiny 2, and all of these so far have come through the starter packages that you keep getting handed by the Eververse vendor at the Farm each time you reach a specific level plateau.  Why the community is going to war over this minor point is the fact that Bungie took what used to be a very good but limited system… and turned it into a potential cash grab.

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Yesterday Luke Smith released a sequence of statements on his Twitter account talking about the issue…  and the answer feels less than satisfactory.  Luke is literally the only person who thinks that doing “shader farming” is a good idea.  That sounds miserable especially when it means that you now somehow need to rope five of your friends to follow you down a rabbit hole just so you can have pretty armor for the week.  It is hard enough to convince people to run old school World of Warcraft raids when only transmog items are on the line…  let alone run a 2-3 hour long Destiny raid that never really trivializes…  for armor paint.  Now up until this statement I was taking a wait and see approach and in part I still am.  I noticed that all of the planet faction NPCs had shaders on their loot table that you can get from engrams.  Maybe as he says as we start to grind faction we will be swimming in armor spray paint, but more than likely there is still going to be a sizable number of shaders that are only available through bright engrams.  Bright engrams for reference are the new RNG loot box that the Eververse sells for Silver.  Right now the equivalent conversion rate is $5 to 3 Bright Engrams… and while these drop organically each time you fill up your xp bar again post level 20… that is going to be a less than enjoyable grind to get them.  While I have not actually opened an actual Bright Engram, I have been opening the assorted packages that Eververse gives you in the farm and through those I have received a bunch of shaders enough to make me think that this is going to be the easier way to get them.

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As of last night I hit 15 and probably will push through to 20 tonight, so I should start to see this supposed increased shader drop rate shortly.  What is frustrating to me is that everything else about the game is really amazing.  However that amazing is slightly tarnished by the fact that I know one of my favorite systems has turned into something I looked forward to using…  to something I will probably hoard and never actually use.  You change out gear in Destiny constantly… and even on my maximum light cap 400 characters in the original game…  I was regularly tweaking and fiddling with my build out each time I got some new interesting piece of loot.  There is never going to be a point where you can set your armor selection in stone, knowing that you will likely never get something that works better for you.  Each patch Bungie tweaks this or that making it likely that you are going to be swapping gear our to optimize whatever you happen to be going for this week.  There is never going to be a point where you have enough of your favorite shaders…  nor will you have the freedom to swap them around at will just to do silly things like have everyone raiding in Glowhoo or that hideous McDonald’s looking shader.  Shaders were fun and one of those few non-gear rewards that you loved seeing at the end of a Crucible match or after a strike.  Gone are the days when you cannot wait to try on the new shader you just got to see what it looks like.  Now instead it is going to be a stack in your inventory that keeps going up in number…  but you still feel like you maybe shouldn’t use yet because there is a really awesome item waiting around the corner that you might want it for.  So that in a nutshell is the situation with shaders and why the Destiny 1 player base is frustrated by it.

Shaders in Minecraft

Modding State of Mind

The other day I decided to try and mod Fallout 3 to look like a series of images that I had seen… and it seems to have opened up a rabbit hole that I am still falling down.  Yesterday I decided to try and get shaders working in Minecraft.  For some time I have seen videos of minecraft that just look insanely detailed for what is essentially the blockiest of games.  I would do a small bit of research and pretty much halt when I heard that it involved a modification to the game.  Granted I have applied a ton of mods to minecraft, primarily adding in a minimap to make connecting tunnels up easier.  Ultimately this involved me configuring something called the “Magic Launcher” to mod my game JAR file on the fly.

Once upon a time you used to have to open the JAR file in 7zip and manually replace individual files inside of the archive.  This was tedious and also involved a lot of trial and error as you were ever quite certain what order you had to load the files in with.  When I started down the path of trying to figure out shaders a long while back… this was still the method of getting them to work.  However a wonderful invention seems to have sprung up in the Minecraft world called Forge.  Once installed it essentially allows you to fiddle with mods on the fly from within the game itself, and gives you a “Mods” directory to dump things in.

Shaders in Minecraft

javaw 2014-07-15 22-45-12-519 So while this process is a bit of a pain still… as you can see from the above photo the end result is very worth it.  It feels like a bit of an understatement, but this completely changes the feel of the minecraft experience.  So many things just feel better from the way fire reacts, to the way spider eyes glow out in the instance of the night… to the fact that the day night cycle actually feels like something that is more predictable.  When you get close to evening it starts to feel like maybe you better duck in for the night as the light begins to significantly dim as the sun nears the horizon.  Granted you can install shaders without the use of a custom resource pack, but I decided to take the advice of SonicEther the creator of the shader preset I am using and go with the ChromaHills texture pack.

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I mean everything about Minecraft is still very much a blocky game, but for some reason adding realistic lighting makes everything immediately feel that more real.  There are little touches that I think are adorable like the fact that at this moment I had just gotten into a fight with a skeleton.  You can see the shadow of all of the arrows sticking out of my head as I prepare to fight a zombie that has caught fire and is still lumbering towards me. But I have to say the place where it gets most impressive is underground, giving an entirely different feel to moving about in the long tunnels I am prone to build.  When you are down there it feels like you are playing some updated version of Doom or Wolfenstein 3D and not really a building game.  I would imagine that bow sniping in this mode would be extremely fun.

Faffing about with Blocks

Last night I streamed some Minecraft for roughly an hour mostly to show off the shaders in action.  The true effect really only hits you when you see it in motion, with the depth of field and the way the shadows and lights work.  My primary project of the night was to work on my tunnel system and try and burrow out far enough to get somewhere interesting.  Legdur one of the other users on the server at some point during the night came over and gifted me an insane silk touch diamond pick and thats when the construction really kicked into overdrive.  I go over this in the video but basically I started out in a small cave and then built out from there over top of the water forming my first “base”.  Instead of abandoning the cave I opted to simply connect it to the tower.

javaw 2014-07-15 22-42-53-996 One of the things I have learned about myself thanks to Minecraft, is that I am most comfortable when underground.  As a result instead of building pathways on the surface or roads… I end up building deep tunnel systems that get me where I want to be.  Primarily I think it is that when I am underground I have more control and am ultimately safer because I can control my surroundings.  As a result I have three main tunnels that lead out of my initial base.  One of which leads back to the spawn point and I have crafted a little hut of sorts to mark the entrance to my territory.  Think of it almost like a subway terminal or the Dragon Age deeproads.  Another tunnel I simply dug until I broke ground in what is a nice secluded valley.  I have not actually done anything with this path but I intend to have it be another intended place of expansion.

javaw 2014-07-15 23-01-03-563 The tunnel that I built last night, or completed last night connects up to this building that I am currently working on.  Ultimately it will be significantly larger than the island tower I initially built primarily because I have a hell of a lot more resources stockpiled right now.  It is nothing terribly special yet but I am working on it slowly.  Essentially right now it is spider proof and generally monster proof and hopefully I can use it as a way to lure some chickens down into my complex.  Animal husbandry is one of the things I dig about Minecraft and sooner or later I always develop an underground farm that allows me to harvest and breed animals for food.  I try to generally place said farm as far away from my main area as humanly possible… because the looped sounds of chickens, cows and sheep will drive you to drinking.

Installing the Shaders

javaw 2014-07-15 23-39-11-272At this point you may want to follow me down the rabbithole that is modding Minecraft and installing these spiffy shaderpacks.  Like I said yesterday one of the things that has always frustrated me about the modding community is how arcane the directions can be, and how it is generally a fairly exclusionary group by nature.  You have to have a certain level of knowledge of the inner workings of a game before anything that folks are saying on the forums will make any sense at all.  Here goes my attempt to explain how the installation process works so that my readers can follow along in this journey.

Downloads Needed

So after collecting all these bits you should have a handful of files…

  • forge-1.7.10-10.13.0.1180-installer.jar
  • ShadersModCore-v2.3.18-mc1.7.10-f1179.jar
  • SEUS-v10.1-Ultra-DOF.rar
  • ChromaHills-64×1.7_1.0.8.rar

Creating the File System

So for this part of the tutorial… I will admit I am a windows user.  I realize that Minecraft can run on a Macintosh, but I have no clue how that works.  I have a Macbook 1440 sitting in the closet, and that is the last time I have used anything vaguely resembling the Mac operating system.  So if you are not a windows user you are pretty much shit out of luck.  My steps might make sense to you, and if so hopefully you can follow along enough to make sense of what you actually have to do in your file system.

First we need to make sure we have the directories that we are going to need for this to work.  We have to navigate to our minecraft directory, and to get there the easiest way is to use the hotkey [Windows Button] and [r key] at the same time.  This should bring up the run prompt.  I pretty much do all filesystem navigation by typing in directories that I want to go to in the run prompt.  As my friend points out regularly I am a “power user” but quite honestly I have no clue how to get to this directory through the file system without typing it in.  Basically in the run prompt you want to type “%appdata%” without the quotes.  This is a windows shortcut that gets you to the application data roaming directory.  Inside of there you should see a “.minecraft” directory.  This is where your system actually has minecraft installed.

We will need to make sure your folder has three directories.  If they are not there then you need to create them.  All of these directories are lowercase names, and I am not sure if that matters but since Java is a language capable of case sensitivity…  I would suggest you just save yourself some hassle and name them lowercase as well.  Create/verify that you have the following directories…

  • resourcepacks
  • shaderpacks
  • mods

Setting Things Up

Now we get to the point where we actually have to do some things.  First you need to install forge-1.7.10-10.13.0.1180-installer.jar and if Java is configured correctly on your system… you should just need to double click this file to install it.  Accept the defaults and this will install forge and create a profile called Forge under your Minecraft installation.  Next we are going to need to copy the appropriate files into the right directories.

  • Copy “ShadersModCore-v2.3.18-mc1.7.10-f1179.jar” to the “mods” directory
  • Copy “ChromaHills-64×1.7_1.0.8.rar” to the “resourcepacks” directory
  • Unzip “SEUS-v10.1-Ultra-DOF.rar” to the “shaderpacks” directory

If you do not have a way of unzipping a RAR file, then I highly suggest you check out 7zip for all your archiving needs.

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If you open the Minecraft launcher you should now have a profile in the drop down called “Forge” go ahead and log into Minecraft and hit the play button for that profile.  If everything went correctly with the installation of Forge, you should now see a [Mods] button on the front menu for Minecraft that looks a little something like this.

javaw 2014-07-16 07-03-37-476 Now we need to turn on the shader which should be possible if the Mods button is showing up.  To get there you click [Options] and you should see a new option called [Shaders] appearing there in Options Menu.

javaw 2014-07-16 07-05-02-861 When you click shaders you get a menu system that looks a little something like this.  Make sure you have selected the SEUS-v10.1-Ultra-DOF option.  I have a few more things in my menu than you will have if you have followed this guide.  There are lots of different shader packs out there that you can play with, but that is for another day.

javaw 2014-07-16 07-06-05-677 Finally we want to turn on our resource pack.  At this point your menus will look a little different because I have the ChromaHills pack already turned on when I am recording these screenshots.  But to get there you want to back out to the Options menu and select [Resource Packs].

javaw 2014-07-16 07-08-37-326 Again I have another resourcepack in my list that you will not have if you are following the guide to the letter, but the important thing here is that you want to make sure ChromaHills is on the right hand side of the screen meaning that it will be used.  When you hit done, your system might freeze for a bit but this is completely normal.  The game is essentially unloading all of the textures and reloading the ones from the resource pack which includes the various menu textures as well.

If Everything Went Right

javaw 2014-07-16 07-12-00-259 Then BAM! You’ve got shaders.  If you have any pointed questions about the process let me know, but I tried to make this as straight forward as possible.  If you have specific questions about the various items, I posted both the webpage link and the actual download link.  It is possible that at a later date some of the download links I posted may not work.  If that is the case refer back to the webpage link because they have probably iterated the version of whatever the item is.  So far I am loving Minecraft with more realistic lighting, and hopefully you will too.  Happy digging!

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