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.

javaw 2014-07-15 23-37-30-476

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-
  • 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- 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.


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!