Minecraft Mod Examination: The Camping Mod
Building great cities and structures may be the most popular style of play among Minecraft lovers, but it is certainly not the only one. Some players prefer being constantly mobile, wandering from place to place and exploring new areas every day. Others keep multiple bases, and enjoy traveling between them whenever they feel the need. A handful of gamers want a completely outdoor home, with no roofs or walls to block their view of the surrounding areas. And a few players never intend to build any kind of permanent structure at all, and instead place a bed and a few other necessities on the grass before beginning work on a mine, or some other mod's progression system. Regardless of how they want to experience Minecraft, all of these players will benefit from The Camping Mod, a plugin that adds a number of nice items built around the idea of bedding down out in the wilderness.
While the meat of The Camping Mod is in its items, the first thing a player will notice when starting up the game are the additions to world-generation. Two new animals have been added, the tiny and mostly-harmless snow fox which runs whenever it sees a player, and the powerful, but slow-moving bear, a highly aggressive beast that does large amounts of damage with every bite. Both of these animals can be slain for some rather filling meat, and their hides can be removed and used in the production of speed-enhancing fur armor. Animals are not the only new type of life in the world, there is also a new Hemp plant that can be found near water which grows in a manner similar to Minecraft's sugar cane. It can easily be farmed, and when harvested the fibers can be turned into canvas sheets used in the construction of backpacks and tents.
But depending on one's play-style, the most useful bit of world-generation might just be the other campers. Occasionally, players can encounter campsites guarded by a single human NPC. These campers will trade emeralds for certain goods, just like the game's normal villagers, and if the player is lucky, they can gain access to almost every item in the mod without crafting anything. And of course, more evil types can simply break down the campsite and run off with the poor NPC's campfire, sleeping bag, and tent. And at times that can actually be quite tempting, as all of those items can be very useful to a player starting out in a new world.
Out of all of those items, tents are probably the most useful. They are dye-able shelters with the potential to store sleeping bags, lanterns, and chests inside. Each of these items can be used at any time by selecting the tent and opening up the in-game menu, meaning that players can easily disable or enable the lantern, access any chests, or hop into the sleeping bag and skip to the next day. The amount and order of these upgrades is for the player to decide, but the tents do have a space-limit, meaning that they while they can keep up to five chests in a relatively small space, doing so prevents them from being able to store either sleeping bags or lanterns in usable states.
The two types of campfires the mod adds can also be a great help to anyone who needs to stay away from home for a night. The first of which, the cooking campfire, requires fuel and works as an easy to move and upgradable food-cooker. The basic version is unable to actually hold any food itself, but players can make marshmallows out of sugar and eggs, stick them on iron rods, and then simply hold the marshmallow sticks out over the fire to bake them. While this is nice, most players will also want to make a camping kit and store the parts for either a grill, spit, or pan kit inside, as each kit type allows them to cook different sorts of food. Unlike furnaces, these campfires show the food they are cooking in the world itself, meaning players can see when they are ready from a distance, and the different types of kits can cook between two and eight pieces of food at once. However, they can also overcook those meals, so players will need to stay close or risk their dinner turning into ashes.
Unlike the cooking campfire, the decorative one cannot heat up food, and does not require any of the traditional fuels. Instead, players can cook dyes to temporarily recolor the fire and spread fumes over an area. These gases can either give nice buffs, such as additional mining speed or strength, or cause unpleasant effects like poison and nausea. While the time limit does prevent these fires from being easy to use base-defenses, clever players can still find uses for most of the auras, especially considering how cheap they are to produce.
While the decorative campfire is not the sort of base-defense that will protect players automatically, there is one powerful weapon in The Camping Mod that requires little input: bear traps. Bear traps are small, iron clamps that lock themselves onto any entity that is foolish enough to step on them, whether it is a player, zombie, bear, or whatnot. Monsters are frozen in place and take damage every second, while players are only slowed down tremendously and inflicted with a powerful bleed effect that will likely take away at least half of their health or more before they can get out of the trap. Once something triggers them, these bear trap will stay closed until right-clicked, but otherwise they have infinite uses and can do a lot to defend certain parts of a base.
And not all of The Camping Mod's tools are meant to be placed down in the world, several work best when kept in one of the four new equipment slots. Three of these are designed for new items, but one of these slots actually allows players to use any vanilla maps as a mini-map that will appear in the top-right corner of their screen. This little map does not currently draw new areas, but if the spaces on that map are already revealed, it can work as a more immersive replacement for other mini-map mods. Another one of these slots is for holding lanterns, which require glowstone dust for fuel, and only last a little over twelve minutes per dust, but can be clipped onto a belt to light the area around the player without the need to place down torches or unequip weapons. The third space is for backpacks, sacks that can open up an additional twenty-seven inventory slots when worn, which is a feature that practically all Minecraft players will enjoy immensely. And the final spot is for the knife, a tool that can be equipped to give one a full-sized crafting space in their inventory, or combined with certain materials like hemp and logs to create a few of The Camping Mod's other items.
Even though there is a lot to like about this mod, it does have its share of issues. While the developer has proven quite good about releasing patches and warning on his website about known flaws any time a problem is found, a number of bugs continue to plague the mod. Some of these are only minor issues, such as certain hotkeys not working in the new inventory screen or the light from lanterns taking a moment to push back the darkness, but there are a few more irritating problems like stacked items being lost if placed in kits, as well as very rare crashes when generating tents. Bears are another minor problem, as they seem to have a somewhat lower quality to their appearance when compared to the other parts of the mod, can sometimes generate far from any forests, and occasionally spawn in groups of seven or eight despite being very dangerous in the early-game and mostly solitary creatures in real life.
While The Camping Mod has its problems, it is easily one of the most important additions for players who wish to enjoy the wilds. Lanterns provide light for those wandering through the darkness, and campfires give the buffs and food needed to keep players healthy throughout the roughest of nights. Backpacks allow for great portable storage, knives let players create whatever they need to on the fly, and tents are wonderful little homes that require almost no time to construct. Whether one wishes to explore, travel, live outside, or simply seek shelter during a bad night, The Camping Mod provides everything needed to enjoy life in Minecraft's zombie-infested great outdoors.