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Getting Started

Introduction

Understanding the basic structure of a mod’s folder is an essential skill when creating mods.

What are Games and Mods?

The power of Minetest is the ability to easily develop games without the need to create your own voxel graphics, voxel algorithms, or fancy networking code.

In Minetest, a game is a collection of modules which work together to provide the content and behaviour of a game. A module, commonly known as a mod, is a collection of scripts and resources. It’s possible to make a game using only one mod, but this is rarely done because it reduces the ease by which parts of the game can be adjusted and replaced independently of others.

It’s also possible to distribute mods outside of a game, in which case they are also mods in the more traditional sense - modifications. These mods adjust or extend the features of a game.

Both the mods contained in a game and third-party mods use the same API.

This book will cover the main parts of the Minetest API, and is applicable for both game developers and modders.

Where are mods stored?

Each mod has its own directory where its Lua code, textures, models, and sounds are placed. Minetest checks in a number of different locations for mods. These locations are commonly called mod load paths.

For a given world/save game, three mod locations are checked. They are, in order:

  1. Game mods. These are the mods that form the game that the world is running. Eg: minetest/games/minetest_game/mods/, /usr/share/minetest/games/minetest/
  2. Global mods, the location to which mods are nearly always installed to. If in doubt, place them here. Eg: minetest/mods/
  3. World mods, the location to store mods which are specific to a particular world. Eg: minetest/worlds/world/worldmods/

Minetest will check the locations in the order given above. If it encounters a mod with a name the same as one found previously, the later mod will be loaded in place of the earlier mod. This means that you can override game mods by placing a mod with the same name in the global mod location.

The actual location of each mod load path depends on what operating system you’re using, and how you installed Minetest.

  • Windows:
    • For portable builds, ie: from a .zip file, just go to the directory where you extracted the zip and look for the games, mods, and worlds directories.
    • For installed builds, ie: from a setup.exe, look in C:\\Minetest or C:\\Games\Minetest.
  • GNU/Linux:
    • For system-wide installs, look in ~/.minetest. Note that ~ means the user home directory, and that files and directories starting with a dot (.) are hidden.
    • For portable installs, look in the build directory.
    • For Flatpak installs, look in ~/.var/app/net.minetest.Minetest/.minetest/mods/.
  • MacOS
    • Look in ~/Library/Application Support/minetest/. Note that ~ means the user home, ie: /Users/USERNAME/.

Mod Directory

Find the mod's directory

A mod name is used to refer to a mod. Each mod should have a unique name. Mod names can include letters, numbers, and underscores. A good name should describe what the mod does, and the directory which contains the components of a mod must have the same name as the mod name. To find out if a mod name is available, try searching for it on content.minetest.net.

mymod
├── init.lua (required) - Runs when the game loads.
├── mod.conf (recommended) - Contains description and dependencies.
├── textures (optional)
│   └── ... any textures or images
├── sounds (optional)
│   └── ... any sounds
└── ... any other files or directories

Only the init.lua file is required in a mod for it to run on game load; however, mod.conf is recommended and other components may be needed depending on the mod’s functionality.

Dependencies

A dependency occurs when a mod requires another mod to be loaded before itself. One mod may require another mod’s code, items, or other resources to be available for it to use.

There are two types of dependencies: hard and optional dependencies. Both require the mod to be loaded first. If the mod being depended on isn’t available, a hard dependency will cause the mod to fail to load, while an optional dependency might lead to fewer features being enabled.

An optional dependency is useful if you want to optionally support another mod; it can enable extra content if the user wishes to use both the mods at the same time.

Dependencies should be listed in mod.conf.

mod.conf

This file is used for mod metadata including the mod’s name, description, and other information. For example:

name = mymod
description = Adds foo, bar, and bo.
depends = modone, modtwo
optional_depends = modthree

depends.txt

For compatibility with 0.4.x versions of Minetest, instead of only specifying dependencies in mod.conf, you need to provide a depends.txt file in which you list all dependencies:

modone
modtwo
modthree?

Each mod name is on its own line, and mod names with a question mark following them are optional dependencies.

Mod Packs

Mods can be grouped into mod packs which allow multiple mods to be packaged and moved together. They are useful if you want to supply multiple mods to a player, but don’t want to make them download each one individually.

modpack1
├── modpack.lua (required) - signals that this is a mod pack
├── mod1
│   └── ... mod files
└── mymod (optional)
    └── ... mod files

Please note that a modpack is not a game. Games have their own organisational structure which will be explained in the Games chapter.

Example

Here is an example which puts all of this together:

Mod Folder

mymod
├── textures
│   └── mymod_node.png files
├── depends.txt
├── init.lua
└── mod.conf

depends.txt

default

init.lua

print("This file will be run at load time!")

minetest.register_node("mymod:node", {
    description = "This is a node",
    tiles = {"mymod_node.png"},
    groups = {cracky = 1}
})

mod.conf

name = mymod
descriptions = Adds a node
depends = default

This mod has the name “mymod”. It has three text files: init.lua, mod.conf, and depends.txt.
The script prints a message and then registers a node – which will be explained in the next chapter.
There’s a single dependency, the default mod, which is usually found in Minetest Game.
There is also a texture in textures/ for the node.