If you’ve spent any time in the Vintage Story Discord or perusing the forums, the word “Neolithic” may have popped up in conversation. This is a modding project headed up by TonyLiberatto and I had the pleasure of chatting with him and picking his brain about the mod as well as his other projects with the DarkAgeCraft servers and the man behind the code. Vintage Story has many amazing community members and today I’d like to share a portion of TonyLiberatto’s story with you.
Make sure to check out the Neolithic mod and the DarkAgeCraft servers on the forums and say hello in the Discord next time you’re there.
Robin: I assume you have experience with coding. Have you used C# before? How intuitive did you find the mod-making process in Vintage Story?
Tony: I work for a small Network company. We create, develop and manage small Windows Server Networks. Basically we create secure Networks to give employee access to sensitive information. Like small medical offices, Law offices and even some charter schools. As far as coding, my only experience is with short Windows scripts.
I think the real story here is how easy Tyron made it for people like me, with almost no coding skills, to be able to mod the game. Once I got my hands on a few of the existing mods and was able to see how easy it was to modify a few files and create my own, I got hooked on it.
Robin: Obviously, you have invested a lot of time into Vintage Story. Other than that, what sort of games do you enjoy playing?
Tony: I actually do not have that much free time. I work full time, have a wife and 4 kids. I have a few hours at night after work, so I usually only play one game at a time. I played Minecraft until the day I found Terrafirmacraft and stuck with that until they stop developing it. I played a lot of Ark Survival Evolved and even had a server going on for a while. Once I started with Vintage Story, the only other game I played was Subnautica.
Robin: What elements of Vintage Story drew you to it? What do enjoy most about the game?
Tony: First I read a post about how the game was based on TFC. That made me click on the link and watch the promotional video. I loved the knapping and clayforming. Pouring molten metal into the molds was also something that I really liked. My dream is to have the game as realistic as possible within the constraints of still being able to build big and have fun.
Robin: What inspired you to create the Neolithic mod?
Tony: The Neolithic mod is actually a collection of several small and not so small mods. Some are my ideas, others are from abandoned projects. I enjoyed playing those mods and wanted to update them. After getting permission from the original creators I just incorporated them into one mod because it made it easy to use blocks and items for recipes. It’s like a modpack made into a mod.
Robin: Your Neolithic mod adds hundreds of new items, blocks & recipes to the game. What's your personal favourite addition it makes?
Tony: I think the main defining feature for The Neolithic mod is how it changes animal drops. That is one thing that’s bothered me forever in Minecraft. The way that animals just explode when killed. To be able to skin an animal and actually get the pelt of the same color of the dead animal adds immersion.
Robin: Did you work with anyone on the Neolithic mod? Were there other creators that you enjoyed getting to know through the creation of the mod?
Tony: So many people. Since I am not really a coder, and not an artist, I depended heavily on others help to make this mod. The main authors of the mod are me, Balduranne and Novocain. But there are whole sections of the mods that were made by Stroam too. Copygirl made it possible to carry animal carcasses over the player’s shoulder. Milo made some code that really helped and Tyron even created a few class files that made the mod possible. Another person that contributed is Elwood. Some of the ideas and concepts of hunting and butchering are part of his original mod.
Robin: A large number of mods and modders have begun to integrate their creations into either Neolithic or DarkAgeCraft. How did that come about?
Tony: People like to work on new things. Once a mod is done, many modders just do not have the will or time to keep updating. Updating is boring. I was very excited with the prospect of creating the server with a modpack that included as many mods as possible and I felt like they were actually needed. I contacted the authors to get permission to update their mods and after a while, it just got easier to include them in one mod so the recipes would be interchangeable, using items from one mod to create blocks from another. Some mods were also overwriting the same files, so it was easier to incorporate them into one mod and avoid conflicts.
Robin: The creators of Vintage Story were inspired by Minecraft and the lack of modding in a way they wanted. Have you ever dabbled in modding Minecraft?
Tony: At the time when I had the Terrafirmacraft server, I try to learn Java. I watched a few videos and was able to create a few blocks, items and recipes, but they were never published. The most I did was heavy scripting to create specific recipes and incorporate them into the modpack. The idea was to create a more realistic way to survive.
Nowadays I have completely abandoned Minecraft. To be honest I can’t think of anything that would get me to play Minecraft again. Well, at least for as long as I have Vintage Story, I see no reason to go back there.
Robin: I've seen you talk about not wanting advanced elements in the game. Things like Electricity. How far do you think the technology should go and what would you like to see as a "mechanical" aspect for Vintage Story?
Tony: I do not like the idea of Electrical power. I think it removes something from the game instead of adding. Mechanical power has the potential to add very complex creations that need imagination and creativity. I really like the idea for the game to add a necessity and a solution in increments. Some examples:
To make bread the player need to grind grains. We now have a manual grinder, the next step should be to add mechanical power for that. Each option has pros and cons. A water wheel needs to be on a river with moving water. (I dislike the concept of creating a water wheel with just a bucket.) So the Water wheel has a fixed location, but it produces power at a constant rate.
The Windmill should require some elevation and unobstructed terrain around it, but it has the major con of inconsistency. Wind does not blow all the time. Animal power has the advantage of power on demand and choice of location, but it depends on animal domestication and is not at a constant rate. Also the animal should need to be fed and rested.
The main reason to build Steam powered devices is because it combines all the advantages of the others with few cons. It should however consume water and fuel. Also it is a high tech device, and it should only be available for very late game.
Robin: In the same vein, is there anything you'd like to see added to Vintage Story in general? (Aside from the Mechanical aspects)
Tony: The list is big and even in some senses unfair to Tyron. Me and many other players expect to have the game in the same level as we had with TFC, but TFC was just one of the mods that most players found as essential to play Minecraft. There are a few mods for Minecraft that were common place to all players of TFC. The mini-map, NEI and Towny, are some that come to mind. Unfortunately it falls to Tyron to make the game and also create basic tools that Minecraft never had to worry about.
A persistent and player friendly mini-map with easy in-game use is necessary. Most players have no idea how to use commands, so GUI is the way to go. ReiMinimap and JourneyMap are some examples of well developed mini-maps in Minecraft.
Dyn-map is an example of a web server map display that allows for easy player collaboration. It also helps server admins to see all the players and what they are doing on the server. Towny helps to create online communities of players working together for bigger projects, knowing that their creations are protected. When you combine those tools, players can easily see what parts of the map are protected and who has access to each.
Robin: Moving to DarkAgeCraft, you've created a server with different play-style options for the community and it's looking very successful. What made you want to spearhead that project?
Tony: The DarkAgeCraft server is older than my participation in Vintage Story, the idea was always to create a server with as much realism as possible as far as survival goes.
Robin: And finally, for someone looking at modding Vintage Story with perhaps zero experience, where would you suggest starting?
Tony: For anyone trying to learn, I suggest downloading the existing mods and looking at what others have done. I created my first mods using just Notepad++. Even the coding can be done that way. After a while it was needed to compile some code and use Visual Studio. But there is a lot that can be done by just copy, paste and editing.
From myself and the VS team, thank you chatting with me, I hope that the community takes something away from our discussion and that you had a good time participating and telling your story. I personally look forward to seeing Neolithic and DarkAgeCraft continue to grow with time!
(Interview written by @99 Blocks and @tony Liberatto, thank you both!)
Edited by Tyron