The very first push to the Hexcasting Github repo was made about one year ago, on Christmas. Version 0.1.0 was released for Forge on Minecraft 1.18.2 three weeks later, on January 18th.
At the time, I was not known as a modder. I had one project on Curseforge called Axiomatic Teleportation, which let you walk through walls. My other modding explorations, which I never released, consisted of two shitty Botania addons.
Now, a year later, I have over two and a half million downloads across all my mods. Hexcasting has been played live on camera by Direwolf20 and Soaryn, and included in 249 modpacks on Curseforge, including several that are based wholly around it. The Discord server has 1,571 members, and I even run the only actually active forum I know of.
So with one year behind us, and hopefully many more before, I thought I’d write a little blog post doing a bit of retrospection. What I’ve learned, where I’ve fallen, where I’ve succeeded. For posterity, maybe.
Two and a Half MILLION Downloads#
I don’t know how to process that number. That is so many. That’s more downloads than people living in nearly every place I’ve lived. That’s more than the number of people I will ever learn the name of – that’s probably more than the number of people I will ever speak to.
I know that download count isn’t everything. There are lots of great mods with small download counts, and there are a lot of mods with tons of downloads that suck. But maybe that’s easy for me to say cause I’m on this side of the fence…
Aside: what the HELL happened December 23rd? December 22nd and before I was getting about 6,000 downloads per day on Hexcasting and PAUCAL pretty consistently. Then on the 23rd it spikes up to over 20,000 downloads in the day. My guess is its people’s Christmas break?
I’d really like to thank a few people here, for agreeing to poke at some funny little magic mod and get it in front of their audiences. Firstly Vazkii, who opened the door to getting Direwolf20 to play with it, and of course Dire, who wasn’t afraid to stumble around the stack on camera. I’d like to thank the FTB dev team for putting Hexcasting in the 1.18 DW20 pack, the first big modpack it got into, and all the other modpack devs who have wrangled its strange form into fitting in the pack.
I’d also like to thank Vallen, from Mischief of Mice. He was the first person who agreed to put the mod on camera, but after trying it, he decided he couldn’t do it justice with a clean explanation. I’d like to thank him for acceping that he couldn’t figure it out … oh, I’m not doing a good job of coming up with words here that don’t sound condescending. I guess I’d just like to thank him for tapping out, instead of releasing something confusing.
I am proud of the lore for Hexcasting.
I do, however, have a lot of stray thoughts about it, and I suppose this post is as good a time as any to let them out.
To put it lightly, it is not a nice mod. The mod encourages you to do some truly horrifying things in the lategame. And I suppose in the spirit of lifting the curtain, I should say when the ideas for mindflaying first started spinning around in my head, I really didn’t have anything more to think about it. I implemented it mostly because it was fucked up and spooky and because I dislike villager trading as a mechanic, and in general I was a lot stupider about the stuff I “canonicalized.”
But I’d like to think I’m wiser than I was now. I’ve kept mindflaying and Project Wooleye and all mostly as-is from those careless ideas, and I’ve done that because I think I made something thought-provoking.
I figure that it is OK to write about horrible, unethical things. It gets stickier, however, when you encourage people to do them, like the mod does. I’d like to think that what I’m doing is OK for two reasons.
- I am not at all advocating for the player-character. I have done my best to make it really clear if you are rooting for them you are doing something wrong.
- I’m not especially trying to make a statement with the mechanics. I think it would be very crass of me to try and draw some parallels between the events of the mod and some other human tragedy. Instead, I’m simply putting things out into the world and letting you, the player, wrestle with them.
And I think I’ve succeeded in these two points. I get a lot of worried comments from friends asking if I think I’m going to get cancelled or dogpiled upon for writing Hexcasting, but so far the most concern I’ve gotten is from people worrying about worry, not anyone actually voicing about the mod. And I’ve heard from other people who refuse to play the endgame, who will get enlightened and play with great spells, but who refuse to mindflay anything because it makes them feel icky. I think these things together tell me that, although I am definitely playing with fire, I’m doing it in a way that’s OK.
And now that the lore is over and written and it’s had time to sit, I’m starting to see one possible reading of the lore that I think is interesting. Is it pretentious to analyze the writings of you and a friend like they’re some great literary work? Maybe. But I’m going to do it anyways.
I find it fascinating how the way people act changes in different contexts. Here’s an example; I’ve been watching ilmango’s Vanilla Skyblock series, and one of the major progression gates is villager trading. As anyone who’s done villager trading knows, it is immensely frustrating. In a moment of anger at a villager who won’t go where he wants them to go, he punches them off the platform into the void, and says “if you want to have a mind of your own, you can do it in the void.”
So, there’s some sequence of events that starts with ilmango, who I trust to be a reasonable and nice person, and ends with him punching (a video-game representation of) another person to their death for being too independent.
I’m not saying that ilmango is some kind of twisted psychopath inside; in fact I’d like to explicitly say the opposite. It’s macabre, I know, but I am fascinated by how you can construct contexts in which people would do things they ordinarily never would.
So I guess you can read mindflaying as a sort of landscape in which you have to sit with that difficult question. “Am I going to do it? Is it OK that I did?”
There’s no value judgement there from me, and to be honest I don’t think the answer matters all that much. I’d just like to think I’ve created something provocative enough that you can sit and wrestle with yourself and your thoughts.
And now for something completely different: how much money do I make?
Money is a big ol taboo but I do think it’s very important to talk about it, so I’ll do this quick. On both Curseforge and Modrinth I get about a dollar for every 2,000 downloads. Since I started making any money off of this March 2022, I’ve made on average $434.50 per month between Curseforge, Patreon, and commissions (although the amount per month varies wildly).
No one wants to hear it but I’ll say it anyways: please do not start Minecraft modding in the hope you’ll make a lot of money. You’ll probably be really disappointed, but more to the point making money is a really shit motivator. You’ll have a lot more fun if you’re modding for the joy of modding, and see any money you might make as a fun bonus on top.
That being said, though, it is quite nice to be paid for what I love to do. It’s not nearly enough to live on or anything, but it does help me pay the bills on top of my work study at college. It’s especially nice because there’s such a huge separation between work put in and money made; as I’ve demonstrated to myself over my December-long hiatus from Hexcasting I can take it easy and money will still trickle in, and I think that ontological distance is really good for my mental health.
And That’s All Folks#
I’ve got a couple more things in the tubes. The next Hexcasting major update will probably be mostly bugfixes and balancing; there’s a lot of rough edges to the mod that I just haven’t taken the time to clean up.
Work on Bemis is slowing down mostly because it’s so boring. I really want the mod to exist. but almost all the work to be done is munging data around into Asciidoctor, which really doesn’t like outputting to things that aren’t text. Props to Vazkii; there is a lot that goes into making a documentation mod.
Come back next time for Bemis 2: Just Write Your Docs On A Goddamn Web Site And Send Your Players There.
Also, I am super smart and overwrote the State of the [email protected] with this file. Oof. I have a backup on my old laptop and I’ll fix it when I get back to college in a few days.