Videos

Completion Date:

SurvivalPlus Primer Tutorial

During an update for the Minecraft mod SurvivalPlus, a tutorial video was created to show players how to update their world saves

Software

TechSmith Camtasia, YouTube

MCA Selector, NBTExplorer

The primary goal of this video project was to provide Minecraft mod users of SurvivalPlus with clear instructions on how to update their world save to the latest Minecraft version without risking corruption. This informative video aimed to simplify the process, ensuring that users could seamlessly transition to the new Minecraft version while preserving the integrity of their worlds. SurvivalPlus for Minecraft 1.16 contained a range of gem blocks, including amethyst, ruby, topaz, sapphire, pearl, spinel, and copper blocks and ingot. However, with the release of Minecraft's 1.17 update, Mojang introduced their own versions of amethyst blocks, copper blocks, and ingots, rendering the SurvivalPlus additions redundant. Unfortunately, failure to address this transition appropriately could lead to world corruption as SurvivalPlus's removed blocks and items would vanish from users' Minecraft worlds during the update process. Moreover, renamed blocks such as ruby and topaz would not transfer, resulting in the loss of these items entirely. A multi-step approach utilising the MCA Selector and NBTExplorer tools was used and captured in a screen-recorded video to prevent these potential issues. This method offered the most effective means of ensuring a seamless update while safeguarding users' worlds from corruption.

The complexity of the update process arises from Minecraft's data storage format, known as Named Binary Tag (NBT). This unique structure necessitates using Minecraft-specific tools like NBTExplorer to read and write information within these tags. NBT tags commonly store data such as chest contents, player inventories, and entity values like health. Within the video, NBTExplorer automatically converts the old names of blocks and items found in inventories and chests to either their new format or the new Minecraft equivalent. Furthermore, Minecraft stores world terrain information in region files, which can be externally viewed and edited using the MCA Selector tool. This program allows for the identification and replacement of specific blocks globally, similar to the functionality offered by NBTExplorer. Utilising MCA Selector becomes particularly crucial in converting naturally generated SurvivalPlus copper ore blocks into Minecraft's new copper ore blocks, effectively preventing corruption that would transform them into empty air blocks, leaving void pockets underground. By capturing these processes in the video, users understand the necessary steps to successfully update their SurvivalPlus-modded Minecraft worlds without compromising data integrity.

SurvivalPlus Primer Tutorial using MCA Selector and NBTExplorer to convert world saves

This video tutorial's design phase began with careful planning of the tutorial's content and processes. Before the decision to design a video tutorial was realised, research was conducted to understand how Minecraft handles block and item name changes. This investigation led to the discovery of Data Fixer Uppers (DFU), a utility developed by Mojang based on PhD-level academic papers. DFU allows for the conversion of old Minecraft world data structures to the latest version, even with the significant changes to the internal code over the past decade. However, due to the complex academic knowledge required to comprehend this system, it cannot be utilised in a modded context with mod APIs such as Minecraft Forge and FabricMC, on which SurvivalPlus is built. Minecraft Forge offered an alternative by allowing the remapping of item and block names to new values. Although, it did not address replacing items in chests or naturally generated blocks in the terrain, posing a challenge in the renaming process.

Once the solution to the renaming problem was found using MCA Selector and NBTExplorer, the planning of the video tutorial took place. Each process step was mapped out and thoroughly tested to ensure it worked. With the success of the process confirmed, important decisions were made regarding the video tutorial itself. It was determined that a voice-over narration was unnecessary, as clear on-screen text prompts and labelled steps could provide comprehensive instructions. This approach allows viewers to pause the video and review instructions as needed, avoiding repeatedly needing to rewind for clarification. Additionally, the decision was made to forgo background music in the tutorial to avoid potential distractions due to music taste and volume levels. The focus remained on providing concise and easily followable information.

The video tutorial will outline the step-by-step process, prioritising the importance of opening the Minecraft world after each change. It will also guide obtaining the SurvivalPlus Primer mod for Minecraft Forge and FabricMC mod-loaders, including specific installation instructions for Windows and MacOS users. To maintain consistency with the Minecraft theme, the video's format will reflect the game's aesthetics, incorporating the pixel-based font and utilising pixel-like transitions for text prompts. Minecraft sound effects will be inserted to signify important milestones throughout the tutorial, such as its completion. The final product will serve as a comprehensive guide, covering all necessary steps, from creating a backup to installing the required programs and mods.

The development process of the video tutorial involved screen recording on both Windows and MacOS systems. While in-game Minecraft footage was captured on MacOS, the external programs were recorded on the Windows system. As a result of the two systems, the Minecraft world save was copied back and forth between them using a USB drive, resulting in extensive editing to achieve a cohesive final product. However, a challenge arose when recording on the Intel-based MacOS, as its high-retina display couldn't maintain a smooth frame rate, causing jagged visuals. Additionally, capturing in-game sound effects like the nether portal, footsteps on the sand, and chest openings was affected. To address this, the original sounds were extracted from the Minecraft game files during the editing process in Camtasia. These original audio tracks were overlaid onto the corrupted audio while the original audio track was muted. This correction mitigated the impact of the visual frame rate issue, making the audio experience more seamless. Using Camtasia's Clip Speed effect, the visuals were further enhanced to optimise efficiency during loading times, such as opening the Minecraft world or performing find and replace actions.

Once the footage was edited, text prompts were placed throughout the video. These prompts included step labels, platform indications (Forge or Fabric), and specific indications for Windows or MacOS users. To draw focus to the text, a blur effect was applied to the background, while a pixelated transition effect was utilised for the text's fade-in and fade-out. To create a visually appealing shadow effect, the text was duplicated, shifted slightly, and changed to the opposite colour. While it required typing the text twice, the shadow helped separate the text from the often-same colour background content. An exception to the white or black text was the congratulatory message at the end of the video, which featured the colour from Minecraft used for achievements.

... All rotoscoped hightlight frames in Camtasia

A tracking highlight circle was used to highlight important selections that could easily go unnoticed, following the on-screen cursor and directing viewers' attention. A box highlight was also used, such as during the section on installing MCA Selector, the highlight expanded and tracked a scrolling screen. The scrolling screen tracking was possible through the technique of manual rotoscoping. This involved manually tracing the highlight box in each frame as it constantly changed size as the screen scrolled. Similarly, various coloured boxes were manually drawn during multiple sequences to cover the top of browser windows or the Windows dock, ensuring a cleaner and more focused presentation. When selecting the world save location in MCA Selector, file explorer window elements were seamlessly covered to hide personal folder information. This not only protected personal details but also enhanced the overall simplicity and clarity of the video.

Upon completion, thef video tutorial was published on YouTube, making it easily accessible to SurvivalPlus mod users through search queries or the embedded link on the SurvivalPlus Primer homepage. A 4K resolution was chosen for exporting the video instead of HD to enhance legibility, ensuring that the text in the NBTExplorer section remained clear for viewers. Furthermore, chapters with corresponding timestamps were added later, enabling viewers to navigate the video easily and locate specific sections of interest.

The video tutorial proved to be a success, although the exact number of users benefiting from it for its intended purpose remains to be discovered. At the time of writing, the video had nearly 600 views, indicating a significant level of engagement, while the SurvivalPlus Primer mod saw almost 2000 downloads. Throughout the tutorial, various sequences stood out, such as at very the with the opening logo transition, which smoothly faded in and out based on the brightness of each pixel in the artwork. The flawlessly executed rotoscoped highlight scroll segment effectively guided viewers' focus, and the thoughtfully covered elements minimised distractions and maintained a clear sense of direction.

However, it is worth noting that a minor issue persisted in the final video, as a few of the text prompts featuring apostrophes needed to adopt the desired pixel-based font. This was due to a font-specific issue in Camtasia, necessitating the individual adjustment of each apostrophe mark, and a few instances slipped through this process. Moving forward, providing clearer instructions explicitly stating the requirement to open the world after each change would also be beneficial. Although demonstrated in the video, this crucial step was not explicitly mentioned, and emphasising its importance would enhance clarity for viewers. Additionally, incorporating more strategic sound design throughout the video could further elevate the viewing experience. Following the example set by the congratulatory sound after the tutorial, the use of subtle sound effects would add depth and engagement but it would be important for it to not become overwhelming or distracting.

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