One of the best ways for Minecraft veterans to spice up their Minecraft multiplayer server is to add plenty of mods, and completely change the gameplay! For players who would rather keep things much more vanilla-aligned though, plugins may fit the server's preferences much better than adding a handful of download-required mods do. What's the differences anyway? How does adding mods change the gameplay, whereas plugins really don't? Shockbyte is here to break it all down for you!
One of the biggest misunderstandings for vanilla Minecraft players looking to stray from their base-game ways is being able to identify exactly which sort of changes to the game are mods or plugins. When a player sees videos online of dragons soaring the Minecraft skies, reigning death and destruction down upon hundreds of NPCs in an epic never-before-seen clash, that's a mod. Plugins are only able to change numbers that already exist within a game, not add entirely new creatures to it.
Getting to Know What a Plugin is
The definition of a Minecraft plugin is simply extra code that is implanted into the base game to change the behavior of the vanilla game. This is important to consider when determining exactly what to look for when designing your own multiplayer dedicated Minecraft server, as you may not exactly know whether you should be looking for mods or plugins for your server.
The best way to approach the situation is a straight forward thought process: Is it changing something that already exists in the game? If yes, than it most likely could be a plugin! There are some plugins that VASTLY change parts of the base game to an extent that almost makes them look unfamiliar (in example, by giving the Ender dragon a Pig head), but as long as it is only using things that exist within the confines of the original game, it can usually be achieved with Plugins.
Getting to Know What a Mod is
Mods are, aptly named of course, modifications to the base game, which vastly change the game's original intended experience by adding additional content, or (in rare cases) changing/removing existing content! This is at the crux of what makes Minecraft so appealing for decades, as it can cover the same endless genres as beloved online communities like Roblox.
There are thousands of Minecraft servers available for players, with hundreds among them being modded beyond recognition. Due to these changes, players MUST download these mods onto their local Minecraft client BEFORE joining the server, as making this modification is required in order to play. This extends to almost every other game too, with Valheim's endless weapon mods providing servers a unique reason for players to keep coming back.
Do you want a Mod or a Plugin for your Server?
There are a lot of decisions to be made when deciding the answer to this question, but the very first problem that must be addressed is this: Mods are very limiting. Mods are required to be downloaded by all players who join your dedicated server prior to joining, and can limit the growth of your server to only players who are extremely committed to that mod. Depending on the mod's following, it may be extremely worthwhile though and can lead to your server fulfilling an extreme niche for that game!
On the contrary, if you're looking to make things easier on your server (like the woodcutting plugin shown above) or change the ruleset of the base game, a plugin is likely going to be your best bet. Plugins also allow server owners to establish in-game shops, monetization options, and even anti-cheat protection; all incredibly important tools in a server host's arsenal. This should give some insight into when you should be creating a modded server or otherwise.
Where to get Mods versus Plugins
Generally, Modding websites feature both mods and plugins as downloadable features across their site. The two most well known sites that feature both options for Minecraft is Curseforge, and Modrinth. Both of these sites are extremely intuitive, and make it very easy to start up a Shockbyte server after downloading a mod or plugin of your choice.
Remember! Using mods and plugins, especially in unison, can require a reliable server provider for the best gaming experience. If you're unable to host it yourself (as many modern gamers aren't able to do whilst playing at the same time), be sure to trust Shockbyte for a fluid and convenient experience. To pickup additional mods specifically, there are dozens of great websites such as Nexusmods and Mod.io that are equally as easy to get running on your server.
Content Creators and Modding/Plugins
Content Creators have an extremely unique relationship with mods and plugins unlike that of a regular user as they provide an extremely unique angle to content normally produced. Many content creators entirely revolve around this mod-based content making changes to multiplayer games such as Minecraft, Halo, Left 4 Dead, and many more to produce completely unique videos.
If you are a content creator you can also use Plugins to help manage your server: from setting an official anti-cheat (as described previously) to creating a personalized tutorial for the server, welcome messaging, interactable NPCs, and much more. Plugins can be used to restrict rulesets as well, similarly providing an alternative landscape for content creation to the normal gameplay loop.
Looking for more details about Mods and Plugins?
- How to Install Plugins on Your Minecraft Server
- How to Install Forge Mods on Your Minecraft Server
- All of our Knowledgebase Articles on Plugins and Mods
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