The best part about making a Minecraft Mod is that it is entirely free. Unfortunately, it does take a little work to get setup.
That's why today we are going to focus on getting setup, the different platforms you can most easily make mods for, and how to make sure your Minecraft Mod is actually loading.
First, which platform are you developing for? If you said Windows or Mac, then you're in luck, that's no problem. Linux users should not have too much trouble either, though I won't speak to them directly. If you're hoping to make mods for a gaming console, you'll have to wait for another instalment...after I figure it out!
Minecraft itself is written in Java, so naturally most of the modding that goes on with Minecraft is also written in Java. However, that does not mean you must write in Java. For example, it is entirely possible that you write in some other language that can leverage the JVM, such as Scala, and in fact some of the tools we will be talking about are indeed written in Scala.
In order to most easily write Java code on your platform, it makes sense to use an IDE (Integrated Development Environment). While there are many choices (NetBeans, IntelliJ, BlueJ, etc) the one I recommend, and is most common in the modding community and in the larger programming world, is Eclipse.
So before we go any further, please download and install Eclipse for your platform here.
Bu wait! There is one problem with this installation. You're going to end up using the default JRE or install a JRE with Eclipse (JRE stands for Java Runtime Environment). The problem is that the next thing we need (Minecraft Forge) relies on an older version of the JRE. In fact, if we're being very precise, what we need is the right JDK (Java Development Kit) for the version of Minecraft you are targeting.
For the latest versions of Minecraft, you'll want to use the Java 9 JDK. If you want to target 1.8.9 (very popular with top Minecraft players) instead you'll want to use the Java 8 JDK.
Unfortunately, in order to download various JDK versions, you need an Oracle account!
So I'll grab a coffee and wait while you go and find the right JDK, then realize you need an Oracle account, create it, wait for their super slow email system, and then finally get your download going, and then wait for the installation process to finish too!
The next step is installing Minecraft Forge. You can go do that yourself now, or you can wait for Part II of this series of articles....