Interview: Rhodox, Creator of the Painterly Pack

When browsing through the waves of texture packs, it is hard not to notice the Painterly Pack. One of the most popular packs ever made, the additions to this pack are ever-increasing!  Here’s a quick description of the pack, obtained from the website itself…

“Painterly pack is a complete, fully customizable, native-resolution graphics package for Minecraft which attempts to improve the graphics of the game while still attempting to keep the overall spirit of the game intact.”

The texture pack is unique in that users have the option of choosing the look of items from a variety of pre-made textures. It is almost like the buffet of texture packs! I was fortunate enough to get an interview with Rhodox, the creator of the pack, who seems optimistic about the future of his designs.

Xkimball: How did you discover Minecraft?

Rhodox: I saw a Minecraft thread on the SomethingAwful forums, and decided on a whim to check it out. Looked pretty interesting, so I checked out a livestream that a goon named Marux was running to see it in motion, and I was hooked immediately. I bought it right then and there. It was immediately after the patch that added redstone to the game, if I recall correctly. Good times.

Xkimball: Do you use any mods? If so, which ones?

Rhodox: I bounce back and forth between the Yogbox and the Amazopack depending on the world I’m running (shameless plug – get the Amazopack on the Painterly website!) as well as playing with Preloader/MCDungeon when I feel like punishing myself in game, haha. I’m actually not super huge on a lot of mods just because many of them don’t seem to do much interesting, or, on the reverse side of the coin, they do all kinds of interesting things, but the creators didn’t seem to know when to quit, and kept bloating and bloating out the mods with features until there’s tons of terrible and useless mixed in with the good. It’s a delicate balancing act and hard to get right.

Xkimball: What do hope to see in the 1.8 update and the future?

Rhodox: In an ideal world, I’d love for notch to stop a ton of new pointless half-finished ideas or items at this point and just refining what he has – there’s a really good foundation there. Flesh out combat with a few different weapon types and interesting encounters, make dungeon generation more varied (with actual proper ruins and rooms!), make a lot of half-finished ideas like farming, fishing, powered carts, etc. actually have compelling and interesting content and purposes.

Oh, and definitely work towards making a way for modders to stabilize their patches so they (mostly) work from update to update. Having to wait for a dozen people to update after every patch is no fun if you happen to use mods.

Xkimball: What was your reaction when you first played the game?

Rhodox: Well, I think I had the pretty universal starting experience of having my first hovel completely obliterated that first morning by an army of creepers, and then changed my strategy to build on a cliff face. Which worked great until I was divebombed off my ladder by spiders, haha. After a few games of learning the basics and building a few modest structures, I just started spending tons of time exploring and taking in some of the amazing scenery the game produces. I still do that a lot, but now I have a compass to find my way back. :)
Oh, and I’ve got a Pavlovian response to that skeleton bow sound now.

Xkimball: What made you create this texture pack?

Rhodox: Back when I was watching Marux’s stream, Minecraft was still a relatively unknown game, so there wasn’t a lot of texture packs or anything out there.I looked at a few 16×16 packs and decided I didn’t like the look of any of them, and got to thinking ‘hey, maybe I should put my money where my mouth is’ and try to do better, I threw up a few images to show my peers what I had done, and feedback was encouraging, so I stuck with it. I would get feedback from the visitors to Marux stream, and used that to get the pack to its initial release. People enjoyed it and even started sending in alternate options, and I made a few as well, which were originally just in a folder in the pack, but then there got to be so many, that a few of us started working on an online customizer to make things easier for everyone. The rest is history, I guess.

In hindsight, though, I’m amazed the pack took off at all – a lot of the original textures for Painterly are HIDEOUS! It was my first pixel art project, so I was going in blind, really. I feel like I’ve really come a long long way since I started (compare for example, the original cobblestone or cactus, some of the first textures, to something new, like say any of the mystic ores gemstones or the iridium tools) – but I still feel like I have a long way to go.

The texturing scene as a whole has come a long way since the early days, and there’s some amazing looking 16×16 packs now, and a lot of them make me jealous of their creator’s skill in comparison to my own. Wayukian pack, SMP pack, Quandary, Frenden, and Jolicraft off the top of my head – depending on what sort of look or style you want for your game now, there’s so many amazing options now, so I consider it an honor that people still continue to use Painterly with so much out there to choose from.

Xkimball: What would you want Notch to add to the game?

Rhodox: In a perfect world, he’d add the Peaceful Pack mod (by hogofwar) to the base game. Even if you’re not playing on peaceful, everything in this mod just feels so perfectly RIGHT, and since the most recent round of tweaks to it, everything feels very natural and balanced. I consider it an ‘essential’ mod for anyone and everyone.

Really I’d love to see all of the mods in the Amazopack added (liking them all so much is why the pack exists in the first place – well that and because I thought they did an excellent job together of introducing new players to modding in a non-overwhelming, balanced way) but that’s the one that I don’t think I could go back to playing without, if only for flax and slimepools.

Xkimball: What do you expect from Minecraft on X-Box 360?

Rhodox: I don’t really see minecraft working all that well with a controller, so I’m pretty interested in seeing how they plan on pulling that off without it being really awkward. The return of finite map sizes and floating island types would be nice for a console environment (and the computer version too, really). Honestly, the thing I hope to see most of all is the end of all the absolutely horrible minecraft clones on X-Box Live Arcade, they’re all universally terrible, hahaha.

Xkimball: What do you think of the 1.7.3 update so far?

Rhodox: Pistons are amazingly fun to tinker with, and the redstone fix for repeaters is lovely. Minecraft needs more things like pistons – simple ideas that unlock gigantic new avenues for doing stuff with a single easily understood block. Notch hits on this a lot – pistons, note blocks, rail tracks, to name a few, but for every one of those, there’s a bunch of ‘desert shrub’ or ‘sandstone’ blocks that don’t do much of anything unique, or something added that’s got potential, but is just poorly implemented, like fishing or dogs.

Xkimball: Do you have any plans of adding new things to the Painterly Pack?

Rhodox: Of course! I’m adding new things all the time! I’ve been doing some miscellaneous textures here and there for Yogbox – most of what I wanted to do with the ‘base’ game textures has been done now, so things have shifted a bit more towards mods, but I don’t want to go overboard on them. If I personally find a mod fun or interesting though, if it doesn’t require a lot of texturing work, then I tend to give it a go these days. This is unfortunately part of the reason I haven’t skinned Millenaire yet – it’s a great mod, but holy cow does it have an excessive amount of textures! I’d be at it forever, and it’s not stable – things change every patch with it, which would be hell on updating/maintaining on my back end.

Photo Gallery!

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Again, I’d like to thank Rhodox for giving me the amazing opportunity to interview him.

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