Advanced Biome Decoration API

An API for creating advanced, complex biome decorations

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Advance Biome Decoration API

Create advanced, complex biome decorations with the Advanced Biome Decoration API! While the internal Minetest biome API can be used to create many types of biome decorations, it has some limitations. Standard biome decorations cannot:

  • Place wallmounted decorations on walls
  • Check for complex patterns of nodes to determine placement, e.g., checking multiple nodes high above the ground
  • Create structures that vary placement based on arbitrary conditions, e.g., place different colors of nodes based on whether x/z coordinates are odd or even

In order to facilitate more complex decorations, the Advanced Biome Decoration API uses a powerful and performant mechanism for targeting advanced decorations to the environment. The advanced decoration process works like so:

  1. Call abdecor.register_advanced_decoration(...) to register an advanced decoration
  2. Self-destructing 'marker nodes' are placed to mark locations where advanced decorations should be generated
  3. The biome API gennotify mechanism is used to identify the marker nodes during map generation
  4. An advanced decoration function (supplied during registration) is called for each marker node to generate the advanced decoration at each marker location
  5. All advanced decorations are written to the map and rendered in the world

For working examples of what this API can do, see the Advanced Biome Decoration Modpack for reference.


Advanced decorations are created via abdecor.register_advanced_decoration(name, definition). This function returns true when an advanced decoration registration is successful and false if the registration was not successful. If the function returns false, check your debug.txt file to see why it rejected registration and make any adjustments as necessary.

This function's parameters and definition schema are explained in the sections below.


This is a simple string used to name the decoration. It should contain only [a-zA-Z-0-9_]. The name must be unique across all mods that use this API, so it is advised to do some simple namespacing, e.g., mymod_mydecor1.


This is a table that defines an advanced decoration. It must have certain keys that define how it is rendered in the world, plus other optional values that are important for certain use cases. Each key of the definition schema is described in detail below.


This is a table that represents a partial decoration definition as described in the decoration definition section of the Minetest API docs. This decoration definition is used to place mapgen nodes for your decoration in the environment, so you should try to target nodes in the environment that are closest to where you want to generate your advanced decoration.

The following decoration definition fields are set/overridden by this API and therefore should not be specified:

  • deco_type = "simple"
  • name = <internal value>
  • decoration = <internal marker node value>


This is a function that is called for each marker node that is placed in the environment for your advanced decoration. It is responsible for actually checking the surrounding nodes and placing nodes according to how they should be placed in the current mapchunk. It is effectively the implementation of your advanced decoration.

This function gets called for each advanced decoration that can be placed and gets passed a table with the following keys defined for each call:

  • pos: This is a table that represents the absolute position of the current decoration in the form of { x = <int>, y = <int>, z = <int> }.
  • voxelarea: This is a VoxelArea that represents the area of the current mapchunk being generated. It can be used to index the following two parameters.
  • data: This is a flat VoxelManip table that holds the node data for the current mapchunk being generated. This table can be read/written like any usual mapgen VoxelManip table.
  • param2: This optional parameter is also a flat VoxelManip table, but it instead holds the param2 values for the nodes in the current mapchunk. This can be useful for rotating nodes, placing wallmounted nodes, etc. The value of this key is nil unless param2 = true is specified for the decoration's flags.
  • place_schematic: This optional key is a function that passes through parameters to minetest.place_schematic_on_vmanip for the current mapchunk being generated in order to place schematics in the current mapchunk. The value of this key is nil unless schematic = true is specified for the decoration's flags. The function takes a single table argument with the following keys:
  • pos: The position at which to place the schematic. Must be a table in the form of { x = <int>, y = <int>, z = <int> }. This value is required.
  • schematic: The schematic to place. This value must be a schematic specifier. This value is required.
  • rotation: Which direction the schematic should face. Optional value that defaults to "random"
  • replacements: Which nodes to replace with other nodes in the schematic. Optional value that defaults to {}
  • force_placement: Boolean flag that determines whether to force placement of the schematic if it would otherwise collide with nodes that are already placed. Optional value that defaults to false.
  • flags: A comma-delimited string containing any of place_center_x, place_center_y, and place_center_z. Optional value that defaults to ""
  • calc_lighting: This key is a function that passes through its exact parameters to VoxelManip.calc_lighting
  • index2d: This key is a function that indexes a two-dimensional flat array for the current mapchunk such as the array returned from minetest.get_mapgen_object("heatmap") and other such functions. This function takes either two integer arguments that represent x/z coordinates, or a single table argument in the form of { x = <int>, z = <int> } (y value is optional/unused).
  • minp: This is the minp value for the current minetest.register_on_generated(...) call.
  • maxp: This is the maxp value for the current minetest.register_on_generated(...) call.
  • seed: This is the blockseed value for the current minetest.register_on_generated(...) call.

This function does not directly interact with the VoxelManip object returned by minetest.get_mapgen_object("voxelmanip") and instead will only modify the current mapchunk using the values described above which are managed by the Advanced Biome Decoration API. Attempting to access the VoxelManip for the current mapchunk directly inside of this function is undefined and not recommended under any circumstances.

This function may be called many times per mapchunk depending on how common your advanced decorations are, so this function should be made as efficient as possible as not to slow down mapgen:

  • Use the supplied VoxelArea and its ystride/zstride values to index the supplied data/param2 arrays for best read/write performance.
  • Make use of return to exit your decoration function quickly if an advanced decoration is not suitable at a given target location.
  • Cache the results of lookup operations outside of your decoration function, such as calls to minetest.get_content_id(...) or minetest.get_modpath(...).


This optional parameter is a table that defines flags that each determine any special needs for an advanced decoration. Its keys and values are simple boolean flags that work as follows:

  • param2: Whether or not to load/use the VoxelManip param2 data for the current mapchunk. This should be set if your advanced decoration function needs access to param2 data. If your decoration does not use param2, then this flag should remain unset for better performance. Defaults to false.
  • liquid: Whether or not your advanced decoration function manipulates liquids. If set, then VoxelManip.update_liquids() is called before writing the values back to the mapchunk. This ensures that generated liquids flow as expected. Set if your advanced decoration function places liquids, else leave unset for better performance. Defaults to false.
  • schematic: Whether or not your advanced decoration function may place schematics. If set, then the place_schematic function described above is made available to your advanced decoration function for the purpose of placing schematics. Defaults to false.

For clarity, the default flags table looks like this:

  param2 = false,    -- do not load param2 data
  liquid = false,    -- do not update liquids
  schematic = false, -- decoration does not place schematics



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