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I basically want to create a mod for Minecraft that does the following:

if(a sand block is next to lava block) {
   change the sand block to a glass block

Is it possible to create a mod like this without editing multiple Java classes?

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Something that a lot of people don't understand is that it is possible to make ANY mod. And also, you need to modify java classes at one point. There is no way around either of these simple facts.

So, yes. Yes you can. :)

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That depends. To do specifically what you are describing, you will probably need to create a mod for a new block type. Here's a tutorial on doing so -- it's not terribly complex and you primarily just need to create one additional source file (for the block itself). The code for the block itself may be more involved, however. You can see an example of this kind of cellular automaton block mod on YouTube here.

You can, of course, just build the simulation you want using redstone circuits. It might be a bit involved, and it won't function exactly the way you want (toggling block types), but it's doable without a mod.

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"Might be a bit involved"... :) – Ilmari Karonen Nov 4 '11 at 23:49

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