When I'm playing with my gf in the weekend on my LAN server we usually apply 1 rule... We're allowed to use Creative but only when the changes we want to apply are cosmetic.
For example... A few months ago we re-discovered an old worldsave of mine where I had started on an island, and of which I knew that it had some ocean monuments nearby. So was started digging for (cobble)stone, and made a huge bridge to the monument in order to raid it. So far, so good... Now, I sometimes have this thing with adding a little bit of reality into the game, and a bridge which stretches out for several kilometers without even having one pillar is obviously not very realistic.
Of course it's a bit vague and this also isn't a cold rule carved out in stone. Because in the end only 1 thing really matters and that's us having a fun time playing.
The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
I recently had just this dilemma. I started work on a HUGE build in survival and realized that I'm not gonna finish it this way. I decided I finish it in creative and continue in survival. But after I finished, I just couldn't switch back to survival, because it was always in the back of my head that this really isn't a survival world anymore. Anyway I am still happy I did that, because the build I finished is EPIC!! But as for survival goes, I started a new world and left this one for creative. Tho I am very happy about starting a new world also, because my new world started out with me having A LOT more knowledge of the game and it is turning out very nice and much better organized than my previous world. So in the end as long as you are having fun it really doesn't matter what you do. Be careful with switching to creative tho, because you might not be able to switch back.
As for when I would use it without regretting it at all: When I die by a clitch, When I try to figure out the cause of a bug to make a proper report, when something is not working as it should and I can't find the reason. Always when I do those things I back up my world and start from the old save-point after the bug/cause of malfunction is figured out.
one time i jumped from a snapshot to the latest release after loading my survival in the snapshot. lost everything. all chests/inventory was gone. so i tried to replace all the items from memory using the open to lan trick.
other than that i SOMETIMES use the /gamerule keepInventory true command because there is nothing worse than dieing and having to sprint 100s of blocks to your stuff, or even worse. loosing it to lava or the void. i dont see this as cheating though as everything is gained legit. and even if i have this on, i hardly die anyway. and if it is. it'll be near my base and my items wouldve been safe anyway.
The only cheat I have in my most recent survival world is a command block that stops Enderman griefing, because that adds nothing to the game except extreme annoyance. Endermen turning the area around my base into swiss cheese is one of my pet peeves in Minecraft. That little command block made my new world so much more enjoyable to play.
When I cheat, it's usually to get a good amount of cobblestone (at the beginning of the game, when it's a pain to get a decent amount of) and to set the world spawn at a spot where I'm gonna build. And, if you count it as such, I use Peaceful quite often, though I'm glad they gave the option to lock difficulty to stop temptation.
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I didn't fail. I just found another way to do it wrong.