Sunday, September 11, 2011

Let's Talk About Minecraft Again - 1.8 Edition

So, the history of Minecraft's 1.8 update, also known as "The Adventure Update" has been long and storied, with twists, turns and wackiness here and there.  But this is probably the strangest part of it all; The update, or at least a pre-release version of it was leaked.  By Mojang, or more specifically, "Jeb" who I believe has been the lead developer lately with Notch doing his wedding stuff.  Mojang isn't too adverse to doing things a little differently clearly, as they've been selling a game that's only -now- in Beta for quite a while, but the idea of leaking a pre-release version of the update (Likely the one directly from PAX) seems a bit wacky even by these standards.  Still, it's a really good idea, since, well, the game is in Beta, and was delayed for Bug-testing, which seems a bit silly.  This way, they get actual data from people who have paid to beta-test the game without causing a mess of ruckus from releasing the update in a likely buggier-than-normal state.

An interesting side-effect of this type of release, at least from what I witnessed was an unbridled excitement from all sorts of youtubers who have made it their -thing- to Let's Play/Build in Minecraft.  While the 1.8 update itself is exciting enough for many of them, the mere thought of getting it in this manner, in a leak (even if it's not really a 'leak' per se) ramped up the excitement to 11 for many.  Indeed, I watched about 20 minutes of two grown men who've been youtubing Minecraft for quite a while running around yelling "Oh my God!" about every little thing much like I am when new Vita news or Lollipop Chainsaw news comes about.  So clearly, I understand where they're coming from and am not saying this in anything resembling a negative light.  Like I said, it was an interesting side-effect.

While I don't know everything that's in 1.8, I have seen quite a bit of it and honestly, the new additions that I know of so far are pretty amazing.  I've seen (deserted) NPC villages that show off brand-new ways to decorate in Minecraft (primarily showing off that you can make a table by placing a wooden pressure plate on top of a fencepost which was previously not possible), Abandoned Mines in disrepair with new spiders (that are smaller and poisonous compared to the previously existing spiders) and chests scattered about with random loot, (and the chests actually open now) and last, but not least, the Endermen.  The first new hostile mob to be introduced (alongside the new spiders, of course) in....well, quite a long time.  Notch actually had a bit of insight into how he created the Endermen which is an interesting read, and I have to say, seeing them in the game isn't particularly lackluster.  I'm sure it would actually be 'scary' were I the one playing, even.

This is a slight bit of a re-tread of news for people who have been following Minecraft news, but I haven't mentioned it at all here, I don't believe, so now would be the time.  Endermen, as you see above, are lanky, tall humanoid mobs who have the ability to pick up blocks and place them back down in different spots, clearly changing the landscape you've become familiar with in an attempt to confuse the hell out of you.  (Mostly conjecture, of course)  I'm not sure if they can pick up blocks you've placed or only naturally placed blocks, but either way, it'll....well, it's a thing and the only previous instances of mobs interfering with blocks was Creepers who would destroy them when they exploded like -jerks-.  (Also Ghasts, who shot fireballs that, again, could destroy blocks.)

On top of all this, Endermen are initially passive mobs, merely content to wander about in packs, picking up blocks and placing them down here and there.  However, (and if you didn't read the Insight I linked to above, this is the important thing to take from it) if you should 'look' at one (reflected in the game by putting your cursor on them) they know it and they don't like it.  They'll stop what their doing and slowly turn to stare at you for as long as your cursor remains on them.  Such an unsettling move, of course, would direct you, the player to get the hell out of dodge, but unfortunately, if you've made it to this point, you're kind of screwed.  As soon as the cursor leaves the Enderman, he will hunt you.  He will find you.  And he will (try to) kill you.  Endermen are extremely mobile when hostile and can teleport to catch up with you or even to confuse you if you're trying to fight him.

While the core combat mechanics remain mostly unchanged (aside from archery) this type of an encounter serves enough to make it feel a bit more...deep, a little more involving, as compared to "This Mob will run directly at you until you kill it, you die, or it falls into a hole or something." at least.  It's one of the many changes 1.8 introduces that makes Minecraft feel....well, closer to being a finished product.  I would say "More like a game", but well, Minecraft has always felt like a game to me (despite, again, not having played it) as I don't quantify games by having a tangible end point or anything of the sort.  But it does feel like it's a bit more ready for the November release date which is fast approaching.

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