Minecraft has had an exciting time of it lately, at least in the PC market. User modifications have expanded the game to mind bending degrees (a look at a Yogscast upload list will show you how mad this has become). Customised single player adventure games have turned this into almost an indie game-making kit, much like Half Life 2 did for FPS create-your-owns. In the PC market, it’s had new pretenders challenge it like Terraria and Cube World, both of which are equally successful, enjoyably different games in their own right and are still evolving.
Yet even with its own rapid expansion to the mobile market, the merchandise industry, consoles and of course conventions and the ability to make stars out of YouTube gamers, Mojang are still looking out for us – the player. Even though the game is on full release, updates have come to fix bugs and add new content to the game at NO ADDITIONAL COST (read it and weep, EA) and this latest one is a biggie.
“The Update That Changed The World” is no small claim, but Minecraft 1.7 really has done just that. It’s own world that is. Earlier this year, horses were implemented in to the game, mainly because these were one of the most popular/requested modifications and, much like Valve, Mojang noticed this and helped implement it. Now however the biomes you find have evolved, the world is much more sensibly generated than previous versions and the items for construction or “crafting” have become more varied.
Biome wise there have been new areas added; a savannah (no lions yet) with wonderful acacia trees, a roofed forest which contains a brand new, bigger and darker oak tree, Ice Spikes that look like you could build wonderful fantasy palaces in them, a new Mega Tiaga with new dirty toilet-brown Podzol blocks and natural mossy cobblestone and the fantastic (and much requested) Mesa biome. All of which add a lovely and much needed visual touch up to the game, along with lots of new flowers to spruce up your gardens.
One of the big things though with these biomes is how they generate. No more will you skip from desert to extreme snow. The game now makes things a bit more sensible and tries to group things by temperature. If you’re in a snowy area then the next areas around you are going to be colder biomes until you get to the warmer ones, like the plains and so on. And the same goes hot for places like deserts and mesas – the further away you get, the colder it will get.
Another addition is the inclusion of stained glass. Many Minecraft fans have wanted this since it was teased as an April Fool by Mojang, but now you can have different coloured glass and, for the most part, it does look rather lush.
However, if like me you’ve been playing Minecraft for a while casually, or even if you’re someone that makes a career out of it, this does feel like a precursor to Minecraft 2.0. The new live streaming feature revealed at Minecon (where you press one button to instantly Livestream to twitch.tv) is now available, which creates an exciting new possibility for those wanting to share their experiences, although still in testing at the moment. It very clear that Mojang knows the success and survival of the game is catering to not only the fans, but the people who share their experience of it online.
It’s surely only a matter of time until the game expands to make use of those empty oceans; bringing some new creatures in (friendly or otherwise), introduce multiple uses to some stagnant blocks and find something that makes redstone less technically confusing. But until then, this will quench your metaphorical thirst to explore brave and strange new procedurally generated worlds and admire the beauty of nature-cubed.