Friday, May 27, 2011

Minecraft 1.6

This was mostly a bugfix update, but did change a few things and introduce some new stuff as well.  I won't go through the entire list of fixes and changes, just because of how ginormous it is, but you can read all of them over on The Word of Notch.

I'll be focusing mostly on the things I was looking forward to, or that I'm glad they were fixed, as well as the new stuff and anything that affects me.

First, players looking to start wheat farms now have to go about it differently.  Newly generated chunks have a chance of having tall grass spawn on grass blocks.  Seeds can now only be found by destroying tall grass, the old method of using a hoe on regular grass no longer works.  A lot of people are QQing about this, but I think it's better.  In addition to adding some welcome graphical variety, seeds can be gained from tall grass without the use of a hoe, or through the primary (left click) action of a hoe, which won't reduce its durability.  So basically, you can make hoes out of much cheaper and more easily obtainable material now, since you'll only need them to till the soil of your farm.

I started up a brand new world to test it out, and found plenty of seeds in a patch of tall grass near my spawn point.  So in terms of how easy it is to get seeds, I don't think it changed very much.  Tall grass is also approximately everywhere, but it would make sense for it to be rarer or nonexistent in some biomes.

My one complaint about seeds is that the only use for them is planting them to grow wheat, which after a while of harvesting generates a huge surplus of seeds.  In most cases it's not feasible to continually enlarge your farm to accommodate all the seeds you get from each harvest, so you're left with chests full of seeds that you're never going to use unless you start a new settlement elsewhere, but even then a single stack of seeds is more than good enough to get started.

Moving right along, the next addition is dead shrubs in desert biomes.  These are brown plants that are, well, dead.  Punching them destroys them, and you can't pick them up to replant them.  So you'll have to inventory hack to get shrubs to place around your sandstone houses in the desert.  There are also living versions which I guess are more accurately classed as a variant of tall grass, that spawn in the more foresty biomes.  These have a chance of dropping seeds when destroyed, and once again cannot be obtained to be replanted elsewhere.

Now, the first new craftable item, and the one possibly more hyped, is the map.  By surrounding a compass with paper in a workbench, you can make a map.  Each world can have up to 65535 maps.  The center of a map is where you crafted it, and by default starts out unexplored.  You'll have to explore the area to get it to show up on the map.  When you select the map and look straight forward, you can only see the top of it, but if you look down, you'll be able to see the map.  This is both neat and disorienting at the same time, as you basically can't see to go down hills while you're holding the map.  Supposedly there will eventually be a way to clone maps, and to place them on walls.  Cloned maps in multiplayer will also supposedly show the locations of other players with that same map.

The next craftable item is the Trapdoor.  The recipe is the door recipe turned on its side, and only works with wood planks.  They get placed in the bottom of a block and open upwards, and are a little tricky climb through around ladders, which would be the primary place where you might want to have one.  They essentially act as a door in the ground.  They also work with redstone, so you can use that to make drawbridges and redstone controllable animal/enemy traps.  The only noticable difference between trapdoors and regular doors, aside from the size, is that you can't attack enemies through trapdoors.  Hopefully Notch will fix this, because otherwise, an underground base can become not safe to exit if a creeper decides to camp out on your trapdoor.  I was trying to kill a spider through one when I discovered this.

Now, some of the changes.  Apparently there are some bugs with occlusion culling (the Advanced OpenGL option in the Video Settings menu) that caused Notch to disable it, which is a shame because it greatly improves performance on my computer.

Also apparently Notch removed the ability to place blocks in the top layer of the map, which is a workaround method for getting rid of a ton of bugs related to the top layer of the map, but if you were building something up there, you might want to finish it before updating.  Kind of like we are on the multiplayer server that I host.  Which is the precise reason why I'm not updating the server to 1.6 yet.

A welcome change is a nerf to fire.  It now spreads less quickly and no longer spreads infinitely.  Hopefully this means that if a wooden structure gets set on fire, you'll actually have a chance to put it out, rather than losing the entire structure.

There were a whole host of multiplayer fixes, but none more important than enabling the Nether.  Now it's possible to legitimately obtain Netherrack, Glowstone, and Soul Sand on a multiplayer server, as well as, of course, entering the Nether and killing Ghasts and so forth.  Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, I won't be updating my server until we finish our project which for some reason is at the top of the map.  This project is a really long minecart track so we can get the "Ride a minecart 1km" achievement.  I really have no clue why it's being built at the top of the map, I didn't start it.  I could update just to be a dick and force a one block downwards altitude shift in the structure, but I don't really feel like doing that.

That means that for the forseeable future I won't be updating my client either.  I actually did download the client update, but I made a copy of my 1.5_01 minecraft.jar first.  Hopefully in 1.6.5 or sometime similarly soon Notch will fix whatever's wrong with occlusion culling and re-enable it.

Now, for the fixes and changes I'd like to see that didn't make it in:
  • Texture packs should be able to override the language file, so they can correct item names to more accurately reflect their appearance in the texture pack.  For instance, I'm using the Painterly bacon textures, and it looks weird pointing at cooked bacon and having it say "Cooked Porkchop".  I can (and do) solve this by editing minecraft.jar, but I shouldn't have to.
  • Fix lighting on Wooden and Stone Stairs when smooth lighting is turned off.  Smooth lighting doesn't belong in Minecraft in the first place.  It just doesn't fit with the intentionally low resolution, blocky look, and makes it harder to gauge block distances while constructing, and light levels when trying to make sure that an area is light enough to prevent monsters from spawning.
  • Fix the server-side lag issue that basically prevents me from playing on my own multiplayer server from time to time.  I know it's server-side because I'll open up the server console and send a chat message, and it'll show up in the console immediately but not be echoed back to me for at least 30 seconds.  Can you imagine what mining obsidian is like when the server lag is several times longer than it takes to break a block of obsidian with a diamond pick?  It's also confusing because mined blocks reappear client-side until the server catches up.  This also affects approximately everything else in the game.  Doors will reopen themselves, placed torches will disappear, etc.
  • Add a toggle for weather in multiplayer.  Just because rain is annoying and lightning can start fires, which will burn down wooden structures.  Yes, rain puts fire out, but it's still possible to start a fire in the rain if you do it right, and lightning can do that.
  • Add the whitelist commands to the server /help command.  Because I didn't know they existed and had to restart the server to add someone recently.
  • Fix right-side-hinged doors so that they don't let monsters in while you sleep.  Now I know why that was happening in my Quesadila adventure, which I never actually continued...
  • Make it so we can right click placed paintings to change the painting.  I'm aware that there's a mod to do this, but having it be official would reduce the number of clicks it takes to get the painting you want...  Either that or add a menu that comes up when you place a painting that lets you just flat out choose the one you want it to be.

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