Sep 25, 2011

Minecraft Mayhem

Things I’d love to see @Notch add in future #Minecraft updates

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Minecraft, that wonderful indie game from Mojang that has millions of players who have paid twenty dollars for a perpetual beta. It’s not that the graphics are something unbelievable, because honestly it is a game that is decidedly low resolution. I think it’s actually the fact that it is low resolution gaming that really interests me.

Minecraft - Pumpkin Patch
 John Smith Texture Pack 32x32 resolution

Instead of putting their effort into some graphical extravaganza, Mojang is focusing on what actually matters in a game – the actual gameplay. Modern gaming companies can learn something from this today, because we end up with all of these games that are essentially knockoffs or re-hashing of prior games except with better graphics. There’s a reason why games like Space Invaders, Pac-Man and a myriad of classics persist today as genres which we continually find ourselves coming back to.

It’s about the innovation of gameplay, and less about the graphics.

While the “vanilla” Minecraft game is 16x16 resolution for the textures, there are “HD” modifications and texture packs which enhance the game further, even if they are not officially supported. This brings me to the point of this post, in that there are quite a lot of things which seem like a no-brainer to officially add to Minecraft but continue to be overlooked.

Official support for HD texture packs

While the base game itself should always be 16x16 textures, officially supporting high definition texture packs doesn’t seem like something too much to ask. MCPatcher is a de-facto patcher_mainmethod to effectively patch your Minecraft JAR file so it can handle texture packs up to 256x256, but it also adds HD Font support, custom texture animations, and incorporates Better Grass, among other things. These three things should be a staple of Minecraft natively.

 Not everyone is interested in the high definition texture packs, but it couldn’t hurt to officially include support for them built-in. At the end of the day, the point is to look at the most common things that the players are modding and reduce their need to jump through those hoops.

Craftable Obsidian (and more)

It has continually baffled me that you can craft items out of diamond in Minecraft but you can’t craft anything using Obsidian (other than a Netherportal). There is, of course, modifications that allow this to be possible such as Obsidian Plus but I think this idea needs to be better thought out and also expanded on. For instance, Diamond is supposed to be the hardest natural substance in the world, and so it should remain that way, with Obsidian armor and items being made to be as tough as Diamonds are now, while Diamonds are made 1.5X tougher

Not just tougher, but tougher to mine. Obsidian takes a disproportionate amount of time to mine with a Diamond Pickaxe, when Diamond should be tougher than Obsidian. In this case, it should be required that an Obsidian pickaxe or better be required to mine Diamonds. Obsidian should also offer some protection against fire damage, maybe reducing fire damage by half if the player is wearing a full set of Obsidian Armor. In order to get an Obsidian block, you would do the same thing as if you were making any other block – fill the crafting grid with 9 obsidian shards (much like you’d fill it with 9 diamonds to make a diamond block, etc) which brings me to the next point, which is that breaking Obsidian should not yield an obsidian block, but instead obsidian shards. These shards are then used to create armor and items, or on a grid of 3x3 filled then make an entire block like we do with Diamond, Lapiz, Iron, Gold, etc.

netheriteBut let’s not stop there… I’ve seen the idea of Netherite kicked around, and I believe this is an excellent idea – at least the base of it. A minable block type found only in the Nether that can only be mined by Diamond Pickaxe or Obsidian Pickaxe (but not Iron because it’s too weak), which is craftable into Netherite tools and armor. Netherite would be 2x as tough/strong as diamond and be immune to fire damage (obviously because it’s a native resource of the Nether). The reason that Netherite is twice as strong as diamond is because I said earlier that diamond is the toughest natural resource in the world, but Netherite is not from the normal world. Netherite would look like a bright purple obsidian shard, and the Netherite Ore would look like the image here. The Netherite tools would require Blaze Rods instead of sticks (because sticks would catch fire), so for instance, a Netherite Sword would be a single Blaze Rod at the bottom and two Netherite shards on top.

On this scale, we can say that the resources would be reconfigured as follows:

Wood < Stone < Iron < Obsidian < Diamond < Netherite < Aetherite (Skylands)

In the event that the Aether becomes part of Minecraft officially, then a resource exclusive to Aether should be the top end – maybe something like Aetherite where only Netherite or equal Aetherite can mine it. The idea is to balance the durability of resources in accordance with how much effort a player has to go through in order to obtain it. In this instance, something like Aetherite would be one of the hardest to acquire and such should be the best durability overall. You’d have to first make a portal to the Nether to get Netherite and Glowstone in order to make an Aethergate, and prior to that you’d have to mine your way up the durability scale to get to the Nether to begin with.

In this manner, Aetherite tools and armor would be 3X the durability and strength of Diamond today, but it would be very hard to get ahold of (being a rare resource much like Diamond is today in the main world, but in the Aether only). Netherite would also be the same rarity as Diamond in the main world, but in the Nether. So the Nether and Aether would both have their equivalent of Diamond resource. From what I recall, the Aether mod has a special set of craftable tools under the idea that your normal tools won’t work in the Aether. While I understand this mentality, there has to be some sort of agnostic resource like Aetherite which has a universal durability which makes it worth travelling to the Aether to get and return with items made from it.

Of course, being that Diamond, Netherite and Aetherite all would have increased durability and strength, we would adjust the strength of certain blocks to accommodate this new-found strength, making blocks in the Nether much stronger, such as netherrack being half as strong as Obsidian, but nowhere near as weak as dirt. This is, after all, the equivalent to Hell, and all that fire and pressure down there would expect things to be a lot tougher and hardened.

Which also means that it would be more likely to find Diamonds in the Nether because of perfect conditions. In the Nether, while you could find diamonds more readily (say on the same occurrence as Iron in the main world) you would likely be more interested in finding Netherite, which is the nether equivalent to Diamond and is much tougher and more durable. 

Plausible Alchemy (and Craftable Glass)

With the introduction of 1.8 came also the Cave Spider. These are blue looking spiders that hang out underground and have a chance to poison you when they attack. From my understanding, the antidote to being poisoned happens to be a bucket of milk, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

A more believable antidote would be made of a mushroom, redstone, and a glass container (from top to bottom). Since redstone is also one of those superabundant resources in the game, it wouldn’t make it too hard to craft a stock of antidotes to take with you into the caverns below. Of course, the antidote item would look sort of like the icon for the combined dyes in the John Smith Texture pack (a colored type glass container). This introduces a couple of things into the mix, most notably being the glass container (ie: craftable glass), and of course a combination use of mushroom and redstone powder in a manner of alchemy to create a plausible antidote to being poisoned – whether that is food poisoning (eating zombie flesh or raw meat) or whether you are poisoned by a spider.

The other interesting thing about the craftable glass/antidote combination is that it opens up Minecraft to other potions down the road that could be useful and plausible (at least in terms of minecraft, without getting into full out magic). Let’s say this is more like an Alchemy addition.

I can imagine an elixer made from bonemeal and netherrack that acts as a Mob disguise (changing you into a type of Mob temporarily) – working only for one night per use, but having no effect in the Nether or Aether. The plausible alchemy idea creates quite a lot of uses for plants and powder combinations.

Added Balance

I have to say that while Minecraft is a wonderful game, there are a lot of things about it that simply don’t make sense from the perspective of gameplay mechanics. Obviously the inability to craft useful items from Obsidian is one of them and how Obsidian is disproportionately tougher than Diamond to mine, but more so there are little things that bug me about the balance of items and availability.

Take for instance the common apple.

Apparently you can only find apples at random in dungeon chests, but not from breaking leaves on a tree. This never made sense to me, because apples commonly grow on trees. On the Raven’s Oddizzy server that I play on, there is a mod installed that takes care of this and makes it so breaking leaves on trees gives a small chance to drop an apple, but this should be something that is native to Minecraft out of the box. The same goes for Pumpkin seeds and Melon seeds, where they are apparently only found in chests in abandoned mineshaft biomes. Breaking Pumpkin and Melons themselves should give a chance to recover seeds normally, with the plant stems attached to the pumpkins or melons naturally. While the seeds and apples could still be an item in the dungeon and abandoned mineshaft chests, I fail to see how making items that  logically are common instead uncommon makes any sense. The same goes for Cocoa beans… there really needs to be a Cocoa tree added to the game that only spawns in the Swamps. Just like real cocoa trees, they only grow in hot, rainy areas.

In dungeon chests, I’d instead recommend a chance to find Golden Apples, since these items truly are a rarity and very expensive to craft normally, they would make the perfect treasure to uncover for successfully raiding a dungeon or stronghold.

Tamable Horses 

I’d also say that Leather should also be craftable into Saddles as well, but only if saddles are given more of a purpose, such as adding Horses to Minecraft that we could ride only with a saddle. When I say “ride” horses, I mean it in the sense that they should be controllable on land and give a bonus to speed for movement, unlike trying to ride a pig which essentially is just you wandering around aimlessly with little or no control. Of course, horses should first be tamed before we could ride them, and so feeding them Sugar Cubes would attain that.

Sugar Cubes would be made by placing 3x3 sugar on a crafting table to yield 4 Sugar Cubes. As for feeding the horses (because you would need to do that in order to keep them alive), I’d suggest being able to feed Horses only Apples, Sugar Cubes, and Grain. Grain would be obtained by placing 3x3 Wheat on a crafting table to yield 4 Grain. Horses would also fall in line with the addition of breedable animals that @Notch is working on, except in this case there is more of a need to breed horses than sheep.

Cactus Candy

While I’m on the subject, Cactus should also be craftable further than simply Green Dye. I suggest a recipe using Cactus that creates a Cactus Candy – Sugar and Cactus (maybe the same recipe as used for TNT but instead cactus in the center and Sugar on the 4 cardinal directions). Cactus Candy would be edible by the player for 1 food point replenish, but would also have the ability to Tame Mobs that you feed it to, where the mobs that you tame would act like pets and defend you when attacked. This would be a brilliant Halloween Secret Update for 2011. Tamed Mobs would of course only last until daylight, when they would burst into flames and perish, and Cactus Candy wouldn’t work on Creepers (obviously). We could use the same recipe for Chocolate Candy, but instead substitute Cocoa instead of Cactus to create a Chocolate Candy that would not only make a mob friendly like a pet but would make the mob immune to Sunlight. The Chocolate Candy wouldn’t work in the Nether simply because chocolate would melt in that environment.

While I’m on the subject of game balance, there is of course Bedrock which you cannot break. I’d like to see that you could not break bedrock with even a Diamond Pickaxe remain true, but using a Netherite Pickaxe you actually should be able to mine bedrock (and collect it). What happens if you jump into the hole you just made from mining the Bedrock? Simple, instead of falling endlessly and dying, you would be transported to the Nether (you essentially fall into Hell), and if you don’t have any Obsidian on you when you do this, you’re pretty much screwed because there is no way to get back to the main world from the Nether (unless you’re lucky enough to come across one of your old Nethergates). Bedrock wouldn’t be craftable into anything other than to be able to build with it in blocks, which comes in handy for making an near impenetrable building.

Before we worry about whether this makes Nethergates useless, we have to realize that in order to even acquire the Netherite Pickaxe to begin with, we’d have to make a Nethergate, survive and mine in the Nether long enough to find Netherite, kill enough Blaze to get Blaze rods, and then make it back to the main world with our new tools alive before they become an awesome source of mining power. With a Netherite Pickaxe, mining Bedrock would take as long as Diamond Pickaxes take today when mining Obsidian. Anything less than a Netherite Pickaxe still would be unable to mine Bedrock.


I absolutely love Endermen. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use some tweaking. For starters, they should definitely be made more rare in the main world than they are today. I was under the impression that Endermen would rarely spawn, so it would be that much more scary when you did actually run into a murder of them, (I’m using Murder to describe a group of mobs, as in a Murder of Crows. It just seems really fitting).

So making Endermen more rare in the main world would obviously need a plausible reason, right? Absolutely, and of course I have one here for you. Endermen have those glowing eyes and they give off the Nethergate particles, and they are tall, slender, and flat black. To me this indicates that Endermen actually come from the Nether and are native there, and that any which are in the main world (rare) have somehow escaped the grips of the Nether only to wander the main world aimlessly. While they are rare in the main world (as in, they should be made much rarer than they are now) they should conversely be common in the Nether.

Nothing says “Holy s*^tballs!” like being in the Nether, and seeing Endermen in abundance. Think about it, their entire purpose is to move blocks, right? And with the 1.9 update it looks like @Notch and Jeb are adding actual structures to the Nether, like strongholds and whatnot. So who actually built those structures?

Endermen, that’s who.


It makes absolute perfect sense. Endermen are the lost souls of Minecraft. Doomed to forever wander a cursed world and build tirelessly. In the Nether they are the workforce creating all of the structures, so it makes sense that they are much more common in the Nether than the main world. But also because they have Nethergate particles coming from them and possess the ability to teleport at will, it would stand to reason that some actually escape the Nether (or just accidentally teleport out), and not knowing anything else, they just continue mindlessly collecting and building like they did in the Nether. This gives us also a plausible reason why Strongholds exist in the main world as well, built by lost Endermen who are roaming the main world.

Aside from this obvious sort of back-story for Endermen, it also makes sense to include them more abundantly in the Nether simply for the fear factor alone. In the main world, you at least have a chance to run long distances and have enough space to really fight and move, but in the Nether… just look at all the unending lakes of lava and you quickly realize that on the Endermen home turf, you don’t want to mess with them.

Another thought also goes back to the idea of the Cactus Candy. If you can feed Cactus Candy to an Endermen and not get killed in the process, you deserve to have an Endermen protect you. It’s going to take balls of steel to walk up to an Endermen, stare it in the eyes, and feed it Cactus Candy. Since there are way more things in the Nether that can kill you and a mob, I believe Cactus Candy should also work in the nether as well. With all the things that want you dead in the Nether, you’re going to need all the help you can get.

Golden Opportunity

Gold is one of those ores that seems to have been completely neglected in Minecraft. While you can make tools and armor from gold, the durability is pretty pointless to make it useful for anything other than decoration or looks. However, what if Golden items became useful in the Aether? What was essentially useless in the main world, would be hardened in the Aether (upper atmosphere and colder), making golden armor and items the equivalent of Iron items and Armor on the main world below, where Iron would become too brittle to be used in the Aether (Skylands), gold would have a useful purpose up there. Considering you need a Glowstone Portal to get to the Skylands (Aether) it would make sense that Gold becomes the staple commodity in that area. As an aside I am using Skylands and Aether interchangeably. I know that Aether is an extensive modification to Minecraft and Skylands are just native biomes of floating islands. Just wanted to clear that up.
Rope (Obviously)

Made from vines, ropes let you create the equivalent of hanging ladders that you can climb. I’ve already seen a mod for this, so it shouldn’t be a big deal to officially add it. Vines growing on the sides of walls should also be climbable, but should work much like trampling crops, in that if you climb vines too much, they break.

Hookshot (Grapple)

I know this isn’t Zelda, but you can already use a fishing pole to reel in mobs (assuming you’re that creative). A craftable Hookshot would be a mechanical device you can make that officially does what a fishing pole already does to mobs, but with the added function of pulling the player if they hookshot an immovable block-type (much in the same way that pistons cannot move Obsidian or Double slab). In this manner, a double slab on the ground with an Obsidian block on top of it would make for an excellent Hookshot target, and also make dungeons really interesting to get around.


Again, this isn’t Zelda, but a boomerang would be very useful in Minecraft. The crafting recipe would be essentially an upside down bowl, and using a boomerang would shoot the boomerang out in front of the player a certain distance and return in a straight line. Hitting a Mob would stun it , and if the boomerang comes into contact with collectable items (drops) it will bring those back to the player from a distance.

Block Switches

Block switches would be essentially like a lever except that they are full blocks with a blended square indent on them. They would come in stone, mossy cobble, cobble and wood types with an indent state to denote being activated. Having block switches would make secret passages utilizing pistons (like moving bookcases, etc) more secret without having to use a wireless redstone sort of modification to make regular blocks act like switches.

Redstone Powered Lamps

Using Glass surrounding a single Glowstone, we’d create a single Lamp Block that is powered by redstone to turn on or off. When off, the Lamp is clear glass, and when turned on it becomes Glowstone (lit up). Don’t get me wrong, I really do like Minecraft, but one thing that bothers me is that the way the game is geared it seems that the most common mentality is medieval at best. Lots of castles and villages, but no real opportunity to progress into a more modern age if you wish. Redstone powered lamps would allow that to a further extent.

I’d also add in Light sensor blocks that a player could craft in order to detect when the light level falls below a certain range and activate. This would be useful for lampposts using the redstone Powered Lamp block, in that a light sensor block could power a lamp block up to 4 spaces away (including vertically). In this manner we could create lampposts with a light sensor block in the ground at the base that only activates the lamppost when it becomes night. Of course, if you buried the light sensor block, then it wouldn’t work (or would always be “on”) so in order to get it to work properly you’d have to have at least one of the faces of the block uncovered.

While there are probably many more things I could suggest for Minecraft, I think this list is long enough to make the original point. There are a lot of things that still need to be balanced and shored up with the game that seemingly have been forgotten in the rush to add new content, and I’d like for Mojang to go back and seriously re-evaluate the things they left behind.

If you can think of other things that would greatly benefit from being added to Minecraft as a native inclusion (that obviously wouldn’t outright break the game mechanics), please feel free to add them (and a link to the mod if it exists) in the comments below.

1 comment:

  1. Update: As of 1.9 Pre-3 it seems Notch and Jeb have indeed added the Plausible Alchemy option (Potions) as well as giving the Endermen their own realm! I was still hoping the Endermen came from the Nether because it seemed to make more sense, but the Ender-Realm is close enough.

    Two down, the rest of the wishlist to go :)