Category Archives: Minecraft

Day/Night Cycles

I believe that games having a Day/Night cycle, that is, where the game changes from daytime to nighttime and back can aid greatly to a game’s immersion, double bonus points for adding lunar/solar cycles to it.

One of my primary criticisms of Star Wars: The Old Republic was the lack of day/night cycles. Now there is a decent reason for it missing, but I don’t know if I buy it. The main reason it is likely missing is that all the action happens on many different planets, and to be realistic, they would have to set different day/night cycles for each planet, but so what. So they need to add a few thousand more lines of code to customize the game engine and make it work, but it would have added greatly to the games immersion value. The lack of a day/night cycle and the way too many NPCs around had no names and did little to nothing but stand around are my two biggest gripes about an otherwise fun game.
Continue reading Day/Night Cycles

Some Thoughts on the Difficulty of Minecraft

The Boo update changed a few things about Minecraft. We got the Nether, very cool. A couple odd texture bugs: grass is different on the side than tops, leaf particles are gray… Torches still magically work forever, but I am sure that is one of the first things we’ll see fixed, once the lanterns are working properly. I would also guess the portal bugs (I noticed a second portal myself the other day, though I have never come through it, there is one floating out away from the portal I built) are a priority… then I guess he’ll get to work on the multi-player aspects.
But the main change, beyond the Nether, is the difficulty got ramped up. Now, Notch (the creator and for some time sole programmer of this awesome game) has said, or so I heard, that he prefers a game to be more difficult than easy, which is understandable. But some of the game’s fear factor was taken out of the update in favor of a mob fest, and the balance seems a bit off now.
As you go down deeper, the mobs become more tolerant of light, and it takes more and more light to keep them away. Also in the dark it is not much of a question of if there may be a mob but how many.

Here are some of my thoughts on trying to get the balance back and other general game ideas:

Before we go on to each difficulty mode, a few ideas to toss out there, some of which I’ve seen elsewhere and fully endorse. Some are ones I seem to see him saying he wants to or will put in.

  • I understand he doesn’t want to make HD textures, but fixing the HD texture bugs (fire on the corner of some block, lava/water not animating) may be appreciated. Leave the HD textures to the community until gameplay is where he wants it, then he can do minor stuff like putting in HD textures himself.
  • A menu option to pick which texture pack one wants to run, so the game installs it itself and can easily go back to the default. There are plenty of programs that do this for you as it is, but having it in game would make it easier.
  • Lunar phases. New moon to full moon and back again. Perhaps in 28 day cycles just like here. On full moon nights the mob rate increases, not a great deal, but a slightly perceptible amount. The chance a Ghast might spawn near a portal goes up. Werewolves might be a mob that only shows up on full moon nights (perhaps the night before and the night after just to expand the nights they come out). On the day (daytime) of the full moon the spiders might not go peaceful during the day time. When it is a New Moon the mob spawn rates go down. They are more scared of the light. Perhaps a mob that has a rare drop spawns on that night, but will require going outside in search of it.
  • An in game calendar. This should be based off the International Fixed Calendar. Using this calendar has a few key advantages:
    • It is 28 days long, so it fits the lunar cycle easy enough.
    • There is always a Friday the 13th. And on that day mob rates can go up. Again we could have a special dangerous mob spawn only on that date. The full moon shouldn’t land on this date, but it should be midway between new and full at that point.
    • It avoids all the regular pre-expected holidays. This doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be in game Holidays, on the contrary one of the main points of having a calendar is for in game holidays. Year Day would be special in game holiday. Perhaps a special mob sets off fireworks. There could be a couple of other special holidays here and there. Leap week (the game shouldn’t track what year it is, but should count years up to get to a leap year) would be a full week of special stuff.
    • I would name the months other than the normal months. This way the people in the Southern Hemisphere don’t go, “It’s winter in August, not Summer.”
  • Seasons. I know these are coming already. This would be perhaps one of the main reasons to have a calendar as above, so the game, and players can more easily track what season to expect. Seasons should have an effect on plant growth, though if the player has a greenhouse they can still grow crops in there.
  • Keep livestock? Unsure about that one…
  • Pets are already planned.
  • The return of human NPCs and villages. Human NPCs do not drop anything if attacked. Attacking an NPC in or near a village will result in either death or jail. While in jail stuff in your chests may despawn, as to be a true punishment. Year Day and leap week would be big at villages, and perhaps this is where one has to go to see fireworks on Year Day.
  • In game currency. Right now gold is more or less just a decorative item, but perhaps it can be exchanged for in game currency to be used in villages for items. The trick is doing it in a way that people don’t do the WoW thing and become gold merchants. Some mobs could drop money, such as werewolves, the Friday the 13th mob, etc to make money more available. You could also sell hide and wool, paintings and other craftables etc at a vendor in the village.
  • A craftable spinning wheel to turn wool into string or yarn if we wanted to make clothes (non-armor type).
  • Linking four craft tables into a big block of 2×2 will allow for bigger craftable items like the spinning wheel above.
  • Sea monsters are already coming. Perhaps sharks as well though, and those should be more common than sea monsters. Sharks can spawn only in oceans however, not inland water, and not if it the water is only 1 deep. This isn’t to say a shark takes up more than 1 deep, but they only come in up to 2 deep. Large bodies of inland water could perhaps get some sort of danger at hard and above levels though.

Now to the Modes:

Peaceful mode: This should continue to be the mob free version. This makes the game more or less just a pure sandbox game. There is still the fun of exploring, and the risk of some danger from fall damage, drowning and lava damage, but for the most part it is about exploring and building. This mode is good as it is.

Easy mode: If we want to keep the difficulty up some, perhaps the spawn rate could be what it was in Normal before the Boo update but fall/drowning/lava damage would be at the Easy level. How deep you go doesn’t have any change on the spawn rate, light output, or how tolerant mobs are of light.

Normal mode: Mobs are not more tolerant of light. However the further down you go and the further up from sea level you go the less light is generated from a source. From sea level to bedrock level it may reduce say 1/3rd normal output. From sea level to the upper limit it may reduce 1/4 normal output. It isn’t a big difference, but means you have to still place more light sources.

Hard mode: Here we add back the mobs being more tolerant of light the further down you go, but not as strongly as it is now. This with the diminished light output will make things more interesting. Near the surface mobs in the dark are more or less like it was pre-update. There may be a special Hard (and up) only mob that spawns at night.

Hardcore mode: A new mode. This is more or less hard as it is now post-update, but with a few extra bits… Even if you don’t have a gate, one may spawn either near your spawn point or 0,0 with a Ghast coming from it on full moon nights and Friday the 13th. This gate will last and function like a normal gate until destroyed. It will not give the player the obsidian, even with a diamond pick axe though once destroyed. That hard only mob will make an appearance for sure at night and may spawn in the dark. Sharks (mentioned above)might swim (but not spawn) in water up to 1 deep.

Well those are my thoughts on the game and where I can see it going, ways I can see balance improvements and such…

Talking About Minecraft

I have been addicted to a new game called Minecraft of late. I’ll go into more details some day when words don’t fail me to adequately describe it, but the game is amazing… and it isn’t even in beta yet… (Beta is the test mode before the game is released.) It very well may be one of the best, if not THE best PC game ever (it also plays on Linux and Macs).
An epic fan made trailer for it:

Taking on the Discovery Channel’s Boom Dyada song: