with whispers and rumors and has since spread across the internet like
wildfire. Now the indie title Minecraft is practically a household name
among gamers and nothing short of a gaming phenomenon. The title
celebrated its 500,000th purchase this past week a figure made even
more astounding when you remember that the game is currently only in
its Alpha stages and hasn't even entered Beta.
Another milestone landed just days ago a major update to the game
client that included new features, new dangers, new craftable bits and
much more. After suffering through a few hours of overloaded account
validation servers, I finally was able to spend the weekend digging
into the mysteries of the Halloween Update and exploring the features
outlined in Markus Notch Persson's unique patch notes. (shown to the
Please join me on a visual journey through this milestone update.
Despite its 8-bit charm, Minecraft is truly a breathtaking visual
experience, and one that I hope I can do justice to in these images.
The new worlds that can be created in Minecraft include regional
pockets of different climates and biology, known as biomes.
With the introduction of these biomes into the world-generation engine,
each new area created by the engine has become much more realistic and
varied. It has also introduced snow and ice into the basic green worlds
we've seen to date.
Based on my observations, the new world-generation code also seems to
do a better job of creating more interesting elevations as well
cliffs, lagoons, canyons and such, seem much more prevalent than they
were in the previous iteration.
Another new feature: PUMPKINS!
These new plants can be harvested for a number of uses if you find them
in the wild, but cannot be grown or reproduced at this time.
One of the more amusing uses of a pumpkin, is as a helmet.
It provides no armor rating however, and is simply a cosmetic toy. A
fun one, though!
other, more productive use of pumpkins, is to combine them with a torch
The result is a Jack-O-Lantern that is slightly brighter than a torch.
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/91494"> style="width: 317px; height: 185px;" alt="pumpkin6"
And, perhaps most importantly, they work underwater! For
anyone that's gone obsidian farming beneath a waterfall, you know just
how handy this could be.
pumpkins aren't the only new craftable to enter the world of Minecraft.
You can now fashion gold and reddust together...
to create a time-keeping trinket!
This item will accurately map the day/night cycle to an easy-to-read
handheld device that is accurate even when deep underground. No more
guessing about what time of day it is on the surface after you've dug
yourself a cozy hole in the ground. Simply look at your new watch, and
behold the answer.
And last, but certainly not least, is the feature that has gained the
most attention from this update. The game now offers adventurers the
means to travel to an alternate dimension, now officially called The
Nether after previously being referred to as Hell or The Slip.
It's truly amazing to me how a vista comprised of such low-polygon
counts and low-resolution textures, can actually appear so
jaw-droppingly gorgeous. But for all its beauty, the Nether has a
purpose and is just as deadly as it is pretty.
Accessing the Nether is done via a gate that must be built by the
player. It must be built from obsidian (one of the most difficult
materials to obtain) and encircle an opening 2 bricks wide by 3 bricks
tall. Once your gate is assembled, lighting it on fire with a Flint
& Steel will ignite the passageway to the Nether.
You must enter the purple haze and then hold still while the game
engine transfers you to your new realm.
of the more useful reasons that the Nether exists, is for ease of
travel. Each step within the Nether is translated to approximately 10
steps in your native land. I tested this by placing two gates exactly
10 bricks apart from each other...
and stepped through the new gate I had created, to return to my
original world. I found myself quite a distance from my camp, just as
Notch has claimed that the gates are smart enough to not dump you in
lava or water (depending on the destination realm), and it has been
confirmed that movement on the Z-axis does not amplify in the same way
that horizontal movement does.
One other reason to travel to the Nether, is for some of the resources
it contains. Such as mushrooms, which are quite rare in the other
world, but as common as trees in this dank realm.
The bricks and blocks that comprise the Nether can be easily harvested
and freely transported back to your home in Mineworld. One of the more
noteworthy of these bricks is the lightdust bricks that hang in
chandelier-like fashion from many ceilings and overhangs.
They break very easily and make a shattering noise like glass. When
broken, each brick yields one lightdust powder.
powder can be taken back to a crafting station and fashioned back into
a brick, but the recipe requires 9 of the powder for a single brick.
It's important to note that these re-built bricks will only yield one
powder again if broken.
The bricks can be used as a light source though! Much dimmer than a
torch or jack-o-lantern, but also capable of being placed underwater. I
believe they'd make a very nice illuminated walkway in a future
But the Nether is not an easy place to live in. The most common denizen
you are likely to encounter is the zombie pigmen. With their flesh
falling from their bones, and ghoulish cries of anguish, they are truly
frightening to get close to. But thankfully, they are not violent.
NOTE: A bug in the current build is causing all items that
should be dropped upon death to instead vanish from the game. So travel
with extreme care until this confirmed bug can be addressed and
The other, far more dangerous creature dwelling in the deeps of the
Nether, is the Ghast. These vicious flying jellyfish are enormous
(4x4x4 bricks large) and shoot exploding fireballs from their giant
mouths if they catch sight of you traversing their realm.
In addition to being quite deadly on their own, they also enjoy the
distinction of being completely immune to light sources when
determining spawn points. Meaning that placing a few torches in your
Nether Castle won't protect you, and there is nothing more frightening
than having a ghast spawn in your bedroom. To overcome this, make sure
you do not build larger than 4x4x4 in any single room, and get creative
with your corners or furnishings ghasts require a 5x5x5 open area in
which to spawn.
The most important aspects of Minecraft harvesting, building,
surviving have remained unchanged in this recent update, with the
exception of having more toys to play with than ever before. So let
your imaginations run wild, and remember to share your impressive
creations with others. That's half the fun of the game, after all!
She's a work in
progress... but she'll make the Kessel Run in less than 12 pixels!
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