Things I would have liked to have seen in Minecraft

28 Dec

Had it not already gone into Beta

Since I’m clearly not content with the rapid, free and occasionally massive updates given to this procedurally-generated indie game that cost less than a tenner, my mind will sometimes wander (as I carelessly drill though et another part of the Earth’s crust) to what could make the life of my blocky avatar easier. Or, just maybe, harder.

Metal Detector

Made with sticks, iron ingots, a piece of diamond and redstone (for that magical touch), this will emit a beeping noise when held – the frequency of which increases the closer you move to a block of diamond ore. I don’t like mining for diamonds for the same reason I don’t like Team Fortress 2’s drop system: it could take you all day to slowly cut a path through half the map’s depths, or you could just dig straight down and find some immediately. A rudimentary metal detector would add a degree of strategy – sacrificing rare materials to build something that might help you find more. For balance, it would run out of power if equipped for too long (like how axes and other tools wear down during use), and you could substitute diamond for gold or redstone in the crafting stage if you wanted to find those instead.

More loot crates (with better stuff in them)

Supposedly it’s possible to find boxes of random stuff hidden in underground dungeons, guarded by infinitely spawning zombies. Evidence suggests, however, that there’s nothing in there that you can’t just harvest/pillage yourself with relative ease. Plus, it’s solely a singleplayer feature, meaning folk like me who defected to the much madder multiplayer mode are denied the chance to dig into an exitless pit filled with uncountable monsters for the sake of a crate with some gunpowder in it.

Here’s a thought: not only are there large numbers of these crates, hidden somewhere in the ground and embedded deep within mountains, but they contain only the best bits of kit. Finding one of these by accident would be a pleasant surprise amongst the humdrum of mining, setting out specifically on a quest to unearth as many as possible (before the rest of the server’s players can, especially) would provide a sense of purpose that Minecraft conspicuously lacks. Naturally, the loot can’t be TOO good (no full sets of diamond armour or a pile of bookcases), to make sure those who don’t to play don’t feel like they’re being punished for it.

Blueprints

At the moment the only way to find crafting recipes is to check the Minecraft Wiki, or a tedious guesswork routine. Blueprints would add a believable and effective method of finding what you need to build a tool or item for the first time – you could spawn with a few randomly-generated ones, and pass them along or trade them with other players. Once you’ve learnt the recipe  they become obsolete anyway, so there’s no point in hoarding them like the rest of your wares.

Not that I find the checking of internet guides and fan-made wikis an objectionable practice (I do it all the time with Fallout, if only for the sheer wealth of information and history in those games), but when I was doing it for Minecraft – a game about self-sufficiency and discovery – I certainly felt a bit dirty. I just wanted to know how you make an iron chestplate! Stop judging me!

More terrain-altering mobs

The majority of damage-dealing mobs – Zombies, Archer Skeletons and Spiders – are dangerous but don’t have nearly as much of an influence on the game and your psychological well-being as the Creeper. Everyone who plays Minecraft has a Creeper story – these evil phallic bastards will quietly stride up to the back of your head and detonate, a huge hole in the scenery and your buildings – plus one dead body – left smouldering as the result of their sinister suicide attack. I think one of the reasons these guys have become something of an indie icon is because they raise the stakes shoudl you get caught out during the night. Death by zombie claws/arrows will force a respawn and a quick trip to collect all the stuff you’ve dropped, but death AND a destroyed house? Now that’s scary.

So, I want more of it. Ghasts, the flying spooks of singleplayer’s Hell-like Nether dimension, can shoot fireballs – what if some real-life-based cousins of theirs were on the loose, and a stray ember could set fire to your wooden creations? Unlike Creepers, the smart thing to do would be stand and fight rather than feeling into a safe room and risk drawing their fire. Even the existing creatures could be given a buff – currently, even if zombies see you walk through a door ten feet away, they’ll just stand impotently at the wall until the sun rises. Maybe they could become less powerful Creepers by attrition, slowly beating on placed blocks until they eventually break. Mob sieges would become something to actually fear, demanding action rather than the current situation of sitting awkwardly inside for a few minutes in the hope that tey’ll suddenly burst into flames. Tense the first time, kind of embarrassing once you realise they can’t touch you even if they know exactly where you are. To clarify, they would only attack houses if they were actively chasing you when you entered. There would still be scope for relaxing next to a window with a pork chop and mocking the simpletons.

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