Notch Gives us a Tour of the Ever-Expanding, Radical Minecraft 1.8 Update

The Minecraft 1.8 update was supposed to add more of a sense of adventure to one of the world's most popular computer games. It's adding more than that.


It's adding so much more, in fact, that it's probably going to split into two updates, 1.8 and 1.9.

I got a demo of the new content at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle from the man behind Minecraft, the ever-friendly Markus "Notch" Persson, who powered up his Notchbook Air and gave me a tour. We were only interrupted by Notch fans three times!

Among the new features he showed (all of which are in the video here) are:

  • A revised health system that makes health regenerate so long as your character has food.
  • A new bow-and-arrow.
  • Slightly more complex combat
  • Improved user control over lighting
  • An expanded world-creator mode

Many people think of Minecraft as a world-building game, a wonderful se of virtual building bocks that people use to construct extraordinary interactive landscapes. The 1.8 "adventure" update, however, is supposed to give players more of a reason to keep playing. Notch has said that people get hooked by the immediate goal of surviving their first night in the hostile Minecraft world he has created, but he wants there to be more goals beyond that. As he explains in the video, he won't be adding a complicated story to the game, but there will be some basic quest goals, similar, he says, to what you might get in a Rogue-like.

Take a look at the video for the full run-through. While Notch admits this update has gotten too big to go live all at once, he hopes to have both halves of it updated shortly after he gets home from PAX—and only once he can also get to a mysterious top-secret project. (Note: the "Carl" he refers to in the video is his colleague at his studio, Mojang.)

Enjoy the video, folks.

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Minecraft has always felt like it wasn't designed and was just being made up as the developers went along. This video adds evidence to that belief. I saw nothing of great interest in that update except a randomly generated town. He also didn't fill me with confidence that they're somehow going to make a "game" out of this. It seems to confirm my fears that they're just going to throw in some half-assed ideas that are "good enough" and shove it out the door. Too many people are buying into this idea and arguing that Minecraft is already a "game". It isn't. This is like the fun playaround tool that should come as a bonus WITH a game, not BE the game.