Five Improvements 'Minecraft' Needs

by Gannon Kendrick 12 months ago in mmo

Several Suggestions on Future Update Content

Five Improvements 'Minecraft' Needs

When people offer ways to make this game better, some common solutions include more building blocks, more ores, vertical slabs, more mobs, and so forth. It is true that more ores might make mining more interesting, and more blocks might make building more versatile. The problem with adding more building blocks is you don't know when to stop adding them—there are a nearly infinite number of textures and colors Mojang could add; similarly, before adding a new type of ore, Mojang would have to stop and consider what purpose said ore would serve in the game. Moreover, you could argue that many of these types of changes feel tacked on and only deepen or improve the game temporarily. Newer players don't notice them, and once they've outlived their novelty, the game only feels more stale. Piling on more features doesn't necessarily deepen the game.There are several things I've often felt this game needs, and I just want to relay some of those ideas to you today, dear reader. Note that I don't work at Mojang, (although I'd love to) so I can't really implement any of these ideas. Also, since I'm only an amateur game developer/hobbyist, I don't have the experience many of the people working at Mojang already have. But I hope my perspective helps somebody either way.

Dynamic Weather

Weather has been a feature of the game since alpha, as something that's always kind of made Minecraft, Minecraft. At higher altitudes and in colder biomes, snow falls, and non-dry biomes frequently experience rainfall.

But weather happens universally, in all biomes at one time. Weather is either on or off. This is something I've noticed as a huge obstacle in developing my own MMO world, and something which I'm sure a lot of mapmakers struggle with.

While you can "spoof" weather for individual players, giving them the impression that they're in a rainy area, the moment they leave a programmed area, that illusion is lost. That makes using it in any sense to enhance your creation rather difficult, at least when considering multiple players at once.Weather needs development. The way weather works has not fundamentally changed since it was first introduced, and while it's a nice initial implementation, weather could get its own update. The clouds that move around the world are strictly cosmetic, and don't do anything. You could even add tornadoes or hurricanes to up the stakes in survival.

More Biome-Specific Mobs

1.13's ocean update included a host of new mobs for the ocean. Different types of fish, a special version of zombies, and dolphins were all added, providing a lot more variety than the very few ocean mobs we had before.

Additionally, Minecon 2018 showed us that Mojang would eventually flesh out taigas, probably adding new mobs, structures, and hopefully a bunch of other changes.

Here's the thing though—after 1.7 released, players were given a whole variety of new biomes, which really improved exploration, but nothing about those biomes really felt unique. Most biomes still only spawn cows, sheep, and pigs in addition to the general list of hostile mobs.

We could wait seven years for Mojang to flesh out each biome in the game, at this rate. But it seems like a long time to wait for that rather glaring problem to be fixed.

What might work better is a spirited sequel to 1.7, which improves upon all of the biomes, or at least deepens each of the biome types—dry, mountainous, cold, forested, etc.

Bonus points if the added mobs give flavor to the biomes rather than the other way around.

Nether/End Biomes

The Nether and End were both added as essentially "end-game content." Getting to the Nether required obsidian, which required diamonds, something which new players sort of have to work up to.

Entry to the End required that the player go on a long quest, obtaining a certain number of drops from Endermen and also killing Blazes in the Nether, then scouting the massive world for one of the very few strongholds that generate in any given world. Then players would have to kill the Ender Dragon, the final boss of all of Minecraft's final bosses, likely bringing several friends, and several sets of diamond armor, along for the ride.

The problem is that in a game with no story, where players can continue to play infinitely, the very premise of "end-game content" is kind of absurd. The End and the Nether basically became one-time destinations because of how bland they were.

It's true that Mojang has made several attempts to bring players back to the End and Nether over the years. The infamous 1.9 added End cities, elytra, shulkers, and shulker boxes to the mix, and 1.4.2 added the Wither, which could only be spawned when players gathered rare drops from wither skeletons in the Nether.

The issue is that the Nether and the End are not just biomes—they're entire worlds. Although it might be beneficial to have players together in the overworld, the End and the Nether just don't feel like places players want to return to, and they feel rather one-note. No amounts of added blocks or mobs is going to change that.

It would probably require several updates to properly introduce new biomes into the Nether and End, but doing so would make the Nether and the End more than hellish landscapes. It would give more meaning to them, and make them feel like actual worlds rather than disjointed, out-of-reach biomes.

Quests

The upcoming Village and Pillage update looks set to improve a lot about villagers, from their buggy and somewhat dull AI to overall lack of variety. Although I can't get behind the new biome-specific villager attire, I can at least appreciate the attempt Mojang is making to improve villagers. Villages will also change more depending on their biome, and Mojang is throwing the raiding pillager and pillager beasts into the game as well.

One of the things that gives meaning to new features and prevents them from feeling tacked on is the addition of new systems. Raids give meaning to the pillager and pillager beasts, enchanting makes use of lapis, enchantment tables, bookshelves, and tools, and enchantments like aqua affinity and depth strider all lend themselves to underwater navigation.

One system which has been continually underdeveloped is villager trading. It's received some improvements over the years, sure—the addition of ocean monument and woodland mansion maps, for example, requires trading. But it continues to feel somewhat shallow and forgettable.

Here's a thought, though—each time you trade with a villager, it's really just a type of repeatable quest. When you gather a set number of emeralds, or specific items, you receive items in return—your reward. A quest, in game development, is fundamentally just an activity a player completes for a reward.

When you treat villager trades as such, a quest system actually makes a lot of sense, and gives additional meaning to villagers. The villager popularity system in place is very similar to reputation systems in traditional MMOs, and expanding on that further through the addition of different types of quests could give villager popularity new meaning.

Maybe, in addition to the traditional barter system villagers already have, villagers could reward players for constructing new buildings in villages, planting crops, harvesting crops, or killing mobs in (or outside of) village perimeters.

Of course, all of this would probably require further refinements on village popularity, something which already needs some love.

Better Dungeons

Dungeons are another feature that has been in the game more or less since the beginning, and over time, we've gotten quite a variety of them, from the treacherous, exploding desert temples to the End cities of 1.9. However, all of them have one thing in common.

They're not terribly interesting.

End cities required the development team to make use of a new feature, structure blocks, which allowed them to load in different parts of the structures at one time. Since End cities were quite a bit larger than your typical dungeons, and also shaped a bit more eccentrically, structure blocks were necessary here.

In any case, dungeons all boil down to more or less the same thing: you have to move through one or two obstacles, usually a redstone trap of some sort, to get to a treasure. End cities were a step in the right direction, but they're still a far cry from what dungeons could be. Once you've completed one type of dungeon, you've completed them all.

This is where I'd draw your attention to a game like TheBinding of Isaac. The Binding of Isaac is a (rather crude) dungeon crawler, like the original The Legend of Zelda, except that everything is procedurally and randomly generated. By using a series of rooms, and interconnecting each of them in certain random patterns, the game has a lot of variety on every playthrough.

This is something Mojang could make note of. Although something like this could be hard to code, I see no reason not to try. It would make dungeons an interesting part of the game, rather than just a terrain feature and quick way to gather resources.

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Gannon Kendrick

Studying game developer and artist. Writes occasionally. 

See all posts by Gannon Kendrick