Minecraft 1.8: The Fight Against Nature
Before I start, I just want to direct you to the top of your screen. See that URL? See the .wordpress on the end? There isn’t one, is there? That’s right, because Ninja Game Den has its own URL now! Man, this is crazy. It’s like I’m running an actual website or something.
Ahem. Anyway, my friends and I started up another server on Minecraft in accordance with the 1.8 patch.
1.8 added many things, but the most notable addition is hunger. Now when you’re playing in survival mode with the difficulty set higher than Peaceful, you’ll have a hunger bar that slowly decreases. You have to eat food in order to bump it back up.
Note that hunger isn’t the same thing as health; now your health will regenerate by itself, when your hunger bar is high. But if your hunger bar is empty, you’ll start losing health at a rapid pace. And food doesn’t restore health anymore (although I guess it restores your health indirectly since you need to be full in order to gain your health back).
It doesn’t sound like much of an addition, but it completely changes the dynamic of the game.
See, normally in Minecraft you’re completely safe once you get:
- A torch or two, and
- A closed-off shelter
Both of these are very easy to get early on, so the game doesn’t really feel like a fight for survival, even though you’re playing on Survival Mode.
Now you have to have a closed-off, well-lit shelter, and a stable source of food. This means you can either go hunting often to get animal meat, or you can grow a farm. Each of those options offers its own challenges. Hunting can put you in danger, since you have to travel long distances and are in danger of getting lost or stranded at night, and farming is a fairly complex process that requires a lot of space and preparation.
On our server, we went with farming.
We let all the wheat grow, and then periodically one of us (most often me) will go through, pick all the wheat, turn the wheat into bread, till the fields, and plant new seeds. It sounds tedious, but it goes by pretty quickly and it feels satisfying. Then we store the bread in the common house and whoever needs food can go grab some.
I love this feature. It really drives home that survival feel; it makes you feel like you’re in an ongoing struggle against nature. It also makes damage from enemies not quite as frustrating, since you don’t have to eat three pork chops just to recover from one skeleton ambush.
It also makes the game last longer for me. The main reason why I’m not as much of a fan of Minecraft as everyone else is because I’m just not really much of a visual artist, which means I don’t really have the desire to build big, extravagant, pretty scenery. As such, once I have adequate housing with adequate tools, I pretty much run out of stuff to do. I did eventually reach that point in this, but it took longer to get there since I had to gather food along the way.
Apparently for 1.9 they’re talking about adding procedurally-generated NPCs with procedurally-generated quests. I’m extremely skeptical about that. What kinds of quests could you incorporate into Minecraft? The three that come to mind are “Kill X amount of Y,” “Gather X amount of Y,” or “Travel from X to Y.” None of those sound appealing for a game like this. I have never looked at Minecraft and thought it needed more World of Warcraft.