Beta 1.4 – here boy, come on, boy…

Well, as you all know by now, Beta 1.4 has arrived, and with it, the chance to gain some four-legged companions: wolves. Ever since Notch announced that wolves would be added, my Minecraft friends and I have been excitedly waiting for the update to arrive. Of course, by the time I got home from work, 1.4 was released, and everyone I knew had found at least one wolf, and were probably flinging the new cookies around in the hope that their new pets would fetch them, in the absence of Frisbees®.

Twitter and YouTube were abuzz with tweets and videos – my personal favourite is the one from HAT Films, with Trottimus unleashing his new furry horde on Djh3max (and they finished him off quickly), and also getting the wolves to join in their signature “Good day” sign off (Trottimus making the wolves sit and stand by right-clicking – it’s funnier to watch than to read my description!).

With the Minecrap server down due to updates (and poor ole BitBurner had only just got the server back up again!), I revisited my long-neglected single-player Peaceful world, travelled to the taiga region I’d found before (via my Nether-portal transportation system), and had a quick nose around to see if I could find Lassie, Diefenbaker or even The Littlest Hobo. No such luck, but I did find seven pumpkins, leading to this sardonic tweet:

Roamed the taiga in my #Minecraft SSP. Wolves found: 0. Pumpkins: 7. I’ll have a pack of trained jack-o-lanterns instead. They’re brighter.

Well, I had been planning to go to bed, so that’s what I did, with the resolution to resume the search on waking. I also had no present desire to look for wolves when the Minecrap server was back up, because the Minecraft Wiki reported that regardless of their health level, wolves will always whimper.

After a brief real-life slumber, I decided to try a slightly different tack. I went back to base, grabbed a bed and a compass, and headed out – but this time, I was just going to keep walking, checking out whatever forest and taiga biomes I found along the way, as per the Minecraft Wiki article on wolves.

Of course, the other big thing which changed in 1.4 was that using a bed changes the spawn point – but the compass will continue to point to your original spawn point, as indicated in this tweet by @jeb_, on March 24:

We decided that the compass in Minecraft always should point to the same position, so it will not change when you move your respawn point

This didn’t make sense to me at the time, and I said as such:

@jeb_ So the compass will always point to the *original* spawn position? That seems… to effectively render the compass useless. *confused*

(and I was being diplomatic… compared to what I wanted to say.)

But as I walked along, using the bed as required, I realised I was wrong: If the compass pointed to the new spawn position, how would you get back home again? So, Jeb: I’m sorry for doubting you (and whoever else is part of the “we” you mentioned in the tweet). But it still would be nice to change the original spawn point when you make a base in a location you want to keep…

Anyway, back to the wolf hunt. I managed to find one of the new brown sheep…

The new brown sheep

The new, rare-breed, brown sheep. I haven't found any pink ones yet.

… which I promptly punched for its wool. There are also apparently pink sheep (which should keep MinecraftChick happy ;)), but I didn’t find any of them. Maybe the wolves had found some and killed them.

Just as I was beginning to doubt the Minecraft Wiki’s assertion that wolves spawn even on Peaceful mode, I found one – then two, three, four… Yay – out with the bones! But I made a silly mistake: I’d forgotten to make the first wolf stand up again, so by the time I’d tamed the fourth, I’d lost the first – and if they’re sitting, they don’t teleport to you! I managed to get 2, 3 and 4 following me, as I frantically searched for Number One again; there was no way my overactive emotional investment would allow me to leave one behind, patiently sat waiting for a master who might never return… Fortunately, I did find him, so now my wolf pack was complete, and ready for the journey home.

I loved it when the five of us were swimming in the water (though only three wolves wanted to be in this pic):

Three of my new wolf pack, swimming.

Three of my new wolf pack, swimming. The fourth one said the water was too cold.

But what I didn’t love so much was the discovery that unless you make them sit, they really get in your way, and push you around! For example, right after we discovered one of the April Fool’s Day Locked Chests:

The new Locked Chest

We found a Locked Chest. You need TNT to destroy them, for all the good it'll do you.

It's a Steve Co. Supply Crate

What you get when you right-click the Locked Chest. April Fool's!

… I was taking screenshots for this blog post, and forgot to pause the game – they pushed me into deep water! Also, one or two of them were clubbed twice when I was trying to dig out resources, and I didn’t have enough raw pork with me to heal them. Now, I don’t know how large the eventual maximum pack size would be (presently, there’s no limit), but if you had a large pack size, it’s going to be a bit tedious to make them all sit before going off on a big mining expedition, or working on a build.

Another consideration with having wolves is that you have to be more careful how you roam around the world: your faithful AI-controlled wolves will throw themselves, lemming-like, off a cliff if you aren’t careful about your walking.

As the walk continued, I was glad that I’d chosen not to search for wolves on SMP for the moment, because one of my wolves in SSP was quite hurt, and its whimpering every few seconds was heart-rending. It took quite some time to find more pigs, but at least the attack was quick, aided by four hungry wolves. Those porky buggers didn’t know what hit them – or at least, they didn’t have much time to reflect on it…

At long last, I found a familiar area, and the five of us headed for home. There was a heart-stopping moment when I got back to the base: because I have pressure plates on my entrance door, I couldn’t leave the door open for the wolves, so I went upstairs and hoped they’d simply teleport. Three of them teleported outside the window, and one of them plunged off the upper platform! Now, there’s water on all sides, so it should have been fine, but I only found three out of the four wolves… just my luck if I’d managed to get all the way home, just to have one of them fling itself to its doom when it just wanted to play with its new master! Again, crisis averted: It did make an appearance. But I’m going to have to build a dog-house outside, so I don’t have that problem again. But for now, here’s a group shot of my four (unnamed) little wolfies:

Safe and sound at home.

All of us, safe and sound back at home. Now to build a big kennel - I don't want my home smelling of wet wolf.

One final point: The way the wolf’s behaviour model is programmed at the moment, if you have wolves on SMP, your wolves will attack and kill anyone you hit – even if PvP is off… (HAT Films’ private server has PvP on, incidentally.) I hope Mojang changes this, because we really don’t need wolf griefing

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