Beta 1.5 – woof, woof, vroooom…

So Beta 1.5 made its debut a couple of days ago, bringing along new features (and bugs, some of which were quickly fixed in client version 1.5_01 and server version 1.5_02), and fixing old ones. And while much of what came out largely corresponds to Notch and Jeb’s tweets, there are some surprises… and one or two nasty ones at that, going by the Minecraft Wiki’s account…

However, before we get underway with the big stuff, there’s one bug-fix in particular which will please SMP players who have four-legged friends: The whimpering bug was fixed! Thank goodness! 🙂 Now we can have our wolf packs without them complaining all the time… They now also cope with doors much better, which is also rather good news.

Okay, that’s that out of the way. Perhaps the biggest thing in 1.5 was the introduction of the new rail types: powered and detector rails. Before getting started out on trying out one or two things for myself, I read up on them via the Minecraft, and checked out WelshPixie’s funny video where she and her boyfriend rustybroomhandle test out the new rails – and use the detectors to blow up sheep!

First of all, it turns out (thanks to the Minecraft Wiki for the info) that you can make a rather nifty compact launcher if you have a powered rail on a slope: unpowered, the cart clings to the slope, enabling you to get into it, and then when you apply power, away it goes! So I hooked up a push-button and some redstone next to the sloped bit, so it’s not always powered (there’s a picture below which features this system); it also makes for a useful brake when coming in the opposite direction.

Also, if you have a three-block chain of “detector-powered-detector”, that boosts your cart rather nicely in either direction. Of course, animals will still halt your cart if you’re in it, so until Mojang allows mobs to be bumped out of the way of a moving, occupied cart, it looks like I’m going to have to elevate my cart lines in single-player, so that mobs don’t walk onto the lines – or just stick to using powered minecarts, which aren’t stopped by wandering livestock. Mind you, I don’t play my SSP game so much now, anyway.

The next thing I wanted to try was whether powered rails would propel a cart up a lengthy 45-degree slope – powered minecarts can’t handle it, if you’ve just got one powered cart and one you’re sat in. So I hacked together my slope out of sand and wool, bunged on the launcher, and got ready to try it out:

My short test track for powered 45-degree slopes.

My short test track to see if powered 45-degree slopes work. At the right of the pic, you can see the compact launcher system. Nifty.

Result: Works perfectly. I was shot off the top at an appreciable speed. I’m very happy about this, because not only will it make ascents more compact, it’s going to come in handy for the MonoRailbow at Rainbow Cove 🙂

Then I wanted to try something out regarding the wolves: A couple of weeks ago, while seeking to add quadrupeds to my pack, I crossed a large expanse of water, in a boat, at top speed, expecting the two wolves I’d tamed to follow me. Oddly, they didn’t – and stayed frolicking in the water until my return. So with 1.5, I decided to see if the same would occur with minecarts on a powered rail. But when I got one of the wolves to stand and follow me, it landed in the cart before it reached me, and so the next thing I knew, the cart was zooming off into the distance, my bewildered pooch borne along with it! In a fit of giggles, I dashed into my workshop, grabbed another minecart, and gave chase. Luckily, the little fella was unharmed – and I found out, on the return journey (with him outside a cart, this time), that he was more than capable of teleporting as expected. Mind you, in the previous case, the wolves were in the water at the time. Ah, well.

With the introduction of weather, we do indeed have the introduction of pigs turning into zombie pigmen when struck by lightning. But Doctor Notchenstein didn’t stop there, oh no… Creepers which are hit by lightning become supercharged, with a sparkly outer skin (see here for the pic, passed on to me by WelshPixie, and originally submitted to Reddit by Rzanio) and a greater blast radius! As if those sneaky green buggers weren’t bad enough!

As mentioned in my pre-1.5 post, grass textures were fixed so that the sides match the top (and the biome), and birch and pine saplings were added, as was occlusion culling (you need to set Advanced OpenGL to “on” for it to be used, so long as your graphics card supports it). Even though my graphics card isn’t that great in the first place, there did seem to be an improvement in rendering speed, especially when I was rocketing along in my newly-powered minecart. Nice.

And, as promised/threatened, you can’t climb ladders if there are gaps, as you could before. However, I’m happy to be wrong about something: I’d said in the previous post that descending a ladder could result in a fall if there were gaps in it. Turns out this isn’t the case – you’ll descend just as you did before. Of course, you’re going to have to fix your existing ladders if you want to get back up again. Still, using Shift to hold yourself in place does rather help with the extra construction.

A few things were added which weren’t talked about in Twitter (as far as I could tell), so they didn’t end up in the pre-1.5 post. For starters, if you set a pig on fire, dropped pork will be pre-grilled – handy if you’ve got a convenient source of flame present. Also, webs were added, although these don’t occur naturally at the moment (the Minecraft Wiki speculates, in the article on the Web “block”, that 1.6 will see webs being used). But they’re item number 30, so they are available to be used, if you fiddle with your inventory. They work, too (as that nice WelshPixie demonstrates here), slowing down all movement to about 15% of normal (including that of spiders, which is downright odd), as well as having some other rather interesting effects which are listed in the linked article – including becoming invisible to Ghasts…

Some bugs, though, you just don’t want fixed. One such example is that light will now not pass through stair blocks; previously placed stairs are unaffected, unless the stair is destroyed, or if an adjacent block is created or destroyed. A good number of people were taking advantage of this glitch, for aesthetic purposes – myself being one of them. I’m going to have to craft a lot more torches, now. C’est la Minecraft, I guess.

Still, it’s all something to play with until 1.6 comes along, isn’t it?

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