Another day, another 1.8 leak. But this one’s a biggie… originally snuck in as part of a discussion about something else!
On Tuesday, Notch tweeted this:
Yeah, the level generator isn’t exactly tweaked for 512 height: http://i.imgur.com/nowNT.png
The tweet was part of a discussion about making it easier to have different maximum heights through modding. But although that’s pretty big, that’s not what I’m talking about. It’s the presence of the experience (XP) bar and the hunger meter in the pic which has proved to be part of the biggest, and possibly most controversial, aspect of the 1.8 update so far.
But it wasn’t until PC Gamer released their article1 related to those upcoming features that it became clear just how big and controversial. You’ll be able to gain levels with XP – though the PCG article doesn’t say whether gaining levels will confer new abilities. But here’s the kicker: If you die, you lose all that progress, as well as your items. PC Gamer calls it “permadeath”, which has proved a little confusing to some, since that appears to be a term which has been used previously to mean “you lose everything including the world”. Mind you, if you’ve chosen the seed, there’s presumably nothing to prevent you from entering that seed again… though, of course, you’ve lost all your mining/building progress.
Notch says that he’s “a big roguelike fan”2 – those games use the “one life only” sort of play, and don’t really confer too much in the way of extra powers when you level up (or at least, my particular favourite of the genre – NetHack – didn’t appear to).
While the inevitable polarisation has occurred as a result of the announcement, opinion seems to be largely in favour over at Reddit3 (my statement is vague because it was purely estimated, quickly reading through the 235 comments posted at the time of writing), while the PC Gamer article’s commenters are a little more balanced, but with a much smaller sample size (out of the comments posted to date, 19 expressed clear-cut opinions, in which 12 approved and 7 didn’t).
Additionally, much of the opinion at Reddit seems to be that the XP bar is mostly a way of keeping score, more than anything else. Time, of course, will tell – it sounds like a logical premise, but will it mean that the existing (unused) score display will be removed? It was also pointed out on Reddit that the armour-protection scale isn’t there any more…
As for my opinion: I’d like to see the new mode implemented on that “difficulty slider” that Notch had mentioned previously, where Creative was at one end, and Hardcore at the other – though even the present incarnation wouldn’t necessarily be classed as Hardcore. While there are people who have been craving more features, including a greater incentive to stay alive, the current gameplay has been available for so long that there are those (including myself) who would be very reluctant to see the existing mode be removed completely.
We know that the way Minecraft is played now isn’t the vision that Notch had in mind when he started creating the game. But for better or worse, the current method of gameplay has created an in-game culture – creating amazing structures, meticulously piecing together marvels of redstone ingenuity, as well as giving birth to entirely new games such as Spleef, and adaptations of other games (Capture the Flag becoming the increasingly popular Capture the Record). While it’s true to state that the intended Creative Mode would still be suitable for most of the items in that list, I still think it would be a terrible shame for the old system to be removed.
Yes, I’m all for radical changes to Minecraft, especially when the community seems to be largely in favour of it (and Notch stated in the PCG article that there’s still a lot of fine-tuning to be done), but I don’t think it necessarily needs to be done at the expense of what’s gone before. At the moment, neither Notch nor Jeb have stated that the current system will be irrevocably replaced – but I hope that it won’t. And, until there’s a definitive answer from the Mojang camp, I’ll still keep up with my plan to retain 1.7.x, just in case…
1 Please note: Some comments within the article are NSFW for language.
2 If you’re not familiar with the genre, start with this Wikipedia article.
3 Again, some comments are NSFW for language.