Yesterday, Zaco619 (like, I’m sure, many people within the Minecraft community) tweeted about the latest details about the scary new mob, the Enderman:
Go take a look (be warned, though, the comments are seriously NSFW) – it’s pretty damn creepy, right?
Except it’s fake. No offence intended, Zaco.
OK, I’m going to be a little more specific, here: I’m 95% certain it’s fake (always leave some room for doubt). I don’t mean that the Enderman itself is fake – heck, Notch tweeted about it, wrote about it, put up pictures about it, and discussed it on Reddit. And it’s not April, so unless there’s some Swedish tradition of playing practical jokes I’m not aware of (admittedly, it ain’t hard for me to be unaware of something), I’m going to blithely assume that that existence of the Enderman, as of 1.8 (or somewhere before the November release), is very, very real. *shudder*
But the video itself is not of the Enderman’s true behaviour – and in an effort to prove this, I’m going to refer to the article that Notch wrote on his blog, The psychology of the reticle and the feeling of control1 – which I meant to blog about when it came out, but I didn’t. Slapped wristies for me, but this heated debate about this “leaked footage” is the perfect excuse to talk about it now.
In the article, Notch talks about wanting to ensure that, when it comes to something negative happening to you in the game, you’re aware of what’s going on. It’s got to be close to the player, and near to the player (creepers behave in this way, believe it or not). So the first thing that Notch decided upon was that the Enderman would remain passive until the reticle was right on top of the mob. Now look at the video again, right at the start. The reticle isn’t on top of the mob – in fact, it’s not even touching the Enderman’s feet! (You might want to check this a few times to be certain.) So that mob should still be passive…
OK, to play Devil’s Advocate for a moment, the footage might have started after the reticule was touching the Enderman… so let’s assume that the attack behaviour was triggered, and the Enderman is now heading towards you, hell-bent on destruction. But now I draw your attention back to Notch’s blog article, specifically paragraph 8 (my emphasis added in the reproduction below):
And they teleport. If they’re too far away to reach you in a short period of time, they will teleport about once per second. They try to make sure they always teleport to somewhere you can see, as I don’t want to confuse the player as to what is happening.
Now backtrack to the last two sentences of the previous paragraph – again, emphasis is mine:
As long as you look straight at them, they stand perfectly still and look straight at you. As soon as you look away, they will run (very fast) towards you.
So, given that Notch stated that the reticle must be on the Enderman to count as “looking straight at them” to trigger them, I think it’s fairly safe to assume that the same condition will apply when the mob’s in attack mode (it would be pretty damn messed up of Notch to make the trigger behaviour so inconsistent).
Now, back to the video. I had to download the video so that I could watch it slowly enough (using the excellent VLC Media Player) to see what was going on when the cursor was moving, and when it stopped. When the player swings back around, the Enderman has moved closer. The Enderman in the video didn’t run to get there – it only teleported. How do I know this? Because if it was the real thing, with the reticle not upon the mob, it would be running. You would see it running. And in the video, the reticule is not always touching the mob – in fact, on the first swing back to face the mob (at 00:11), the cursor stops with the reticule not even CLOSE to touching the Enderman!
So we can rule out the running part of the Enderman’s behaviour. Look again at the contents of paragraph 8: Notch said that the Enderman will always try to teleport to somewhere you can see. So when the player’s viewpoint swings away from the mob, the Enderman should have ported in front of the player. And on the second swing, the camera position is held for at least 1.5 seconds – more than enough time for the “once a second” teleportation rule that Notch has programmed into the game.
And to defend against the use of the word “try” in the sentence, that scenery is wide open. I’m inclined to suspect (although I’ll freely admit that it’s an assumption) that an Enderman would only fail to port in front of you if the majority of your vision was blocked by objects. That landscape in the video is wide open. So, it may be a tired phrase, but I think that “failure is not an option” is perfectly appropriate here.
So, that’s my reasoning behind why I think it’s a fake video. It’s a pretty clever fake, but it is a fake. And should it turn out I’m wrong, I’ll write another blog post, holding up my hands and saying that I was wrong, and I’ll publish comments which include the word “FAIL” in them. I’ll deserve it, after all 😉
Speaking of which: It’s possible that people could have been directed to this blog post, because my reasoning, to some, could be seen as controversial. And I’m 100% certain that writing about this won’t dispel the objections of the more… hysterical Internet commenters (I’m aiming at the spooked-yet-reasonably-level-headed, anyway). Now, anyone is welcome to send their criticism, either via comments on this blog post, or through my Minecraft Scribe email address, and if they’re within a PG-13-rated level of language, I will approve them onto the site; I’m more than happy to open up to the opposing view. But note that all comments are moderated, and if you can’t raise objections without being excessively rude, they’ll be blocked.
1 You know, I always thought the correct spelling was “reticule”. Turns out both are valid, according to the Merriam-Webster website.