Beta 1.8 – and Maz's resulting woes

The long wait for Beta 1.8 – aka The Adventure Update – is finally over. Two months, six days1 to be precise, but who’s counting? 😉 And even though Mojang announced that the full slew of updates was so large that it would be necessary to split them into 1.8 and (presumably) 1.9, there’s still a heck of a lot of stuff in this particular Beta version – some welcome, while others… not so much…

While the full version of the additions list can, as ever, be found on the Minecraft Wiki, I’ll list what I think are the biggest changes, both good and bad (along with some of my italicised opinions in parentheses):

New items and mobs

  • 9 new crafting recipes: Stone Brick (plus slabs and stairs), Brick Slabs, Brick Stairs, Fence Gates (ABOUT FLIPPIN’ TIME!), Glass Panes, Iron Bars, Melons, Melon Seeds;
  • Three new mobs:
    • Enderman – I talked about this one in a couple of earlier blog posts, so I’ll spare you the details;
    • Silverfish – it’s not a fish – which spawns when a particular block type is broken;
    • Cave Spider – not only does it poison you, it’s smaller than the regular spiders, and they can fit through a 1-block gap!;
  • Zombies no longer drop feathers – instead, they drop Rotten Flesh, which you and dogs can eat (but see below).

New and revised features

  • Multiplayer server list (finally!) – and if you press TAB in SMP, a player list appears!
  • Creative game mode (unlimited resources; flying mode; the Unlimited Item Selection screen; hostile mobs still present but they don’t harm you);
  • Additional features in the terrain generator: optional NPC Villages (though NPCs won’t appear until at least 1.9); underground ravines and above-ground canyons; strongholds (with four new block types; maximum three strongholds per map); Abandoned Mineshafts; cobwebs (at last);
  • A complete overhaul of the biome-generation code, moving to a fractal-based creation model, and featuring five new biomes: “mushroom biome”; rivers; ocean; mountain; swamp (taiga and tundra have been removed, until Beta 1.9);
  • Revised combat mechanics: hold-to-charge bows; critical hits; animations for when a player parries and mobs attack;
  • Additional opportunities for farming, via melon seeds and pumpkin seeds;
  • The food system is now changed:
    • Food now replenishes the ‘food meter’, rather than directly healing (health is now replenished if the food meter is above 80%, at the rate of half a heart every five seconds);
    • All food is stackable, except for Mushroom Stew (try stacking it in real life, and see how messy you get ;));
    • Food takes 1.6 seconds to consume – and everyone is now a messy eater, thanks to the new eating animation!
    • Five new food items: Cooked Chicken, Raw Chicken, Raw Beef, Steak, Melon Slices;
    • Eating any raw food or Rotten Flesh has a chance to give the player food poisoning. However, you can safely feed either food type to wolves, and it will heal them in the same way as before;
    • Cooked Porkchops have a different texture.
  • Sprinting: Double-tap your chosen “forward” button to move faster (and deplete your food meter);
  • Glass Panes, which can be mined and picked up without breaking;
  • Extra uses for shears: vines and tall grass;
  • Redesigned HUD, including two new features, food and experience bars;
  • Killing a mob gives you tiny flashing Experience Orbs that add to your experience (though the experience cannot be spent at present);
  • The “dirt screen” has been replaced with a fancy-schmancy animated main menu background;
  • Shift-Clicking items will craft the maximum possible amount of your desired item (whichever is the lower of the item’s stack size and the available amount) and will directly put it in your inventory without the need to drag it there;
  • Pressing F3 no longer shows numbers above mobs’ heads – so you can’t look for them through walls, for one thing (that should make Maz rather happy);
  • Bedrock only spawns on the lowest 3 layers instead of 5;
  • The F8 “smooth-cam” function has been removed. (OK, that one pretty much cancelled out Maz’s happiness about F3, I reckon.)

Performance enhancements

  • Rain and snow renders faster (and with my beleaguered PC, any reduction of performance-related lag is definitely welcome);
  • New improved lighting — day/night cycles no longer require chunk updates. Lighting is updated via a texture, whose coordinates are the block’s sky light and block light levels.
  • The terrain generation code is tidier.
  • Toggle Fog is now F3 + F

I shudder to think just how large Beta 1.8’s change list would have been had Notch and Jeb decided to stick with one update instead of two!

The list looks particularly impressive, though I’ve not stuck with 1.8 at the moment – 1.8pre1 was exceptionally laggy for a lot of people, especially myself, so I’m going to have to wait for OptiFine to be updated to the new version before I can get into it2. But I can’t wait to try it… Although the addition of the Endermen and Cave Spiders scares me rigid, my recently-acquired taste for SMP-based cave-running3 caused me to get all excitable when I saw that the Abandoned Mineshafts were to be included.

One omission I am disappointed about is sandstone stairs – given that two new stair types were added, it would have been great to be able to properly decorate my beloved sandstone buildings, rather than having to make do with sandstone slabs.

Poor Maz, meanwhile, is pretty much spearheading the clarion call to have the “smooth-cam” option returned – machinima-makers have been bemoaning its disappearance, though Maz’s campaign for the return of the F8 functionality has, so far, fallen on deaf ears.

So there’s quite a lot to get to grips with in this latest release, and it’ll be interesting to see what comes along in the second half of the planned updates!

1 That’s the time elapsed to the “proper” release, not the “leaked” versions…

2 I’m not whining; there’s a heck of a lot of stuff to account for in the update!

3 I’ve done cave-running previously on Minecrap, but I’m godded on there, so I’ve found there’s rather much more of a frisson when playing (semi-)legit on Sanctuary…

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