Minecraft 1.2 – a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh…

After a total of nine snapshot releases – including “a” and “b” updates, and the 1.2 Preview, released Wednesday – Minecraft has hit version 1.2! Jeb and Jon have been slogging their guts out to bring you new features, upgrade old ones, and fix bugs… and, of course, make some new ones – although those are never intentional 🙂 And, at the time of writing, we’re already at 1.2.3…

HAT Films worked their magic again to bring us another release trailer, and it seems to me that Trottimus, djh3max and alsmiffy just get better with each one they bring out 😀

Having at least nosed at the snapshots as they’ve come out, it’s easy to lose track of just how much stuff actually went into the game between 1.1 and 1.2.3. Here’s a description of the changes:

Higher and higher…

Worlds are now extended to a total height of 256 blocks, which required a converter to be written for those who want to import their old saved worlds into the new system. As with the previous file-format change, if you open a world that needs converting, it’ll be done automatically. The actual generation of maps isn’t affected, so at the moment, any generated landscape won’t go above 128.

The upshot of that affects the Nether: Although that particular dimension also now extends to 256, you’ll need to be in Creative Mode (if you’re using a completely vanilla client), because the ceiling bedrock is still at y=127…


In the jungle, the mighty jungle…

There’s now a jungle biome, with vast trees that are 2×2 blocks thick:

Sheep really have a head for heights, it seems. I left it there, too.

Sheep really have a head for heights, it seems. I left it there, too.

And when jungles were added in the 12w03a snapshot, Kristal decided to have a play with using the titles of jungle-related songs as world-generation seeds. The results are over at her blog, but I’m sharing part of the most impressive seed – TarzanBoy (no spaces, and capitalised exactly as shown) – right here:

Just a tiny fraction of the awesomeness that is the TarzanBoy seed.

Just a tiny fraction of the awesomeness that is the TarzanBoy seed.

That jungle is huge – and it impressed BebopVox so much, Kristal’s discovery was featured in Episode 44 of Minecraft Mondays… complete with a name-check! WOOT! 😀 If you don’t want to watch the whole episode, jump to 09:04 instead 😀


The kitty sits tonight…

If you’re more of a cat person than a dog person – or if you just like kittehs in general – you can now have them as pets! Ocelots were added to 1.2, roaming the jungle biomes; when you tame one (with raw fish), they transform into cats, and their appearance changes to either a ginger, black-and-white or Siamese moggy. And man, I thought the wolves’ barking was annoying, but these damn cats… aargh!

Those four ocelots showed up just after Kristal went to bed last night, just to torment her (once I uploaded the pic to the Internet, of course)

Those four ocelots showed up just after Kristal went to bed last night, just to torment her (once I uploaded the pic to the Internet, of course).

Now, although creepers are afraid of the cats, your feline friends won’t attack any mobs on your behalf, as wolves do. Of course, real-life cats don’t do that either (at least, not domestic cats), but your in-game puddy tats will attack chickens, even after being tamed! In the snapshot versions, you originally couldn’t make the cats sit down, which would have been a problem if you were farming chickens, but thankfully, you can park their mangy butts on the ground now. Thank goodness.

Actually, on the subject of pets, you can now breed wolves, using cooked or raw meat, or rotten flesh, so long as they’re tamed and at full health. Cats are bred with raw fish… at least there’s a reason to go fishing, now! 🙂

Finally, sort of like their real-life counterparts, cats don’t take fall damage.


In the village, the (no-longer-so-) peaceful village…

There were numerous updates to villages and villagers this time around:

  • Villagers can now operate doors, and they’ll head inside if it’s night-time, raining, or if they’re being attacked by zombies;
  • Villagers will now breed – thankfully, they do so of their own accord, because I would have felt rather awkward running around after them with wheat (or whatever foodstuff Jeb and Jon would have decided to make us use to facilitate the process). There has to be room in the village to do so, although they will make use of any houses that you’ve built.

So if you’re planning to set up home in a village, you might want to change the door type, if you don’t want uninvited guests.

There’s a reason for these behavioural changes… villagers now face zombie sieges at night! The zombies will attack and kill villagers on sight… oh, and if you’ve got the game set to Hard or Hardcore, the zombies will break down wooden doors!1 Run for your lives!

But wait… a new challenger appears! If a village has at least 15 inhabitants (not including any players, I presume), an Iron Golem will be present to defend the village – and they’ll attack any mobs except creepers, slimes, wolves, magma cubes and ghasts. They might be big, slow and lumbering, but they ain’t stupid. And if you attack them, or a villager, they’ll attack you – and it’ll take 15 hits with a diamond sword to kill them. On death, they drop 3-5 iron ingots and 0-3 roses… so unsurprisingly, people have already come up with ways to farm them >.<


Kill smarter, not harder

Thanks to Jon (or at least, you now know whom to blame), the AI for mobs has been upgraded. All hostile mobs now have improved pathfinding capabilities, and are better at protecting themselves from things which will hurt them. For example, zombies won’t deliberately walk into lava, and skeletons and zombies will walk around blocks, as well as seek shade if they emerge into sunlight.

I don’t know if it’s meant to offset this sneaky new behaviour, but skeletons and zombies now have rare drops:

  • Skeleton: a bow
  • Zombie: iron ingot; iron helmet; iron sword; iron shovel

Frankly, I miss being able to easily farm feathers from zombies. Ah, the good old days…


New items to play with

Several items have been added to the game:

  • Fire Charge – you can use this as an incredibly inefficient version of a flint and steel, or shove them into dispensers, so they’ll shoot fireballs instead. Perfect for that fully-realistic ghast model you’ve been just itching to build;
  • Bottle o’ Enchanting – a splash potion which can’t be brewed at the moment, and is presently only available in Creative Mode (unless you’re using a modded client). On bursting, 1-3 XP orbs emerge. Since experience is no longer needed for enchanting in Creative Mode, its only real use at the moment is to give experience without resorting to server commands (for example, put them into a dispenser in adventure maps, to reward the player);
  • Redstone Lamps – Finally, a controllable light source! Mind you, Kristal says they’re ugly, so I don’t think we’ll be seeing any of them on our personal server 😦 Anyway, they also transmit power like a normal block, and they don’t burn out like redstone torches do;
  • More blocks – three new block textures were added, but are only available in (vanilla) Creative Mode;
  • Jungle Sapling – you’ll need four of these, in a 2×2 block, to make them grow into a jungle tree;
  • Upside-down slabs and stairs – simply place regular stairs or slabs on the underside of an existing block to get the upside-down incarnation. This makes placing upside-down slabs a bit of a pain, because there are more steps involved than placing regular slabs. Still, it looks better than having to alternate between slabs and full blocks when making shallow staircases, so perhaps the faffing about is worth it 🙂


Changes to the “F3 HUD view” – not all good ones, either…

Some more stats have been added to the F3 view, including the name of the biome you’re presently in; if you’re in a location with a chunk error, it switches to “Ocean”, incidentally.

One thing that Kristal and I didn’t particularly like is the news that in SMP, the seed will always be displayed as zero, “by popular demand” (according to Minecraft Wiki). I don’t know who these people were that demanded this revision, but it seems terribly mean-spirited to us. Why should anyone be prevented from using a seed that someone else has found, and used in SMP? It’s as if people were trying to claim ownership of landscapes. I’m going to use any damn landscape seed I choose, thank you very much. I hope that Jeb and Jon re-consider this decision.


Bug fixes

Doors underwent a rather epic tweak, thanks to Jon, so now they’re less finicky, and they work better with redstone – yay! 😀

Mob spawners now show the correct mob in SMP, rather than a pig. You can still only place a pig spawner, though (usual disclaimers about mods and map editors apply).

And then there were the releases of 1.2.2 and 1.2.3, to deal with some rather egregious bugs that just couldn’t wait until 1.3… For one thing, 1.2.2 dealt with missing pine and birch trees, as referenced in this delightfully punny tweet from Jeb:

Updated Minecraft to 1.2.2 because birches and pine trees were missing. Birches love pine trees.

In fact, 1.2.2 fixed more than just that: big trees, swamp trees, giant mushrooms and snow will now generate again.

And then 1.2.3 corrected zombies and skeletons not burning in sunlight, a light bug at y=255, and birch and spruce saplings not growing if you planted them any higher than y=127.

Hopefully, that’ll be it for updates until 1.3, because it must be driving modders nuts >.<


And now… your bugs for 1.2/1.2.2/1.2.3 (the major ones, anyway)

1.2 brought in these bugs:

  • The F3 view now takes up more resources than before, so owners of older computers will find the game practically unplayable (thank goodness I have a more powerful PC, now!);
  • Because of the world-height changes, mushrooms now spawn on top of the ceiling bedrock layer (since there’s space above y=127);

1.2.2 added these:

  • If a player builds to the maximum height, and then stands on that structure, the game will crash with a false “saving chunks” screen;
  • Iron Golems are passive in water;
  • Looking upwards to the sky can sometimes cause the game to randomly crash (ouch!);
  • In converted maps, placing a block will sometimes cause the game to crash with a “saving chunks” screen;

… and 1.2.3 added a bug where Silk Touch doesn’t work properly when mining glass blocks.

Ah, well. It’s a process, people…


Enough of the detail, already, Astra! What do you think of 1.2?

I’m so glad you asked, Fictitious Questioning Reader. Overall, I’m rather happy with what’s been crammed into 1.2’s release, especially jungles and ocelots/cats. The jungles are utterly gorgeous, and I think that biome has deposed the taiga as my favourite – although “taiga” is still a cooler name 😉

I’m also thrilled by the world height being raised to 256. The Minecraft community has made some fantastic builds under the old system, and the change holds the promise of even more epic stuff coming from the millions of builders out there 😀

The addition of Jon Kagstrom to the Mojang line-up seems to be making Minecraft continually more awesome – even if it’s stuff that makes the game scarier! Remember Jeb was the one who decided to make spiders climb walls, not long after he joined Mojang? Now I’m inclined to wonder if part of the application process for Minecraft programmer involves the question: “If you got the job, what’s the first thing you’d add to the game to scare the living daylights out of the players?” 😉

Anyway, I’m pleased and relieved that Minecraft continues to be a strong focus at Mojang, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing more wonderful things added to the game. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m just going to go wait for those poor, beleaguered modders to upgrade their add-ons to the latest version!

(If you’re using TooManyItems, by the way, the 1.2.2 version still works for 1.2.3 – I know this from personal experience.)

1 On Easy or Normal, the zombies will just bang on the doors, but not break them. But damn, it’s a scary noise!

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