This week, Jeb declared that he wanted to radically revamp the enchanting system, and (from what I heard) make it “less grindy”. But at the moment, his plans don’t really make it that much less grindy: The current plan is to drop the maximum required enchanting level to 30, but keep the random enchantment aspect, because Jeb doesn’t want to move away from Notch’s original system. So, really, you’re still stuck with grinding away until you get the enchantment you want, whether by normal adventuring, or the construction of “XP farms”.
There are many frustrations in Minecraft – none of them deal-breakers for me, but frustrating, nonetheless – and the enchantment system is one of them. I’ll admit I don’t have a huge number of games in my repertoire, but I don’t know of any where the magic or enchantment system is constantly unknown. Even Rogue-type games, with scrolls that have different names each time you play, are at least constant within the game session – e.g. An identify scroll might be called “ARGLE FLARGLE” when you play one time, and “FLOBFLOB” the next, but at least in a game, all scrolls named “FLOBFLOB” that time around are always going to be identify scrolls.
Enchantments should not be random! It’s a ridiculous waste of resources, for a start – I don’t know about anyone other than Kristal and myself, but we don’t enchant anything other than diamond tools. If we’ve been grinding like idiots for 30, 40, 50 levels, we want that enchantment to LAST. And, according to the Minecraft Wiki, diamond has become 25% rarer since 1.8. Sure, mine the ore with a Fortune-enchanted pickaxe, but you could waste a heck of a lot of diamonds getting that one alone – and as previously mentioned, I’m not going to waste all my levels enchanting less than diamond. It has the makings of a vicious circle. Kristal told me it once took her twenty attempts to get a Silk Touch pickaxe.
The best suggestion I’ve seen to date was submitted by “Odessa” to The Shaft Podcast, and it was featured in episode 83. Odessa’s suggestion removes both the randomness and the need for experience points: reagents. If you didn’t catch the episode, or don’t fancy finding the right bit in the show, here’s the details in one easy-to-swallow list, as Odessa said it:
- Experience grinding and random enchantments suck, easy solution: make it reagent based, to change the focus back to mining and exploration.
- Cinnabar ore, as an example, found in the Nether, could be smelted into quicksilver (mercury) which would give the Efficiency enchantment.
- Multiple uses on the same item would increase its level.
- Different reagents could be used on the same item for multiple effects.
- Amount of enchantments per item would be determined by the enchantability, a reworking of the system already in place. Example, gold could have 12, stone could have 4.
I love this idea. Like Odessa says, we’d come back to mining and exploration, rather than grinding. The materials could be rare (and most likely would be), and you might only be able to perform a particular enchantment at certain times of the day – but at least it would give some impetus to actually go out and hunt for the things, or even trade for them. Perhaps an enchantment would require several ingredients to create, in which case you’d make at least one of them a non-farmable item (e.g. ore), so as not to make the enchanting process a walk in the park – and then craft the enchantment on the regular workbench before applying it to the item.
If the reagent route wasn’t to Jeb’s liking, another alternative could be to just have spell books or scrolls, with one enchantment written into them (given that, as of Snapshot 12w17a, books can be written in). You could make these fairly rare: say, restrict them to Strongholds’ libraries, plus chests in Abandoned Mineshafts, Dungeons and Pyramids. It could even be feasible to have both books and scrolls: scrolls would be used up during the enchanting process, whereas books wouldn’t (countless RPGs use this mechanic).
Whichever method was used, the Enchantment Table would need a tweak: adding four slots into which the chosen enchantments could be placed, thus retaining the ability to have four different enchantments, as per the current system. And it would also mean that, with the enchantment system at least, Minecraft would edge closer to Notch’s original vision of an RPG – without having to endure the “daily grind”.