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Interview with Jon Kagstrom

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mojang's resident AI guru, Jon Kagstrom, to ask some questions about the highly anticipated 1.2 update. Here's what he had to say!

Sach: There have been a lot of features added in recent snapshots (more advanced Testificate behavior, smarter mobs etc) that seem to indicate a wide range of potential for the future of hostile and non-hostile NPCs going forward - what are some of your plans for that?

  • Jon: My primary task at the moment is to improve mobs (animals+monsters+npcs) to do that I first move them to a new AI platform. Once a mob has been moved it's really easy to add new behaviors without breaking existing ones. This is when the fun starts. What I find really interesting is emergent behaviors from only a few lines of code. For example the villager children playing tag or the dynamic when zombies break doors and villagers are fleeing in random directions. There is no overhead "invade village behavior" it's all a mixture of smaller reusable behavior modules. Another interesting aspect is the emotional relationship the player builds up with mobs. It's worse to see a villager child being eaten by a zombie than a grown, so you want to protect the little ones. Also I really like small subtle behaviors that doesn't necessarily add something concrete to the game but only atmosphere, like the new Iron Golem giving a rose to the children in a village.

Cats and creepers have an interesting dynamic in regards to how they behave with each other - will there be similar "quirks" or relationships between other NPC/mobs in the future?

  • Yes, in the future we will definitely see more mob interactions, not only between the player and the mob but also between mobs, we want the world to feel alive and dynamic. In Minecraft you can basically build anything and I like the idea of having an adapting dynamic population as well. Next step might be some kind of trading with the villagers now that they are getting some life. So you have a good reason to keep them happy by protecting them from monsters. But Jens and I haven't really planned any details yet.

There are now a wide variety of diverse biomes, with the jungle being the most recent addition - and it has biome-specific life! Will there be any alterations going forward for certain biomes to be preferred homes for pigs, cows...even certain monsters?

  • Yes probably, nothing is planned but as we update mobs this is considered.

More information on the update will be forthcoming - keep an eye out!

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Improved half-blocks? Coming soon!

Pocket Edition - The Saga Continues

Daniel Kaplan took a moment to talk about Pocket Edition recently, showing some love for the incredibly active Korean fan-base of the popular portable title. He went on to say that there are a number of bug fixes in the works, such as continuously burning after respawning (if previously on fire), and the stubbornly unmovable cloth blocks being fixed. Finally, he offers this helpful hint on flying in Creative mode:

Daniel Kaplan said:

A lot of people have reported that you can't fly in Creative which is wrong. First double tap the jump button. Then you double tap up and or down to go up or down Posted Image Easy as that.

The hit portable sandbox game continues to make huge strides, currently sitting as the #8 top-grossing (earning/selling) app in the US market! Features for Pocket Edition have been released at a steady pace, and we look forward to the next iteration of advancement.

This week, David & Toby cover the bustling world of Minecraft's numerous goings-on, including a look at the recently concluded Mojam event, yesterday's Snapshot (with particular focus on the new Iron Golem) and more - check it out!

I am Sacheverell, and I am not a robot (I swear!). Check the front page for all the latest Minecraft news, videos and more! Back to Top

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Minecraft for PS Vita? Unfortunately...

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It seems that Minecraft will not be coming to Playstation after all. In a business meeting including Daniel Kaplan, it was confirmed that there were "no plans" to bring the indie title to PS Vita (Sony's handheld equivalent to the Nintendo DS), despite overwhelming success on the Sony handheld, Xperia.
Minecraft - Pocket Edition launched on Xperia Play last summer and quickly became the Android Market's most worldwide-downloaded app. Approximately 8500 people have played the game on the device since its unveiling. The recent Survival Mode update to the game makes Pocket Edition more of an action-oriented experience, with health bars, weapons and animals included, as well as the addition of more blocks from the PC version of the game.

The XBLA version of the game is still expected to hit consoles in March 2012.

Want to Code "Catacomb Snatch" Yourself?

With Mojam all wrapped up, Mojang's new title "Catacomb Snatch" is, technically, complete! However, Jeb has decided to encourage budding programmers by giving tips on how to use the open-source code of the game. He goes over his own history of getting into game development, as well as offering some helpful instructions to prospective game designers who might decide to take on the task of working on "Catacomb Snatch" further. He also offered sources for the development tools needed to code a Java game (using his examples), as well as positing a number of tasks and challenges for anyone brave enough to take them on. What can you add or improve on "Catacomb Snatch"?

Dead Worker's Party - The Eye

The Dead Worker's Party begins a new adventure this week, "The Eye"! What strange things await the entrepid trio? Can they solve the mystery of their amnesia? Will they ever get that minecart to work correctly? Give it a watch to find out! Back to Top

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Jeb has released a teaser image for this week's upcoming Snapshot - upside-down stairs!  They can be placed by simply placing a normal stair against the bottom of a block, most easily done from below the block in question.  Decorators will no doubt benefit from the new change - I plan to redo my ceilings accordingly.

Last week's Snapshot covered a medley of updates - while a few new features were added, a large volume of the update was dedicated to engine tweaks, file format optimization and other updates to improve the overall performance of the game.  What awaits this week - aside from the improved stairs - remains a mystery.  We will update the community with all the juicy details of the upcoming Snapshot, so keep an eye out! Back to Top

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Minecraft has hit over 5,000,000 (five million) sales, and over 20 million registered users! It seems like only yesterday that Minecraft was fully released at Minecon, and features were still being added even then. From beds to bedrock fog, Minecraft spent 2011 in a constant state of growth, and continues to do so well into 2012. As the game grows, so does the player-base; it wasn't long before over 4 million people bought the game, and now, even that number seems so far away.

Now, it seems that Pocket Edition has some catching up to do! Having hit 750,000 sales in January, the portable Minecraft port has quickly become a fixture in its own right - how long will it be before we see over 1 million sales for this ever-expanding game for the travelling builder? Every update brings more and more of the popular PC title to handhelds, with the most recent update bringing elements of Survival to Pocket Edition, including monsters, tools and even more blocks than before, to name just a few.

It's almost impossible to really grasp the totality of how far Minecraft has come, and how much Mojang has grown. What will the next major landmark be for the smash-hit sandbox game, and the blockbusting team behind it? We're not sure, but with Mojam still in full swing, there exists ample opportunities to aim ever higher. Back to Top

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This week's snapshot is available for testing!  Below is the list of changes, as per Jeb's notes on the Mojang site:

  • New jungle-specific mob that can be tamed
  • Skeletons have new AI and a few new behaviors
  • Various minor bug fixes and changes
  • Added an experience item to creative mode
  • Added a flame item…
  • Updated language files

Additionally, some players have been trying to track changes not otherwise noted, and here's what Reddit writer  keozen has compiled so far:

  • A strange "well-type-thing" (technical term) people are finding in the desert
  • Jungle Tree Saplings (thanks Minecraftman1)
  • The textures for dispensers and saplings have been changed. (thanks Minecraftman1)
  • If a 2x2 square of Jungle Tree Saplings is made and one is fertilized with bone meal, a huge tree is made (Thank you, Wolfrose88 via Minecraftman1)
  • When Ocelots are bred, they will give birth to...KITTENS! They come in black, red or siamese. :o (thanks Minecraftman1)

Feel free to add any findings you may come across in this thread, and check out our comprehensive coverage of update discoveries right here!

Client: Get the client here!
Server: Get the server here!

Our resident weekly news guys - David & Toby - take a fun-filled tour on the TradeChat server, to see a colorful medley of video-game tribute constructions, roller coasters and more, hosted by video game enthusiast PinkPanser - take a look!

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Mojang has revealed this week's Snapshot!  We have an exciting list of changes, including the following:

  • New language translations. We changed from using Google Docs to a new system, so these may still contain a lot of errors or missing texts. Please check the Minecraft forums (language section) for more info.
  • Slightly smoothed color transitions between biomes
  • Reduced brewing time to 20 seconds
  • Decreased randomness of Enchantment Tables
  • Changed colors of spawning eggs to more represent the mobs they spawn
  • Made biomes slightly more varied (hills in forests and deserts, beaches)
  • Added world type options (currently only super-flat and default)
  • Removed collision box from ladders
  • Updated fence gate collision box to align with fences

Mojang went on to add the following about the highly anticipated modding API:

Mojang said:

We are currently still preparing work for the mod API. The API is going to take some time to implement properly, so we ask for patience :) Also, Jon is currently working on improving the AI for mobs to make it easier for us to add new behaviors. The first goal is to add breeding support to wolves, and then move on to more useful / interesting villagers.

One almost wonders if future wars betweeen villages will be possible, or even quests.


Get the 12w01a client right here!

Get the 12w01a server right here! Back to Top

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Minecraft Land Generation, Revisited

Are you a fan of how terrain used to be generated, with massive mountain ranges, hills and more height variety? Jeb is hard at work on land generation, with the intent of having land generation be more varied in a future release. Not as much a fan of massive, hilly landscapes - or would you at least like an option for flat plains, for easier building? Not to worry, he is working on adding that as an option as well, which you can use at will. Whether you're a fan of rolling mountains or rolling plains, the power to exercise some control over land generation is not far off.

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Minecon, from Mojang's Perspective

We attended Minecon alongside thousands of players and their families, and it was certainly an event to remember. We had a chance to show you the convention from our perspective, and now Mojang would like to show you theirs - with their own photo album! They took pics of everything from the setting up of the con, numerous shots of attendees who met with them, booths they went by, and so much more. It's a fascinating look into the convention from the hosters' perspective, and one not to be missed.

If you look really hard, you can even see your favorite content writer.

Additionally, Mojang is looking for your feedback on Minecon! What did you think of the convention? Where would you like to see the next Minecon hosted? You can let them know right here!

Curse is Hiring!

Posted Image is looking to add more members to our awesome team! We’re growing quickly and actively hiring for our Engineering, Sales, Content, IT and Marketing teams!

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At Curse, you will have the opportunity to work with a young, growing team of passionate and talented individuals making a living doing what they love.

Posted Image.NET Team Manager
Are you interested in leading the development team behind some of the most popular .NET-based sites in the world? We’re looking for a skilled technical manager to help organize and inspire our Live team.
More Info | Apply Now

Posted ImageSenior System Administrator
Do you have experience with large-scale server clusters, virtualization and disaster recovery? We’re expanding our quickly growing IT group, and we’re looking for an experienced sys admin to help implement our infrastructure improvement plans in 2012.
More Info | Apply Now

Posted ImagePHP Web Developer
Are you an IPB or MediaWiki pro? At Curse, we operate the largest IPB-based site in the world, and some of the largest MediaWiki sites. Join us and help continue to build the largest online game communities in the world.
More Info | Apply Now

Posted Image.NET Web Developer
Do you write Linq expressions and threadsafe singleton classes in your sleep? We need your help creating awesome new web properties at Curse. We have big plans for 2012, and we’re looking for rockstar developers to join our growing team.
More Info | Apply Now

Posted ImageVideo Content Editor
Like creating and editing exciting videos? Join a rapidly growing team of content creating professionals as we use our industry and content connections in 2012 to create amazing content to grow our YouTube channel!
Apply Now
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Our Star Wars-themed contest is still ongoing!  Here, we show off one of our submissions, from forum user birchbeater - a 5:1 scale model of the Millennium Falcon!  This is only one in a massive number of awesome entries we've received so far, and we want to see what you can do!  Wonder how you can get in on this contest?  It's easy!  Just head over here, read up on the rules and regulations for the contest, and submit your entry!  Once the deadline is reached (January 15th, 2012), we will review each and every entry, and pick 10 lucky winners to receive a FREE subscription to Curse Premium, as well as having their work spotlighted here, on the front page of Minecraft Forum.  Show us what you've got! Back to Top

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Week 50 Snapshot Now Live

The Week 50 Snapshot was recently released for testing! As with prior weekly "snapshots", this must be installed over an existing minecraft.jar file in order to be tested out. What's new in this test version? We'll list the info as it becomes available!

  • Sheep eat grass and tallgrass (confirmed)
  • Multiple language support - continued revisions
  • Added a few multiplayer spam protections to prevent packet spam and chat spam
  • Added a few new lines to the splash texts

Eager to test out these new features? You can grab the snapshot client right here; SMP server hosts can test these out in multiplayer as well; get the server jar right here! To use these, you need to replace the jar file in the application folder and then start the game normally. Find a bug? Report them here!

The language files are still work in progress, so translation errors and mistakes may still exist. As stated earlier, the snapshots are in development versions of the game.


Download this week's "snapshot" files below:

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The Video Game Awards - an annual award ceremony in which gamers vote on the best computer and video games of the year in numerous categories - recently saw Minecraft chosen as the winner for "Best Independent Game"! This is certainly exciting news for Mojang, adding another prestigious award to their ever-growing list of accolades.

Mojang continues to work hard on the popular sandbox title, even as they strive to complete Scrolls and Cobalt - could these titles be competitors for Minecraft at next year's VGA? We may soon find out! Back to Top

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