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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 and Jon have released this week's snapshot, 12w08a. This week's changes are as follows:

  • Added a defense mob to villages
  • Added up-side-down stairs
  • Many changes to the world and lighting system
Client: download here
Server: download here

Need help using a snapshot? Badprenup has you covered!

1. Download the new snapshot minecraft.jar
2. Navigate to your .minecraft folder (On windows, you can find it by searching for %appdata%)
3. Put the new jar file in the bin folder (OPTIONAL: Back up your old jar file).
4. Open Minecraft via the launcher, how you normally would.

Let us know what you find! Here's a screenshot Jon provided of the new mob, the Iron Golem:

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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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Today, I cover an adventure map, "The Island of Dr. Gireaux" (no relation to Moreau, of course), made by PeligrosoBlanco! Based off of the highly popular H. G. Wells novel, this adventure leaves the player stranded on a strange island populated by all manner of oddities. With a rich back-story, clever layout and curiously disembodied NPCs, this map worth many hours of entertainment. In addition, I may or may not mess up hilariously along the way - check it out!






Be sure to check out this week's Weekly Round Up, where Pico gives us news on Diablo 3, Guild Wars 2, World of Warcraft, Minecraft, Rift and Nitronic Rush! 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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Click the image above to watch!



Multiplayer servers are, in many ways, every bit a work of art as a good mod or texture pack, and they are possibly one of the most community-centric projects one can undertake. This week, we're going to take a look at the Killion Detention Center, hosted by Markillion and Starzeh. It is a prison-themed server, and the first in the series to be spotlighted - of course, it will not be the last. If you visit (or host!) a particularly amazing server, please let me know about it, and I'll see if I can spotlight it for you! I love seeing the amazing things people come up with, whether it's a themed server, an amazing build server, or anything at all, and I especially enjoy presenting it back to the community, so everyone can enjoy it.




Mojang's Mojam, LEGO

Starting this Friday, February 17th at 10 CET Mojang will be creating a new game LIVE with all of the money going to charity. In tandem with Humble Bundle, the Mojangstas will be producing a game in 60 hours or less, and they want your help!

Mojang said:

We want your help to choose the theme and the genre. The highest and lowest voted from each category will be combined for the game. Of course, you’ve always wanted to play a Shoot Em’Up Dating Simulator with a Candy Land World War II theme. Choose wisely!


So make your voice heard, and be a part of an exciting new game - tell Mojang what you want to see them create in their poll right here!

Minecraft LEGO, For the Win

It's been a long time coming, but we have news on the Minecraft-themed LEGO project! Today, Carl, Notch, Jeb, Jon and Lydia are at the Bella Center in Copenhagen for LEGOworld to unveil LEGO Minecraft! Additionally, they have a video to commemorate the occasion, which you can see (along with specifics on the project) right here. Check it out!




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Shapeways Sweepstakes

Don't forget that we still have a Shapeways 3D Printout Sweepstakes going on right now, where you can win your own 3D printout of your in-game creations, free! Just check out the details here for your chance to win! Back to Top

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Mojang is in full swing with their Humble Bundle project, Mojam! What is it? Simple! Mojang is writing a fully complete, playable game from scratch in the span of a weekend! As with previous Humble Bundles, you can pay whatever you like to get the game upon completion, and all proceeds will go to your choice of four excellent charities. Taking feedback from their earlier poll on the topic (with over 100,000 votes!), Mojang is teaming up with Humble Bundle founding team Wolfire Games to create a real-time strategy shoot-em-up, with an Egyptian steampunk theme! Cobalt creators Oxeye Game Studios are tackling an equally ambitious project - a dungeon-crawler beat em' up set in post-apocalyptic World War 2!

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Graph updated: Mojam has completed!



Want to see these killer teams at work, live? Head over to the Humble Bundle site, where you can watch all available live feeds, chat with other viewers, and more! Is all of that still not enough? There's more - you can also hit up their Google Moderator session for some Q&A! We will be updating all links regularly (included below in a list for your convenience), so be sure to check back often. Good luck to Mojang, Wolfire and Oxeye on your upcoming titles, we're looking forward to it!







Updates!



  • In the early moments of Mojam, Minecraft cleared over 5 million sales! Congratulations, Mojang!
  • MinecraftChick confirmed during today's livestream that tomorrow (2/19/12), the stream will be "interactive", including tours of the office, giveaways and more
  • For users who have already donated, a new build of Catacomb Snatch has been released!
  • Oxeye intern Frall spent some time chatting directly with users on the stream!
  • Notch to arrive at 10:00 GMT +1 to work the remaining 12 hours - Oxeye gets some much-deserved rest!


Videos!



Mojang hits their $75,000 mark - so Notch & (shirtless) Jeb arm wrestle!




Jens Bergensten (Jeb) being fabulous!



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A sneak peek at Mojang's title, "Catacomb Snatch"!

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This week, the news duo talks about this weekend's Mojam game creation event, where they must create a fully playable, complete game in 60 hours or less (with themes and mechanics voted on by you guys!); the highly anticipated LEGO Minecraft release, which does include a tiny creeper and Steve, and a classic Minecraft landscape; and an in-depth look at this week's snapshot updates, such as villager updates, map generation details and more. Take a look - click the image above to watch!

Want to see the Mojang Mojam livestream? It's up now (and for quite awhile yet) - check it out!

THIS JUST IN:

Minecraft - Pocket Edition for iOS is now updated! You can get the update by starting the game up at any time - update your client now! Back to Top

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This week's early-release Snapshot is out!  The following changes are confirmed:

  • Added new world file format called 'Anvil' (256 max height and 4096 block IDs*)
  • Multi-player light calculations do no longer cause affected blocks to be transmitted to the clients, instead the clients will recalculate the light on their own
  • Villagers will repopulate villages based on how many houses there are available
  • Some nights in villages will be worse than others...
  • Added a redstone-controlled light source
  • Decreased chance for the rare mob drops
  • All animals use the new AI system now


*The game can't use the full range of IDs yet because there are still some assumptions that IDs above 256 are items.

NOTE:  It is absolutely imperative that players back up their maps before testing the new format, just in case!

Jeb also had the following to say about the new save format:

Jeb said:

NOTE: This snapshot will convert the maps you load to the new file format. If you want to revert to the old format, you need to replace the 'level.dat' file with the file called 'level.dat_mcr'. The new format will write world regions to files called '*.mca', so your original regions will remain as '*.mcr'.



UPDATE:  The client/server files are now 12w07b!  If you downloaded the files earlier today, and want the most up-to-date version, download the updated files from the links below:

Get the updated client here!

Get the updated server here!

Updates:

  • Crash bug corrupting levels when spawning mobs above the 255th block
  • Sheep animation is correct in SMP




Are you a gamer of broad & diverse tastes?  If so, we've got something you'll love - a weekly newsletter which covers news not just from Minecraft, but every game on our network!  If you're interested, follow the link below and subscribe to the newsletter today!  It's free - no catch! - and we'll keep you appraised of the latest news on all things gaming.  In addition, anyone who subscribes to the newsletter before the February edition rolls out (on 02/21) has a chance to win a free month of Curse Premium - check it out! Back to Top

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