The fact that Minecraft's current terrain generator is boring is nothing new to many players. This has been discussed for a long time now and should really need no introduction. If you already know about this issue, feel free to scroll down a bit and skip this part. For those of you who havn't noticed this or don't think that this is an issue, here's the basics of how this issue came to be:
Ever since beta 1.8 came out almost a year ago, many players have noticed that the game seems more bland than before. Of course, this shouldn't be the case since that update brought many new features to the game that promoted adventure, exploration, and overall, more fun. Since many players thought it was more boring than before, there had to be something beta 1.7 did better than beta 1.8. The major changes were made to the health system, the lighting engine, and to the terrain generator. The lighting engine, although bugged on certain graphics cards, was a good change, making light more atmospheric than before. The hunger based system was also a good change overall since it made healing more strategic and added an extra level of difficulty, even though some players might not agree. With both of those out of question, the only thing left is the terrain generator. Some goodthings were added, like larger biomes and extra structures, but every biome but the extreme hills biome was much more flat, beaches no longer generated, and biome placement was made completely random and many worlds felt completely incohesive. Most variety was gone, each world felt the same as the last.
Back then, the lack of variation was excuseable since generated structurres were being tested and they were bugged in the beta 1.7 generator. The update was alo taking a long time to come out and there wasn't time to develop a generator that was compatible with 1.8 structures and was as good as the old generator. It's been many updates since then though, and while the generator has improved, it still doesn't compare to the one from beta 1.7.
So this issue can be resolved at last, I've taken every issue noticed by the community and provided a suggested solution for each of them. In case 1.4 is already planned out and these improvements can't be put in yet, these suggestions can be delayed till 1.5 or later.
Major issues, pointed out by various members of the Minecraft community
There is very little height variation in every biome but the extremehills biome, and the biomes that do have height variation only have that because of the X hills technical biome.
Beaches exist, but are really just biomes generated near rivers and oceans where the ground is sand istead of dirt. In addition to this, gravel beaches are completely nonexistant.
Caves are way too common, and this makes it difficult to build underground, makes finding ores incredibly easy, and in some cases cause lag.
Oceans, despite being the largest biome in the game, have no content whatsoever aside from occasional tiny islands.
The extremehills biome is dull, part of this comes from the grass color, the other part comes from the lack of trees.
The current terrain is far too predictable, since you know exactly what you're going to find in each biome.
Underwater landscape consists of splotches of dirt, sand, and clay, which look very unappealing.
Biome placement seems way too random
Snow biomes are incredibly common
Suggested solutions, also suggested by the community
If it's at all possible, the technical hills biomes should be removed and all biomes but swamps and plains biomes should be given back full height variation so they can generate mountains like the ones in the extremehills biome, and can generate them randomly so mountains can be very rare, or be grouped all together like in the seed "glacier".
So beaches look like actual beaches rather than coastal deserts, they need to be a structure rather than a biome, and need to generate like they did in beta 1.7, where they have a slope that generates on land, but also have a flat part that goes out into the water, which can be anywhere from 1 block out to 15 blocks out. They also need to only go up a few blocks off sea level so there aren't any more 10 block tall beaches. As for the gravel beaches, they need to come back and generate the same way the gravel beaches.
The caves don't exactly need to generate less often, but they do need a bit more variation in size so there are small caves, medium size caves, and large caves like we have now.
Oceans need to be about a fourth of the size they are now. Decreasing them by that much will leave them ocean - sized while being small enough that there aren't any more 100,000 block oceans. The islands should also vary in size a bit more so they can be small or large islands, and should also have full height variation so the islands can generate mountains.
If the extremehills biome was made a different color, possibly emerald green to match the emerald ores they have, they would probably look much better regardless of how many trees there are. Besides, forest mountains should take the position of mountains with trees. Just to make sure they aren't useless though, if the terrain generator can ever generate larger mountains, the extremehills biome should be able to generate those mountains.
In beta 1.7, there were still spots on the shore and underwater where there would be only dirt, sand, or gravel, but they were much bigger than they are now, and in the case of the sand and gravel, they only went a few blocks down. Everything from there on down was dirt. If that was brought back the underwater landscape would probably look much better. Besides, the sand and gravel spots are where beaches generate, and it would look weird to see a beach that's only 5 blocks wide.
Since the biomes can't generate according to temperature without being too small, the best solution would be to bring back all the biomes from beta 1.7 and update them for the current game and make the jungles, deserts, snow biomes, swamps, and extremehills biomes less common since the 1.7 biomes blend in well with the rest of the biomes. The biomes will have different levels of rarity though. The jungles, deserts, and extremehills biomes will be common enough that they can be found if you look for them, but rare enough that they aren't everywhere, the tundra biomes will stay the same as they are now, the taiga biomes will be as rare as the tundras, and swamps will be somewhere in between. This also covers the issue with taigas being too common.
A quick note to the readers:
It is important that this topic be sent to Jeb if we want any of these suggestions put in the game, since it is highly unlikely that this will be noticed otherwise. It is also important that this be presented as a suggetion, not as a list of complaints or as a nostalgia topic.
Thank you for reading this, let's hope that the terrain improves soon.
indeed I miss my duke leto and glacier seeds ALSO the lone island seeds were nice its all nice and normal now, why can't we have 100+ variations of terrain types.... like overhangs, volcanoes, waterfalls, floating islands, massive mountains and sharp cliff sides, an underworld like "plain" that is like a huge space just under ground (bigger than ravine) with sunlight coming from high above in some spots and a few trees/grass spots grow under those...etc and water falling from above
I mean its minecraft not an earth simulation program
i don't find the terrain boring, and i think it's improved steadily. but a long, thoughtful post deserves a thoughtful reply.
height variation: there's more now than there was when i started playing (1.8). i rather like it now; plains undulate more, deserts have some hills as well, extreme hills and ice mountains are tall, but no longer ridiculously weird. and there's still the occasional sky island, just not as much random rubbish floating in the air anymore. jungle is probably my favourite biome; it varies a lot. swampland is flat, but that's ok -- it's swampland.
beaches: when i first read about it i thought "i don't care". then i downloaded 1.7.3 and played that for a bit, and you're right, the beaches are more interesting, and it adds something to the terrain. and indeed, we have no more gravel beaches at all. i'd be happy with more actual beaches and instead losing the random bits of sand around every lake.
cave systems: i like the huge caves. and while they're common, i still find plenty of small ones which dead-end. there don't seem to be medium-sized ones, but i don't miss them. i don't find it hard to build underground; i am not sure why caves would make it harder -- they make it easier for me because i don't have to dig out as much but can build up.
oceans: i agree that they're too large. they look good on maps, more "earth-like", but in actual game play they're dead, and there isn't much one can do with them other than build some underwater structure. even if they had more life than squid, they would still be boring. i don't mind the patchy looks; i suggest using a better texture pack -- minecraft's original water colour is butt-ugly; with different water the ocean looks much improved.
extreme hills: if you don't like the colour, again, another texture pack would seem to me the solution; that's what i do. i've changed the foliage and grass gradients, and the landscape looks great to me. lack of trees -- hm. well, at "alpine" altitudes i don't expect trees. i agree that lower down it'd be nice to have more trees. take some from forests, which IMO are too dense (i avoid them like the plague, and build railroads above them). i like that the extremeness has been toned down, but i still have overhangs and high waterfalls in my 12w36b world.
snow biomes: i'm not sure what the problem is with them being common? i like that they're larger now; the randomly distributed patches didn't work well for me. now i can actually "feel" the wintry mood when trudging through the snow with my dog pack ;).
randomness: yes, that's sometimes very odd, and it feels disjointed to have jungle bordering on snow. i wish there were a bit more realism in the way biomes border on each other.
honestly, while i see some of your concerns, after playing 1.7.3 for a while, i don't see how that was better. it felt rather more the same old same old to me -- sure, the pastoral landscape is nice for wandering around, and the beaches add to that. i sure wouldn't mind seeing some of that now. but i went carefully over an entire map and it looked all pretty much the same; certainly less height and landscape variation than my world now. i can post images if you really want; i took lots of screen shots, both of the 1.7.3 world and my current one.