The New Minecraft Launcher: What Does It Mean For Minecraft?

Mojang has been hard at work developing a new launcher for Minecraft, one that promises to improve the overall experience of Minecraft in a number of ways. However, there seems to be some confusion on what the new launcher is, what state it is currently in, and what can be expected from it in the future. Today, we are going to take a look at what the new launcher currently features, what it will feature later on, and more!

What the New Launcher Offers

According to Jeb, The new launcher will support updated OpenGL and Java libraries, and will come with the ability to change versions with a drop-down menu. In addition, detailed game settings, such as game directory location, jvm options, memory, and more, will be customizable. This offers an obvious benefit in allowing players to choose which version they are playing with minimal fuss, and no extra installations, as well as tailoring their game to their personal and system specifications.

New Launcher Rumors: Fact or Fiction?

Unfortunately, there have been rumors circulating about what the new launcher will bring (or break), many of which are simply untrue. Today, I sat down with Mojang's very own Dinnerbone to talk about the new launcher, where it is, and where it is going. Some of the most heard rumors are addressed below, plus some exciting news for the future of the launcher!

"The new launcher has always-on DRM! Why is Mojang joining the AODRM bandwagon?!"
  • Untrue. The launcher is still in a testing phase, and the "Play Offline" option simply hasn't been added to the menu yet. It is coming in future launcher updates, and will remain a core feature of the launcher. Not to worry, Offline isn't going away!

"The new launcher will kill modding!"
  • Untrue; however, we have to examine how Minecraft works now, and how it is planned to work with the new launcher in the future, to understand why this is the case.
  • The Technical Explanation

    Right now, Minecraft is installed to the same location for every player (on their respective operating systems), and modding the game requires editing the core files in this location, such as the mincraft.jar, adding mod/config/etc files and folders, and so on. For most players, modding Minecraft, changing versions, or testing Snapshots requires editing these core files directly, which changes the game itself. One of the running problems with this approach has been the lament of modders since the earliest days of the game - every update breaks mods, because an update will completely overwrite old versions of Minecraft (modded or not) with the new version data.

    The new version of Minecraft is expected to be compartmentalized. Instead of having "Minecraft" as an entire game to modified, there will be a "core" Minecraft - essentially, the game's engine and crucial data - which all things will be built upon. Jar files which determine how the game runs will have their own locations, called "Versions", which will be selected from the new launcher. This includes everything from actual vanilla versions of Minecraft to the most complex mods imaginable. For example, if you were to install a mod called "Baconcraft" - which involved adding modified files to the minecraft.jar file, custom folders, assets, and textures - you could place it in a Version folder called "Baconcraft", and select it from the launcher when you started the game.

    Vanilla Versions already download their data on launch, but only the selected Version's data downloads. For example, if you launch the game with 1.6 selected, only 1.6 data downloads. It is hoped that the launcher will also use this feature to update modded versions of the game, adding functionality for modders to include a download source which would update their modded Version whenever a player launched it.

    More details on planned features will be released in the coming days, but this glimpse into the future of the launcher definitely shows an exciting future for modded Minecraft!

    The "TL;DR" Explanation

    Right now, modifying Minecraft means changing the game itself - adding, removing, or modifying files, which will inevitably get overwritten with updates. The new, proposed system will let you pick any version to play that you wish - up to and including modded versions that you have installed - without accidentally breaking other versions, or worrying that a new update will overwrite and ruin your modded game. Pretty awesome!

"Wait...does that mean the MOD API is coming now?!"
  • The new launcher - and the 1.6 update itself - do not include the mod API. However, the API will require many of the coming changes, and so this can be thought of as a preliminary step towards the API!


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