Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Talking About Minecraft #3: Dancing With Wolves

[Part of a monthly series of posts discussing indie sensation Minecraft. Today, a simple addition in a forthcoming update which could change the game significantly.]

Minecraft’s beta status means that it gets updated frequently. Some updates are so minor -- bug fixes, code updates, etc. -- that we as players don’t even notice while others such as the Nether update or the addition of beds are important because they change the dynamics of the game. Instead of waiting the night out before resuming our giant construction project, these days we set up a bed, click on it and wake up the next day ready to commence work once more. The Nether, as freaky as it is, was arguably a disappointment not because of what it brought to the table -- Glow-stone has been wonderful and, as far as building is concerned, Nether-rack and Soul Sand aren’t bad materials either -- but because after the initial buzz everyone (seemingly) went back to whatever they were doing in the ‘real’ world. Recently, a video popped up on YouTube showing off a forthcoming addition to the game that could potentially change it completely: wolves.

At first sight Wolves appear to be nothing more than yet another mob update, joining the likes of Ghasts, Slimes and Zombie Pigmen as creatures added to the game during different updates. Indeed, they are just a new mob and will likely join all the others as just another facet of life in the never-ending wilderness. The difference with wolves, however, is what they can do, and what they will mean for the game going forward.

During that video it is shown that upon your request, wolves can and will attack for you. Are those cows and their incessant mooing driving you mad while you build? Give them a punch and the wolves will take care of that for you. Looking for some pork chops but don’t want to waste your sword’s durability killing them? Again, get the wolves to do the job. Such an action is simple and won’t change the game too much, but it’s just another feature that will come in handy at certain times during play and benefits the player, yet again, in ways that weren’t possible previously. Wolves hunting on your behalf isn’t the only thing possible, however; the addition of wolves means the addition of pets, essentially, as wild wolves can be tamed and once they are they won’t de-spawn, no matter how close or far away you happen to be from them. Pets are a feature many players constantly request for Minecraft and feature prominently in the various mods made by the community. Wolves perhaps aren’t the first animal to come to mind when desiring a pet in Minecraft but it’s good to see that, once again, Mojang and Notch are listening to the community and satisfying their fans. The best thing that will come from the addition of pets however is that exploring in Minecraft or living in the world generally won’t feel as lonely anymore. Players won’t feel so isolated and, perhaps more importantly, won’t feel as cautious when they do come across company. Instead of panicking at the sight of a Creeper or jumping when they get pushed from behind only to realise it’s a silly chicken, players will feel comfortable knowing that whether it’s when they go out into the unknown or return home from an expedition, there’ll be something around, a companion, to make them feel safe and not alone.

This difference may only be minor in the grand scheme of things, but when you consider just how big Minecraft is and how lonely it can get, it will certainly be a welcome one. Besides, it’s the simple things that make life special.

Note: This post was unexpected but important, I feel, because of how it illustrates just what regular updates can potentially do for a game. I had originally planned to talk about what Minecraft has inspired inside of me and how it’s changed me as a person, so now I’ll discuss that next month.


Alli893 said...

I really need to play this game...

Steven O'Dell said...

Alli -- Heh, only if you want it to consume your life. :P

Seriously though, it's a fantastic game and deserves all the praise it gets. Still hard to believe it's only in Beta.

BuyWoWAccount said...

@Alli893 Me too! As I was browsing over the net, I find this game interesting. This must be a great one, for a fact that it earned big money.

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