Time for me to answer an email in public! I’ve checked with Tev (the mail-writer), and he thinks it’s a good idea too, so:

First off, thank you for taking to look at and answer my questions. I realize that you have a busy schedule, more than most and probably don’t have a whole lot of idle time to yourself, let alone to answer questions by some random player half way around the globe.

Actually, mostly my free time is fairly normal. I try not to get burned out while doing this. This time up to Survival Mode Test release is a bit hectic, though. :)

So, questions 1&2&3: What sort of development cycle do you see for Minecraft? There have already been huge advancements by yourself and the community growing around the game in just the past four months. Is it a project you see yourself working on wholly over the next year, or will it go beyond that? What sort of longevity can we expect out of Minecraft?

I need to be able to see the end to stay inspired. I’ve been on longer (endless) projects in the past, and that started getting to me after a while. For this reason, I’ve got a pretty narrow scope set for the finished version of this game, and would like to provide modding tools and extra expansions to help increase the life span of minecraft.

What’s probably going to happen is that once the game is out of beta and the first couple of point releases have been done, I’ll make a smaller game or two (quite probably an Android or iPhone game), then work on the Levers and Dungeons expansion. After that expansion, I’ll go back to other games, then add a new expansion, or improve modding, or whatever else is most requested by the community.

tl;dr: I’ll definitely keep updating the game after release, but it won’t be my only priority.

As to WHEN it goes out of beta, I don’t even want to try to guess.. I’ve grossly underestimated the amount of work needed for survival mode so far, and that’s just for the first test version.

Do you intend Minecraft, during official development time, to only be developed under your hand, excepting those additions like the sound and music, or do you plan on bringing on board others to help the creation process?

I intend to implement everything myself. Minecraft is in many ways an experiment for me to see what can be done, and I’m sticking to the original plan as much as I can.

That said, C418 makes awesome music and I’ve grown to be a huge fan of his, so when I heard his music it just blew me away and I asked him to help. If this were to happen with an artist or designer, I’d be willing to change the original plan.

You’ve mentioned in the past, for survival mode, the addition of weaponry and an inventory system, and specifically mentioned the bow as our first offensive tool against the advancing horde of zombies and other creatures. Your recent video gave us a glimpse of what survival mode will look like, but didn’t feature any weapons. Will we be seeing them after the up-coming trial?

Weaponry will be included in the trial. Being able to offensively hunt mobs is a core feature, and I rank it higher than crafting, which might NOT make it into the trial.

On the subject of weapons, we have also seen, in that same recent demo video, that the currently selected block will show up in hand, will that be the case with the weaponry/pickax in the future? If so, will there be animations for their actions?

Yes, and yes. They will be blocky, and the animations will be retro-bad (mostly because I’m a horrible animator, but I think it could fit with the overall theme).

The various weapons and equipment that have been mentioned in the past have all been of the fantasy variety, but you had also talked about importing DOOM levels and the such, and the armor that had been demoed looked particularly like a modern type, which calls to mind a different type of game. Are there any plans on adding ballistic weaponry, such as handguns and rifles, lasers and rockets and the sort? The possibility of tearing up a landscape in a rocket battle or having a death match in such environments as are available out there now in your game are just too awesome to not imagine.

The armor is supposed to look Ye Olde Time Armor, but I guess it might look a tad more modern than that. I have no plans for handguns or lasers, mostly because I don’t really like hitscan weapons in a game like this, but also to preserve the theme I’m going for.

From chatting on IRC, I’ve grown vague plans for a siege weapons expansion, with catapultable explosives, but I can’t promise anything yet.

When it comes to navigating a landscape, virtual or otherwise, various athletic abilities are necessary. Is there any plan to implement abilities like dashing, crouching, climbing or anything else of the like?

I’m still on the fence on this. Dashing and crouching are pretty straight-forward (although crouching is a bit hard to animate without joints..), but I’ve always found climbing in first person games to be a quite poor experience, be it crawling up over ledges or climbing up ladders. I’m going to try not having them in the game.

Character needs? You’ve spoken in the past about food and hunger upkeep. Will there be a tiredness or over exertion factor? Status ailments?

Food will only be needed to regain health, there is no food bar. One of my top goals with the project is to make the game as readable and intuitive as possible, so any status ailments I’ll add will be ones that are immediately understandable.

An example of something I’ll probably not add is poison. There’s no real way to show that other than to use an icon, and even that is hard to understand, and there’s no way to know how to STOP being poisoned.

Being on fire, however, I will most certainly add at some point. It’s very readable (“OMG FLAMES!”), and it’s immediately obvious how to stop being on fire (“OMG WHERE’S WATER!?”).

I might add limping when the player is low on health if it isn’t too annoying, but there are no plans for fatigue. (Besides, fatigue punishes the player for doing things effectively)

Since there is some element of a persistent character with the addition of custom skins, do you plan to implement stat tracking or a leveling system of any sort? Buffs or abilities gained through a class system?

No, but I might have a player profile page on the web site where you can show your player model and some statistics. I might also add cloak support for clans.

In early video of the game the contrast between light, shadow and the darkness of a cave were very stark, and seem to have been lessened a good bit with the public release. Is this because there has been no addition of light irradiating blocks yet, or was it an aesthetics choice? While we’re talking about light, will there be the ability to change the time to night, or to have static day/night transitions?

That old renderer looked good in most cases, but had three problems. Firstly, it did two rendering passes with different fog settings on each, which lowered the framerate slightly and complicated the code. Secondly, it didn’t work well at all on things like small bridges or so, as the shadows below these would be pitch black in the distance. Thirdly, it didn’t work with the distance fog I’ve got now. Part of the level fades out to white in distance, the other to black.

I started playing around with a new lighting method that lets me have light sources, but so far the results have been very slow.

Mods will be able to change the sky color and the light brightness. Fade these over time, and you can fake day/night transitions. It won’t be in the standard game, but Zombie Siege mode will use it.

There are a number of very good and well thought out maps out there, and a lot of them could work well along side one another, will there be an ability to set up portals or another means of jumping right from one map to another in game (by a setup of the admins, of course.)

This has been somewhat done by the WoM servers, using untested client commands (basically just resending the level all of the sudden). I think it’d be a good idea for me to clean up that client code and make sure it really works, but I’ll leave the actual portal code to mods or custom servers.

The game has great possibilities when it comes to the subject of roleplaying, is there any possibility/likelihood of giving the admin GMing powers where they can start a scripted or otherwise pre-conceived battles, disasters or events, or any of the other godlike abilities that GMs often have and use in a game?

I haven’t even thought of this! Interesting idea. At the very least, I’ll try to make sure a mod could do this.

How about being able to play from 3rd person?

Any Day Now™.

(disclaimer: it may or may not come any day now)

With the last major release you added in a number of new blocks, several of which with scripted abilities. Earlier, you had also given a list of possible blocks in development, some of which didn’t see fruition, or haven’t yet. What can we expect from the next major update to the pieces we have to play with beyond pulleys, electrical systems and buttons? Also, will we ever see differently shaped blocks, like slopes or arch-curves? Half-height blocks for use as steps that you don’t have to jump up? (I have tons and tons of suggestions here but I’ll stow them for now)

I don’t know yet, I’m just focusing on what’s needed for survival mode. But things like tall grass, hay (from cutting tall grass), a couple of variations of bricks, corals under water are all possible.

I definitely want differently shaped blocks to a limited degree, but I still haven’t decided on the extra byte. I’d like to add it, but it makes everything slower.
If I don’t add the extra byte, the different shapes will be unique blocks, like a “stairs” block which can only be of a single material.

Doors and fences and so are coming at some point, and they will be thinner than normal blocks.

You’ve already said in the past that the game will eventually go to public license eventually, where it will probably explode with that many, likely ideas that people have out there, but, during the time you will be developing it is there any plan on adding  custom texture support? You’ve mentioned this in the past, but it was vague as to at what point we might see this happen

I’ve decided against automatic custom textures sent from the servers. You can modify the client if you REALLY want custom textures, but keep in mind that you can’t distribute modified clients (or rather, you’re not allowed to distribute clients at all).

I can understand that you may want to distance MInecraft from Infiniminer for a number of reasons. Not to say that it is a bad game, but one with a different focus. However, that game does have some interactive features that yours does not but could benefit from, such as ladder blocks and spring boards. Have they not appeared because because you’re trying to not look too similar, are they in the works, or do you see them as not necessary/useful?

Ladders aren’t in because I’ve never liked them in first person games (slow, hard to control, takes control away from the player in unintuitive ways). Spring blocks aren’t in because they’re pretty darn silly. ;)

I could be conviced to add spring tiles to creative mode, but I won’t add them to survival mode. Besides, they don’t work too well with falling damage.

As mentioned before in the line of questioning, there has already been a lot of development for the game outside your own influence, such as World of Minecraft’s executable client and the OMEN editor. You have also stated that there will eventually be an official executable for the game. Can we expect to see an external editor from your hands or possibly a multi-mode capability in-game  to edit the environment in more of a drawing program type interface? What about dynamically changeable character skins/outfits depending on the situation of the game, from a menu or the inventory?

I won’t make a level editor mostly because of a lack of time. Making a proper level editor is a LOOT of work. I will, however, finalize the level file format and make it public. This will happen around the same time as modding.

I don’t like the idea of an ingame level editor. I’m trying to make a game, not a level editor, although I am aware a lot of people are using it as one.

On the note of externally created content for Minecraft, it would be advantageous for the admins and OPs to be able to fly and the players not to, or specific players designated as architects to be able to for the ease of building. You have recently said that the next update will include blocking out clipping and flying hacks/mods from the server side, but also said it was just an optional security feature. How do you feel about flying as an official addition to your game, if even in only an administrative fashion?

I feel torn. If I don’t add it, I encourage client hacks. If I do add it, I encourage flying.

My main reasons for not wanting client hacks are probably selfish, and my main reasons for not wanting flying are probably out of purity reasons, but I’m not sure about either of these.

That’s about it for the moment. I’m willing to be I had other questions, and I have all sorts of suggestions and commentary, but I didn’t want to overbear you and didn’t know if it would be welcome or not. I’d better send this out now before I think of more to ask you…

Phew, that was long enough. :D

I hope my answers were useful.

Thanks for your time,


And thank you!

posted 14 years ago