Notch Working On Minecraft Sky Dimension

By Quintin Smith on May 19th, 2011 at 11:39 am.

Caw, I hate floaty graphics engines.

All this work Minecraft developer Notch is still doing on his game is making it very difficult for me to maintain my mental image of him spending his days nibbling on a forest full of 5lb gummy bears. The latest revelation is that he’s building a “sky dimension”, which you can see above and in the gallery after the jump. How will you get there? What purpose will it serve? What happens if you fall off? We have no idea. But it’s looking pretty.

I’ll admit to being a little underwhelmed by this, seeing as floating worlds were both already present in Minecraft and expanded on in numerous mods. Then again, they were expanded on in mods because they’re awesome, and deserve to be expanded on. Hm.

At least, as I said, they’re pretty to look at. With any luck there’ll be special blocks that can only be found there, too, like in the nether dimension. That’d be nice.






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103 Comments »

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  1. Daniel Rivas says:

    You’d build a tower to it, surely?

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      UW says:

      I thought that, but then wouldn’t the entire sky of the normal world be blotted out by floating islands? That would suck.

    • Wilson says:

      Doesn’t look like it in those screens, with the liquids disappearing into nothing. But obviously it’s too early to say yet. This could be cool, but it’d be nice to have some special mobs and new blocks to go with it.

    • Riotpoll says:

      No, you have to plant some magic beans. Then climb up whatever grows from them.

    • moriarty70 says:

      Just don’t try that on a multiplayer server. You’ll get 2/3 of the way there and then it’ll fall apart and everyones chat will turn up as wingdings.

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      thristhart says:

      that was an exceedingly clever comment, moriarty. bravo good sir, bravo.

    • moondog548 says:

      Nimrod! >:o

    • The Colonel says:

      I concur – ingenius. Now that kind of thinking would make for an interesting game.

  2. Twilightx says:

    does anyone know a mod to add this to the game? I know floating islands were part of the game back in alpha, but I really wanna try it out now :(

  3. DSR says:

    And the point is?

    Back to Terraria then…

    • GHudston says:

      How dare you suggest that your oranges are better than my apples!

      (For the record I think both games are excellent. Put down the pitchforks.)

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      Loltroll. Have fun with, eh… how many people can play Terraria in the same server / instance?

    • DominicWhite says:

      Minecraft is objectively better than Terraria for a number of reasons. Mainly being fans who feel the uncontrollable urge to make constant, stupid comparisons to the former.

    • bwion says:

      Oh, right, I forgot you’re only ever allowed to like one game.

    • sneetch says:

      Be fair bwion!

      You are allowed to like more than one game but you’re only allowed like one game per genre, once you pick that game all other members of that genre have to be, by definition, crap or else we might have picked the wrong game and that would mean we can be wrong and that’s impossible!

      Impossible, I say!

      In a similarly manner the Spectrum is better than the C64, the SNES is better than the Megadrive, Mario is better than Sonic and so on.

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      frymaster says:

      of course the spectrum is better than the C64…
      ….the Amstrad CPC was better than both, though :P

      (great, that’s my 8 bit fanboi ration for the next few months, now none of my friends have to hear me mention chuckie egg for a while)

    • DarkFarmer says:

      I know, right? We just found our hooks last night, I cant wait to craft my grappling hook. And just 15 more gold bars to gold chest armor… sigh….

      And I don’t think its trollish to bring up MC vs Terraria comparisons (although this one was more than a bit trollish), unless you don’t care about games and understanding why one is fun, challenging and addictive and the other was just awesomely new and exciting.

      I think MC can be improved to be as fun and exciting to play as Terraria, but since its 3D, it takes much more time and effort and manpower. I think the mod API will make this a possibility, and I hope that the API is a high priority at mojang.

      I love both games, I dont see how Terraria could exist without Minecraft. But no need to instantly shout down any conversation about the games.

    • GHudston says:

      I could not agree more, but this post was clearly not an effort to foster conversation.

      I am, however, incredibly proud that the RPS community can turn even an obvious troll into a conversation starter.

    • Berzee says:

      Anyone who thinks this OP is trolling is simply, easily trolled. I know what he was saying =) Instead of having new formations of blocks to explore and build stuff on, he wants something to do besides explore and build.

    • Kaira- says:

      @DarkFarmer

      “I think the mod API will make this a possibility, and I hope that the API is a high priority at mojang.”

      I remember that there won’t be a modding API, instead modder’s must register to get access to the unobfuscated source code. A little bit of two-edged sword if you ask me, source code gives a lot more flexibility but on the other hand rises the bar to start modding, whereas modding API, no matter how good, would be a bit restricting in any case, but would be far easier to start modding.

    • DarkFarmer says:

      Ugh, my bad. Yes, I meant unobfuscated java source. There I go again, freely applying totally incorrect technical nomenclature, just like my boss.

  4. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Well, aside from the fact that I love good world generation (and even more being able to tweak such somewhat), the simple fact that this will come from within Minecraft helps diminish the dependency on mods which tend to need care and looking after.

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    UW says:

    In a similar vein to this, it would be nice if the upper limit on building was reduced. I think we’d get some even more impressive structures if there were more than 128 vertical blocks to work with.

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      amishmonster says:

      Yes, especially considering that half of that is eaten up by the land and subterranean levels to begin with. I want to be able to build a tower on top of a mountain, but I always bump into the ceiling well before I want to stop. I just hope the ceiling isn’t too hard-coded into the game for this to change.

    • Urael says:

      I agree. I’m getting a bit bored climbing hills. Where are the mountains? Larger Biomes is something that would give Minecraft the epic look-and-feel it truly deserves.

    • Mistabashi says:

      There was a mod that did this, although it’s outdated now (not compatible with the current version). The trouble is doubling the sky limit effectively doubles the size of each map ‘chunk’, meaning much higher memory usage and lower framerates. I agree it would be nice though, maybe if the code gets optimised a bit more down the road it’ll become more feasable.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Hah! That’s it!

      There are actually some rather important reasons for that 128 meter height limit from adminium to invisible ceiling. Mostly to do with the math notch uses for generating terrain. (EDIT: short version: what mistabashi said.)

      But if there were chunks that were generated separately from the main terrain, Notch could simply generate the floating island areas parallel to the surface area and add them right on top! Nice.

      Or I could be wrong. But that seems like a good possibility.

    • Tacroy says:

      I would hope that’s what he does; it would be a reasonable extension of Minecraft, after all. Right now, 128 block tall chunks are created and loaded dynamically as you approach them horizontally; there’s no theoretical reason why this couldn’t be extended to vertical movement as well, even if it’s on a more limited scale (e.g, a total of (say) 512 block height, split up into 64 block chunks or something)

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    Tinus says:

    I’m thinking this would also mean the introduction of a new mode of transport. That, or you’d be spending a lot of time building bridges.

    • DanPryce says:

      There’s an airship mod out there that I’d like to see an official version of.

      Those image sure do look purdy, but I wonder how often I’ll be digging through the bottom of those things and plummeting to my doom.

    • Mistabashi says:

      I remember Notch talked about possibly adding balloons at one point, so my guess would be that you’ll craft a balloon which allows you to float up to the sky realm. Not sure how you’d get back down again though…

    • lokimotive says:

      Well, how about by balloon? They can go down. Otherwise we’d have a lot of unfortunate hot air balloon pilots floating around the stratosphere.

    • gwathdring says:

      Now I’m imagining a world where people learned how to fly, but not how to get down. So everyone who tried it started a new floating world up in the sky.

    • Kerbobotat says:

      @gawthdring: I believe you’re referring to the new bioshock, or “Sky-oshock” as its usually called.

    • GCU Speak Softly says:

      Balloons could use blocks as ballast, attach / remove sand blocks to a wooden frame under the balloon to go up / down. Steering may be problematical, of course.

  7. jon_hill987 says:

    Hmm, I would have made the sky dimension purely out of a new marble block and gold/silver blocks.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      There’s an “Aether” mod in the works that adds a sort of heavenly equivalent of the Nether. If your idea of heaven is filled with odd flying creatures, random dungeons (with loot you can only get in the Aether), and craft-able cloud blocks of various sorts.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      I was thinking more of ancient Greek…

  8. Spacewalk says:

    Since we’re getting sky surely it shouldn’t be long after until we get proper underwater content.

  9. pl4t0 says:

    So can we take this to confirm that planes/sky barges are being added?

    • Urael says:

      They’re going to need something. Being forced to build fiddly bridges everywhere will get tedious very quickly.

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    tomeoftom says:

    Those giant gummi-worms are fucking unnerving.

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      amishmonster says:

      For a second I thought they were selling gummi tripe. And now I really want a gummi-bear.

    • MrWeed says:

      Gummy bear… ON A STICK!

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      Not as bad as the gummy heart (the organ!) further down the page. But – man! 2 feet. Where are we supposed to put these things?

    • Bhazor says:

      I’m pretty certain I’ve seen a Belladonna video with one of those gummy worms.

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      tomeoftom says:

      Ahahahaha! That “ON A STICK!” flashpoint is the funniest image.

  11. GCU Speak Softly says:

    Will the water / lava falling from those islands cool on the way down? Will the islands ‘drift’ or remain in place? Will Roger Dean want a percentage?

  12. yurusei says:

    This is quite ingenious really. It’s a very human thing to build upwards toward the heavens.

  13. Dana says:

    This game needs more mobs, items, weapons, ore, blocks and STUFF in general. Not another dimension.

    • Bhazor says:

      Well I’d guess it’s because people are adding in so many content and mob mods that he’s bound to step on peoples toes and indirectly copy other peoples work if he started releasing things like that. Much better to just build new platforms for modders to fill up.

      Also lets forget this is now a year old *BUDGET* game. How many other developers do you know who would still be giving this kind of support?

    • Brainstrain91 says:

      Yes, it is so good of Notch to kindly be finishing his game for us…

      …haha! See, it was a joke. And it was funny on two levels. BEAT THAT.

    • sneetch says:

      @Bhazor

      I’d like to think that most other developers would spend the time finishing the game I bought from them about a year ago in good faith.

      I’m in no particular rush, when I bought it I took a gamble that he would take the core idea and produce the kind of game I was happy with, but I’d like to think that I can expect him to “finish” it before I have to be amazed at his continued support.

    • BSG11 says:

      Unfortunately, the people who speak up against additional dimensions tends to get drown out by the much bigger “Half-baked-ideas-are-cool” crowd.

      The regular world is suppose to the be ‘central’ world, where most of the game play takes place, and it’s far from being complete in so many ways. Plus, there’s already a Nether that’s mostly a joke, and now he’s going to add another dimension?

      I’ve never questioned Notch’s business practices, but I’m beginning to have serious doubt about whether the direction the game is taking will keep me interested in MC in the long run.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      So I guess the Nether “glowstone” is still useless. Has it really been seven months? I’m all for half-baked, incomplete ideas. But they should be eventually baked or discarded.

    • Assaf says:

      i totally agree on this.

  14. sana says:

    I don’t think some random pictures of something Notch hacked together in an evening are worth an article… especially if Notch himself thinks the result is ugly.

    Should’ve waited until the concept has been refined and expanded upon, by adding new blocks, tweaking the generator etc.

    • sana says:

      Gee, I wonder… from the in-dev Heaven level type, maybe??!

    • Tei says:

      Flyiing isles where already in Minecraft in indev. This is then returning in what seems a new dimension.

      The aether is more a total conversion type of mod, with new game mechanics and new mobs.

  15. torchedEARTH says:

    I will only play it if he wraps it round vertically and I can fall forever. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

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    Vitamin Powered says:

    Anyone else having trouble loading the larger link-to 4th and 6th images?

  17. skinlo says:

    I love how now Terraria has come out, everyone is now anti-Minecraft.

    • MrWeed says:

      Wait, what? I don’t remember being anti-Minecraft… I do play Terraria, though.

    • skinlo says:

      Well, maybe not anti it, but there is a bigger sense of ‘meh’ going around.

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      lhzr says:

      that “sense of meh” has probably less to do with terraria and more to do with the frequency and content of the updates that notch has been releasing for about half a year or so. just take a look at what mods are doing and then look at what’s being added to minecraft.

      there’s basically nothing to do in minecraft without mods.

    • spongthe1st says:

      Pretty much beat me to it. The ‘meh’ is because notch doesn’t seem to have his finger on the communal pulse any more. Sky realm? Srsly? Has he seen the Aether mod? As an astute commentator above observed most people on the MC forums and in other places seem to want more improvements to the basic game on terra firma before faffing around with yet more new dimensions. Most people I talk to who play the game don’t even bother with the Nether that much.

      I for one would much rather see the normal world expanded upon, everything needs up-scaling, biomes, oceans and rivers all need to be bigger and most important of all mountains and caves need to be a LOT bigger than they are – I can’t possibly create a decent dwarf fort tunneling into a mountain if halfway through making my grand entrance hall I pop out the other side. All the mountains are way too small.

    • DominicWhite says:

      I think precisely the opposite. How can Notch hope to keep up with the massive amount of content the community puts out? It’s a much better strategy to enable custom content as much as possible, adding what elements you can properly test, than trying to jam untested content into “official” additions.

      Also, stop making comparisons to Terraria. It’s very silly.

    • torchedEARTH says:

      Terraria has got the blood moon. Minecraft doesn’t have the blood moon. Sorry Notch, I love you and all, but I was kinda hoping for the zombie invasion you said would be added and now you have been beaten to it.

  18. Zakski says:

    He should fix the clouds first, its really annoying when they phase through a solid mountain to annoy you in your passage ways

    • Holysheep says:

      I must agree. These clouds going through my house are annoying.

  19. CMaster says:

    I’d agree with the idea that a floating islands dimension needs some new stuff to go in it,and a good chunk of, otherwise much like The Nether, it will have taken loads of work for Notch to make, for everybody to spend half an hour looking around, going “meh” and returning to “real” world stuff.

  20. Ankheg says:

    Another ‘Project Nomads’ game, please.

  21. Holysheep says:

    Notch said once that there would be some air travel or whatever is the english name in Minecraft one day.
    He also said there would be dragons.

    COINCIDENCE?

  22. l1ddl3monkey says:

    This requires pterodactyls.

  23. fallingmagpie says:

    I’ve never played Minecraft. Is it good?

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      Just a bit

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      You wonder what you’re doing on this strange looking game, wonder about for a bit before dismissing it. Then realise eight hours have passed and you are already planning what you’ll work on tomorrow.

      Also it’s infused with a kind of pleasant, benign character that you can’t help loving it.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      It’s alright. Gets a bit dull after a while.

    • Urael says:

      The only way to absolutely know for sure with this particular game is to play it.

      You need to have the ability to make your own entertainment, set your own goals, because the game itself does run out of things for you to do after a while, and falls prey to the foul Repetition Beast. But if you like the idea of living in a digital world and like building and exploring then you can easily ignore that beast and continue to have fun for as long as you want.

  24. JohnnyMaverik says:

    I hope he adds air balloons or something to get up there. Love the flying machine mods ^_^

  25. GallonOfAlan says:

    I get the impression that this will be a seperate dimension like the Nether rather than being crammed into the existing maps.

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    SMiD says:

    So with this, the nether, and the main world, when’s the first Super Mario level coming out?

  27. sklaav says:

    “Netstorm”

  28. hosndosn says:

    I have a strangely strong desire to build bridges now. That should be fun!

  29. enobayram says:

    I often find myself thinking how come we have so many “things” in real life. So many concepts, all distinct, not completely explained by each other. These thoughts translate well to a game like minecraft. I mean, how many meaningful “items”, “blocks”, whatever, can you have in a game like minecraft? Think about something as specific as smoking tobacco. Imagine how many “items” we have built around it. From lighters to different type of filters, combustion mediums, holders etc etc. Then think about what a HUUUUGE culture we’ve built around a simple need as eating!

    If I wrote on this for pages and pages, my conclusion would be, “make the minecraft item design issue a wiki-like process! and you’ll have a game that will become as sophisticated as life itself.”

    I’m probably completely wrong though

  30. Bilbo says:

    Terraria already has this.

  31. Koozer says:

    I wish he’d fix the fluid physics, it ruins all my best ideas.

  32. Mattressi says:

    I wish he’d just add the damn piston mod already. A new dimension will be just like the Nether – walk in, grab a few of each new block, realise nothing’s really ‘new’ anyway, leave. Add more game mechanics instead. Moveable blocks would add hugely to the things you can do in the game, which is why I’d love to see the piston mod added, like he said he would (then said it was on hold).

    I can’t get angry – I’ve already got my money’s worth out of it, but it just feels kinda empty now. Bloody Terraria’s made me yearn for Minecraft to actually have some content, rather than new shades of wool or new blocks with mediocre novelty features (eg netherstone which stays on fire when lit). Terraria doesn’t have as much in the way of building as Minecraft, but its exploration and combat are orders of magnitude better than Minecraft. Either work on your current strength (buildings/creations – add more ways to make things…like the piston mod) or work on your weaknesses (exploration is boring because of a lack of mobs and things to find – add cool new items and mobs) – don’t just add another damn dimension like the Nether which has 3 new blocks, 2 new mobs and absolutely no reason to explore it. Also, I’d love to see a ‘bloodmoon’-type event where your indestructible fortress is no longer so.

    I hate being a Terraria fanboy (I used to be an MC fanboy), but it really does contain significantly more to do than Minecraft and feels ‘balanced’ – I mean, in Minecraft you can get a pack of wolves and a bow pretty much straight away and caves become a non-issue, your house is a perfect safe haven and there’s no reason to ever have more than leather armour (and even that is questionably useful) because the mobs are quite tame, even on the hardest difficulty. The extra dimension of MC doesn’t make it (significantly) more difficult to add a grappling hook, interesting items/armour/weapons and new mobs.

  33. gwathdring says:

    What I like Minecraft for sort of is that it’s more tame. I have plenty of action games. I find it refreshing to step into minecraft, build, explore, and so forth. I don’t explore for the loot, but for finding new places. As such, I love that the Nether and Skyworld exist. They offer new interesting things to see. Which is really the only reason I explore at all in Minecraft–if I cared about items, I’d stay in my bed rock mine and caverns all day. Which I do some days, I suppose.

    I would love to see some of those things added. But not only do mods to a good job with a number of them, but they are (slowly) making their way into the game. I’m ok with that. It isn’t a perfect game, but I like what it does, what it allows me to do, and the atmosphere of the game. Terraria has a completely different atmosphere, that demands different things of the player and of the game. At most, I’d say that Minecraft doesn’t wholly meet the demands put upon the game by it’s atmospheric presentation, but I’d also argue that it is pervaded by a simplicity and minimalism that won’t really mesh once too much starts going on. I like that a lot of the real ingenuity and masterwork comes from the players, out of the simple components, as it has since Minecraft started. You could say this causes players to excuse lazy design … but a lot of work has gone into this particular design “lazy” or no, and very few games let the player fiddle around with things quite so much. It’s delightful, a word I don’t get to use for even my favorite games (VVVVVV and Psychonauts stand out).

    It’s perfectly reasonable for people to have realized, by playing a different game with similar ideas, that they don’t actually want what Minecraft is selling as much as they want something else. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Minecraft should be selling anything else. There are a lot of people who love exactly what Minecraft does and focuses on. I count myself as one of them, though I’ve had ideas about what might make me in particular enjoy it more. Though it’s not why I explore, I would get a lot out of finding more than new places from exploring. Though mostly I want more crafting resources; perhaps we could have both through new recipes and requisite biome-specific blocks to reward exploration that way. There are all kinds of things that could make the game better, but all of the ones that matter to me boil down to variety rather than change of pace or increased action.

    And while it can always stand to improve, I don’t see Terraria as a damnation of Minecraft by any stretch of the imagination.

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    TheTourist314 says:

    Only in the USA would you be able to buy 5 pound gummy bears. I LOVE MY COUNTRY

    • formivore says:

      Lol “hand made” in the U.S.A. It is good that we have not shipped our gummi-sculpting jobs overseas.

  35. MythArcana says:

    As long as there are options to turn off floating islands, I’m good with it. I don’t want a bunch of floating dirt mounds to mess up my perfect views, but I appreciate the idea. I just about loaded up a floating island mod last week for fun, but looks like I won’t need it now.

    Frankly, I’m getting the impression that Notch is getting burned out on this project as the progress is crawling to a near halt now. The new major feature announcements are in the form of someone else’s mods it seems and we are all still waiting for basic stuff like glowdust lanterns to light our worlds properly. I still feel Minecraft is amazing, but I pictured a little more gusto in the production of polish and items here at the end of the race. Perhaps he feels the community will simply add what they want anyway and just wants the core product out of the way so they can work on Scrolls that probably nobody will buy.

    • gwathdring says:

      I get a similar impression. It’s not surprising though. One minute it’s a hobby turned into a consumer product and the next minute it’s a millionaire project … bit of a large change to go through, and after this long, that energy wants to be diverted into something else, for better or worse.

      I don’t think progress slowing down is exactly because of that, even though I get the impression the team may be burning out on Minecraft at least for now. There are a lot of bugs to fix, a lot of small changes and a lot of code-heavy projects (fixing multiplayer seems a bit complicated for example, and I imagine a lot more coding goes into getting the Nether and beds to work in multiplayer than in singleplayer). And every new item needs to be integrated with everything already there without causing too many new bugs. There are also a lot of things that modders don’t have to worry about as much that the development team does (like compatibility with future plans).

      The release date seems to reveal a lot about how the people working on the project feel: they don’t want to stop working on Minecraft. But they want to be able to say “We did it.” They want to officially stop being obligated to work on Minecraft, even if they aren’t done fixing and adding to the game. The vision isn’t complete, but the development team wants the job to be complete. They have other things to do. It makes a lot of sense to me, even though I really want more Minecraft.

  36. Ezhar says:

    Will it have dragons?

  37. JaiGuru says:

    This is nice I suppose, but another in a long line of updates that does pretty much nothing for actual GAME PLAY. Even if there are a few blocks there that you cannot get elsewhere, it’s still just sort of meh. The nether had that too and it’s pretty much the only point of even going in there. Notch really needs to work on higher level crafting…you know, CRAFTING? It’s only HALF THE TITLE OF THE GAME.

    —-HINT HINT—- >_<