Minecraft: Story, Monster Towns, Alchemy

Speaking to Develop yesterday Notch has revealed some of his future plans for Minecraft, beyond the ones we already knew about: “I plan on adding some kind of overarching narrative to the game to drive the player forward and provide a sense of direction, and add many more new features, like monster towns and alchemy.” He also states that he wants to get the multiplayer mode into better shape once his new company is up to speed. And not just to make survival mode more workable: “I think there’s a huge potential in competitive multiplayer modes like capture the flag and so on, which should keep people – including myself – interested for a long time.”

Monster towns! And er, CTF! And the Halloween update is imminent. We await like tiny, excited children on the eve of Halloween. I guess. Or maybe a kind of spooky Christmas.

UPDATE: Indiegames got a Halloween preview with a nifty video, posted below. Portals look clever.


  1. Schaulustiger says:

    And PC Gamer even has a hands-on of the Halloween update!

    link to pcgamer.com

    • Mike says:

      I have one too, hurray! link to indiegames.com

    • noobnob says:

      The PCG article has been updated, and now has two new videos.

      It only shows more of “Hell” though, I’d like to see the other upcoming changes, especially the ones regarding torches and lanterns.

    • frymaster says:

      “Different levels provide different ores”

      no and yes, I’ve seen a graph someone did by analysing an actual map.

      Below a certain height level x, the incidence of substance y is contant. So you get the same amount of coal lower down as you do higher up, but you also get iron and gold etc.

      iirc the lowest level is lava (which exists coincident with every other type), with diamond extending for another 10 or so blocks above that. So, if you dig just above the layer where lava is common – and you’ll know it when you find it – you’ll find everything without being in too much danger

  2. Carra says:

    Nice to see that the $10 is being used to create more content.

    I think this is going to be game where I play some more after each content patch.

    • Fringe says:

      It’s TF2!!!

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Except Notch is letting us craft our own hats and weapons without relying on random drops and paying-real-money!

    • BAReFOOt says:

      I hope it gets used to give you some big goal and purpose. You know, the dream of something secret, magical, that will slowly reveal itself like in a good thriller. Something that will change how you look at the world.
      Instead of… hats… ;)

      But you know what I’d prefer even more? A auto-smoothing rendering engine. Smoothing only on the visual level. But modular. so people could change the visual style. We don’t want it to end up looking like those modern engines and shaders, that all look completely the same. (CryEngine, Unreal engine, id Tech 5, etc)

  3. Fringe says:

    I can’t find any of the good blocks in Minecraft. :o( I’m doomed to an existence of torches and creating stone picks (and the odd iron one) with no armour, hiding in the dark.

    Any recommendations?

    • Bostec says:

      Dig deeper. Also try to find natural holes in the ground/mountains, they always lead you down and down and down thus saving you having to dig.

    • Re2deemer says:

      Different levels provide different ores. Diamond tends to be at the bottomish layers, near lava. Coal is in top layers and Iron is slightly below coal (with overlapping, of course)

    • dobber says:

      natural caves will reveal interesting things the deeper you get – concentration of blocks is the same as you get in solid stone, but you don’t need to dig! they are of course dangerous however, and easy to get lost in.

      if you want safety, you need a good supply of pickaxes.. dig to the bottom of the world, then dig in a grid formation along flat planes.

    • Fringe says:

      Hmm, sounds like I’m not digging anywhere near deep enough then (probably because I get annoyed having to make so many flimsy pickaxes to do so)

      The caves and such that I’ve found don’t seem to go on for very long so I go in as far as possible then start digging in the hope that I’ll reach some sort of underground cavern but no such luck as yet.

      I haven’t tried multiplayer yet either. So much to do!

    • TWeaK says:

      Diamond tends to be around about 8-10 blocks above bedrock (dig down a loooong way). To be honest though you’re better off finding a cave system. If you dig a tunnel two blocks across (so you don’t dig straight beneath yourself fall down if you reach a cavern) you’ll eventually come to something. Also, listen out for monster groans or water as this can lead you to something interesting, even if finding their exact position can be difficult sometimes. You could also try and find a cave system just above bedrock, which will likely have a bit of everything in it – I’m exploring one right now and mining a bit of obsidian for after the update :)

    • Temple to Tei says:

      Hah! You found iron think yourself lucky.
      When I was young I could not find any only lots of silver…

      A tip for new players.
      There is no bloody silver in the game and the ‘silver’ is the iron.
      Oh, and stone picks cannot mine anything above iron and it is not a random chance of getting an ore from each block, so it is not worth mining lots and lots of redstone with stone picks waiting for a rare drop.

      MMOs have ruined me for other pc games.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Caves tend to come in three sizes:

      1) small 1 or two room caves which are probably partly exposed to sunlight. On some maps, especially if there’s an area of flat land right on sea level, you can find a bonanza of iron and coal (but nothing rarer).

      2) longer “teaser” caves that look like category 3s at first but don’t go nearly far enough. Fairly common, especially in the sides of mountains. Good source of coal and sometimes iron and occasionally good stuff if they’re below sea level.

      3) MASSIVE cave systems. BRING SIGNS AND SPARE WOOD WITH YOU. You will find coal and iron throughout, so you just need wood for torches and crafting more tools. Keep an eye out for magma as diamond tends to be near magma more often than not (and also magma has many other advanced uses). Currently-useless gold will appear occasionally and redstone will be common in the depths. When you come across useless dead ends WALL THEM OFF to help yourself remember which passageways lead back up and/or towards good stuff. Don’t be shy about setting up temporary workshops and keep an eye out for good sites for doing so. Don’t forget that wood is a limited resource once you go down.

      I’ve found that generally the good stuff appears in Massive Caves more often (or at least much easier) than mining straight through the ground.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Oh also there seems to be a random chance of ores “infecting” the stone around them. Especially with iron, you may sometimes find it in a place you know you didn’t see it before, or in a spot where you know you already dug it all out, if you explore and come back the same way. (seen it with redstone and gold as well but never diamond) Boring-dead-ends have always remained boring whenever I checked them, however, so don’t worry about walling them up.

    • Fringe says:

      Good tips MadTinkerer.

      Thanks all, you’ve been very helpful!

    • BAReFOOt says:

      1. Start on a new map.
      2. Try it for $x minutes.
      3. If it does not look more promising than $minimalOptimalExpectation, goto 1.
      4. Enjoy!

    • Dinger says:

      I love how a relatively simple terrain/block generating algorithm can generate such complex theories that mix factual observations with anecdote and unfounded superstition.

      For example, I’ve found diamonds deep, and I’ve found lava deep, but I don’t think there’s a correlation. If you generate a map of the diamond distribution of your favorite MC map, it’s just noise .. there’s no apparent clustering around lava. Yet people repeat the “diamonds near lava” bit. Same for coal. I have found coal at all altitudes, without remarking it to be more at one level than other.

      One could reverse-engineer the distribution of ore by calculating the distribution by level, and by proximity to other things, but somehow that would take the fun out of telling old miner’s tales.

    • SAM-site says:

      Vertical mining is the way to go – dig out a 5×5 hole, place a wall around the outside to avoid creepers dropping in, pack a load of wood and dig it down to the bottom of the world (where you’ll encounter admin layer blocks, which cannot be mined). From there spur out in every direction and you’ll be swimming in the “good stuff” in no time at all.

      It’s risky, but very rewarding.

    • Malagate says:

      @Dinger, I think people say “diamonds are close to lava” simply because most large caverns at that depth have lava in them and it’s much easier to see if there are diamonds in the walls. I’ve found both diamonds around lava as well as digging through solid walls of stone with no lava around at all, it’s just simply easier to notice diamonds in a big cave than it is through meters of rock!

      It’s also perfectly possible to mine in all directions at lower levels and still pass within a hair’s breadth of a diamond patch and not notice it. Which is why on SMP I tend to go into other people’s mines and dig in areas close to theirs, weirdly I’ve found a lot of diamonds whilst doing this despite it being pure chance.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Huh. I’ve found lava in a small dungeon (the first I found). Above ground level.

      On the other hand.. dagnabbit, but coal is scarce! I have just started, but coal is supposed to be common.. well, not where I’ve dug.

    • Flat Eric says:

      Digging straight down is good, but horribly dangerous as if you hit lava you’ll die and lose everything. If you get lucky, though, you’ll have a hole straight down to bedrock and you can ladder your way back up again.

      Take two picks, one spade, a LOT of wood for your ladders (but craft them at the bottom of the hole, or you’ll have wasted even more time for nowt in the event of lava) and strike out for Australia.

      Or wherever in the world is on the other side from where you are now, anyway. For me it’s probably Mexico, as I’m in the Indian Ocean right now…

    • Flat Eric says:

      If you just wander around on the Surface, Hmm-Hmm, you’ll probably see plenty of coal in the cliffs and caves in the sides of the bigger mountains. It has to be that way for gameplay, really, as you can’t do a lot of mining without coal for your torches.

    • Chaz says:

      I would say that if the world you are currently exploring doesn’t seem to be giving up much then start a new one. My first world was pretty dismal in terms of cave systems and loot etc. However my new world is riddled with massive cave systems.

      Another tip I’ve found handy is to take a couple of buckets with you too. If you find progress made difficult because of an underground river, you can just scoop up its source block with a bucket and dump it into a little one block hole, and the pesky river will quickly run dry.

      Oh and when playing with buckets, as has been said many times on here, keep buckets of lava in your inventory not your hot bar. I learnt my lesson when I acidentally flooded a huge area with a massive lava fountain, I scooped the source back up but in the end had to douse out the rest with water. Took me ages to chip away all the cobble it created.

      What I want to know is, does anyone have any good tips for creating a safe monster free outdoors area? I’ve walled off large areas of my mountain top plateau, put down loads of torches, and just when I think I have it all nice and monster free, a few seem to pop out from somewhere.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Dinger, when people say the lava layer, they mean the depth at which there are large pools and lakes of lava, not one off lava spouts like one off waterfalls. You will never find diamond at a depth higher than around 18 units from the very bottom of the map, as it does not spawn higher. Get to around ten units above adminium (bedrock) and you’ll find a lot of lava. Knowing depths of where things begin is handy for looking for specific resources.

      And to continue the tips: Keep making stone picks and use your iron picks only for mining diamond and gold. Redstone too if you don’t have a compass yet. (I mine all redstone I find habitually just because I use redstone torches to help me find the way out of a cavern system.)

    • Canebrake says:

      Minecraft automap does WONDERS for ore finding. try using it in a cave.

  4. Aubrey says:

    I really want craftable strafe jump boots.

    • Tweakd says:

      Me too, in fact i plan to add strafe jumping when it finally goes open source :)

    • Simurr says:

      Should be mod-able long before it goes open source.

  5. LeFishy says:

    My one hope for Minecraft is that the amazing class based hilarity of Infiniminer is resurrected.

    That game was so damned fun. I might try to set up a server with my friends now it occurs to me.

  6. Sardaukar says:

    I once played some Minecraft CTF on a custom creative mode server.

    In lieu of real weapons, it had: Tagging (run into someone), Bombs (lay a TNT block and then a purple block to detonate), and mines (lay a black cloth block, explodes when anything next to it is dug).

    In spite of the tedium of “getting” someone, it was incredibly fun.

  7. Wilson says:

    This update is going to be brilliant. And now that most of the business setting up stuff is done, updates may well become more constant again.

    As long as Notch makes it relatively easy to mod stuff in, think of the mod packs you could end up downloading in the future. Tons of new biomes, full of new blocks, new mobs, and stuff to craft new items with.

  8. Artist says:

    Would love to read some update on multi-core support to fullscreen MC somewhere in the future at max drawing distance!

    • Mistabashi says:

      I doubt there can be any ‘proper’ multi-core support in Minecraft; curently there is one thread doing almost all the work, presumably because rendering, generating chunks, adding/removing blocks etc are all essentially the same process (it’s all manipulation of voxels), and that’s what uses up the vast majority of CPU time. The only tasks left over are very minor things like AI pathfinding and the audio engine. There’s probably still room to optimize the code for better performance though, but that won’t happen until the game goes to beta.

      The max draw distance issue is a bug that usually only affects MP, so it should get fixed at some point (in fact, someone has already fixed it, although the fix will no doubt be invalidated by this update).

    • Raum says:

      Notch actually had plans to separate some things into a different thread, but it seems the plans have been cancelled (if the public TODO list is to be trusted).

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Now that he has underlings, nothing keeps him from resurrecting it.

    • Urthman says:

      Notch has said those kinds of optimizations would be pointless until the game gets to the beta stage.

    • Aoanla says:

      @Mistabashi : I’d have thought that parallelisation of the voxel engine itself would be quite possible. It’s similar to a lot of physics code that I’ve seen run on various clusters…

  9. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    Monster towns, sounds interesting!
    I think that the compass should be able to toggle between your spawn point and North & South.
    Also needs more things like trap doors, maybe a monster lure too =D.

    Idk about the max draw distance and fullscreen MC.. not yet, it is too buggy, and laggy – at least on MP

  10. Rinox says:

    Playing Minecraft with a friend sitting next to me while pleasantly buzzed: awesome.

    We had so much fun getting fucked over by creepers and storming skeletons. And getting lost in an underground cave. :rolls eyes:

  11. Mistabashi says:

    Looks awesome, I can’t wait!

    My only gripe with the biomes is that there seems to be a bit too much snow, it would be nice if it was only found in very distinct areas, or at high altitudes. But obviously, this is stuff that is still being tweaked and improved, so it’s a bit early to cast judgement.

    Love the zombie pig though – I wonder if we can push him through the portals? I’d quite like one as a guard-pig.

  12. Mike says:

    Cheers for the link Jim, I owe you one beer.

  13. minecraftfigaro says:

    A final homage to pre-halloween update minecraft:

    Figaro Castle in Minecraft: link to minecraftforum.net

  14. John Peat says:

    Aren’t RPS mildly disappointed not to get the Halloween preview code given that the site is gradually becoming a ‘free Minecraft Plug’ site???

    No – seriously – it’s out of hand (however good Minecraft is – it doesn’t deserve the number of articles it’s gotten) and STILL you don’t get preview code.

    Hehehehe :)

    • JB says:

      “however good Minecraft is – it doesn’t deserve the number of articles it’s gotten”

      ^ In your opinion. I suspect the Hivemind (and several other people, perhaps) feel differently.

    • Jeremy says:

      Everyone is covering Minecraft, not just RPS. Probably because it’s a good game that many folks play that happens to be getting a major update in 2 days. Just a theory.

    • Casimir's Blake says:


      It’s one of the most important releases on PC in years. Both in terms of development, as this will hopefully encourage more indie devs. (Notch is doing very well out of it, so it CAN work!) Also in terms of gameplay. It taps into that emergent stylistic and depth that we rarely see on consoles, and usually see on PC but rarely as evolved as this. And the game is only an alpha!

      It fully deserves the coverage, as long as Notch and co. at Mojang keep the awesomeness coming.

    • Dominic White says:

      So, here’s a deal for anyone who feels compelled to complain about Minecraft coverage: You resist the urge to jump in here and shit on our party, and I’ll resist the urge to spam the fuck out of every Blizzard-related post with talk about how they’re overrated and I don’t want to hear about their games.



    • dobber says:

      they might not have got the code, but they did blag the boingboing link!

    • Thants says:

      “You resist the urge to jump in here and shit on our party, and I’ll resist the urge to spam the fuck out of every Blizzard-related post with talk about how they’re overrated and I don’t want to hear about their games.”

      I think Blizzard-related posts are a lost cause at this point.

    • The Hammer says:


      No, not at all.

      I think it would be quite easy to see why, too.

  15. Peter S says:

    Well off topic…

    that you John? last seen eating Wendys on Bond Street

    That’s a (Y/N)

  16. Johnny X says:

    You should be able to make an armor out of cloth in this new Halloween update and when you wear it the ghosts ignore you.

  17. Vinraith says:

    Narrative and competitive multiplayer are both completely uninteresting, but as long as he continues to provide something equivalent to survival mode it doesn’t really matter I suppose.

    • SheffieldSteel says:


      Survival mode is *the* mode as far as I’m concerned. Multiplayer survival mode is probably going to be even better. Other stuff: do not want.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Since these ideas come from Valve (I’m the only person that’s listened to the commentary?) narrative doesn’t need to be “do these thirty quests”. The narrative could be as easy as “find and save the princess!” as it was for Mario. Narrative is any story of the game, and right now the story (topside) is I walked and saw X. I’m presuming that monster camps will be the new narrative talked about. One of the specific things he talked to Valve about was Valve told him that topside isn’t very interesting as there’s not much to do there that you can’t do underground, as the underground is more desperate and exciting.

  18. Raum says:

    Am I the only one worried that some of these features are taking it too far?

    Narrative? Objective?

    That sounds pretty horrible, to be honest.

    • Chris D says:

      I was thinking that was what it would take to get me interested. In its current form I see the potential but it’s too much of a sandbox for my tastes. It’s very much a case of having to make your own fun. But if theres more of a reason to make a multi level death fortress then I can see myself becoming as hooked as everyone else.

      I’d imagine that there’ll still be a freeform mode if that’s what you want, though.

    • Urthman says:

      When he’s spoken about it before, Notch said he envisions the “objective” of Minecraft to be something like ascending in Nethack — something remote and difficult that you’re more likely to hear rumors of other people doing than to actually do yourself.

      So it’s sounds like the “narrative” would be more like backstory that maybe you find a few bits of here and there in monster villages or when you find a chest in a dungeon or something and the “objective” would be more like a really hard optional side quest that you can do when you’ve been playing for a long time.

    • Ravenholme says:

      I reckon it will be very much a “if you want to” plot, and could be largely ignored in favour of normal survival mode stuff. I imagine it would tie in backstory and background stuff that you probably will uncover during normal playtime.

    • Feste says:

      It could be the story of why there’s no-one else in the world and it’s only populated by skeleton-riding spiders and exploding swamp-monsters. That said, I quite like there not being anyone else in the world, big misanthrope that I am.

    • harald74 says:

      The story is that MineCraft is the afterlife! You, as Minecraft-dude, just got hit by the bus on your way to work, and wake up empty-handed in the green fields of MC. You have to do God’s work to ascend to MC heaven, or be forever stuck in the betwee-worlds existence. If you fail utterly, you will be banished to roam the Nether as a pigman-zombie.

  19. Clovis says:

    Per the website, sales have just recently passed the 500,000 mark. A few more months to a million??

  20. MadMatty says:

    actually reminds me a lot of Eskild Steenberg´s “Love” only you´re allowed to build everywhere, which is the sweet part Eskild missed.

  21. Berzee says:

    From indiegames: “Very awesome stuff, and bound to keep Minecrafters happy until the next big update comes along.”

    *snort* Ha ha! I choke on root beer! You have told a joke!

  22. HeavyStorm says:

    I just wanted now a release schedule for all those new features. Because, … I’m waiting to play the game with full content!


  23. Dude says:

    I have a feeling Valve will ruin this game.

    • Tertiee says:

      Ruin what? Notch rejected Valve’s offer since he didn’t want to move and uproot his life.

  24. blah blah blacksheep says:

    I’d prefer a bit more automation. Gathering wood from trees is ok, but then having to punch the entire leaf structure down to find more saplings to plant is very tedious. Would be nice if trees would just automatically grow. Like if you worked over a field or area with the hoe, then it would have a higher chance to grow trees. It’s just tedious replanting the resource when you could be doing something more productive…like adding stuff to your house. lol