Minecraft:Wolves, Achievements, Mods, Merch

The budget for the Dr Who costume deptartment was facing severe cuts

Ah, this reminds me of how we excitedly documented each and every Team Fortress 2 patch a couple of years ago. There’s a point only a few games attain, when the level of interest and enthusiasm is so high that even a hint of additional features is enough to make a headline. In Minecraft’s case, it’s still very much an evolving game, with almost no-one (and quite possibly actually no-one) really sure what its final form will be.

What we do know is that it will at least includes wolves, movable respawn points, a stats and achievements system and the delightful promise of proper modding support. Also, merchandise.

We already knew about the pet wolves, which together with the respawn tweaking and the achievements have been promised for the very next update. This, Notch claims, is due “soon,” as he’s apparently been able to escape the numerous distractions which have kept him from Minecraft development lately and knuckle down on some coding.

For those worried about the dreaded a-word, an earlier post revealed that “Achievements will NOT be chores like “cut down 10000 trees”, but rather challenges like ‘ride a pig off a cliff’.” Pig-cliff-riding: we can get behind that, right?

A modding API should follow afterwards. The mind sort of boggles about what people could come up with from that, given the game is essentially already modkit (conceptually speaking) in the first place.

Also, you can now buy official Minecraft t-shirts. Hooray for torso-based gaming celebration! Creeper Inside is my favourite.

90 Comments

  1. negativedge says:

    achievements :(

    • Saul says:

      Achievement unlocked: Predictable Negativity.

    • negativedge says:

      you’re right, your negative flippancy is inherently superior to mine. I will amend my ways and like everything except the things I am arbitrarily allowed to dislike, which will be subject to the approval of video game blog writing cultural watch dogs.

    • Meneth says:

      It’d probably help if you mentioned why you don’t want achievements.

    • dangermouse76 says:

      words and stuff !

    • negativedge says:

      should be pretty obvious. minecraft is inherently and deliberately structureless and unfocused. the player is left to determine his own course and his own objectives, if any. the effect is unquestionably cheapened if the game comes packed with a ready-made, context-less list of canned objectives. do you really want to come up with something clever or creative, discover a means to complete the task, and then execute those means–only to have a garish pop up break the mood by congratulating you on something which is now irrevocably not yours? there’s nothing nuanced or laudable about sanctioned neurosis.

    • dangermouse76 says:

      @ negativedge
      Sir this is the internet. There are no lengths to which people will not go to make you justify context to your comments. It’s not that bad a thing though unless the person asking is a bit of a twat about it and not very polite. And just so you know it is not always obvious.
      Polite it’s something some on the internet still find hard to do.
      I agree by the way I could do without achievements but they are in and god knows you will be able to disable them.
      I enjoy the loneliness of the game, achievements would make me feel there is a god in the game….and baby that don’t gel with my personal thinking.

    • Urthman says:

      Also, who wants Minecraft wasting CPU cycles trying to figure out if you’ve just ridden a pig off a cliff or not?

    • negativedge says:

      There are better ways to influence, reward, or suggest possibilities to the player than empty numbers an uniform banners that have nothing to do with the game. achievements are the result of an outcropping of negative traits of video game players, in addition to being easy, cheap, and ineffective. if you want to shoehorn them into games designed around the idiocy they promote, that’s all fine and dandy, but the contrast between what minecraft actually is and what achievements represent is gaudy.

    • Meneth says:

      I’ll reserve my judgment until I see how the achievements are implemented, as achievements can both be done badly or well.

      @Negativedge: thank you for elaborating on your reasons.

    • The Colonel says:

      Second. Automatically jumping to the defence of achievements is surely worse than instant negativity. Achievements are rarely good.

    • Aninhumer says:

      If riding a pig off a cliff is awesome, why do you need the game to tell you that?

    • micro_explosion says:

      1) You assume that the achievement notification will be distracting and not possible to disable (could be hidden from you or in a submenu somewhere)

      2) You could just not update the game to whatever version includes the achievements

      3) You assume that you should have some influence over the direction the game goes in. Why should it remain freeform in future versions? That might be what you like about it (and again, don’t update it to that version if that’s what you like about it) but there is only so much a game can be when there is zero structure, something that Notch has said several times that he wants to introduce, even if you choose to ignore it.

      4) Your suggestion that there are far better ways of rewarding the player may be true but you’ve given no hint that you know what those rewards may be. Riding a pig off a cliff may be something that doesn’t need something to pop-up to tell you that you’ve done something good, conversely, how many people would try some of these things if they didn’t think they got some meaningless checklist filled up?

      Automatically assuming achievements are bad is bad, as is claiming that they are all worthwhile; I couldn’t care less about achievements in games but claiming that they are inherently a bad thing is just misguided.

    • Xocrates says:

      “minecraft is inherently and deliberately structureless and unfocused”

      Hum… no? Notch has mentioned countless times in the past that he wanted to include stuff that allowed players to have some sort of goal. If the game is “structureless and unfocused” is because a) it isn’t finished and b) because the players want it to.

      I believe he mentioned that the achievements were meant to give new players some sort of guidance, as adding a straight up tutorial felt wrong in the context of the game.

      That said, I’ll reserve comments about the achievements themselves and their implementation until we actually know what they are.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Right, but there’s a difference between what Notch wants to do and how it’s actually played/plays. There’s a real danger that by adding that stuff the game will lose its Minecraftiness.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Notch may have a touch of the George Lucases, in that his vision may not align with the players who bought the beta he was able to create.

      I mean, if you ask Minecraft players what they want, they’ll generally answer along the lines of “more fun stuff to build and play with”. Not achievements, an adventure mode, etc. And whatever happened to torches that burn out and lanterns? It’s been five months, and there’s still no use for glowstone.

    • Xocrates says:

      @Jim:Not arguing that. I was just pointing out that the game isn’t “inherently and deliberately structureless and unfocused”.

      That said, I do believe that the lack of any sort of guidance or tutorial in-game is an issue that should be addressed, even if only by including some sort of manual or a link to the wiki.

    • Ringwraith says:

      I think the idea was to have many of the achievements as the “tutorial”, by laying them out in almost a tech-tree fashion.
      Anyway, if you want a good example of well-implemented acheivements that aim to teach you something, just look at TF2’s, many of them are about teaching you about tactics in the game, the one for switching to medic and healing when your team doesn’t have any is a good example.

    • terry says:

      I think these fears are probably a little justified, but I’m fairly confident that the modding API (when it arrives) will be robust enough to allow a whole range of playstyles, and not just whatever vision one person has. It’s already very possible with Bukkit plugins to make a unique experience on a per server basis. Making that stuff more accessible to users and allowing them to control their play experience is only a good thing. I think.

      Achievements aren’t my thing per se, but if they’re not flung in my face every second I can’t grudge them to those that enjoy that.

    • Olivaw says:

      I think there’s a significant draw to Minecraft being deliberately structureless, but at the same time, I think Notch is smart enough to keep that in the game in some form. An Adventure mode and a Freeplay mode would be enough to keep people happy I think.

      And besides, I’m one of the few people who’d LIKE a bit more structure and gameplay in Minecraft! Quests and goals and such would be great, especially if they’re optional! But first I would like more furniture to build and furnish my houses with thank you very much.

      With regards to achievements, I think getting upset about it either way is totally silly. Achievements are just a part of games these days, and I’ve NEVER given a shit about them. They’re just there, they pop up if you did something, hooray. Who cares.

    • DrGonzo says:

      So, what you said is right Xocrates. But it shouldn’t be, it should be structureless. Sometimes I wonder if Notch has actually just been incredibly lucky with Minecraft, in releasing it earlier without the features he may have wanted, it ended up being better.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Minecraft survival mode is not deliberately unfocused, it’s poorly and incompletely focused. It’s got dangerous mobs, scarce resources and complicated crafting of tools. If you actually want a game that’s deliberately and inherently unfocused, then use a hex editor to give yourself all the tools and blocks you want. If that feels uncomfortable to you, it’s because you actually like the structure and focus that artificial scarcity imposes upon you. I get that achievements have an annoying arbitrary treadmill feeling, but really Minecraft already has tons of arbitrary treadmills. Why do I have to dig so long to find diamonds? Why does it take so long to mine a piece of obsidian? Because that gives diamonds and obsidian a feeling of artificial value.

      Not that achievements are really the kind of focus I’m looking for. My problem with Minecraft survival mode right now is that it relies so heavily on tedium to create value, rather than challenge or difficulty. Obtaining things in Minecraft is time-consuming, but not challenging. When I see someone build something complicated or rare in Dwarf Fortress, I’m actually kind of impressed–that requires both tactical and engineering skill. But if you build something impressive in Minecraft (within the game itself, not using external tools) all that says is that you were willing to spend a lot of time on it.

    • Ringwraith says:

      Actually, while I remember, there’s a PS3 game (I know, I know) where you get absolutely no trophies (read: achievements with a fancy name) for completing the game.
      None whatsoever.

      You have to earn them, really earn them.

    • jonfitt says:

      I cannot see how achievements could be a problem so long as the notification system is unobtrusive you can always ignore them.
      So what if it was chop 1,000,000 trees. That would make them boring to most people, but it wouldn’t harm the game.

      I’d rather he implemented cool stuff like neutral AI villages or random artefacts (obelisks etc.) to be discovered, which would give you more stuff to do, but I hardly think achievements are a big deal.

      The wolves are the big draw for this update.

    • Lavs says:

      “do you really want to come up with something clever or creative, discover a means to complete the task, and then execute those means–only to have a garish pop up break the mood by congratulating you on something which is now irrevocably not yours?”

      Yes! I love games that acknowledge when I do something out of the norm! And in Minecraft, everything is out of the norm. Games that go “Hey, cool! You did (impressive hard to do thing)! Good job!” are fun! They make me want to be more creative and see what else i can do to get the game to acknowledge my creativity.

  2. thepaleking says:

    Capitalist pig-dogs.

  3. dangermouse76 says:

    I love Minecraft but it has turned me into a ego-maniacal, kill tower wielding despot. Gotta harvest those creepers…got harvest those creepers.

    I feel like I am turning my Planet into a cute and cuddly 1984 crossed with Water World.

  4. Matt says:

    Jens did the lion’s share of the work on the new wolves creatures. No one remembers Jens :(

    • evilbobthebob says:

      Yeah, I actually prefer watching Jens’ Twitter account over Notch’s. He posts more actual details about Minecraft development, and seems to have a great handle on how Minecraft “should” be and what the community thinks.

    • jonfitt says:

      I feel Notch himself tapped out his creativity and attention span a while back. It’s good he then hired a team and I like the way they’re thinking.

      The new CCG will allow him a new outlet. Hopefully Notch will find another diamond seam for Minecraft.

      That’s just my Twitter/Minecraft following opinion.

  5. MD says:

    If they stick to their guns and create a bunch of the good kind of achievement, this could well be a good thing.

    I’m not a fan of achievements at all, but that’s more to do with the fact that they’re usually boring, and can ruin multiplayer games a bit. (There’s a tendency to exploit gamers’ willingness to do tedious things repeatedly, in order to increase a number or make a light flash or have the game tell you you’re clever.)

    Done well though, achievements can actually encourage interesting and varied play. Personally I’d like to have some with clearly defined goals — things that I wouldn’t think of myself, but are awesome, like riding a pig off a cliff — and some that are only hinted at, to encourage creativity and experimentation.

  6. Furius says:

    Has anyone done an exact replica Isengard yet with all mines at the bottom? And creepers instead of orcs nailing it about down there?

    • dangermouse76 says:

      I have not seen one. A quake or doom mod would be nice though…ah those NIN guns.

  7. MrEvilGuy says:

    Why call them achievements? The word has such a bad rep now.

    They should have called them “minechievements”.
    This would imply their my achievements, and not the achievements of following a forced set of rules to gain such achievements.

    Also, is the guy on the right real or a painting?

    • dangermouse76 says:

      Crachievments ? miniments ? if they do have them they need one called Bloc Party.

      ” minechievements ” is getting close to Godwins Law straight from the get go…but I like it.

    • Urael says:

      This is RPS: ‘Achievements’ should be called ‘Things Wot I Did’

  8. RaytraceRat says:

    Is this site is turning into a minecraft-only promotion site? I think I already saw at least 2 articles about minecraft this year. PC gaming is not only about mining blocks, you know!

    • Meneth says:

      “Is this site is turning into a minecraft-only promotion site?”
      Out of the 11 (strangely enough) articles on the front-page, only 1 is about Minecraft, so no.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I think he was joking.

    • RaytraceRat says:

      “Out of the 1 (strangely enough) articles on the front-page, only 1 is about Minecraft”

      See, you just said it, 1 out 1 – its 100%

      (I might changed your words slightly to make my point clear)

      PS: one more block, and have a nice day all :)

    • Meneth says:

      “I think he was joking.”
      Quite possibly, but people do seem to complain almost every time a Minecraft related article is posted, and at least some of them aren’t joking.

    • RaytraceRat says:

      Yup Meneth, I’ve been referring to that cases. I also noticed that every time there is a post about Minecraft there is someone who complains about that. Just wanted to keep the tradition.

    • Meneth says:

      I don’t think it’s a tradition that deserves continuation ;)

    • Starky says:

      You don’t get to pick what traditions are worth continuing, even if you hate them.

      That’s why they are traditions.

      It’s traditional.

  9. Milky says:

    I can’t get over how long that guys pick-axe is.

    • Urael says:

      Yeah…that’s three sticks right there, not just two.

    • Mattressi says:

      He must have some kind of super 4×4 workbench to craft that thing!

    • Buckermann says:

      Probably unlocked with a achievement…

    • killbilly says:

      It’s not the size of your pickaxe that’s important anyway, it’s how you use it.

  10. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Fun game right well until I lost interest for it, because what the game designer wanted of it and what I wanted of it weren’t compatible. The love affair lasted until, err… October I think.

  11. Leelad says:

    As long as there are no benefits other than E-Shlong I fail to see the problem with achievements. it’s something else to do in a game you’ve already paid for.

    It’s free meaning that no matter what argument you have you’re a giant twat.

    • MD says:

      The whole “free updates must not be complained about” thing has popped up a lot in discussions of TF2, and is clearly ridiculous. If an update a) makes the game worse and b) is compulsory, of course people have reason to complain about it.

    • Jhoosier says:

      I think the important thing is whether it changes the gameplay or not. The TF2 updates obviously did, but it’s not clear that the Minecraft achievements will. The only possible way it could would be if the game was halted and a big notification came up declaring your achievement. Anything less that that and I will refer people to Leelad’s opinion.

      If the mere existence of achievements ruins the game for someone, they should really re-evaluate what’s important to them in a game.

    • m3metix says:

      @JHoosier
      I totally agree. It seems like some people are saying the mere existence of achievements is going to ruin the game somehow, which seems impossible unless the game itself forces you to complete achievements or has extremely intrusive notifications (i.e., way worse than GFWL notifications).

  12. Jakkar says:

    …. Any other game, this would be lambasted for adding such pointless little trinkets instead of some basic functionality. The cult of worship around Minecraft continues to disturb ._.

    • Meneth says:

      Please read the first comment thread.

    • Urael says:

      But that’s the point: this isn’t “any other game”. There aren’t many examples of this type of game, not the game itself or the development model it has chosen, but Team Fortress 2 is the closest analogue to how Minecraft develops and in how popular it is; small updates like this to that game are most certainly newsworthy, so should this be.

    • mcwill says:

      The funding model in question being “hype”.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m as much in awe of Notch as anyone else, but there are hundreds of indie devs doing awesome things all the time, and most of them don’t have the entire gaming press acting as their PR department. I’m actually mildly dreading a serious backlash because I can see Notch getting disheartened and ceasing updates, which would be roughly the worst case scenario as far as I’m concerned.

  13. mcwill says:

    The only reason I’m a bit tired of people talking about Minecraft is because Mojang hasn’t released anything in at least 15 years. Or that’s what it feels like, anyway. I need updates, dammit, I AM HUNGRY FOR UPDATES.

    If I don’t get new stuff soon I will turn green. Then start hissing. Then…

    FANBOOM

  14. Hoaxfish says:

    Achievements: no
    randomly generated structure: yes

    i.e. make those “dungeons” (a.k.a monster-spawns) more elaborate, like those various tower/abadoned civilisation mods. Have stuff spawn that despawns if certain conditions aren’t met (e.g. a meteor strike at night, which contains rare materials, but vanishes if not collected within 24hrs/by morning).

    also, wearing a minecraft t-shirt: no, just no

    • mcwill says:

      Meteor Strike: totally awesome idea. May have to mod that if The Notch doesn’t put it in.

  15. Tizoc says:

    One more block.

  16. sneetch says:

    I have a love hate affair with achievements, I like the general idea of some little acknowledgement of something I did but they’re often interpreted as a To-Do List that you’re required in complete in order to “win” the game and that only adds an element of work to playing games. About the time I started playing Mass Effect I realised that I could either enjoy the games or go for their achievements, doing both is rarely an option for me. So I decided screw the achievements.

    I do hope that these achievements are ignorable – as in you can turn off any unlock reports and they don’t appear as a big greyed out list that demands to be unlocked – if so then that’s fine with me.

    At least there’s no arbitrary score attached to them.

  17. lunarplasma says:

    20 quid for a shirt? Umm…

  18. MrTambourineMan says:

    I will look even sexier in one of this shirts!

  19. GallonOfAlan says:

    Wolves = good.

    They should forget about achievements and all that bollocks and concentrate on the IMPORTANT STUFF, like a proper server and half-decent graphics that don’t involve hacking the client.

  20. poop says:

    THE CAKE IS A LIE!!! BUY MY HTE CAKE IS A LIE SHIRT!!! ONLY $30!!! THIS WILL BE HILARIOUS AND RELEVANT IN A YEARS TIME!!!

  21. Navagon says:

    The only real problem I have with achievements is that they’re usually linked to some form of DRM bullshit. It’s the reason behind GFWL’s encrypted save games and of course the fact that you need to have an online account with Steam or GFWL to again achievements.

    This could mean the game is a lot more locked down than it would be without them. Which could be very bad news for the modding community.

    • Xocrates says:

      “Just keep in mind that because you can design your own levels and run your own servers, people will be able to cheat with achievements and stats! ;)” – Notch, on the blogpost announcing achievements.

      Being online to gain achievements makes some sense as it means you can be stat-tracked over various PC’s and won’t gain the same achievement multiple times. That said, there are systems that disable achievements when playing modded versions and similar.

      I find that implying that Achievements somehow limit how the game can be modded seems silly, especially if the game does get a mod API since it means the game will be able to track if you’re using mods or not and disable them if it wants to.

    • Jhoosier says:

      MInecraft is already pretty locked down. You have to log in to play (which causes problems like those which cause the free weekend which turned into a week and a half or so of free play for all. Granted, there is offline play, and the reply above me indicates Notch isn’t intent on making us all follow the rules.

  22. The Colonel says:

    I’ve built a complete, accurate replica of Topshop, The Ritz and Trafalgar Square for when Notch introduces the Black Block.

  23. Jonathan says:

    Well, I like the idea of achievements in MC, especially if they’ll encourage me to try out aspects of the game I haven’t delved into before. I’ve been feeling a bit stuck in a rut* lately in MC anyway.

    *A quite literal rut — I’m digging a sea-level trench directly east and have been for weeks, with occasional treks into caves to resupply.

    • OptionalJoystick says:

      Exactly this. Maybe not the trench part, but the ‘different aspects’ part. There are many different styles of play I haven’t really explored yet, and a clever use of achievements could give me some fresh ideas.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I think I wouldn’t dislike Achievements so much if they weren’t called that actually.

      But no, I disagree. Good game design should encourage you to do things, this is a lazy out of game way to get you to do things.

  24. bluebottle says:

    Achievements are a bit of a nothingness, so I really find it hard to muster any kind of anger or excitement about them.
    Modding API is another matter altogether, though. That I am getting exited over.

  25. Olivaw says:

    So am I the only one who thinks the Three Creeper Moon shirt is funny?

    It made me laugh aloud anyway.

  26. Wulf says:

    Riding a pig off a cliff does seem like a fun thing to do… and yay wolves! I see nothing bad about this update and it only serves to reassert my love for Minecraft.

  27. Styg says:

    Notch once said in an interview how he’d love to get his game up on Steam.
    I suspect this is (one of) the major reason for implementing achievements.

  28. Dominic White says:

    Achievements designed to encourage the player to try certain things and guide them in the direction of proper play sounds like a good idea to me.

    Something a lot of hardcore old-school PC gamers forget is that, without guidance from an outside source, Minecraft is almost entirely inaccessible to non-gamers. And pretty brutal even for experienced gamers. It needs structure, it needs tutorials, it needs goals to ease people in.

    It may be absolute anathema to some of you, but Minecraft needs to be made more intuitive and accessible. Yeah, it might drive off a handfull of vocal angry internet men, but it’ll bring in vast numbers of people who were utterly baffled by the game before.

    Seriously, put someone with no gaming experience in front of Minecraft and tell them to figure it out. Only tears and bitter hatred will follow.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I think completely the opposite. It’s the only game my girlfriend has played in years, and that’s because it is aimless.

      I’m pretty sure the opposite to what you said is true. The games that are most popular with non-gamers, lets look at a few. Sim City and the Sims, they are also pretty much aimless, give you tools and allow you to do as you wish.

      So no, I think achievements and lots of goals and stuff often just alienates non-gamers.

      Stick someone with no gaming experience in front of Minecraft and watch them have fun, as it works as you expect it to, rather than necessarily in a gamey way. For example, the crafting, it’s far more intuitive for a non-gamer.

      Both my girlfriend, who isn’t a gamer, plays Minecraft loads, and my flatmate who is an evil 360 gamer also plays. So I really don’t think there is a basis for any of what you are saying.

    • Jhoosier says:

      DrGonzo: I think you’re missing the point here. It’s not that sandbox games are bad for new gamers, as you’ve pointed out it’s just the opposite. The problem is that there is literally nothing to guide the player in doing anything. Everything you need has to be gotten externally. I’ll bet when your girlfriend started playing, you didn’t do what Dominic suggested and put her in front of the computer and tell her to have fun. You probably gave her some guidance like how to move around the world, how to make planks from logs, etc.

      That’s not intuitive. I can’t recall how many people, when Minecraft first came out, said they tried it, but couldn’t figure out how to chop down a tree. Most people thought you could just click on the tree and it would get chopped. And these were gamers, who are accustomed to different control schemes and funky ways of doing things. It took me a good half hour to figure out that you had to hold down the button to chop a tree. I’d tried the browser-based one when it was out, but gave up after running about a bit when I couldn’t figure out how to do anything.

      Sorry to harp on you, but I think it’s important to realize what makes games accessible. SimCity had tutorials. I’ve never played The Sims, but I’m willing to bet it doesn’t just throw you in with no explanation. Sure, it’s fun to let people explore, but they also need to know basic parameters.

  29. Inverness says:

    I have to say I’m rather annoyed that the modding API isn’t actually first priority like Notch said it was supposed to be back in December or so.

    But I’ll take what I can get I suppose.

  30. DD says:

    I wish notch would just add more stuff into minecraft. I really do love minecraft and notch and dont have any bad things to say about him.

    What im looking for is basically more stuff to make and more minerals to mine to make more stuff. I need more then just diamonds to find down in the depths!

    I feel the more stuff that is added into the procedural generation, the better the game gets.

  31. dragon says:

    I’m very disappointed that achivements will be added. I was hoping that Minecraft could be above modern fads like that.

    Urge to quit gaming rising!

  32. FunkyBadger3 says:

    if DontLikeAchievements
    then ignoreDem = true
    else ignoreDem = false
    endif

  33. Psychopomp says:

    Is that an “I pork Minecraft” shirt?

  34. Zarx says:

    OMG this just in “We’re focusing on doing an update today, but stats and achievements are getting pushed back to the next update because they don’t work.” – Notch/Twitter