Scrolls just hit playable Alpha, and Notch is off programming computers inside of other computers (inside of other computers still, if life as we know it is in fact a nightmarish artificial construct), but Minecraft keeps on plugging away. LAN support - an art thought to be lost to the ravages of time and overbearing game services - was already a known quantity, but Mojang's detailed gobs of other stuff that'll be included as well. Sadly, an official modding API didn't make the cut, but Adventure Mode sounds interesting. And hey, there's also an NPC trading system, readable/writable books, and updated cookies!
Minecraft lead Jens Bergensten outlined a few of the biggest changes in a blog post:
"We’ve added emeralds, emerald ore and a trading system that makes it possible to buy items from villagers. Villagers will add and remove items depending on what you buy. We’ve added the possibility write in books and leave stories for other people. We’ve added new terrain features, and you can choose to begin the game with a 'bonus chest' to get you started quicker."
"We’ve added tripwire, so you can create new traps and contraptions. We’ve also added new stairs, new half-slabs, cocoa plants and tweaked dispensers, leaves, cauldrons, levers, gravel, pressure plates, cookies, buckets, boats, minecarts, ice, furnaces… Plus you get magic orbs from mining and smelting (and not just killing monsters)!"
Adventure Mode, meanwhile, disables building, fire-starting, and buckets in favor of exploration as a mere mortal - and not some block-obsessed demigod.
Bergensten also noted that the modding API is now looking like a lock for 1.4, as LAN support is actually just a byproduct of single-player/multiplayer tech merge put in place so everyone won't have to make more than one version of the same mod. There is, however, a slight catch: Minecraft's admittedly meager system requirements have leveled up. "When playing single-player, the game needs to be able to both simulate and emulate the world, which take many more CPU cycles," Bergensten explained. "We’re working on optimizing rendering, but those improvements will not be included until Minecraft 1.4."
So there's a ton on the way, and the first batch of new toys is headed your way on August 1. For now, though, you can grab a new snapshot if you're feeling a wee bit guinea piggish, or - if the call of your adorable rodent ancestors is being drowned out by a need to read - here's the full list of patch notes.