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Wishlist: A Minecraft Top 10

The List

Minecraft is a great game. My kids and I love it. That does not mean it could not use a few things, however. Here are ten areas I think Minecraft can be improved.

#10. Consistency Update

#9. Trees and Fruits

#8. Gold, Diamond, Emerald

#7. Experience and Levels

#6. Minerals and Alloys

#5. Enchantment and Gems

#4. Universal Recipes

#3. Universal Dye

#2. Redstone Requirements

#1. World Creation and Control

Let's look at these, one at a time.

#10. Consistency Update

When writing fiction, it has been said that you can violate the laws of physics all you want, as long as you violate those laws in a consistent manner. Doing things consistently creates a degree of plausibility which allows the reader to melt away into the story; they become a willing participant in the fiction because it feels like rules govern the way things operate.

This same concept is a good guiding principle for game design.

There are many things in Minecraft which work a particular way. This may or may not be in keeping with real world (e.g., the way a block can defy gravity), but for the most part, things work in a consistent manner within the context of the game. Some things, however, are not consistent. This tends to create some odd situations.

Dirt Block, Grass Block, Snow Cover, Rug Cover (in blue)

Dirt Block, Grass Block, Snow Cover, Rug Cover (in blue)

Snow, Rugs, Grass, Tilled Earth

  • When a block has snow on it, the snow is a cover over the base block; with dirt, this makes the base block look different which is not really needed. Snow is thicker than a pressure plate (see rug, below).
  • When a block has a rug on it, the rug is a cover over the base block. A rug is the same height as a pressure plate.
  • When a block has grass on it, the grass is incorporated into the base block.
  • Tilled earth acts as a negative height cover, reducing the height of the dirt block.

I think it is time to bring these concepts in line with one another. Each of these covers (as well as anything else in the future that acts as a cover) needs to be treated in the exact same way as any other cover element; height, I think, should be consistent with pressure plates.

Soul Sand, Anvil

Soul Sand, Anvil

Soul Sand and the Anvil

In general, creatures (i.e., you and mobs), liquids, and semi-solids (e.g., gravel, sand) are impacted by gravity (i.e., the physics switch is turned on). Non-living solids (e.g., dirt, stone) are not. However, two strange exceptions to this rule seem to exist: soul sand, and anvils.

Soul sand is sand for all other purposes: sound effects, time to mine, etc. But it defies gravity. And one has to ask why?

Anvils are, arguably, the most solid of solid objects. Yet this one solid object, in all of Minecraft, is impacted by gravity. Heck, even iron blocks can float in mid-air. Why not anvils?

Slabs, Walls, Fences, Gates, and Doors

  • Slabs are half of a block. When placed, they occupy one-half of a block zone: upper or lower. For some purposes, slabs are a half-block (e.g., movement); for other purposes, slabs are a whole-block (e.g., water, lava, etc.).
  • Walls, fences, and gates also occupy one-half of a block-zone; strangely, these items occupy the mid-half (leaving a quarter block on either side) orienting themselves either North-South or East-West within their block. These items are whole block for all other purposes.
  • Doors (which have the same basic function as gates) occupy one-half of a block-zone; uniquely, these objects will occupy the North, South, East, or West half of the block. Doors are whole blocks for all other purposes.

Slabs were not an original part of the game. Best I can tell, they were added as a way to make shallow stair cases (i.e., normal stairs elevate at a 45º angle, slabs allow for half this rate). Their introduction, however, along with the other two classes of half-block items, begs the question: why is vertical not treated the same as horizontal?

The problem here is simple: Once you have slabs and doors working the way they do, the concept of a block being made up of eight individual zones is raised (2×2×2). One you walk down this road, the mid-block locations of the walls and gates begs the idea that the block is either 27 individual zones (3×3×3) or 64 individual zones (4×4×4).

This is just madness! After all, if the block is 8, 27, or 64 zones... when why is the block not broken into 8, 27, or 64 smaller blocks, our hero (Steve?) 2×, 3×, or 4× taller than he is now?

As I said: madness.

The solution to this is to shift the thinking of these oddball constructs.

Slabs, should go away. If they are to stay, they should be made be occupy the mid-half like walls and gates. Some logic for how they butt up against one another may need to be included (similar to how stairs butt against one another). Walls, fences, and gates stay as they are. Doors should be made to be placed in the same way gates are placed: again, in the center half of the block.

#9: Trees and Fruit

The game has many new trees since the earliest days of Minecraft; but fruit still comes from trees that make no sense (e.g., apples come from oak trees). I would like to see several fruit bearing trees be added to the game and see the fruits come from those trees:

  • Apples from Apple Trees
  • Bananas from Banana Trees
  • Oranges from Orange Trees
  • Peaches from Peach Trees
  • etc.

In addition, I would like to see wooded areas become a bit more self-sustaining. This is what I mean:

Currently, when a leaf block is mined or de-spawns, there is a chance that a sapling will form. This is great. What I would like to see, however, is for a non-zero chance that when the sapling de-spawns, that it will instead plant itself right where it sits (say... 1:200 chance).

Gold (ore, ingot, and nugget); Diamond (ore and gem); Emerald (ore and gem)

Gold (ore, ingot, and nugget); Diamond (ore and gem); Emerald (ore and gem)

#8. Gold, Diamond, Emerald

Gold is a soft metal. It is precious to us because it is rare and because it is a soft metal making it ideal for use in jewelry and other fine-arts. Tools, weapons, and armor made from gold would be next to useless. Yet gold is used to make powerful, non-durable tools, armor, and other items in Minecraft.

Diamonds are a hard gemstone. They are the hardest of all known materials; but they are crystalline in structure making them a bad material for large, non-round objects. They become brittle. Despite this, diamonds are used to make the most powerful and most durable tools, armor, and other items in Minecraft.

Minecraft has no money, per se. Villagers, when encountered, use a system of barter that treats emeralds (a gemstone in the game more rare than diamond) as the baseline monetary unit, which can result in some rather ridiculous pricing, based on emerald rarity.

Believe it or not, there is a simple solution to all of these issues!

Gold and Diamonds are not Construction Materials

Gold needs to stop being a crafting material for tools, weapons, and armor. It needs to start being the baseline monetary unit (gold nuggets; see #6 below).

Diamonds need to stop being a crafting material for tools, weapons, and armor. They need to be among the materials used in enchantment (see #5 below).

Emeralds need to stop being used as money. They should be replaced with gold nuggets in that role, and they should be among the materials used in enchantment (see #5 below).

#7. Experience and Levels

Note: the way enchantment works was changed rather drastically in release 1.8. As a result, much of what I originally wrote about how the experience system interacts with the enchanting system no longer applies. Thus, heavy changes have been made to this section.

Experience for doing things in the game result in the advancement of a character in levels. Those levels are used in the enchantment process. The number of experience points needed to advance in level is relatively constant until you exceed level 15. For levels 15-29, the number of experience points needed to advance grows relatively slowly; for levels 30+ it grows more quickly. The formula for experience is one of those things that make you want to pull your hair out. The actual computer code for determining the experience needed to advance is shown below. This code results in a chart also shown below.

There is an easier way. Change the system so that advancement works like this:

  1. 20 experience points are needed to advance to any level.
  2. Gaining experience is not automatic.

Experience is represented by floating, glowing orbs that appear when an event that earns experience takes place (e.g., mine some coal, kill a zombie, breed a pig). They continue to float about for a while, waiting to be claimed. This is one of the coolest and most interesting visuals that take place in the game. As each one is claimed (by walking close enough to grab it) the claiming player gains one experience point.

What I mean by not being automatic is this: change things such that the claiming player still absorbs the orb, but the one experience point gained is not automatic. The chances are 1:1 for level 0 and level 1 characters, but the odds go down as you rise in level. At level 2, the odds are 1:2; at level 3 the odds are 1:3; and so on. The character will naturally slow down in advancement as they rise in level.

XP Needed Code (Current Rules)

int expCost(int currentLevel) {
  if (currentLevel>=30) {
    return 62+(currentLevel-30)*7;
  } else if (currentLevel>=15) {
    return 17+(currentLevel-15)*3;
  } else {
    return 17;
  }
}

XP Needed by Level (Current Rules)

LevelXP

<17

17

17

20

18

23

19

26

20

29

25

44

30

59

35

90

40

125

#6. Minerals and Alloys, Tools and Armor

If item #8 above were to be used, it would remove gold and diamonds as materials to be used in the making of tools, weapons, and armor. To flesh out the game, I suggest adding copper and tin as materials that can be mined.

The current rules for Minecraft have a tiered system describing the durability of material used to make tools. The materials are ranked as:

Gold → Wood → Cobblestone → Iron → Diamond

The effectiveness of gold as a tool is typically 50% better than diamond — if gold can be used. For example:

  • a pick axe made of diamond can mine Obsidian Block; a pick axe made of gold is no more effective at this task than mining it bare handed.
  • a pick axe made of diamond takes nearly one second to mine a Monster Spawner; a pick axe made of gold can do that task in just over half the time.

The durability and effectiveness of material used to make armor is ranked as:

Leather → Gold → [chain] → Iron → Diamond

The chain armor is a bit of an anomaly. If you add in copper and tin as materials, some other things need to be taken into account.

The durability and effectiveness of materials for tools would become:

Tin → Wood → Cobblestone → Copper → Iron → Bronze → Steel

The durability and effectiveness of materials for armor would become:

Tin → Cloth → Leather → Copper → [chain] → Iron → Bronze → Steel

Notes:

  • Iron: to make room for these other materials, iron will need to be a bit more rare that it is now. Iron ore should be available in layers 1-45; about 1% of all blocks in that range should be iron ore. A typical vein should be 2×2×2.
  • Tin: should be a very rare material. Tin ore should be available in layers 16-60; about ½% of all blocks in that range should be tin ore. A typical vein should be 2×2×2.
  • Copper: copper becomes the baseline 'iron rarity' material. Copper should be available in layers 1-60; about 2% of all blocks in that range should be copper ore.
  • Bronze: Bronze is an alloy of tin and copper. The alloy would be made on a crafting table with eight Copper Ingots surrounding a Tin Ingot which would make a Bronze Brick. The Bronze Brick would then be heated in a furnace to make a Bronze Ingot. A Bronze Ingot could then be used to make tools and armor.
  • Steel: Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. For simplicity, the same methods for making Bronze would be used to make Steel. The alloy would be made on a crafting table with eight Iron Ingots surrounding a Tin Ingot which would make a Steel Brick. The Steel Brick would then be heated in a furnace to make a Steel Ingot. A Steel Ingot could then be used to make tools and armor.

#5. Enchantment and Gems

Note: the way enchantment works was changed rather drastically in release 1.8. As a result, much of what I originally wrote about how the enchantment system works no longer applies. Thus, heavy changes have been made to this section.

Enchantment in Minecraft is a quasi-optional set of rules using an Enchantment Table (made from 4× obsidian, 2× diamond, 1× book) and spending lapis lazuli and experience levels to imbue items with additional powers and/or abilities. I feel that more than just lapis lazuli should be required.

Currently, the base (un-modded) game has very few gemstones: diamond, emerald. For my thoughts on this system to be implemented, we need more. In fact the game would need four different gems at a minimum (possibly six or more). Each should be equally rare. Once these are added to the game, the crafting of an enchantment table should require one of each gem, one book (or bookshelf), and enough obsidian to complete the standard 3×3 grid. Now let's look at how we use an enchanting table...

The enchanting table would have a box for the item to be enchanted (tool, weapon, or armor); it would have a section to add the lapis lazuli (just as it does now). However, I would add another box for the gemstone.

The number of lapis lazuli put into the table, along with the current experience level of the enchanter, would set the possible experience level expenditure just as it does now. However, the gemstone used would determine the sorts of enchantments that are available.

Gemstones would be keyed to the traditional fantasy elements:

  • Air — Diamond
  • Earth — Emerald
  • Fire — Ruby
  • Water — Sapphire

Other concepts could be included as well:

  • Death — Onyx
  • Life — Opal

This means that if you want to enchant armor with...

  • Fire Protection? You need a ruby.
  • Respiration? You need a diamond.
  • Protection? You need an emerald.
  • Aqua Affinity? You need a sapphire.
  • Death Aura? You need an onyx.
  • Regeneration? You need an opal.

If you want to enchant a weapon with...

  • Fire Aspect? You need a ruby.
  • Silk Touch? You need a diamond.
  • Unbreaking? You need an emerald.
  • Efficiency? You need a sapphire.
  • Vampiric abilities? You need an onyx.
  • Smite? You need an opal.

#4. Universal Recipes

Stairs can be constructed from clay brick, cobblestone, quartz, sandstone, stone brick, and wood planks. They cannot be constructed from clay, coal, dirt, hardened clay, iron, sand, snow, or stone. Why?

Walls can be constructed from cobblestone. They cannot be constructed from clay, clay brick, coal, dirt, hardened clay, iron, quartz, sand, sandstone, snow, stone, stone brick, or wood planks. Although to be fair, sticks can be used to make fences, which are similar. Still, why?

There are many, many other examples. It is my belief that the recipes in the game — especially those recipes that involve only one form of material — should be universal.

If I have a block of any material, and the recipe calls for a number of blocks arranged in a particular way, then I should be able to use any and all blocks of material to make that structure.

#3. Universal Dye

Dyes are a great tool for customizing various forms of block and item: leather, wool, glass, hardened clay...

This is some fun stuff. But dye is limited in many ways to what it can and cannot be used to alter the color of. This should be changed to allow dye to color everything in the game.

Do you want yellow-dyed oak planks?

How about green-dyed cobblestone?

Red-dyed iron ingots?

Go for it! After all, dyes in Minecraft are so potent that when you dye the wool on a living sheep, it changes the genetics of that sheep to always produce offspring with that same color of wool. It is time to make dyes universal.

#2. Redstone Requirements

There are a bunch of items that tend to interact with redstone instructions that, in my opinion, should not unless Redstone Dust was incorporated into the recipe for the item.

Some examples:

  • Switches: the recipe for switches (e.g., lever, button, pressure plate, tripwire hook) should include Redstone Dust in their recipes.
  • Doors, Gates: by default, these items should not react to redstone-instructions. Making a new door with one Door and one Redstone Dust, for example, should result in a door that will respond to redstone instructions.

#1. World Creation and Control

There are some powerful options that can be turned on and off, adjusted, and so on within the game. I feel a lot more controls need to be added.

  • I think the creation of a world should allow for turning on/off or establishing the relative rarity of mobs. If I want a world with more Zombies but no Creepers, I think this should be an option.
  • I think that the mobs themselves should be able to be modified such that a Zombie can be made to deal more or less damage, be made to be able to take more or less damage, and so on.
  • The length of the day/night cycle should be able to be adjusted.
  • The relative rarity of ores and drops should be able to be adjusted.
  • And so on...

Do You Agree?

Comments

Kai on January 14, 2017:

This would make minecraft more difficult and confusing. Sure, I agree that shears don't really make sense when mining/destroying leaves but making the armour and materials different, you will be adding a unnecessary added level of complexity and the combat system will need to be redone.

Aslan on January 10, 2015:

Your post is a timely coiruibttnon to the debate

Jory on January 02, 2015:

Arleitcs like this are an example of quick, helpful answers.

Ricky on January 02, 2015:

These topics are so conifsung but this helped me get the job done.