A Recap of Minecraft Live 2021

Ava Kobos

Minecraft Live 2021 included information about part two of the Caves and Cliffs update, a mob vote, and a preview of next year’s Wild Update.

Minecraft, a 2009 sandbox game created by developers Markus Persson and Jens Bergensten, is one of the most well-loved games of all time. A staple game for many, Minecraft is constantly evolving gameplay and stays fresh and popular with its active community.

Minecraft inserts you into a randomly generated world where you can choose between two modes—survival or creative. In survival mode you have to worry about hunger, health, and the possibility of death. Creative mode allows you to fly and access all the blocks and objects in the game. More competitive players join online servers and play mini-games with other people. Even if you don’t like video games, Minecraft’s versatility and flexible gameplay guarantee there’s something for everybody. Minecraft does cost some money, but it’s available on most platforms.

Every year there’s a convention called Minecraft Live. The event is streamed online, so anyone with a device can attend. Minecraft Live is always packed with news about updates, new features, and interviews with game developers and content creators. There is also a community mob vote where players can vote for the next mob addition to the game on Twitter.

The most recent convention took place this year on October 16th. It lasted just over 2 hours but managed to pack in loads of information. Most importantly, the developers revealed the Wild Update—a big addition coming out next year.

One of the longest awaited updates, the Cave Update, is almost here. A cave update has been heavily requested by the Minecraft community. Many players agree the caves are boring and lack creativity. Cave mining is a key part of the game, so unique and fun caves are a necessary addition.

The Caves and Cliffs update introduces a more advanced world with better cave generation. The update was split into two parts because of how large it was. The first part, which came out earlier this year, included geodes, axolotls, telescopes, a few new blocks, retextured ores (making them easier to identify), and slightly altered cave generation. The second part (the bulk of the update) will include major changes to world generation and quality upgrades to terrain and caves. The wait hasn’t been too bad, and Mojang has been releasing small snapshots and frequent updates that allow players to be part of the beta testing. “We’ve been shipping snapshots [or] betas every week,” said developer and designer Henrik Kniberg. “People have been playtesting and giving us feedback.” The update was big, but the beta testing and feedback from players sped up the process greatly. This process was also unique from previous updates. “It’s just been wonderful. It feels kind of like [the players] are colleagues helping us build this great game,” explained Kniberg. Minecraft’s game developer, Agnes Larsson, agreed—“This is the biggest update we’ve ever done, and we couldn’t have done it without the community.”

Another big part of Caves and Cliffs was ensuring that no players’ worlds would be damaged with the update. “It’s very important for us to be respectful to players’ worlds, and Minecraft should be a game you can trust… Then you can spend all this love and time on your Minecraft World,” said Larsson. The world terrain team had to figure out a way to meld old worlds with the new update. Each world is comprised of chunks, or 16×16 block cubes, that can’t be altered by new updates if the player had already loaded them. During the convention, the developers explained how blending between the old world and the new update will be implemented into the game. Blending will smooth out old chunks with new chunks, making the transition to the new terrain seamless. Caves will be able to spawn below y = 0 (sea level) in the new update, so the new caves will be blended with the old ones. “The idea is to create the illusion that that was there the whole time, we just didn’t go there until now,” said Kniberg.

Next came the mob vote. Every year the development team creates three prospective mobs for players to vote on, and the winner is added in the upcoming update. Phantoms and Glow Squids are two recent additions, but both of them are controversial. Phantoms attack your player as a penalty for not sleeping for three days but are considered to be more of a nuisance than an actual threat. Many players dislike the Glow Squid claiming that Dream, the Minecraft Youtuber, swayed the vote on Twitter.

However, the proposed mobs for Caves and Cliffs part 2 (Glare, Allay, and Copper Golem) were liked more than Phantoms and Glow Squids. The Glare will fly around and sense spots where the light level is low enough for mobs to spawn, indicating to the player where they might need to light areas more. The Copper Golem, the fan-favorite of the bunch, will interact with the player and push copper buttons (which would be added into the game with the golem). The Copper Golem is created by the player, and as it’s made out of copper—one of the new blocks and ores in the update that will oxidize over time. The final mob, the Allay, can be given items to find and bring to the player. The Allay was also this year’s winner, meaning it will be added to the game next year with the release of the next update.

The next update will be called the Wild Update. “The world wild mainly means two things for us. So the first thing is like beautiful nature, and the second thing is really scary challenges and adventures,” explained Larsson. One of the main focuses of the update is on swamp biomes, which haven’t had as much love as all the others. Renewable mud blocks, fireflies, tadpoles, and frogs will be added to the new gameplay. Mangrove trees and propagules will be added to the game as well and will become the first trees able to be planted underwater. The mangroves will also inspire a new biome called the Mangrove Swamp. “It’s just mangroves as far as the eye can see,” said Cory Scheviak, a game developer. “You’re just completely surrounded by the awesome beauty of it.”

The other part of the Wild Update will drastically differ from the updated swamps. It will include new additions to the caves such as underground, ruined cities called the Deep Dark. These cities will include powerful loot but will be difficult to navigate. New ‘machines’ called Skulk Catalysts use the XP dropped by monsters to spread the skulk. Sculk Shriekers will shriek when the player makes too much noise and plunge the already dark cities into further darkness. If the player activates these shriekers too many times, a new mini-boss, the Warden, will come out and hunt down the player while the lights in the city flash on and off. The Warden does quite a deal of damage on its first hit, making it a big threat to survival players. “I love that we’re adding that sneaking gameplay,” Larsson said, referring to a control that makes your player walk slowly—something that will be important when exploring the Sculk cities. “We haven’t really had that before. So you’re in the Deep Dark sneaking, trying to find treasures, and avoiding the Warden… Minecraft is all about player stories, and Deep Dark definitely inspires storytelling, I think.”

This October’s Minecraft Live was one of the most informative Minecraft conventions yet. The developers at Mojang gave us many things to look forward to, such as part two of Caves and Cliffs and the Wild Update. Part two of Caves and Cliffs will be released sometime in December, so get ready to explore the entire game all over again.

Image credit: https://minecraft.fandom.com/wiki/Lush_Caves

Sources: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6zLprHHZOk