Java Developers talk Village and Pillage!
Behind the Blocks with Agnes, Nathan and Cory!
If you’re a regular, loyal reader of Minecraft.net (the kind of reader who re-reads every article we’ve ever written, each and every day) then you probably saw that earlier this week we released one of our biggest Java snapshots ever – the first snapshot to include features from our upcoming Village and Pillage update!
(If you’re not familiar, Snapshots are early builds that let you try upcoming features in Minecraft: Java Edition. Playing the Windows 10, Xbox One or Android version of Minecraft and want to try early features too? Click here to learn more about Minecraft betas!)
This new snapshot contains * takes deep breath * flowers! Suspicious stews! Pandas! Pllagers! Iillager Beasts! Crossbows! Dyes! LOADS of new blocks! Updated textures! Ex-Labour MP David Blunkett! Impressively, only the last of those features was a lie – the rest of them, along with so many more, were all included in the new snapshot!
“After 1.13, we finally didn't have a limit on the number of blocks in the game,” explains Nathan Adams, Lead Engineer on Minecraft: Java Edition. “Now that we have no limit, we've just gone crazy with adding everything we've ever wanted!”
“I love that we're releasing new blocks,” agrees Agnes Larsson, game developer. “It's so fun!”
Let's look at some of the new decorative blocks you'll find in this snapshot. Starting with the stairs:
OK, that's it for stairs, let's move onto – wait, there's more?
Yes, great job team – that's more than enough stairs for one snapsho-
Phew! And that isn't even close to all the decorative blocks the Java team have stuffed into this snapshot for your designing pleasure. A lot of these are also available as walls, normal blocks and more! You can finally build that dream Nether Brick cottage and retire, like we've always talked about.
But if you are going to build a brilliant fortress with these new blocks, you're going to want to be able to defend it, especially with The Illager Beast out there. That's the perfect opportunity to test out the new crossbow.
“The crossbow itself is the only new weapon,” explains Cory Scheviak, game developer "but it has three different enchantments that are unique to it . There’s the quick charge where you can pull it back more quickly depending on what level it’s at, the multi-shot where you can shoot three arrows at one time using only one arrow from your inventory and then piercing which can go through up to five mobs in one shot!”
Cory then laughed in a not-at-all-scary-way and said “it's pretty cool!” Yeah! The crossbow is pretty cool! If you replace the word 'pretty' with 'very' and the word 'cool' with 'terrifying'.
The crossbow is coming to Minecraft to make a new enemy more of a credible threat. I speak, of course, of the Pillager.
Cory explains that the team felt they couldn't update the villages without giving them a new challenge, which meant introducing this threat. “We had to add the Pillagers as a rival to the Villagers, and the Pillagers had to be intimidating in some way. So the crossbow is the weapon of choice of the Pillager.”
“Although... maybe not all of the Pillagers prefer to use their crossbows,” Cory adds. “Maybe some of them take more… pillage-y weapons...” Intriguing!
“The original design of the Illager Beast basically had a ballista on top,” Nathan tells me. “Which is a gigantic crossbow made for sieges. That just got shrunk down over time during development. Now it’s a handheld version!”
Let's move on to something less violent and beasty. Something like flowers! Yay, flowers! Colourful wonders of the natural world, spreading cheer and joy in the fields of Minecraft! Flowers would never hurt anyone, right Java team?
...Why are the Java team suddenly coughing, pulling their shirt collars and refusing to make eye contact with me?
My suspicions increase when they tell me the three new flowers in the latest snapshot: The Cornflower (hooray!), the Wither Rose (hey, wait a second...), and the Lily of the Valley (horrified scream).
“One of the flowers we added was the 'Lily of the Valley' which in real life is very poisonous,” admits Cory. “It’s a very pretty flower, but it’s very poisonous. So we wondered - how do we show the player that this is a poisonous flower?”
At this point in the interview, my stomach started rumbling so loudly I couldn't hear Cory anymore. But instead of complaining, the lovely Java devs poured me a bowl of Suspicious stew. Wow, thanks guys! I knew you liked me really! I slurp and munch it down while they tell me what it does in Minecraft.
The developers wanted to add dyes for every colour, so they decided to add more flowers which you could obtain those dyes from. “But for each of the flowers we added, we were like 'could we add a special use to this?'” explains Cory.
“Nathan and I came up with this idea for a “Suspicious Stew” where if you take a Mushroom Stew and you mix in a flower from the game, one of the small flowers, then it gets a mysterious, suspicious aura and gives a small potion effect with it.”
“When you craft it,” elaborates Cory, as I look nervously down at my empty bowl. “You know what flower you’re putting in, you know the effect and what will come out, but when you give it to someone, all they see is “Suspicious Stew” – so they don’t know what effect they’re going to get from it.”
What kind of effects are there? Asking for a friend.
“We don't want to mention that,” says Agnes. “But there are some good ones. And some bad ones. And some...”
“...Funny ones,” hints Cory.
“It was so fun to come up with effects!” says Agnes, as I start to sweat. “I mean, we tried to make them make sense with the flower, so...”
I think it's time to wrap-up the interview now.
This only scratches the surface of the secrets this snapshot contains. I haven’t revealed the different suspicious stew effects, or how the Wither Rose is obtained (those are best discovered for yourself).
And this is only the beginning! We’ve got tons of more features to share with you in the coming weeks. But why ‘Village and Pillage’? Why were villages the next place to focus on after The Update Aquatic?
“It was the next area that we wanted to improve,” explains Nathan.
“We felt like there was a lot missing from villages and villagers and there was a lot of cool ideas we had floating around. We decided to put them all together and see what could we do to make them look a bit more alive and smarter, like an actual place inside the world of Minecraft and not just something to invade and then leave rotting in the dirt!”
Don’t deny that that’s exactly what you do to villages when you play Minecraft. You know what you did.
Block block block...