Meet the Blaze
Toast the Nether’s unrepentant arsonist
Alchemy addicts and experience farmers are among the few who might have good things to say about the blaze, a ferocious, flaming mob that spawns in the formidable Nether Fortresses. There they patrol, to unknown purpose, aggressively flambéing any and all adventurers who enter their domain. Those looking to ransack the fortress for its valuable loot chests will find them an incredible nuisance: get up close and they’ll likely combust and give you a good grilling. But at range they can create even more deadly chaos: sputtering out fireballs from their swirling morass that set both player and all the surrounding netherrack alight.
A snowball’s chance in hell may be, in this case, your best chance: canny heroes might try to stun the lava-loving beast with a freezing flurry of projectiles, dashing in to land a fatal sword blow before the thing ignites once more.
The prize for surviving such a dangerous encounter is quite an enticement, however: not only do blazes drop a load of XP, but they also have a chance of leaving you a blaze rod - an important crating and alchemical ingredient. Originally you only needed the blaze rod to create a brewing stand, but the devs felt it was important that each of these crafting processes consumed a resource, too: so blaze rods now need to be broken down into blaze powder to fuel the brewing stand, too.
Blaze powder is a handy ingredient in itself, and, along with an ender pearl, essential for crafting an eye of ender - the magical item you use to find and activate end portals!
Another reason for the addition of fuel was that Searge wanted to put a complete brewing stand in the secret chamber beneath igloos - for thematic reasons. If you didn’t need blaze powder to use it, you could start brewing without a trip to the Nether, throwing the game’s entire progression structure out of whack! That would have been a big no-no.
The reason blazes look like they do is that all the mobs are stuck to cuboid shapes, so I couldn’t make something more flame-like, but I wanted them to look magical, rather than them having arms and legs.
In the end, it’s kind of simple, just a few rods rotating this blocky core - but in order to have the mobs have some sort of personality you need to make sure you can see their eyes. The first couple of versions didn’t have eyes - and it made them very uninteresting, in my opinion. Jens Bergensten