As Minecraft’s The Wild Update arrives, Mojang reflects on the “scary” decision to delay the Deep Dark biome until today

As Minecraft’s The Wild Update arrives, Mojang reflects on the “scary” decision to delay the Deep Dark biome until today

Minecraft’s long-awaited The Wild Update arrives today, finally adding the game’s intriguing Deep Dark biome – a new world slab for you to explore, beneath the previously permanent game foundation. It adds new enemies, fancy new building blocks, and some strange new structures, left behind by previous explorers. It’s something fans have wanted to delve into for some time.

Mojang originally announced Deep Dark nearly two years ago, on Minecraft Live in 2020. At the time, the biome was set to be part of the game’s Caves and Cliffs 2021 update (an offering that was further reshuffled after Caves and Cliffs split in two). So why the delay? What has been happening with Minecraft in the meantime? And what’s going on with that Jason Momoa Minecraft movie? I sat down with Minecraft Game Director Agnes Larsson and Game Developer Ulraf Vakninthe to find out more.

“For a while we felt like ‘this is a risk, but we could do it,'” Larsson told me, of Deep Dark’s original planned release date. But then when we realized [we had to delay], we try to make the decision very quickly because we would risk putting a lot of stress on the people in the team. And we also communicated about it very quickly because we wanted to be as transparent as possible about such an important decision.

Details of The Wild update, from Minecraft Live 2021.

“It’s scary to make decisions like that, even if it was for a good reason, but I think it turned out well. The community was very understanding and loving, for which we are very grateful. Minecraft is developed together with the community, but then it is important that Let’s be as transparent as we can.”

Choosing which parts of the update to release and which needed more time, like Deep Dark, was “actually pretty easy,” Larsson continued, as it was clear what was ready to release at that point and which bits, again, like Deep Dark: it risked impacting game performance or breaking players’ existing worlds.

When Larsson and his team decided a delay was necessary, they went to the other Mojang teams and quickly agreed that fans needed to be informed as soon as possible. The announcement, made by Larsson in a video update for fans, was ultimately well received.

Mojang announces a delay in some functions in Caves and Cliffs, in April 2021

“When we shoot videos, or at least for me, I don’t like to have scripts,” Larsson said, recalling the video being made. “We know roughly what we want to say, but it’s better to just say how… how you feel, or what happened. That’s good, because then it’s honest. It’s better to just explain it, like explaining it to a friend or the team.” .

“Recently I have been writing guiding principles for the development of Minecraft, and added that Minecraft is community driven. An important part of that is this personal connection: we are human and we are also part of the community.”

Minecraft currently has 141 million monthly players, a staggering number that places it among the most played games in the world. And although it is still built by Mojang, the studio and the brand in general are owned by Microsoft. In a world where you can walk down the street and regularly see kids in Creeper t-shirts, backpacks, and lunch boxes, it seems incongruous that the game is still created by a team of hundreds.

Minecraft game developer Ulraf Vakninthe.

“Mojang runs a great game, but we’re not really on the scale of other AAAs,” Vakninthe explained, declining to give a firm number on exactly how many people build Minecraft these days. “And that’s very purposeful because our size can really help us maintain that magical feel of Minecraft, being close to the community, allowing us to work in a way that isn’t AAA.

“It’s not about increasing features. It’s about being very connected to a community, it’s about being very focused on quality and creating deep features that will live with this game for a long time. Sometimes I want to tell the community not to We’re this huge entity that they look at. We’re just a group of really passionate people who love this game so much and we just want to make it the best we can.”

The difficulty arises when Mojang wants to attend its annual Minecraft Live show and give players updates on what to expect next year, and it’s here that Larsson says the company has “definitely learned” from the Deep Dark delays.

“Sometimes you realize that something shouldn’t be done, that it wasn’t fun or that it doesn’t fit, and then you need to cut things. And that’s always hard,” Vakninthe added. “That’s making someone lose sleep over what you said.”

Archeology is another feature that was announced for last year’s Caves and Cliffs Update, but isn’t in the game yet. On this, Vakninthe promised that it was still in development and not cancelled, but had no further updates to share on when it might materialize.

The Deep Dark biome features the ruins of an ancient civilization… but what could it all mean?

For now, The Wild Update adds mangroves, mud blocks, the helpful new flying creature Allay, and that Deep Dark biome to explore. In it, players will find even more structures left behind by some kind of earlier civilization, and potentially more clues to the nature of the world of Minecraft.

“With the deep darkness we definitely want to deepen the mystery,” Larsson joked.

“Deepen and darken the mystery!” Vakninthe added.

So is there a Minecraft story that Mojang hopes players will discover? “We can’t…we won’t answer that,” Larsson continued, laughing. “We hope that players will have a lot of ideas: what was this for? What used to be this? It’s good that you ask these questions.”

Minecraft game director Agnes Larsson.

“The story is the player’s story, and that means we don’t want to give concrete answers about the world’s story, because then the story that you came up with in your world is suddenly wrong, right?” Vakninthe explained. “Which is not true.

“So what we try to do is give a lot of mystery pieces or interesting things, for example, what are the Allays? Why are they in cages? How did they get there? And every time I get asked this question, my answer is, ‘what do you think?’ We want you to be happy with your own stories and not feel like you need to find the right answer.”

So what about the next Minecraft movie, or even Minecraft Dungeons, which tells a story set in the same Minecraft universe? Jason Momoa has reportedly been tapped to star in the next Minecraft movie in some capacity.

“I think it’s fair to say that other projects are different,” Vakninthe concluded. “Vanilla [Minecraft] it has its own identity and approach to tradition. Dungeons is still in the same universe, but it can be a game with quests. And the movie could have its own story. We’re working hard to make sure they all work well in the same universe, but it’s okay if they feel a little different, right? They are there for different experiences.”

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