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Mojang's Minecraft 1.8 world generator heralds "the return of floating islands"

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Mojang's Minecraft 1.8 world generator heralds "the return of floating islands"

What’s your favourite depth base size? No? How about your preferred biome scale offset? So, the 16 sliders in Minecraft’s new terrain generator will be beyond most of our kens. But push them to their extremes and they’ll reliably produce some inspirationally strange landscapes. Watch Mojang silently play with the parameters below.

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Minecrafting 143: Snowy Textures

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Minecrafting 143: Snowy Textures

As promised last week, the name-changing patch is here. Minecraft 1.7.6 has been released, and it was swiftly followed by Minecraft 1.7.7 to fix some bugs. The aim of the patch is to prepare the world for the forthcoming ability for Minecraft users to change their names - a much-requested feature.

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Scrolls foretold: Mojang CCG to benefit from "snappier" tutorials, free demo version

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Scrolls foretold: Mojang CCG to benefit from "snappier" tutorials, free demo version

Mojang’s Scrolls has a future, and it’s not just on tablets. The upcoming port has grabbed headlines elsewhere, but here we like to focus on games that allows us to remain uncomfortably upright at our desks.

So: a less intimidating tutorial! A free demo! A weekly reward system! Attacks with more “oomph"! All this will help bring the Minecraft lot’s already rather popular CCG to a wider catchment of card-fancying humans.

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Mojang prep for one of Minecraft's "most requested features since birth": name changes

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Mojang prep for one of Minecraft's "most requested features since birth": name changes

One of the consequences of Minecraft’s folksy roots as a blocky prototype on TIGsource is that huge swathes of its infrastructure weren’t exactly built for, say, massively multiplayer persistent worlds.

One of those underperforming systems has been character names - which since the game’s inception have been tied to bannings. That meant that allowing name changes was tantamount to handing griefers diamond pickaxes and a complimentary bag of TNT.

Thankfully, Mojang have now just about finished a database rework that’ll soon let players switch identities without placing servers at risk.

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Minecrafting 142: Picking Your Pocket

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Minecrafting 142: Picking Your Pocket

We've got another snapshotless week. My spellcheck says that's not a word, but we all know that it is. The Mojang team are all working hard following GDC, but normal service should resume pretty soon - just be aware of any announcements coming out of Mojang in the next few days, as it's April Fool's season.

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Mojang's cancelled Minecraft for the Oculus Rift was free and "designed to promote VR"

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Mojang's cancelled Minecraft for the Oculus Rift was free and "designed to promote VR"

Amid currently unfounded concerns that Facebook mean to turn Oculus inside out or stockpile all future Rifts for Zuckerberg’s personal use, one clear, tangible downside to the acquisition is beginning to emerge: we’re not getting a free, officially supported version of Minecraft to forward the cause of magic goggles. And that’s a bit sad.

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Notch kills possible Oculus deal in light of impending Facebook acquisition

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Notch kills possible Oculus deal in light of impending Facebook acquisition

The immediate reaction to Facebook’s plans to buy Oculus VR have been hostile to say the least. Hilariously, my Facebook feed is filled with venom: Facebook users condemning Facebook, claiming that it’s ruined yet another thing they liked. And it was as I was chuckling at those comments that I noted Notch weighing in on the matter. I’m not laughing as much now. 

A big deal like this was bound to rub some developers the wrong way, and the first victim is an Oculus Rift version of Minecraft. Mojang and Oculus VR were in talks, and now they are not. 

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Minecrafting 141: Islamic Architecture

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Minecrafting 141: Islamic Architecture

No snapshot this week, because most of the people in the Minecraft team are at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. As such, there's not anything much going on in terms of official news, but that definitely doesn't mean there's nothing to talk about.

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Diamond dividends: Mojang's income more than doubled last year

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Diamond dividends: Mojang's income more than doubled last year

Mojang made 816 million ($128 million) Swedish kronor in 2013. That’s up from 326 million kronor the previous year.

It doesn’t quite match the figures of Candy Crush monarchs and former Notch employers King, who raked in $1.88 billion last year. But it’s worth remembering that King now employ 665 people, while Mojang is still a studio of 34 - promoting and updating a game now over five years old.

All 34 are now doing rather well for themselves.

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Minecrafting 140: Getting Derailed

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Minecrafting 140: Getting Derailed

Now that's what I call a snapshot! After weeks of bugfixes and mapmaking tweaks, Mojang has finally released something a little more fun. Snapshots 14w11a and b make big changes to the way that minecart physics works.

For starters, carts go much further and faster. Furnace minecarts now also give a huge boost to carts they hit and there's a much greater chance of minecarts derailing at high speeds, so watch what you're doing there. Improved collision and position handling is welcomed immensely too, though I'd love it if they bounced on slime blocks.

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Minecrafting 139: Sword In The Stone

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Minecrafting 139: Sword In The Stone

Groan. Snapshot 14w10a is another pile of bug fixes and mapmaking tweaks without anything exciting for survival players. "Don’t worry, we have some cool survival plans soon!" promises Dinnerbone. Among the fixes are an inconsistent door texture and an improper cake texture, phantom floating mobs and a problem that caused baby cows to suffocate. Aww.

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Minecraft snapshot 14w10a expunges poltergeists from spectator mode

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Minecraft snapshot 14w10a expunges poltergeists from spectator mode

Work at Mojang continues apace on rewrites of Minecraft’s inventory, block state concepting and block model formatting systems, all in the name of a robust plugin API. The fruits of that haven’t emerged yet, but the dev team have found time to squeeze off a few bugfixes - chiefly for the new spectator mode - and to get the game shipshape for player name changes.

“Don’t worry, we have some cool survival plans soon!", wrote Dinnerbone.

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Minecrafting 138: Learning Japanese

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Minecrafting 138: Learning Japanese

No snapshot this week, instead we get a full patch! Minecraft 1.7.5 has been released. It's a pretty small change, mainly focused around Minecraft Realms which those outside Sweden or who haven't attended Minecon haven't previously had access to. Those who do will now get a selection of minigames, described in the following YouTube clip.

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Block buster: Mojang "working with" Warner Bros on "potential" Minecraft movie

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Block buster: Mojang "working with" Warner Bros on "potential" Minecraft movie

I was in Tesco the other day. There, opposite the cookbooks, not so far from the grapes, hemmed in by sticker books, was the Minecraft Beginner’s Handbook. And it’s far too late to be surprised.

Minecraft is a cross-medium phenomenon, like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Lego. Those aren’t simply names pulled out of the pop cultural rift - they’ll be Minecraft’s stablemates if Mojang’s talks with Warner Bros yield fruit.

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Minecrafting 137: Space Battles

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Minecrafting 137: Space Battles

The snapshots over the last weeks have been a little dull, and today's is no exception. 14w08a has no survival features at all, beyond a slight tweak of the way health is displayed in the player list - it now displays as a row of hearts, and will only fall back to the textual display if there isn't enough room.

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