One of the biggest cheers at this year's Minecon came from the announcement of version 1.5, which--as Mojang studio lead Jens Bergensten revealed--is called The Redstone Update. It marks the start of a set of new, more focused updates from the Minecraft team that centre around a single new feature, or theme. And, in more good news for fans, the team is planning to release those updates every two months.
The Redstone update isn't the best start for Mojang's new release schedule, though. Originally planned for a holiday launch, keen crafters will now have to wait until January to get their hands on it. At least there's plenty to look forward too--if you're a keen user of redstone at least. It aims to make the ore--which is used to create many of the wonderful mechanical contraptions in the game--more predictable and consistent.
It's doing so by changing the way redstone behaves. The plan is to give it a variable signal strength--something Mojang calls " analogue", and add a new capacitor block. The new block will work similarly to a repeater, with one input and one output, but it will only produce full output when its input level is high enough. Capacitors can be configured by players to decide exactly how much input is required to push an output.
As for its use, Bergensten gave the example of making weighted pressure plates that change their output signal strength depending on pressure, and detector rails that have a stronger output when a minecart is filled. That signal could then be forwarded to a capacitor block, which would activate when the cart was filled, opening up all kinds of possibilities for automated rail and loading systems.
The minecarts themselves will see improvements too. Bergensten cited mods that use pipes to transport items around, claiming that minecarts "could be so much better". Some of the planned improvements include special track to unload freeloaders like pigs, new systems for filling and emptying chests, and the ability to link carts together so a furnace cart could pull along a chest.
Other planned improvements include a daylight detector (which could be used in conjunction with a capacitor to make a type of solar panel), fireworks for New Years Eve, and a new Nether-based ore that capacitors will be made from. Several bugs will be stamped out too, including the south/east rule. That means the timing of some complex designs will be affected, and those that rely on the block update design glitch may not work at all.
In typical Mojang style, Bergensten was happy to speculate on the future of Minecraft. Some of the possible improvements include a new, beautiful dimension that appears after killing the end boss; bags for saddled pigs; a new combat system; updates to the snow biome; a new, a faster client for better performance on newer systems; and fixes to the lighting bugs around trees.
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