Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ryan Holtz fixes old chunk loading bug in Minecraft

Today Ryan Holtz tweeted:

This bug has been around for almost two years, arriving with version 1.3 released in August, 2012. Everyone has encountered this bug and it can been seen in numerous Let's Plays on YouTube and Twitch.

Here's a screenshot I took on August 24, 2012:

Screenshot of chunk stripe loading bug

The above screenshot is a classic example of the way the bug manifests as a stripe of missing chunks across your direction of travel. If you stop to wait you can watch chunks continuing to load in the distance despite the yawning void at your feet. Eventually these close chunks load allowing you to proceed, although at times it's more expedient to drop to the main screen and re-enter the world. As an alternative to reloading, hitting Escape to pause the game can help by accelerating the chunk loading since normal processing of game ticks is paused.

In addition to revealing abandoned mineshafts, strongholds, and other underground features this bug is a real immersion breaker.

Because of the high visibility of this bug both in-game and on so many Minecraft videos I've felt it was a real embarrassment that Mojang allowed it to persist so long. Minecraft players everywhere will rejoice when the patch containing this fix is released, as evidenced by this thread which for awhile occupied the top spot on Reddit's r/Minecraft/.

Kudos to Ryan Holtz for fixing a longstanding annoyance that affected all players of Minecraft!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Minecraft's EULA gets less hazy

The latest ruckus involving Minecraft modders was resolved yesterday when Mojang developer Grum had a dialog on reddit with EnDeLe, who posts on MCF under the name EnzerDeLeo. In the course of this exchange it was discovered that Mojang's Marc Watson responded incorrectly to a question that EnDeLe asked him last month via Twitter.

The question that EnDeLe asked was whether the section of the EULA titled 'Content' referred to mods. Marc answered incorrectly that it did.

As we found out from Grum, to Mojang content means what players create while in-game moving blocks around. The EULA says "…you must also let us permit other people to use, copy, modify and adapt your content" because anything a player builds gets downloaded by the server onto other player's computers, and of course anyone playing on that server can modify anything.

The 'Content' section of Minecraft's EULA is four paragraphs and does not cover mods.

In contrast, mods only get a couple of mentions:

First in the section Using Our Game:
If you've bought the Game, you may play around with it and modify it. We'd appreciate it if you didn't use this for griefing, though, and remember not to distribute the changed versions of our software. Basically, mods (or plugins, or tools) are cool (you can distribute those), hacked versions of the Game client or server are not (you can't distribute those).
And then in the section Ownership Of Our Game And Other Things:
Any tools you write for the Game from scratch belong to you. Modifications to the Game ("Mods") (including pre-run Mods and in-memory Mods) and plugins for the Game also belong to you and you can do whatever you want with them, as long as you don't sell them for money / try to make money from them. We have the final say on what constitutes a tool/mod/plugin and what doesn't.
There are still unresolved questions about how the EULA pertains to mods, but yesterday's conversation cleared up Mojang's earlier miscommunication.

EnDeLe has played a major role in clarifying questions regarding Mojang's EULA; the Marc Watson tweet I wrote about last month was in response to a question from him.

[Some material in the first paragraph was moved from the first update to yesterday's story at the request of EnDeLe.]

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A purge of Minecraft modders

I am not making this up.

The friction between modders and players has escalated into war. From a post on the Minecraft Forums:

The community seems to be losing sight of what I have started our path on. We are getting caught on petty things like open source or closed source, weather sub programs count as a mod, and EULA being unclear. These are not the issue we are facing.

The main issue is the toxicity of the modded community. It needs to be purged. Some modders are feeling over privileged due to their mod(s) taking off, leaving others of equal if not greater quality in their wake. They feel too entitled and have to be knocked from their high horse. For some of them, if they don't get their ego stroked regularly they throw a fit, and the scenario Neko outlined could become a real event. If that happened what would Mojang do? Go on, speculate.

We are going to lose some of our best mods. I am sure of this. Which ones is difficult to say, but their will be a loss. These loses should not be mourned like RedPower was, they should be celebrated! Every mod that steps down is a mod we don't have to fear. Same goes for the mods that leave us forever.

Our modded community has been labeled as one of the worst game community's out there. That is not because of a ton of bad modders, but because of a few. These rotten apples need to be expelled or cured before something happens that all of minecraft feels the repercussions.

And in another post:

We are going to lose mods, and in the short term this is going to hurt the modded community but in the long run, it will be better as new mods come out to replace the lost. We are losing some of the creative minds, but their ideas will always linger and eventually be replaced. It's going to take time, but make no mistake, the community will recover and be better off. [Emphasis in original]

A purge? Seriously? Modders quitting should be celebrated? This person comes off as a two-bit tyrant. Have they been going to dictator school? Who put them in charge?

The above was posted today by the user lukeb28 in the topic To Mod Creators: Copyrights and Malicious code which was started a few days ago by the same person. This is the topic that helped set into motion what has become the latest Minecraft modding ruckus as played out on the Feed the Beast forums, Reddit, and Twitter.

Unfortunately the purge has had some success as a number of modders have announced their departure from modding in the last couple of days.

The answer to fixing a toxic community is to lobby Mojang to address it, not to engage in a power struggle to purge the people you don't like.

Update [2]:

In Minecraft's EULA gets less hazy I describe the miscommunication from Mojang's Marc Watson that misled people on the EULA's terms for modding.

Thus it's much more understandable how lukeb28 could wander so far off into fantasyland regarding Mojang's mod policy. He was misinformed.

This doesn't excuse anyone who supported the idea of purging modders from the community, however.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Minecraft has sold 13 million copies on PC

Minecraft recently achieved another sales milestone:

This puts Minecraft in 4th place of Wikipedia's list of best-selling PC games, just behind World of Warcraft's 14 million. Note that the number for WoW is for box sales. It won't be long before Minecraft passes WoW to take 3rd place in PC sales.

To put Minecraft's and WoW's sales numbers in perspective let's look at what has taken place since October, 2010, when three things happened:
Minecraft sales didn't hit 1 million sold until January, 2011, after December's beta release.

In July, 2013 Blizzard revealed that the number of WoW subscribers had subsided to 7 million.

Since October, 2010, WoW has lost 5 million subscribers while Minecraft has sold 12 million copies.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Minecraft books are now a thing—about 500 of them!

Back in the days of bookstores you used to be able to tell what was hot in technology by looking at the shelves in the relevant section of the store. The current trend or fad would have dozens of associated titles filling the shelves, to the point that it became difficult to choose one.

Even though there aren't as many bricks and mortar bookstores as there used to be, the publishing industry still reacts to trends.

The trend being written about now is Minecraft.

Naturally there are the first-order books about Minecraft itself, or biographies of Notch or Mojang. Some examples:

Friday, December 20, 2013

Don't put harmful code in your Minecraft mod

It's a fairly rare occasion when Mojang addresses modder conduct in Minecraft, but it has once more:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A long time ago in a big MMO

Once upon a time back in March, 2005 I subscribed to World of Warcraft and started questing. This was in the days of patch 1.3 before things like battlegrounds, fishing contests, and the Darkmoon Faire existed. Molten Core was the endgame instance and Diremaul was brand new. WoW was a little more than four months old at that point, so it was still early days.

Although I'd been a gamer for many years, WoW was my first MMO. As I approached level 20 I began to think about joining a guild so as to better experience the multiplayer stuff. I don't recall how I was recruited but I ended up a member of a large levelling guild on my server. It accepted anyone and everyone and most members were well below 60, the maximum level at the time.

The guild was very disorganized and although a couple of people could invite new recruits there were few officers online. As I began talking to other members I was surprised to find out that our GL (Guild Leader) was an absentee—although he was actually online and playing a lot, he was using another character which was a member in another guild.

Within a few days most of the guild members realised that the absentee GL was not only hurting the guild, but our experience of WoW. Because of his irresponsibility we weren't getting the full benefit of our subscription fee to WoW. Something had to be done.

Someone approached the GL about the situation. He offered to sell the guild to us for a rather large sum of gold. He was firm that a buyout was the only option.

Because the price of the buyout was far greater than the cost of incorporating a new guild (and tabard fee), we found his offer repugnant. In addition, we couldn't afford his high price.

However we could easily afford the fee of 10 silver to start a new guild. And so there was a massive mutiny where the majority of members quit the old guild and joined the new one. Back then you needed ten people to sign a guild charter, which we had, and soon the new guild was formed.

People really wanted a tabard and made getting it a priority. Choosing a tabard design in WoW costs 10 gold. It's hard to believe now with all the inflation in WoW, but back then raising 10 gold was a huge hurdle for us as we had only one or two level 60s. Many of us were below level 30 and were a long way from even getting our first mounts. (You got your first mount at level 40 back then, and mount costs were so significant that players often opted to play as Warlocks or Paladins due to receiving "free" mounts from quests rather than gold.) But we managed to scrimp together the 10 gold and were proudly wearing our new colors within a few hours after we formed the guild.

But this isn't a story about our new guild. This story is about the GL of the old guild.

You see, we found something out about the old guild's GL that influenced our decision to leave.

We knew that the old guild's GL was irresponsible in abandoning the first guild to play on another character in another guild. What we discovered was that the main reason for his behavior was that he was twelve years old.

Back then WoW was the hot new game that gamers of all ages were eager to play. Even though a subscription required a credit card, WoW still managed to have a fair number of younger players.

This isn't the case today. Even though 60 day pre-paid time cards can be purchased for cash in stores, nowadays you aren't as likely to run into a twelve year old when playing WoW or any other MMO.

It's not because of the changes that have been made to WoW over the years, or anything about WoW or any of the other MMOs.

There's one reason you don't see as many kids in MMOs these days:

They're all playing Minecraft.