With the impending release of Minecraft 1.11, the Lord of the Rings mod is set to be four major updates behind the official version of Minecraft. This is four updates of performance improvements, gameplay mechanics, new items, entities, and blocks, and many, many developments to the options offered by commands and command blocks. Given the sheer volume of improvements added, it seems prudent to reopen the discussion on updating. Whether you are a casual gamer venturing into the depths of the Middle Earth’s expanses, or a map-maker carefully crafting a recreation of the Fall of Gondolin, or you are involved in the development of the mod, an update to the most recent version of Minecraft has huge potential, and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Because examining every addition and improvement that Minecraft has made would make for far too long of a post, the most important ones will be discussed.
But first, to tackle the elephant in the room: is the amount of work required to update the mod too large to justify an update? While updating to a single new Minecraft version is tedious, the problem has been compounded by letting multiple new versions pass by. However, there is a silver lining: major updates provide the perfect opportunity for major renovations and improvements to one’s code. Whether it is streamlining the inheritance structure of your classes, adding new control classes to shift responsibility for complex algorithms away from old classes, or adding coupling modules between your code and Minecraft’s, rewriting code allows for easier updates in the future and makes adding new content simpler. This isn’t to say that an update will be easy; it will certainly not be, but it could pave the way for easier coding in the future. A possible way to ease the transition would be for Mevans to induct new coders into his crew. Given the popularity of this mod, it seems likely that there are players who would jump at the chance to help out, even with limited editing privileges. Is an update too much work? Ultimately this is a decision for Mevans, but a civilized and in-depth discussion on the matter seems to be in order.
And now on to lighter matters: performance increases. Minecraft update 1.8 added multithreaded support to numerous processes. Different dimensions are run on separate threads (this should prevent lag in Middle Earth if someone visits Utumno), mob pathfinding, chunk rendering, and chunk rebuilding have all been given multithreaded support. These improvements, along with faster ore generation and improved rendering techniques will address the major issues of lag in Middle Earth: exploring new chunks and large amounts of NPCs. Minecraft update 1.9 adds even more performance enhancers. Memory usage in multiplayer has been optimized. Mob AI (again, this is a big one for Middle Earth) and block ticking have been improved as well. Chunk generation/loading and sending chunks from server to client have all been improved. Particles are no longer considered entities. The new implementation is far more memory efficient. Riding entities are handled by the client machines as opposed to the server. This makes riding smoother in multiplayer.
Not only can you appreciate the beauty of Middle Earth with less lag, but these updates also add significant changes to gameplay mechanics. Minecraft 1.9 adds a second hand slot, allowing for shields to be functional rather than solely decorative and adds the option to switch between different kinds of arrows. Combined with the weapon cooldown on swing (rather than on hit), this makes combat far more in depth than the simple click-fest that it is. While the weapon cooldown has been backported in part, the shield mechanics have been dismissed as not being feasible. Updating would allow for this integral part in combat, as well as the other bonuses that the extra hand slot adds (dual wielding torches and picks). Plus, Mevans could allow mod items to be used in the off-hand. Imagine dual-wielding a spear and sword of command, or a battle axe and horn. Dual-wielding mechanics add so many possibilities to mod items that already expand on the options that players have available.
Minecraft 1.10 introduced a structure block that is being used in 1.11 to allow Mojang to create large spawnable structures. This same principle could be applied to the mod, easing the task of creating new structures for factions. These blocks could also let moderators spawn their own structures more easily, or help with transferring structures during a server reset, as structure blueprints are stored apart from the world files. This would be a significantly better approach to server resets than saving chunks to be added to the new world.
So what is the point of this post? It is not to whine about how Mevans hasn’t updated, nor is it about everything that we are missing out on in the later Minecraft versions. The point is to open a discussion about the pros and cons of an update. It’s been two years since the update to 1.8, and given the changes that have occurred an update seems much more appealing now than it did in 2014.
Have at it Minecrafters.
Tenna' ento lye omenta,
Special thanks to Kawolski VII and Agent Ducky 42 for proofreading this post.