Official Minecraft Features You Didn't Know Were Made by Fans
Today, it can be easy to forget that Minecraft started its life as an indie game, created and maintained by a single person before moving onto a small team in the form of an early Mojang. Because of its DIY development and die-hard community, even back then, a good handful of features still exist in the game today were designed, conceptualized, or even created by players in the game’s early fanbase. Some of these features changed the game's trajectory forever, and most probably ensured its continued success. This article will have you looking at some of the most mundane Minecraft Features in a whole new light, speaking of light:
If you’ve ever disabled the ‘Smooth Lighting’ option in your Minecraft settings, you may notice the game's lighting can appear very blocky and hard on the eyes. That look is the only way the game could look in its infancy until a player known as MrMessiah published a mod called BetterLight to the Minecraft Forums back in 2010 that would smooth out the lighting effects in the game, as well as improve the look of the grass when installed. The game’s creator, Notch, would catch wind of this mod, and work closely with MrMessiah to develop a brand new lighting system for Minecraft Beta 1.3. This update also added ambient occlusion, making shadows look even better on objects in a scene. MrMessiah would receive a one-of-a-kind cape for his contribution to the game!
Another mod created by a community member that changed the game as we know it was known as MCRegion. This mod was made in 2010 by a Minecraft Forums member, Scaevolus. The mod optimized how chunks were stored and how they were updated. As you know, Minecraft renders in 16x16 areas known as chunks, and before this mod, that rendering system was incredibly taxing on the performance of the game, causing it to lag whenever new chunks were rendered in or out for most players. MCRegion was documented as being capable of loading the game a whopping seven times faster than before, as well as drastically decreasing the size of world files for years to come. Minecraft developers would implement Scaevolus’ mod in Minecraft 1.3, almost entirely unchanged.
On a related note, Scavevlus would go on to become a very prominent member of the Minecraft community. Developing a mod called FastRender, later renamed to OptiMine, which would merge with another mod created by Zombie Killer named OptiFog, to become the first version of Optifine, Minecraft’s most essential mod, even to this day 12 years later! Scaevolus would be mentioned in the Official Minecraft Credits, where his name sits to this day.
While these technical feats achieved by community members cannot be understated, some physical features made it into the final game as well, these you may be more familiar with.
The Golden Apple
One of the most powerful items in the game, from the time it was added, to now, The Golden Apple is a staple of the game and its community. What you may not know is it was designed as a joke feature from an early player named JTE back in 2009. When developing a website displaying all of the game’s crafting recipes, he added a joke at the bottom of the page that said Notch would drop an apple upon dying, and if you surrounded the apple in gold blocks you’d receive a golden apple. Four days later, Notch would add both of these features to the game!
A very popular mod in Minecraft’s early days was Mo’ Creatures, created by DrZhark in 2013. This mod added dozens of mobs to the game, ranging from deer to trolls. In an early April Fools update to the game, Mojang added “Horses”, which were just retextured cows and pigs. This ignited the community to want actual horses, and so Mojang teamed up with DrZhark to implement the horses you know and love today.
In 2010, Minecraft player McLee would suggest the addition of a Pig Man to the game. The skin that he designed was that of an anthropomorphic pig, and he would often voice his love for it on his youtube channel, designing statues in its honor and riding pigs with it enabled. He would eventually create a video titled “Zombie Pigman Riding Pigs” where he would wear a zombied variant of his classic pig skin and, you guessed it, ride pigs. These videos would catch the attention of Notch, who originally intended to be added in place of villagers before the addition of villages.
However, this idea was abandoned, and instead, with the addition of The Nether, McLee’s beloved Pigmen would be added in the form of Zombie Pigmen, and later, the Piglen and its variants in 1.16! McLee would receive a bacon-themed cape for his contribution but he would later be stripped of it for unknown reasons. Additionally, the original Zombie Pigman texture bore McLee’s signature out of view, but that too would be removed with the pigman’s reimagining in 1.16 as well.
The piston is one of the most essential Redstone blocks in the game, so it may surprise you to find it started its life as a mod, created by Hippoplatimus. Minecraft developer, Jens, would find the mod and loved it, so he worked with the mod’s creator to add the pistons we know and love into the game in Beta 1.7, after giving them a nice new texture and planning to rename them, but ultimately leaving the name as is in the final release. Hippoplatimus is now credited in the official Minecraft credits in the Additional Programming section.
As you can see, many features in the final game can be accredited to early Minecraft fans and players. Some of which can be considered some of the game's most influential and important features and additions. So next time you come across some of these features, you know who to thank!