As Minecraft’s Wild Update Arrives, Mojang Reflects on “Scary” Decision to Delay Deep Dark Biome to Today

Minecraft’s long-awaited update, The Wild Update, arrives today and finally adds the game’s intriguing Deep Dark biome: a new slice of world to explore, beneath the game’s previously permanent bedrock. enemies, whimsical new building blocks and strange new structures, left behind by ancient explorers. It’s something fans have been wanting to dig into for quite some time.

Mojang originally announced Deep Dark nearly two years ago, returning to Minecraft Live in 2020. At the time, the biome was to be part of the game’s Caves and Cliffs 2021 update (an offering that has yet to be announced). revamped after the split of Caves and Cliffs in two). So why this delay? What happened with Minecraft in the meantime? And what’s going on with this Jason Momoa Minecraft movie? I sat down with Minecraft game director Agnes Larsson and gameplay developer Ulraf Vakninthe to find out more.

“We thought for a while ‘it’s a risk but we might be able to do it,'” Larsson told me, of Deep Dark’s planned initial release date. “But when we realized [we had to delay], we tried to make the decision very quickly because we risked stressing the team members a lot. And we also communicated very quickly about this because we wanted to be as transparent as possible on such an important decision.

Wild, Minecraft Live 2021 update details.

“It’s scary to make decisions like that, even if it was for a good reason, but I think it turned out well. The community was super understanding and caring, which we’re so grateful for. Minecraft is developed with the community – but then it is important that we are as transparent as possible.”

Picking which parts of the update to release and which needed more time – like Deep Dark – was “actually quite easy,” Larsson continued, as it was clear what was ready to go at that time. and which pieces – again, like Deep Sombre – risked affecting game performance or breaking players’ existing worlds.

When Larsson and his team decided a delay was needed, they went to the other Mojang teams and quickly agreed that fans should be notified as soon as possible. The announcement, made by Larsson in a video update to fans, was ultimately well received.

Mojang announces delay of some Caves and Cliffs features, back April 2021

“When we’re recording videos, or at least for me, I don’t like having scripts,” Larsson said, recalling the video being made. “We pretty much know what we mean, but it’s better to just say how… how it feels, or what happened. That’s good, because it’s honest. It’s better just explain it, as if I was explaining it to a friend or the team.

“I recently wrote guidelines for the development of Minecraft, and added that Minecraft is powered by the community. A big part of that is that personal connection – we’re humans and we’re part of the community too. .”

Minecraft currently has 141 million monthly players – an astonishing number that puts it among the most played games in the world. And while they’re still built by Mojang, the studio and wider brand are owned by Microsoft. In a world where you can walk down the street and regularly see kids with Creeper t-shirts, backpacks and lunchboxes, it seems incongruous that the game is still put together by a team yet hundreds .

Minecraft gameplay developer Ulraf Vakninthe.

“Mojang runs a huge game, but we’re really not at the scale of other AAAs at all,” Vakninthe explained, declining to give a specific number on exactly how many people are building Minecraft these days. “And that’s on purpose because our size can really help us stay with that magical feeling of Minecraft, being close to the community, allowing us to work in a way that’s not AAA.

“It’s not about pumping out features. It’s about being very connected to a community, it’s about being very quality driven and building deep features that will live with this game for a very long time. Sometimes I want to tell the community that we’re not this huge entity that they’re looking at, we’re just a group of really passionate people who love this game so much and just want to make it as good as possible.

The difficulty comes when Mojang wants to show up at its annual Minecraft Live show and give players updates on what to expect next year – and it’s here that Larsson says the company has “definitely learned”. Deep Dark delays.

“Sometimes you realize this thing shouldn’t be done – it wasn’t fun or it wasn’t right for you, and then you have to cut things. And that’s always hard,” Vakninthe added. “It takes someone’s dream away from what you said.”

Archeology is another feature that was announced for last year’s Caves and Cliffs update, but is still not in the game. On this subject, Vakninthe promised that it is still in development. and not canceled – but had no further updates to share on when it might materialize.

The Deep Dark biome features the ruins of an ancient civilization… but what could all this mean?

For now, The Wild Update adds mangroves, mud blocks, the useful new flying creature Allay, and that Deep Dark biome to explore. In it, players will find even more structures left over from some sort of previous civilization – and potentially more clues to the nature of the Minecraft world.

“With Deep Darkness, we really want to dig deeper into the mystery,” Larsson teased.

“Deepen and darken the mystery!” Vakninthe added.

So, is there a story in Minecraft that Mojang hopes players will discover? “We can’t…we won’t respond to that,” Larsson continued with a laugh. “We hope the players will have a lot of thoughts – what was it for? What was it before? It’s good that you ask those questions.”

Agnes Larsson, Minecraft Game Director.

“The story is the story of the player, and that means we don’t want to give concrete answers about the story of the world, because then the story you made up in your world is suddenly wrong, isn’t it? not it?” Vakninthe explained. “Which is not true.

“So what we try to do is give a lot of mysteries or interesting things – for example, what are the Allays? Why are they in cages? How did they get there? And whenever ‘I am asked this question, my answer is, ‘what do you think?’ We want you to be happy with your own stories and not feel like you need to find the right answer.”

So what about the next Minecraft movie, or even Minecraft Dungeons, which tells a story set in the same Minecraft universe? Jason Momoa has reportedly been cast in the next Minecraft movie in some capacity.

“I think it’s fair to say that other projects are different,” Vakninthe concluded. “Vanilla [Minecraft] has its own identity and approach to tradition. The dungeons are still in the same universe, but it can be a game with quests. And the film could have its own story. We work hard to make sure they all work well in the same universe, but it’s okay if they feel a little different, isn’t it? They are there for different experiences.”