Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

Crafting a Better Minecraft

Minecraft has been good to me. I’ve garnered dozens (if not hundreds) of hours of entertainment out of the twenty dollar indie title, making it the most cost effective game I’ve ever owned. Every time I think I’ve tapped Minecraft for all it’s worth, I find myself pulled back into the game. That being said, Minecraft isn’t perfect. The official release at the end of last year was lackluster and incomplete, and patches to remedy the problems it introduced have been sporadic and unsatisfying. Enchanting and alchemy are still unwieldy machinations, the final boss fight is not worth the time or effort, and dozens of promised and desirable features have fallen to the wayside. Six months after release, Minecraft is still an unfinished game. This article isn’t going to a testament on what is right and wrong in the world of Notch. I’ll leave that weighted dilemma for the talented community of modders to figure out. Instead I’d like to propose features that would rekindle my own interest in the game.


The nether was a brilliant way to make travelling in Minecraft manageable without making the world feel small. Building a set of nether portals is a dangerous and time consuming affair, but one that pays for itself down the road. While portals are a great means of quickly traversing from point A to point B, an option for speedy free exploration has yet to be tabled. Ponies are the answer. Ponies are always the answer. Given the propensity of wandering livestock in the game already, these beasts of burden seem a glaring omission. They could be tamed in the same method as wolves and cats and mounted to move double the player’s running speed indefinitely. The trade off would be that they would have to be left in the safety of a stable (a fenced off area) when not in use to keep monsters from chomping away at them. Add in carriages that operate like normal minecarts and storage minecarts, and you have a plush method of transporting goods and other players.

Better Weapons, Better Monsters

charged creeper Combat in Minecraft is slipshod. In the early days of the game, monsters were considered an obstacle to be avoided, so this wasn’t an issue. But now that there are nether fortresses to pillage and endermen to farm, the cracks have begun to show. A fresh repertoire of weapons would help make combat less of a chore. Guns and rifles that are powerful but costly to craft ammunition for would be a good start. Axes, spears, hammers, and clubs with varying reach, damage, and attack speed would offer welcome alternatives to the baseline sword. More abstract options, such as bear traps and bolas, could even be considered. The monsters need a little help too. Although rarely seen, I liked the addition of the charged creeper – a more dangerous variation of the basic monster. Other rare and more powerful versions of monsters would add a little spice to exploring; players would learn to fear plague zombies, blazing skeletons with flaming arrows, and rabid wolves. These foes could drop rare items, such as diamonds or golden apples, to make defeating them feel rewarding.

Custom Patterns

animal crossing Animal Crossing is one of my guilty pleasures. The series has chewed through almost as many of my idle hours as Minecraft has. One of the features I relished from the Nintendo title was the ability to create custom patterns and apply them to clothing, flags, and wallpaper. Is there any good reason this isn’t in Minecraft already? For a game that thrives on player made content, it seems like an odd omission. How great would it be to plant a flag boasting your own coat of arms on top of the highest tower of your castle? Or to illustrate your own painting instead of using one of the baffling randomly generated choices. It could even offer an in-game method of creating skins for your character – a long overdue feature. These patterns could be created through a loom, a new workbench-type block (not to be confused with the classic Lucasarts adventure game of the same name). Again, I’m surprised this feature already isn’t in Minecraft. Maybe Notch is worried that too many people will draw penises?

1 Comment

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  • This is why I’ve never understood the disdain for Terraria that many people have — many people dismiss it as a 2D derivative, but I had never played Minecraft and found it quite enjoyable. When I asked a friend who played both games what Minecraft was like, he summarized it as “like Terraria, but with worse weapons, no beds to save your spawn point, and worse effort-to-payoff ratios.”

    Pity development on Terraria has been abandoned.

By Mathew
Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer