Yesterday, Notch posted an image of a massive mountain on his Twitter feed. But that's not all. Look closely at said image. See the bar that looks a bit like an XP bar? It is an XP bar, but it also brings something extra – permadeath. In a forthcoming update to Minecraft, not only will you be able to gain levels. You'll lose your levelling progress if you die.
“I'm a big roguelike fan,” explains Notch. “It's really fun. The idea is that you level up really, really fast. You can grind away and level up fast if you want to, or you can just play as normal and level up that way. The longer you play, the bigger the risk of dying becomes. It's the part that really works. If it feels like it's too harsh, we might make it half or something like that. But the fact that you lose everything – you lose all your inventory anyways.”
The Minecraft developer is still figuring out how players will level. “I'm not entirely sure on how the levelling is going to work, because that part isn't as fun. We're trying to figure out something that is fun, and kinda lightweight. We're thinking of getting an automated XP system. It's not implemented in any way that makes any kind of sense at the moment.”
Adding progression and permadeath could be a risky move for Minecraft’s vast playerbase. I asked Notch whether he's concerned about ruining the purity of the game he's created.
“It's the biggest risk,” he acknowledges. “We have to make sure that it's fun, and as streamlined as possible. I kind of figured out that a really good test of what works or not is when I go back to 1.7.3 – the previous version. If it feels like it's lacking that feature, if it feels like it should be in there.
“But it's what I like about roguelikes, like Nethack. Everything is dangerous.”