The update is out, and I guess the biggest feature is Sneaking. Press (and hold, for now) shift to move slower. You won't make sounds, and you won't crush plants, and you won't fall off ledges.
The big feature was supposed to be biomes. Again. And again I had to abort and rollback the code to get a release out. Again.
I must stop trying to do it in a single sitting. Now I've spent almost two full days on it! I won't work on it again until I can dedicate an entire week towards it.
The main problem is that the transition between different biomes looks horrible. It's either a chaotic wasteland of random blocks, or a sharp border of sudden ice. Actually generating the biomes themselves is interesting, and I can reuse a lot of the ideas from indev with the different level types. The floating island biome is kind of slow to generate, because it adds a second pass to fix waterfalls along all the edges.
The hell biome will be used for an alternate fast travel dimension. Have you read Wheel of Time? That.
There are a couple of other new things hidden in this release, but nothing game changing.
I've also update the server software
and, in fact:
This is about as un-silly as it gets without knees - Notch
Every time I do a new update now, the server gets way, WAY overloaded. Top priority now is fixing this, possibly by moving the game file downloading to a separate server.
I never should have tried doing this update without fixing the performance issues.
I've disabled everything CPU intensive on the web server now, and put the downloads on an Amazon Cloud thingie. Since I've disabled payments as well, this means that Minecraft will be free to play until this all gets sorted.
For more information, go to Minecraft.net
When the main game file gets downloaded, the server does a few verification checks and sends the file through special channels.
Minecraft has recently gotten a lot more popular. The last time I did an update, the website got really slow for a long time. This time, it more or less died.
Everything is still there, though. All skins, old saved levels, user accounts, images and such is there. The server just got way, WAAAY too slow.
What’s being done?
The website is in dire need of a rewrite, with proper modern backend design. I've temporarily disabled everything fancy, including game sales, until this gets worked out. The game will be free to play until this gets sorted. Then after that, it'll only let people who have paid for the game play again.
I've ordered a new server. It's much beefier than the last one, and has a much more capable internet connection. I'm not sure if this is enough, though, so..
I signed up for Amazon Cloud. Currently all game file downloads are going through the Cloud, and the download speed seems to be pretty good. It was amazingly easy to set up.
What will happen?
Early next week, we will focus on hiring someone to rewrite the backend for minecraft.net, perhaps get someone involved with redesigning the front-end, and we'll look more into this fancy cloud solution.
Just so you all know, there was briefly a version of Minecraft up that included some gamma slider debug code I had written. For some people, running that version of the game set the gamma and contrast on the video card drivers to 0, causing a grey screen.
For a few of those people, quitting the game didn't help.
For a few of THOSE people, not even rebooting the computer fixes that problem.
I've been looking into what can be done to fix this, mostly by conversations on twitter (thank you, TomFratelli and TobiiDK and others), and here's something you can try:
If you're getting the grey screen bug even after a reboot:
1. Boot your computer in safe mode. See this page: Pchell.com
2. Right click on the desktop, go into the ATi or NVidia control center. Go to colour or gamma settings, and reset everything to the default values.
Alternatively, putting the computer into standby mode and waking it up might help.
There might be more information here:
I realize that the current unverified free-to-play weekend is horror for server admins. Getting the name verification back up and running is one of my highest priorities.
If I could do a quick fix, I would.