It pretty much goes without saying that indie powerhouse Mojang‘s hugely-successful Minecraft has come a long way — even since its 1.0 release last November. Over the past few years, countless updates have been made to the game — arguably pushing it from being charmingly simple to rather dense, and becoming loaded with more interesting features and creatures that have become staples of its identity.

Since Minecraft‘s release, the dev team has put much time and effort into pushing out “snapshot” releases, which are quick glimpses at features of the game that have not yet been finalized. The past few snapshot releases have been interesting to say the least, and the most recent one might just be the most peculiar yet, with the inclusion of new food items, and a new boss enemy.

The “Wither” is a floating, three-headed skeleton creature that has been added, albeit unfinished, to the latest snapshot. A few savvy modders have already taken it upon themselves to code these boss creatures into the game, and the result is a pretty creepy experience indeed. Their fired projectiles can cause a “withering” effect, turning players’ life hearts black and poisoning them for a brief period of time.

This isn’t the first time a creepy new creature has entered the Minecraft world, with Endermen and Snow Golems adding a spookier atmosphere to a mostly-friendly game. There’s no telling yet how these Withers will be incorporated into upcoming versions of Minecraft, or why Mojang seems intent on scaring the crap out of its userbase, but it will certainly be interesting to see how they factor into the rest of the world they have created.

Also new in the latest snapshot are carrots and potatoes, which are dropped by zombies and can be eaten, planted, or used in the creation of new potion types. While carrots are generally regarded as the vegetable linked to good eyesight, it appears their use in Minecraft will give the opposite effect to creatures and players around you, when used to create invisibility potions.

Along with the new boss creature and items, several bugfixes and new features have been added:

– Buttons now only require 1 stone block or wooden plank to craft.
– Zombies will pick up items from the ground, dropping them on death.
– Skeletons, Zombies and Zombie Pigmen can pick up armor and swords, and wear them.
– Zombie Pigmen have a chance to drop golden swords.
– Various nether fixes.

It’s been a very busy month for the guys at Mojang, with version 1.4 just around the corner — which should contain a much-needed proper modding API. Ranters, are you anxious to fight the new Wither boss in an upcoming stable update, or will you be hiding in your Minecraft beds like me?

Minecraft 1.4 currently has no set release date, but you can pick up the “12w34b” snapshot from the official Minecraft wiki!

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Source: Joystiq

tags: Mac, Minecraft, Mojang, PC