The times where I do have fun with Minecraft is when I'm on a multi-player server with some friends. The single player experience is a little too lonely for my tastes, although I do understand the appeal of staving off hordes of zombies by yourself. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on tastes, there won't be a difference between the two anymore.
Mojang announced version 1.3 of Minecraft today and have a lot of new features in store. The biggest feature is the merging of single player and multi-player into one. You can still play single player of course, but it's now "a shell on top of multi-player."
Before you all you single player survivalists grab the pitchforks and torches, Mojang has two very good reasons for doing this. The first is that it helps the modding API developers since they only have to create one mod and it works across both versions. The second is that whenever they want to push a bug fix, it fixes both versions of the game simultaneously.
Beyond that, Mojang have detailed the massive amount of content that will be coming to game with newest version. Up first is the usual bug fixes and refinements. People on multi-player servers should expect a "smoother and more stable experience."
The merger of single player and multi-player has also brought about a secondary change that will be of particular delight to some players. The worlds in which players have created on their own can now be shared with friends on the same local network. Single-player gamers can also use multi-player commands if cheats are enabled.
As for awesome gameplay additions, players can now mine for emeralds and emerald ore. On top of that, players can also now trade with villagers. The team also added in the ability to write in books and leave messages for other players.
To help new players or those who just don't like the slow beginning to a new Minecraft world, you can now start with a "bonus chest" that will contain all the beginning requirements to start building a world. On top of that, they have also added tripwire for new trap possibilities.
Here's the rest of the amazing wonders you'll find in the update:
We’ve also added new stairs, new half-slabs, cocoa plants and tweaked dispensers, leaves, cauldrons, levers, gravel, pressure plates, cookies, buckets, boats, minecarts, ice, furnaces… Plus you get magic orbs from mining and smelting (and not just killing monsters)!
Unfortunately, all of these amazing wonders must come at a price. The newly merged single player/multi-player has upped the game's system requirements for all players. While I would hope that most people have a system capable of playing Minecraft, I assume some players have really shoddy 10-year-old laptops that barely play Minecraft. They hope to have a fix for those low-end players by Minecraft version 1.4.
Speaking of version 1.4, the team has also decided to move some enhancements and updates until the next version. Here's the lowdown:
A couple of problems and expected features have been pushed to Minecraft 1.4. The most notable problem is the lighting issues causing black regions in the terrain. We’re looking into ways to solve this, but lighting is a very expensive calculation and we are struggling with finding a solution that doesn’t hurt framerate.
And the most notable missing feature is the modding API. Throwing out single-player was the first step in order to make the API possible, and that’s done now. We decided to release 1.3 without the API, because otherwise it would be an even longer wait for a Minecraft update.
We’ve also added an extremely basic version of “adventure mode.” We’ll work more on this in future updates.
As you can see, the team at Mojang know what they're doing and care deeply about the player's experience. Sure, there will be some people angry about the merger, but it's for the best. Unlike Blizzard's off-handed explanations for why always-online DRM is advantageous to players, Mojang actually laid it all out and explained in detail why the change was good for them, developers and you - the players.