Design vs Function (or the End of an Era)

Before Minecraft 1.7, we struggled to balance design and functionality.

With the Command Block having very limited functionality when introduced in the Minecraft 1.4.2 snapshots, we used Redstone to handle our logic, data.

Wireless functionality was still nearly a year away.

Designing a great minigame meant hiding your Redstone contraptions between Bedrock walls and creating ridiculous rules to ensure your game would not break.

We wanted our games to look gorgeous, but the technical limitations and workarounds were obnoxious. Imagine having to manipulate the Time NBT data tag to change blocks.

The End of an Era

Through the video above, TrazLander directly influenced Mojang to program a feature to simplify his method of manipulating NBT data, first through the summon command, then by setblock and eventually fill.

May 2013 marked the end of the classic era of mapmaking by introducing the community to the reality of “Wireless Redstone.” YouTubers went crazy with new tutorials and proof of concepts.

This trend is even more apparent as custom maps become more Redstone reliant. Survival-based Minecraft maps began playing second-fiddle to the rise of minigames.

The Community Split

“[W]e just have different ways of coping with OCD.”—Anon

The average redstoner and level designer do not usually consider themselves programmers.

In this divorce of functionality and design, the average level designer began struggling with the ins-and-outs of Command Blocks, which discouraged many competent and incredible map makers from continuing their craft.

Command Blocks have no natural learning curve.

The visceral idea bulb of learning how a Redstone Torch turns on and off and what-that-means made logical and visual connections for level designers.

In contrast, Command Blocks are an alien language. These blocks feel unwieldy to newcomers.

Many of the top level designers in 2013 began to feel stunted.

But why?

Imagine building up a set of disciplines based on the limitations of a game engine which has existed for a couple of years. These regulations included encasing your Redstone circuitry in double-layered bedrock and using Hoppers and Pistons to determine states.

On top of all of this, we had to reload the entire world when you finished playing the game.

Command Blocks became crazily powerful very quickly. Mojang replaced the way we created custom maps with an entirely new programming language.

Redstone to Command Blocks is the equivalent of upgrading from typewriters to computers.

Atari to PlayStation.

Spelunky Classic to Spelunky.

What this change signifies is the divorce of design and functionality in Minecraft custom maps.

Level designers no longer had to work around the Redstone circuitry. Mechanics (or command blockers, formerly known as Redstoners) no longer had to work around level design choices.

Through all of this, an entire generation of maps and mapmakers fell out of favour. Tenets of survival Minecraft maps became history.

History became legend.

Except for those rare nights where legends come together to talk about the golden age of “Survival Minecraft Map Design.”

On these nights, crazy Skulker elevators are given up for regular old staircases with no complaints.

Regular old staircases. Designed to be functional.

What a refreshing way to get around.