If you have been following the development of Minecraft” snapshots, you know that the 1.13 update will likely not bring many new gameplay features to “Minecraft”. So far, the update’s development has been almost completely focused on bugfixes and technical improvements. However, this push for more back-end functionality might be hinting at a larger goal for the “Minecraft” developer, Mojang.

'Minecraft' 1.13 snapshots so far: the nitty-gritty

Since Oct 25, 2017, Mojang has been releasing 1.13 snapshots for the“Minecraft” community to try. This helps Mojang discover bugs that will need squashing before final releases and encourages community feedback.

This is usual procedure for Mojang, but in their 17w43b news release, Mojang made a special point of noting that these snapshots are not backward compatible and all world saves should be backed up. Additionally, in Mojang's news release, they added a word of warning: “1.13 will have a lot of experimental snapshots that may break everything and smell funny.” This was a small indicator of the major technical changes Mojang had in store.

Possibly the largest change expected in the 1.13 update is the removal of “Minecraft’s” item id system. Prior to 1.13, all of “Minecraft’s” blocks were assigned a numeric value, which was then used to program the way those blocks functioned. This system put an upper limit on the number of blocks that could be introduced into the game and forced some workarounds for block variants, within the code.

The new system coming as of 1.13 assigns all items and blocks unique names.

Other notable changes:

-Mojang built an entirely new command parsing library dubbed “brigadier.”

-“Minecraft” has been updated to use the LWJGL 3 (Lightweight Java Game Library). This should fix a great deal of instability for users on Mac and Linux.

-1.13 snapshots have introduced “data packs,” a more technical variant of “resource packs” that allow greater customization of player’s experience. Data packs will allow custom advancements, crafting recipes, loot tables, and functions.

Many will be pleased to hear that “ghost blocks” have been included in a long list of bug fixes. This was a frustrating bug resulting from a client/server desync that has now been corrected.

The implications

While no new features seem likely to be added in 1.13, some additions like data packs will afford determined players many opportunities for customization. Already the community is speculating that 1.13 could be a major step towards an official “Minecraft” modding API.

An official modding API has been in the works on-and-off since 2010. However, since add-ons came to the “Bedrock Editions” of the game many assumed that the official modding API wasn’t likely to come to Java.

While this may still be the case, a large focus on cleaner code, combined with the addition of data packs, seems to suggest Mojang might be considering something like add-ons for Java Edition.” Arguably, the removal of limits to the number of blocks and items might indicate that totally new blocks could be included by players as part of add-ons. This would exceed the functionality of “Bedrock Edition’s” add-ons.

So while 1.13 so far isn’t looking very exciting, players can look forward to increasingly customizable experiences. It will be interesting to see what the community will create with data packs, once they are an official part of the game.