Minecraft as a has been around for quite a long time, with me alone having been playing it since December 2010, the same time when I joined SPUF. It’s a slow burner of a game, both in the way you play and how the game gets semi-frequent updates. Each update might not try to be bigger than the last, but they always try to add more stuff. You don’t often see things getting nerfed though, it’s mostly bug fixes and new features.
The updates do add more to an otherwise very sparse and often repetitive-looking world. The very early InDev worlds didn’t really have biomes, it was grassy plains, hills, caves and trees, in a world with borders. There were different world types, like the Floating Islands world type and Winter Mode (which just covered everything in snow) but biomes came later on. The early biomes as well weren’t that complicated, you’d have beaches and proper mountains deserts and things like that. Biomes have been getting more and more interesting over time.
The problem with adding new biomes is based on how Minecraft creates its worlds. When new biomes are released in a patch, to be able to see them quickly, you have to either create a new world or travel incredibly far in worlds you already have, forcing the game to create the new terrain in un-generated areas you haven’t explored yet. The former is not so fun if you have long-running worlds you play in on a regular basis, and the latter has the chance to create very strange terrain, with awkward straight lines separating previous patch biomes from newly generated new patch biomes. The same applies to newly added structures. In Release 1.10, villages are going to be more varied, using wood matching their biomes, but that means creating a new world to see these villages. It’s awkward no matter how you look at it.
Mobs aren’t much better. Whether you’re playing on Alpha 1.7, Beta 1.7 or Release 1.7, most of the time you’ll be seeing pigs, cows, sheep and chickens during the day and creepers, skeletons, spiders and zombies at night. Occasionally you’ll see an Enderman, which were added at the end of Beta. All other mobs are exclusive to particular areas or events, which is fine for the annoying-as-fuck Cave Spiders, but a pain if you need Slime Balls from Slimes, which only appear in one in every 9 chunks under ground and in swamps depending on the cycle of the moon. The Nether does have a lot more new mobs, apart from the original Zombie Pigmen and terrifying Ghasts, but almost all of these are restricted to Nether Dungeons. Wither Skeletons (tall, black skeletons with swords) and Blazes only spawn in Nether Dungeons and Magma Cubes are stupidly rare in general.
New blocks and items are the worst offenders. When emeralds were added, they were added in item form from villagers, or block form in Extreme Hills biomes. This meant that you needed to generate a new world if you wanted villagers. Extreme Hills biomes aren’t that uncommon, but you’d have to go through the whole process of traveling to generate new terrain, and even then, emeralds are so damn rare that you might as well start a new game and find a village.
All that being said, at least Minecraft HAS backwards compatibility. Apart from a few hiccups (like the Farlands disappearing forever when you upgrade from 1.7 Beta to 1.8 Beta and the aforementioned strange biomes), you can still play in most old worlds. The only exceptions are a few cases where worlds need to be updated, but even then, Minecraft mostly does that anyway. Minecraft’s updates almost always bring something new and interesting.
And even if you don’t want to update, the current version of the Minecraft launcher enables you to play most old versions of Minecraft, right back to the original game featuring nothing but a flat world, grass and cobblestone. You can also get access to ‘Snapshots’, allowing you to play parts of the next upcoming update. Everyone has access to these, in order to find bugs. On top of all that, later Minecraft patches have the ability to create your own world, pretty much how you want it.
There is more stuff I’d like to talk about when it comes to updates, but they’re more personal things. Probably better suited for another article.