Meet the Frog
A deep dive into frogs and the surprising things they used to eat!
Hide your beloved pet slimes, because the frogs are hopping your way! The Wild Update is coming soon, which means these little amphibians (and some other new friends) will soon find a place in your worlds, and hopefully your hearts. But before you welcome someone into your base, it’s customary to get to know them a bit – so I chased down our very own Vanilla Gameplay Developer, Alexander Östman, to chat a bit about our new sticky-tongued friends.
Let’s start at the beginning: when did the idea of frogs first come up?
Alexander: A while back, both the goat and the frog were in the same mob vote, but the goat won – so my personal headcanon is that this is the frog’s comeback after losing to the goat!
On a more serious note, when planning The Wild Update, we knew we wanted to have mangrove swamps in there, and it made sense to introduce the frogs at the same time since they would live there. They were also the optimal mob to make the existing swamps more interesting and create a connection to the mangrove swamps.
Also, it’s not a big leap to add frogs to Minecraft because they’re such iconic animals and we could use more amphibians in Minecraft. We added the axolotl in Caves & Cliffs: Part I, but I think we could always have more real-life amphibians. It’s also cool to add really fascinating made-up mobs, but I really like the touch of realism you get with mobs inspired by real life.
The frogs were eating the goats and we were very pleased.Alexander Östman, Evil Mastermind
So how come frogs eat slimes? They don’t seem particularly appetizing, but maybe the frogs are onto something!
Alexander: The slimes are natural inhabitants of swamps, and we knew that’s where the frogs would live too. So why not just have the frogs eat the smallest slime? And then we started prototyping and thought it was super fun how the frog would eat the slime and then burp out a slime ball.
Additionally, we knew that there would be different variants of frogs, and we wanted each of them to have something unique about them – so we came up with the froglights. We thought it would be cool to have a block that emits light and is similar in appearance to its corresponding frog. But how would the frog produce it? We figured that if the frogs ate small slimes, they could also eat the small magma cubes since they’re very similar in appearance. Basically, if a frog sees a small magma cube it thinks it’s a small slime and thinks to itself “Yeah, I know those are yummy!” and eats it. Once it realizes its mistake, it spits out a cool shiny block!
Aww! Such simple creatures. But slimes weren’t the mob they were supposed to eat initially...
Alexander: No, the original idea was for them to eat fireflies, but when the community let us know that they can be poisonous to many real-world frogs, we started working on a new source of food – slime and magma cubes. We did something similar with parrots back in the day. They originally ate chocolate chip cookies, but you should never feed a parrot chocolate in real life because it’s very poisonous to them.
After we made that design change for the frogs, the scope for fireflies was smaller. When we had to choose where to put our efforts for this update, we decided to keep working on other features that we felt added more value to the game.
Somewhere along the way, there was another mob that the frogs developed an appetite for. Can you walk us through what that was and what happened behind the scenes?
Alexander: When I first implemented the eating behavior, the frog was hardcoded to only eat the slime. But when we came up with the froglights, we had to extend that to other entities, namely magma cubes.
So we decided to make the “eat mob” behavior of the frogs to be editable for our creators, so they could also allow the frogs to eat different mobs if they wanted to, or even create new mobs that could eat any other mob. When testing this behavior, I made the frogs able to eat goats just because I thought it’d be funny – and it worked! The frogs were eating the goats and we were very pleased.
Not long after that, we shipped the first beta release of the frog. It was a great success, people loved the frog and we were getting some amazing feedback. We posted about it in the afternoon Swedish time and I watched people reacting to it on Twitter until I went to bed. It was really great.
The day after, I woke up to a message telling me to take a look at Twitter. When I did, I saw that a community member had posted a video of frogs going around eating goats! They even had a huge goat farm and the frogs were picking them off one by one. Turns out I forgot to remove the code that made frogs eat goats for the beta release! I literally fell off my chair laughing, I was SO embarrassed, but it was also absolutely hilarious.
I, of course, then immediately fixed it, but the funny thing is I got so much pushback from the community when the fix came in! So many people tagged me saying that I shouldn’t have removed such a cool feature and that they wanted the goat-eating frogs back. To this day, someone occasionally tags me to bring back the goat-eating frog. It’s even become a bit of an inside joke in our team.
I might as well quit writing now because I’m not topping that story. Can you tell me more about the different kinds of frogs?
Alexander: Yes, in short, we have the cold, warm, and temperate frog, and then the froglights are verdant, pearlescent, and ochre respectively. The temperate frog is the default one that spawns in regular swamps, and it gives you an ochre froglight. The verdant froglight comes from the cold frog, which you get by taking a tadpole to a cold environment, and the pearlescent froglight comes from the warm frog, which spawns in warm places.
We thought a lot about the right frog and froglight names, I think we had names like “tropical frog” and “warm frog”, we bounced a lot of ideas. But after a lot of discussions, we thought that we should keep it simple and just give them names based on their environments for the frogs, and their colors for the blocks.
We focused a lot on the froglight blocks because those names would actually show up in the player inventory, for example, green was fairly simple: “verdant” comes from “verde”, which is the Spanish word for “green”, or at least a shade of green. Then, we have the ochre froglight, which is a cool name for a murky orange-yellow color. The white froglight was especially tricky – we talked about a lot of different words like “blanc” but they didn’t really feel right. At some point, I think it was Cory [Scheviak, Gameplay Designer, editor's note] who said: How about “pearlescent”? And we knew immediately that it was the winner.
How do you get the different kinds of frogs?
Alexander: We wanted it to be quite simple and intuitive for players, so we just thought the place where the tadpole grows into a frog determines the type of frog it becomes. You could lure the frogs to a specific region and set up your farm there so they produce tadpoles. But the easiest way is to just take a bucket and put a tadpole in it, then bring it to a biome of your choice and have it grow up there.
How do you see the frog impacting players’ gameplay once it reaches everyone?
Alexander: I think the frog is completely adorable. I think it’s ideal for farming slime balls, of course. Even more so though, frogs eating magma is the only way to obtain froglight blocks in Survival. I’m sure that a lot of players will be using frogs for this. We didn't really have that many light-emitting blocks of different colors in the game, so I think froglights will come in handy as a cool decorative block that acts as a light source as well. I’m envisioning players gathering frogs to use them to get lots and lots of froglight blocks for their builds. Because the frogs come in different variants and some require a bit of adventuring to obtain, there’s also a nice collectible aspect to the frog.
Froglight blocks also are an organic substance since they’re organisms that have been digested and then spat out by the frog, so naturally they have a very unique and organic look. It’s also a pretty unique way of obtaining a new block, you need to work together with the frog to get it, which is a gameplay mechanic I’m very happy with.
What is your favorite thing about the frogs?
Alexander: The eating animation looks so snappy and so cool, Chi [Wong, Vanilla 3D Artist] really did an amazing job with it! Whenever you see a frog walking up to a slime and going schhhhlup it’s 100% how we envisioned it when we were brainstorming the frog and it’s absolutely hilarious. He did an amazing job with capturing that snappy motion and it’s such a fun thing to see.
I also think the sounds they make are so cool and derpy! The frog is quite simple compared to mobs like the warden, which is much more complex and is one of the coolest things we’ve ever created in Minecraft. But I actually like the simplicity of the frog because it just jumps, eats stuff, and makes funny noises, and has all these amazing animations that make it really fun and charming. All these small touches made it turn out even better than we envisioned it at the beginning.
Thank you so much for your time, Alexander! Now I’m even more excited to actually meet the frogs.
Catch your very own frogs on June 7, when The Wild Update is unleashed upon the Overworld!
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- Cristina Anderca