Block of the Week: Crying Obsidian

Read it and weep

Dying in Minecraft is pretty bad, but dying in the Nether is worse. Not only do you have to trek all the way back from your home base in the Overworld, but you also run the risk of your kit getting burnt up in fire or lava. 

We can’t do much about the latter, but in the Nether update we’re trying to make the former a little less frustrating by adding a way to set your spawn point in the Nether. And it requires our block of the week – crying obsidian.

Crying obsidian can be acquired from a ruined portal – an ancient structure, found in both the Nether and the Overworld, that once allowed transport between the two, but has succumbed to the ravages of time. We added these structures to give new players, who might not know about the Nether, a hint that there was somewhere else to visit. Java Developer Brandon Pearce explains:

Initially, ruined portals were actually half destroyed and toppled over, but from an onboarding perspective I wanted to change it so they retained their shape to teach players what a portal looked like. Cracked obsidian was the ideal solution - retains the portal shape, but makes some of it cracked for players to "repair". 

While the respawn anchor was being developed, however, I remembered the classic crying obsidian that never made it in - a block that was meant to set your spawn point. So I thought why not bring these ideas together: cracked obsidian became crying obsidian, and it can be used to craft the respawn anchor. Win win! 

- Brandon Pearce

If you’re a Minecraft super-fan, then you might recognise what Brandon’s talking about. Crying obsidian was added to Minecraft’s texture library by Jeb in Beta version 1.3. The idea was that it would be a way of setting a respawn point, but then we added beds instead, and crying obsidian was removed again in Beta version 1.5.

As well as acquiring crying obsidian from portals, you can also barter with piglins and find it in chests in bastion remnants. But the developers played with other ideas too:

Initially we thought it would be interesting to create crying obsidian by either throwing normal obsidian through a portal, or normal obsidian being struck by lightning. Later in development, however, we wanted to make it so Piglin bartering was useful, so we made sure that you could only obtain it through bartering or stumbling upon a ruined portal.

There was a prototype made where crying obsidian would randomly teleport around if you ignited it with fire. In the end though, we felt this didn't add any real functionality to the block, so we decided to scrap the idea.

- Brandon Pearce

So next time you’re gallivanting through the Overworld, keep an eye out for ancient portals – and if you find one then be sure to harvest its crying obsidian. Otherwise it won’t be the obsidian that’s crying the next time you die in the Nether. It’ll be you.

Duncan Geere
Written By
Duncan Geere