Foxes, Suspicious Stew, and more in Bedrock
We get crazy like a fox with the devs who put foxes together!
What does the fox say? Well on one of the developers computers, the Minecraft fox kept saying “soon I'll be in Minecraft Bedrock on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Android, iOS, Gear VR and the Windows 10 version, along with the Wither Rose and Suspicious Stew!” Don't worry. We managed to patch that out before today's release.
Foxes and the other features will be rolling into all those versions of the game today, so keep checking your version of Minecraft! We thought we'd celebrate by speaking to Cory Scheviak who worked on Minecraft's latest furry friend, and Johan Arronson, the artist who prettied up its pixels!
So why foxes?
“The users voted for them.” Cory explains simply. “Even though we gave them a selection of things to vote for to add, people really wanted foxes in the game.”
Minecraft players, as it turns out, are really really into foxes. “When I was at the Creator Summit, I got hounded by people that didn’t care that I worked on designing the game, they didn’t care that I worked for Mojang, they didn’t care about anything else I’d done – but once I told them that I designed the behaviour of the foxes, they were like ‘Oh my god! You designed the foxes?’”
Cory sniffs and I offer him a tissue. Together we cry for a minute about having our life’s work so misunderstood. I feel like we had a breakthrough there.
Since Cory’s only lasting legacy could be this fox, it might as well be done as well. A lot of research went into making the fox appear as authentic and realistic as possible.
“I would spend every morning watching fox videos, seeing how they jump, how they behave.” Cory says, while I curse myself for being in the wrong line of work. Getting paid to watch cute, fuzzy foxes all day at one instead of writing articles where you have to remember how to spell Mynecraft? No fair!
“I read basically everything there was on the internet about foxes,” Cory says. “I watched many videos of foxes faceplanting, and I decided that I had to add that to the game.”
Now Bedrock players will be able to laugh and play with foxes who *checks notes* ravage your neighbors chicken coop? That can't be right, can it?
Amazingly, it almost was! “Yeah, in the early stages of development, foxes were unstoppable,” says Cory. “Which felt really nice in testing. But then when I realised that every village would suddenly be indefensible against foxes and everyone’s chickens would die, and that was a little bit too morbid, I think – even for Minecraft.”
- Animated corpses made of stitched together pig and human flesh: perfectly acceptable.
- Unstoppable terminator fox: too morbid.
“Well, there were a few other issues too,” Cory tells me. “Like when I added the ability for foxes to seek out berry bushes and other mobs. They were able to detect them from very far away so I had this 32x32 grid, and you would see a fox just beeline right for it. It wouldn’t matter what was in its way, it was going to get it.
“When they got going, you wouldn’t even see it. It would just be there and the berries would be picked, and it would be gone before you knew it.” With nothing but a faint squeak to warn you that you have been visited by the fox of destruction. Er, fun!
In early development the fox had a terrifying look to match its berry bush raiding, chicken-thieving behavior. “When I was working on the foxes,” Cory says. “I spent the better part of a day wondering why the fox was a box.”
Personally, I like this design more, and don't see why Cory changed it. Did nobody tell him it’s Minecraft and everything is a box? Does he know where he is? Quick Cory, what year is it?
“I realised there was one line in the code that made the texture mapping completely off and it just wrapped it around the head,” Cory explains. “The result was very scary.” I guess we'll have to just agree to disagree #addthefoxboxtominecraft #whatiswrongwithme
“Have you heard a fox howl?” Cory asks, eyes staring off into the distance at some unseen shadow. “It’s basically a scream, like a human scream. We put in a version of it in the game. It’s very rare and it happens at night. You’ve got to be far enough away from them, and you hear off in the distance a scream.”
“But it’s just a fox so it’s fine!”
Nope. Not fine. NOT FINE. Foxes are supposed to be cute and soft and fun and maybe a box. Foxes are not supposed to keep me awake at night!
“The fox has something to appeal to every kind of player. They have a little bit of technical ability because they can carry an item in their mouth. So if you dump an enchanted diamond sword on the ground, the fox will pick it up and then if it attacks something, it’ll use the sword damage. So you can actually have an army of foxes defend you if you get them to trust you.”
Unstoppable. Terminator. FOXES!
Of course, you'd know that already if you'd watched this episode of 10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Minecraft, that Tom is cynically plugging in the middle of my article.
The first mob Cory worked on was the Pillager, but this is the first animal he's worked on in the game. So what has he learnt for next time? What makes a great Minecraft mob?
“The trick is to add really nice interactions with other mobs,” he tells me. “If you add an animal in isolation, it can be somewhat interesting, but unless it interacts with the world around it, it’s not going to be anything super special. When I added interactions with polar bears, chickens, other foxes and wolves, then the fox became this really living thing.
“Like how in the Taiga there's wolves and there's chickens, which means sometimes you just see chicken feathers on the ground and are like “what? What happened?” It really makes the world come to life, feel like a place where things happen independently when you're not around. You show up and you're like “who's here?” and off in the distance there’s a fox looking at you from behind a tree...”
Just in case there is a fox spying on me, I'm going to wrap this up, with a few words from Johan Aronsson. So how do you make one of Minecraft's cutest mobs look so sweet?
“It’s a very intricate, complicated process where you have put each pixel down at a time,” explains Johan. “They have to align correctly to create “clusters”, which would serve to create an abstract shape to be interpreted by the viewer. And I looked at a lot of cute foxes!”
I'm going to do that right now. Enjoy the new features, Bedrock players!
- Ash Parrish