Hey there everyone!
As you may have heard, we’ve been making a few changes to the way redstone works in Pocket / Windows 10 Edition - just part of our ongoing mission to give minecrafters as many cool tools as possible. Most recently, we’ve been trying to simplify the peculiarities of redstone without compromising on the power.
Talking of power, right now a block can:
- give off power (often referred to as a strong signal or directly powered signal)
- be powered (often referred to as giving off a weak, or indirectly powered signal)
- be unpowered
In the image below you can see this in action. The redstone block on the left gives off a strong signal, lighting up the adjacent lamp. But the lamp diagonal to the redstone block and the one next to that remain unpowered. Over on the right, a redstone wire has been placed on the middle lamp, allowing it to carry the strong signal from the redstone block and light the lamp next to it.
Pistons get powered the exact same way!
Of course, Redstone engineers from PC / Mac may note something missing here: something our community calls quasi-connectivity!
What’s quasi-connectivity? In a sense, it’s a bug. But it’s one that’s become so useful to crafters that it’s become a feature! In the PC edition of Minecraft, pistons can receive redstone power from a distance of two blocks when they are placed in a very specific diagonal position, rather than from a block right next to it. But blocks only get updated when something affects adjacent blocks. It means that you can power a piston and then remove the power without the piston detecting it! It puts the piston in this state where it actually needs to be deactivated, but doesn’t know yet. Clever minecrafters exploit that to build elaborate trigger mechanisms known as Block Update Detectors: when something happens to a block next to a piston - like a block being placed or destroyed, gravel falling, fire igniting, rails re-orientating or even cake being eaten - the piston will “wake up”, notice that it isn’t powered any more, retract and trigger something else.
We never really intended this - but the community quickly showed us its potential, using it to build automatic farming contraptions, flying machines and so much more.
When remaking Minecraft for Pocket, we had to rethink how redstone works: we decided it’d make more sense to remove the bug - or, rather, never put it in - but offer an alternative, official way to achieve the same result. And so we’ve introduced the Observer block. It checks for changes in the environment and, if triggered, switches between emitting a strong signal and an unpowered state - but without relying on a bug to do so.
We’ve tested this with lots and lots of different builds, and we can’t wait to see what you lot do with it. We’ve also added some other cool stuff: pistons can now push chests and many other things!
We’re not done yet, either! We’ll continue listening to what you folks have to say and refine redstone accordingly. PC crafters can rest easy, too: we aren’t planning to remove quasi-connectivity from that version. But stay tuned for other exciting developments there, too!
Marsh - @marshdavies