I have an existing Minecraft world, on a shared server, that has been running for several years now. I'm looking for feedback from anyone who has updated an existing world to 1.13. (Finding this info is surprisingly difficult!) Specifically: What breaks? What doesn't? And how do ocean changes affect the world?

The only info I can gather seems to suggest that highly customized commands may break (we don't have any, so should not be an issue), that many plugins will break (we aren't using any), and that areas that have been explored won't generate new structures such as wrecks. It's the last bit that I am trying to verify: No new structures, but will new aquatic plants spawn? I'm envisioning our world with empty, barren oceans until we travel huge distances from home (we've explored a very large area...)

Asking with full understanding that 1.13 final is not yet released - looking for feedback from anyone who has used the prerelease versions on an existing map.

  • You may get better answers if you are more specific about what version you are using in your current server.
    – Phil DD
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 23:23
  • Currently, 1.13.2 - when I asked, was still running 1.12.2.
    – dr.nixon
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 23:07
  • In case anyone is still tracking this - the same world, updated now to 1.15.1, has had only minor issues - obviously new features that spawn on chunk creation don't exist in "old" chunks, but seeding new features in manually (rebuilding villages, using commands to add bee nests, etc.) has not been overly difficult. Delete unimportant areas, manually rebuild others, mine away.
    – dr.nixon
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 19:44

3 Answers 3

  • Pretty much all commands break, since the entire command system was overhauled. With some automatic converters you can upgrade them or alternatively replace them manually with better solutions that are new in 1.13. Most changes can be found here (archive), but that post was made before the changes were done and there are some additional changes. But the new autocomplete is very good and mostly explains itself and the wiki was over time also updated, it should be accurate again now.
  • The data pack structure has changed and of course resource packs also have to be updated to include the new blocks, entities, etc.
  • Customised worlds don't work in 1.13. They can't be created, but they can be opened. When opened in 1.13, any new chunks generate like in a default world. The "buffet" world type replaces customised worlds, but it's neither completely done yet, nor does it have all features of customised worlds in 1.12. It's planned that they return later, but there's currenty no date or version known for that.
  • There are a few other world generation changes, mostly to oceans. They might cause a few visible chunk borders, but nothing major. Existing chunks will not change, like in every update. The same seeds still work, even ocean temples should usually still generate in the same places.
  • Mob systems that drown zombies to kill them don't work anymore, because they are converted into "Drowned" now.
    All undead mobs sink in water.
    Baby zombies burn in daylight.
  • Water physics have changed a lot. In theory this shouldn't break existing builds, but there might still be some bugs with edge cases left.
    Items and XP orbs float up in water.
  • You should wall yourself in for AFK farms now, Phantoms spawn when you haven't slept for at least 3 nights in a row. They fly, but unlike vexes and dragons, they don't fly through blocks. Having a solid block above you prevents them from spawning and cats scare them away. Alternatively you can use the command /gamerule doInsomnia false to turn off phantom spawning completely.
  • Beds break if they have no supporting blocks under them. Since they were non-functional without support before anyway, this should only affect decorative beds.
  • TNT that explodes when mined was removed and turned into regular TNT in 1.13.0, then readded in 1.13.1. If you skip 1.13.0, they should upgrade properly.
  • And most importantly: Because there was a deadline for 1.13, it was developed pretty hastily and there were still many bugs, some quite game-breaking. There's also a lot of lag, both on the server and on the client.

In general I would not recommend updating to 1.13 at all. Instead, you should stay in 1.12.2 or, if you want the new features, directly update to the latest version. The later, the better.

The updates after 1.13.0 have continuously improved on the bad state that the game was left in, so that now, in 1.15.2, "only" four issues that I would consider critical are left:

  • https://bugs.mojang.com/browse/MC-147818: Chunk loading is very messed up. Basically every bit of machinery can break randomly when you go away, come back or when you exit or join a world while being nearby. The best workaround is /forceload-ing the area and running the world on a permanently running server. Yes, wasteful, I know.
  • https://bugs.mojang.com/browse/MC-108469: Entities can sometimes get deleted or duplicated, this has something to do with chunks loading and unloading and entities moving between chunks. There is no full workaround for this, but as long as an entity never crosses a chunk border, it should be completely safe from getting deleted.
  • Customised worlds generate new chunks like a default world. The best workaround is to figure out how far chunks have already been fully generated, then set the world border to as much less than that as the render distance can at most be (in Singleplayer 32×16=512, on a server whatever you set in options.txt times 16), so that no new chunks are generated. When customised worlds finally get re-added, you will likely have to change level.dat back to a customised world, so create a backup of that file before opening the world in 1.13+.
  • https://bugs.mojang.com/browse/MC-147729: Items can get deleted when you craft with the recipe book and pick up new items while doing that.

If you skip 1.13 and directly update to 1.15, there are of course additional changes to consider from 1.14 and 1.15, the main ones that impact an existing world are these:

  • Some commands, datapack and resource pack related things have changed again in 1.14 and 1.15, but not as drastically as in 1.13. They still require updating. I recommend the technical changelogs by Slicedlime for details about these changes: 1.13 commands, 1.13 other technical changes [link pending], 1.14 and 1.15
  • OpenGL 2.0 is now required, meaning that you might have to update your CPU drivers or, if you have a very old CPU, you might not be able to play Minecraft 1.15+. But this should not affect any reasonably modern computer, OpenGL 2.0 was released in 2004.
  • Pretty much everything related to villagers has changed, that means that existing iron farms, trading halls, villager breeders and so on will very likely not continue working in 1.14+. There are lots of tutorials online on how to build new versions of these. In short: Beds are the new doors and work stations are important as well.
  • The textures were updated to the new pack that was available for a while already. The old textures are available in the resource pack menu.
  • 1.14 also had a few changes in world generation (mostly villages and jungles, which got a new variant "bamboo jungle"), so in some places you might see borders between old and new chunks. The same seeds still work, villages should even still usually generate in the same spots, but also generate additionally in biomes where they previously couldn't.
  • If you had your world opened in the snapshot 19w36a at some point, then drowning, falling and fire will not damage you anymore. This was caused by the corresponding gamerules being set to the wrong value by default in only this snapshot. To fix this, run these three commands:
  • /gamerule drowningDamage true
  • /gamerule fallDamage true
  • /gamerule fireDamage true
  • New mobs called "pillagers" spawn. If you kill a "pillager captain" (the one with a banner on its head), you get an effect for one hour that starts a "raid" when you enter a village. These raids are currently very broken, causing a pretty much unstoppable flood of monsters that attack the villagers and you. The best workaround for this is drinking milk to get rid of the effect.
  • Ocelots no longer turn into cats when tamed. Instead, cats are their own mob.
  • Vindicators can now break doors.
  • Sticks are dropped by leaves sometimes, so if your tree farm assumes that you only get saplings and wood, you should consider that.
  • Bees are now required for the advancement "Two by two" and honey bottles for the "A balanced diet" advancement, meaning you have to go out into newly generated chunks to get those, if you don't have them already.
  • The burn time of scaffolding and boats as furnace fuel was increased.
  • End stone bricks have a higher blast resistance.
  • Combining tools, weapons and armour in the crafting table no longer works, this task was moved to the new "grindstone" block. Of course you can still use the anvil.
  • Lapislazuli, cocoa beans, bone meal and ink saks now have to be crafted into dyes before they can be used as such.
  • A few crafting recipes were changed.
  • Nether portals can now link to portals on top of the bedrock ceiling of the Nether.
  • Dispensers can now shear sheep with shears, get water into bottles and place armour stands. I don't really expect this to break anything, but it could in theory.
  • A ton of bugs were fixed, some you might have relied on. The full lists are here: 1.14 (archive) and 1.15 (archive)

I do not recommend playing 1.14 anymore, it has horrible client performance and a lot of severe bugs. 1.15 improved on this a lot, but there are still the four big issues mentioned above left. I still recommend staying in 1.12.2 unless you either absolutely need the new features or you know all the details of these bugs and can work around them (which is very complicated and in some situations not possible).

I did not mention any new features that do not affect existing areas in existing worlds, but of course they are worth considering as well, for example you will encounter beehives, jungle forests and cats when you go exploring. But listing all of those features would turn this post into a complete changelog. For that, I recommend reading the changelogs on the Minecraft wiki:

  • 1.13.0 is out now and all my points are still valid. Not even all important bugs were fixed. Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 17:15
  • In 1.13.1, TNT that explodes when mined is back. If you skip 1.13.0 when upgrading, it even upgrades correctly. Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 5:46
  • From a quick look at the wiki, it seems like they have now properly updated their commands pages to 1.13, so you can look up the correct syntaxes there now.<br>1.13.1 looks like it should be much better than 1.13.0, the most important bugs, like world corruption and crashes, seem to be fixed. The performance is still not great, but that will hopefully be addressed next. Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 10:48
  • The first 1.14 snapshots are out now, which means that the entire 1.13 suite of versions is practically useless. That's really a shame. The first and third 1.14 snapshot changelogs each claimed the performance to be better, but my usual performance test gives basically the same result. Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 20:36
  • In 1.14 you'll be able to keep a cat instead of walling yourself in against phantoms. Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 15:55

I would like to say a little more to the wolrd generation, as that was touched by the other answers only briefly (and as a singleplayer explorer/builder is usually my main concern).

First of all, as you seem to know already yourself, no, the new ocean features (neither wrecks/ruins nor any kind of new vegetation), will not appear in already explored parts of the world. They will only be generating in newly generated chunks. The existing ocean biomes will also stay normal ocean biomes, which means they will likely not spawn the new mob versions of pufferfish, tropical fish and salmon either, since they're supposedly spawning in lukewarm/warm and cold/frozen oceans respectively (salmon will spawn in old river biomes, though). And I doubt this will be changed, since I haven't read anything to this effect so far and I imagine just adding seagrass/kelp/coral into already existing chunks would be extremely complicated without properly knowing which regions are natural and which have been player-altered.

The good news is, the raw terrain hightfield generation as well as the biome layout has stayed the same, so there won't be major chunk borders between old and newly generated parts of the outside world. However, the generation of decorations seems to have changed to some degree, so the placement of trees and lakes and things like that might be a little different.

But together with other decorations comes a major thing that I haven't really seen adressed too much in discussions yet. The entire cave generation has completely changed. Caves, ravines and mineshafts are completely different (likely in order to incorporate the new underwater cave generation). Now how disruptive these changes are depends on how you use and explore the naturally generated caves. Fortunately, due to natural caves themselves seeming rather chaotic in general and rarely observable in a bigger picture, the chunk discontinuities might not be all too noticable. But be aware that this also extends to places where caves meet the overworld, most notably ravines.

I can't say too much about the nether as I haven't given it much testing yet. What I observed from a few short glimpses is that, while there are supposedly new natural ravine structures in the nether, the overall rough world layout and cave system seems to be the same still. The generated nether fortresses, while at the same place, seem to generate a little differently, though. But as said, I can admittedly only speculate about the nether.

  • Thanks: I assume though that (as with grass, for example) it will be possible to generate kelp/seagrass manually, by seeding with bone meal? If we can at least "dress up" areas near our base(s) that would help. I noted with prior updates that new mobs (e.g. parrots) were initially only in not previously explored chunks, but eventually began to generate in old chunks. It took time though. We'll see.
    – dr.nixon
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 14:37
  • @dr.nixon Yes, that's totally possible. You can bonemeal the floor underwater for seagrass (it doesn't even have to be dirt/gravel) and you can plant kelp. You can even place coral blocks, but you'd have to "mine" them from an existing warm ocean, since they're not yet growable.
    – Ulukaï
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 14:39

Just in case anyone else has the same question: In testing, I made a test copy of my world, then in the copy, used MCEdit Unified to select areas away from all bases, then set these unprotected chunks to repopulate. I am only selecting chunks with water, leaving most land biomes unchanged (selecting ocean, beach, and river). This left built-up areas unchanged but did spawn new biomes in all repopulated chunks, including ocean ravines, ruins, and shipwrecks. I didn't expect "repopulate" to actually regenerate terrain, but it did - quite noticeably showing the difference between 1.13 and prior versions near our main base, as a chunk adjacent to a protected section went from ocean to island. Have not done this to the live server world yet, working on the test copy only, with intent to copy to the server when 1.13 is stable in Spigot. (Will obviously keep an unaltered backup just in case!)

Testing showed that villages selected to repopulate respawned as expected, as did jungle temples. A newly created 1.13 world using the same seed as my original world generated shipwrecks and ruins in the same locations as in the repopulated chunks of my test copy, so (as with prior structures) these are not randomly placed. And replanting kelp/seeding ocean grass is a bit tedious but can be used to mask hard transitions between repopulated and "original" areas. Last, while Nether and End were not affected (as expected), Nether portals to repopulated chunks did work, creating a new above-ground portal in the newly-generated territory. Most areas were recognizable as the same from the original world, with mostly minor differences in terrain and shoreline.

If taking this approach be aware that any blocks previously placed or mined are reset when the chunk repopulates. For extensive mines you wish to save, you'll need to ensure that protected chunks include the underground areas you want to keep. This can result in some pretty big "empty" areas of ocean above.

If you aren't that worried about large areas, it might be way faster to simply prune those chunks rather than hand-editing the water-only bits. There is an MCEdit script floating around Reddit that automates the process by deleting all water or beach chunks, but I was too concerned about very specific (and widely scattered) shoreline bases to trust the full-auto approach. A bit surprised to see that repopulating and deleting were in effect doing the exact same thing - unclear if this is expected or not; perhaps the 1.13 update conversion process treats unpopulated chunks as if they need to be fully created from scratch.

End result: The important parts of the world are safe, the lightly explored or all-water areas are updated, and fancy new ocean features abound. I expect to see occasional awkward transitions due to the change in terrain calculations but I can live with it!

  • Caveat. In testing the world in vanilla single-player, 1.13 has some serious issues updating the edited world. As in, an entire base disappears except for 3 torches and a random chunk of fence... a fully-explored stronghold that should not have been touched is now half-explored, with chests and torches we placed in some areas and other sections just empty. Quite unclear exactly what happened, but it seems that sections I was sure should have been protected were overwritten. It may work in a future version but for now we can't do a thing with our world...
    – dr.nixon
    Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 0:01
  • And another follow-up. As of 1.13.2 the issues noted above have largely been fixed during upgrade. Some structures close to chunk borders get a bit broken if the adjacent chunk is updated, but out of a dozen or more bases, builds, and etc. that I protected by not pruning, only 2 needed repair. And reseeding the ocean floor is tedious but possible, made easier with a turtle shell helmet to remove need to resurface as often!
    – dr.nixon
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 23:11

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