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Light

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Light refers to the density of light levels in Minecraft. Lighting affects how easily a player can see the environment, and where Mobs will Spawn.

Overview

Torches

Torches are the most common source of light during the night.

There are three current settings to lighting (previously two) known as "Smooth Lighting". The three settings are None, Minimum, and Maximum. In Minecraft: Pocket Edition, Smooth Lighting is always active. There are 16 levels of light, the highest being produced by Sunlight. Light is decreased (or blocked entirely) when a block is situated in front of a light source. The block which decreases light the most is the base of a piston. The light level of a block effects whether or not certain Hostile Mobs will spawn on it.
Sun

The Sun is the main source of light in Minecraft.

Some objects which emit light include:

Levels of Light

The level of light determines if hostile or passive mobs will spawn. For example, a Cow will spawn above light level 7 or higher on Grass blocks. This is also the case for Pigs, Chickens and Sheep. Hostile mobs, such as Skeletons and Zombies, will spawn in light levels 7 or lower. A player may keep mobs like this from spawning in an area by blanketing the area with torches or other light-emitting objects.

List of light levels in Minecraft:

15: Sunlight, Jack o' Lanterns, Beacons, End Portal Blocks, Fire , Glowstone, Lava, Active Redstone Lamps

14: Torches

13: Active Furnace

12: Sunlight (during rain or snowfall), Glowing Obsidian (Pocket Edition only)

11: Nether Portal blocks

9: Redstone Ore (when touched)

8: Sunlight (during thunderstorms), Ender Chests

7: Powered Redstone Torches, Redstone Torch

4: Moonlight

1: Brewing Stands, Mushroomss, Dragon Eggs, End Portal Frames

History

Minecraft has been evolving over time, and the lighting system itself has changed along with it.

Classic

Smooth Lighting didn't exist in classic minecraft. Instead, light spread on dim-lit areas. "Sunlight" was emitted by the top edge of the map and would hit any block that was under it. It would pass through transparent blocks to light blocks underneath. Blocks that did not receive light were in a dim shadow that remained at the same level of brightness no matter how far they were from a light source.

Indev/Infdev

In Indev and Infdev versions, there were 16 degrees of brightness, with the maximum of 15 for full daylight and a minimum of 0 for almost complete darkness.

Alpha - Beta 1.2_02

Lighting in Alpha through pre-Beta 1.3 worked as Indev and Infdev, except that the scale was different and not linear.

Beta 1.3 - Beta 1.7.3

Lighting from Beta 1.3-Beta 1.7.3 worked the same as it was in Alpha, but was optimized to allow smooth lighting.

1.7.2

Black patches in world generation and structure generation were fixed in update 1.7.2.

Future

In snapshot 12w39a, Dinnerbone fixed black patches in world generation, and began overhauling the lighting systems such as changing the lighting of blocks to allow for directional lighting.

Smooth lighting

SmoothAnimSmal

The differences between on and off smooth lighting (click to see)

Smooth lighting is the lighting engine added in Beta 1.3. This lighting engine is on by default, and can be set to maximum, minimum or off by accessing Video Options from the Options menu.

The engine blends lighting to add semi-realistic shadows and glow from light sources. It darkens inside corners, resulting in small spaces appearing much darker. Before Beta 1.3, the feature could be only obtained by modifying the game with the help of MrMessiah's BetterLife Mod.

The "maximum" smooth lighting toggle fixes bugs with stairs. However, this is an optional toggle. The "minimum performance" does not fix the bug.

Trivia

  • Even though hostile mobs spawn in light levels 7 and lower, and thunderstorms are in light level 8, they will still spawn because it is dark enough.
  • Rarely, a lightning bolt can emit a light that is lower the light level 5.
  • Charged Creepers can sometimes, rarely, light up as the same level as a Redstone Torch.
  • When drinking a Potion of Night Vision, natural light sources (excluding the sun), such as lava, will gain a dim color.
  • Zombies and Skeletons can survive exposure to direct sunlight by going in water.

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