It may have been held in Disneyland Paris, but it seems that MineCon 2012 wasn't just a thinly veiled excuse for Mojang to spend a weekend on the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blaster. Minecraft's lead developer, Jens Bergensten, used the event to announce the upcoming 1.5 update. Titled The Redstone Update, it's part of a new plan to release more frequent patches that will each focus on a specific element in the game. First up is that magic red dust that clever people who aren't me can use to do amazing things.
Here comes the science bit: The Redstone Update will tweak the ore to give it a variable strength, adding a new capacitor block that will only produce an output once it's received a certain strength of input. Begensten used the example of a pressure plate that would only activate when it received a specific, player defined weight. Other improvements planned include a daylight detector, which could be used to create solar panels (similar to those seen in the popular Tekkit mod), and increased support for creating automated minecart systems.
Also detailed was the much delayed mod API. Developers will be able to create plugins that will be hosted on a central Mojang mod repository that players can browse and download. The API will allow modmakers to add and remove features from the game, but will protect the core Minecraft engine from tampering.
That Mojang have chosen to focus their next update on redstone, one of the favoured tools of custom mapmakers, is no big surprise - they've previously told us of their plans to put the future of Minecraft in the hands of their community. The Redstone Update is due for release in January. In the meantime, you can check out the brilliant things people can already create with the ore in our round-up of the best custom maps available for the game.