Rivers have several aesthetic and functional problems, which are mostly due to the fact that they are considered biomes instead of structures, or some other third type of generation.
Problem 1 - Almost all rivers don't generate properly, making them impossible to use boats in
We've all seen it. A beautiful stretch of river with plenty of water. You drop your boat in and cast off. You head around the first bend and "Oops, world generation got weird and there isn't water anymore."You break your boat and bring it to the next section of water, but that section is 8 blocks long. You go to the next section of water which is only about 20 blocks. And so on.
Example of a river being broken up by a world generation snafu.
Basically, river generation barely works, and when it does it doesn't work for long. Changing the river to a generated structure would fix that because (to my understanding), generated structures are created after initial world generation, and the structure itself can just include the water and blocks at the bottom of it so that they always work. Or at the very least so that it works most of the time.
Problem 2 - Ugly Transitions
This problem has two sources. The first is that rivers, as they are their own biome, use their own blocks for generation. This means you can get a desert that is impressive and expansive, with a big ugly stripe of dirt and grass cutting through the middle of it. And a random oak tree because why not? And I know that a river in the desert would have vegetation near it (like the Nile), but in the smaller scale that Minecraft rivers exist in it looks out of place and awkward. It would look much better if the blocks that make up the riverbed matched the biome it was in. No grass in the mesa/desert, no sand in the forest, etc.
The color change for rivers can also be off putting. Regardless of whether or not you like the teal-ish color of river grass and leaves, I think it would look better if it used the color from the biome it is in, rather than being a biome itself with unique colors that can be a sharp transition from the biome next to it.
Problem 3 - More Customization
Because a river is a single biome, it more or less looks the same no matter where you go. Width rarely changes, and neither does depth. And because of how it generates, it forces the world generation to go to the height that rivers are supposed to generate. But as a structure, it can have various properties that change over time. Width and depth were already given, but what about a flag for if it is enclosed or not. If the river is not enclosed, world generation functions basically how it currently does, where the river is exposed to the sky. But if it is enclosed, rivers will cut right through biomes with high elevation, like Mesa or Extreme Hills.
This is an example of what an enclosed river could look like (torches are for lighting purposes for the screenshot, and would not generate). Having a river cut through a mountain would look awesome, and since many rivers are short and circular, there could be a fully underground river under some hills, just waiting for a player to discover it.
In summary, changing rivers to be generated structures would give them more reliability, better aesthetics, and more options for generation.
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