Learn to program with Minecraft

ComputerCraftEdu Turtle

I’ve long been interested in messing around with Javascript in Minecraft courtesy of ScriptCraft but I never got around to it, partly because it required using an external program to edit code but something always stopped the code running. I gotta go bug Walter about it! 🙂

Anyway, I recently discovered ComputerCraftEdu which is a mod for Minecraft that has both a drag and drop and text mode code editor to program turtles that do anything the player can do. It’s a different beast to ScriptCraft and necessarily more limited but I think it’ll make it easier to teach the basics of programming to my eight year old son. Loops, conditions and functions are all possible here and will hopefully give him a taste for what’s possible. He’s already hooked on command blocks but that single line interface is awful!

ComputerCraftEdu drag and drop editor

ComputerCraftEdu code editor

Installing ComputerCraftEdu is fairly easy, but we experienced some odd problems:

  • Minecraft would crash as soon as we started a map saying it was “shutting down internal server”. The problem was the draw distance. Set that to 16 blocks and it fixes it.
  • One of our machines had weird graphical glitches. Blocks were see through, or corrupted, the icons of the drag and drop editor disappeared but showed the text hint when the mouse hovered over them. Setting Mip Mapping to 2 (from 4) fixed that.

There are a whole series of tutorial videos and a programming section on their wiki to explain the commands available. There are example maps, guidance for parents and tools for teachers available so it’s definitely worth looking into.

Thanks Alex for telling me about this mod. Here’s what r/FTB had to say about it. They’re enthusiastic too! 🙂

Beware! The Java Updater installs the Ask Toolbar

I had to update Java this morning and I was in a hurry. I clicked through the first page of the install wizard without really looking and then remembered I should have paid attention and noticed it said it would install the Ask.com app. Grrr.

Java Updater
(Here’s a screenshot I captured a few months ago)

I could have cancelled it but I ploughed on. However there was no sign of the extension after the install. When I restarted it, Chrome reported that the extension “Search App By Ask v2” was added!

Search App By Ask v2

I did not enable it of course, and checked my search engine settings. The site ask.com had been added, but was not set as the default engine. Gone with that then!

I hate that Oracle put a browser toolbar in the install of the Java runtime. I wonder how many kids who installed Java to run Minecraft have this toolbar installed now?

Reddit PvE Rev 6 Minecraft Server

One of the great things about Minecraft is that you can pack a level into one nice compressed archive. r/Minecraft on Reddit have a number of servers (I think) and this is one of them. You can download that world from here, it’s pveRev6.tar.gz but there are lots of other worlds there to check out too.

I had to fiddle around a bit to get creative mode working. I think I copied the region folder from the tarball into a creative world I created for this purpose. There was probably one or two other steps too but it’s been a while. Figuring out stuff in Minecraft is half the fun isn’t it anyway so go find out yourself 🙂

Skyrim’s Whiterun built in Minecraft

Are there Skyrim fans in the house? Sure there are! You’ll recognise the town of Whiterun in the video above, all built in Minecraft. It looks pretty good too! Download link for the map in the description of the video!