The Raspberry Pi Foundation, maker of the $35 mini computer, is on a mission to get more kids to learn to code — and what better way to get children excited about the power of programming than by involving virtual block-builder game Minecraft? An official Mojang produced port of Minecraft: Pocket Edition was announced for Pi at the weekend — known as Minecraft: Pi Edition. Now the Foundation has put up a video showing how Minecraft gameplay on Pi can be combined with programming commands so kids can use text commands to control the world
Here’s the Foundation describing one possible set-up
All you have to do is set up a network connection to the running game, and then you can send text commands to control the world. This makes is possible to program in any language which supports network connections, and you can access the game from any computer which is connected to the Pi. One possible setup is to have a Python prompt and the Minecraft window side-by-side on the Pi.
Minecraft Pi edition does not require programming to play it but text commands can be used to “place large numbers of blocks in particular patterns to speed up the building process” — which makes it sound like a 3D version of Tetris.
The Foundation sent a volunteer to demo Minecraft: Pi Edition at Mojang’s MineCon conference, which took place in Paris at the weekend — noting that he was able to write a simple loop which “simultaneously changed the position and type of blocks being placed, which soon resulted in lava cascading from mid-air and setting fire to the wood below”.
The more creative programmer will only be limited by their imagination. Want to build a digital clock into the wall of your house which displays the real time? Easy. Want to get back at a friend who stole your precious diamonds? Remove the floor from underneath their feet and let them fall into a pit of lava. The possibilities are endless.
The Foundation says its goal is for Minecraft: Pi Edition to be released by the end of the year — and offered as a free download, so even more kids can start cutting their coding teeth on Minecraft’s blocks of virtual earth and ore.