Using the MinecraftEdu Build Tools

Overview

As part of my “Differentiating Instruction through Technology” class (#diffimooc) I have been working with a small group of educators to use a derivative of a popular game, Minecraft, to create a simulated environment in which students can collaborate together to solve problems by building.  For example, if a group of students wanted to work together to design and build the fabled second crossing across the Gastineau Channel, they could all collaboratively use Minecraft as a simple-to-use vehicle to create different options.

Although you can always build block-by-block this can quickly get tedious.  That’s why there’s computers in the first place!  Fortunately there are a few different tools that are bundled within MinecraftEdu to make the problem easier.

Story Map

Script

What’s wrong Steve, feeling blue?  You’re supposed to build a house for a MinecraftEdu unit for your class but you’re not sure you want to build this up block by block for your students?  If you’re thinking that building worlds block by block is too much of a hassle, have I got news for you!  There’s a couple things bundled with MinecraftEdu to help immensely in the creation of a world for your students.

We’ll make use of the MinecraftEdu build tools by enabling the build mode inside of the teacher’s menu.  Open up the teacher menu by pressing ‘P’, checking to see if Creative Mode is set.  We’ll turn on ‘Build Mode’ which turns on a whole host of features, including long distance building.  The Fill / Clear tool is used to build areas of blocks automatically after you mark your first and second corners.  You can also set the number of blocks to place at a time by changing the value as shown here.  This is handy incidentally if you would like to build a cuboid: set the height in number of blocks, and place a stack of blocks.  Set the place amount back to 1, and then use the “Fill and Clear” tool again, selecting the top block of the stack you just placed, and the bottom opposite corner.  If you want to turn the solid cuboid into a hollow block, you have to do some fancy maneuvering: select the top corner here, and then dig down into the side of the block to find the bottom corner here.  Make sure you have nothing in your hands, and then hit the “place block” key.

Building the roof is cumbersome - you can build successive smaller squares or rectangles using the fill and clear tool and working your way up.  But once we’re done with that, there is our house!

Surely there’s a better way to edit though?

In comes WorldEdit.  We’ll start by marking our first point of our foundation here, and then move to the opposite corner of the foundation here.  We’ll shift our selection up by one, and expand it to the desired height of our building.  Then we’ll tell WorldEdit to build walls for us made of brick.  After making a door and a chimney, we’ll make our roof in the shape of a basic pyramid.  I’ll stand right in the center of where I want the roof to be, and then I’ll tell WorldEdit to build a pyramid of size 6 of block 121 (End Stone), and then there’s the roof!

The last thing I want to show you is how to use WorldEdit to tell us the size, position, and number of blocks in a selection.  To find the size we’ll first select the first corner and then the second corner of our object, expand it up towards the sky a safe distance, and then use the “//size” command.  After that we can use the “//distr” command to give us the block distribution.

Let’s build a quick world!

Story Table

Narration

Media

What’s wrong Steve, feeling blue?  You’re supposed to build a level for a MinecraftEdu unit for your class but you’ve tired of how long it’s taking to get something ready for your students?

if you’re thinking that building worlds block by block is too much of a hassle, have I got news for you!

Screencast: Minecraft character viewed in third person, nodding affirmative to the questions.

Audio: Minecraft zombie sound at the end, highlighting the grind.

We’ll make use of the MinecraftEdu build tools by enabling the build mode inside of the teacher’s menu.  Open up the teacher menu by pressing ‘P’, checking to see if Creative Mode is set.  We’ll turn on ‘Build Mode’ which turns on a whole host of features, including long distance building.  The Fill / Clear tool is used to build areas of blocks automatically after you mark your first and second corners.  You can also set the number of blocks to place at a time by changing the value as shown here.  This is handy incidentally if you would like to build a cuboid: set the height in number of blocks, and place a stack of blocks.  Set the place amount back to 1, and then use the “Fill and Clear” tool again, selecting the top block of the stack you just placed, and the bottom opposite corner.  If you want to turn the solid cuboid into a hollow block, you have to do some fancy maneuvering: select the top corner here, and then dig down into the side of the block to find the bottom corner here.  Make sure you have nothing in your hands, and then hit the “place block” key.

Screencast: showing entering into teacher menu, enabling build mode, and building the foundation using the fill / clear tool.  Then use the place tool combined with the fill / clear to show how to build a cuboid.  Then show hollowing the walls out using the clear tool.

Surely there’s a better way to edit though?

In comes WorldEdit.  We’ll start by marking our first point of our foundation here, and then move to the opposite corner of the foundation here.  We’ll shift our selection up by one, and expand it to the desired height of our building.  Then we’ll tell WorldEdit to build walls for us made of brick.

Screencast: display the selection of an area, shifting it up and expanding it to form the general wall area.  Use the “walls” command to create the outside walls around the selection.

After making a door and a chimney, we’ll make our roof in the shape of a basic pyramid.  I’ll stand right in the center of where I want the roof to be, and then I’ll tell WorldEdit to build a pyramid of size 6 of block 121 (End Stone), and then there’s the roof!

Screencast: showing the “pyramid” command to generate a simple roof.

The last thing I want to show you is how to use WorldEdit to tell us the size, position, and number of blocks in a selection.  To find the size we’ll first select the first corner and then the second corner of our object, expand it up towards the sky a safe distance, and then use the “//size” command.  After that we can use the “//distr” command to give us the block distribution.

Screencast: select the corners of the selection, again raising up and then display sample output of the “//size” and “//distr” commands.

Now let’s build a quick world!

Undercrank shot of 3rd person view of world building.

Credits.  Shot of world blowing up with TNT.