Lesson 1: Introduction and Setup
So I’m sure you’ll all be very pleased to know that our lesson plan this time involves programming Minecraft! Minecraft, for those of you who don't know is a game about building and breaking blocks to build beautifully amazing structures, just as your imagination intended.
Picture: Someone here has built a house, garden, and what seems to be a swimming pool.
Soon we’ll see what you can do…
The difference though is that most people that play Minecraft just use a mouse to click and drag/drop pre-made blocks… What we aim to teach you to do is to learn the coding behind the game which will enable you to build whatever blocks you want, build intricate structures very quickly, and at the end of the lesson plan, race your friends in a game of “Who Can Build the Best Maze?”
Raspberry Pi? What’s that?
So you’re probably sitting in front of your computer right now with a little see-through box and a bunch of wires staring down and thinking, “what is that and what am i supposed to do with it?”. Well, basically what you’re looking at is a cheap, small computer that plugs in to a monitor and uses a regular keyboard and mouse to operate it. It is a great way to teach students about computing, especially in languages such as Python (which you’ve had an introduction to and shall continue to use in these chapters). We will be using the Raspberry Pi to run a pi-based version of Minecraft (which should already pre-installed on your SD cards<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>).
Setting Up the Pi
So, first things first, here’s a list of the items that should be in your possession:
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> SD card: the memory card inserted into the underside of the Pi; it can vary in memory size and be interchanged, but you should be working with a 4 or 8GB card pre-installed with a software called NOOBS. Consult your supervisor/teacher if you do not have one of these already.
1) The Raspberry Pi with its power cable
2) A HDMI cable (or any cable that connects from the Pi to a monitor)
3) A keyboard and mouse
Getting it Up and Running
<![if !supportLists]>1) <![endif]>Task number 1? Well you’ll need to plug in all your cables; plug the Pi into a power socket, put the SD card in the Pi, and connect the monitor, keyboard, and mouse to the Pi. If there is a green/red light lit up on the Pi, you're ready to go! ***(On a side-note, this setup chapter may be tedious and slow, but once you get everything set up and running smoothly you'll have nothing to worry about except having fun by playing and hacking Minecraft, and letting you imaginations run wild.)***
<![if !supportLists]>2) <![endif]>On your screen now you should see a bunch of different softwares that you can run on the Pi. The on you want is the recommended one, called Raspbian. Select this one and wait for it to finish downloading before continuing (should take 5 to 10 mins).
<![if !supportLists]>3) <![endif]>If for any reason you do not have Minecraft already installed on your Pi’s, then you should visit this website (http://pi.minecraft.net) and download the free version onto the Pi. You then may need to unzip the file (by double clicking or right clicking and pressing unzip). You should unzip this file, called mcpi, and put it on your desktop for easy access.
<![if !supportLists]>4) <![endif]>Click on the minecraft-pi file to run it and you should be good to go! (If clicking on it doesn't work you may have to open a program called Terminal. In there type cd Desktop/mcpi followed by pressing the enter key. Then type ./minecraft-pi and the enter key again. This should open<![if !vml]><![endif]> up minecraft for you).
<![if !supportLists]>5) <![endif]>Now feel free to walk around the world and explore a bit. Every time you exit the game and reopen it, it should save your progress, so don't worry about losing any work that you do. Use these controls to navigate the Minecraft world. Spend a solid amount of time doing this so that you get used to the game and understand how it works. If in doubt, use the internet to look up different things people have created using Minecraft (there are many funny videos on youtube.com) ————————————————————————>
<![if !supportLists]>6) <![endif]>After exploring for a while, you’ll want to start hacking Python, and learn the coding behind the game to help you build and play at a deeper level. To do this you should start by opening another program called IDLE which should be on the Desktop (make sure you're using IDLE and not IDLE3!) Save the file where ever you want by going to File > Save or using the shortcut buttons Ctrl + S.
<![if !supportLists]>7) <![endif]>The classic test that computer scientists and/or programmers carry out on a new program or with a new language is the Hello World test, where you get the program to display the message<![if !vml]><![endif]> “Hello World!”. Lets try to do this:
<![if !supportLists]>1) <![endif]>type this into your IDLE window exactly as displayed. ->
<![if !supportLists]>8) <![endif]>Save the file and then run it by pressing F5
Make sure you become comfortable with all of these steps. The instructions above should be sufficient for getting you set up and started with Minecraft and the Raspberry Pi, but in the event of confusion or misunderstanding, don't forget that you have a little resource called the internet, and maybe even your teachers will be able to provide assistance. Good luck!