Minecraft: Pi Edition – video demo and more details

We’ve had loads of questions about the upcoming Minecraft: Pi Edition over the last couple of days. We sent Daniel Bates, one of the University of Cambridge PhD candidates who volunteers for Raspberry Pi, to Disneyland Paris to join Mojang for their announcement at MineCon on Saturday. He got back yesterday with some video and more details about what you’re going to see when a download’s available. Over to Daniel!

What do you get when you combine Mickey Mouse, some game developers from Sweden, and an inexpensive educational computer? Good news all around! I was at MineCon in Disneyland Paris this weekend where we unveiled an early version of Minecraft: Pi Edition.

This new version is based on the Pocket Edition of Minecraft, which you may have seen running on mobile phones and tablets, but has one key difference: you can program it. 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 has been in development for less than a week, but already Daniel and Aron from Mojang have got it running really smoothly. It runs on all versions of the Raspberry Pi with no overclocking necessary. Liz interjects: Daniel F from Mojang emailed me yesterday to say they’re seeing 40fps with a 256MB Pi, although the development work was done on a set of 512MB boards. (They say they want to optimise it more, but I couldn’t detect any slowness in my time with the game.) There’s currently the ability to place any block at any location, ask what type of block is at any location, and keep track of events such as player movements, with more features planned.

We see this as a very exciting way of drawing children into programming. The game can be played with no programming at all. Then, basic programming can be used to place large numbers of blocks in particular patterns to speed up the building process – the audience burst into applause when Daniel wrote 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 goal is to release Minecraft: Pi Edition before the end of the year, free of charge. We hope that this will further advance the Raspberry Pi’s aims of getting children excited about computing.