Mavis Minecraft Teaches Coding – Part 1

Actually this isn’t written by someone called Mavis, but instead by RPS chum and former Wired staffer Duncan Geere, who you may remember from his Sim City 2000 retrospective. In this first of four parts, he takes you through the ropes of basic coding via the modern marvel that is Minecraft. Everything’s done in game, and it all begins by punching a tree. Take it away, Duncan.

New year! New you! New Kids On The Block! New Romantics! Nu-Metal! New Games Journalism! January is the perfect time for personal improvement – most people try and lose weight, quit drinking or speak a new language. But you’re going to learn how to code, and you’re going to do it by playing Minecraft.

There’s a brilliant mod called ComputerCraft that was released just over a year ago, on Christmas Eve 2011. It’s the creation of a very smart chap called Dan200, and it adds in-game computers with a full OS, filesystem, and a selection of built-in programs. Over the course of a short series of articles, I’m going to teach you how to write software that can password doors, automatically mine, make a big digital clock for your base, and even send chat messages to other players’ in-game computers.

That’s just the beginning of what’s possible. If you explore further, you’ll find printers, touchscreen monitors, printers, programmable jukeboxes, games-within-games, or even pull in the contents of Minepedia so you can get Minecraft help from a computer in Minecraft.

It runs on the widely-used and easy-to-learn programming language Lua, so as well as learning some basics of programming languages in general, you’ll also be able to “update your CV” with a “transferrable skill”. Eat that, careers advisor.

Getting started is easy. You can download ComputerCraft from the Minecraft forums. It’s free. However, it does require a little bit of fiddling around in java folders, so there’s actually an easier option.

The awesome Technic Pack includes ComputerCraft by default and doesn’t require any mucking about, so if you prefer then you can just download the Technic Pack and run it that way instead. If you do that, make sure you select “Tekkit” in the drop-down when you login. In these tutorials I’ll be working from version 1.481 of ComputerCraft, running in 3.1.2 of Tekkit Classic.

So, where do we start? Well, it’s Minecraft, so go punch a tree. Then, build a shelter, start a mine and so on. You don’t need to go overboard, but make sure you’ve got a creeper-proof place to work from – either below the surface or raised above the ground. The last thing you want when you’re coding is a green face leering over your shoulder.

You’ll also need some supplies, but not much. For this tutorial, you’ll need about ten blocks of stone (not cobblestone, you need to run it through a furnace first), four redstone, one bit of paper, and a single pane of glass. Once you’ve got all that together, you’re ready to go.

The first thing you’ll want to build is the computer itself. For this, place a pile of redstone dust in the centre of your crafting bench as a CPU, a pane (not block) of glass below it as the screen, and fill out the rest with a stone shell. Voila. You’re Alan Sugar. Now to turn you into Bill Gates.

Put your computer down somewhere nice (a fence post or two makes a nice desk) and right click it. You’ll get a command prompt.

This will now behave quite a lot like a regular computer. It has a text editor, a file system with directories, and so on. For those of you that remember fiddling around with DOS, you’ll immediately be somewhat at home. If you don’t, don’t worry – I’ll talk you through the very basics.

First, let’s explore around a bit. Type “ls” and it’ll list the files in your current directory. There should only be one, called “rom”. Go into that directory by typing “cd rom” – which translates to ‘change directory rom’. If you ls again here, you’ll see a bunch of files and folders. Type “cd ..” to go back up a level to what’s called the root folder – the top of the chain. If you get lost, typing “cd /” will take you back to the start from wherever you are.

It’s worth noting that files and directories look identical in this interface. To work out whether something is one or the other, use the type command. For example, in the root directory, typing “type rom” should return the word “directory”, indicating that it’s a directory.

Let’s get coding. We’ll start with something very simple.

Type “edit helloworld” at the command prompt to open a new folder in the text editor called helloworld. A blank screen will appear with a flashing cursor and “Press Ctrl to access menu” at the bottom. At the top, type the following, paying careful attention to upper and lower case.

print(“Hello world!”)

Then hit control, then enter to save that file. Then control again, right arrow to move to exit, and then enter to exit the text editor. The “print” command tells the computer to output something to the screen, so all we’re doing here is telling the computer to output the words “Hello world!” to the screen.

Now type “helloworld” at the command prompt to run your program. If all goes well, it should look something like this.

If not, go back through the steps again making sure you didn’t miss anything out. If it hangs at any point, hold ctrl-T to terminate the current program. If you want to start completely from scratch, hit Esc to leave the ComputerCraft interface, whack your computer with a pickaxe until it drops and place it down again. Or just type “reboot” or hold down ctrl-R for a second. But the first option is more fun.

For kicks, you can type “ls” again to see that there’s now a file in the root directory called “helloworld”. That’ll stay there until you reboot the computer, but to keep it more permanently (or perhaps transfer it between machines), you’ll want a disk drive.

Build one of those by placing a pile of redstone dust in the middle and centre bottom slots of the crafting bench and filling the rest out with stone again.

Place the disk drive next to one of the faces of the computer. But a disk drive is useless without a disk, so to make that, combine one sheet of paper with a pile of redstone dust. Right-click the disk drive, and put it in the slot. If you’ve been lucky enough to find a record on your travels, you can also put that in the disk drive and use the “dj” command to play it.

Now if you use the computer and type “ls” you should see a directory called “disk”. Anything you put in there will stay there, permanently, so long as you keep hold of that disk. To copy our helloworld program there for safe keeping, go back to the root directory and type “cp helloworld disk/helloworld“. This is basically telling the computer: “copy the file called helloworld to a new file called helloworld in the directory called disk”.

To check it’s worked, destroy the computer with your pickaxe (and even the disk drive if you want), and then place it all back — not forgetting to put the disk back in the drive. Then type either “cd disk” then “helloworld” or just “disk/helloworld” to run the program.

Congratulations, you’re a programmer. A bad one, sure, but you now know how to navigate the Lua filesystem, create files, and save them to disk. You also know how to print text to the screen. Next week, I’ll show you how to create an intruder alarm, a passworded door and a digital clock for your base.

In the meantime, feel free to have a poke around the filesystem and particularly the /rom/programs directory. If you want to look inside a file, just type “edit “. You can’t do any damage that simply breaking the computer with your pickaxe and placing it down again won’t fix.

If you want to be extra-prepared for next week, gather a bunch more of each of the resources from above (particularly redstone), as well as some iron bars. Good luck hacker, see you then.


  1. Decimae says:

    Feed The Beast is a more updated modpack with mod author permission(which Technic doesn’t have for most mods).

    • Robhol says:

      I’m pretty sure they actually do have permissions nowadays. I know there are several mods they’ve removed from the pack over lacking permissions.

    • IceWolf says:

      We do in fact have all permissions in the pack.  Also, you can use Tekkit Lite which is built for Minecraft 1.4.6 which has the most up to date version of ComputerCraft availible.

      • dan200 says:

        Actually, I’ve never received an e-mail from Tekkit/Technic asking permission for CC to be included, and I know a lot of other modders who say the same. I’ve always been broadly pro modpacks though, as they do make things a lot easier for players, and they’re the people we make this things for afterall.

        • IceWolf says:

          I’m sorry for any miscommunication in that area dan. Between your license stating that you encourage modpacks to include ComputerCraft, the excited post on your thread when we included you, and the fact that the Technic Team is one of your top donators, it was assumed that we were on the same page. If you have anything you’d like to discuss I’d love to hear from you on the forums, irc, or any other means you prefer. Thanks for all the work you do and keep it up!

          • dan200 says:

            Yeah, you interpreted correctly that I’m pretty happy in general with the wider audience that Tekkit/Technic brought my mod to. I think I summarised my views on the topic pretty well asked about it during the modding panel at Minecon.

          • jinains1988 says:

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          • pepper says:

            For lack of a better place/space:

            Thanks to both of you(and your teams) for all the hard work, I still have to give cc a go in tekkit, but so far me and my friends are having a blast. Love the concept of cc as a programmer, it feels very natural!

          • uh20 says:

            and then the ad-bot arrives, that is just PLAIN embarrasement

            but really, i owe it to you and other’s programming-games such as roblox and garrys mod for getting me to try and program at such an early age as 7 (joined roblox within weeks of it starting) . before I end my teens and get kicked out of the house 4 years from now to do something boring like, what, filing papers… is that a normal job?

            i just started into actual development-development (actual C++/opengl with a cross platform engine, and fancy free DE’s) one year ago. and have got the, well… “prototyping” done. (you dont want to see this characters walking animation i assure you)

          • Universal Quitter says:

            I liked how the ad-bot almost seemed like it was trying to be the voice of reason. A mild non-confrontation followed by “friends!”

      • Sheng-ji says:

        You may have sorted it out now, but the attitude of Kaker, and the “behind the scenes” threats and bs justifications were nothing short of disgusting.

        • IceWolf says:

          While you’re totally entitled to your opinion, the notion of threats and some dire “behind the scenes” conspiracy is not only false, but kind of insulting. Regardless, this is not the place for such an argument so lets keep it to how awesome ComputerCraft can be. As always, if you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact me directly and I’ll do my best to sort it out.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            I’m done contacting you directly and I’m all about airing your dirty laundry in public seeing as how your godawful goon cronies literally bullied me out of the minecraft modding scene. I can back up everything I write with primary evidence too. Incidently, you are not a moderator for this site, so stop being so arrogant as to tell me what I may or may not talk about here. You wanna be a mod on one of the best regarded PC gaming sites on the internet, make your own site and earn the communities respect, you ain’t shit around here.

            The bs I was talking about is how when I complained the mod I had created had been included without my permission, I was told that because I had received considerable publicity and a lot of donations for my mod as a direct result of inclusion in the pack that they felt perfectly justified.

            I have no donation button, nor do I receive any money from advertising. Any donations collected on my behalf have never been paid to me. My mod was never supposed to be big, I didn’t want the publicity.

            Mean while, while these public, untrue statements were being made, in private communication, I was being told that if I continued to make a fuss, the goons would be unleashed on me – which eventually happened and that “someone” would remake my mod, exactly, which also happened. I haven’t even checked to see if they ripped off my code or not, I don’t care any more.

            I am far from an isolated incident, need I mention Better than wolves?

            So fuck you, this is fact, not opinion. It is my opinion that this is a disgusting way to behave, disrespectful to the hundreds of hours I put into my mod, for free, for anyone to enjoy gratis.

            I didn’t actually have a problem with the inclusion in the pack, I would have liked to have been asked first, because I needed to keep all the fan mail, complaints and tech support emails way out of my life – I would have liked the chance to set up a forum first so my life wasn’t buried by the deluge of publicity, but no. I didn’t get that and now you will never benefit from my modding experience ever again, I’m done with it. The internet moved on and left me and people like me behind.

          • T-man says:

            That sounds terrible, Sheng-ji. May I invite you to #technic on synirc so that you can clear any bad air you might have with the technic team?

            And, just so I have a clearer understanding of your problems, what mod did you make and when did this happen to you?

          • IceWolf says:

            I’m sorry, but I have no idea who you or what your mods are. I must also regretfully inform you that I do not have a group of goons or cronies which I use to threaten people. If this happened to you then I’m incredibly sorry that it happened, but it had no affiliation with me or my team. Furthermore, you are correct that I am not a moderator on this site, which also happens to be one of my favorites, I was merely suggesting that we keep the discussion respectful and on the topic that the author intended.

            As previously stated, I’d love to talk to you directly and hash out any perceived wrongs there are between us and to go over whatever ‘primary evidence’ you have to show me.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            I will never, ever personally identify myself, not by naming any of my mods or by associating myself with the identities I used to use, wanna know why – wanna know how sick those goons got?

            They vandalised a tribute to my dead 2 year old son.

            Those sick bastards and their actions destroyed a marriage which was hanging on a thread due to the above, they hurt my mum and dad as well as the inlaws. They made me seriously consider suicide. You know what, I don’t need to paint you a vivid picture of how that shit affects lives, and believe you me, I will not invite this into my life again.

            I know you two guys probably had exactly zero to do with that, I understand that by chatting about situations in chatrooms and making posts on forums does not make you responsible for the actions of the people who used that information to try by any means to mold technic to their whims – but the person who told me in IRC that he would not be responsible for the actions of, and I quote “his loyal goons” knew the power of Something Awful, yogscast and the charisma of kakermix and what would happen if he shit stirred.

            As far as I’m concerned, it’s done. I hold two grudges and only two – and those are grudges held against usernames, and I realise just how fruitless that is. The past is the past and I’ve learnt, as I said above, that the internet has changed and now seems to be packed full of people who be unpleasant to each other from a veneer of anonymity. Wake me up when Something awful is a place I can visit without feeling physically sick, modders don’t cut each others throats, chatrooms aren’t full of flame wars, forums don’t wage war on other communities and people don’t get rich from the kind of tactics used against me and god knows how many others.

          • FionaSarah says:

            I sense a Slowpoke stoogey trolling sockpuppet.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            I don’t even know what that means, I’ve not touched minecraft since so I’m well out of the scene. But now the word trolling has been bought up, and people are starting to flood to my old mods website, I sense that whatever tribe takes offence at my words has started their investigations, I’ll bid you goodnight.

            Don’t think I’m silenced though, I’ll never forget what was done to me in the name of Technic Pack.

          • Phantoon says:

            “I have words to say and no evidence nor interest in backing it up!”

            Yep, sure is the internet. If something terrible really had happened, and you were innocent, you’d probably have more interest in saying who you were and what they did, so people would take your side. As is, your comments are spurious at best, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you around before doing the same nonsensical drivel.

            TL;DR [citation needed]

          • Ich Will says:

            @Phantoon – Actuallt Sheng-ji states explicitely that he has evidence! And if that story is true, and at this stage accusing him of lying would be doing what you just said he did – slinging around words with no evidence- because if that story is true, my god I wouldn’t personally id myself either! Have you seen what something awful people do??? They are fucking crazy bad man!

          • Chalky says:

            Not referring to Sheng-ji specifically, but the sense of entitlement from a tiny minority of modders is quite astonishing and I feel sorry for what the modpack maintainers have to put up with much of the time.

            They take a game that someone else has made, modify it without asking permission, make money from their modification of other people’s code, then think it’s OK to forbid people from improving on their work by bundling it and making it compatible with other mods?

            It’s a real shame. In every other game, mods are made for free for the love of coding. It really sucks that games have to put things in their terms of service to actually prevent people from acting so unreasonably with the mods they create.

            Hopefully the API terms of service when it is eventually released and put an end to this nonsense once and for all.

            It’s fine to get donations from people who appreciate your work, but trying to throw your weight around and force people to go through malware infested adfly links or whatever really isn’t ok. People want to play your stuff – be thankful and let them enjoy it how they want to.

            *edit for clarity*

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Chalky, I guess you missed the bit where I wrote:

            “I have no donation button, nor do I receive any money from advertising. Any donations collected on my behalf have never been paid to me. My mod was never supposed to be big, I didn’t want the publicity.”

            and the bit where I wrote:

            “I didn’t actually have a problem with the inclusion in the pack, I would have liked to have been asked first, because I needed to keep all the fan mail, complaints and tech support emails way out of my life – I would have liked the chance to set up a forum first so my life wasn’t buried by the deluge of publicity, but no. I didn’t get that”

            But do feel free to condemn me in public based on a fairytale you made up in your own head, that makes you look very intelligent.

          • Nim says:

            I do not mean to intrude in the argument but are you sure this conversation is appropriate to have here? This seems like a very personal matter to some of you and this is a public space after all.

          • FionaSarah says:

            No this is a fine place, the more people that get to see the blackhole of insanity that is the Minecraft modding community, the better. Eventually it will be the only way that they get off the highest horse on the planet and realise that they’re just making silly mods for a cartoon internet lego game.

          • Chalky says:

            Sheng-ji – sorry, the threading of the comments here makes it look like I was replying to the end of this thread when I was really aiming for further up. I’ve edited my reply for clarity.

            As far as your specific situation goes, unfortunately your mod didn’t need to be included in tekkit in order to become popular. You released a mod onto the internet, there’s a chance it’ll become really popular all by itself. Although it’d have been nice for one of the tekkit team to contact you in advance – that’s a long way away from talking about “threats”. Maybe they tried to contact you but were unable to, etc.

            Modmods are a common part of the modding scene of any game and minecraft is no different. When you put things online, people will pick them up and run with them and there’s never anything you can do about that. Tekkit isn’t the bad guy doing some evil thing – they’re a step in the natural progression of the game that was always going to happen. The immense popularity of the modpack is testament to the fact that it’s the right thing to do to combine these mods.

            About donations – you really should set up a donation link somewhere. If your mod is as popular as you say, it’s only fair that people are able to reward you for your efforts if they are able.

            On my original point, there is a significant rot in the minecraft modding community involving entitlement – and even though you’re not part of that, you sure sound like it when you come in throwing around accusations about a mod pack that you were included in.

          • Llewyn says:

            The sense of entitlement from a tiny minority of modders is quite astonishing.

            As opposed to your sense of entitlement which is entirely unsurprising.

          • Chalky says:

            As opposed to your sense of entitlement which is entirely unsurprising.

            What do I believe I am entitled to?

          • Llewyn says:

            Exactly the same things you accuse mod makers of feeling entitled about: the ability to take advantage of the hard work of others for your benefit. The difference between the two is that mod makers actually contribute something through their creative efforts; they add value. The users of mod packs don’t.

            Note: my previous comment was posted at exactly the same time as your follow-up to Sheng-ji, in which you seem to take a slightly softer line. My comments are solely in response to your earlier comment about the entitlement of mod makers.

          • Chalky says:

            Note: my previous comment was posted at exactly the same time as your follow-up to Sheng-ji, in which you seem to take a slightly softer line. My comments are solely in response to your earlier comment about the entitlement of mod makers.

            *edit* Ah, ok, fine. Sorry, I should read the entire thread before hitting the reply button in future – I didn’t realise where my reply would appear on the page when I clicked reply further up.

            Thanks for introducing me to this blockquote markup by the way, after the confusion earlier I feel it’s a very useful tool!

          • Llewyn says:

            Edit: Yes, we’re perhaps talking at cross-purposes a little here. It can make for good discussions when two people are commenting at the same time but it can certainly get confusing as well!

            And yes, blockquote is a very handy little thing :-)

          • Phantoon says:

            “The creators of mod packs don’t contribute anything”

            Besides the time taken to find the mods, make them all compatible, make a launcher in the case of Technic, etc.

            And Ich Will, you’re entirely missing the point. If he has evidence, why isn’t he presenting it? This is not the Wizard of Oz.

            As a neutral party in this, all I can say for certain is it’s hard not to take the side of the mod pack people when all I’m hearing is a bunch of drivel from the other side. Since apparently this is a bigger deal than not being respected, which also has not been explained.

            But no one seems to be willing, or even capable of explaining why mod packs are the New Worst Thing Ever™. I can’t say I can take the side of someone who presents an argument as “Us VS Them” and then makes themselves out to be a bunch of lunatics.

            So, explain it. Otherwise, my hyperbole about lunatics wasn’t hyperbole at all.

          • FionaSarah says:

            It’s because of

            No, I’m not shitting you. I will tell you that making mods work together is a pretty herculanean effort, especially a large number of mods. Mod pack creators just want to do the hard work so the average player doesn’t have to. That extends into one-click launchers and the like.

            Modders want you to click their links and who cares what the players want, it’s my unique experience. You must play it how I want you to. I wish most modders would just not release their mods because they clearly don’t want people to actually play them.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Chalky, I’m ever so sorry I didn’t realise you were’nt directly talking to me – I got myself all upset by the wretched memories being brought up again and wasn’t thinking straight. To not accept donations for me is a deliberate choice. Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with other modders providing a donation button and I realise that at any moment, it could have got very popular because of the internet and believe it or not, my issue did not begin when I found my mod included, it began when I found they had included a bugged version of my mod. I asked them to remove it from the pack until I could set up the forum and provide them with the correct version and thats when the, what I can only describe as extortion began. This is what I had the problem with, the two people who threatened me if I didn’t let them keep my mod in their pack. I don’t respond well to that kind of behaviour and thats when I pulled my permission entirely for my mod to be included. This was never respected and you know what, I don’t give a fuck that I was writing a mod for notches game, that was my code and it was being distributed without my permission. Probably not illegal, but a shitty way to treat someone who spent hours creating something they apparenty couldn’t do without. Please bear in mind I bent over backwards to make sure my mod was compatable with as wide a variety of other mods out there. It was and still would be compatable with BTW despite a clash of several edited base classes, and that’s saying something, thats how much effort I put in. It would have been compatable with the entire Technic pack without modification, so it’s inclusion wasn’t needed to ensure compatability.
            Am I entitled for refusing to allow any old person to distribute my code? Maybe, but thats an entitlement I’ve earnt through my own hard work. Admittedly it is code for someone elses game, and you know what, if Mojang ripped it directly into their game, I would not have had a problem with that, not one single problem. But Kakermix is not Mojang, not even close.

            Phantoon. How am I supposed to present you my evidence? Copy and paste it here? You’ll accuse me of making it up. Post a file for download – too easy to forge. The only way my evidence will make sense to YOU is if you come to my house and examine the file for yourself. Not gonna happen unless you can demonstrate to me that once I’ve proven to you that I am telling the truth you can provide me with something amazing to help me. That evidence only makes sense to people who were in those chatrooms at the time, to whom I only need to provide a time and date and they can cross reference with their own logs – If I told icewolf a date, time, IRC channel and names he would be able to ask those people for their chat logs and see the conversation for himself. So I can prove myself to the people I accuse of these things very easily. Whether you believe me or not is only relevant if I care what you think. Long past caring, if you have my warning and go ahead and disbelieve it then you can’t bitch and moan quite so hard if those same people do this shit to you. Up to you really.

            FionaSarah. As I don’t have, it really wasn’t because of that. It was because I had already made that herculean effort and I wanted to retain control over which version of my mod, i.e. not my error strewn test version but my proper release was actually being distributed. Then, after that it was because people were threatening me and do ing disrespectful things to me. I have principles and if you disrespect me, you don’t get to profit (financially or other) from my work.

          • Chalky says:

            Chalky, I’m ever so sorry I didn’t realise you were’nt directly talking to me

            No worries, my post was really confusingly phrased and appeared at the end of a discussion that I’d not read in full so it’s totally my fault :D

            I just wanted to stick up for the tekkit guys a bit because there are some real horror stories out there about what a small number of modders have done to preserve their adfly revenue – stuff like people putting in code to intentionally corrupt the save files for anyone who uses their mod at the same time as tekkit and stuff. Really messed up things. Obviously, that’s got nothing to do with you so sorry for the confusion.

            I hope you can chat with the tekkit guys and sort this out – they seem to be pretty reasonable people and you’re clearly not someone who’s being irrational, you just want a good experience for the players and that’s commendable.

            I hope it all works out :)

          • MrBRAD! says:

            Through the magic of google, I deduced with certainty that Sheng-ji is a fanboy of a certain notoriusly unstable modder and is creepily posting (and emotionally reacting!?) in place of that actual modder like some sort of mentally-broken doppelganger.

            I swear there’s a movie like that, where the creep acts more and more like the target until they eventually replace them and leave them wondering if they were really the original….

            Sorry, Duncan Geere and RPS, and please enjoy your comments’ trip to near the bottom of the barrel of the internet- entitled minecraft modders’ fanboys.

          • aepervius says:

            up to now the only EVILNESS I saw was the creator of the forestry mod *intentionally* changing its mod so that if it detected tekkit installed, it would destroy people world. Think about it for a few seconds. That guy (sir sengir I think?) is a total utter dick. He could simply have made the mod do nothing and output a message, but now he went nuclear bomb on the usser of tekkit.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            MrBrad, please enlighten us all with your deductions, it seems like you skipped showing your workings and so we can’t work out where you made a mistake!

            I have very deliberately avoided giving information which can isolate my mod and therefore identify me – even people with inside knowledge could only narrow me down to 1 of 4, because of people like you, who will try to trace me and presumably do unpleasant things to me.

          • Salix says:

            Enough please, this really isn’t the place for something like this.

          • zbeeblebrox says:

            Ugh. The whole minecraft modding and modpack community is apparently filled entirely with whiny highschool girls. Everyone get over yourselves.

          • Kestilla says:

            I dunno who Sheng-Ji is, but between a complete lack of identification, a reason why anyone should care, absence of evidence proving a grievance, and tremendously long-winded paragraphs continuing a battle begun someplace else long ago, I conclude I have no reason to even read what he’s said let alone be swayed by it.

            I’ve been wronged in the past with no possibility for recourse, but it looks like he doesn’t even know who is responsible for what he claims, leading to a double or perhaps quatriplintuple dead end and vast swimming pools full of wasted breath against people against whom no ground will be gained.

            On the plus side, I am still quite enjoying Minecraft but haven’t gotten into modding due to the lack of official support and the world-obsoleting nature of modding in the face of continual patches by Mojang.

          • MellowKrogoth says:

            Remixing and sharing ideas, stories and now anything digital and easy to share is the most natural activity known to man. If you don’t want people to do whatever they please with what you released, then keep it in your dark basement and relish in the fact that you have full control over your precious creation.

            If you release stuff and people use it and like it, you should feel gratified. But no, you prefer crying because they didn’t grovel enough before your greatness before using your work.

            That’s even assuming that what you’re pretending is true, btw, because your story has lost credibility in every post you made. Either way, this comment is adressed to any and all modders.

            I really miss the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. modding scene where people freely stole code, ideas and assets from each other, for the great benefit of the players, and the worst thing that happened was some minor bickering… none of this ridiculous soap opera.

          • DrazharLn says:

            Although this story is extraordinary, I think that Sheng Ji’s frequent posts to the comments here lend her some credence.

            Very strange.

            If RPS could get hold of the alleged evidence and attempt to follow up the claims, that could be very interesting.

          • Universal Quitter says:

            Arguments like this are why I stopped paying for cable. This is easily twice as entertaining as a BS cop drama, or a “reality” show. I should’ve made popcorn.

            EDIT: Oops, sort of necro-posted there. Damn you, beer. Not again..

    • spacevagrant says:

      Yeah Feed the Beast is a better mod pack all around in my opinion. The community is more mature and the forums don’t promote ignorant behavior like the tekkit one. An example is they have a section set aside just to show arguments between people in the Minecraft modding community that happen across the net, even if they happen on other sites or irc channels. The whole forum is like one giant troll fest.

      • Phantoon says:

        But what does the community have to do with the modpack?

        • frightlever says:

          The community has everything to do with it, if you ever need help with the modpack.

          • Phantoon says:

            Makes sense.

          • xanthan says:

            Technic has a good community. The fact they can laugh at morons being morons doesn’t change that.

            Furthermore none of that relates to trolling. Please learn what a term means before you use it.

  2. gjrud says:

    Nice article, I already knew all this but I can see how a new player could find it very enlightening. I would have avoided mentioning just the Technic Pack considered the author’s attitude towards the mods makers, but if you want to do so I would suggest to also put in the feed the beast pack/launcher, which is the second most known technical pack after technic, also the first to be considered by the mod’s authors when developing. I apologize for my English.

  3. AmateurScience says:

    Great stuff, looking forward to the next one.

  4. Kaira- says:

    “you now know how to navigate the Lua filesystem”

    Wouldn’t that be more of Unix-filesystem, with all the Unix program calls (cp and ls) and things like that?

    Anyhow, interesting stuff, I guess I oughta bust out my Lua-books and try fiddling around a bit with this mod.

    • Biscuitry says:

      While that’s true, if the reader understands the distinction, this article is probably not aimed at them. This is about the basics, and introducing Unix into the equation is just asking for trouble.

      • SquareWheel says:

        “if the reader understands the distinction, this article is probably not aimed at them.”

        True, but it’s still a mistake that shouldn’t be taught to new readers… In this case just “filesystem” would suffice, no need to mention Unix.

  5. robjwells says:

    Any beginners who find this fires their imagination may also like to check out Ars Technica’s newish Programming for All series if they can’t wait for next week.

  6. GallonOfAlan says:

    This is gold dust. Imagine it on the Pi version. JUST IMAGINE IT.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      It’s like looking into a mirror that is actually a bottomless pit that has a mirror at the bottom, that also contains me, looking at me, from inside me.

    • grundus says:

      Imagine, right, the Pi version combined with that guy who worked out how to control LEDs in real life with buttons in Minecraft, except stuff in Minecraft controls the Pi’s I/O pins… You could have home automation controlled from inside Minecraft, should you wish to completely lose your mind in a fit of ‘what is even real any more?’ er, questioning of yourself. Shit, my intelligence has run out.

      No but really, you could probably have instant messaging to not only ‘computers’ on the server, but also ‘computers’ on other Minecraft servers or indeed real actual computers.

  7. Jhoosier says:

    Someday I’m going to wake up and find a mod that allows minecraft to fix me breakfast.

    Hopefully I’ll keep following this so I can have a transferable skill.

  8. dan200 says:

    Wow. I just got tweeted at about this article, I’m amazingly flattered to have my mod featured on the frontpage of a site I read every single day. If people are keen to know more about the mod, you could do worse than to watch when I was interviewed on MineTV, or the panel I sat on at Minecon last year. I’ll probably be F5-ing this page like an idiot tomorrow, so ask me anything you like here as well.

    • grundus says:

      What is the significance of the 200 in your name? Were you mocked as a child for having numbers in your name?

      Also, would ComputerCraft work with this sort of thing: link to ?

    • frightlever says:

      Not knocking the article, which is interesting and which will probably prompt me to re-install Minecraft, but the acrimony in the comments above does make me wonder if a mod maker should be contacted, purely as a politeness, before something like this is run on such a high profile site as RPS. Just a thought. Creators and mod-makers may like to feel they’re part of the loop.

      • Phantoon says:

        I think that’d be kowtowing to pressure, if the rest of the comments are any indication. It’d be like a film maker not allowing critics to review his movie unless he knew they’d give it a good review, or expecting a good score for games holy shit do these mod makers think they have access to IGN or something? I just had an epiphany moment while typing that out. Is there a word for that? I doubt it. This is stick chuck. So mods have come full circle, and they’re not even real games?

        I am too tired to contemplate the absurdity of this. I was also going to make a reference to Kevin Smith throwing a fit about people not liking Cop Out, but couldn’t fit it in.

      • dan200 says:

        It would of been nice to be notified, but I don’t think a site should be in any way obliged to do so, and they certainly shouldn’t have to ask permission (that would be quite a corrupting influence on what is supposed to be journalism, afterall).

        As it is, I read RPS every day anyway, so it’s no biggie.

        • colweb says:

          you might be bothered if you were tight on bandwidth on your site…

          great mod btw :D

          you said ask you anything, any big plans for future with the mod?

          • dan200 says:

            When I get the time I’d like to finish adding Handheld Computers; basically smartphones in minecraft.

    • DrugCrazed says:

      I can’t help but feel I’ll not enjoy programming without things I’m used to when I code elsewhere (namely tab completions). Any chance things like that will be put in?

  9. Tiax says:

    Excuse me but what’s the point of learning to program on a computer built inside Minecraft ?

    • Jhoosier says:

      Because why not?

      Also, from the article: “I’m going to teach you how to write software that can password doors, automatically mine, make a big digital clock for your base, and even send chat messages to other players’ in-game computers.”

    • HothMonster says:

      Tangible immediate rewarding results in a game world students will want to be in even when the lessons over?

    • Phantoon says:

      What’s the point of anything in Minecraft? Or video games? Or life?

      • LionsPhil says:

        A better question is “if you want to learn to program, why would you cripple yourself to awkwardly doing it inside Minecraft?”

    • GallonOfAlan says:


      Because kids love Minecraft, and games, but not necessarily coding. So if you can get some basic principles into them while they think they’re playing a game, who knows, you might be creating the next Notch.

    • Draakon says:

      So you can make automated crafting factories, making all that diamond armor and tools just by pressing a single button. Or even sorting all your useless cobble and whatnot into nicely arranged chests.

      This really like asking why is a kid playing in a sandbox? Because its fun.

  10. Lim-Dul says:

    Popular Minecrafft video producer/redstone wizard sethbling has also started an ongoing programming series on his channel for absolute beginners:

    link to

    It’s not that interesting if you know programming already but could be regarded as a handy introduction to Lua instead. =)

  11. yapper says:

    This mod looks brilliant and I hope it gets a lot of people into programming.

    It makes me genuinely gutted that stuff like this and the Raspberry Pi weren’t around until recently. If they were around while I was in school, I would have got into programming a lot earlier. School was awful – the only thing we did with computers was dick around in Word and Powerpoint for 5 years. It’s a good job that the government have come to their senses and realised that IT education is in a proper state and programming is a more important skill than learning how to use software that will be obsolete within a few years…

  12. JackMultiple says:

    Wow, I was expecting their would be flying pickaxes I would have to shoot down with the “P” key. Nice retro-ference in the title there! :)

  13. cpy says:

    Technic pack is unlicensed use of mods and nobody should really use it that have respect for work those modders did for minecraft.

  14. tumbleworld says:

    Good grief.

    These comments might finally be the reason I uninstall Minecraft.

  15. MikoSquiz says:

    “You can’t do any damage that simply breaking the computer with your pickaxe and placing it down again won’t fix.”





  16. IceWolf says:

    If I told icewolf a date, time, IRC channel and names he would be able to ask those people for their chat logs and see the conversation for himself. So I can prove myself to the people I accuse of these things very easily.

    That’s specifically what I was asking for. I’m not trying to stand here and call you a liar, I want to get to the bottom of the situation and hopefully right any wrongs that I can. Specifically I would like to know who was saying these things to you so I and fix the problem at it’s source. As I said before, I would completely understand for you to not want to post any information like that publicly so please feel free to PM me on the forums, irc, whatever you prefer.

    I’m also sorry that we’ve dragged this comment box out waaaaay to far and made it quite difficult to read. Keep up the great articles and the great mods and keep the imagination going. It never ceases to amaze me what people are able to create.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Oooh, interesting! I already am a programmer (though I know next to nothing about Lua), and I haven’t really played Minecraft in over a year, but I am still curious about what you can do with this mod.

  18. Nice Save says:

    I read down to “You’ll need 5 pieces of redstone” and decided to go get some before continuing, and now it’s 4 hours later and I have about 10 stacks of the stuff and I was supposed to be at the pub by now and I can’t stop…

  19. PopeRatzo says:

    Absolutely pathetic.

  20. Giuseppe says:

    I plead ignorance on this subject, but going simply by the comments on this article, someone might get the impression that the Minecraft modding community is not something one would like to be a part of, unless they want to interact with jerks, intellectual property thieves and the mentally deranged.

    • xanthan says:

      Except for theft part yeah pretty much. You have people like Sir Jackass who put malware in his mod instead of asking for it to be removed from Technic or FlowerChild who quotes Ayn Rand and has a name related to hippies but runs his own private forum like a dictatorship.

  21. ghoststalker194 says:

    This is really cool. I’ll make sure to stay up to date with this!

  22. ghoststalker194 says:

    When will the next part be uploaded? :D
    I’ve learned some new tricks myself in the meantime and I’d love to continue.

  23. HelenSmithe22 says:

    Brooklyn. if you think Marvin`s c0mment is unbelievable… on friday I bought a great new Mercedes-Benz S-class from having earned $9741 thiss month and would you believe, $10k this past-munth. it’s certainly the most-financially rewarding I’ve had. I started this 5 months ago and immediately began to earn minimum $84, p/h. ,

  24. stripeypants says:

    I am having trouble with the text editor, and was wondering if I could get some troubleshooting advice.

    “Then hit control, then enter to save that file. Then control again, right arrow to move to exit, and then enter to exit the text editor. The “print” command tells the computer to output something to the screen, so all we’re doing here is telling the computer to output the words “Hello world!” to the screen.”

    When hit control and enter, nothing seems to happen. I assume it saves the thing anyway. When I hit control and right arrow, it doesn’t allow me to exit. I’ve tried hitting control first then the right arrow button, and also doing both at the same time. If it helps, I am doing this on a machine running ubuntu linux.

    By the way, thanks for making these tutorials! I have avoided learning coding forever because it must makes my eyes glaze over, but this tutorial seems really easy to follow.