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Parents Guide to Minecraft Modding 2020

Minecraft modding is one of the most popular ways to ease your child into the world of coding! If you are not familiar with Minecraft and how you can learn coding, here is your guide below!
Minecraft is an open-ended sandbox video game with a 3D computer-generated world with many modes of gameplay. In the Survival mode, players must gather key resources (such as wood, food, ores), use crafting recipes to construct weapons (such as axes, fire torches), and avoid enemies (such as building a house to stay away from mobs). In the Creative mode, players are given readymade access to resources and do not have to worry about enemies or staying alive. They can focus on constructing structures of interest, e.g., a replica of a clock tower (hence the name “Creative”). There are other modes but Survival and Creative are the more popular ones.
Minecraft was originally created by the Swedish video game programmer Markus “Notch” Persson in 2009. With other co-founders, he started the company Mojang to popularize and distribute the game. Mojang completed beta-testing and released the first stable version in 2011. Microsoft acquired Minecraft and Mojang in 2014.
Here are answers to your FAQs about minecraft modding.

Is Minecraft a violent game?

Minecraft is actually one of the least violent games ever! The characters are cartoon-like and made up of blocks. While animals and players can die in the course of gameplay, remember that this is depicted using lego-like blocks so there is not even the appearance of violence. The game itself emphasizes creativity, exploration, free-form construction of structures, and multiplayer collaboration.

What does Minecraft modding mean?

“Modding” is short for modification, so Minecraft modding means you are changing the game to add more features, capabilities, or alter the gameplay in some manner to make it more interesting. For instance, a Minecraft mod might give you a pickaxe or additional armor and a different Minecraft mod might give you additional food to survive in the game. Yet another mod might build a complex structure for you (e.g., a settlement) in a snap. Because Minecraft is an open-ended game, mods are ways by which game designers and players bring their own creativity into the game.

How does my child learn programming through Minecraft Modding?

There are two ways you can do modding: through visual programming (block-based programming) or through textual programming languages.
Microsoft has made available new visual programming extensions such as Microsoft MakeCode to mod Minecraft. If you are familiar with the Scratch programming language, MakeCode will look and feel like Scratch, but designed for Minecraft. Students will snap together blocks to create complex programs and these blocks are specific to the Minecraft game environment.
Here’s a really cool video of a Kodeclik student’s work where the program builds a nice house with a roof, window, and door.
If you are an older student and familiar with textual programming languages, you can create Minecraft mods using languages like Python, Javascript, and Java. MakeCode has a Python interface and this enables students to write Python code to achieve the same functionality as the block-based modifications above. In fact, the system even shows a one-to-one correspondence between blocks and Python code which is great for students transitioning to textual programming languages.
Finally, there is a separate Minecraft Java Edition and there is a whole community of open-source programs doing Minecraft modding in Java.

Which version of Minecraft should I use if I want to do Minecraft modding using MakeCode?

If you have a Windows computer, you have two ways to get Minecraft. In the first approach, you purchase “Minecraft for Windows 10” from the Windows Store and then you install a software called “Code Connection” (which Microsoft gives away for free) which is essentially how MakeCode connects with Minecraft. Together, they give you the ability to learn coding using a block-based environment.
The second approach requires you to obtain “Minecraft: Education Edition” which Microsoft gives access to via schools (you cannot purchase it as an individual). You can goto https://education.minecraft.net/get-started, enter your school email id, and check if your school is part of this program. If yes you are in luck! Minecraft: Education Edition already comes bundled with a MakeCode builder so you do not need the Code Connection software mentioned in the previous paragraph.
If you have a Mac, you only have the Minecraft: Education Edition option above. Follow the steps in the previous paragraph to verify if your school has licensed it for its students.

I keep hearing about Minecraft Bedrock Edition. What does that mean?

The Bedrock edition of Minecraft originated from porting and adapting Minecraft to platforms like Xbox, PlayStation, and FireTV, and this has now become its own thread of versions. This version of Minecraft has different rendering engines, new Minecraft world and mob functionality, and support for virtual reality and multiplayer collaboration that is not available in regular Minecraft versions. Minecraft modding for the Bedrock edition uses Java as the programming language to create and explore mods.

What is Minecraft Forge?

Minecraft Forge (https://minecraftforge.net) is a one-stop place for all your Minecraft modding needs if you are using the Java edition. The site is actually three things. First is the Forge software, which is the mod installer/loader. Second, the site has free code for many Minecraft modding needs, texture packs, skins, and more. Be careful to check compatibility before downloading and installing since the version numbers change rapidly! Finally, the site has a forum for modders to come together and discuss issues/ideas.

Do I need to run my own Minecraft server to do Minecraft modding?

Setting up your own Minecraft server is not necessary to do Minecraft modding. You can do Minecraft modding just by yourself on your desktop or laptop.
Recall that Minecraft is a multiplayer game so if you would like your child to play Minecraft with his/her friends, they need to be connected to the same server. In the Minecraft world, this will manifest as player entities corresponding to their friends which is really nice and gives them a common environment to navigate. It takes a little bit of work to setup and use your computer as a server and once this is done, your child and friends can bring up Minecraft, connect to this server, and play together. They can construct structures together or play a game amongst themselves.

Are we hacking Minecraft by doing Minecraft modding?

“Hacking” usually means somebody gaining unauthorized access and circumventing intended usage and policies. Minecraft is designed to be an open-ended game and Minecraft modding is the way by which the game designers intended for the game to be extended to new uses and applications. So Minecraft modding is not the same as hacking.

What skills does my child learn by Minecraft modding?

Minecraft modding helps your child acquire a range of skills. First, whether they do Minecraft modding using MakeCode or Minecraft modding using Java/Python, they will learn basic programming skills such as conditionals, loops, functions, and creating complex programs from smaller parts. Second, your child will use Minecraft modding to acquire problem decomposition skills. For instance, how does one create a circular field of flowers? What constructs are needed to create such a field? Or, what steps do I need to build a farm? Finally, through Minecraft modding, your child will be introduced to new creative means of expression. They will begin to see Minecraft modding and programming as a way to showcase their individual skills not very different from art.

What courses does Kodeclik offer for me to get started in Minecraft modding?

Kodeclik offers both a 6-week after school course in Minecraft modding as well as a 16-week detailed course in Minecraft modding. During the summer, Kodeclik also offers action-packed programs in Minecraft modding (spanning a week each).

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