Minecraft Makershop: The Final Countdown

After months of waiting for this to happen, it’s finally almost here. Tomorrow will be the first day of Minecraft Makershop and I’m both excited and nervous. Mostly excited though. I was worried my ideal wouldn’t get off the ground after I got the grant, but I’m very pleased with how things have turned out so far, and thought I’d give an update of what’s happened since the last time I wrote about Minecraft Makershop.

The last time I wrote about Makershop was back in March after my grant proposal was accepted. Originally I’d planned to update as I went along, but I got caught up in other things and other blog updates. I definitely was busy at work these past 3 months though!

One of the first things I began doing with my grant proposal was taking the basic ideas from it to begin a book on creating a Minecraft Makershop. The book itself is meant to be for anyone who would like to start a similar workshop of their own based on what I started. Three months later and I’m still adding bits and pieces to it. I think I’ve finished another draft stage of it, and it’s currently at 44 pages. I’m not completely satisfied with it yet though, so I’m sure it’ll go through more edits before I finally released a PDF for anyone to download. I do plan to have it ready to submit with the report I have to turn in for my grant.

It took some time before I was able to work on the actual set up of the game world that I would use. I really should have downloaded the MinecraftEDU launcher before mid-May, but I was busy with other things at work and home. I did make sure the launcher was set up on the school computers around the same time, which turned out to be a good thing because the school filters for the region blocked access to the program. I had to communicate with the tech guy from the local RESA to get it fixed. All he had to do was pass the issue on to his head, and they fixed a few things to allow it to work at the school I will be using the program.

Of course, once it was set up at school to work, I was able to work on setting up the game world in between the crazy final closing up shop for all things technology. Planning the idea for the layout of the world was easy. Actually building it? Time consuming, but that’s really because of what I chose to do. Before I explain what I ended up building, here’s the excerpt from my Makershop book that explains what the world needed:

World Requirements

Flat World- In order to make setup as easily as possible for your group, it is best to have a flat
world. This will give you as much space as necessary, without having to worry about land barriers getting in the way. Do keep in mind that you can still spawn villages and mobs if you wish.

Creative Mode- You’ll want your flat world to be in creative mode so that attendees have access to
all of the blocks that they’ll need. If they’re not in creative mode in the flat world, they won’t be able to get other supplies anyway, unless you give them to the attendees.

Area 1, Days 1 & 2- Area 1 is what we will call the workspace in which attendees will complete
the activities for Days 1 and 2. Each attendee will need a workspace setup, which can be done using border blocks or fences. 30 x 30 spaces gives the attendees plenty of space to work with. You may wish to put down a road between the spaces to make it more appealing to the eye. Each attendee will label their workspace with a sign, as per the directions for Day 1.

Area 2, Day 3- Area 2 is what we will call the workspace in which attendees will complete the Day 3 activity that allows them to make any kind of building, as long as it meets the specifications set forth in the instructions. Again, each attendee will need a workspace, and since the attendees can make any kind of building, 50 x 50 spaces allow them plenty of space. Again, roads can be put down to make it more appealing, and attendees will label their workspace with a sign.

Area 3, Days 3-5- Area 3 is the largest space that will be created. This is the workspace in which
attendees will collaborate in groups to design a village or city. For Area 3, workspaces that are 300 x 300 each will give groups plenty of space to execute their plans. The amount of workspaces in Area 3 will depend on how many groups are created for the final project. For Area 3, only set up the border blocks. Do not include anything else inside.

Teleportation Blocks- Because the world will be spread out over such a large area, teleportation
blocks will make it easier for attendees to move from area to area. Make sure to make the names for each area easy to understand.

Home Block- Use this to set the area that students will appear in-world upon logging in.

Right! So setting up should have been easy if I’d stuck to the whole KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle. I did not. For Area 1, I decided to build a simple layered wall around the entire area to demonstrate what some simple layering could do to liven up a build. Here are some examples:

This is the workspace for all of the registered attendees. Each space is a 30 x 30 square surrounded by a regular fence. This took longer than I would have liked to set up because I was just getting used to the extra tools the EDU version had. You can see the beginnings of the wall being built around the entire area.

This is the final completed wall for Area 1. It’s really nothing fancy, but it shows how textures and layering can begin to transform bland builds.

If Area 1 wasn’t bad enough, then Area 2 was awful. Well, not really. For Area 2, I wanted to also build a wall, but I wanted it to be more in detail. I found a wall I liked on PlanetMinecraft and tried to copy parts of that design. I did not download the file, so everything I did was based on my own measurements and visual. It took forever to get all of this wall done, though it looks pretty fantastic, and gives Area 2 a more intermediate feel, which goes along with the increase in difficulty for the workshop. Check out these pictures:

This is the start of the wall for Area 2. It took forever to measure out how everything would look, as seen by the purple wool. I wasn’t sure how the measurements would pan out for the corner towers, as I was just estimating.

Here you can see more progress on the wall itself. I ended up having to do each detail bit by bit around the whole wall before moving on to another. This was the most time consuming part. The only thing left to complete now are the corner towers.

Finally, the corner towers are all completed. I attempted to follow most of the design from the website file, but since my measurements for the corner towers were different from the start (which I knew), it turned out differently and I mostly winged it.

Just for fun, I changed the time to night and took a night shot of the tower to see what it looked like at night.

Area 3 was an easy setup because all I had to do was wall off 200 x 200 spaces for each group to work with. I simply used the border block feature for this. This makes them look bland right now, but the goal is for students to create the visual:

Well, at least I could follow the KISS principle for Area 3 spaces…

Because I want to be able to pull the world off of MinecraftEDU and use on the regular game, I set up a rail system to travel back and forth through all of the area. Mostly this was for aesthetics I’ll admit, but it also gave me a reason to build simple train stations that doubled as teleport stations. Again, I ignored the KISS principle. However, the stations
did look nice in the end:

Far away shot of the original station.

View from inside one of the stations toward Block City, aka Area 2 in my world.

The last thing I did for each area was write up the directions for the activities to be completed. I added the information blocks and made them easily visible.

Page 1 of the directions for Primary Village, aka Area 1 in my world.

Once this was done, the world was ready to go. I did a few final test runs with one of the student accounts, just to make sure everything worked the way that I wanted it to. I was pleased with the end result, and am eager for students to log in and build.

Outside of setting up the world and working on the drafts of the Makershop book, I’ve been going over the extra supplies that I bought for the workshop. Some of the materials come from the grant, and others are things I bought myself. There’s reference books from the grant, and then I bought graph paper, cheap flex binders, and graph paper. I’m hoping that it’ll be enough to give the students plenty of ways to plan and collaborate together because I know every plans how they build in Minecraft differently.

Keep an eye out this week for further updates on Minecraft Makershop. I’m hoping to be able to update nearly every day of the workshop and share some of the image progress as the week goes along. This is going to be a huge learning process, and I’m ready to tackle it so that I can reflect for future similar experiences!

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