Minecraft Add-Ons Introduce Programming to Modders
Whenever I walk into a hands-off meeting during E3, I never know what to expect. Especially when running late having completely missed the overall introduction to the meeting. When I walked into an E3 demo with the Mojang developers, I was excited to see an opened text editor. This meant that we might be diving into some code and that honestly made me really happy.
The developers at Mojang have figured out a way for gamers to create add-ons without breaking the game. During a hands-off demo at E3, I got to see first hand what they had planned. Players will be able to create add-ons to the game by altering JSON Objects. A JSON Object is a fundamental programming object that allows developers a way to store and share data. It contains properties that describe something within the game. In this demo, the JSON Object is altering various Minecraft characters allowing properties of one character applied onto another.
This data driven architecture will make it easy to incorporate these add-ons across all other editions of the game. Users create add-ons on Windows 10 and have their creations playable in other versions like Pocket Edition. They are hoping that this engages creativity without the hassle of learning how to code. Players will be able to customize the game by simply altering the contents of a text file. It’s a easy as copying contents from one file and altering a few properties to create something new and unique.
Since the game will never break if players make a mistake, that makes troubleshooting an ordeal. Players will have no way of knowing what they might have done incorrectly. This might be the one drawback that might cause some to stay away from modding altogether. Breaking things is a way to know that something is wrong. If nothing happens then where do you begin to troubleshoot. When asked, the developers suggest utilizing a text editor that is meant for development. This editor would be able to highlight issues in the file they are editing. I also suggest jsonlint.com—you can copy and paste your object and the site reports the errors found.
Even with that troubleshooting drawback, why does this update excite me?
Mojang created a way to future-proof Minecraft. Enabling all future versions to be able carry over a player’s add-ons. Nothing would ever be bound to a specific update. Additionally, this gives gamers a glimpse into the wonderful world of programming. JSON is a data object that programmers are highly familiar with. So, anyone who starts modding, would begin by simply editing these JSON files. Then as they play around with those files they might want to dig further. This could be an entry way into other aspects of development. It might begin with a text file and eventually lead into something bigger.
†Images provided by Xbox Press Site