Extend Minecraft with BuildCraft

I will admit, I love Minecraft. I can’t help it. There’s just something about slaying a square-headed zombie with a diamond sword that makes me happy. And coming across blocks of lapis lazuli while building a dungeon makes my day, probably more so than I’d like to admit. I’m addicted.

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What I love about this game is that not only can it be played from several different angles, it’s heavily extended by fans and players, and can be modded to do just about anything you want. The only limitation is imagination.

When I saw the BuildCraft mod, I had to have it. Gears. Pipes. Factories. Be still my heart. The best thing about my job here at SourceForge is that I get to tell you guys about awesome projects like this. And the second best thing about my job is that I get to talk to the people who *make* awesome projects like this.

Enter SpaceToad, creator of BuildCraft.

The idea for this mod came when he became weary of adding block after block while building a long transportation system around his world. Realizing that what he was doing was just a matter of creating patterns of blocks, he thought it would make a perfect mod. When he took a look at the list of mods available, he was “thrilled by the endless diversity of the mods out there.” So he gave it a shot, and BuildCraft was the end result.

Sample BuildCraft Recipe

Sample BuildCraft Recipe

SpaceToad is no stranger to writing open source software; it’s what his employer does. However, this is the first time he has created and contributed to an open source project out in the wild.

When I asked him why he personally contributes to open source, he told me, “Since I’m working in that open-source company, I’m very sensible to the whole open-source aspect, from a strategic point of view more than an ideological one. As for a lot of people, I had this spark of anxiety at some point where I told myself ‘oh my god, people are going to steal my work.’ But that’s total nonsense – if people want to get things, they will. Let’s embrace this fact instead of (vainly) fighting against it.”

SpaceToad goes on to say, “Open-Sourcing BuildCraft has proven to be an extraordinarily successful idea. People have been sending bug reports showing where things are wrong in the code, with suggested patches. How would that have been possible otherwise? This eases as well offspring mod creation. And strengthens development durability. How many Minecraft mods have died because their initial creator decided to stop upgrading to new Minecraft versions? In the case of BuildCraft, if I’m losing interest, I know it’ll be easy to pass the baton to somebody else.” I totally agree in that building community around a project really will help ensure its longevity.

There are currently two other committers to the BuildCraft team; Plashal, who works on the game graphics, and Hawkye who made the initial vacuum pipe contribution, and fixes bugs here and there. SpaceToad prefers to keep his team small to help with code maintenance and game-play consistency. That being said, he encourages people to be creative and implement their own ideas. “Anyone who wants to add something to the mod can do so by creating their own. Hawkye created a pump system, Eloraam a pipe detector and Leftler a bouncing pipe system. This is just the philosophy behind BuildCraft right now – if you have ideas, go ahead and implement them, you don’t need me! Open source is really an enabler here.”

SpaceToad is completely optimistic for the future of his project. “It’s really only the beginning of the BuildCraft development. My plan for now is to get my hands on all the components that I need to master, before getting to the end piece. Having objects moving in pipes was one first piece of achievement, then managing big entities (like the Quarry) or SMP.”

The roadmap for BuildCraft is flexible. “I need a lot of time and thought to get things right. You’ll see in the tickets a few short term ideas, but long terms ones are on the way. What I can say is that next release will be about additional automatic-builders mainly.”

If you want to help BuildCraft, you can do so by:

If you want to learn more about BuildCraft, you can:

Thanks, SpaceToad, and I look forward to seeing where you take this!

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