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Like a Redstone Cowboy 166

Posted by timothy
from the tinyurl-getrollin dept.
neonsignal writes "Machine creations in Minecraft are becoming increasingly complex as people build on each other's ideas. Some notable examples include a Rubik's cube simulator, a 5-channel music sequencer, a 3D color printer, a 16-bit processing unit, and Conway's Game of Life. My own recent contribution is the world's slowest Universal Turing Machine. I'm now waiting for someone to implement Tetris in Redstone logic."
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Like a Redstone Cowboy

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    First boast!
  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Monday August 29, 2011 @02:33AM (#37239052)

    Disclaimer: I haven't ever played Minecraft, so I might not understand the fuss properly. Please feel free to educate :)

    Haven't games within games been around for a heck of a long time? There are loads of mods that either emulate classics or offer a totally new unrelated game to players. Heck, I recall even playing texas hold em with guildies during raids through an ingame mod when I was playing Warcraft.

    What is so special about minecraft that it makes so many stories? Is it just purely flexibility and users being imaginative, or is there a particular reason that /. loves it so? I recall a post a few months ago about a guy who recreated a good portion of a Star Trek ship in minecraft. Was it merely a slow news day then as well?

    • just watch one of the videos, you will then understand. I's all mechanical 3d blocks.
      mindfuck is easy.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not sure, I'd call it game, Minecraft is more like 3d paintbrush.

    • by 3.1415926535 (243140) on Monday August 29, 2011 @02:43AM (#37239086)

      Part of it is that it's hard to actually make anything using in-game redstone wiring, in the same way that it would be tricky but nerdily rewarding to make a 16-bit ALU using discrete transistors and wires on a breadboard. It also requires digging around in interesting and often surprising environments to actually *get* the redstone to make this stuff, so it's makes a good time sink for addictive personalities. It's pretty different from writing a mod for a game in some scripting language.

      • by Skowronek (795408)

        I'm very much an addictive personality *and* an actual digital designer. My personal reaction to Minecraft's "redstone" crap was a resounding "meh", though.

        In the same amount of effort and time that it takes to build a slow, useless piece of Minecraft logic, I can build something actually interesting in an FPGA by instantiating and placing LUTs (a marginally higher abstraction level than redstone), and have it run at 500 MHz.

        After doing ASIC design, even FPGA design feels a bit like playing with Lego bricks

        • by justforgetme (1814588) on Monday August 29, 2011 @08:18AM (#37240168) Homepage

          I think that You are not getting it.

          You are right on all accounts but ignore the reason why building minecraft machina in a sandbox is more fun than programing an FPGA: Minecraft still is a game, programing FPGA's on the other hand is at best a hobby (if not straight out work for some). So it is the gamelike qualities that encourage for this. The fact that you can have Friends pop into the server your sandbox lives in and help out (or destroy everything). It is the community that you belong to when doing this.

          Don't look at this quantitatively, this is not a survival game in a free economy, this is doing things because you can.
          And that is true nerd spirit!

          • by Skowronek (795408)

            Dunno, I really enjoy Minecraft otherwise (building, pretty landscapes, running around with friends), but redstone logic feels not only like work, but like the most unpleasant part of my work - what I'd call "the drudgery".

            And not only it's like work, but it's also ultimately pointless. You are not exploring new frontiers, you are trying to recreate 1960s tech with wood sticks.

            • by tibit (1762298)

              So, now you know how it felt to be a scribe in the monastery, copying books all day :)

            • by Belial6 (794905)

              you are trying to recreate 1960s tech with wood sticks.

              Now your getting it.

              Really, is building 1960's tech with sticks, any more ridiculous than lighting a fire with sticks? Sure, I could just use a lighter or a match, but it is cool that I can do it with tech no more advanced than a length of rope.

        • by tibit (1762298)

          I agree. But man, this 3D minecraft logic looks beautiful. Maybe someone needs to make a 3D language that looks like mineraft and translates into Verilog or VHDL :)

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        Most who do things like the submission tend to just give themselves the materials if they don't outright use something like WorldEdit to do the work.

      • by tibit (1762298)

        it would be tricky but nerdily rewarding to make a 16-bit ALU using discrete transistors and wires on a breadboard

        Not very tricky. Much simpler than a 3D printer in minecraft. The problemw ith minecraft is that its simulator has glitches, and can mis-simulate when the machine load is high, etc. It's a game, and the simulation logic tries not to lag the display. This makes it non-deterministic AFAIK. It's unfortunate. If you watch the 3D printer video, he has to tweak things all the time -- almost just like with real-world Rube Goldberg contraptions that often work 1 out of 20 times end-to-end.

    • by smash (1351)
      its the amoount of creative freedom you have. you can wire up pretty much anything in redstone, and the landscape is, for all intents and purposes, infinite (at least in terms of X and Y).
      • by nschubach (922175)

        To be totally truthful (fair?) to the casual reader, you cannot make infinitely large creations because mechanics (redstone, pistons, et al.) do not operate if you are too far away.

        • by Internetuser1248 (1787630) on Monday August 29, 2011 @06:23AM (#37239738)
          Once again minecraft shows itself to be dwarf fortress' [mkv25.net] inferior cousin. This is not the only example.
          • by nschubach (922175)

            But with DF you are limited on the embark area... so you have to balance your options.

            The interesting thing (to me) is that DF requires that you build your contraptions using actors (the dwarfs) instead of manually placing all the items yourself. So you have to balance a population of labor's needs with your final goal. You can, of course, cheat in both games. But I still wouldn't place DF on a throne of gold. Toady can only do so much and it feels like things are slowing down.

            • If your computer can handle it, you can have a pretty huge embark area. Bigger than what you get with the player range in MC. Nevertheless I apologise to those who felt my comment was too scathing, they are different games. Still megaprojects were always a major feature of DF, and although the ones in minecraft are more colourful and often more detailed in shape, DF has always been lightyears ahead in terms of moving parts and functional structures. Each to his own of course, I enjoy minecraft too.
          • Dwarf Fortress and Minecraft are two completely different games. Both are centred on 3D discrete block grids. The similarities end there.

            Minecraft is a 3D first person interactive environment manipulation game. Dwarf Fortress is a quasi-interactive, procedurally generated, virtual world simulation. In Minecraft, players make their own fun. In Dwarf Fortress, players are told that "Losing is Fun". In Minecraft, the ultimate goal is to make epic creations. In Dwarf Fortress, the ultimate goal is to make epics [timdenee.com]

          • by bidule (173941)

            Once again minecraft shows itself to be dwarf fortress' [mkv25.net] inferior cousin. This is not the only example.

            Having played both, I'd say you are comparing SimCity to Doom. If it wasn't for DF's hellishly inconsistent interface, I could still enjoy them all. Nethack was a joy compared to this monstrosity.

          • by mldi (1598123)
            Persson has given credit where credit is due for the inspiration of his creation. He has already said he was heavily inspired by DF (among others). Why can't people create something different? Nobody can be inspired? What good is that?
          • by smash (1351)
            Well i guess if you like playing ASCII based terminal games, Dwarf Fortress is superior. Minecraft's graphics are retro enough for me thanks.
          • by kirkb (158552)

            Oooh, "I played (shabby obscure thing) before (mainstream derivative) was popular."

            Go away, hipster gaming troll.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well, in World of Warcraft you can create mods by going out of game and writing some Lua script. The thing with Minecraft is that's it happens in-game, simply as a result of the basic building blocks they provide, and without having to learn complicated scripting languages and APIs.

      I think I am not really doing Minecraft justice with what I said above, but it's really nothing like just having a moddable game.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by somersault (912633)

        I like how you think building a giant in-game circuit for this stuff is simpler than just scripting behaviour.. I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter.

        • by nschubach (922175) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:58AM (#37239678) Journal

          It depends on the person. Some people are more hands on. This is why we have hardware and software engineers.

        • Simplicity has nothing to do with it. Nerds like to see what they can get a machine to do that wasn't necessarily thought of by the machine's designers.

          I remember in high school programming a GUI, Doom, Tetris, and Pong on my TI-85. It would have been a hell of a lot simpler to get a Gameboy. But that would have missed the point.

          Redstone seems to have been mainly thought up in order to run minecart systems. It's a pretty good bet that Notch never thought of making a color printer with it. The fun is in maki

          • That's nice, but I was referring to the "complicated" bit, so it has everything to do with "it". Games such as LittleBigPlanet, Minecraft, GarrysMod, etc are fun, but scripting is obviously a simpler way to perform most general calculations.

            With the physics engines already built into these games, then some goals may be simpler to achieve in the game world than when scripting from scratch of course.. I just think it's bizarre to think of scripting as more complicated than painstakingly recreating an arithmet

    • by Amiralul (1164423) on Monday August 29, 2011 @02:50AM (#37239106) Homepage
      Ever played with LEGO? Ever built your own fort or tree house? Ever went on a beach and built up castles or simply dig holes? Minecraft if the digital version of all of these activities and more (adventure, exploration, unusual landscapes, 3D viewer for models impossible to see otherwise - Star Trek ships for instance).
      • I take it that you've seen the (nearly) 1:1 Enterprise-D that someone built. Impressive for the details, as well as the absolutely ridiculous amount of time needed to build such a thing.

        Looks bitchin' in YouTube, though.

    • by Wizarth (785742)

      The main reason these are notable is these are not mods. There is no programming code involved. This is all done within the games mechanics. And those mechanics are limited to little more then wires and some simple logic gates.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SuricouRaven (1897204)
        One simple logic gate. The NOR gate. That's all you get - any other gate you want must be constructed from NORs. You can have up to five inputs, but getting that type of wireing density requires three-dimensional thinking.
        • by guruevi (827432)

          You can also create an OR (cross 2 redstone wires) and a NOT gate (wire to a block with a redstone torch). But what do you think your current computer is made out of? At the very low level they're all very basic gates of the same type.

          I studied electronics design and while doing the high-level stuff is fun in a simulator, to build a unit we were at some point required to condense all of our logic to as few chips as possible because a single chip can have 4-16 gates but they'll be 4-16 of the same gates and

          • That's not quite an OR gate, because the inputs are coupled together. A problem if you want to drive more than one OR gate off of the same output. Still useful, but not even a true logic gate really.

            It's the redstone equivilent of the EE newbs mistake of thinking they can just couple gate outputs together and get a free OR gate, without knowing what that 'high Z' thing in the datasheet is for. Then their chips go popcorn.
            The restone NOT gate is really just a NOR gate with the unused inputs left unconnected
    • Playing a texas holdem addon in WoW isn't quite the same as building a 16-bit processor out of mincraft blocks and redstone circuitry, now is it?
      • It would be if poker in WoW was built using stuff you found in the world.

        Instead, mods in World of warcraft are written using lua (a programming language, not a world obect). If raid bosses dropped variables, enclosure blocks, and while-loops, and those were needed for building the mod, then that would be closer to what people are doing in minecraft.

        If you want to compare modding within the two games, then things are a bit closer. Modding in minecraft gives a lot more open (ie there are no fly mods in WoW,

    • by varcher (156670)

      Minecraft harkens back to the nostalgia of Lego (incidentally, http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Cl1OHhsao3A/TbkenaqJq1I/AAAAAAAADMo/lInbKf814Z8/lego-minecraft-1.jpg [blogspot.com] is a minecraft scene, in Lego. No less).

      The combination of light gameplay (there's a grand total of 4 hostile - and horrendously stupid - critters that pop out of the dark to annoy you) and the liberty of placing blocks however you want them have proved a massive hook.

      It took me about one hour. And while I'm not the most imaginative of architects, maki

      • by dissy (172727)

        where aspiring architects (most of which cheat anyway) showcase their massive e-block

        I'd just like to add that, at least right now there is no true "game" aspect to this game.
        It's a "game" app in the same category as Lego Digital Designer is a "game".

        The two common modes of play are a) Survival, where you only get the resources you can mine yourself, and have to avoid the baddies and deal with the few game like pieces that won't be done until the final version.

        And B) creative mode, where there are no bad guys, no RPG or adventure game aspect (Outside of exploring), and you get free access t

    • by Tei (520358)

      You talks about games implemented outside of a game that can be played inside. This is about (using your words) games implemented inside of the game, that can be played inside of the game. Or using my own words "hardware implemented inside the rules of a virtual universe".

      Making a mod for a game in Lua or other is a nice thing. But implementing computers using the rules of phisic inside a game is a huge nerd achievement and really nerd-fun.

    • by RogerWilco (99615) on Monday August 29, 2011 @04:24AM (#37239364) Homepage Journal

      It's not about playing the game. it's about creating the contraption to do it. The focus is on the creative process.

      So an analogy in WoW would not be the ability to play an ingame game, but to make it. Remember the chess game from Karazhan? Suppose WoW plugins could make things like that. Suppose plugins could make battleground like concepts, with new types of combat and siege. Or plugins could add dances to the game. Or new model mounts, engineering tools, etc.

      Imagine that kind of freedom. There would be an amazing new WoW addon each month, that would end up as a Slashdot topic. Suppose someone made an addon that would allow parties and raids to meld into a combined form, like Voltron or Megazord. Suppose you had total freedom in how to defeat a raid boss: You could build a wall around it and drown it in lava, or build a cannon and shoot your plate wearing players at it (especially dwarves), fight it as a big human pyramid, so only a few people can move everyone around. Wow can't do that, because it would be totally unbalanced. It would be a lot of fun and give addon developer a whole new meaning.

      That is what Minecraft does: It gives you basic building blocks (literally), and a lot of creative freedom to mould the world.

      It means that the creativity is no longer limited to what the designer of the game could come up with, but the players can add their own creativity. The sky is the limit (literally, as it's only 128 blocks high).

      • It means that the creativity is no longer limited to what the designer of the game could come up with, but the players can add their own creativity.

        It's worth noting that Notch has explicitly stated that one of his development goals is to promote emergent gameplay and creativity. Minecraft is like LittleBigPLanet in this sense; user created content and creativity was the goal from the beginning.

      • by bidule (173941)

        or build a cannon and shoot your plate wearing players at it (especially dwarves),

        Why build a cannon when you can just punt Gnomes at the boss? Some even have the right equipment to survive months inside its stomach. Yeah, it's more fun inventing machinery to punt oversized people, but where will you find a Dwarf with enough ingenuity to create an acid-resistant diving suit?

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        So an analogy in WoW would not be the ability to play an ingame game, but to make it. Remember the chess game from Karazhan? Suppose WoW plugins could make things like that. Suppose plugins could make battleground like concepts, with new types of combat and siege. Or plugins could add dances to the game. Or new model mounts, engineering tools, etc. Imagine that kind of freedom.

        As I was reading this I was thinking "I'd pay for a WoW like that." Then I remember second life and vowed not to pay for a WoW like _that_.

    • by Redlazer (786403)
      The thing about Minecraft, is that these things are being created using the game's tools. Rather than someone developing a mod with code (like lua for WoW).

      Redstone can be used to power items with "electricity", like a Minecart Booster Rail, among tons of other things. Some of them may require a mod to facilitate (the Better Than Wolves mod adds mechanical power to the game, for example).

      -Red

    • by martas (1439879)
      Creating new content is a feature of the game itself in Minecraft (in fact it's pretty much the point), whereas traditionally it's been something that a person with special skills can do outside the game. Or at least that's my understanding.
    • by Spacejock (727523)
      It's legos without running out of bricks.
      • by Lehk228 (705449)
        but sometimes a monster will come out of the trees and wreck part of it.


        just like a little brother does to your Legos
    • by Nyder (754090)

      Disclaimer: I haven't ever played Minecraft, so I might not understand the fuss properly. Please feel free to educate :)

      Haven't games within games been around for a heck of a long time? There are loads of mods that either emulate classics or offer a totally new unrelated game to players. Heck, I recall even playing texas hold em with guildies during raids through an ingame mod when I was playing Warcraft.

      What is so special about minecraft that it makes so many stories? Is it just purely flexibility and users being imaginative, or is there a particular reason that /. loves it so? I recall a post a few months ago about a guy who recreated a good portion of a Star Trek ship in minecraft. Was it merely a slow news day then as well?

      What, google doesn't work for you?

    • I too speak from a position of Minecraft ignorance (I 'think' I logged on once, long ago, when the first Minecraft story piqued my interest, that first hand experience left me mostly unpiqueable for Minecraft since then).

      Anyway, I -believe- the fuss is mostly because Minecraft Classic is a "free" to play game in which creations are "free" for others to copy - so it's kind of a "best of" meld of Free Software, Legos, and Second Life.

      Personally, it looks like a ginormous time-sink to me.

      ------

      It's a scary da

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      I enjoy minecraft, albeit not nearly as much as some.

      The thing about minecraft is that
      a) it's an individual developer, not a giant studio
      b) it's 99.9% sandbox, where you can do whatever you want. It's just basically pieces with a basic set of physics.
      c) it's free/cheap. Dunno what it is now, but I think I paid $5 when it was in beta.

      It's fun to build things (think - unlimited lego set), plus it hearkens back to the halcyon days when gameplay was more important than polished graphics (fwiw I think that's j

    • by SharpFang (651121)

      Imagine a modding engine where to get each character you use in a script of the mod you need to enter an ancient dungeon, fight skeletons and then mine the walls for coding commands. Typing "if(x=0)" feels different than usual if obtaining the "if" statement was forged from two rare ores found on the bottom of a pit filled with scorpions, the "x" was guarded by goblins, the "0" was found floating in shark-infested waters on the seaside and you needed to assemble the "==" from two trees you chopped down.

      Prog

  • This looks kind of like Little Big Planet for the PS3

  • My son got bit by the electronics bug over the summer. He then proceeded to implement logic gates in Minecraft, and used them to build binary adders and other circuits. Is that nerdy enough for /. or what?

    More to the point, I am pretty impressed with Minecraft - that one can use it to create such things.

    • by Spacejock (727523)
      My 13 yo daughter has been running her own minecraft server for quite a while now. She's registered a domain name and runs her own forum & website for the group she plays with. She's also coding the web pages by hand, using a text editor. (Computer programming is her fave topic at school.) Keep 'em off the streets, that's what I say.
      • by djdanlib (732853)

        Keeps 'em off the streets, for sure.

        But it also keeps 'em off the playground, and out of the woods, fields, and streams. Heck, kids are only visiting friends to sit in front of THEIR screens nowadays.

        Don't forget to send 'em outside to play once in a while. Even the most computer-addicted of us needs some fresh air and sunlight to be healthy :)

  • Give me a break (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I mean who would want to know stuff like Mozilla's Community Lead Tyler Downer leaving due to crap QA processes [slashdot.org] or perhaps the fact Nokia's Developer Network was hacked revealing the personal details of thousands of developers [slashdot.org] when we can learn about the bloody wonders of Redstone in Minecraft, land of the unoptimised shitty coding and memory management. Stop putting up this crap or at least post (Since this is games.slashdot.org) some of the PAX [slashdot.org] 2011 [slashdot.org] stuff rather then another Minecraft article.
  • The next step will be patenting everything in Minecraft by using existing patents and adding "in the Minecraft" at the end.
    • by mldi (1598123)

      The next step will be patenting everything in Minecraft by using existing patents and adding "in the Minecraft" at the end.

      Kinda like adding "mobile" in front of other existing patents!

  • sir timothy, thy headline stands out as a true beacon of nerdy-ness in a sea of news for nerds. gaze on proudly at thy screen, o noble warrior, and ponder whither thine own universe or ye olde nefarious existence might stand tall as the universe's slowest possible Turing machine.
  • by arisvega (1414195) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:02AM (#37239476)

    The least that it is, it is a natural evolution of IRC; one can interact with other people's avatars, but the digital environment is much more appealing.

    Already in the game there is a stereoscopic mode; one can choose to set the display in red-blue 3D, and that is only one of the aspects that make this game so immersive.

    Imagine when VR displays and even more immersive technology are commonplace, wouldn't you just appreciate it that such a piece of software exists, one that allows you to create your own virtual interactive on-line environment, and it is ridiculously cheap because its indy developer absolutely loves what he is doing? They (he and his team) went viral just from word of mouth, and made enough money to "exit gracefully" to some undisclosed island- yet they chose to hire more people and develop like crazy. And he was not put down by PayPal withholding his income, embarrassing him to his clients.

    Not only that, but Persson (the creator of Minecraft) has stated that "Once sales start dying and a minimum time has passed, I will release the game source code as some kind of open source."

    C'mon, what more do you want.

    • by znerk (1162519)

      The least that it is, it is a natural evolution of IRC; one can interact with other people's avatars, but the digital environment is much more appealing.

      So, you're saying that we are experiencing the beginning of "the matrix", or whatever name you'd like to apply to "cyberspace", as described in books such as Neuromancer [wikipedia.org] and Snow Crash [wikipedia.org], or game systems such as Shadowrun [wikipedia.org] or Cyberpunk [wikipedia.org]?

      • Didn't really work out. Second Life made an effort, but it just showed that for most online purposes you don't want to be aware of everyone else. It's really only good for chatting, gaming and flying penises.
      • by arisvega (1414195)

        So, you're saying that we are experiencing the beginning of "the matrix", or whatever ..

        With google around, half a billion individuals in facebook and 3 billion people undernourished? That thought crossed my mind, yes.

        What, not dystopian enough for you? You want victorian white zeppelins with brass knobs and levers floating about, is that it?

        • What, not dystopian enough for you? You want victorian white zeppelins with brass knobs and levers floating about, is that it?

          Actually, it is too dystopian without white zeppelins with brass knobs and levers for me.

  • by mentil (1748130) on Monday August 29, 2011 @05:28AM (#37239550)

    The animations I've seen make translation look neat, I bet it'd look neater with 3d blocks in a video game. Somehow.

    • Hmm.... Not quite doable yet, but if there was just some way to sense the presence or absence of a block (without relying on water removing torches, which is one-shot) then I can see how you could at least make an RNA-like replicator. Insert 'strand', get copy.
  • I've gotten sucked into the Minecraft vortex, and amongst my several major sculptures I've also gotten fairly handy with redstone wiring.

    I produced a 50 meter bust of Hatsune Miku (modeled in Blender), and inside the head, a friend of mine collaborated and we made a fully operational "Dance Dance Revolution" game complete with 3 row scrolling step display, a reward/prize dispenser for good "dance" moves, and a programmable music system. Every block and circuit was harvested, traded, and placed legit... no W

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