Thesis

Minecraft and mental rotation: Part VI

Continuing off on the problems I ran into last week, I had two goals in mind for this week:

  1. Give better controls to the players in PCM, the condition of Minecraft-playing where players are limited to movement along a rail
  2. Make design decisions on how players will build the structure

Earlier in the week I solved the better rail control problem using powered rails. I’m not sure why but last week I did not think to look in the Minecraft wiki on usage notes. I digress. Once activated using a redstone torch, powered rails allowed me to go much faster, but does not give me the ability to break or stop locomotion without using a deactivated powered rail. What I plan to do is place the powered rail block intermittently along the path since players will be able to break and change direction on normal rails. Here’s a video showing the initial set up to get myself acquainted to the powered rail block.

The other giant elephant in the room was how I was going to execute the limited controls over building structures while still giving players in the PCM condition opportunities to visualize their thinking before committing to a choice.

PCM-01

After a discussion with my thesis advisor, we realized that the original concept did not work for a variety of reason. This solution specifically ran into problems after the first structure is built, where navigating to other parts of the castle would require extreme planning on my part to make sure no decision would interfere with a pathway. In addition, the old way presented all the choices at once in a limited fashion. The overall agency that the players had was too limited to a fault. I wanted them to actually spend time making decision rather than just pressing buttons to get through quest.

PCM Concept

The new concept, when conceived the presence of my professor, involved a series of buttons that players can interact with:

  1. Forward
  2. Backward
  3. Set
  4. Undo

Rather than seeing all the options at once, the player can go through and see all of the options before setting the structure down. This requires more coding on my part but it is not impossible.

This idea came about because I wanted players to interact more with Minecraft. More or less the intended effect is that players are now exploring the thought process in their head in a digitally-mediated way but with limited control schemes. The setup presented mimics more of how players in the PCM condition can build and destroy individual blocks as they go.

In deciding on this method, I went to work on laying out the overall plan for executing. My thoughts got to a point where I needed to clarify via paper.

Overall, the blocks on the surface would trigger placing a redstone block in a space below where the structure is being built. This will execute the code to clone the previous saved area to the previous working area. Then the current working area will be cloned to the save area. Finally the current structure will be cloned to the current working area. While thinking about the buttons I had to set up, I realized that I don’t need an undo button since they players will be able to move forward and back as much as they want before they hit set. Once they hit set, the quest to build that specific structure will complete and the player will have to move onto the next structure.

While my advisor and I discussed this new method of building structures in PCM, I realized that I forgot to add in the adjustment time to acquaint the user to the controls and what they do and do not have access to. We decided that we needed to limit the amount of blocks that the players had access to in FCM to make sure they weren’t starting grandiose structures that would not be finished in the time allotted.

For this week, I’ll be implementing the new system and testing it. Since I’ve been out of Minecraft in design land, I will make improvements to the map by adding more barrier blocks and trees to prevent players from wandering around to potentially visually interesting area.

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