Devdiscuss Podcast: Developing in Minecraft and Roblox

DevDiscuss S3:E1 - Developing in Minecraft and Roblox

In this episode, we talk about coding in Roblox and Minecraft with Genevieve Johnson, senior instructional designer at Roblox, and Gabriel Simmer, community and partner engineer at CircleCI, who at 16 built NodeMC, a tool that can be used to build dashboards and spin up servers in Minecraft.

So before we get into chatting with Genevieve and Gabriel, let’s talk about what Roblox and Minecraft are high level. We’re going to get into much more detail there, but they’re both video game platforms. They both appeal to children and adults and have a lot of players. They’re open, extensible video games. And the reason it’s so interesting from a developer perspective is that both these games have really interesting development platforms. So in different ways, Minecraft and Roblox are very, very extensible. Roblox really pushes this explicitly. Minecraft is a little bit more community driven, but either way, a lot of folks have gotten their starts and programming with these platforms. It’s sort of a gateway activity into our field…

As someone who uses Minecraft to teach kids computer and programming skills–and really to try to encourage those kids who might not find their way into software without a gateway like gaming–I found the amount of thought and intention put behind these efforts by companies like Roblox and Minecraft really encouraging.

S: Yeah. My development background has been pretty varied, but a lot of it did stem from my love of Minecraft. So I initially started off sort of very basic embracing the in-game tools and building some basic servers with some friends, just sort of playing around. It wasn’t until I started to get into the money aspect of it that I really became more interested in computers and programming in general. I never really got into sort of a single player modding side of things. I focused a lot more on creating fun experiences and mini games on the server side of things. And that’s definitely sort of directed my journey. So I started off doing that, doing sort of very small fun mini games for Minecraft servers, eventually built up to being a sort of CIS admin support person at a Minecraft server host, which is where I spent a lot more time building out the platform that you mentioned, NodeMC. So I had a lot more time to really explore and delve into the server side of things, both at personal investigation level and also in a slightly more professional environment. I sort of bounced around, did some time doing professional Drupal and PHP development, eventually coming over to where I am now at CircleCI where I’m really exploring a lot of continuous integration, continuous deployment. And with that, I’m slowly getting back into Minecraft and incorporating all of the learnings that I’ve had throughout my experience. I recently published an article on continuous integration and continuous deployment for Minecraft resource packs

BH: Awesome. It’s really going to be interesting to discuss how one activity leads to another so seamlessly. I think that’s a theme here in terms of people who are users of Roblox or Minecraft, to modders, to general developers and where it takes them in their career and it’ll be interesting to get into all of that and it’s very clear from both of your backgrounds that that’s a component of the story.