Minetest: a free and open source alternative to #Minecraft


Clever teachers around the world have found ways to adapt the popular open world block-building game Minecraft to teach lessons ranging from computer programming, math, history, and more.   Minecraft is like having an infinite bag of Legos.    Minecraft has empowered players young and old to build amazing environments and inspires a special kind of creativity and playful collaboration.   For me, I’m using games like Minecraft to teach concepts of 3D modeling and computer programming.    

For many schools, if you wanted to introduce Minecraft into a computer lab of 20 students, you would need to spend $540 or more.   If you’re looking for a free alternative, make sure to check out Minetest, an open source open world block building game.  Giving this game a quick review, I’m impressed with the current state of the project.

Learn more at http://www.minetest.net/ .

Stability and speed: The game is written in C++ so that game executes much faster than Minecraft and seems pretty stable.   For basic world building, the game should work just fine for you and your students.

Multiplayer:  The game enables players to establish servers so that they can build together.  My son and I did some quick tests building stuff together.   He loved running around the world and exploring the mountains and caves.   During  our quick review, we tried the game on Linux and Windows.  It worked pretty well.

Simplicity:  Minetest can’t compete with Minecraft on every feature.  For instance, the game does not support combat mode, mobs, and red stone to name a few.   I have a feeling the features will only get better over time.  From a classroom perspective, combat mode and mobs aren’t particularly helpful features for me.  I appreciate the simplicity of the current project state.

Mods: The software does support an ecosystem of mods.  It’s neat to see how the game has been extended.   If you REALLY want mobs, you can get them back using a mod or software extensions.   Minetest Mods are written in the Lua , an approachable and clean language.   I want to use Minetest with TinkerCAD so that students can experience the joy of designing game worlds.   I’m looking for a mod that would import schematic files created by TinkerCAD.  It would be cool to challenge students to write their own mods!

In researching this article, I found a detailed video review by SmoothScape on MineTest.  You might enjoy reviewing his insights.  



Learning To Code

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