Minecraft To LEGO = Magic?

Do you remember the last time that technology gave you a “wow” moment? The precise second when you realised that new things were possible by harnessing a tool that could unlock your imaginings and make them a reality?

In 2016 I was in Melbourne, Australia and saw the HP Sprout for the first time which seemed to defy the conventional constraints of design possibilities and gave me a truly “wow” moment, leading me to blogging about it immediately – read it here (sadly, some of the official HP videos have been removed and it seems the Sprout was ahead of its time in many ways).

Today, I had another of those “wow” moments, this time courtesy of the team at Craftplicator who have created an ingenious, web-based app that allows you to convert designs made in Minecraft to LEGO models, complete with brick inventories and build instructions. Check out how easy it is in this video:

Giving It A Go With Minecraft: Education Edition

The Craftplicator FAQ clearly indicates that this is supported for Bedrock Edition and Java Editions of Minecraft, and yet I work exclusively in the Minecraft: Education Edition. I tried to upload the .mcworld file for an exported world and it failed, so I needed to get creative.

  • I tried going to the actual path of the world files where M:EE stores the worlds I’ve been editing in Minecraft. On my computer this was:
    • C:\Users\**MyUsername**\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.MinecraftEducationEdition_8wekyb3d8bbwe\LocalState\games\com.mojang\minecraftWorlds
  • It’s worth noting that the folders contained in \minecraftWorlds\ are not labeled with the human readable name of the world that you see in the Minecraft application itself, instead, you’re better off editing the world you want to work with, saving it and then searching by Date Modified:
Recently edited Minecraft worlds – note the folder names do not reflect the name of the world in the Minecraft app itself.
  • When you use the upload tool at Craftplicator you need to select the top level folder (as per the screenshot above) and that will be uploaded – interestingly, at that point the Craftplicator app can read the correct world name and displays this before the final upload:
The Craftplicator app displays the correct world name when the folder was selected, giving you some assurance you’re selecting the correct world

At this point, you simply follow the three steps on the website to complete the process of uploading your world, selecting your model, and being emailed the instructions:

It’s worth noting that in my experience, for larger worlds it is easier to be standing near the model you’re wanting to export. I was in one large world and I could not scroll around the map far enough to find the model I wanted when I was standing a long way away in the world when I exited it in Minecraft: Education Edition. I suspect this will be to do with file upload limits.

The Output

Within a minute of submitting the models I experimented with, I received an email telling me they were being processed, and usually withing 5-10minutes I received the final email with the (super cool) animation showing the ‘build’ of my model and a link to get the brick inventory. Here are some examples:

The main whare (meeting house) from Nga Motu – some of the colours are wrong, but I suspect that is the result of having used custom resource packs in this world. Credit to Whetu Paitai from Piki Studios
The waka hourua (twin hulled canoe) also from Nga Motu
A very simple person built by a colleague in a Minecraft team building exercise during COVID19 work from home
Windmill Challenge model

The email contains a full link to the build instructions (some of these cost money) and the brick inventory. Here’s a few screenshots from the waka hourua build as an example (I’ve only include a few images from the complete instructions):

Final Thoughts

I’m super impressed with the Craftplicator solution and have a 9yr old son who is a Minecraft and LEGO enthusiast who will definitely be keen to try this out. There are so many applications from a teaching and learning curriculum design perspective. In New Zealand, there is the “Design and Develop a Digital Outcome” strand of the Digital Technologies curriculum and this solution would lend itself perfectly to complete the digital to real world journey. There is also a Computational Thinking strand as well, so throwing in the coding elements of Minecraft: Education Edition (block based, JavaScript & Python) you could really do some very creative learning journeys by combining Minecraft: Education Edition and LEGO.

Clearly, there is some cost associated with ordering custom brick packs from LEGO for a model, but I think this highlights the need for an iterative design process that puts drafting and versioning at the forefront and teaches real world understanding of the costs associated with taking a design concept to production. I’m looking forward to giving this a go!

I am always keen to discuss what I've written and hear your ideas so leave a reply here...