For an independent game with no storyline, no tutorial, and graphics that make Windows 95 look slick, Minecraft has developed an amazing following. Who could have ever predicted that shuffling virtual cubes around could be so fun and so full of possibilities? And if, somehow, you find yourself running out of ideas for your virtual world, many clever folks have come up with tools to improve, extend, and just plain cheat. While there are dozens of such tools out there, not all of them are Linux friendly. Of those, several seem to do the same job. We decided to run through all the Minecraft utilities for Linux we could get our hands on, several from each category, to find out what works and what’s better left to the Creepers.
Note: While there are many fine Minecraft utilities for Windows that may work through Wine or other such tools, this article focuses on those which are specifically listed as supporting Linux. Additionally, this will not cover in-game mods, though we’d be happy to provide such a review if there is reader interest.
Tectonicus offers several impressive features, most notably the high-detail zoomable rendering and integration with Google Maps. With setup it can work with your server to show player location on the map in near real time, allowing you a virtual window into your world.
Be warned though. With all the detail and layers of zoomability, the initial rendering of the map is sloooooooowwwwww. On the Core 2 Duo test machine used for this article, it took almost 30 minutes for a fairly small map.
A fine example of software that does one thing and does it well. Minecraft X-Ray lets you fly around, over and under your world. The particularly useful feature is that you can use the function keys to specify certain block types to highlight. These blocks will pulse with light, making it extremely easy to spot their locations.
While MCEdit’s interface takes some getting used to, it is undoubtedly a very useful map editor. It includes brushes for manual edits as well as 3D region selection for fills and clones. As a bonus, MCEdit also lets you edit a few of the properties of your world such as player location and spawn point.
To run MCEdit, you may need to also install PyGame and OpenGL bindings for Python. Ubuntu users can do this from the Software Center or from the command line with
sudoapt-get install python-pygame python-opengl
Unfortunately, MCEdit seems to be the only full featured map editor for Linux that supports the current map format (McRegion). If any readers are aware of another functional editor, please let us know in the comments!
This is a web-based skin editor for Minecraft. Not only can you draw your own as needed, but it also includes a library of skins already made by other users. Everything from zombie suits to Star Trek uniforms is already there and can be used in your own game.
Where Novaskin is the fancy new web skinner, SkinEdit is the tried-and-true local editor. You’re given a grid with pixel space for all body textures, and whatever you paint is immediately apparent on the comically running preview person.
SkinEdit hasn’t been updated in a while, but (so far) Minecraft’s skin system doesn’t seem to have changed in the mean time.
This is a simple, no-nonsense approach to inventory control. Each toolbar and inventory slot is accounted for and you can set the value of each as you wish. The other tabs of the program allow you to define scripts and set game properties such as time of day and player position.
MCPlayerEdit, a console application, can do many of the same things the best GUI applications can do, and a bit more. With this application you can set bookmarked locations, change time of day, warp between zones, and of course edit your inventory.
Ever start a new project, then realize partway through that it’s going to take a LOT more work than you expected? If so, you’ll probably appreciate the value in the Minecraft Structure Generator. This handy little tool does just what it says – it helps you plan out structures and keeps track of all the materials you’ll need to build it. It’s even got prebuilt templates for things like suspension bridges, domes, and mazes.
What we’ve included here is only a handful of the applications available to enhance this already great game. Combining several of them can let players accomplish amazing things. If you think we’ve missed any of the best utilities, or just want to show off some of your creations, sound off in the comments.