Getting Started with Game Jams

Game Jams are a fun and free way to learn and practice making video games. They’re also a great way to meet other people interested in game development. Sometimes, you can even win prizes! is a website for indie games, but they also have a game jam calendar showing game jams going on all the time. Drop in to the CoderDojo Los Alamos Discord #jam channel if you’re interested in learning more!

Getting Started With MikuMikuDance

MikuMikuDance is a free program for creating character animations. You might have seen some videos on YouTube which were made using it.

Since my kids are into anime so much, I thought this would be something that would get their attention. Thankfully, there’s a website that has tutorials to get started.

The first step is to download and unzip MikuMikuDance. When you run the program inside the extracted folder, it might not open. If that happens, you might have to install some extra packages: Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable Package (x64), Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 Redistributable Package (x64), and/or DirectX End-User Runtime.

Once you have the program up and running, try opening a sample file like sample(AllStar).pmm in the UserFile directory of the program root. It’ll look like this:

That’s as far as I got for now, but I’ll be back to continue this. In the meantime, leave a comment with any questions you have or MMD stories you’d like to share.

How to install Minecraft on the Oculus Quest

We used this video to help us figure it out.

Enable Developer Mode on Quest

To do this, you have to be a registered “developer”. This process is free. Go to on your PC and create an ‘organization’.

Install the Quest drivers

Install the driver software for your device. Go to on your PC and download the drivers for your headset.

Download SideQuest on PC

Download SideQuest here.

Download Minecraft Gear VR and Xbox APK and copy them to PC

This was the trickiest part for us. You’ll need a compatible Samsung device or find some other way to get Gear VR apps from the Oculus store. Then, download Minecraft Gear VR to your device. Next, download the Xbox app from the Play store. Finally, extract the APKs from your device to your PCs with a tool like APK Extractor.

Install APKs to Quest with SideQuest

After you have downloaded and made an account on Sidequest you should see this button at the top right. Click that then select the APK files for Minecraft VR and Xbox to start installation.

Connect Bluetooth controller on Quest

To do this, all you have to do is turn on your Bluetooth controller then go to settings on the Quest, click See All, then click Experimental Features, then click Pair with gamepad.

Run Minecraft from Unknown Sources on Quest

Almost done. Go out of Settings, then go to Library, click on Unknown Sources on the edge of the screen then click on Minecraft.

You are all set have fun! 😉

If that doesn’t work, you can also try Vivecraft and Voxel Works Quest.

Making Minecraft Mods

This tutorial was inspired by Technovision’s Minecraft modding series, but those tutorials are a bit out of date, so here’s a new version using Minecraft 1.15.2.

Set up your workspace

Download JDK 8u241 and install it.

Download Eclipse IDE for Java Developers and extract it (e.g., to C:\Users\CoderDojo\Desktop\eclipse-java-2019-12-R-win32-x86_64).


Download Minecraft Forge 1.15.2 and extract it to your project folder (e.g., C:\Users\CoderDojo\Desktop\minecraft\modding\tutorialmod).


Type cmd in the search box and open Command Prompt.


Change to your project directory (e.g., type cd Desktop\minecraft\modding\tutorialmod and press Enter).


Run gradlew genEclipseRuns.


Run gradlew eclipse.


Create your first mod

Open Eclipse.


Select a workspace. The default should be fine.


When Eclipse loads, select File > Open Projects from File System.


Select the project directory and click Finish.


Expand Package Explorer pane by clicking the icon.


You can rename the com.example.examplemod mod package to something unique if you want (e.g., com.coderdojola.tutorialmod) by right-clicking its name and selecting Refactor > Rename.


Create a new subpackage in your mod package by right-clicking it and selecting New > Package.

Call the subpackage util and click Finish.

Create a class called Reference by right-clicking the util package and selecting New > Class.

Add the following code to your Reference class.

public static final String MOD_ID = "em";
public static final String NAME = "ExampleMod";
public static final String VERSION = "1.0";
public static final String ACCEPTED_VERSIONS = "[1.15.2]";
public static final String CLIENT_PROXY_CLASS = "";
public static final String COMMON_PROXY_CLASS = "";

Create a new class in your mod package.


Call it Main and click Finish.


Add @Mod() to the top of your Main class code.

Open and click Run.


CoderDojo BOO Challenge

In October, we participated in the CoderDojo BOO Challenge. One of our students created a haunted house in Minecraft.

The winners of the challenge can be found here.

Learn Programming with Minecraft and Arduino

What could be more fun than playing Minecraft? How about making your Minecraft creations turn on lights and motors in the real world? MCreator came out with Minecraft Link to connect Minecraft to Arduino and Raspberry Pi to do just that! Today we’re going to work through the Getting Started tutorial.

We assume you’ve already installed Arduino IDE and have it open. To install the Minecraft Link library, go to Tools > Manage Libraries.

Search for Minecraft Link and install the latest version.

Now you should be able to load the basic project by going to File > Examples > Minecraft Link > BareMinimum.

Connect your Arduino to your computer and select the correct port. Your port may be different that what’s pictured here.

Finally, upload the project to your Arduino.

If that’s all successful, move on to setting up Minecraft.

Test connection to Arduino from Minecraft

Download and run the Minecraft Forge Installer that matches your version of Minecraft.

java -jar forge-1.18.2-40.0.12-installer.jar

Download the Minecraft Link mod to your Minecraft mods directory. On Windows, the default path is %APPDATA%\.minecraft\mods. On Linux, it’s $HOME/.minecraft/mods. Create the directory if it doesn’t exist.

me@penguin:/$ ls $HOME/.minecraft/mods
'MCreator Link 1.3 [1.18.2].jar'

Once you’ve installed those, open the Minecraft Launcher, select the `forge release, check the box `that says I understand the risks, and click Play.

Create a new world in Creative mode with cheats allowed. Once you enter the world, pause the game and press L to search for and connect to the Arduino.

Next, jump into the world. Once you’re in the world, type /link device to make sure you’re connected to the Arduino. If you’re not, just pause the game and press L to reconnect to the device. Sometimes, you might have to unplug and plug

Now type /link pinmode 13 output to set up pin 13 to receive commands. To turn on the pin 13 LED, type /link digitalwrite 13 1. To turn it off, type /link digitalwrite 13 0. You can also connect a different pin to an LED. Here’s an example of connecting a LED to a pin 7.

To use an LED on pin 7 instead of pin 13, just replace 13 with 7 in the previous commands, e.g. /link pinmode 13 out.

Make a switch with Redstone and Command Blocks

Next, we’re going to make command blocks so that we can turn the LED on and off. Give yourself a command block by typing /give YOUR_NAME command_block. Place it and click it to edit the command to /link digitalwrite 13 1. Drop another command block and edit the command to be /link digitalwrite 13 0. Add a Redstone switch and a Redstone torch NOT gate so that when the switch is turned on, the command block that turns on the LED is activated, and when the switch is turned off, the command that turns off the LED is activated.

So hopefully that all works out for you, and if it doesn’t, leave a comment, or even better, come to our CoderDojo!

Here’s the command list if you’d like to try out some more advanced ideas.

The Legacy of the Kinect and Motion Tracking Video Games

I was recently looking at trading in our Xbox 360 for new Xbox One, but to my disappointment, I found out the Kinect has been discontinued! Kinect is our family’s favorite thing about Xbox, enjoying many dance competitions, rafting adventures, bowling, dodgeball, and floating in space. Some hackers have even used the Kinect to create topographic sandboxes and robots.

So what’s the future of computer vision? Here’s a few options for Kinect alternatives. There’s also Microsoft’s HoloLens which is a different type of device, but inherited Kinect technology.

Save The World With Your Computer

Grid computing is a pretty cool technology that utilizes decentralized compute power to perform massive computations. It’s been around for a long time. Back in the day, I remember the first kid on my block to get broadband internet was running SETI@Home, a grid computing program that searches for extraterrestrial life using your PC when you’re not using it. Grid computing seemed to be popular for a while, but I guess the novelty wore off and I haven’t heard people talking much about it in years.

Fast forward to today, World Community Grid is an IBM-led grid computing project built on the BOINC platform which is enabling scientific research on issues such as health, poverty, and sustainability. When your computer is sitting idle at home, you can offer up its resources to these projects simply by downloading and running their software in the background. It’s an easy way to contribute to some valuable research, and you get a cool screensaver!

What are some grid computing applications you can think of?

Getting Started with Roblox Studio

This tutorial was inspired by this YouTube video by Roblox.

Roblox is a gaming platform that makes it easy for anyone to make a share games. First thing you’ll need to do is sign up for a Roblox account and download Roblox Studio. Once you open up the program, you’ll be presented with a grid of templates.

Click over the the Gameplay tab and choose the Infinite Runner template.

They make it very easy to start customizing games. To change the skybox template for the Infinite Runner game, all you have to do is search the Toolbox for a new template and add it to the Lighting section.

Crash Course in Stencyl

Stencyl is another game development environment. One of the great things is that it’s free to use and publish to the web. You only have to pay to publish to other platforms.

You can follow the introduction guide to get started. I like the interface with its familiar “tab” style so I can quickly navigate to the component I’d like to edit. It seems to make it easier to navigate on lower resolution screens.

Another cool thing is the recommended reads that pop up when you’re new.

One thing I wish it has is auto-saving, but you’ll just have to remember to hit the Save button (or CTRL+S).