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Student team wins Minecraft programming challenge

A programming competition in Minecraft? It really exists! And even better news: this time LIACS’ student team Mike's Angels achieved the first place! The team has been rewarded $500.

From left to right: Vincent Prins, Thera Smit, Arthur van der Staaij, Jelmer Prins and Julian Poelsma.

The goal of the competition is to write an algorithm for Minecraft. The algorithm should create an interesting settlement that can adapt to Minecraft world maps. The settlements are rated based on their Adaptability, Functionality, Narrative and Aesthetics. The entry of Mike’s Angels was deemed outstanding by the judges due to its great range of features. They include iconic landmarks like cathedrals and sailing ships, several building generators, a city wall, crop fields and industrial districts.

A street level view of the city.

Creating a settlement

In order to generate a settlement, the students used an agent-based simulation in which specialized agents make developments to the city. For example, a street building agent can extend, split and connect streets. Similarly, residential agents select plots for houses, preferably far from polluting industry. For the actual appearance of buildings, the students used a variety of algorithms to connect and form larger structures.

A schematic blueprint of a city as seen from above.

Giving the Settlement a Story

The competition also hosts a sub-challenge called chronicle generation, in which history and text information about the city is added. Mike’s Angels created street and family names that appear on signs throughout the city. In order to do this, the students made a name generator based on Dutch names and allowed it to freely generate new ones. Here too the student team ranked first.

Leaving a Trace

Not only did Mike’s Angels win the competition, they also left a contribution behind for later generations. While working on the challenge, the students developed many extra features for the provided Python framework, such as saving and loading models and different ways to place blocks. Arthur van der Staaij will continue to create enhancements. In this way, future competitors can benefit from the students’ work.

The Generative Design in Minecraft Competition (GDMC) is a yearly worldwide competition organised by researchers from different universities. where teams are challenged to create the best AI generated settlement. The competition entry is an enhanced version of a free group project from the Game AI lecture of Mike Preuss. The team consists of five Computer Science master students: Vincent Prins, Thera Smit, Arthur van der Staaij, Jelmer Prins and Julian Poelsma.

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