In Minecraft, redstone is the stuff that acts sort of like electricity. Using the various components, mechanics and quirks available, it’s possible to make some amazing stuff. There are guys out there who – and I say this with genuine amazement and respect – have built fully-functioning computer processors and stuff out of redstone, in the game world.
On a more mundane level, redstone can be used to control things like the door to your Minecraft house, or even make a doorbell for players to ring. This was initially what drew me to it; I just wanted to make a better door for my house. It turned out that the specific things I often wanted to accomplish with redstone were not actually easy to do by just plonking down the supplied components like buttons, levers and wires. Instead, you had to build circuits. For a novice like me this was, to put it mildly, Complicated. And, for someone like me who really can’t resist an unsolved problem, irresistible.
Slowly, I became ‘the redstone guy’ on our multiplayer servers. My friends would often build stuff, then get me to design and wire up a redstone-operated door, bridge, staircase, trap, or whatever. I was proud of my creations, and am still particularly fond of the design I made where a previously invisible double doorway would fold into an apparently blank mountainside (and could be locked for good measure).
The only thing is, I could never really get my head around those logic circuits I was using. At the time, I was suffering from Chronic Fatigue, and although I built models of all the circuits I found on the Internet and was adept at using them in my creations, I couldn’t quite grasp the logic behind them or design one by myself.
Having returned to Minecraft thanks to my nephews, last night I spent two hours trying to rebuild an old double-door-with-lock-mechanism I used to use all the time in the old days from memory. I couldn’t. Eventually I ceded defeat and had to consult a guide to see what I was doing wrong. It was, to be honest, quite depressing. I really used to enjoy my redstone creations – to the extent that they were probably what I began to enjoy most about Minecraft after the initial joy of discovery and static creation began to fade – and I really wanted to be able to create my own circuits before just copy-pasting someone else telling me what to do.
Lying in bed later on, thinking about my survival mode game and how hard it is to get sticky pistons – the game’s way of moving a block one way, then back again using the same mechanism – I began to think about how to make a door using non-sticky pistons (which only move blocks one way, then leave them there). And as my mind worked out a simple design for a piston-powered doorway I could use in my mountainside safe house, I suddenly had this eureka moment where I realised that my doorway would also function as an RS Latch. An RS Latch is a type of memory circuit that has two inputs, one of which makes the circuit’s output stay on (the SET input) and one of which makes it stay off (the RESET input – hence the name). It was the sort of thing I used to painstakingly recreate from guides online without a great deal of real comprehension. And I’d just designed my own, my very very own – by accident.
It was marvellous.
Today I built that RS Latch, then I immediately built another one using a totally different design, then – then my mind just got something that it hadn’t before. I went on to build a NOR gate, then an OR gate, then AND and NAND gates – I mean I had to look up the names but I knew what the function of what I was creating was before finding out what I should call it. It was a great, great feeling, like a blockage in my brain that’d been there for years had just been dissolved. I could suddenly design my own logic gates using redstone.
Of course they’re not amazingly efficient designs – smart people have made incredible circuit designs that minimize space, maximise speed, can be vertical, flat, silent, sing, dance and cook a three course meal. But those are simply not nearly so exciting because they are not mine.
I find myself toying with the idea of making redstone guide videos like I used to make ME3 guide videos, again not because I’m necessarily better at it than anyone else but just because they’d be mine, and they’d explain it in a way which makes sense to me. And I’d really enjoy doing it.
Anyway, this has not been the promised ‘go through old minecraft screenshots’ post because of EUREKA! So here’s a consolation screenshot:
It’s my ‘new’ survival-mode game; of course, I didn’t play very much until I found a way to make the water look pretty.