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Minecraft Spotlight - FastCraft

Welcome to the Monday Minecraft Spotlight! In this edition we will cover FastCraft, a crafting plugin by Kepler_.

This plugin streamlines the crafting process by replacing the original grid layout with something completely different. After activating the crafting bench, a new interface pops up that looks similar to a chest inventory. Placed in the grid are items that the player is able to craft, based on the materials they carry with them. To craft one of the items they only need to drag it into their inventory.

Hovering the items will tell the player how many resources are required, making it easier to find out how many items they can create. In case a player prefers the original crafting menu they can simply click on the crafting bench icon to have it show up.

Simply follow these steps and your players will be enjoying this plugin in no time!

  1. Download the latest version of FastCraft from here or here.
  2. Place the "FastCraft.jar" file in the "plugins" folder, located in your server's main directory.
  3. Start or reload your server.
  4. Check if the "FastCraft" folder has been added to the "plugins" folder successfully.
  5. Open the "config.yml" file found in the folder mentioned above to configure the plugin.
  6. Reload your server to load your new configuration.
  7. Enjoy your newly installed plugin!

Included with the plugin is a brief configuration file that allows you to toggle automatic updating, change the check interval and replace the interface buttons with other items.

We also had the chance to ask Kepler_ some questions. Read on to learn more about the development process behind FastCraft!

How did you get into Minecraft?
I started playing Minecraft about two years ago when it was shown to me by a friend of mine. At the time I didn't really enjoy the game, but after discovering redstone circuitry and how easily the game can be modded, I was hooked.

What server do you play on?
I mainly play on my servers -- mc.keplerserver.com (survival) and bf.keplerserver.com (pvp) -- as well as on some of my friend's private servers.

How did you come to be a plugin dev?
I started programming plugins for my two servers. I started with my first plugin -- FiniteGlobalShop -- because I was looking for a command-based global shop plugin. I was unable to find one so I decided to learn how to use the Bukkit plugin API so I could develop my own. I've also programmed a minigame I call Battlefield for my pvp server. I originally programmed my FastCraft plugin as a part of the minigame to make it so players could craft items much faster. I later decided to reprogram FastCraft so it could be used on any server.

What was your motivation for this project?
I originally wanted to create a way for players on my pvp server to be able to craft items quickly and easily to lower their chance of being attacked unexpectedly. After seeing how much players liked it, I decided to remake it for BukkitDev. The immediate positive responses after posting this on BukkitDev really motivated me to program this plugin.

How did the community respond to the first public release?
After releasing the first build of the plugin, I was heavily praised with a plethora of positive comments. I received a lot of comments telling how players on the commenters' servers loved the plugin, and how much better it made crafting.

Have you come across any challenges during development and, if any, how did you handle them?
I have come across a few programming related challenges while developing this plugin. The part of this plugin I had the hardest time developing was the interface. Bukkit doesn't have the best API for inventory manipulation, so having an almost entirely inventory based plugin makes it even more difficult.

Have you learned anything new from this project?
I've learned quite a bit about the workings of the inventory API, and how recipes in the game work while programming this.

What stage of FastCraft's development did you enjoy the most?
My favorite stage in the development of this plugin would have to be before I started programming when I had to figure out how everything would work. I always spend a few weeks thinking about how a program should work so I know what to do and don't have to completely redo some code later on.

What is your favorite aspect of the plugin itself?
I really like how the plugin turned out. The interface for this plugin is elegant and works exactly as you'd expect.

Are you currently working on any other plugins or updates?
The only other plugin I'm working on at the moment is my plugin FiniteGlobalShop. I working on this and FastCraft on free time when I get an idea for an addition to them or someone suggests one. 

In addition to your Minecraft plugins, have you ever released any custom content for other games?
I have not.

Aside from your own projects, what are some of your favourite plugins from other authors and why?
There are two plugins I really think are great. I like WorldEdit by sk89q because of how easy it makes large tasks in Minecraft. The other is the plugin The Last Airbender. I like this one because it adds new dynamics to Minecraft that I haven't seen in any other game.

Do you have any advice for other upcoming plugin developers?
Programming, especially in Java, can definitely be intimidating at first, but after spending a lot of time with the language, you will definitely become more familiar with the language and it will be much easier to understand.

Having reached the end of the interview, we would like to thank Kepler_ for taking the time to answer our questions and of course for developing the plugin in the first place!

FastCraft simplifies the crafting process by introducing a new drag-and-drop interface. Fortunately, the choice to use it is up to the player; as it does not completely replace the original menu.

 Thanks to MadPixel for the Minecrafter font.

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