Found primarily in Minecraft: Education Edition (though it can also be found in Bedrock-based platforms), the Agent is a robotic mob that assists players in the process of learning to code in a visual programming language.
Not possessing any AI by default, the Agent is a blank slate that allows Minecraft players and educators to program it to perform different basic tasks.
It can plant and harvest crops, build structures, chop trees and mine resources to name a few functions. It even has its own inventory which players can utilize as storage if needed.
In Minecraft: Education Edition, a companion program is used to interface with the Agent known as Code Connection. This program allows players to interface directly with the Agent’s code using a visual programming language that lets them drag and drop commands to be executed by the mob.
Without worrying about the complexities of syntax in programming languages, Code Connection’s editor is a great way for instructors to show how code is structured. It also provides a fun and interactable mob that demonstrates the code players input in real-time.
The Agent also interacts somewhat oddly with certain objects in a Minecraft world, capable of pushing pressure plates but unable to use things like buttons or doors. Despite this, Agents in Minecraft have a wide range of capabilities including:
- Destroying blocks and other items
- Dropping items from its inventory
- Detect entities or redstone
- Teleport to a player
- Till fields and plant/harvest crops
- Place blocks for building
- Collect resources such as ores, cobblestone, or wood
All of these functions are brought about by Code Connection’s editor, which also has considerable utility. Users can employ different code editors within Code Connection such as Microsoft MakeCode, Tynker, or Code.org to program their agents and edit their command lines.
When returning to Minecraft: Education Edition, the Agent and Code Connection even provide a basic tutorial that will inform players on how to use code editors and program the mob for basic tasks.
Typing code line by line and running scripts is an arduous way to learn programming fundamentals, but Minecraft: Education Edition provides an intuitive and fun way to learn these cornerstone functions without the tedium of a textbook or standard Visual Basic programs like Python.