/ Rob Beschizza / 2 pm Fri, May 20 2011
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  • Extremely mundane places in Minecraft

    Extremely mundane places in Minecraft

    The world of Mojang is full of astonishing creations. I restore the balance.

    People are always showing off the spectacular places they've found in Minecraft, or their latest epic creations: a 1:1 scale model of the Starship Enterprise; the world of Studio Ghibli; and vast mechanical computers among them.

    But I feel there is a glaring omission here that needs to be corrected: no-one is making anything boring. What gives? Here are a few of the extraordinarily characterless things I have created in Minecraft.

    A nondescript street
    Welcome to a drab town in northern England. This housing was thrown up to accomodate workers in the late 19th century.


    The closure of the shipyards has taken its toll on this once-thriving community. Pictured at the top of this post is the boarded-up corner shop.

    A rural strip mall
    Have you been to K-mart in the last few years? This one could be somewhere in rural Oklahoma or West Texas. From this angle you can't see the adjacent strip mall, which has an Applebees. It's the only restaurant in town. They keep talking about an Olive Garden, though. Fingers crossed!


    A highway intersection
    Here is a highway intersection.


    A rock
    Rockall is a tiny, uninhabitable islet in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Scotland, covered in bird poo. Here it is in Minecraft.


    Do you have any mind-cripplingly humdrum things to show off from your Minecraft adventures?

    An Office
    BB reader HappySmurfday presents this office, where exposed brickwork and expensive flooring serve only to highlight the ineluctable Ballardian vacuity of the modern workplace.


    Derp Towers
    Anonymous reminds us of Derp Towers, the 1x1 stacks of some shovelable material built in abundance by people trying to get a good viewpoint of the world. The typical Minecraft multiplayer world is not the creative utopia oft-seen online by non-playing spectators, but a kind of lego vomit "littered with these monstrosities; ruined architecture; floating, trunkless, tree tufts; and featureless rectangular buildings with nothing but an empty chest inside."

    Here is one made of sand.


    / / COMMENTS



    1. Seeing that much brick makes me suspect you did not mine and craft the materials yourself which makes me sad.

      The creations themselves make me amused and are pretty cool.

      1. Agreed. Though a lot more time-consuming, I always actually mine all my materials. Feels more satisfying that way. Simply ‘giving’ yourself everything you need sorta’ feels too easy (well I guess because it is, heh) and a little like cheating to me. But I can understand why some people do it, too. Just personal opinion.

        Anyroad, that said, I dig mundane scenes like this myself–probably because that’s all I build, too. My epic outhouse from a couple of weeks ago can attest to that. :D

    2. This seems as good an occasion as any to declare: Rob, you’re my favourite boingboing poster. :-] <3 <3 <3

    3. I made my childhood bedroom in minecraft.

      It was actually kind of comforting, in a big blocky way.

      But then the $#@%ing 1.5 release blackscreened in the middle of saving chunks and the whole world was irrevocably hosed.

      1. Please do! My current objective in Minecraft consists of continually walking in one direction in hopes of reaching the Far Lands without any cheats or mods. My threshold for the mundane knows no bounds.

    4. Next week: Extremely Flat Places in Kansas.

      I kid. I get why people love it, and I love that people love it, but man, much like Kansas, it just doesn’t tickle my keys. But this IS cool, and so is listening to nerds nerd out about their nerdy nerdiness.

      1. i live in kansas and i would just like to say the kansas is actually very hilly not very flat. Still Kansas is very boring and plain

        1. People who see hills in Kansas can also see the curvature of the earth. It’s quite an amazing phenomenon.

    5. That’s the most photorealistic virtual K-Mart I’ve ever seen. I can see the Blue Light Special from here. Duracell D-cells.

    6. Is anyone hosting a boingboing specific server? I imagine it’d be fun to work with folks here.

    7. I could imagine building something like this in peaceful mode, then flip to hard and simulate a sort of zombie infestation. You’d madly be carving up the peaceful city to create safe havens, try and figure out how to get to food and safety at night, etc.

    8. If you’d wanted to be *really* boring you could have modeled Tyne, Dogger or German Bight.

    9. KurtMac@8,

      My current objective in Minecraft consists of continually walking in one direction in hopes of reaching the Far Lands without any cheats or mods. My threshold for the mundane knows no bounds.

      I’m building a skyway across my world. I started about two months ago and I’d say I’m two-thirds of the way across.

      Much of the pleasure of Minecraft, for me anyway, is seeing the game evolve before my eyes. I was thrilled when weather was introduced.

      smgrady: “If you build it, they will come.”

    10. To be honest, I’d bet the majority of structures built in minecraft are even more humdrum than the ones you depicted. Most new players just slap together some cobblestone walls and a door and call it a house, or dig a tiny cave in a cliff as a hidey-hole.

      Actually, this stuff is pretty impressive, by comparison.

      Though I bet at night the K-Mart parking lot fills up with creepers pretty quick come nightfall. But that’s nothing new.

    11. I see no sad, lonely coin-op rides that promise fun but just jostle you for a bit in front of that KMart. I call BS.

    12. Why is Minecraft so “low-res” with giant blocks and old school, “lo-res” texture maps? I look at the trees and scratch my block-head and think… wow… that’s.. kinda… lame…

      I don’t hardly ever play games and so I’m pretty ignorant of them (just as I am of this one), so please don’t take this as me thinking I know what I’m talking about… I just don’t understand why anyone would like a game… so ugly and blocky? Is there a technical reason why it’s so blocky?

      My guess is that it has something to do with the scale and rendering limitations, but with the power of computers nowadays… I’m hard pressed to understand those limitations with this game.

      1. Because of the game mechanics it’s more practical for the world to be made of blocks. The block shapes also help with the world generating as it cuts out the need to then recalculate and add curves to slopes and hills and such which would also then need more textures etc. As for everything else in the world; if you put a high polygon model in a minecraft world it would look out of place. Try to imagine it. As for the textures; the 16-bit texture pack adds to the charm of the game. You can get higher resolution textures (up to 256) but they don’t always look as good.

        Basically it would be extremely hard if not nearly impossible to create a ‘real’ looking minecraft, and removing the blocks would require a totally different resource gathering system which one of the reasons that minecraft is such a great game. Especially for an indie developer like mojang.

        1. I dunno, I guess it’s just a gamer thing. As long as avid gamers enjoy it its blocky-beauty, I figure it doesn’t matter what people like me think of its aesthetics which strikes me as cold and rudimentary. But, I do keep in mind, I’ve never even played the game and have only seen it in these videos, etc. and maybe I’d somehow appreciate it better if I did…?

          Then again, I’m pretty spoiled as far as stuff like aesthetic stuff goes, I was just hanging off the side of the Garden of the Gods from nearly this exact point of view about two weeks ago and crawled under this while I was there as well. It’s hard for me to open my laptop and then be struck by the “form and beauty” of these blocky Minecraft structures after experiencing that… but, once again, I’m not really a gamer so I probably just don’t “get it”, I dunno…

          1. Er, no, that’s actually not a gamer thing at all.
            It’s about understanding the difference between aesthetics and graphical fidelity.
            Have a look here, that should help.

            1. Er, no, that’s actually not a gamer thing at all.
              It’s about understanding the difference between aesthetics and graphical fidelity.

              Ok, I watched the video and now see the difference between aesthetics and graphical fidelity from the gamers point of view.

              And, yes, it’s still a gamer thing as I first suspected.

          2. I completely agree with you, Cowicide. I can’t get my head around why Minecraft is so popular. In the area of build-your-own in-game worlds, I think Sauerbaten/Cube has no equal. To each his own.

      2. Simply put, people didn’t get into Minecraft because they were impressed by the graphics.

    13. +1 for Kansas, it’s a subtle beauty! The Tallgrass Prarie, in particular, needs more awareness. It is a fraction of its original size, but is interesting due to a dense and diverse population of bugs and grasses. Some of the grasses can grow to over 6 feet tall! Yay grass!

    14. I was thinking of making the Rockall one into a particularly excruciating “Survival Island” map. Worth it?

    15. It seems that complaining about the blockiness in MineCraft is akin to complaining about the blockiness of a lego truck, and saying, “wouldn’t you rather play with a tonka truck? It looks so much more like a real truck.”

      And the answer to that is of course, “no, because I cannot build my own tonka truck.”

    16. I would like to add to all the other posters that while a single tree doesn’t look especially great, the overview of the world, with its randomly generated mountains and caves, looks pretty cool to me.

    17. This project reminds me of the art of Rackstraw Downes (http://www.artnet.com/artists/rackstraw-downes/). He finds the most mundane, plain, ugly industrial landscapes — places we pass through as quickly as we can on our way someplace else — and plants himself there for days, painting meticulously. The results are really beautiful.

    18. I never consider highway intersections mundane. It’s always a chance to veer off in a completely different direction.

      The Rockall shot looks a bit like something from Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.

    19. These are beautiful. I like to frame my Minecraft screen captures as travel photography, which is what this feels like. (We need a mod to allow changing lens focal length.)

    20. The Northern England houses are incorrect if they are to be 19th Century. They would never have put in dormer windows in the roof.

      Its almost like a 21st century designer view of a mining town.

    21. I understand the graphics turn off for some people, but to understand why some individuals do have fun playing Minecraft.

      Think: LEGOs for Adults.

    22. The best minecraft server in the galaxy is by far DylanCraft.com

      It’s a wonderful joyous place where square people can walk around and build stuff.

    23. These are great! While I realize the spirit of this boing boing post, a truely “mind-cripplingly humdrum thing” in Minecraft would be the humble derp tower (aka “noob tower” aka “pillar”). The result of “pillar jumping”, it’s a tower 1×1 block thick reaching from ground to sky.

      Useful for building large things but generally people just make them to get an aerial view of the surrounding area, then abandon them.

      So even more truely mundane is an entire AREA littered with these monstrosities, ruined architecture, floating (trunkless) tree tufts, and featureless rectangular buildings with nothing but an empty chest inside.

      This is at least the case for multiplayer.

      I reluctantly admit to making a few of these when I was a Minecraft newbie.

    24. Never having lived anywhere near northern England, nor any other 19th-century industrial towns, I found the “drab town in northern England” to be pretty interesting.

    25. The so called ‘derp towers’ are INCREDIBLY useful as landmarks- if you place one on top in a hilly region you can always find your way home without a compass

    26. FYI everyone I’m currently rebuilding the Pruitt-Igoe housing project. I shall inform you when I am done.

    27. This has a lot to say artistically about the game. Life in minecraft is not anymore meaningful than a highway overpass or an ugly deserted building. In the end, all our creations are just cubes arranged into shapes that provide us an illusion of happiness.

      1. In the end, all our creations are just cubes arranged into shapes that provide us an illusion of happiness.

        Minecraft and computer games in general aren’t my cup of tea particularly, but I think from reading threads like this and elsewhere that one can assume that playing Minecraft gives at least some people true fulfillment and happiness.

        I’m sure like anything, moderation is the key.

    28. That Rockall is spot on– I recognized immediately.

      But it’s not really “off the coast of Scotland”. It’s a seamount hundreds of miles into the Atlantic off of Ireland.

      Much too small for a Survival Island, but it would make for a killer secret installation or fantasy castle.

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