Extremely mundane places in Minecraft

The world of Mojang is full of astonishing creations. Rob Beschizza restores the balance.

By Rob Beschizza

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.


Published 2:14 pm Fri, May 20, 2011


About the Author

Rob Beschizza is the Managing Editor of Boing Boing. He's @beschizza on Twitter and can be found on Facebook too. Try your luck at besc...@gmail.com  

59 Responses to “Extremely mundane places in Minecraft”

  1. TimmoWarner says:

    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.

    • MonsterMan says:

      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. jibbles says:

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

  3. Bucket says:

    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.

  4. KurtMac says:

    I’m afraid you’re going to have to supply a link to download this world map.

  5. Rob Beschizza says:

    I can, but you will most likely be terribly disappointed.

    • KurtMac says:

      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.

  6. emmdeeaych says:

    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.

    • Anonymous says:

      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

      • grimc says:

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

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is fantastic!

  8. Donald Petersen says:

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

  9. smgrady says:

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

  10. holtt says:

    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.

  11. captainbadbeard says:

    There’s fuck all on Rockall!

  12. Flashman says:

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

  13. HappySmurfday says:

    I tried to make a room that looked like it had office lighting, but the rest of it ended up looking a bit more fancy.


  14. Anonymous says:

    Not playing in survival mode? Shame.

  15. JonStewartMill says:


    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.”

  16. Anonymous says:

    My wife is a big Futurama fan. I built her an Angry Dome :)

  17. Giuseppe says:

    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.

  18. pupdog says:

    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.

  19. Cowicide says:

    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.

    • Anonymous says:

      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.

      • Cowicide says:

        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…

        • Anonymous says:

          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.

          • Cowicide says:

            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.

        • Ed Frome says:

          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.

    • Anonymous says:

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

    • Anonymous says:

      Also, retraux.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Rockall? I thought it was Superjail.

  21. von Bobo says:

    +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!

  22. Rob Beschizza says:

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

  23. tylerkaraszewski says:

    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.”

  24. Fef says:

    I think these are brilliant and perversely beautiful.

  25. Anonymous says:

    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.

  26. JohnMc says:

    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.

  27. petsounds says:

    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.

  28. JohnMc says:

    Actually, I regard places like Rockall to be deeply, intensely beautiful. Have a look, for example, at the last two photos in this set:


    Rockall rocks!

  29. Anonymous says:

    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.)

  30. willyboy says:

    Reminds me of the uninhabited cities in China.

  31. Anonymous says:

    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.

  32. Tylith says:

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

    Think: LEGOs for Adults.

  33. TestSubject934 says:

    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.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Off the coast of Scotland?!? I think you mean off the coast of Ireland!!!

  35. Kickstart says:

    Isn’t the Big K strip mall one of the early locales in Fallout 3?

  36. Anonymous says:

    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.

    • joeposts says:

      floating (trunkless) tree tufts

      grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. How I hate those.

  37. adamnvillani says:

    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.

  38. red_artifice says:

    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

  39. jcnoble2 says:

    Dude that Rockall rendition is spot on! Check out real vs. minecraft side by side using th.isandth.at:


  40. Rob Beschizza says:

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

  41. SuperDragonMaster79 says:

    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.

    • Cowicide says:

      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.

  42. Yamara says:

    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.

  43. Anonymous says:

    you dont need to hack to get that much clay ive done it