In January, my friends and I embarked on a project that has become, for me, a serious creative outlet. We decided to start building a town on our Minecraft server. If you don’t know what Minecraft is, that’s okay – all you need to know is that it’s essentially multiplayer Legos. This post is an attempt at sharing some of the amazing creations and the process behind the town’s development.
We didn’t have any idea what would go on it and we didn’t set any rules for what could or couldn’t be made. We just started making stuff. The location we chose was nothing more than hills and trees. Sitting in the middle of nowhere, the first creation was a statue of a bug with a sword plunged through it, and some signs (note – these are all recent shots, unfortunately I don’t have any from the beginning days):
Here’s what the signs said:
The Bug King as he was found in 1388, after having been slain by the Bug Slayer. The Bug King’s death marked the end of the Insectowars, and ushered in a century of peace and a new golden age.
It’s important to note here that this lore was completely made up by Ben. We never had any discussion about there being a background or history to the town, but this proved to be a huge launching point for much of the town’s contents. A mural appeared beneath the statue, depicting the battle between the Bug Slayer and the Bug King:
Then came Credotir, a pheonix statue:
Credotir, financial god of easy credit and fixed APR.
I figured if we were making a town it should have some town-like buildings. So I made a temple to the sun god:
The next day I logged on, my mind was blown. They’d made a garden behind the temple, and there was a hole in the garden with a tunnel leading to an underground mirror of the temple – but theirs was a temple to the moon god:
The tunnel contained some signs, too.
And so, traveler, you seek shelter
deep beneath the earth.
For the light may shine too bright.
Too headstrong, at times.
But worry not.
For the darkness grows brighter over time.
It’s hard describe the level of excitement I felt as I examined the moon temple. So many details were cleverly mimicked – details that, in building the original temple, I had never considered significant. It’s one thing to receive analysis and criticism for something I’ve created, but it’s entirely different to see a creation responded to with more creation. I suddenly had this sense of participating in creative ping pong. I responded by adding some signs and a sacrificial altar in the sun temple:
ONLY THE BLOOD OF MOON WORSHIPERS WILL SUFFICE
Other signs read:
THE MOON IS NOTHING BUT A MYTH
THE SUN IS A FACT
ONLY THE SUN CAN CREATE LIFE
THE MOON IS AN IMPOSTER
ROOT OUT THE EVIL OF MOON REVERENCE
IT IS OUR DUTY
THE POWER OF /TIME DAY COMPELS YOU
Other buildings started popping up. We made an underground rail station and a town hall for posting messages. There was a statue of a jellyfish that, if you stood at the right location, spelled out “FUCK YOU” in floating letters. Eventually we decided on a name: Garbendorg, Fifth Precinct of the Holy Empire.
There was a piece of land next to town that was littered with material for testing minecarts, so we decided to blow it up and make a huge crater. Originally we’d thought to make a part of town inside the crater itself, but we realized that if we built a bridge overhead and covered the top of the crater, we could have a section of town that was literally under the bridge. The slums district was born: a place for ugly buildings to go.
The ugliest material in Minecraft is, by far, sponge – so I decided to make a sponge house. Once it was finished, I declared it the Sponge Home of the Sponge Man, and I expanded on the existing town lore.
Before the Age of Reckoning, Sponges were the uncontested rulers of the land and sea. Their reign was so long that Sponge society came to abandon all their previous ways of war, adopting a peaceful way of life. When the Bug King came, his insect army pillaging the lands, he found the Sponges to be totally unprepared. The Sponges were no match and were wiped off the face of the planet. Now, all that remains of the great Sponge society is a small amount of literature, and their feces, which we value today for its highly absorbent properties.
The next day, there was a flag wafting by the entrance to town, and some signs:
The Garbendorg town banner features the Bug Slayer’s famed sword StabWhisper, plunged through the Bug King’s unholy crown. The sponge trim represents the Bug Slayer’s oft-cited lament for the sudden fall of Spongekind. This message brought to you by the Garbendorg Historical Society.
Which was probably the inspiration for DigCleft:
All hail DigCleft, the mighty shovel once known as StabWhisper, whose reforged might hath smote the earth and paved way for great travel and expedited 2-day shipping on purchases of $20 or greater!
Elsewhere in town, a history of DigCleft is posted.
After the fall of the Bug King it was not long before the Bug Slayer left Garbendorg in search of new adventure. Legend tells that nearly a century later, a man was found near the city limits caked in mud and reeking of sea water. The man claimed to be the son of the Bug Slayer, sent here to build ties between Garbendorg and the exotic cities through which the Bug Slayer had traveled and begin a new era of commerce and expansion. He carried with him DigCleft, a resplendent shovel he said to be StabWhisper reformatted for a new age. Following his example, the warriors of the village turned their blades into tools, and a new era of trade and exploration began.
Since we had a slums district, we figured we also needed a rich district. We decided the rich district should be on a high plateau overlooking the city, so we built a mountain. However, our plans were altered by a chance occurrence just as I was finishing the stairs leading up to it. To grief me, Ben decided to pour water from the top of the stairs, washing me back to the bottom. As I looked at the waterfall on the stairs, I said to him “This kind of looks like a face is vomiting everywhere. OH MY GOD I WILL MAKE A FACE SURROUNDING THE STAIRS”:
Of course, long before I finished the face, we realized this could no longer be the rich district. This would be the haunted district, and we would call it Hollow Mountain. Hollow Mountain features a graveyard, the home of the Count of Garbendorg (it’s inside the face), and an incredible story-telling tower:
We started getting more ideas for sections to add to the town. I created a frozen canal district, at the center of which is a snowman flipping off the slums:
REAGANOTH: God of winter and disdain for the poor. Mortal enemy of Credotir. Some scholars believe that it is REAGANOTH’S overwhelming hatred for the impoverished that fuels the permanent winter of the canal district.
The canal district sits on the edge of the slums district, and it has a half-frozen waterfall leaking into the slums. Someone added some sponges to hold back the water, and a sign:
Only the sponge holds back REAGANOTH’S mighty wrath.
Another sign is hidden amongst the stones.
We cannot be stopped. Justice shall trickle down.
Then there’s TREEBOR:
TREEBOR: GOD OF ALL THINGS MANLY
NATURE? VERY MANLY! TREEBOR IS GOD OF ALL THINGS NATURE!
WEIGHTLIFTING? YES! MANLY, IF WEIGHTS ARE NOT MADE OF WOOD!
WOMEN? ONLY IF THEY ARE VIRGINS! OTHERWISE NO!
LEGS? TREEBOR WOULD NEVER WISH FOR SUCH UNMANLINESS
TREEBOR? YES! TREEBOR IS GOD OF TREEBOR!
The last of the four gods is an hourglass:
PROCRASTINATIUS: God of college students. Believed to be one of the guiding forces behind the creation of Garbendorg and its many glorious structures.
There’s a lot more content in the town I promise I’ll get around to sharing (this is less than a fifth of what’s been created), but that’s probably enough for now. I’ve also got a boatload of thoughts about how this connects to art and expression, and I’m beginning to question whether this is even a video game at all, but rather a highly simplified design tool. I’ll explore those concepts later, though. For now, I just hope I’ve piqued your interest.