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Minecraft mod recreates the Earth to scale - and now it wants players to fill in the gaps

For as long as there’s been Minecraft, there’s been people who want to re-create the world in Minecraft. For one modder, though, it’s not enough to have a to-scale replica of our pale blue dot recreated in Mojang’s block-builder. A new project named Build The Earth is looking for talented builders with too much time on their hands, bringing them together to fully recreate every last man-made structure on Earth in Minecraft.

YouTuber PippinFTS unveiled the project in a YouTube video earlier this week. It’s awfully dramatic, but give the guy a break – he’s only trying to go and build a planet.

PippenFTS’ project is building from Terra 1 to 1, a project headed up by modders orangeadam3 and shejan0. Using a few extra mods to get around the game’s strict world limitations, Terra 1 to 1 uses public terrain datasets, street maps and forest databases to accurately map the earth’s terrain, roads and woodland areas in Minecraft. There’s more than one way to flatten out a sphere, and the creators have even added options for various map projection types. Suck it, Mercator.

PippenFTS isn’t happy with a simple proc-gen recreation, mind. See, he wants to build a community that can collectively recreate thousands of years of human history by filling out every single man-made structure on Earth. His “Build The Earth” project hopes to crowdsource player-recreated cities, towns, stadiums, bridges and otherwise. PippenFTS himself will contribute with his own hometown.

“Regardless,” he writes, wistful in his obligation, “I will build Seattle. Super excited.”

Of course, he’s also looking for help in tidying up some of the natural world’s quirks. There are a few issues with Terra 1 to 1’s mapping – for one, broad heightmap data doesn’t differentiate between natural and man-made structures, confusing pyramids for regular (if remarkably symmetrical) hills. Water is also a bit of a hassle right now. Small rivers and lakes are in the pipeline, but coastlines are acting up by manifesting non-existent islands and strange beaches.

Another issue is that, right now, the world doesn’t exactly end. Minecraft’s maximum world space is magnitudes larger than the actual Earth, meaning Antarctica sorta just keeps going – stretching out to hundreds of thousands of miles of icy wasteland. Poetic? Sure. But it’s a little beyond the realistic aims of the projects. PippenFTS does, at least, suggest cutting the edge of the world off entirely – in his words, recreating the crackpot theories of “people from centuries and millennia past who believed the world was flat”.

Blimey, thank goodness we’re past that nonsense.

It’s bloody ambitious and relentlessly optimistic. I’d honestly be amazed if it gets finished within the next decade. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong – after all, there are just under 4,000 members on the project subreddit, and a Patreon set up to cover server costs is doing well enough for itself.

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Natalie Clayton

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