Game of Blocks: How 100 people will recreate 'Game of Thrones' in Minecraft
How do you build a capital city? Do you build it with stones and mortar and the bowed-down, broken backs of your serfs? Do you construct it with great amounts of architectural ingenuity and a sizable pile of cash? Or do you, perhaps, put it together in a game called Minecraft?
When the WesterosCraft team revealed its sprawling Minecraft representation of King's Landing, the capital city of the fictional Seven Kingdoms from the TV series Game of Thrones, the Internet went a little bit bonkers—it even left my editor at a loss for words. Featuring roughly 3000 unique buildings, each of which lovingly decorated on inside as well, the replica wasn't just another Minecraft project, it was a Sistine Chapel of blocks. However, as impressive as their current achievement might be, the intrepid group isn't done just yet. There's more.
The team wants to build the entire Westeros continent. It's an ambition that may seem ludicrous at first, up until the point you take into consideration the organizational skills demonstrated by the volunteer crew—and the fact that they are 70 percent complete with the project.
In a brief e-mail exchange with GeekTech, Jacob Granberry, one of the two in charge of the project, explains how it all came together. "When I first came up with the idea, I had no idea how to run a Minecraft server. So, I teamed up with Will Blew, our technical administrator, on a private forum we both frequented. I then made a topic asking if anyone wanted to help build Westeros, and we started out with a small team of around 10 people or so."
People did. Jacob Granberry and Will Blew eventually found themselves in charge of a team of ten builders. Their first project? King's Landing. Unlike the current version, this one was far more humble in stature: There were "only" 900 or so buildings in this iteration. The server continued to grow in popularity to the point that a Jacob and Will had to set up a website, complete with a forum system. Five months later, the first King's Landing was razed to the ground and the team laid the groundwork for a new version of the city.
With about 100 builders working simultaneously on the project, planning was all but an essential part of the process. Before any undertaking, the team makes it a point to first compile every shred of information possible: palette of colors, scale and overall approach are just some of the things taken into account.
"Me and the mod staff I've selected then start organizing and terraforming the land in-game," Jacob says. "For King's Landing, we started with the docks and, as each area of town was nearing completion, we laid out and started the next section of town. The last step was the farmland and houses outside of the city walls: we wanted the city to feel like a real-life, planned metropolis and one that sprawls just like an actual medieval city might have."
Given the intricacy of the project, it's no surprise that would-be builders are first screened for suitability. Jacob and the team has a strict application process in place to ensure that prospective applicants are capable of building well-designed architecture and are, like the rest of the team, madly smitten with the Songs of Fire And Ice series.
This decision has certainly worked out for the best. A quick jaunt through the forums is all it takes to reveal the builders' dedication to the project. Here, someone is expounding on the castles that are inspiring his own creation. There, a keep is being dissected; the textures are too wooden, the colors too muddled.
"Workflow is massive but steady," Jacob explains, "We’ve actually slowed down in the past few months, and have focused on the quality of the builds we do rather than how fast we get them done. We are so close to finishing the major projects, but we still have months to go."
For an idea that appears to have sprung out of mere whim—Jacob says the idea came to him one day while he was playing Minecraft—the project certainly has taken a life of its own. Jacob says that he has had to appoint a number of moderators to help him with the whole endeavor. Management, it appears, has been the hardest aspect."
"With so many people, requests, and day-to-day server activities it sometimes becomes a bit much to handle," Jacob continues. "However, I have an excellent mod staff that I handpick based on enthusiasm, skill, and dedication to the server. They do a really amazing job helping out builders, processing applications for new players and projects, and I for sure could not do it without them."
So, what else is left for WesterosCraft? "A lot."
According to Jacob, there are approximately 50 to 70 smaller towns, villages and castles to be built, alongside terraforming duties and the construction of farmland. In regards to "major" projects, the WesterosCraft team still have Riverrun, Highgarden, Storm's End, and Oldtown to construct. After that, the team plans to polish older builds before once again recapturing the heart of the Internet.
Nothing you make in Minecraft will ever be this cool.