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Postcards From Minecraft, Part 6

By Shamus
on Monday Feb 7, 2011
Filed under:



This is the most impressive construction I’ve seen in Minecraft. It’s not the biggest or the most labor-intensive, but it does capture a murderously elaborate building. This one isn’t on the Twentymine Server, so I don’t know where you would go to get the tour. Still impressive, though.


This is a very faithful re-creation of the Minecraft chicken, done in 12x scale.

I’ve never really cared for the chicken model. It looks too much like a duck. I think reducing the beak to just a couple of pixel-blocks would do wonders for it.


Notch added the ability to dye wool in a recent patch. This is a welcome addition to the game. Collecting the reagents and making dyes is interesting and fun, and the ability to build with lots of vibrant colors opens up a lot of creative possibilities. Before this, you could only acquire white wool. And really, what can you make with just white wool?


Oh. Yeah. I guess that’s something you could make. That is… a REALLY big llama. Llamas aren’t even part of the game. There are no llamas in Minecraft. Other than this one, obviously. This project is less “building” and more “sculpting”. Nice work, llama-maker.


Notch stated that if Minecraft won the 2010 Indie of the Year Awards, he would add cake to Minecraft. It did, he did, and here it is.

It’s a unique food within the game, because it’s not portable. You must place the cake before you can eat it, and once once placed it can’t be moved. You can come along and take bites out of it, eating it a little bit at a time. All other food in this game goes directly from your pockets to your tummy in a single bite.


So I made my own version of the cake in 14x scale. I re-created the thing as precisely as possible, right down to the positioning of the sprinkles. The frosting is wool and snow. The orange is pumpkins and orange-dyed wool. The sprinkles are red wool.


I already showed off this bridge in an earlier entry, but I thought I’d show another view of it. It reminds me of the Hell Gate Bridge.


As a way of adding another interesting angle to the discussion of punishment in games, I’m still playing Minecraft in hardcore mode, where death = delete the world. That’s about as punishing as a game can get short of uninstalling itself if you fail. Now, I would never, ever have fallen in love with this game if hardcore was the ONLY way to play. I would have uninstalled it in disgust the first time I died and lost everything. It’s a nice challenge to add to the game once you’ve learned all about it, but trying to learn to play on hardcore would have been tedious and rage-inducing.


I’ve been maintaining the same world for a couple of weeks now, and after a while it turns out that the biggest danger is just maintaining focus. Once I go for several hours without getting hurt it becomes easy to forget how fragile the avatar is, and I end up taking stupid chances. Recently I was inside my house, working on the ceiling. I could hear the zombies, but I’d gotten so used to constantly hearing zombies that I was just ignoring the sound. Then I dug a hole in the ceiling and two of them fell on my head. They took my down to half a hit point. That’s as close as you can get to death without getting a game over. That’s also the closest I’ve ever come to dying from a zombie.

When this character finally dies, it will probably be because I did something stupid and careless while building.


Hardcore mode by itself isn’t very challenging. You can just build a dirt hut around you and go AFK, and you’ll live forever. To make hardcore games interesting, you need to set some sort of goal for yourself beyond basic survival. Ideally, this should be something that will force you to explore or mine for resources.

Whenever I attained a goal, I’d set a new one.

  • Build a nether gate, travel to the nether, and make it back alive.
  • Travel to the nether, acquire enough glowdust to make a few light blocks, and make it back alive.
  • Go into the nether, travel in one direction for about ten minutes, then build another nether gate. Jump back through the gate, and make it home alive. (Movement in the nether is increased by a factor of 8. So if you go into the nether and travel 64 meters, when you return to the normal world you’ll be 512 meters from home.) It took me four in-game days to get back home after this one, meaning I spent three nights abroad. Yikes. Once again, creepers ambushing me in the morning was the only source of serious danger.
  • Collect one of every color of dye.
  • Bake a cake.
  • Build an entire suit of diamond armor. (Might have been smarter to do this one earlier.)

I’m nearly done with the diamond armor now. (The last couple of diamonds are crazy hard to find, for some reason.) I might retire the game once I’m done with this goal.

Comments (91)

  1. Wonderduck says:

    I've never really cared for the chicken model. It looks too much like a duck.

    You make it sound like that’s a bad thing.

  2. X2-Eliah says:

    I wonder if the penultimate lack of stuff to do (e.g. like your goals – how long will you be able to stretch them out?) will be the eventual downfall of Minecraft..

    After all, once people get the ‘yeah, I could launch it, but I’ve done it all already’ feeling, it’s insanely hard to get them interested again – and takes more than coloured wool and cake…

    • cavtroop says:

      thats the point I’m at. Every time I go to fire up the game, I think to myself “nah, done it all before, why bother” and go do something else…

      • Eldiran says:

        That’s pretty much exactly what’s going to happen… that is, until mods are officially supported, at which point Minecraft will become every game.

        Even now, while the game is an inefficient bugged mess that breaks every mod whenever it gets updated, there are hundreds of mods. I can think of at least 2 off the top of my head that change it into something that is almost a different game entirely.

      • Falcon_47 says:

        I was also at that point a few weeks ago, but then I tried a mod for the first time, and the changes that occurred made the game interesting to me again. Yes i know, it’s just temporary, and mod’s are still a bit buggy, but if a mod can make me interested in this game again and with so many out there i don’t think i need to be worried. Besides the game is still in Beta and a lot of new stuff is probably gonna be added, and even if a day comes (and it will) when minecraft’s not entertaining anymore, at least i’m sure it will be remembered as a true gaming classic for future generations, and that makes it’s existence worthwhile…

    • modus0 says:

      Notch has rather nebulously stated that he wants to add goals and “bosses” to the game, to give players something more to do than just mine, survive, build.

      Frankly, I’m having enough fun figuring out something new to build, mining, and exploring, so anything more will just be *ahem* icing on the cake. :P

    • Alan De Smet says:

      At the moment the endgame of Minecraft is multiplayer, and the actual gameplay is deciding on crazy things to build and showing them off to other people, mixed with some touristing of other people’s crazy things. Note that Shamus keeps posting pictures from his and other people’s games: the showing off and seeing is key. It’s certainly kept me amused for months. For about $15, it’s one of the best entertainment investments I’ve made.

      I’m reminded of the Zero Punctuation review of Minecraft. It sounds like he’s playing single player, and his comparison to a model railroader desperately wanting to show of their train set rings very true. I was much earlier along than Yatzhee is when I gave up on single player. Online you can easily build a community of fellow model railroader/Minecraft enthusiasts, and it’s a blast.

      If building crazy things doesn’t amuse you, and you’re not all that interested in see other people’s crazy things, yeah, Minecraft’s fun isn’t going to last long. In the long run will most of us eventually get bored and wander off? Probably. But the fun will have lasted a heck of a lot longer most games.

      • Deoxy says:

        The problem is that other games, you “finish” and quit triumphantly (or at least, that’s a possibility). Games like this, you quit when they become too boring to go back to, because there is no finish line to cross.

        The difference is in how you end up feeling about the game afterwards.

    • FatPope says:

      Really it’s because the only things that are hard to create are entirely aesthetic. There’s nothing to work towards that gives you any sort of gameplay advantage, leaving it quite limited if one considers it solely as a game.

    • Com Mentor says:

      Penultimate – adjective meaning next to last

  3. BeardedDork says:

    I think the easiest way to fix the chicken would be to just change the sound file so it quacks instead of clucks, it spends all it’s time swimming anyway.

  4. Lord Nyax says:

    Have you ever checked out what Tom Francis is doing over at PC Gamer? He’s doing pretty much the same thing, but giving a play by play blog. It’s pretty hilarious actually. At first he just was trying hardcore without any goal, but halfway through he gave himself the goal of traveling to the Nether, going as far as he possibly could in one direction, portaling back, and making it back to his base camp. All without dying once. Its pretty well written and if you haven’t checked it out then you should try it now.


  5. Meredith says:

    I wish this game had a proper demo. I’d like to try it out, but I know it’s the sort of thing that won’t keep my attention long enough to justify a purchase.

  6. Ben says:

    Another goal you might consider is the Linear Adventure. Take advantage of the terrain generator and see all the impressive scenery by picking a cardinal direction and traveling in it indefinitely. You’re allowed to set up camp for the night, but the next morning you have to keep on moving. Obviously it’s acceptable to move other directions to navigate tricky areas, escape monsters, or explore small caverns, but the goal here is to travel as far as you can in predominantly one direction.

    Obviously you can’t do this forever, simply because even random terrain is going to get boring after a while, but it offers a nice change of pace to the game. Normally we aim to set up a camp, build castles and fortifications, and have to set increasingly silly goals to challenge ourselves. Playing as a nomad, you keep most of the first-night challenge forever. And it’s pretty much hardcore mode, because having died and gotten sent back the the beginning of your adventure, you’re not likely to retrace your steps.

  7. Adam P says:

    What I like to do is create a portal to the nether, wander off and end up far away. But I like to build up a second base at wherever the exit portal drops me off.

    Then, I build a minecart tunnel to connect the two in the normal world. With the recent addition of sandstone, I was thinking of laying down a pathway between the bases. Put a cobblestone block down every ten blocks, two blocks down every hundred blocks, and light the way with torches.

    My goal with the second base is to completely demolish the world around it. Take all of the dirt, ore, and stone out of the ground, going all the way down to bedrock. One day, I’ll turn it all into a floating island fortress.

  8. Airsoftslayer93 says:

    good to see a new postcards, hopefully you will do a survival postcards when we finally get that server going

    • Zagzag says:

      I really hope so! The server will be great when it gets off the gorund, but probably more as a diversion from creative than its own attraction.

      • Vipermagi says:

        You’d be surprised how many people prefer surv over creative. I’ve seen a few people leaving the creative server because, well, it was a creative server rather than survival.

        • Aldowyn says:

          if you’re going to play creative, you might as well play classic – you can’t make stuff, but you have infinite supplies of every block, so you don’t have to mine for everything. Plus, it’s free.

          Leading to servers like Team 9000. If you haven’t seen it, it’s where a lot of the clips from Minecraft come from, and it’s absolutely amazing. (The museum, especially. SO MANY SPRITES!)

  9. Jack Fleming says:

    Where’d the picture that’s 3rd from the bottom come from? Am I right in thinking that’s the Princeton Computer Science Building?

    • Shamus says:

      That’s my house in my hardcore game. The windows aren’t decorative, they’re functional. They let me see the yard before I step outside, to avoid being ambushed by creepers. The overhang is to keep spiders from hanging where I can’t see them. The smooth face of the building and fence on top prevents ambushes from skydiving creepers.

  10. Oleyo says:

    I want Minecraft to be turned into a Dwarf Fortress renderer :)

  11. ima420r says:

    I just want to see people in the game. NPCs would be just fine. It’s so lonely in my world…

    • Tever says:


      Humans+ mod. I’ll warn you, though: You might regret wanting it. Every time I install it, the landscape goes from empty to ridiculous, and everything wants me dead. Mo’ Creatures is a little better for me; werewolves are nonhostile humans by day, and they’re fairly rare. It lets you run across actual (NPC) people while still preserving the isolation.

      • ima420r says:

        Thanks for the link. I haven’t used any mods yet but I might try one now. I was reading some of the posts, and I loved this one “Make females thats the one thing this needs!”. LOL! Lets get some virtual girls so I when I make a bedroom I have someone to ‘use’ it with, right? :)

  12. poiumty says:

    How do you keep the place lit at night without using torches? That’s the major problem of my Mage Tower(tm). Windows would probably work during the day, but do they work at night?

    • Vipermagi says:

      Without using torches? Lava, fire, glowstone.
      You can make a glass floor and let lava flow under it, or create double walls with torches/etc. inbetween. One glass every other block, and the torches/etc. between the glass. Hides them fairly well while still providing light.

      A windowed building will be lighter than without windows, but monsters will still like your place for its low light levels :p

      • poiumty says:

        The lava idea would be pretty sweet if i didn’t have to change the entire structure of my tower for it.

        Hmm… you gave me an idea. I can make PILLARS of lava encased in glass. Here goes nothing.

  13. GiantRaven says:

    I think the most punishing a game can get is when it deletes random files on your computer when you fail (or win, for that matter).


  14. Henebry says:

    Question from a non-player:

    when I look at that Llama, I’m set to wondering where your avatar stands while working on a giant building or sculpture. Can your avatar walk up the side of a building and do work Spider-man style? Or do you need to build scaffolding as you work, and then take the scaffolding down when the building/sculpture is complete?

    • RTBones says:

      Seconded. Do you have to stack up a “mountain” of resources and then “carve” your sculpture out – or can you build “up?”

      • Kojiro says:

        You can build upwards, but scaffolding is generally necessary in some form, as getting to the top otherwise is impossible, and getting down, at least from bigger projects, is fatal. This is generally pretty simple, though; in some cases it’s as easy as just building a “tower” beneath yourself, by jumping and placing a block beneath you, until you reach the necessary level.

        Edit: “Carving”, meanwhile, is generally unnecessary. There aren’t many blocks with qualities that would necessitate that. I can’t think of any, really, although I could be wrong.

        Edit again: It is plausible, though, as Shamus says below. Also, for things like caves, that’s sort of how you do it, really. I was thinking more of sculpture carving, although that is also possible, just (usually) somewhat harder, in my experience.

        • RTBones says:

          Perhaps I should have clarified my question – I was referring to “carving” the sculpture (which you and Shamus have kindly addressed). I understand the concept of carving out caves/caverns.

          Some of what I have seen (and by seen I mean just a casual perusal of t’internet) seems to be quite intricate. Are there “patterns” or “instructions” out there for some of these sculptures and buildings, or is it really that “random?”

      • Shamus says:

        Both styles of building work – digging out a mountain, or building up from the ground. This llama was certainly build from the ground up. Yes, this is usually done with scaffolding.

      • Vipermagi says:

        We also have a fun little mod on the server that creates a carpet of glass under your feet that follows you around.

      • Alan De Smet says:

        Generally speaking placing blocks is fast, removing blocks (mining, digging, cutting, etc) is slow. So most big projects are built up, typically with scaffolding out of dirt or sand (both of which are pretty quick to remove). Massive underground projects are time sinks (says the man who is trying to carve out the great hall of Moria).

        • Chris B Chikin says:

          I was working on something similar and digging out your own hall beneath the mountain is not easy. The downside to building up though, is that if you want solid stone (readily avalaible underground) you have smelt the materials, which arguably takes just as long as digging – longer really, since you have to dig out the rubble in the first place anyway.

        • Epharian (Ben Orchard) says:

          Well I just finished my project on the twentymine server, and it’s going to be quite some time before I’m willing to do another underground project like that. 125x125x29 is a lot of blocks to REMOVE, then replace the walls, floor & ceiling, and build a pyramid to boot. It was worthwhile, but took me forever. I started that back in October or so, and I JUST NOW finished.

  15. Tuck says:

    When I get hold of my cathedral world again I’ll put it online so anyone can download it and “get the tour” (it’s currently on a hard drive in a PC that got damaged moving house thanks to my inadequate packing).

    Here’s a heap more pics from the construction if anyone’s interested: http://picasaweb.google.com/pdurdin/MinecraftCathedral

  16. rayen says:

    When is the best time to get on the twentymine server? I got on a few days ago and no one was there. I wandered and there’s some cool stuff and i’d like to add my own stuff at some point.

    Also Shamus you and me are entirely different, i’ve had almost no trouble with creepers but spiders are kicking my butt on an almost nightly basis in-game.

  17. Saint_007 says:

    Wow, that’s a pretty good recreation of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris.

    • Tuck says:

      Actually…I used the floorplan and dimensions of Amiens Cathedral. The rest of the design takes inspiration from cathedrals all over, or just from my head (or what seemed to fit).

      • Chris B Chikin says:

        Somewhere I saw a video of a tour of a “life size” replica of Westminster Abbey – the largest cathedral in the UK. It is seriously impressive. I’ll post a link if I find it.

        • Tuck says:

          I’m not sure what the dimensions of Westminster are, and I can’t find them online. I picked Amiens as a starting point partly because the details were readily accessible. The width and height of the nave are approximately correct for Amiens. I was going to do a spire like Amiens but I hit the ceiling with the central tower as it is…

  18. Shishberg says:

    I was going to say that it looks more like the Sydney Harbour Bridge than the Hell Gate Bridge, but it turns out the latter inspired the former, and they are, indeed, very hard to tell apart.

    Although… the Minecraft bridge has two separate pylons at each end, like the SHB, whereas the HGB has an archway joining them. So I’m going to claim that it’s modelled on the SHB.

  19. TechDan says:

    Out of curiosity, are you going to continue your Fallout: NV Stolen Pixels arc? I was really excited to see what you might do with it.

  20. Wolfwood says:

    damn the guy hit the ceiling on that cathedral >.<

    guess if he really wants to complete it he has to dig down a foundation how ever many meters needed to top the bell tower … staggering feat O.O

  21. bit says:

    Generally, when I lack motivation, I try to generate myself a self-perpetuating “infinite” work cycle; for instance, right now, I’ve got a very complex and well thought out series of pit mines and agriculture planned out, which is engaging and safe to do, as well as repeating infinitely. My long-term plan is to get to the Nether and completely cultivate it; not an easy task with all the Ghasts around, but that’s half the fun, no?

  22. Adamantyr says:

    I keep thinking I’ll get bored with Minecraft… then I think of some new project to do.

    First, I built a sandstone pyramid in the desert. With a burial chamber and a pit going all the way to the bedrock beneath the pinnacle. Rather like a passage for the spirit to travel into oblivion.

    Then, I saw a curious thing at night to the west… a burning tree. Investigating, I found a lava flow above ground coming off a high precipice, killing animals and mobs and burning trees down. So I decided, perfect place for a cliff hugging tower to reach into the clouds! And a few more lava flows, so there’s a nice lava lake below…

    But, both these structures were well away from my spawn area, which was cumbersome to travel to. So I built a long railway to ride a mine cart all the way back to the general area.

    Now I’m building roads to make more connections, make it easier to traverse across large swaths of territory… mostly old territory that doesn’t have the new trees or minerals. I’d like to build an obsidian pyramid in the desert now… And move into some new areas by boat where there are the new tree types… maybe find some of the blue mineral too.

    There needs to be more content before release. As is, the game is still rather sparse on decorations and variety. (I’d like to have iron fences, and flags/banners made from wool, for example.) Some more mineral and stone types would be good too; gravel, dirt, and stone get kinda boring after awhile with spelunking.

    Still, I’ve gotten MORE than my money’s worth from this game, and it cost a heck of a lot less than those triple-A titles. And it’s a heck of a lot more fun.

  23. nilus says:

    Wow this game is a time dump. I finally decided to give it a try and played it till 2 AM last night. All I have managed to do is build a small cave house and start playing with crafting.

    Do most of you guys look at the wiki on how to craft things or do you figure it out yourself? It feels like cheating to look at the wiki but I’d be damned if I figure out some of the crafting formulas any other way.

    • Epharian (Ben Orchard) says:

      I don’t know anyone that’s a purist when it comes to crafting. Of course, on the twentymine server, there’s just not much choice but to cheat when it comes to certain materials. After all, no matter HOW MUCH I look, I’m not going to find sheep for wool. Thus, if I want wool, I must obtain it by other means–begging is good for those without the ability to create stuff modded in.

    • Rosseloh says:

      I think everyone looks at the wiki at least to get the recipes for the first time. So, don’t feel bad.

  24. SolkaTruesilver says:

    I crave to see the Forum Romanum or the Circus Maximus..

    Or the Coliseum

    • Rosseloh says:

      Hmm, I might put some research into the layout of the Coliseum. No guarantees that I’ll actually build it, but if I can extrapolate some fairly decent schematics there’s a good chance. Did you want the partially ruined version we have now or a whole one?

      Of course, I’m no expert on Roman architecture, but I wonder if the Forum would actually be easier.

      Perhaps I’ll do a lot of research tonight. Heh.

      • SolkaTruesilver says:

        A whole one, if possible.

        Hell, if I could, I’d pull up the specs for Capitol Hill and recreate what probably has been the most important center of power in World’s history.

        (Capitoline Hill, for you latin purists ;-) The very hill that gave the word “Capital” its name)

        • Rosseloh says:

          I’m working with the best diagram of the Colosseum I could find, and I’m not so sure with these curves how possible it will be (or, how good it would look when finished)…Perhaps I’ll try the Forum first.

          But its all dependent on my spare time, which has been lacking recently…

  25. Tuck says:

    For anyone who’s interested in seeing the above cathedral firsthand, I’ve managed to get a backup copy* off my brother and it’s now uploaded at:


    So anyone with Minecraft (except me, my laptop won’t run it) can download the world and run around and break or make things! :D

    You’ll find the interior is rather empty. If anyone wants to dress it up and furnish it I’d be delighted to see screenshots. :D

    *I wrote coffee there at first. Haven’t been able to drink the stuff since I was ill last week…

    PS. Don’t hurt yourself on the cactus farm.
    PPS. I’m not sure why I made a cactus farm.

  26. Deoxy says:

    It's a nice challenge to add to the game once you've learned all about it, but trying to learn to play on hardcore would have been tedious and rage-inducing.

    And now you know why Minecraft has more players than Dwarf Fortress…


  27. Epicei says:

    trololol.. that’s my bridge! xD

  28. Aaron says:

    the game never gets old if you can think of neat and unique sthings to make in the game. try messing around with redstone and tnt. also you should look up tnt cannon on youtube.

  29. Brian says:

    I just took a stroll through the twentymine map and was kinda shocked to see what’s become of the place. Hooligans seem to be running wild. Shamus’ castle appears to have been subjected to a pile of TNT O_O

  30. Ida says:

    Very nice!!!
    I love minecraft!!!
    My name is Ida and i a´m 12 years old…..
    Bye Bye!! <3

  31. bill says:

    that is so cool!!!!!!!!!

    How long did that take you?

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