Minecraft is a genuine sensation. With four million users and over a million and a half sales to date, it's made its creator, Markus 'Notch' Persson, a very wealthy man indeed. But most impressive of all are the creations themselves: stupefying feats of digital engineering created from simple low-res cubes. Below are ten creations that I think define Minecraft's magic. Its creators' motivations vary, but each one is impressive in its own special way. Behold their works, ye mighty, and despair.
Channelling the spirit of Andrew Ryan, Adam Shefki chose the impossible – building Rapture in Minecraft underwater . "It wasn't really planned," Shefki told The Escapist . "I was in a boat and I'd just discovered a huge expanse of water on the map with a tiny island in the middle. I started building a lighthouse, which reminded me of BioShock's introduction sequence. Building the rest of the city was inevitable after that." Although not an exact replica of the doomed undersea utopia, it's still a bewilderingly impressive feat; especially when you consider that it was crafted entirely from hand-mined materials. It's amazing what a dedicated and passionate Minecraft community can achieve.
2. The Reichstag
Proof that with some dedication, and a lot of carefully placed blocks, it's possible to create realistic looking architecture in Minecraft. This recreation of Germany's historic Reichstag building was crafted by ecrider, who placed every single block by hand. Not only that, but he did it on a public server. "It was griefed many times." he reveals. Just like the real Reichstag then, which was also the subject of numerous 'griefings' during World War 2 – mostly by the Allies. So it's authentic in more ways than one, and a staggering accomplishment. How did he find the time? "I'm not one of these no-life people. I have insomnia. When you can't sleep for more than four hours a day, you have time for everything."
3. The Taj Mahal
This impressive build is the result of a pooled effort by crafters RealG, Curi, Henrz and an team of helpers. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's glorious tribute to his late wife took 25 years to build in reality, but its Minecraft counterpart was completed in just two weeks. It's even to scale: a 1:1 recreation of the real Mahal, complete with iconic domes and minarets. They even managed to include the famous garden and reflecting pool. "Even Shah Jahan couldn't have imagined this would happen." reckon the creators.
4. 16-bit ALU
For most people Minecraft is about building buildings , but YouTuber theinternetftw went one step further and created part of a functioning computer . Using redstone circuits he made an ALU, or arithmetic logic unit, which is the fundamental building block of any CPU. But that's just the beginning: "This is the first part of a planned 16-bit computer that will run entirely in Minecraft," he reveals. When it's eventually complete he even thinks he'll be able to run basic code on it. "I saw the ALU and I wet myself," said Notch on his Twitter feed. "Seriously! I got a hose and I wet myself. With pee."
5. Animal Cannon
Powered by 73 crates of TNT, this elaborate device, created by Kiersher, hurls a pig – lured unsuspectingly into a mine cart – into the great blue yonder at terrifying speeds. "The pig and mine cart were never seen again," says its creator. "I've walked for a few Minecraft days in the direction of the launch, with no success. It's time to call off the search. RIP, pig." The cannon uses the same redstone circuits as the ALU above, but to much more immediately entertaining, and comical, effect. Yet more evidence that static buildings are just the tip of Minecraft's blocky, pixelated iceberg.
6. Minecraft Interstate
Brett, an art student, was bored. So he decided to pick a direction and just mine . 24 hours, and 8 miles later, his creation was complete: a gargantuan stretch of rail, which he showed off in a gorgeous time-lapse video that was praised by Notch: "This is so very crazy! I love it!" To travel the entire 'interstate' in real-time would take 27 minutes, cutting through mountains and across rivers. “I'm not a veteran of Minecraft construction,” Brett told New World Notes . “If you're finding yourself lacking creativity or simply don't want to finish something, set a goal and take a break. For me, my goals were, 'OK, next mountain, next hill, let's get to the other side of the river/ocean'. Setting up your project into chunks or sections is a nice way to progressively develop it over time."
7. Minecraft Enterprise NCC-1701
Created by Mozzie, this full-scale Star Trek ship is so detailed, even its insides are faithful to the subject matter. "It has a full interior, a wide compliment of tools and resources throughout the ship," explains its creator. "Enough for anyone to get started on their own space colony. The vessel features 9 decks with all the expected rooms." The ship has a transporter room, working photon torpedo launchers and even blinking lights. Mozzie is a Star Trek fan (as is evident), also creating themed skins for Minecraft. But don't get him started on the TV show. "F**k TNG, Voyager and Enterprise. Bunch of garbage. The only show that was good all the way through was DS9." Quite.
8. RMS Titanic
There are a lot of Minecraft Titanics out there, but I like Crashking's. Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D adds a touch of class to his sweeping video, which shows the lavishly detailed, and mostly to scale, exterior, as well as a part of the 'great staircase', as made famous by that James Cameron film. What was it called again? Big Sinky Ship, I think. "She is 509 blocks from stem to stern, 49 blocks from keel to boat deck, her funnels are 36 blocks high and the rudder is 25 blocks high," reveals a detail-obsessed Crashking. "And yes, I do have too much time on my hands."
9. Marriage proposal
"Heather." a sign reads on a bridge. "We build worlds together." another reads. We move forward. "Let's fill them with life." reads the final sign. And as we reach the top of a cliff, we look down and: MARRY ME written in FLAMING HOT LAVA, carved into the ground. Now, this is either making you squeal with delight, or you're trying to keep your lunch down. Either way, this video by mcnerdburger is undeniably an inspired, and unexpected, use of Minecraft. "We are both game devs at BioWare," reads the description. "So that might explain the extreme nerdiness and 'building worlds together' bit." The video ends with a giant ring and the encouraging message: 'She said yes... then a Creeper blew her up.' Dawww.
Watch an army of Redditors band together to create a spur of the moment colosseum on their SMP server. Seeing the mass of avatars swarm around the construction site is oddly inspiring; it's rare that we see these great co-op builds actually happening, and not just the aftermath. It's not the most extravagant building we've ever seen, but the team effort – and logistics of getting so many people working to the same goal – is to be admired. They even manage to keep the griefers at bay.