Your world is huge and contains plenty of plains to create upon. It also features vast forests, deep ravines, towering mountains, twisting rivers and endless oceans. It has pigs, sheep, cows, chickens, zombies, skeletons, spiders and creepers. You have grown an attachment to this world, and TNT or restarting is just not an option; there must be another way. You have built multiple houses in your ventures, started a castle that quickly felt the wrath of the creepers, and you even have a laboratory for your short encounter with redstone. However, there is one last thing you should try before you let the world drop to the bottom of your worlds list: cities.
Cities can be anything from simple to complex, from copy&paste NPC villages to highly unique. You don’t need to have anything specific before you build a city, town or village, you CAN simply think one day, “I want to build a city here!”
Before you start planning/building a city, you should know what you are getting yourself into. This thread will make building cities an art, having sections dedicated to parts that you could care less about. These are all guidelines and can be overlooked, just don’t expect the awesome metropolis that UserX built if you skip over everything. To start building cities, all you need to start off is time... lots of it. Building just about anything in Minecraft is a lengthy task, and when you are building many individual structures, it will take a while. So why spend the time creating them? They will do wonders for your world, especially if you put the time into making your save “Digital Diamond” worthy. You could give your world a background story, cultures and civilizations. If you are willing to go the distance, they can even show relationships between locations/countries, economies and politics. The best part? You don’t need to write that all out, simply plan/build it.
There are many people who struggle with constructing cities, however. These reasons extend past time constraints and limited creativity. I’ll highlight some:
-Creepers love cities. It is a fact. They will hunt you down and blow a hole in your work. No exceptions
-Cities will take large chunks of time to complete, and not everyone is willing to put that much effort into them
-Is the glass half full or half empty? You will likely come face to face with reality: is that city dead, lacking all life, or are you building new civilizations with your bare hands?
-BUILDER'S-BLOCK! See below. It’s a horrible Minecraft sickness that mentally prevents you from building anything
Cities do take a lot of time to build, and they can take a lot of work done right. This guide will attempt to help you build a city right the first time so you don’t need to redo them. It will also assist in making cities more intriguing to other forum users. I will attempt to keep up to date so long as there is the need to keep it so.
Cities, Towns and Villages
There are numerous definitions for cities, towns and alike, and there really isn’t a fine line to tell them apart in the real world. However, we can define them to our liking. For a general outline, I’ll recommend this:
Metropolis: Bigger than a city, a metropolis is a hub of economy, politics and culture. These would only exist in modern and maybe industrial styles/time periods.
Cities: Large population centers, and (depending on the time period/style you are using) will have the toughest defences (a Roman city would have had massive walls, but does any modern city?) having walls, turrets and active guards at all times.
Towns: Towns are lesser cities; being less grand and having not as much defence when applicable (think walls and a watch tower). Generally, a town would hold a population about five-eighths to two-thirds of the population of an average city.
Villages: Think of Mob Villages already in Minecraft; tiny gatherings of houses with a minimal population. They would have poor to no defence, and would have a maximum of half an average cities population.
It should be noted that this thread contains numerous instances where I use the word ‘city’ loosely. This is only to keep a consistency in the thread, and not to make everything specific to the above definition. So feel free to replace many of them to whatever fits best for you.
You may not be aware of this disease, but I guarantee you have encountered it. The Builder’s Block mental sickness has affected almost every Minecraft player at least once, and it is quite common. The disease is contagious, but in an odd manner; it will force someone to present the sickness publicly through a very uninformative and rushed forum thread. Humans are not susceptible to this form of transmission, however, and often find themselves trying to assist the victim by replying to the poorly created thread, often failing to do so. Fortunately, the sickness has not been proven to be fatal, but it has been known to mentally strain players who are affected. Symptoms
There is a vague list of symptoms one might expect to feel. You may have Builder’s Block if you have something along the lines of the following:
Lack of ideas to keep you busy in Minecraft
The sudden disinterest of continuing a project in Minecraft
The urge to hit one’s head against a nearby wall for ideas
Uncontrollable urges to press [ESC] and [ALT]+[F4]
The sickness is known to vary between players. It is highly unlikely that you will suffer from all the aforementioned symptoms, and if you do suffer from them all at one period of time, please refrain from contacting any professional medical doctor as it may lead to unwanted mental therapy. Treatment
Treating Builder’s Block is usually harmless. First, attempt to ‘mine it off’. That is, mine for resources you may/may not need. If you are not willing to spend up to 3 hours trying to heal your sickness, try one of the following to get inspiration:
Google: Look into random things like your favorite video game level or let’s play person.
Minecraft Forums: Search the forum for other people’s projects and opt to help them out. DO NOT POST A THREAD; it will probably be overlooked or turn for the worst.
Minecraft: Explore. See if something demands a structure or statue. That overhang is screaming at you to become an awesome hanging city.
“THE LIST”: Directly below this section is “The List”. It is a massive compilation of things you can build
Looking for a list of things you can add to/build in your world? Below is a massive collection of structures, landmarks and other man-made ideas that are not limited by themes/styles/time periods. Feel free to use Google to learn about the things you do not know of.
Aether Portal Laboratory
Airport Control Tower
Asylum (Comes in a variety of purposes)
Bomb Shelter/Safe House
College (Academics, Magic, Mining…etc.)
Explosives Testing Flat
Flag Pole (With flag)
Government Building (Ex. Parliament Buildings, White House)
Meteor Impact Site
Mill (Lumber, Reed, Wheat...etc.)
Mine (Open Pit, Shaft, Strip)
Mob Examination/Testing Facility
Mob Spawn Building
Nether Portal Laboratory
Nuclear Missile Drop Tower
Nuclear Missile Testing Town
Oil Rig (on sea)
Orchard (Apple, Cherry, Orange...etc.)
Power Plant (Coal-Powered, Nuclear, Wind Turbines...etc.)
Redstone Facility (Place for redstone mechanics)
Space Ship Launch Pad
Store (Food, Supplies/Blocks, Tools, Weapons)
Subway/Mine Cart System
Tool Manufacturing Factory
Train Repair Facility
Walking Path (Through a forest/park)
Water Treatment Plant
Water Wheel Building
Feel free to post your additions to this list.
Basis of Building
There are a few things that form the very base of building a good looking and functioning city. The Elements and Principles of Building are what make up a city in theoretical manners. You should never just toss an element in because you like it, but work it into your plans. Otherwise your city will look bad and will not attract much positive attention.
The Basics of Building are basic elements that make a city look more like a city. They are small details that are not noticed until they are not there. Add them in where possible, but remember not to overuse things.
Elements and Principles of Block Building
Something to keep in mind if you are looking for a very awesome city is the Elements and Principles of Art/Design. Of course, these are mostly for cities that are being laid out before they are even built, but they can also be used unintentionally. To make the elements and principles more relevant to 3D pixel/block construction, I have altered the names and details of “The Elements and Principles of Design.”
Layout: How easy it is to get around the city
If your city has an unorganized layout, it may be difficult to get to a certain point. A good layout will allow players to get around easily, not deterring them from exploring. This is derived from “Line”, the connection from point A to point B.
Shape/Form: The shape of buildings
The shape of buildings will define a city. Square structures are very common, but triangular roofs are god houses, and long, flat roof houses are nice desert structures.
Colour: The colours that define the city; could be used as a flag
This will assist in unifying the city. It does not need to be complex, a simple 3-colour pattern can do (the French and Italian flags are just that). The colours could also determine relationships between cities (where colour selections from the colour wheel dictate friends/foes/neutrality).
State: The state of the city: ruined, thriving, forgotten, ‘gold rush’…etc.
The state of the city is very important when planning out a city. A thriving city will be much different than a deserted town, and it will also look different. This is derived from “Value”, using the lightness or darkness of colours to create contrast.
Texture: The type of blocks used in buildings, streets, city clocks...etc.
Making buildings look like they belong is a very important thing. Correctly using blocks to unify everything will make a good city great. This is a redefinition of “Texture”, which is implying texture on an artwork.
Space/Perspective: How the city is built (Location, size/style)
Using plains, cliff overhangs, floating islands and everything will affect the perspective on the city. A town built on a plain will be thought of as a ‘cookie-cutter city’ that lacks anything unique (which could be what you are looking for). The city built on the tip of a cliff overhang will seem superior and powerful. My personal favourite (which I still have yet to build) is the hanging city. It appears as a stealthy city holding something that doesn’t want to be found, like amazing architecture or treasures. This a redefinition of “Space/Perspective”, in which one manipulates positive and negative space, and uses perspective to give a 2D or 3D look.
Pattern: The style of buildings and how they relate to the rest of the city
Going hand in hand with “Unity” and “Texture”, pattern is used to make the city not look boring and uninteresting, but unique. Yet, not so unique as to make everything seem different in a bad way. Add unique patterns to a base building blueprint to refresh interest in your city.
Rhythm/Movement: How easily the city can be navigated without a map
Generally, if you need to hand out a map to every visitor, your city is way too confusing. Label structures, have some form of Main Street, and make popular things easy to access. Also, you should keep a realistic approach to building locations. Factories are not built beside a suburban location, nor are mine shafts right outside the town hall (well, this might be an exception; the game is MINEcraft).
Proportion/Scale: Fitting the city to a proper size
Don’t unendingly expand your city. Fit the city to the landscape and its purpose. A logging town isn’t going to be more than a gathering of a few houses and required mills, nor will that easily fit inside a dense forest. And that huge flat plain can be a creative location for a city, assuming it is built correctly.
Balance: How effective the city building layout is
Balancing the building layout is integral to planning a city. You don’t want to get people only to visit one half of your city, nor do you want to have to hand out maps so people can find buildings, so balance things out. Spread out important structures and draw attention to otherwise unnoticed ones.
Unity: How well the city seems to relate to itself
Unifying your buildings is important so that people know where they are. An un-unified city will have people getting lost, or, even worse, not know which city is which. Unifying your world of cities could create distinct countries or cultures.
Emphasis: Emphasize buildings to have them stand out
Emphasize the importance of buildings. Banks, stores and government buildings are very important, and you want them to stand out. Office buildings, houses and warehouses are expendable, so don’t needlessly make them over-detailed. On the other hand, if a big corporation owns the town, do you think they would have a copy&pasted design, or a towering 50 floor skyscraper with oversize windows.
Basics of Building
The basics of building cities are really what make it look real. This isn’t about the actual basics, but what is missed when it’s not there. These are, rather, small details that will help you differentiate one city from another, and will help your city not look like you used MCEdit to copy&paste a building over and over.
Names: Simple and straight forward. Adding a name will not only help you know which city you are in, but it can also develop background, allude to the towns purpose and give a sense on how big the cityis. Really large modern cities may have districts which differentiate the purpose of sections (seeing as modern cities are more self-sufficient).
Unique Architecture: Cities shouldn’t be cookie-cutter buildings. Square/rectangular structures are fine, but they can get really repetitive fast. Having a variety of architectural designs (like rounded buildings) can only go so far to avoid this. Have cities with their very own architecture not seen elsewhere. This will help create an interesting atmosphere and gain the interest of more users. Some searches on Google for abstract architecture can really pay off.
Organization: Keep things well organized. The last thing you want is to get lost in your own city because, chances are, any other person will only get more lost. Lay out plans that are logical and easy to understand (ever wonder why roads are really straight with buildings on the side nicely labeled?). Keeping things well labeled and sensible will aid in making a user-friendly environment which will get you more popularity.
Standards: Should be used sparingly. Standards are how you build/construct/place one thing over and over. Having to many standards will give you a very bland and repetitive city, while not having enough will leave one wondering if one city is five. Leave the bigger things standard-free, like buildings and statues, but put standards on the small things like roads, lampposts and signs. You could even make rooftops the same colour to denote a certain kingdom.
Locations: To prevent a city from being a building after building scenario, try adding unique locations like parks, statues and monuments. This will spike interest and likely grab the attention of more users. The amount of unique locations you need varies on the size of your city (tiny cities need next to none, while huge metropolises will need tons).
I find this quote very helpful in many scenarios, especially when combating Builder’s-Block:
"Don't build a building for a purpose, put purpose into a building."
Styles and Themes
First off, this is my opinion and should not be considered official. Styles and Themes are important for constructing many cities in one world. Though they sound very similar they are actually very different. Essentially, STYLES are how you build something and THEMES are what you build.
Use of styles and themes can really help make your world look good as a whole.
Styles Styles in Minecraft are important because they denote a medieval town from a modern city. A style is how you build something. Below I will describe a few styles – not all of them, just some unique ones that I can come up with. It should be noted that these styles will be based off North American/European history (as I know them the best, and it seems most people already favour it).
-Minecraft Old is slightly different from Minecraft New. Minecraft Old is the Medieval version of Minecraft. Cities hardly exist, instead Castles are built with towns inside their outer walls. When building walls, they should be tall and thick while the corners of a wall (the inner wall at the bare minimum) should contain a turret. A nice wall for a Minecraft castle is about 2x12 with turrets that go about 15 blocks high, of course you can set your own standards too. Just to point out, a castle doesn't always have a moat, it was used for defence for castles that rested close to the sea level/where built on fields. Common building materials include wood/log and cobblestone.
-Minecraft New is the time of the New Land (North America) settlement. Contrary to Minecraft Old, castles are extremely rare. Forts are constructed as a replacement and differ because a fort is more of a military force than a place under someone's rule. Forts usually do not have towns next to them like castles did. Settlements in Minecraft New vary in their size, but are usually surrounded by some form of light defense (such as a fence or short cobblestone wall). Light defensive towers do exist in larger towns, but nothing of the massive stone turrets a fortress may have. The most common building materials include wood, cobblestone and brick (on occasion). Smooth stone should not be used for a building material (people carried rocks to build a wall, not rock walls).
-Redstone Punkis a hate-able name for Minecraft’s style of steam punk. Steam punk is a cross of fantasy and science fiction where steam-power is prominent. Redstone punk is Minecraft where redstone use is huge and fantasy exists. The world thrives off the existence of one or two massive metropolises, and cities look like towns with industry thrown on it. The fantasy bits come in because it would be perfect to have a huge metropolis on that floating island.
-Industrialis a more modern feel, think around the era of WWII. Factories, warehouses, companies and all are very big, while castles and forts are historical sights. Buildings in these cities should be huge in comparison to those in the other styles, and these cities should not be surrounded by a wall or such. Often a city will have districts that keep things organized. The main building materials include smooth stone, ore blocks (iron, gold, diamond and lapiz lazuli so long as these ore blocks are not abused), brick and glass. You may also consider making districts (sections of the city for specific purposes, eg. industrial, housing..etc.) as it is very rare that there are houses next to factories or ports.
-Modern is a recreation of right now back to the post-cold war era. The world isn’t all about new, it’s about better. The economy is rather stable, and rebuilding/refurbishing old castles and forts is affordable. Architecture is being revisited with new ideas, and big industry has turned into environmental concerns. The materials are parallel to the Industrial style, but skyscrapers and office buildings feature huge amounts of glass. When you build a large skyscraper, it should avoid the classic box design (think round, triangular, angled…etc.). Building a few castles that are being rebuilt can also be a good investment.
Themes are not necessary in every city you have, but they do help make a difference between cities. Themes are ideas your city is built around. A good example of a theme for Minecraft is a mining town theme. This would mean that most of the buildings are wooden shacks with a mineshaft/pit nearby or inside the town among other utilities for miners (tool shed, warehouse...etc.). I'm not going to list a bunch of themes (I don't feel the need to), just remember not every city needs a theme, otherwise everything is so different that nothing seems to connect.
Anyone who has ever played Minecraft knows how important materials. For instance, cobblestone is the best building material because you are always trying to get rid of it (or at least when playing survival). Materials are a critical part of a city, and not just because they determine how good your city looks. To make the best city possible, it is important to determine the materials to use and how to use them. Do note: This section is not written in stone, and can easily be debated, please feel free to share your opinion.
There are 3 basic categories of materials: Base Materials, Secondary Materials and Detail Materials. Whether or not you use them is your call, but they all do something to a building. The last thing I want to say before I begin is that rules can be broken when done right. If you know what you are doing, feel free to ignore every single thing I say not to do.
We all know what a Base Material is: whatever you want to build the building out of. Usually, the base material is some form of raw block like cobblestone. As you need stacks upon stacks of this material, it is highly advised not to go with something less common than brick, and even then it may be difficult to amass enough of it.
I recommend avoiding expensive blocks, even if you aren’t in survival. The block value greatly decreases in large amounts and has a much higher probability of being an eyesore. Diamond, gold and obsidian blocks are these kinds of materials.
As you probably know, different base materials define the style of building. You remember styles, right? Wooden planks, cobblestone and wool all give a more medieval look to a building while smooth stone, stone brick, glass and clay brick can look quite modern. From what I have seen, iron bocks, white wool and obsidian seem to be big for science fictional creations (well, a wooden spaceship would just look stupid).
Generally, a builder will construct the creation with the base material and then add the secondary and detailing materials afterwards. However, if you’re working with difficult blocks (smooth stone or obsidian (I warned you)) then it may be much faster to incorporate them as you build
For example, here is your wall. The base material is smooth stone.
You have you cube household of wood, but it looks boring and uninteresting. Secondary materials will add the interest that the base material cannot achieve alone. We all know 1 material on a wall is boring, but checkering between 2 materials grabs people eyes. Welcome to Secondary Materials.
The use of secondary materials is to change up the solid block wall you have, whether it is by crossing 2 materials or outlining a buildings edge. Once you have you base material, replace appropriate blocks with a secondary material. As you will not need stacks upon stacks of secondary material, you can get more expensive. Gold trimming might just be what you’re office building lacks. Some ideas are smooth stone, wood logs, ore blocks, cloth, obsidian and so on. DO not forget to stand back and see how your creation looks. The worst thing to do is outline everything in obsidian and realize the building looks horrible and you need to tear it down.
So now you have an interesting wall. The next step is detail materials. You want windows, you want furniture, you want an entrance. Fill that empty shell of a building you have: use glass or glass panes for windows, wood stairs for chairs, a fence with pressure plate on top to make a table and even more. I told you this wasn’t an interior decorators guide so find out what looks good for yourself.
The idea for detailing materials is to add the function or extra bit of interest in your creation. Whether it be window sills, shutters, tables, chairs, fire places or whatever, put function into that building
Typical techniques in building require patterns, as I said above. What a pattern does is make something stick out (such as obsidian against stone), and so a smooth stone/cobblestone checkered wall will get the first look over a plain cobblestone wall. You don’t need much imagination, an easy checkerboard pattern will work, or maybe you want to seem imaginative and go for some patchwork of cobblestone on the smooth stone wall to make it look aged and ruined.
You would be surprised at the amount of people that hate the use of certain blocks for their looks. If you decide to use these as building materials, expect a lot of mad posters.
-Cobblestone: Apparently a small portion the community thinks it looks ugly, period. If you use it at all, they will either post their hate or ignore it completely. However, it is generally accepted that it looks bad when used excessively (like as a base material). Cobblestone is best used in patterns (whether as the base or secondary material).
-Gravel: Well, since this thread began, gravel received a nice texture-fix. Although still not pleasing to build with, it can be used well for flooring or regenerating walls.
-Diamond/Gold Block: When overused, it tends to scream hacking and looks terrible. It’s good to build with, don't get me wrong; just don't make a building of mostly diamond/gold. Iron tends to be more acceptable, but still add some limits.
-Using anything in large quantities will gather a load of complaints. Space things out well, and add patterns and people might accept your iron/gold/diamond wall.
Texture packs: the bane of the Minecraft Builder. If you ever plan on releasing a world file to the public, you must be very careful in what texture pack you are using. Why is this? Because texture packs have the tendency to make blocks look very different.
The above image is split between a custom texture pack and the default (left being the custom one and the right being default). The place looks a bit different with the texture packs, especially the brick. In the custom texture pack, clay bricks are grey and change the atmosphere of the place. In the default, the brick stands out against the grey everything-else, while the custom texture pack sees it being more fitting.
This is the kind of thing you want to be weary of when building a “public world”. There is a basic rule for this situation: have the default texture pack in mind when building. Most texture packs follow the default textures, so it is the safest bet. If you have a very specific texture pack that steers away from the default texture pack, include it and tell people to use it. The worst thing is to have people looking at your creation the wrong way.
One of the first things to consider when building a city is how you design it. There are 3 used plans, and a 4th that is just not bothering to plan it out. You can follow a certain design, make a hybrid or make your own design with some of the guidelines here. I'll outline the patterns, not tell you how to build them.
Designing a city does have some standards that you may wish to follow: Town halls are always in a city, while churches should be used for the Minecraft New & Old styles. A main road should connect these buildings to the main exit of the town, and it is very plausible to have smaller roads branching off for larger cities.
Suggested Style: Industrial
-Easy to expand
-Looks neat and organized
-Easy to traverse
-Only effective when there are a dozen or more buildings
-It gets repetitive fast if you don't have new building plans
The grid-line pattern is a pretty basic pattern for anybody to use. Many cities today use it which is why I recommend using the Industrial Style, not to say that it wouldn't work with others. The entire city follows similar guidelines to keep things looking organized (all main roads are 3 blocks wide, while side roads are only 2), but this also means things get boring fast unless you have interesting building designs. Once you have 5 buildings in a row of very similar materials, shapes and sizes your city becomes repetitive and thus an eyesore.
Suggested Style: Minecraft New & Old
-Easy to expand
-Little planning required
-Doesn't need lots of buildings
This pattern is really just a collection of buildings with roads winding through it. It is highly effective in giving a village the "this is a remote" atmosphere to it. This design has no cons, but peoples preferences may lead to them avoiding this. There isn't any specific guidelines that must be followed, just put buildings here and there and have roads between them.
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Suggested Style: Any
-Looks really good
-Easy to defend
-Easy to traverse
-Tedious work to setup
-Can't really expand
The tiered pattern is a really interesting pattern. It uses different heights to show what life-style the people live in. Imagine a castle on a hill. At the bottom you have houses, above that are markets and smiths, and at the top is the keep. Take this, but down-scale it and it might not have the keep. The idea is to have houses on the lowest level, markets and higher labor workers (smiths, tailors and craftsmen) on the second, and the king/government/church at the top. However, setting this up requires large amount of landscaping, so don't expect an easy job.
Note: you can get away with having 1 road from the entrance to the top tier, just ensure to leave walking room between buildings.
Suggested Style: Non-Industrial/Modern
-Looks really good and unique
-Easy to traverse
-Simple building style
-Size is limited by time
The radial pattern works in a similar way to districts, but everything is branching out from a central point. You can arrange this pattern to function like the tiered pattern, both function like an onion: layers. The tiered pattern focuses on authority/riches/royalty while the radial pattern focuses on importance/defence. The focus of the radial pattern is the center point. Usually, the center would be something akin to a political structure, but if your city has a theme it could change (to a massive mine for a mining town, or a military headquarters for a military city). Expanding is easy, the only thing to be cautious about is centralizing the important structures.
It doesn't matter what design you pick, but I'm going to reference the standards I went over before as they come in handy when designing a city. Pick how you want your city to look. Do you want to give houses yards in front/back or have them right up against the "curb". Do you want all buildings in an area to be two or more stories to make it look like downtown, or keep them to one story suburbs? These things will denote exactly what you can do to your city later.
Districts have been mentioned more than once during this guide, and yet I think I can still make a section out of it. The point of having districts is to concentrate buildings of a certain type to keep your city organized. Usually, labeling districts isn’t required; the change of materials/structures should be a give-away. However, one may still wish to add in signs for aesthetics.
Determining if you need districts
Only really large cities are required to have districts, especially in Minecraft. Small cities would not be ideal for districts, but a huge metropolis would be confusing without them. A city that one builds casually will not run into the need for districts, but a city coming from an expert builder (in scale) is highly likely to include such a feature.
A couple projects I have found can give you an idea on how large a project must be to create districts: The Horizon City zombie apocalypse map: When completed, the city is supposed to be 1000x1000 blocks. The only way to keep players sane (and not lost) is to separate the city into districts. The Mineton city: It’s massive, it’s based off real architecture, and it’s quite cool to look at. Although it lacks specified districts it does separate out into downtown, suburban and farmland locations.
Building a city with districts
Casual players be warned: planning is a keystone with districts. And not the 2-seconds-in-MSPaint kind, the hour-long-brainstorming variety.
To build districts, you need to plan, heavily plan. What do I mean? You need to know what you are building, where you are building it, and how big it is. In other words:
You need to know what buildings are going into your city. The whole point of districts is to separate different types of buildings (mining, processing, storage, housing…etc.)
You need a location, and design around that. If your city is by the coast, you’ll probably want some form of docks incorporated. If you’ve got a narrow space, you shouldn’t design a large city to find out it won’t fit.
You need to scale your districts appropriately. Cities will often focus around a few key districts, and so they will be larger than others. Also, you need to make sure there are enough buildings in each district and make sure the player can always know which district they are in and when they enter a new one (you can do walls, signs, different building materials, different building architecture…etc.)
This is mainly for those interested in making kingdoms and alike, but it can apply to cities/town. Giving your city history can make the world more interesting. If you are making a city, then you can add monuments/memorials/statues for certain wars/battles/events. Maybe there was a huge Creeper War where half the city was destroyed (in which case you would build a statue of a Creeper or have a blasted building/wall), or was there an earthquake that split 1 island into 2? Adding these can take up empty spaces and make potential players more interested in exploring the city. The theme of the city could also be related to any events that happened (a miner town with lots of gold left over from a gold rush). The city could even be named after events (using the previous gold rush example, the town could be named Yellow Cliff).
If you are making a kingdom, you can go a bit farther with this because you are not limited to the city limits (not that you were before). You could make the events rather than represent them only in cities. Maybe there was a meteor shower that demolished a town, leaving behind lit netherrack and lava, or perhaps it was there a gold rush near a mountain, in which there are many abandoned mining towns lying around with mines speckled with gold. You could even make cities enemies of each other by creating battlefields between them (whether crater filled plains or empty, collapsed trenches). Ancient Golem, created by FirstBreed
Going past the basics of building would mean you wish to do architecture. Of course this is optional, as you only really need the basics to make amazing things, but architecture tends to make them different. Making nice building designs is what this section talks about.
When talking architecture in Minecraft, you talk about many things. Basic architecture is the shape of your building. Average player architecture brings around things like roofing (using steps), shutters for windows, fenced yard...etc. Advanced architecture is above all of these. Adding things like second story balconies, interesting columns, statues and grand staircases are example of advanced architecture. A good thing to note is that architecture really makes something stand out and adds a level of detail into the structure, making it much more eye pleasing (meaning people will look at it longer).
Advanced architecture is a great way to create an economically diverse city. Higher class buildings would have a lot more architecture than a lower class home (assuming the lower class has any). These upper class buildings may also include higher ceilings, art galleries, new ways for lighting (glowstone hanging from a pillar of fence posts)...etc.
Detailing a City
Bringing architecture into the entire city is not only easy, but it is very effective. There are plenty of small things people don’t always notice directly, but it adds to the entirety of the area. Lamp posts, a common example, aren’t individually noticed, but without them the city looks barren and deserted. In combination with seemingly small details, you can add history to an area.
To expand, one can add architecture and structures that aren’t so common. Roman aqueducts and underground sewers heavily inspire players to explore the corners of your city to see if you added secrets. Combine that with secret rooms, some “easter eggs” and your city will reward players if they look around your creation.
Building with Pistons and Redstone
Redstone can do some interesting things to a city, although more limited to non-historical styles. With the addition of redstone lamps and pistons, there are many more things you could do past the few I mention below.
Have you ever built a large warehouse? You may not know how to make a 3x3 opening door, but try a 2x2 piston door attached to a lever. Or perhaps have hanging lamps you can turn on/off. Of maybe you don’t have a warehouse, but that mansion is missing something. Try having pistons pushing and retracting lamps along the yard; a sort of night light system.
Having a redstone punk world changes lots of things. Automated doors and lights are likely what you’d start with, but dispenser storage, redstone detection systems and traps shouldn’t go unnoticed. And what happens when the main power is cut off inside the massive airship you built? Think you are clever enough to make an emergency lighting system (redstone torches activated when the main lights are not)?
Not to forget the classic hidden doorways stashed around servers. And with the upcoming tripwires, more things become possible.
Building to a Scale
There are a couple ways to build to a scale in Minecraft. The first way is to rebuild something, usually an image or graphic, using blocks (represented in an image by single pixels). This is commonly done through, but not limited to, pixel art. This is easy to accomplish and requires minimal amounts of skill in the game. The second way, however, is much different: it is rebuilding an object in Minecraft using recorded dimensions, images and alike. This requires extensive knowledge on the topic and a large amount of resources to complete. There are many projects where people try and recreate buildings or vehicles in Minecraft (such as the U.S.S. Enterprise or the Titanic). Advanced players will use a hybrid system in which they use given details of an object combined with fitted images to complete their project accurately.
System 1 – The Grid Line Technique
When planning a large project, many people use simple image editing programs (such as MSPaint or Gimp) to make blueprints. This technique is very effective as each pixel in the image becomes a block in Minecraft. However, people often want to recreate stuff from real life, and so it becomes a lot more complicated than building it pixel by pixel. The fix for that is a technique widely used that is based off the Grid Method created by Leonardo Da Vinci (where you would draw grid lines on an artwork and copy the image over square by square). The Grid Line Technique (as I shall call it) is a method of blocking out an image by using squares (so that you can build it in Minecraft square by square).
First you find a reference image to use (make a back-up in case you need to refer to the original). For this example I shall use the older Mojang Logo. Do note I am using Gimp.
Next you create a grid. Gimp carries a useful tool that allows you to configure a grid on the image. This is useful because MSPaint may have the grid option, but it shrinks as you zoom, and I don't have Photoshop to comment on it. To access Gimps grid (for the image) go to "Image>Configure Grid..." and "View>Show Grid" to see it. I have set my grid to 12px X 12px as the image is 200 pixels large.
The last step is to decide what a block is and what isn't, because I guarantee that the image doesn't perfectly fit the grid. The general rule is that if the square has most of the object inside it, you make it a block. If the object is barely/somewhat in the square, blank it out. If it’s 50/50, then make it a block (or half block if it works). Tip: if you use this technique for graphics (as these images were originally intended, not to say this won't work as a statue) then you use the colour at 50% alpha/transparency.
I removed the grid to see the final plan, and this is how it turned out. Now you have a Minecraft friendly image of the Mojang Logo (or whatever you used as an image).
But wait! This isn't building to scale, just remaking buildings in Minecraft. Why did I go over the above despite the section being titled Building to a Scale? Because you need to get your building plan before you can scale it. The task is much easier now that you have the Minecraft friendly plan.
Right now your image is blocks, and if the image is 6 squares wide but the image is supposed to be a house that's 18 blocks wide. Because you just spent awhile making the plans from above, you just want to build it and avoid redoing what you already did. Since the image is in equal blocks, it’s safe to assume you see it with a 1:1 ratio for scale, meaning every block in Minecraft is a grid square on your image. Basic math tells us that 6x3=18, so a 3:1 ratio fixes your problem because 3 blocks in Minecraft equals 1 square in the image.
Let’s change the example so that the image is 18 grid squares in width, and your statue is supposed to be 6 blocks wide. You can reverse the 3:1 ratio so that you get a 1:3 (where every block in Minecraft represents 3 grid squares). Now down-scaling is not optimal as the above Grid Line Technique does just this, and you lose a lot more detail when 1 block means 3 squares.
System 2 – Realistic Scale
Welcome to engineering class, where your simple Minecraft creation becomes a massive project despite being the size of a fishing boat. Using realistic scale is very, very helpful when building massive structures or vehicles (like the Titanic, the U.S.S. Enterprise, or New York). In a nutshell, you gather as much information on the creation in question: dimensions, materials/colours, builders… mostly dimensions.
Minecraft is great for rebuilding things as everything in the game is the same size: 1 meter x 1 meter cubes. Like the gridline technique, you’re converting real dimensions into MC Cubes. I don’t need diagrams or pictures, just know that having a 1.5 kilometer spaceship does not mean a 1.5 kilometer Minecraft creation (unless you want that).
Oh, one last technique: eyeball it. Double check your vision and rebuild the creation just as you see. It might not be scaled or too detailed, but it’s quick and easy to do (although, not easy to do well ).
Versions are changed on the amount changed (so if a new section is added, expect the version to go up, while a few additions to some of the existing sections will just be an update)
-This is now in a spoiler and a code tag
-Complete revision following the ‘Materials’ section
-New ‘Texture Pack’ section
-New ‘Building with pistons and redstone’ sub-section
-Complete revision up to ‘Materials’ section
-New ‘Elements and Principles of Block-Building’ section
-New ‘Cities, Towns and Villages’ subsection
-New images (need more)
-Converted final blurb into ‘Final Notes’
-A couple spelling fixes
-Minor grammar fix
-Added more to the building list
-Fixed post up for new formatting
-Added more to the building list
-Minor spelling/grammar edits
-Added ‘City Designs’ section
-Added ‘Detailing a City’ sub-section under Advanced Architecture
-Added more to the buildings list
-Image layout changes (added/moved...etc)
-Added Change Log
-Added more images
-Minor text modifications
Have something to dispute? What about comments or thanks?
I’m happy to receive comments or criticism of all forms. The only way for this to get batter is with feedback from those who see this and spread it around.
What if you have something to add to this Hints&Tips guide? I’d be glad to receive some more material for this post. Whether it is a new section, a note or two to expand on an existing one, or useful/related screenshots of your own work, I’ll see how I can add it in. Do note that images must be either 800x600px (long) or 600x800px (tall).
Apparently my updates on this thread are quite spread out (think months), but I do try and make any update a big update. I’ll keep this up and going as long as there is a need be for it, so don’t be afraid to bump this thread to post something useful (make sure the mods would approve of it; I am not responsible if you get warned (or worse)).
Here's something that I think makes cities look nice:
Of course, this is on a small scale, but can definitely be implemented into larger areas.
I like to build them sunk into the ground, rather than having them slightly elevated, like sidewalks.
Birds' Eye View
Sorry if the picture is unnecessary, but I didn't think that these smilies would do the job. :tongue.gif:
I build in the Minecraft New theme. So far I have a: Storage Cave, Base (or house), Shed, Church, Blacksmith, Wolf Pin, Wheat Farm, Automatic Catcus Farm, 2x Sugar Cane Farms, 3x Mining Shafts, Peer, and a libary which is under construction.
any tips for building along terrain for a natural/sprawl-type look? most cities i've seen involve flattening vast amounts of mountains and layouting grid blocks.
No, there are no tips for such thing. However, it's not difficult to do. Simply use the difference in hills as tiers (so the deeper you go into the city, the higher up you become). This tactic was used by many castles during the medieval era.
Of course, its much harder to do the steeper the hill is (anything that can be classified as a cliff should be built in, not flattened).
Quote from Mirrodingreen »
I build in the Minecraft New theme. So far I have a: Storage Cave, Base (or house), Shed, Church, Blacksmith, Wolf Pin, Wheat Farm, Automatic Catcus Farm, 2x Sugar Cane Farms, 3x Mining Shafts, Peer, and a libary which is under construction.
Good to hear. I might add some of those buildings to the list.
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A look into building cities, towns and villages in Minecraft.
Here is a design that I think demonstrates some of the things you went over in the OP, including making use of patterns, and wall design in Minecraft old.
I personally make my walls 3 thick so that I can walk through them, because of that I put arrow slots in to shoot through.
I think that cobblestone can be used with moderation, and looks fine as an accent to smoothstone. So it's what I used as the floors inside the walls.
A great tip for building cities and towns is, This is minecraft, your buildings don't have to apply to the rules we use IRL, Let your creativity go nuts and build whatever flows into your mind.
I started this save 2 days ago, I haven't used any hacks or INVEdit. Completely vanilla Minecraft.
Well... Except for the giant diamond pickaxe floating in the sky. That was MCEdited in.
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Quote from Quinzal »
I can just imagine it.
[SSSS] : Guyssss, we are getting kicked out of thisssss world.
[Skeleton] : I aghree, weh neehd to stohp uhnless we ahll wahnt to geht killed.
[Spider] : Sssrss.
[Zombie] : Whaght doh yoo saih weh stop attagink?
[Spider] : Srsss.