Today I delivered a ten-minute presentation about our Minecraft project to the Intelligent Communities Forum Adelaide pitch. I was supported by Josh Roberts who drove Minecraft, while I did the speaking.
Here’s the narrative:
Hello again gentlemen.
My name is Clayton and I’ve got a colleague Josh helping me today with the presentation. He’s driving the visuals, I’m speaking, so we shouldn’t have any multi-tasking issues today!
In your mystery box, you will find a Minecraft figurine, Robert, and I’m here to explain why it’s there.
Today, I’m going to tell you a little bit about our experimental Minecraft project at the City of Adelaide
In January 2020, we had the good fortune of hosting a work experience student for four weeks by the name of Jonathon Bailey.
It turns out that Jonathon is a very passionate Minecraft gamer. Now, if you’re not familiar with Minecraft, it’s a popular kids computer game that allows players to build intricate ‘worlds’ from scratch. It’s a highly constructive and educational pursuit, and indeed many schools around the world are now adopting Minecraft in their educational curricula.
Jonathan’s work experience presented us with an opportunity. How about we team Jonathon up with our internal Geographic Information Systems specialists and see if they might be able to build an Adelaide ‘world’ in Minecraft?
My offsider, Josh, is a GIS specialist and also a keen Minecrafter, and he took Jonathon under his wing from Day 1 of his work experience. What emerged after four weeks of intense work was absolutely remarkable – together they produced a complete replica of Adelaide in Minecraft.
Leveraging Josh’s GIS skills and Jonathon’s Minecraft coding experience, the pair were able to generate a world that replicates the city in its current form, showing its buildings, public infrastructure, streets, park lands and other landmarks. All told, 8 billion Minecraft blocks were laid down to form what we call the ‘Adelaide 2021’ world.
Let’s take a look…
<SHOW ADELAIDE 2021 WORLD>
We’re starting on King William St and heading north towards the River Torrens – Josh is going to fly us around in quick time so that you can get an overview of the city.
You can see the buildings are all shaped out of Minecraft blocks. Each of those blocks has been created to emulate the precise height, width and breadth of buildings in the city.
Some technical details – To create the world, a raw raster image was generated in ESRI’s ArcPro GIS software. Josh and Jonathon then used an application called WorldPainter to convert the raster image into the world that you see in Minecraft. Whilst this might seem to be a simple process, it was anything but – it was necessary to experiment with the scale, terrain and contours to ensure that a faithful replica of the city was created.
The vegetation also took some work – Josh and Jonathon found a tree pack created by the Minecraft community to ensure a natural and organic feel for the city’s green spaces.
All in all, it was a lot of intricate work, trial and error, testing and adjusting, to arrive at the final Adelaide 2021 world.
Jonathan finished after 4 weeks with us in February and the intention was to sit on the new Adelaide world for a month or two to work out where we would take it next.
And then, of course, the COVID-19 crisis struck…which changed everything.
But we realised that the crisis presented us with a unique opportunity. As schools and workplaces closed and much of the population was forced into isolation, it was clear that kids and their parents would be cooped up at home with absolutely nothing to do. But we had something that could keep them busy!
Quickly we put together a ‘scenario’, we built a website landing page, and we released the Minecraft world to the public.
<SHOW MINECRAFT LANDING PAGE>
We challenged kids to assume the role of ‘Chief Town Planner and Engineer’ for the City of Adelaide. Using the ‘Adelaide 2021’ world as their canvas, we asked them to build the future city of Adelaide
Does the city need a new rectangular sports stadium? A concert hall? A cross-town freeway? A subway rail system? If so, then we told them to build it.
The challenge was accepted enthusiastically. To date, over 1,200 people have downloaded the Minecraft world and we’ve seen some great examples of work produced by the wider community. We’ve also had interest from the South Australian Catholic schools system, which hopes to incorporate the ‘Adelaide 2021’ world into its educational curriculum.
<SHOW DAVID CUBIC’s WORLD>
Today, we’re going to show you the work of one avid Adelaide Minecrafter who goes by the pen name, David Cubic.
Starting on King William Street, we’re working our way towards Victoria Square…
Victoria Square is the largest of Adelaide’s six squares and the centrepiece of Colonel Light’s plan, originally named ‘the Great Square’ by him. Covering eight acres, the square remains the centrepiece of our city, and is home to many of our biggest events, including the Tasting Australia food festival and the Tour Down Under cycling village.
This is a design concept that David has come up with for the square.
- Self care gardens
- A community vegetable garden
- A wetland filtration system
- A fountain
- Kaurna indigenous centre with a designated place for traditional smoking ceremonies
Through this design you can see the potential for using Minecraft as an urban design tool, for visualising future plans, and for engaging with the community.
Let’s head over to Pilgrim Church…
First opened in 1867, the Pilgrim Church is known for its stone carvings on its south porch. At the suggestion of the architect, who brought a pet squirrel with him from England, a squirrel was introduced into the design of the central pillar. And David has faithfully included that historical element into his Minecraft design
Next door to Pilgrim Church is the Treasury Building – one of the finest old buildings in Adelaide. It was built in stages from 1839 until 1907, and is known for its tunnel systems beneath the building which were used for the secure storage and transport of gold during the Austrailan gold rushes of the 1850s. David hasn’t built the tunnels yet, but we have no doubt that he will in time, such is his dedication to this project…
Across the road from the Treasury Building is Adelaide’s General Post Office – constructed in the late 1860s, this was the most expensive building constructed in South Australia to that time.
Adelaide Town Hall outside
Back across the road we come to the Adelaide Town Hall – it’s tower is marginally shorter than the GPO’s, but no less ornate. We had a quick look at this yesterday in our Virtual Tour, but this time you’re seeing it built entirely with Minecraft blocks.
And not just the exterior, David Cubic has spent significant time building out the interiors of the building – and we’re going to take a quick look inside…
Officially launched on the 4 November 2015, this is the first Reconciliation Room in Australia. It’s a unique space that embraces the spirituality of the land and celebrates the talent of Aboriginal Peoples in a harmonious expression of reconciliation. On the walls, David has represented the art piece ‘My Country, Our State’ which acknowledges all major Aboriginal groups whose country is either fully or partly located within the state of South Australia.
Up the stairs to the Auditorium >>>
The Victorian-style auditorium was completed in 1866, with the first pipe organ being installed in 1877 . Today the Auditorium is used for concerts, civic receptions, public meetings, private functions, and weddings – and for building Minecraft worlds.
Situated behind the Auditorium and completed in 1884, the Banqueting Room showcases exquisite craftmanship and is regarded as one of Adelaide’s finest examples of Victorian architecture, which David has faithfully recreated.
Although our Minecraft project has been completely experimental – you can even say accidental, we’ve been really encouraged by the community interest in the project and the clear appetite for gaming initiatives in the market. It’s early days, but we think that Minecraft can be used as a really useful tool for community engagement, for town planning and development, and as a vehicle to teach younger generations about the history and culture of our city and its people. The sky’s the limit and we can’t wait to see what’s next for our Minecraft project.