Rome was not built in a day, the saying goes. But hey, Seattle was built in a month! At least a big part of it was – in Minecraft.
An impressive effort from a collection of geeks who are into Microsoft’s block-by-block video game can be seen in new videos that appeared on Reddit this month. The city’s 1: 1 scale recreation is part of the larger “Build the Earth” project in which the builders of Minecraft plan to recreate the entire planet and all of its places.
This business is run by a Seattle-area YouTuber named PippenFTS who preferred that name for this article. PippenFTS told GeekWire that he grew up in Washington state and now lives north of Seattle.
The 31-year-old has been playing Minecraft since 2013 and said he worked in retail before pursuing his dream of being a full-time professional pianist. The pandemic crushed that dream, so he pivoted hard to work full time on Build Earth and become a YouTuber.
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PippenFTS Youtube channel has nearly half a million subscribers and its videos are a fun collection of comments and clips related to versions of Minecraft, including Seattle.
In March, he launched a call to see if builders can assemble 1,000 buildings on Seattle’s Minecraft server. They did, and then some.
His longer video, below, is a dizzying display of the work involved in building everything from the Columbia Tower to Lumen Field. Time-lapse views and in-game aerial shots show the progress as the city rises brick by brick.
And because construction never seems to stop, in the real Seattle or in Minecraft Seattle there are cranes everywhere.
“It’s hard to measure the number of hours,” PippenFTS said of the time he and others spent building the city.
He said he spent 256 hours himself doing the first 100 buildings, and made an additional 60 buildings for the “1,000 Seattle Buildings” video, bringing his time investment to about 410 hours. With a large margin of error, it comes down to approximately 3,018 hours collectively for the group to construct 1,179 buildings.
“The two most difficult parts were keeping everyone motivated and keeping the stamina personally, being everyday and working to the best of my ability,” PippenFTS said.
PippenFTS said he was working downtown, in the real world, every day before the COVID-19 pandemic, and was very happy with his in-game work on the Columbia Tower, which took a week six to 10 hours a day to build.
At least he’s stepped into the real-life version of the city. Reddit user WigitMigit, who is a 16-year-old high school student named Spencer, was the one who posted about the project on Reddit’s r / Seattle channel and made the flagship video at the top of this story. He has never been to Seattle and lives across the country in Maryland.
“I certainly learned a lot about the city through this process and have always loved the Pacific Northwest region,” said Spencer, who credited the Build the Earth teams for most of the work.
“We used Google Maps and Google Earth as a benchmark, and we have a mod that basically generates the height data of the world on a Minecraft map,” Spencer said. “We build our buildings on the land generated by the mod.” In one previous article, PippenFTS explained how the two mods allow you to exceed Minecraft’s normal height limit for terrain.
Spencer has been playing Minecraft for over eight years, and he credits the game with his interest in architecture, which he hopes to pursue in college and as a career. The construction of Seattle only adds to his desire to visit the city in person.
For someone who lives close enough to the city to see and experience it, PippenFTS always sits in a space between what’s real and what’s a video game.
“On the way to the airport last weekend we drove through the city center [Seattle] on the highway, ”he says. “It was surreal, I felt like I was back on the server, building it in Minecraft. This is how the experience spends so much time in buildings in the game and in real life and then switches between them. “