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My most interesting Minecraft story

In 2013 I decided to join a new Minecraft server on a whim. I happened to see their advertisement or update post on Tumblr. This was a long-running server with an ordinary map, but because of some issue with the server or delay while updating to a new version, they were going to temporarily host a new map that was a complete recreation of Earth at 1:1500 scale.


I spawned in Los Angeles. Naturally, it was a complete wasteland. It was impossible to build anything here without it getting griefed sooner rather than later. Although the server had mods, they didn't do anything to stop griefing, so it played out like an anarchy server. This was frustrating at the time, but as you'll see it's also the reason this server became so memorable.

Traveling north* past the burned houses and dirt shacks, you'd enter San Fransisco. San Fransico was a tiny fishing village that wasn't faring much better than Los Angeles. Obviously it was still too close to spawn, although there were more surviving structures here. Nearby to the east, I remember that somebody had built themselves an underground bunker hidden in the mountains.

Further north was Portland - a large and thriving city full of players. More on that later.

*North on a real map, for some reason the map in game was rotated 90 degrees.

Settling Down

a map of north america, with the cities I visited

I decided to travel east. Reaching the eastern cities was an overnight journey, there was no shelter and nothing but mob-filled wilderness until you reached Chicago. Chicago was being built as an island in Lake Michigan, near the shore. There were just a few wooden houses and some shelter here. By the time you reached it after coming from spawn there would inevitably be several mobs chasing you.

I settled down a bit further east, in the city of Buffalo. (It was actually just a small village, but I called it home. Nearby further east somebody was building New York City. They hadn't finished much, but there was an impressive tower in Manhattan.)

Playing on this map was harder than Minecraft normally is. In order to make mountains bigger, the sea level was reduced about 100 blocks. What this meant was that at night many more mobs than usual would come out on the surface, because there was nowhere for them to spawn underground. It also meant that the underground was generally resource-poor.

I died several times before I was able to build a bed, and had to make the long trek back to Buffalo each time.

One day I discovered my house had been broken into. The server still had a griefing problem, they were slowly spreading out and looking for new things to grief. Instead of rebuilding, I decided to find new players. This took me back west, to the city of Portland.

Portland was a proper city - the largest I'd seen so far on the server, (there was a bigger one - more on that later.) It was close enough to spawn to have a pretty large playerbase, but it was also far enough to not have a griefer problem. The city had actual attempts at architecture instead of just wooden houses. I remember there was a clocktower in the middle of town, a lighthouse and a dock with a sailing ship. A short walk away were some large wheat fields and houses atop of hills at the outskirts of the city.

Everything goes to hell

I spend a long time in Portland and met many of the friendly players there. One day, I was walking past the docks, when I saw the ship was on fire. Griefers had finally made their way north for the first time. This all happened while I was still logged in. I typed a warning in chat, but it was impossible to be 100% vigilant when griefing was so much easier. And so the city of Portland was destroyed.

In the aftermath, a meeting was arranged between myself and a small group of people I had come to trust in Portland. We met in an underground room, hidden below the city. I was told that there was one last place we could go and finally be safe - to Antarctica, the continent where the mods lived. There was an easy way to get there which almost no one knew about - a network of minecart tunnels in the Nether which had been partially constructed and then left abandoned. The entrance to the network was in a cavern underneath the city. We lit the portal and stepped through into the Nether.

On the other side of the portal was a uniform 3x3 or 4x4 tunnel. The tracks which were supposed to go here had never been built. We walked down the tunnel for what felt like hours. The tunnel never changed it's direction or appearance, it just went in a straight line for miles and miles and miles and miles. The sounds of mobs could be heard outside, but never seen.

After a long time, the tunnel simply stopped and left us in the middle of the open Nether. The tunnel was never finished. We were lost. Suddenly a ghast attacked us, we began to fight for our lives. Had we come this far for nothing?

But then someone found the other end of the tunnel. It hadn't been that far away, just concealed behind a crevice of netherack. On this side we came across minecart tracks. The tunnel began turning for the first time. And then we reached it - the end of the line. We went through the portal, and climbed a staircase onto the surface.

The end of the world

While the rest of us toiled and struggled and fought with griefers, the mods had given themselves creative mode and built the greatest city to ever exist in the whole game.

Unlike most other cities where people put down houses and building as they needed them, this city was designed from the beginning to be beautiful and impressive. There were gardens on top of terraces, glass pyramids, structures made out of every kind of block in the game. Sadly, I did not take screenshots of any of this, which I'll always regret.

The city was surrounded on one side by an immense protective wall of ice, and on the other side, the end of the world. Minecraft is flat, you see. When the Earth map ended, there was a surreal bottomless gap a few chunks across, and on the other side was the normal Minecraft terrain generation. You could exit the Earth, build a bridge, and then spawn completely new terrain on the other side. Connecting the two worlds was an ornate bridge, built with lapis lazuli if I remember correctly. There were several other bridges and scaffolding made out of simple cobblestone - the gap was a perfect cross section of both worlds, you could see veins of diamonds embedded in the side of the world, right out in the open! Anyone could become rich here.

The mods welcomed us to their city. I built a new house there and began mining and exploring the gap between worlds. For the first time I no longer had any shortage of resources to work with.

One day, I logged in to find that the city had been destroyed. Not even a place as far away as Antartica was truly safe from a griefer determined enough. The mods, now that the chaos had come to their doorstep, were finally upset. They proclaimed that they would rebuild the city exactly as it was instead of giving in. A few days later, the city was restored to it's former state - I don't think they even had backups, they really were that determined. As for myself, I took to sailing.

I remember New Zealand was infested with so many mobs it wasn't safe to even land. (I suppose that island was the only place to spawn.) I was invited to visit somebody's house which they had built on an island far beyond the edge of the world, it was so far away that it took hours to get to by boat. (This was the old 1.0 world generation with large oceans.) I remember someone tried to build a bridge across the Atlantic from America to Europe.

At some point the server switched back to their old map, since then the Earth one sits in somebody's hard drive somewhere. All of this comes from my memory.