The Minecraft Geological Survey spent this summer archiving 170,000 Minecraft worlds. To do so, they had to be selective about which information to store. Their records contain only a tiny fraction of the data existing in each player-created world.

 The core sample is a semi-random sample of Minecraft chunks, 1% of the size of the original world, organized in a way to make programmatic access easy.

The sample is weighted to favor “interesting” chunks (those containing spawners, signs, and other entities). The sample will contain at least five chunks per dimension, and no more than 100. The sample also includes the world’s “spawn chunk” (the chunk where a new player starts). The Reef maps are made out of spawn chunks.

MGS, lead by Leonard Richardson and Joe Hills, has now created “The Reef” — a collection of playable game worlds that are made from a mosaic of thousands of others. These collaged worlds contain a credit book, sometimes hidden, attributing the chunks to the various players who originally made them. The Reef project lies somewhere in between a nerdy hobby, historical archive and conceptual art project.

The creator’s explanation of the project is written in near mystical language.

Thousands of other worlds, millions maybe. Sculptures the size of moons. Worlds full of mysteries to explore, traps to outsmart, riches to mine. It was a game to them. When a ‘Crafter wanted a house in the mountains, she’d throw down some mountains and build the house on top. That’s how it was in the old days.

The Worldcrafters are gone, obviously. Faded into legend. We’ve ground this world to dust and we won’t hear talk of others. But I know they existed, because I found something they left behind.

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Perhaps future visitors will see this project as we do written records from past generations. (Image: ubergine)