Building Oceana: The Verge’s Minecraft Pyramid – Week One

Posted by on April 16, 2012 at 11:59 pm

This is part of an ongoing series chronicling the construction of Oceana, an epic Survival-built megastructure on the Vergecraft server. Be sure to check them all out!

Week One – Week Two – Week Three – Week Four – Week Five – Final Week

I love that technology works. I don’t necessarily need to know how it does so at the silicon or mechanical level, I just find find these elaborate contraptions remarkable. I love schematics, drawings, maps of all shapes and sizes. Some of my favorite technologies are those that go behind megastructures: the true demonstration of man’s power over nature. Whether dams, cruise liners, or the Burj Khalifa, the sight of these coming together in deliberately planned phases is awe-inspiring. (Yeah, I watched TLC a lot before it became the Trading Spaces channel.) So when the opportunity arose to take my favorite game of the past five years and work with dozens of people to construct such a massive project, namely the Oceana Mega-City Pyramid, I took it up quick. As project lead on Oceana, it’s fair to say I’ve lost more than a few winks of sleep putting it together, but when it’s finished… well, the project already speaks for itself. So what did we accomplish in one week? Let me show you.

What Is Oceana?

Oceana is a massive pyramid arcology structure currently under construction on The Verge’s Minecraft server, inspired by the Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid (below) destined to rise over Tokyo Bay to ease that city’s over-crowding issues. An arcology, a portmanteau of architecture and ecology, is a self-contained city within a structure designed to serve your every need, from occupation to habitat to sustenance. If it were technically feasible to construct one, you’d never need to leave its confines. (They’re also one of the main reasons why SimCity 2000 is still the best in the series.)

While we’d originally intended to build the pyramid to scale, Minecraft’s limitations keep us capped at roughly a third the height of the real version. Even so, our replication maintains many key points of that structure, consists of five tiers with six nodes along each side of the base, regressing with altitude. The pyramid’s backbone is a series of nodes and tunnels that provide transportation in and around the pyramid, by rail and ramp. Each level will be zoned for either public usage, meaning that anyone can set up camp and make their mark on the pyramid, or for master plan use, meaning that players will be able to pitch their ideas to a central committee and make Oceana one of the most unique structures ever constructed in Minecraft.

The project is a massive undertaking in part because it’s being constructed in a purely Survival-legitimate manner. What does that mean? Many of the structures you find in Minecraft videos across the web are produced in what’s called Minecraft’s “Creative” mode. In it, users are given full access to an infinite supply of all of the game’s resources to place as they see fit. Add a mod to the game, and you can take flight, allowing you to build these structures without the restriction of gravity, which serves as a particular threat you happen to misstep while building at altitude. Nicknamed Vergecraft, The Verge’s server is in “Survival” mode, meaning each resource must be mined or processed from the ground unless provided by a moderator to fashion tools and specific components. Likewise, transportation to Oceana must be made manually on foot or rail as teleportation is forbidden, a pain point early on given Oceana’s incredible distance from already-developed areas.

Oceana is massive. Its outer casing alone could effectively dome most of Verge City; its dimensions are only capped by the game’s height limitations.

The Pyramid

Oceana, 7 days later

The pyramid as it stands today consists of:

A: The primary lattice-work. This is the guts of the pyramid and not only defines each of the sub-pyramids, but also serves as the primary transportation around it. While guidelines exist to go higher, major construction is currently at the second level, consisting of sixteen nodes and their connecting tunnels.

B: Oceana Grand Central. Since teleportation is forbidden, those who aren’t natively camped at the work site have to move to the distant site by foot or, more quickly, by rail. Currently, only a single line serves the project, but a second one, direct from the server’s universal spawn point, should be online in the next few days. Oceana Grand Central serves as the nexus for these two lines and will be part of a massive central structure that will span from the seafloor to the pyramid’s top platform.

C: The Resource Hut: Since Oceana is a legitimate Survival project, all materials need to be processed with the Resource Hut serving that purpose. From food for the workers, stone for construction, or glass to cap tunnels and the exterior shell, everything is stored and smelted here, the hut acting as the pyramid’s production facility. All of the structures here are temporary and will be folded into the pyramid once complete.

D: Express line to/from Verge City: Need to get from spawn to Oceana (relatively) quick? You’ll come in from this direction.

E: Rail line from Seatown serving the Suburbs: Moderator LaughingStoic (in real life, Verge writer T.C. Sottek) built the Oceana Transportation Authority (formerly the Verge Transportation Authority) rail line that still serves as the primary method to reach Oceana from civilization. Oceana serves as a distant middle node between the moderators’ curated Seatown and the Verge City Suburbs.

So how did this structure come together? Let’s go back a week…

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