During the summer, Ordnance Survey welcomed a number of interns and one of them, Joseph Braybook, spent his time with our Innovation Labs team. An avid fan of the Minecraft video game, he suggested building a Minecraft world using OS OpenData products. In just two weeks Joe created a Minecraft world representing over 224,000 square kilometers of Great Britain and now Ordnance Survey have made it available so you can download and explore!
Minecraft is a game set in virtual 3D worlds made up of cubes of different materials. Players build shelters, make things from raw materials and fend off a variety of monsters. Minecraft worlds are often computer generated, though dedicated players have also created meticulous recreations of real and imagined environments such as Hogwarts castle.
To build the world two of Ordnance Survey’s digital map products that are freely available as OS OpenData for anyone to use, have been used to build:
- OS Terrain 50: A three-dimensional model of the bare earth surface known as a Digital Terrain Model (DTM). The product is delivered as a grid with a resolution of 50 metres. We used this product to generate the Minecraft GB terrain.
- OS VectorMap District: A mid-scale contextual or backdrop map product. We used the raster version, extracting surface features – for example water, woodland and roads – based on pixel colours and densities. We used this information to modify the material of individual blocks.
The resulting world consists of over 22 billion blocks – which may be the largest Minecraft ever built based on real-world data!
Creating a 3D Minecraft map of Britain offers a novel approach to viewing OS OpenData with huge potential in education. For example, river systems can be exaggerated to show tributaries and flow direction, offering geography teachers a solution to the annual problem of how to make rivers interesting for their students! In fact GeoCraft, one of the winners of our recent Environment GeoVation Challenge, won funding to develop an idea that will use Ordnance Survey data through Minecraft. Their idea aims to encourage schoolchildren to work with businesses to improve their environmental performance.
If you would like to find out more about the Minecraft map or download it to see the possibilities you could create using OS OpenData, check out the Ordnance Survey website for more details and a link to the download.