We speak to Xbox One build team, ByTheSquare!
You won't find any shaders in these screenshots. Nor enhanced lighting or mods to tweak the graphics. That's because these projects are all the work of ByTheSquare, an ambitious (to say the least) build team who work entirely in the console version of Minecraft!
"I played it at a friends birthday party," explains Aloha Karma, co-founder of ByTheSquare, of how he discovered the game. "At first I thought it was just kind of dumb. Then I sat down and played it for about an hour and as soon as I got home the next day, I downloaded it on iPad. Then it came out on the Xbox 360. From there I played it every single day until now, pretty much." Every day since release? The Xbox 360 version came out over five years ago.
That kind of commitment gets results, and it wasn't long before Aloha met another builder just as passionate, JoeyJoeyJo yo. "We met and we just immediately clicked. He had some awesome builds. I was more of a survivalist at the time, but once I saw his builds, I started doing more creative."
JoeyJoeyJo yo and Aloha entered a a build competition by TheGamingLemon to build a Minecraft hotel. "We did our build in 48 hours and we actually got in 5th place," says Aloha. It was this confidence boost that inspired them to raise their building ambitions.
"That's when we decided we wanted to create a build team that was just us and our friends. Originally there were eight of us and all eight of us knew each other for several months already." Starting out in the Xbox 360 version of Minecraft, the closeness and small size of the group helped them learn and find their feet. You can see the impressive results of their efforts in these screenshots - but why the console edition?
"I've never wanted to touch PC, and I've always told all my team that," explains Aloha, admitting he's a console gamer at heart. "I've always pretty much promised that I would never switch to PC, that way we all have a place to build on console."
Besides, certain limitations can actually help the team put more effort into their builds. "It does make it interesting," agrees Aloha "because you don't have shaders or anything. It actually has to just be beautiful to be beautiful. There's no adding any shininess to it or any fancy graphics or anything."
ByTheSquare have come a long way from their eight-member roots. Since merging with Team Spyraxsis, expanding the team, and shifting from the 360 to the Xbox One version of Minecraft, they now boast up to fifty members. Plus they're always recruiting new console builders. So what do they look for in a new ByTheSquare builder?
"We look for mainly potential and dedication," says Aloha. "We're not all about skill, like a lot of people think we are. Because we have a lot of people every week that send in awesome builds, but we always monitor them for about a week, just to see how they do on the team world or how they do on their own world. To see that they're actually making progress and growing as a builder.
"We look for mainly potential and dedication."
"I went from building dirt houses to building those big old towns and I've met people that haven't built before and they've done the same thing. I've seen them build dirt houses and then four or five years later they're just building these huge structures that you wouldn't have imagined from them before."
It's fair to say ByTheSquare know the console version better than most. What advice would they give to builders hoping to improve their own console-crafting skills? "When it comes to building, never say something is your best. We believe that everyone has potential and the only way they limit their selves is by saying something is their best."
"Also, you have to communicate with the building community. You won't improve on your own unless you're constantly checking out other people's work and accepting criticism." That's definitely true. Marsh may make me weep every time he dismisses my pathetic builds, but it's the only way I'll learn (sniff).
You can see more of ByTheSquare and their impressive portfolio on their personal site by clicking here. Remember, they're always recruiting, so contact them through their Twitter or their site if you think you've got what it takes to join their console-crafting team. Best of luck!