Hot stuff, coming through!
There's no place like home, and for many Minecraft players, home is the spawn point. It's the first thing you ever see when you start the game, and possibly also the last thing you see, if a Creeper sneaks up behind you.
Builder Bishop's spawn for the Shadow Kingdom server might make you worry that you loaded the wrong game. Towering above a mountainside village is a huge dragon with its wings spread and jaw open, about to either set fire to all the wooden houses, or eat everyone inside. Maybe both? Luckily for some of the village's inhabitants, they already seem to be floating away from danger with the help of a beautiful hot air balloon in the air, and a vast ship resting on the waves.
But not all is as it seems! The dragon is actually there to protect the village, not set fire to it. It's the protector of the little town, which is built into the "naturally generated Minecraft landscape," says Bishop. The houses and buildings are mostly unique, built and placed on the hillside at weird angles to give it that hand-crafted feel.
"The build was done in an evolutionary fashion," says Bishop. "I built the terrain first, and then placed the buildings on the mountain as if I would need to start a village on it. The harbour and dragon just fell into place!"
Bishop used the new Stripped Wood blocks to give the village a nice light brown tone, with a mixture of grass, stone, and dirt for the terrain. In fact, the dragon is the only thing that's not made out of realistic materials – it's mostly planks and sandstone. I've never seen a real-life dragon (at time of writing), but I feel like breathing fire and being made of wood is a bad mix.
This town spawn is actually the third version that Shadow Kingdom has used on their server during the past four years. "Our goal with Towny v3.0 was more consistency, user-friendliness, and maximum enjoyment for the player," reads the Shadow Kingdom website. We have a similar motto for this website! Ours is “Stay hydrated, kids!” Hmmm. Actually, maybe our motto isn’t so similar after all.
This build took over six months to make, with the added difficulty of having to make a map that people could actually live in. That means that everything needs to be big enough for them to walk around, build things, and explore. It can't just look pretty on the outside! "I hope the players are able to feel the same atmosphere exploring the build that I felt building it," says Bishop.
The Towny build features a marketplace for doing business with other players, as well as a PVP arena inside the mountain, for fighting those same players with the sword they sold you minutes ago. There's even a "mob grinder", a place where animals spawn and immediately get ground up into meat. It probably takes a lot of meat to feed that dragon, so it's best to keep the process as efficient as possible!
A large part of spawn builds is giving players information. When building Towny 3.0, Bishop had to make sure that the build told everyone the rules for the server, and provided them with tutorials. This was achieved by putting a bunch of signs in a house that explained game mechanics and details about the in-server economy. All of this makes Towny 3.0 a cosy place for players new and old to meet, chat, and, er, attack each other!
There might be no place like home, but there's really no place like Towny 3.0, either. And if you don't agree, the dragon might like a word with you...