In deep waters
We dive into billoxiiboy's underwater world!
Are you one of those carefree souls who loves a nice swim in the ocean on a warm summer day? Just drifting around, cooling off, without a single care in the world. Well, let me tell you – you are NAIVE!
I may suffer from a tiny bit of thalassophobia, but at least I know the truth. The truth is that Earth’s oceans are vast and 95% unexplored. How can you feel safe in the water when you don’t know what is lurking in it – slimy jellyfish, hungry pikes, unknown species, ancient Lovecraftian horrors, or that rubber duck I once dropped in it and... sob... never saw again...
Someone who shares my fully logical and justified fear of imaginary maritime life is billoxiiboy. You shouldn’t be surprised if his name rings a bell, as billoxiiboy is no stranger to being featured on Minecraft.net. Last time we spoke to the Australian builder, he was a gardener of the giant forest Island Beneath the Mists. Now, he has traded his gardening gloves and sun hat for scuba gear, all for his latest build. “Aquatica”, a beautiful underwater landscape, is covered with coral, sponges, underwater creatures, and even a sunken city.
“It’s true that I have a definite sense of dread when peering down into unfathomable ocean water,” billoxiiboy tells me. “I’m a very confident swimmer and not frightened of water – just what lives in it. I grew up in southern Australia, and was very aware of the Great Southern Ocean's power and influence over our shores. It’s a deep, hostile ocean and full of some very big fish. Much of the footage from the movie Jaws was filmed in and around the area I grew up in. That was not entirely lost on me as a child.”
The real influence for billoxiiboy's creation, however, wasn’t his fear of marine toe-nibblers or overgrown sharks. It was his many holiday visits to the Great Barrier Reef along Australia's tropical northeastern shoreline. “The colour and diversity of the coral reef's living splendor captured my imagination. The intricate shapes of millions of corals, sponges, and fish looked like something from another world.”
Building Aquatica was also somewhat otherworldly, as it was a very different experience compared to billoxiiboy’s previous builds. Instead of relying on mods for textures and models to assist in his work, he chose to create it in vanilla Minecraft as an exercise in organic design. This came with plenty of challenges, like crafting the map's sculptures.
“Making organic shapes and capturing their essence with square blocks is a very difficult exercise to accomplish,” he explains, with a quote we probably won’t stick on the back of the Minecraft box in stores. “To create the humanoid form is possibly the most difficult shape for any sculptor to achieve. The musculature of the arms and chest, as well as the face, were the most daunting challenge I have ever undertaken in Minecraft.”
The most daunting challenge I have ever had in Minecraft was when I accidentally dropped my Diamond Sword with Unbreaking IV in a coral reef and had to fight a Drowned unarmed while it was hurling tridents at me. Rather than go into detail about who won that fight, let’s just say I much more prefer billoxiiboy’s coral reef. The underwater forest is full of life, which uses a wide variety of different blocks to convey it; blocks like wool, cement, terracotta, and glass. Instead of an eerie, dark ocean, he aimed for a sunlit coral reef.
Aquatica isn’t completely without dangers though. After initially creating the landscape, coral, sponges, and buildings, billoxiiboy added Colin, the black-tipped reef shark. “[It] was called Colin as a bit of joke,” he explains to calm me down after first catching a glimpse of Colin’s cold, predatory eyes. “The map was [designed] to be inviting and not intimidating. Colin is a very everyday name, no offence to any Colin's. It also draws from the shark named Bruce in Finding Nemo.”
Wait wait wait – Bruce wasn’t friendly! I saw him try and eat Nemo’s dad in that movie way back in 2003, and haven’t slept since! Billoxiiboy assures me that all his design choices were to make Colin a shark even I can get along with. “I chose a reef shark and not the typical white pointer – a very intimidating creature,” he reminds me. Phew! I’m going to go ahead and stop screaming now.
Billoxiiboy is by no means finished with his build. He already has plans to make schematics of new creatures so that players can add them themselves to their already downloaded map (hopefully, that won’t include any white pointers). Regardless of what drops into his outstanding ocean, billoxiiboy has a clear goal of what he wants to do with Minecraft in the future.
“I like to create interesting and creative maps for the Minecraft community to enjoy,” he says. “I would very much like to one day build for teams like EverBloom Studios or Cyclone Designs. It would be great to do this sort of thing on a full-time basis.”
Acclaimed build teams, snap this excellent builder up, quick!