Spaceships! Dragons! More! Pixelbiester’s gallery of wonders!
A huge castle on wheels! A troupe of adventurers beset by monsters! An overgrown cathedral in the middle of the ocean!
Wait, why would you build a cathedral somewhere as impractical as the middle of the ocean?
Quiet, you - it looks great!
And cities – lots of them, in all shapes and sizes. Big and small, futuristic and old-timey, fantastical and realistic. I’d wager there’s something for everyone in the beautifully diverse gallery of Pixelbiester, a commercial German group of artistically-minded builders.
“The original thought was simply artistic expression through Minecraft as part of a community,” explains Ilja, founder of Pixelbiester. “When we founded the group, we weren’t guided by commercial intentions at all. It was our aim to extend and support the building scene in Germany, and I think we succeeded.”
Since its founding, Pixelbiester has grown to 22 members. “The variety in our projects is a direct reflection of the wide range of skills among our members,” Pixelbiester says. “Each of our artists draws their inspiration from a different source. Some have collected galleries of the works of other artists, others find inspiration in books, films, during vacations or right in front of their doorsteps.”
“In the case of smaller projects,” Ilja continues, “our builders often work alone at first, potentially bringing in support at a more advanced stage.” When it comes to more ambitious projects, however, two or three builders, no matter how talented, aren’t going to cut it. “In this case, we sometimes draft several pages worth of planning and there can be a lot of discussion beforehand to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
“Usually, we designate one or two taskmasters to oversee the distribution of tasks. Big projects are often also a race against dwindling motivation. It can be difficult to maintain one’s initial eagerness after three months of building.”
Looking at their latest project, Valley of Science (pictured above), you’d be forgiven for thinking this was one of those massive team efforts. A fleet of sleek spaceships, eye-popping explosions, a giant glowy sphere, and facilities so intricate that you can get lost by just looking at them.
But this is actually the creation of just three builders, LeKawa, Viernas and FranjoSchnabel. “The builders felt it was important to distinguish Valley of Science from previous sci-fi projects by using innovative forms and colors,” Ilja tells me. “They frequently made drawings to come up with ideas, especially for the spaceships. Of course, this took a lot of time.”
If you’re in the mood for something more fantastical but no less impressive, Pixelbiester has you covered too. The “medieval-styled city” Athelaney strikes a balance between fantasy and history. “We arranged medieval elements in such a way that the full picture created the impression of fantasy aesthetics,” its creators Totacky and zJaason explain. “Commonplace fantasy elements such as the dragon of course add to this impression.
“On the other hand, we also tried to depict life in the Middle Ages more or less realistically and wanted to show some sort of (re)construction in progress through the use of wooden scaffoldings as well as cranes. The cathedral for example is strongly inspired by Notre-Dame. We also made the city livelier by adding carts, crates and market stalls.” So there you have it - the perfect realistic Middle Ages city! Er, if you ignore the dragon.
But it’s not all sci-fi/realistic dragons - Pixelbiester also use their craft to deal with real-world issues. My personal favorite is their Climate Change Project (pictured above), which not only raises awareness of an urgent problem, but also happens to be a real looker. It’s a dense, sprawling microcosm of jungles, meadows and deserts, luxury residences, industrial areas and earthquake-torn cities. Look closely, and you may spot a monkey and even a few cows tucked away in the background.
“We thought that, if we tackle a project of this scale, we might as well throw a light on an issue that’s important to us and use our reach on YouTube in a meaningful way. It was important to us not to appear preachy or holier-than-thou, but instead to provide food for thought that might encourage people to engage with the issue of climate change and to talk about it with others. We wanted to show that the game can be used to educate children and teenagers.”
If your head is spinning from the wealth of ambition and variety on display here, don’t worry – you’re not the only one. If you still haven’t seen enough and don’t mind being overwhelmed by what is almost too much of a good thing, why not pay a visit to the treasure trove that is Pixelbiester’s gallery?
Renders by Splekh, Antrelial, Kryiie, Timothy C, LukasOe, Imhotep, Hypacletus and Acridine