The Perfectionists at Polymaps
The four-person team making Marketplace magic!
Loyal readers of Minecraft.net (the ones who send us creepy fan mail and who are currently campaigning to get every website that isn’t Minecraft.net banned from the internet), might have noticed this story we recently posted about Pathway Studios. If you didn’t, why not read it now? Y’know, if you want! Seriously though, read it. Please.
Anyway, I recently got to chat with another one of the creators behind some of our Marketplace content - the wonderful Sam, of Polymaps!
Polymaps is a four-person team that produces some top-quality content for Marketplace, and we were super excited for them to be part of our Twelve Days Of Minecraft campaign last December.
“Since we started mapmaking,” Sam tells me, “our goal has always been to provide unique and exciting experiences through Minecraft. To try to push the realm of possibility in the game to its limits.”
It’s an ambitious goal - so it helps that Sam is part of a supportive team. “We’ve been friends for a good number of years,” Sam says, “before we even got into mapmaking and producing content, which is why we’ve been able to work so well together.
“Our first project released onto the Marketplace was the Stone Age Texture Pack. It was interesting to learn about Bedrock Editions formatting for texture packs, and the ability to create custom modelled mobs was a fun challenge. For me, the Caveman Iron Golem was my favourite mob to create, not only for its design, but also the custom sounds we recorded for it.”
That’s not all they recorded, either. As Sam says, for the Stone Age Resource Pack, “we wanted to create sounds for the frogs to replace the default sound of rabbits, and so I ended up recording my own voice for them. The sounds I had to make were quite strange, and it was difficult to keep a straight face.”
Hey, no one ever said game development was dignified.
Polymaps have gone on to make a bunch of Marketplace creations since then, including most recently two pieces that were part of our Twelve Days of Minecraft campaign - Santa’s Gift Hunt and Santa’s Sleigh Ride.
“We put an insane amount of effort into both maps,” Sam says, “but it really paid off. Waking up on the 24th of December to see our content up for free on the Marketplace, as well as seeing so many people enjoying the maps, was like an early Christmas present.”
How can you guarantee that you made a fun and interesting gift? Sam says it’s often in the details. “For me, detailing is the most enjoyable part of map-making, and is most important in helping a project stand out. As an example, in Santa’s Gift Hunt, we decided to make Santa’s belly bouncy, using both carpet and slime blocks. This was such a small thing to add, yet the number of people who took notice of it and shared their screenshots with us was rewarding.”
The attention to detail and unique quirks of their designs have helped Polymaps stand out from the crowd.
But it’s not all fun and games! Well, it is all games... but sometimes working with technical limitations can stump a map or mini-game, forcing its creators to try figuring out workarounds.
“Although mapmaking is a largely rewarding experience, there are definitely many challenges,” says Sam. “The biggest problem for us right now is that the mapmaking community for Bedrock is still very small, which means there’s a limited amount of information and documentation available for add-ons, resource packs and the logistics of the game.
“The way that we overcome this is by experimenting and using trial and error to better understand the Bedrock platform. Thankfully, all of the Marketplace partners are very open towards helping each other, and we often come to solutions together.” Teamwork for the win!
That sounds like a heck of a lot of hard work, but Sam assures me it’s not all bad. In fact, he finds it pretty rewarding once he gets feedback from players.
“The best part of being a Minecraft partner is being able to see how much people enjoy our work,” he tells me. “We were invited to attend the London Minecon Earth party a few months ago, and we had a booth where people could play our maps. It was great to see how much fun all the kids had, and how interested their parents were in their passions too.
“When going to these events, we get to meet and form friendships with other map-makers and influencers in the community.” Friendships that help them with future projects - often the secret to a great multiplayer build is good teamwork. Judging by Polymaps successes, it seems the same is true when developing for Minecraft too!
You can find all the projects Polymaps talk about here - and more! - on the Minecraft Marketplace