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Steaming Ahead

FoxSilver’s train is one you won’t want to miss

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned train ride. Whether you’re a fan of the scenic mountain routes of North America and the verdant countryside and glassy lakes of Europe, or just the snack trolley that comes around every now and again with overpriced chocolatey snacks, everyone’s had that one train ride that sticks in their memory. Hopefully, it’s not one of the ones where you’re pressed into a stranger’s unwashed armpit in a carriage packed like a sardine tin.

But the real romance of trains lies in the past, when we had steam engines, with their beautiful clouds of billowing smoke and that gentle chug chug chug as they roll along the tracks. Chances are, when you think of trains, you can still hear that recognisable toot toot that signalled the arrival of one of these historic beauties. Just take a look at FoxSilver’s build, and you might be able to hear that distant toot toot again, coming from the steam engine pulling away from the beautiful, temple-like Zathrus Station.

The station itself is located in a small valley, perched between rocky desert mountains like a hidden castle, with railway bridges that tower above the rivers and caves below. This landscape made it a formidable build for FoxSilver. “Zathrus Station was a project that has earned me hundreds of hours of building,” they say, “from the structures to the terrain and terraforming. It was the biggest building I've done in all those seven years.”

Although FoxSilver began the build by creating the station, the terraforming actually took much longer to create, with all the detailing on the water and the rippling rock formations found underneath the tracks. The station was designed in AutoCAD - software used by architects - but the landscape was much more organically created. The map is 700 by 700 blocks, and although FoxSilver used programs like Voxel Sniper and World Edit to help a little with construction, most of the build was done manually.

“The most ambitious part was to make the terrain without any help from external programs like World Painter and World Machine,” admits FoxSilver. They decided that the station should be built first, in order to make the terrain “flow” better and look more natural. “That certainly was the part that took more time to do,” says FoxSilver, “because it had to integrate with the station.” The end result is a building that doesn’t look out of place, but feels like it might have just grown there naturally.

The station is even built in similar colours to the surrounding rocks, and that’s not just by accident. “I had the idea of doing something deserty, but still cold, like in the desert at night,” says FoxSilver.

“I had the idea of the train, and remembered Western movies, and put them together - that's where I decided on the blocks to start building with, blocks with more colours: brown and orange with dark red. What I used most was hardened clay and pine wood, along with soul sand and brick stones.” Does it spook you out to know that such an unassuming station was built with the creepiest block in Minecraft, soul sand? Nah, I’m sure it’s fine, and definitely not haunted.

But it’s not just the soul sand that hides away inside FoxSilver’s ambitious build. There are two secrets that you might have already spotted in the images, one being the letters “FOX” spelled out in the smoke of the steam engine - the builder’s nickname - and another, which I haven’t actually found myself yet, being a “robbery” that FoxSilver says is happening “at the top of the station”. Can you see it?

Obviously, train robberies don’t make for the most peaceful or relaxing of train rides, which is why it’s nice that those sort of things are mostly confined to history and Minecraft builds, which we’re quite glad about. And next time you catch a train - hopefully not one that’s on any criminal’s watchlist - be thankful that it’s not perched perilously above a canyon.

Renders by Splekh, zacharythomas, joshB, Bramboss and lastbanan

Kate Gray
Written By
Kate Gray

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