World of Wonders

An awe-inspiring tour through a man-made megacity

They say that patience is a virtue when building in Minecraft. Here at, we don't know the meaning of the word. In fact, we're so impatient that we barely even finish our 20-block dirt houses before moving on to new projects. Please don't ask if you can join our realm – we're too ashamed of the mess we call home.

Community builder TrooperJoe isn’t just patient – he excels at it. For nearly eight years, he has been working on a single Minecraft world and as its sole architect, he's put over 10,000 hours into its construction. Not only does it contain Mount Olympus, which stretches all the way up to the build height limit, but there are also several behemothic marvels – and many of them have a dense network of streets, bridges, and gardens spilling out from their bases. 

Taking it all in at once is ripe with difficulty, and not just because of the sheer size of this epic build – the architectural variety on display will also snatch your attention. It's a massive mosaic of some of the most impressive structures from across ancient, medieval, and fantasy worlds.

"On the very left side of the map is the Notre Dame Cathedral. The center is the main city with many different European architecture-style buildings," Joe tells me. "The right side is the Great Sept of Baelor (a Game of Thrones-inspired build) with a city around it. There is the Pisa Tower, Pisa Cathedral, and another area of my city that's Italian inspired."

That's just the start of it. He's recreated the Roman Colosseum in all its oval glory. There's a ginormous castle complete with bridges, portcullis, ramparts, watchtowers, a chapel, and a greenhouse. Turn your gaze to the several fully decorated houses in various French and Italian styles, and it's easy to see why quartz is Joe's favourite block: "it resembles white marble, and fits in with the multiple different old European architecture styles," he says. 

Then there's the mountain range. "Pretty much every building in my world is a work in progress and incomplete. But the one build that I have put in the most time in is a set of mountains fully built from scratch," Joe says. "I've spent almost two months terraforming, landscaping, and building structures but I'm only about 15% done."

What might be surprising given the size and complexity of Joe's mega builds is that he doesn't plan or draw any of them beforehand. Having an art background and studying graphic design at school enables him to do everything freestyle. But he does use reference photos and videos for any real-life structures that he builds to ensure some accuracy.

"Also, I worked for a photography studio for several years off and on," Joe tells me. "The many techniques I learned from photography, such as composition, rule of thirds, symmetry, leading lines, etc., have had a massive impact on how I build things in Minecraft."

Go to the south of Joe's world and you can find the Roman-inspired buildings he made when he began playing Minecraft back in May 2012. He's been dutifully chipping away at it ever since, getting properly serious when upgrading from the Xbox 360's 862x862 world size limit to the Xbox One's much larger 5120x5120 capacity.

You might think that after several years of working on this enormous project that Joe's motivation would have waned, but if anything it's increased. He credits the dedicated viewers of his Twitch livestreams for encouraging him to keep expanding his world. As thanks, he makes a concerted effort to give as much as he can back to them for their continued support.

"I reward my longtime viewers with a build request once they have met certain requirements on my stream," Joe says. "I will build anything they want, implementing all their design ideas, as long as it fits the style of my Minecraft world. I've built around 50 large structures that have been requested by my loyal viewers over the past three years, and have about 100 or so left on the waiting list to be built."

What's clear, especially if you watch any of Joe's livestreams, is that one of his main drives is to inspire others to create. "I use my Minecraft world as a motivation tool [to show] that hard work, patience, and practice will make almost anyone a good builder." Something he does to demonstrate how his building skills have improved over the years is compare his earlier builds to more recent ones. The structures have better form, more decorative details, and have trickier architectural flourishes such as balusters and cornices.

Joe's advice to anyone who wants to create large builds in Minecraft is to pick an architectural style that won't get boring. It might be Japanese, Greek, Modern, Futuristic, or anything in between. Another piece of advice is to work on multiple builds at the same time. "You're not stuck on one build for a long period, which might cause you to get builder's block," he says. "You can always move to a different build to keep your mind fresh."

As to what Joe is building next, he's had a handful of Twitch viewers ask him to work on Asian architecture, which he's very much looking forward to. "From Taj Mahal, pagodas, Japanese gardens, Himeji Castle, Potala Palace, Angkor Wat Buddhist Temple, and the Japanese volcano Mt. Fuji," he says. 

There's nothing as inspiring as a new challenge to TrooperJoe. And with a community with plenty of ideas to go along with the support they have for him, there are no signs of him slowing down. Watch this space, as it will soon swell with elaborate edifices from across eras and geographies, united in this huge metropolis.

Now, time for me to back to the realm and get to work on dirt house #57288...

Written By
Chris Priestman