Owlhouse's "diary" build took three years!
Every now and again, a Minecraft build completely takes my breath away – and this one more than most, because it's entirely underwater! This project, which took over three years and is known as "Sea Diary", is a colourful coral reef full of beautiful, intricate little details, huge, eye-catching sculptures and gigantic fish. You know, the other day I built a little park next to my house in Minecraft, and I was feeling pretty proud. Now I feel a bit like I just made a popsicle stick house next to the Eiffel Tower!
The reason it's called "Sea Diary" is because the builder, Junghan Kim (AKA Owlhouse) considers it a diary of his three years building it, and of all the emotions he felt at the time. You might have experienced a similar thing yourself, when you revisit old Minecraft builds and remember who you made them with, how you were feeling at the time, and sometimes even memories of the music you were listening to as you built.
But Sea Diary didn't come easy. "I tried to change the theme and the story several times," Junghan says. "They ended up being changed based on my mood and feelings at that moment, which forced me to spend many hours editing the buildings and the terrain. At some point, I thought that all of the moments I spent building this map could be the story itself."
But unlike a normal diary – you know, the ones made of paper and filled with doodles and feelings – Sea Diary shows how Junghan was feeling with colour, movement, and detail. Also, unlike a normal diary, your parents can't find it and read all the embarrassing things you wrote. Sounds like a win-win to me.
"To be honest," Junghan says, "it was stressful to build sometimes." With 28 different kinds of fish, a bunch of machines, robots, probes, and tons of barnacles, sea life, and coral, there are a lot of details in the build that took a long time to get just right. Junghan says that the sheer number of details was the most ambitious part of the diary: "It can seem messy, but I think it's charming in its own way!"
I actually took a walk (or a swim?) around Sea Diary myself, and I managed to get quite lost. I'd see something incredible, then move on to something else in the distance, and when I tried to retrace my steps, I'd be completely overwhelmed by the colour and the scale of the entire build. I saw tiny fish, with fins streaming out behind them; bubbles that glowed in the dark; Venetian palaces that melted into industrial complexes and then back again.
I can't even imagine what it must have been like to build something like this, and to keep coming back to it for so many years – but Junghan managed to keep motivated, he says, by learning to relax. "Don't focus on one subject," he says. "I tried to change the story of my work continuously. And I think these changes make it fun!"
Junghan's zen approach is the main lesson he took away from building Sea Diary, after almost ten years of playing Minecraft. "Decisions can be changed easily," he says, "and sometimes, it leads to a better way."
But why make a diary of three years set entirely underwater? "The sea is really deep," Junghan muses, "and we never know what's happening down there. It's scary, but interesting." Plus, of course, it's really fun to build – there's a lot of variety in the ocean! "Colourful barnacles are my favourite details," he says. "Between the contrast of various colours and the darkness of the barnacles, it creates a mysterious feeling."
With Junghan's ten years in Minecraft, Sea Diary is far from his first build – and it certainly won't be his last, either. He's already working on a desert-themed world, and he made a gorgeous, glowing Halloween build too. But his favourite builds yet, other than Sea Diary, are Tears of Jungle – a luscious, Aztec-inspired temple in the heart of a jungle – and Dam Coast, an Atlantis-like city that houses a huge recreation of Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam. That's quite the portfolio!
All I can really say is that I wish my diary was even a fraction as beautiful, complex, and downright cool as Sea Diary is.
- Kate Gray