Minecraft, the immensely popular 3D game allows users to build and destroy construction blocks to create a virtual environment. The staff at Britain’s Ordnance Survey have created a map of the United Kingdom for use in Minecraft. Called Minecraft GB, the file consists of 22 billion blocks.
The map covers 220,000 square kilometres of mainland Great Britain and surrounding islands. Not included in the map are the areas of Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, which the Ordnance Survey explains is “because they are mapped by other organisations“.
The Ordnance Survey has made the file freely available as OS OpenData and the Minecraft-GB.zip archive is about 345 mb in size. Each block in the file represents a 50 x 50 meter square on the ground. From the Ordnance Survey post, the methodology in creating the map:
For each 100 x 100 km grid square:
- Load height data from OS Terrain® 50 files.
- Load image data from OS VectorMap® District raster files.
- Analyse each 20 x 20 pixel region of the raster image data to decide the material of each block.
- Create chunks using the height data to add blocks repeatedly up to the desired height and change the top block to the desired material.
For the coloring of the map, the Ordnance Survey used a mixture of building block materials from Minecraft. Examples include using diamonds, emeralds, gold, and pumpkins for the various road types, bricks for built-up areas, and leaves for forest areas.