Playing on Michael Aranda’s #minecraftavision subbable #minecraft server has been a lot of fun but I’m getting increasingly disheartened by my experiences on there.

On the first day of the server at launch people started exploring out and staking little claims etc. While this was happening a bunch of people started to have issues dying from starvation, because of this I made it my first priority to make a sustainable food source. I went around specifically collecting seeds and looking for a place to build a wheat farm. I knew that if we were going to have a community farm to feed people it would have to be fairly large so I spent a really long time looking for a place where I could build a field that wouldn’t be too close to anyone’s construction. I was also very conscious of the fact that food farms in general can very easily become very ugly so when I started building the farm I quickly implemented BlackwoolHoliday’s gorgeous jackolantern system for watering and lighting fields to be respectful of the server’s beautification policy. After I had the farm up and running I used my the resources in my neglected home to build a community foodotron, a machine to dispense the bread made by the wheat farm. I later reshaped the area around the farm to be more aesthetically pleasing and to allow for a larger wheatfield area. I genuinely thought the farm was a very pretty part of the server.

As a person I believe strongly in gaming and online communities. I’ve run my own minecraft server since alpha which has waxed and waned as different releases have come and gone and I like to try my best to support the communities that arise in games and in minecraft a lot of that is helping create community spaces. I feel like I’m a person who tries to help everyone work together to create something beautiful. I believe in mutual respect, communication and compromise as ways of doing this.

The reason I’m disheartened at the moment though, is that I feel like my own feelings and spaces aren’t being respected and that in order to try and talk about the things that upset me and find solutions and compromises I’m keep having to complain vocally until I sound like some kind of petty whinger or pretty police. I apologise to the people who think I am those, I’m trying not to be, I just want to see our shared space be the best it can be.

The #minecraftavision subbable minecraft server does have a server beautification policy but it’s pretty loosely enforced. I understand that Michael doesn’t want to upset people by enforcing any specific vision for the server on them by moving their creations around. The problem for me, I think, is that my experiences at server launch set me up with some unreasonable expectations for the server.

I’m a person who really values aesthetics in Minecraft. I feel like it’s a space where we the best goal is to try and use the resources available to create something beautiful that invokes different feelings and experiences. I like structures that are at the minecraft native scale and help preserve suspension of disbelief and immersion in the world being created. Some of my favorite views of town are ones like these:

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I guess then that the things that I don’t enjoy are the things that break those experiences. I dislike large pixely, brightly coloured monuments that sit in the middle of spaces. I really like things like pixel art in minecraft when they’re incoporated into their surroundings. My problem is when they made as these monuments that sit in the middle of a space and draw the eye away from everything around them. For me this no only ruins the view but also the sense of immersion in the world. I feel like these sorts of structures don’t really add to the landscape other than as a way of saying “look at what I did!” but rather detract from it. I understand that aesthetics are a tricky area where different people have different tastes but I feel like there is some level of mutual respect being ignored if you erect a giant cyan woolen cube next to someone’s edwardian manor.

This has been distressing me more as the #minecraftavision spawn valley has become increasingly densely packed with an ever more eclectic and less harmoniously united array of things. The view from my house now looks like this:

What I’m trying to do here is not complain and stamp my foot about not getting my way. If I didn’t want to see other people’s creations I’d play in a single player world. I like working with people to help make their creations act as a part of the village as a whole rather than just obelisks in the skyline. When business tower was first erected it was just an ugly wooden box. I spent huge amounts of time helping redo the outside in the style of the Hong Kong Lippo Center. When the Michael Portrait and the Modernist Apartment block were built they just had to be moved slightly to better integrate with the visual flow of the town. The Canadian flag has been integrated into the Town Hall as a part of it’s rennovations. But after I spend so much time working with people to help make our shared space more pleasant and enjoyable for everyone, where different creations compliment each other rather than trying to steal the spotlight, I feel a little underappreciated when a stone rectangle gets erected directly infront of my house, crowned with a gaudy pixel chestplate on top. And then yesterday, when I returned to my house from my mine I saw this:
The pretty wheat field that has been feeding the server since launch has been entirely demolished to make way for a giant brightly coloured pixel cake which occupy’s about a third of the wheat field’s space. I feel pretty dumped on. People have said that there have been signs around the wheat field warning of it’s imminent demise and that the skype call on enderdragon day had a discussion about repurposing the space and maybe this is just the direction that the server is choosing to go and if that’s the case then I’ll just have to accept that, maybe I’ll take a break and focus on actually getting some real world work done or something, but I thought it wouldn’t be fair on anyone to harbour silent resentment without letting people know what has upset me. I don’t like things that are huge and close to places I need to go, it’s claustrophobic. I don’t like giant colourful pixel structures in the middle of visual fields, I feel like it detracts from the overall sense of immersion in the world. I’m sorry for whinging.