Seeing as nobody's going outside at the moment, it would be pretty great to have an entire version of Earth to explore in a video game, right?
Enter PippenFTS, a YouTuber who claims to have made a 1:1 scale version of the Earth in Minecraft for the very first time. It's been made possible through the use of two mods, Terra 1-to-1 and Cubic Chunks. As explained by PippenFTS, Minecraft normally has a height limit of 255m, which would have made full-scale Earth terrain impossible. Using Cubic Chunks "changes the shape of Minecraft chunks to 16x16x16 cube, giving you infinite build depth in both vertical directions".
"With the Cubic Chunks mod breaking Minecraft's vertical limitations, we can now experience the Earth in Minecraft, just as it is, with no downscaling of any kind."
The next stage is applying the Terra 1-1 mod, which takes information from geographical data archives (such as Google Maps) and converts it into Minecraft blocks. The video shows a number of vast landmarks realised in Minecraft, such as Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, and Half Dome from Yosemite National Park in the US.
The problem is that this is only the first step to creating a fully-accurate world: human-generated structures are rebuilt by the mod as part of the landscape, so Egypt's pyramids just become... a big pile of mud. Similarly, the peaks of some mountains which should have snow are currently bare, while glaciers which should contain ice register as just snowy terrain. And at the South Pole, the world border merely shows an endless snowy wasteland - as the Minecraft model of Earth doesn't exactly curve.
To solve these issues, PippenFTS has started a collective project called "Build The Earth" to get other Minecraft players to decorate the Earth with man-made structures, and also create an edge for the borders, fulfilling the centuries-old myth of being able to sail off the edge of the Earth. PippenFTS is hoping players will download the mods, rebuild specific areas in 1 to 1 scale, and then join them all together at the end using map editors. It's a massive undertaking, but PippenFTS has started up a Discord server to help coordinate efforts, and is contributing by building Seattle. "Hardware limitations are ours, and certainly my, main obstacle towards achieving the dream of viewing Minecraft terrain thousands of miles in each direction from the top of Mount Rainier, but one day this obstacle will be overcome", PippenFTS added.
It's going to be one major building project - but the initative has already received a significant amount of attention, establishing its own subreddit and patreon to cover server costs. People are already contributing models of universities, Manhattan skyscrapers and even their own streets. Should you want to contribute, make sure to watch the video for instructions on how to install the mods and get involved. It should be a fun one to watch - even if the full project is never actually completed.