Minecraft is an intensely creative environment that provides virtually unlimited opportunities for doing cool things. Microsoft paid a few billion dollars on the platform for good reason. UK web specialist Christopher Gutteridge provided yet another demonstration of what Minecraft can do by connecting the popular computer game to a freely available mapping data.
The inspiration for Gutteridge's breakthrough was simple. After spending eight months attempting to map out his hometown of Ventnor in Minecraft by hand, he decided enough was enough. Then, he came up with a better solution.
“To create the model I had to painstakingly measure everything from maps and aerial photography and do my best to guess the height of the cliffs and buildings,” said Chris. “I thought, there must be a better way to do this with all the open data that is now available. So I started work on combining OpenStreetMap with LIDAR - 3D data published by the government. I developed a software tool that when you put this data into Minecraft you can automatically create a lifelike model of any place in England within a very short time. The first time I saw what I had produced I was really excited, it looked so accurate.”
Now, anyone who lives in an area with the same available data can use Gutteridge's tool, the "Magic Minecraft Map Maker," to do the same with their hometown. And, the applications are more widespread than simple gaming and hobbies.
Chris, who graduated in Computer Science from the University of Southampton, believes the new software that he developed in his spare time could be very useful as well as entertaining.
He said: “This is an excellent demonstrator of the open data that the government and community are making available and the power of combining them.
“It could be used by schools to base projects on such as rebuilding a ruin like Netley Abbey, or improving their town by designing and building new things in their local area and seeing how buildings such as a new block of flats can change things.”
You can find out more about the tool over at Facebook. Hopefully, we'll see a similar tool in other parts of the world using the same kinds of publicly available data.