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Ordnance Survey’s new Minecraft map offers greater gaming and learning possibilities

23 September 2014

Exactly a year on from the release of GB Minecraft, Ordnance Survey has launched GB Minecraft 2. This free-to-download Minecraft map offers gamers a much more natural-looking and detailed version of Great Britain.

Joseph Braybrook points to the GB Minecraft 2 map

The then intern Joseph Braybrook created Ordnance Survey’s original Minecraft map, which, at the time, with its 22 billion blocks, was thought to be the largest Minecraft map in existence built using real-world geographic data. This year Joseph, who recently re-joined Ordnance Survey full-time as a member of its graduate scheme, has improved upon his previous work by using a staggering 83 billion blocks to create a new map of Great Britain.

To build this mammoth map, which enables gamers to easily find their town, street and own home, Joseph used the free-to-use open data products from OS OpenData, including OS VectorMap District and OS Terrain 50.

Snowdonia GB Minecraft 2 map

Joseph, who is now working on Ordnance Survey future tech projects, says about the new map: “The terrain has been doubled in scale to provide more detail. It uses 1:25 000 scale OS VectorMap District to give a smoother, more expansive appearance that is closer to real life. Amongst some of the new features I have added are local roads, and I’ve done this using our in-house colour classification system, so motorways appear as blue for instance. The water features now appear in sharper detail; too, so you can see individual streams and tributaries coming off rivers. The forests and woodlands are now populated with generated trees, and the national rail network has been added. I’m looking forward to seeing if people eventually build a working railway system in game. I’ve attempted to recreate Great Britain to be more realistic, while maintaining the gameplay elements people love from the game. I believe GB Minecraft 2 delivers a far greater gaming experience and will present a challenge for gamers to start mining and building on it.”

Joseph’s original map has been highly praised by parents and teachers for being a way of engaging children in learning about geography and inspired the Danish government to produce its own Minecraft map. It has been widely talked about in the global Minecraft community, of which there are 100 million registered users, and this summer the British Geological Survey used GB Minecraft to recreate the geology of Great Britain beneath its surface.

Some of GB Minecraft 2’s new features include:

  • Improved gaming capabilities
  • Improved scale – 1 block:25 metres
  • Better navigation
  • Smoother and more realistic appearance
  • Buildings set out in fine detail
  • All roads are now included and appear using Ordnance Survey’s colour classification system
  • Railway lines have been laid
  • Precise placing of all rivers and streams and improved water detail
  • Forests and woodlands are populated by tress

London GB Minecraft 2 map

Graham Dunlop, Ordnance Survey’s Innovation Lab Manager, says: “Joseph’s Minecraft map of Great Britain really caught the imagination and each month since its release it has had tens of thousands of downloads. Although it has been excellent as a learning tool, Joseph recognised that his previous map was limited in terms of its gaming possibilities. This new map he has created not only looks better, but it offers a much more interactive environment to play in. It is especially pleasing to know that the GB Minecraft 2 Map has been developed using free products from OS OpenData. This is just one example of how freely available location data can support innovative projects. GB Minecraft 2 demonstrates what can happen when this data is put to use in innovative ways.”

Last week Microsoft announced its $2.5 billion acquisition of Mojang, the Stockholm-based game developer, and as part of the purchase the Minecraft franchise came with it. In the Minecraft community this news has been greeted with a sense of trepidation and concern. Joseph explains: “Minecraft gives users the opportunity to explore and create and is often referred to as ‘digital lego’. The community is massive and very protective of Minecraft. The attraction of Minecraft is that you can take an idea and with a little imagination you can create new worlds, much as I have done with GB Minecraft and GB Minecraft 2. We have to hope and trust Microsoft to do this right and to appoint the right people to oversee the development of Minecraft. If they do this, Minecraft could be even better.”

To download GB Minecraft 2 visit os.co.uk/minecraft

Photo downloads

Right-click and chose Save Link As (or equivalent) for higher resolution versions of the photos above:

Joseph Braybrook photo

Snowdonia map

London map

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