Sunday, October 20, 2013

The nerd within

I've always been an avid builder, needing to create things from some blueprint or other in my mind. As a child, this showed up in the hours I spent playing with Lego and Plasticine (modeling clay), and later on building model planes, tanks, and ships. Warships were my favorite. I was always absorbed by their visual appearance and physical intricacy.

Nowadays, my creative urges are fulfilled by all those grown-up building projects over the years, such as the pirate ship and tree fort, by writing and painting, and occasional wistful plans for when we win the lottery.

All these things take a lot of energy and concentration, and sometimes I feel the need for less demanding outlets, something that brings more immediate gratification. For this, I've turned to Minecraft. I use the Pocket Edition in Creative mode, solely for construction projects.

Right now, I'm building a WWII-era battleship - generic design, not meant to represent any real vessel. I did one of these a while back, just to see if I could, but at that time I only focused on the exterior. Apart from the engineering spaces it was an empty shell.

This time around, I'm building it from the keel up and trying to make a fairly realistic representation.

I've also discovered that this kind of thing is a popular subject in the Minecraft community (try Googling "Minecraft battleship" for some examples), which is kinda scary. I guess it officially reinforces my nerd status :)

So, I know this may be of limited interest to "normal" people out there, but what the heck, this is my blog and you can always skip if this isn't your cup of tea.

Here are a few screen shots of the battleship project as it takes shape up to the waterline, so if you'd like, follow me on a guided tour of the lower levels...

This is the stern of the ship. I researched online for a game seed that would give me a lot of water, because I knew the ship would stretch most of the width of the world. In this case there was ice along one side, so the bum end wound up embedded in the ice.
You can see storage compartments, and three propeller shafts in yellow. The green platform rising up beyond them is the base of the after 16" barbette. The cylindrical rotating structure and gun turret will be built on top of that. On either side, the powder magazines deep in the ship are still exposed.

Next, we have the engine rooms. The after room holds two sets of turbines driving the outer shafts. Next door is the central turbine set flanked by steam condensers and other machinery.

A large part of the spadework up to this point involved building the shell of the hull and emptying it of water. This is one of the reasons my first attempt didn't pay too much attention to the interior. It's difficult working underwater in Minecraft because it gets so dark, and emptying out the water is painstaking work. But I'm glad I put the effort in this time, because this gives me a more complete structure to fill in.

Here is a side-on view of the three boiler rooms. I've used blue blocks to represent the funnel uptakes. The forward uptakes will continue curving aft to meet up, giving me a single large funnel.
Forward of the boiler rooms is the electrical generation room, and the base of "B" turret rising high above the waterline. In this view, you also have a clear view of the white columns rising up, four each side, which are the 6" shell hoists for the secondary armament.

Finally, we come to the bow section.
Mostly storage here, and a clear view of the two forward 16" emplacements. "B" turret still has the powder magazine showing, while I've started building the overlying shell room for "A" turret.

Next stage is to finish off the sections showing, and deck them over ready to start the next level.

Yes, nerdy I know, but I find it strangely therapeutic.


  1. That is very cool! Almost like building with Legos.

  2. I thought it was a lego ship when I first came over. I am not into computer games but I love puzzles in the same nerdy way. They are therapeutic for me too- putting things into their place sort of organizes the mind, I think.

  3. Alex, it has a lot of similarities for sure. Lego has more varieties of shapes you can do interesting things with, whereas Minecraft is mostly square blocks. Big advantages of Minecraft, though, are (a) Not spending half your time scrabbling through a heap of pieces looking for the one you want, and (b) You get to explore and walk inside your creations, which you can't do with Lego.

    Danette, Ali spends hours doing puzzle- and strategy-type games, but I guess you mean jigsaw puzzles. I have to be careful with those, once I start one it becomes an obsession for me.

  4. Cool! I didn't know you played Minecraft, Ian. I almost got sucked into it myself a few years back, but then realized the outside world would never see me again and so put a stop to it. But this brings back memories! Great design, btw. Seems quite the big improvement over your first attempt.

  5. Awesome!!! Minecraft meets Legos!!! Love it!



  6. David, I wondered if you'd ever got bitten by the bug. That is why I avoid computer games in general. This is a rare exception and I'm careful to limit it to being used as a creative safety valve.

    Valerie, thanks!

  7. That is a great way to unwind if you are a Lego kind of guy. My son used to be really into Minecraft. For me it's sewing, and I pretty much don't use patterns, but just cut and go. I'm working on my Halloween costume and it's a great way to forget about work AND writing for bit.

  8. Both my sons have been into Minecraft at some time, the youngest currently using it to build a fantasy spaceship (I think)

    I think it is a great creative outlet

  9. Shell, sounds like you've got your own creative outlet there. Useful too!

    Mynx, fantasy spaceships are another Minecraft favorite!


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