An urban planner reviews Minecraft cities

An urban planner reviews Minecraft cities



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Cities reviewed in this video:

#1: Mattupolis –

#2: Greenfield –

#3: The GDMC Competition –

Audio introduction by 12tone:
Produced in sunny Sacramento, California.

this video is sponsored by dashlane to keep your online identity secure go to – Lang comm slash City Beautiful to try it for free I've always been fascinated by the game Minecraft but I've just never had the time to really get into it but recently I found out that people were creating entire cities in Minecraft and I knew I just had to take a look so in this video I'm gonna go through three different cities in Minecraft and give you my thoughts on them as a city planner so let's go take a look okay so here we are in mat2 palace I think it's pronounced it's the first thing we're going to check out I'm starting here sort of out of town I'm really close to this really nice suspension bridge and it that kind of leads to nothing right there there's not really much beyond the the suspension bridge and what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna take a trip down this road if this road goes all the way through downtown and back out the other side so we can get a good look at the transect or or the kind of cross section of this city so let me get started here well head this way excuse me I'm new to Minecraft as I mentioned in the beginning so control of this game is is not great so okay so we already went from sort of countryside forest into multi-story buildings so this to me says that the creators of this game you know maybe weren't interested in creating sort of single-family residential suburbs and they went right for the tall buildings which is cool I understand why so a little bit of background here as we're scrolling into this new neighborhood like math to Palace has been building this guy the person who's been making this game are making the city's been making it since 2011 which is kind of amazing and they're using Vancouver BC is an inspiration with some kind of Seattle elements and a New York City element as well this game has been downloaded I'm sorry this map has been downloaded over 200,000 times on Planet minecraft so this is really a popular city and I can see why I mean this is already quite nice we can see here we have what's called a cat park where you have a park going over a roadway here you can see down there and already we're sort of I think downtown or pretty darn close these are really tall buildings so that was a fast transition from Forest to downtown and these these buildings do look like Vancouver I mean props to the creator here for really sort of mimicking the look and feel of an Coover and what do I mean when I say the look and feel of Vancouver so Vancouver is well known for these towers called point towers as some call them here so I'm gonna try to zoom into one here a little bit more and see if they they replicated the point how our look a little bit I'm going off the transect here you can see yes they have down here so the point towers they're skinny modern high-rises primarily residential but down below here this one does a great job of it some of the other ones yeah they do it a little bit here too so they have a podium or base and in Vancouver the podium and base is often a two or three story townhouse or retail at the bottom and the the bottom layer here conforms to the to the sidewalk really well so you'll see that the base is really wide and goes right up to the sidewalk and all sides while the tower is skinnier it doesn't take up the entire lot so that's what a that's what a point Tower is and that's what Vancouver uses quite a bit in its city and the reason they do this is pretty smart actually so you create a lively or streetscape when you have the building meet the sidewalk edge especially if you have lots of doors and windows people coming in and out like in a townhouse situation or in a retail situation so you have you enliven the sidewalk you make the street really pleasant to be on but you still allow developers to build high-rises and get a lot of density so you get that density the narrow towers also make it so you don't have a lot of shadows on the sidewalk so all in all it's a really good system and it's been exported into other cities as well Vancouver isn't the only one doing it these days but they're so well-known for it because their skyline is almost entirely these towers okay so so those are some of the towers of downtown I'm just gonna kind of scroll back here there's a nice urban parks I really like yes see the skylines coming into view here more I'm gonna go off of the transact a little bit here oh I like that little Plaza it's very nice all at all I'm like super impressed by the way I should just say this right off the bat with this project oh my gosh there's even a building under construction the amount of time it must take to build these buildings is insane I I can only imagine it must be a group effort of some kind so yeah this is great here so you have these you have the podium or the base here and you have a nice little green roof even with next to a Plaza very nice very nicely done yeah the amount of work that must have been taken to do this is just impressive but when you have oh this is great I mean one of the things I was wondering about when I started looking at these was if you're gonna if we're gonna see buildings of different eras and this to me this white and black building here feels really 1970s which is kind of great you want to see sort of a mix of building ages because cities aren't built all in one era right they grow through time architectural styles change so you know a lot of these point towers I mentioned are very sort of modern looking or like they've come from like this century but it's nice to see buildings that look like they're from different eras and as I said that Seattle is a a model here oonh even the Cascadian flag I really liked that I lived in Portland for a while and it's one of my favorite cities so this whole Pacific Northwest vibe I am really loving here and I also love speaking of different eras how nice they have these lower rise let me go down a little bit these lower rise buildings from you know from like maybe like 50 hundred years ago I really like that mixed in so you have this older downtown look punctuated by the taller towers which gives us much more of a realistic feel and I love even the the cobblestone street details oh my goodness this is amazing that goes through here that's great cobblestone streets in this nice little park here I will say that I find these streets to be very very narrow and I made a video about this I love narrow streets particularly in the suburbs but in in cities like this this feels really really too narrow especially for an american-canadian type of city so they also it doesn't look at they have room for say like on street parking that could be something that you know you might consider adding the streets proportions here are just very very narrow compared to the buildings retailers in this particular city here at to Palace might be upset that there's no on street parking retailers love the idea that there's parking right for their building so that shoppers know that there's a possibility that they could pop right in front of the business even though oftentimes that isn't the case okay so we got the street let's just follow the street here I'm gonna keep going I like this and I kind of like this angle is a little bit high but I like being able to see the the street front here and some of these nice is like billboards yeah it's a really nice monitor so you know look okay we have parking garages so I I'm not singing him as many parking lots as I thought I would see but there's a nice parking garage there one thing that would be really cool and maybe because this is sort of a little bit of a fantasy city there aren't just that many decrepit Lots or like empty parking lots waiting for redevelopment I'm looking over here cuz the abilities are sort of like nondescript but that's sort of the thing and this looks a little bit like office or kind of light industrial uses over here let me get back to that Main Street so all this is like it's great showing different kinds of land use different heights of buildings and as we're leaving downtown it seems like we're leaving downtown the building heights are getting lower that's great okay so okay so now we're starting to get to more strip strip commercial okay here's an idea I would say this is a very urban IKEA so you have across the street from IKEA very tall buildings so the the transect I'm talking about so new Urbanists like to use this concept of a transect where there's six different zones and it goes from the most urban city center all the way out to rural and it kind of Grady there's a gradient of densities in different cities have different gradients of densities more different curves of densities and this city here it has a very steep curve you're going from very tall buildings to IKEA suburbia very quickly which is one thing where it's maybe not super you know like real life but again it's a fantasy city I would also say like these these on ramps are a little bit I wouldn't call them super convincing but it's cool to see a highway an elevated highway anyway okay so we got some nice row houses here so these roses these brick row houses I guess they're sort of modern but like again they might feel feel more at home in the historic center and soccer fields but we still have so we're kind of hugging more low-density neighborhoods here but still decently populous and oh it's getting to be nighttime the city lights up really nice I feel like I'm missing a texture pack or something because I think these lights are not supposed to look like that I apologize but okay now we're getting to real suburbia here we got ourselves like a gas station a Shell station it's a more strip retail here this is great we're gonna see some tract housing or we can see some real sprawl here because we're getting some nice kind of light industrial used to here like where houses like this is this is a really cool warehouse – it's really nice like you know in a fantasy city like this you can often sort of neglect some of the more ugly parts of a city oh great and the the the warehousing and industrials right near a rail line which is super accurate know what this looks like a building under construction and I still overpass here this is great another gas station okay so yeah there's no housing and we've kind of made it all the way through the city so the one like major critique I would say is that let's see some suburbs if this is an accurate city now I know Vancouver is a very dense city known again for those towers but it would be really cool to see some of those West Coast style bungalows or other houses that maybe make it feel more like a complete City but all in all I am super impressed with a city it's unbelievable how much detail you get here I mean just the traffic lights and street lamps and the the road network is great again just missing some some parking perhaps in some of those areas but holy cow guys I'm really impressed you should check out this map I've left a link to this map in the description so you can go click on it and go to Planet minecraft and download if you want to explore it yourself I'm sorry I'm not going to get a chance to see all of it but yeah this is a great first city to review and I'm super stoked to see the next one all right everyone we've moved on to the next city in this city is Greenfield you know I thought and that too Poulos was very impressive but I I did a little bit of looking around in this city and maybe tit it is purported to be the largest city ever created in Minecraft according to them themselves on their planet minecraft page it's been downloaded over 800,000 times that's amazing so I can't wait to look around some more we're gonna do the transect thing again we're gonna start out in the suburbs head to the central city and then head back out again and I should say that this trajectory will not do greenfield justice again I've left a link to this place in the description so you can go check it out you can download it if you want because it's insane I'll put a map up right now so you can see how large this place is and this map is so the city is so big that this map is actually kind of useless to me I can't actually navigate via this map because it's just so large that it just tells me the basic areas and I don't know what that means so okay so let's get started so we have here we start out the suburbs I'm gonna follow this highway because I think that Greenfield is a really good job with highways in that they seem to really like designing them and they designed them really well so this is an on-ramp here to a major highway we have our McDonald's near the interchange which is appropriate and we have tract housing gas station some strip commercial so very appropriate to be out here towards the edge of town and see that I should say back here there was nothing so this is this is the edge of the map so we're going to go we're going to fly along this freeway here and we see lots of different houses you know very charming houses actually fairly dense the the lot sizes are pretty small here we're not seeing McMansions or exurban development at all this is very this to me looks like that the density of almost streetcar suburbs so they don't have the full transect either they don't go all the way out to rural or like semi rural but they start at a fairly dense housing single family housing so well this looks like maybe like a grocery store which is pretty cool yeah so this is all so we're developing we got some there and interesting this is an interesting off-ramp situation you don't see that very often here in the United States at least again I chose this part because it looked like it was the the goal of the creators is to be realistic and sort of an American city example and this is very American right here look at this fancy interchange and as well landscaped and well-lit even Wow that's amazing so and then we have more strip commercial near the interchange which is very appropriate to have strip commercially or to interchange here let's see okay keep moving here through here oh I like that little sign that's very creative and we're already getting more more density so again both of these both of these cities they ramp up their density very quickly and I get it because if you're designing a city in Minecraft you know you're not gonna try to build the city the exact same size is a large metropolis the kind of metropolis that I have very tall buildings in there downtown that would just take you forever and this transect would go on and on and on and on so the ramping up quickly so they could build the houses and they can build the skyscrapers and everything in between fairly quickly we get this cool bridge I like this I like this park here this is like reminds me like a Buckingham Fountain in Chicago kind of a thing along the lakefront but I think this is a river because it has a bridge here yes speaking of Chicago when I was wandering around the city earlier I found what was a dead ringer for Navy Pier so there's at least some sort of Chicago you know some Chicago influence here also I came across a cool Chinatown the description of this city says that there's many Easter eggs to find and I totally believe it I have I think I want when I went down in here I think under here there's like parking garages and I got attacked by creatures I don't know minecraft well enough I think I was in survival mode when I basically got mugged in a parking garage so this city needs to work on its that's crime prevention but this is an amazing complex here it kind of reminds me again some of these are corporate complexes of the 70s like a Renaissance Center in Detroit kind of vibe where it's a city within a city which is really cool I mean it's amazing both of this city and the previous city they really had a keen eye on you know what cities look like and they did a fantastic job of mimicking it another under construction building here that's a nice touch and you have a storage building here looks really cool let's keep going a little bit faster here because I feel I think we're kind of in downtown here I only the only resent not confident is because the city is just so gigantic and there's so many different districts that I'm having a hard time keeping track of where I am here so I'm just I'm just trying to stick to this transect but okay so this this city does have some older buildings too though I will say that I think that the last city might tuple has had a nicer didn't I should Emma create more of a historic american-style historic district though I again can't be certain because this is a really large map so okay here's some of that kind of lower lower scale older stuff and I think this is the Chinatown I saw yeah this is this is just really nice I happen to fly through here at night and it lights up just just beautifully so I got the Chinese lanterns and stuff and is really cool like maybe a museum all this a little bit this nice level of art it's sort of a civic way here it looks like some some museums get along here it's very nice and maybe these are government buildings like I don't know one thing I've noticed flying through here maybe let's see if I can zoom in here see if I can head down here see if I can see the signage in Minecraft is funny because I guess you're only allowed to type on two like these like special sign blocks or something so you can't really express yourself you can't change fonts lots of nice mural that's a really nice touch too I don't know I'm not fighting them here but these little sign blocks oh this is a fire station oh that's cool that's really cool yeah so these little sign blocks are not very convincing signs so it makes me think that the the city of Greenfield are all minecraft cities pass very restrictive sign ordinances or you can't have fancy signs anywhere you can only have the size that you can you know be really up close to read I'm not finding any now if I see one I'll let you know but yeah it's it's great the the thing with signs signs are heavily regulated in the zoning code for most cities so it's not uncommon to have you know kind of restrictions on signs the one thing you can't do at least here in the United States okay here here are the signs okay I can't even read these unless you like get up close and we go down what we got here okay oh it's a metro station very cool I'm not gonna explore that the metros here because I think both cities had them had really cools mass transit oops but anyway sorry back on the topic of sine laws so you can restrict sines you can't restrict based on message because that would violate the First Amendment rights of the person putting up this sign so you can't say you know religious science need to be a certain way or political science need to be kind of a certain way or can't be shown here or there to be very very careful with how you regulate science because that First Amendment issue okay so we're we also have this nice little kind of channeled River here along so I still following this highway Ben I'm off a little bit I've seen a lot of parking in this in Greenfield which is really nice touch in the sense it's realistic even though I don't like it in actual cities ok I'm crossing the river here into some upper-class but slightly lower density housing which is very nice and I just want to take a second to think about all of the effort that went into planning a city like this it's similar in a way to how a cities are really planned I'm guessing because like the real world once you build a Minecraft building and lay out minecraft roads it's very difficult to move those later so oh it's raining I didn't realize that could rain here but I think I have some skills here I'm gonna turn the day light back on and I think that there's a clear weather script here like something I can do to make it clear again ok great we're back and running here but and also oh my gosh what is another bridge here I don't I don't exactly know what's happening why there's another bridge oh oh my gosh this is my favorite Road ever this isn't a bridge it's a roundabout go heading back into town eyes on the topic of planning I'm sure that they're planning another area over here to connect but now right now in the road circles background but back to my topic here is so you know minecraft buildings just like real buildings they can't be moved or changed very easily so proper planning is really important and a game like SimCity it's pretty easy to bulldoze a road bulldoze and buildings rezone and then in a few minutes the the city is growing back again but here there's a lot of effort placed on these buildings I'm guessing they're difficult to change and they have some sort of ripple effects with other creations on this map so the next time I do this if I do it again I really want to get a hold of some of the planning documents that these teams of people use to design minecraft cities because I'm sure they are in some ways very similar to them so the planning documents and playing processes actual planners go through when they're designing a city and that's why I really like these minecraft cities they're a little bit of a different thing than a SimCity city where the game engine it may be realistic here the planning process I'm guessing is fairly realistic so I'm gonna leave greenfield here as we explore these outer islands it was great I'll leave a link to this the city in the description fantastic impressive I did not scratch the surface five stars for me Hitler's a review this is amazing but let's get to the next city shall we and here we are this is a bit of a different looking city this is not the modern metropolis is that I showed you previously this city is special for a different reason this he was not painstakingly designed by one or more humans but designed by an algorithm this particular settlement algorithm was created by Philip skorsky and it won the 2018 settlement generation competition put on by researchers at NYU so let's take a look around to see what how it how he did so the idea here is that he generated an algorithm or made an algorithm and then the competition folks apply the algorithm to different maps to see how well it created a settlement or City and they gave some very difficult terrain so this is just one of the four options that they gave or for maps that they tested this algorithm on and I would say he did a pretty good job again he won this competition and the building's all look pretty good so the you know the buildings are pretty repetitive obviously compared to the metropolis as we just saw but we go in here a little bit we can see that you know it doesn't pretty they do a pretty good job of conforming to the land like you have like you know the the floor here and there's some it Shores up the bottom to make a nice even base there's a lot of pigs okay so I didn't realize this about minecraft that there are animals in Minecraft which is cool oh and they make sounds that's really cool they're pigs that make sounds which makes me wonder why can't we get more people in these minecraft cities so that's one thing I didn't mention before the last two season particularly they were incredibly dead it was like the entire city had been you know evacuated in you know there's a hurricane coming or something or you know you woke up from a hospital stay and found out that you know everybody was turn into zombies so I don't know I don't know I've you know minecraft has this plan but it'd be awesome to have people in these places to make them feel populated also the lack of cars and vehicles it just makes them feel a little bit dead and again this is not a critique for any of the folks making these minecraft cities who are amazing it's more of Minecraft itself but you're just it was creating these cities that are empty and it's a little sad I often kind of chuckle when I see you no posts and message boards and things about people who really care about the skyline of their city like the design of the skyline like I said if it's sort of its own independent work of art and they care about you know oh this building is gonna make the skyline look better or more kind of even or balanced and I get it you know to a certain extent you want your city to kind of look nice on postcards and things but you know cities are really more than just buildings cities are people and without them they just feel sort of kind of half half-baked okay it's back to the city oh sorry about that digression the one thing I will say about this this entry here is that there are no real roads I mean there's sort of roads there's some paths here I don't know where these paths are really intending on going they don't connect to each other there seems to be lots of gardens with water in them like they're sort of aquaponics or something I don't know I don't know if those were there already or generated by the settlement generator and you know you had you have some buildings you have buildings way up here too which is kind of I would not want to step out of this door when it's icy like this this that's that's dangerous not just a dress but you know did a good job the the algorithm did a good job of generating these buildings on flavell terrain I'm sure that's what it was going for and in clusters when possible and it certainly makes for a dramatic looking city but there's no real circulation system which i think is a bit of a downfall but I really find the reason I wanted to highlight this was I think it's really interesting that we have you know the concept that we could generate a city algorithmically as opposed to you know using the brains of planners you know is this the future am I going to be out of a job someday because algorithms can produce plans and and development projects far better than us people I you know I don't think so and maybe that's just because I'm a planner I don't want to lose my job someday but I also think that you know planning is inherently a political process so you just need people to butt heads about what the developments gonna be like where it's gonna go the impacts the environmental consequences things like that you just can't put that into an algorithm but I think it's a really interesting experiment and the cool thing is if you want to try your hand at this if you think that you can do a better settlement algorithm than I'm showing you you can actually compete in the 2019 competition this guy he won the 2018 competition but they're holding another one and the entries are open now so I'll leave a link in the description to that competition again the folks in NYU are running it and it's really cool so I'd recommend that you check it out thanks for sticking with me to the end of this video I had so much fun exploring all of these minecraft cities if you like this video let me know in the comments if you'd like to see another one similar to it maybe with city skyline cities that might be cool and we've reached the pointless video where it's time to talk about our sponsor and we have a new one this week – Lane – Lane is great because it solves a problem I have and you probably have too and that's remembering all the passwords you have for all of the different websites and apps and accounts that proliferate when you start using the internet at all – Lane will store all of your passwords and payment information super securely and then you can use them on your computer or phone or wherever you need them – Lane will even create new secure passwords for you so you're not relying on some lame password or some variant of it the best thing about this is you can get a 30-day free trial of dashlane if you head to – Lane comm slash city beautiful and if you already know that you need this product in your life you can get 10% off the premium subscription price by using the code city beautiful 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24 thoughts on “An urban planner reviews Minecraft cities

  1. I hope my lack of Minecraft experience doesn't make you cringe too bad! Should I do a video reviewing the most realistic Cities: Skylines cities?

  2. I love how despite not having a lot of knowledge on the game you try to use the right words for things. It shows a lot of effort on your part

  3. As a builder in Greenfield I recommend you using the texture packs meant for the worlds for a WAY better experience because the default tp does not do any of these cities justice.

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