15 July 2013

[Minecraft Monday] A Trip to the Borgesland

In the previous Minecraft Monday post, I bade farewell to Kentigern County, a world that was rapidly approaching obsolescence because of the impending Build 1.8.2, which included strongholds and villages automatically spawning in new worlds. The next update, TU12, is rapidly approaching, and again will potentially make Minecraft worlds obsolete because of the inclusion of the new Jungle biome. And that means it's time to say goodbye to the place I've been since October last year - The Borgesland.

The Borgesland has just about everything you could want from a Minecraft world - two villages in close proximity, a network of small seas and rivers cutting their way across the region, and one of each and every biome, including two mushroom-biome islands in the southernmost parts of the map.

The Village of Howling

Howling began as a tiny village in the Borgesland, the northenmost of two villages in the area, both located in the western desert. There were only a few houses in the first days of the village - three large houses, two guardhouses, one church, one smithy, one farm, one well, and six smaller houses. Howling also had eight garden patches for growing wheat, and some gravel roads.

Shortly after, the roads were improved, and a wall was built to keep the townsfolk safe from any danger the desert might conjure up at them. A number of the houses were joined up or expanded, a small dock was included, and a pyramid, built to house the @rc Facility Prism were built. Beside Howling was a long, straight road that led directly to Barking, the town at the southernmost edge of the desert.

Howling continued to expand over time. Larger homes were created, as well as the hospital (center-right, in green), and trees were planted to give the area a little more life.

The town just kept growing...

And growing...

...until it became so big, it couldn't actually fit in one screenshot. The camera angle's a little different because of the fact that the Great Southern Road, which used to lie outside Howling, actually has buildings all the way down it until you read South Howling - the village that was once known as Barking

The Howling Highway

The northernmost house in Howling is this patriotic little bungalow, situated in a small patch of greenery beside the river. This area used to be outside of Howling, until it was incorporated and used as an animal farm, before being turned into some prime real estate.

The northernmost tip of Howling has a number of other houses and homes, and work has even begun on homes across the river as well, connected by a bridge at the top of the city. (And hey - you can see my house from here! Naturally, it's the one right-of-centre, dominating the skyline).

A little further into Howling. Almost all of these houses are served by the @rc Facility Stormdrain, which we'll visit a little later on...

Above the northern church in Howling; the buildings around here are the oldest in the village, here since the village's founding - they've had some amount of reworking since then, but they're still recognisable even in older pictures of the village.

Most of the buildings in this area used to be outside of Howling, until the Sand Wall was taken down for expansion - although you can still see it, cutting from the bottom-right corner up to the middle of the shot. 

The Suther Bathhouse (and the Town Hall, across the road) mark the northernmost point of the Howling Highway, a long, straight road that once connected Howling to Barking, the town in the south, before it became incorporated into Howling. The Bathhouse has four levels, all of which have pools of water flowing into one another and around the building.

The Highway also has two pubs, one of which has an outdoor seating area with parasol covers, and one which has a small garden and a fully grown tree in the middle!

The Howling Atlas House is also on Howling Highway - this building provides a large map of the entire Borgesland, color-coded by the most prevalent biome in the area, and with signs bearing the name of each settled region:
  • Wardwood in the Northwest (where the floating castle... floats)
  • Hexhill in the North, (home to the Wickerman)
  • Veldlaw in the Northeast (a small hunting ground)
  • Winterchasm in the East (a village built over a chasm in the snowy woods)
  • Wombwood in the South (where the Stronghold lies)
  • Bathyc in the SouthWest (an underwater area)
  • North and South Howling, west of Center 
  • @rc Facility Axis Mundi, at the Center of the Borgesland
The Atlas House also has a tall viewing platform, from which you can see the rest of Howling Highway.

As you approach South Howling, the Mall breaks into view - at the moment, it's still rather empty, with only a music stall, armor stall and food stall, but in time, more stalls will likely be set up.

The Library (left) and the Natural History Museum (right) mark the Southernmost exit along the Howling Highway, much in the same way as the Suther Baths and the Town Hall marked the north.

South Howling (formerly Barking) has a number of upmarket residential homes, and not much else - the exception being the Art Gallery, housing a number of paintings on the top level.

And speaking of upmarket homes... scattered all the way across the Howling Highway are a number of interconnected Luxury Apartments (by the standards of the default houses available, of course).

Other Sights

Far to the east of Howling is a tiny village nestled in the wetlands called The Boon.

The Boon is made up of interconnected huts and houses, built atop posts that jut out of the swampwater. A few of the houses have been built atop trees for additional security from the things that prowl around the swamp as well.


And over in the North-East, you'll find Winterchasm, a small scientific research post and village nestled atop a great cleft in the earth. Winterchasm was torn apart by explosives in a war with the @rc Facilities, but was eventually rebuilt, and greatly improved.

In the Northwest, you'll likely find the Floating Castle, built high above the ground, and accessible only through a nether portal network that brings the adventurer out atop the castle itself.

Nearby is a small Graveyard, with memorials to a number of unknown adventurers (who definitely aren't just named after Rosseau, Alex, Sayid, Jack and Juliet from Lost...)

And, just west of Howling, is the Lighthouse, easily visible from atop my house in the city (and definitely not yet another lift from Lost...)

The @rc Facilities

Scattered throughout the Borgesland are a number of scientific research centers, known collectively as the @rc Facilities. Each one specialises in a different field of research and has its own unique purpose in the Borgesland (and definitely aren't just rip-offs of the DHARMA stations from Lost...)

@rc Facility Axis Mundi holds four portals leading to the Nether,  built at (0,0) around a pillar stretching from the very bottom of the bedrock all the way up to the top of the sky.

@rc Facility Obelisk is built smack-bang in the middle of the @rc Testing Grounds, a region of the desert where redstone circuits and explosives are tested. Inside Obelisk is a network of walkways and rooms built under the desert itself.

 @rc Facility Hell & Highwater is built in the middle of a lava downpour spewing from a mountain in Hexhill.
 The @rc Warshroom is a decommissioned explosive hidden off the coast of the @rc Facility Toadstool island.
@rc Facility Monster Hospital is hidden away inside Howling's hospital premises; a labyrinth of pitch black, endlessly self-similar rooms and hallways.

Inside @rc Facility Prism, located just outside North Howling's city wall, is a glass-capped pyramid that carries sunlight down into a surface-level Dungeon, to keep the undead from amassing; the facility is also equipped with an emergency lava-flow system (in case you're feeling a bit sadistic).

@rc Facility Stormdrain is the most extensive of all the @rc Facilities, as it runs under the entirety of North Howling. Every home in the village has a small drain where water can be collected directly from a sprawling network of waterways under the city, and, by climbing into it, you can get around the town without ever going outside by traversing the sewer system.

The Nether

The Nether can be accessed from the @rc Facility Axis Mundi, at the furthest north, east, south and western points in the Borgesland, or in the portal of the Floating Castle; and inside is a colossal Nether Fortress, with a number of interesting features...

What's Next?

With the approach of Title Update 12, it looks like it's time to up sticks and move over to a new world - which is good thing, I think. The periodic updates inject a bit of freshness into a game that may otherwise have grown a bit stale and same-y, and it's always enjoyable starting over from scratch, using new techniques, styles and ideas that you've developed in a previous playthrough.

Next time 'round, though, I'm considering making a shift from the generic small-village structure and moving to making a larger contemporary city, with wider roads, taller buildings (taking advantage of the expanded height limit), and more modern facades - things like iron instead of wood, and lots more light, open spaces. And since I don't have to worry about villagers being generated for me anymore (since you can spawn them anywhere), maybe it's time to think up some radical new approaches to housing and communities in the brave new world - living inside self-contained floating spheres, perhaps? We'll soon see!

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