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We talk to the members of the Elysium Fire collective following the release of their Minecraft space map featuring the magnificent Ariane 5
Jérémy, Teva and William – aka Bestofthelife, Ptichinois2nc, and Ecch0 – are a team of creative, technically savvy map-makers.
What is Minecraft and what is the purpose of the game?
Originally a “survival” game, Minecraft’s “sandbox” mode offers participants an opportunity to really get in touch with their creativity and use their imagination. Users are prompted to use their ingenuity to solve problems, and to build and shape their gaming environments to tell stories.
At the moment, the most creative players simply concentrate on its inventive and constructive aspects.
What do Minecraft map-makers do and how do you become one?
Minecraft map-makers are, first and foremost, builders. They create the game setting; players have fun exploring every nook and cranny the mapmakers create.
Map-makers focus on the creative aspect of the build as well as on the “gameplay” – the way players interact within the map.
There are no training programs for map-makers. People usually get into it just because they love it. Sometimes completely by chance; it’s a bit like when lightning strikes unexpectedly and set things alight.
Does space have a special resonance for you? Is that what inspired you to create the Ariane 5 map?
For us, the conquest of space is setting out to discover the unknown. A bit like when we start to build a new map. Every space exploration mission brings new inventions and big technological advances. That’s the idea we wanted to convey by putting the iconic Ariane 5 launcher, which has performed so many successful missions, center stage on our map.
In your world, players find themselves in an eerie nocturnal landscape, with strange rocky formations and plants. Tell us about the map’s graphic design, its general atmosphere and what inspired your style?
We wanted to create an environment divorced from our reality, resembling nothing on Earth. We focused on large rock formations that seem to defy gravity as we know it on Earth. Actually, although it might seem strange, our main source of inspiration was not space, but the ocean depths here on planet Earth!
How long does it take to build a map, and are the major challenges?
Building the map itself took a little over a month, working at a rate of two to three hours per day. But before starting to build per se we had to assess how the gameplay (the players actually interacting with the environment) would work in the context of the map we were creating. This was the main challenge in imagining this universe which we to be wanted full of surprises and lots of mini-games, from straight runs to flying races.
Do you think that Minecraft is a good educational tool for young people? Do you think it offers a way to learn about space and to have fun doing it?
There are several ways to play Minecraft. As players and builders, the game gives the opportunity to think about physics in space, structures, logic, programming, even electricity. Many of these ideas are fundamental to the work of space engineers.
Even though the environment we have created does not represent every aspect of space, such as gravity for example, we wanted to include lots of information about the history of Ariane launchers, and in particular about the fabulous Ariane 5.
It is really important for us that players have fun – and that they learn while having fun!