Complete the Monument

renderXR takes us through building CTM maps!

Ever tried playing a 'Complete the Monument' map? If you've never heard of Complete the Monument (CTM for short), and are currently about to smash your computer in a bitter confused rage, whoa, whoa, whoa! Calm down, friend! Allow me to explain.

Complete the Monument is a mini-game. Your goal is to survive hostile terrain and enemies while finding objects. Typically you’re seeking out 16 wool blocks but sometimes creators use discs and even optional objectives like gems. Then you use those objects to complete the building of a monument. Simple! But better be quick – in multiplayer, everyone is trying to complete it first!

My favourite CTM maps are cleverly constructed obstacle courses that find sly ways to challenge players during their collect-a-thon. I spoke to renderXR, the builder behind a series of acclaimed CTM maps, the Untold Stories, to find out what goes into making a Monument completion quest to remember.

renderXR’s an artist, one that's studied a variety of art styles, including monotypes and charcoal paintings, along with researching architecture. He was naturally drawn to Minecraft’s capability for creative expression.

Untold Stories 4: Corona Trials, renderXR’s latest creation, was a gruelling 300 hour project that he fought through while keeping a specific mantra in mind: “Keep going.”

“If you want something done you need to put effort in. If you aren't doing anything you should move on to the next task,” he says. “Keep going and don't stop, because as long as you are determined and you keep doing something related to the project, you will achieve your goal.”

Tom: After reading Charles' article, I decided to give the Corona Trials a shot! Like all good games, it starts with you dangerously close to the edge of a steep fall. Don't worry. You can't fall. I tried pushing Emily in to check.

Tom: What a friendly sign! I wish everyone in the Mojang office greeted me this politely, rather than spitting on me and demanding I make them cakes.

Tom: Handy rulebooks tell you how to play! Or, if you're cool like me, you ignore these nerdy guides and start playing! Then you die loads. Then you walk back in shame and read the rules properly. While everyone laughs at you. Let's move on.

Tom: Brrrr! Wish I'd known it was going to be this cold. I wouldn't have packed so many bikinis. Also, now that the CTM quest has started, I can take fall damage. Found that out the hard way...

Tom: 27 EMERALDS?!? I'd be so rich I could buy the sky so I can have my favourite weather every day! Is that how money works? Who cares? I'll be rich – I won't need to know how things work anymore!

Tom: I found an emerald! But alas, instead of getting filthy rich, I got filthy dead. These zombies found me. I begged Emily to let me inside the shelter of the house, but she hadn't forgotten my attempt to push her off the edge earlier. Drat!

renderXR sharpened his gaming skills on games like Super Meat Boy, a title known for its incredible difficulty, and The Legend of Zelda, a title known for making it really hard to finish writing this article when I'm still playing it at 5AM.

These weren't his only influences. During his earliest Minecraft experiences, renderXR came across a pretty expansive adventure map called The Four Towers by Wreckage. In it, you had to escape a prison to find your family and friends.

“Keep going and don't stop, because as long as you are determined and you keep doing something related to the project, you will achieve your goal.”

“At the time I was also obsessed with flying islands so I searched around for a flying island survival map, which brought me to Vechs' Infernal Sky map — my first CTM map,” he says. “After completing those maps I started to realise what the possibilities [are] with this game. You can make so many different adventures and challenges with your imagination being the limit.”

On the creative end, one of his first builds was a pyramid with a falling trap. Almost a year later and after playing a few built by others, he tried his hand at creating his own Capture The Monument map. “I made 2 CTM maps that I never released to the public called The Never Ending Caves and the Voyage of Flames,” says renderXR. “To me they felt like the quality wasn't good enough so I decided to scrap them.”

He followed those experiments up in December 2014 with Untold Stories: Goliath and actually published this one for others to experience. The second, Untold Story: Bigleaf Forest, came only a month later in January. The two weren’t perfect but renderXR took the mixed feedback he received, spent a little extra time to shape his ideas, and released Untold Stories: Myriad Caves a few months later.

Tools and plugins like Voxel Sniper, World Edit, MCedit, and World Painter were used to shape the Corona Trials, where a fluctuating temperature is your main adversary as you collect your objectives. Players start in Winterbound and the following areas are progressively warmer. “The hotter the map becomes the crazier the areas get,” renderXR says.

He was inspired by Infernal Sky and a couple other CTM maps, specifically Three_Two's Vinyl Fantasy Series and Vechs' Super Hostile Series, the latter of which he credits as the creator of the CTM genre. The inspiration for the temperature aspect of Corona Trials, though, came from the actions of players that wrecked his previous creations.

“The theming of the map came from players burning down forested areas in my previous maps. I wanted to limit fire for the most part, but when I was done with forests I allowed the usage of fire,” he explained. “Subsequently it gave me the idea to make the map's area themes go from cold temperatures to warmer temperatures.”

As tough as Corona Trials can be, renderXR actually toned down the difficulty a bit after receiving requests to ease up after Untold Stories 3: Myriad Caves. He specifically made this one to welcome newcomers to the CTM genre with a more linear design, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be a cakewalk.

Often discovering a strong map-making community is what inspires Minecraft builders to start work on their own creations – but for renderXR it was the opposite. A player let him know that he was streaming the first Untold Stories map. The player invited him into the server and, after seeing just how much fun it was to share with others, he leapt at the opportunity when that same player invited him into a group that shared a passion for CTM maps.

Tom: After my humiliating failure of a first attempt, I decided to read the rules more carefully before trying to Complete the Monument again. Seems I'm allowed to craft the materials for the monument. Perfect! Er, how do you craft in this game again?

Tom: But honestly, who needs to complete some stupid monument anyway when you've just found SWEET LOOT. I got to this chest by heroically smashing through a wall of glass. Less heroic – the cave-in I caused which crushed my feeble boy body.

Tom: I also found 'The Tune of Gale' which powers me up! Now I was stronger than ever, I decided to celebrate by chucking a snowball at Emily. But she was too far away, busy completing the monument and winning again. Darn!

Tom: And finally, here's a screenshot of me successfully completing the monument! Where is it? Er, it's invisible. Shut up, yes it is.

“There are mainly map makers, but there are also some small let's players and streamers,” he says. “With so many mapmakers intermingling, there are frequent map-making events being held. One such event is a game jam for CTM Maps called the Strawberry Jam, where participants make a shorter, three-objective map in 72 hours.

“Seeing people have fun in my creation is really satisfying, because I know I did the job right,” he says. “I start to talk to these people for feedback and make new friends as you share the same passion for these types of maps.”

As renderXR gains more experience and touches more people with his creations, hopefully his passion will continue to grow in the thriving CTM community! And who knows? Maybe one day he’ll even rebuild those two maps he never shared, the true untold stories in his library.