A massive fantasy land, years in the making
Sometimes it’s hard to know when to stop building.
“I started with a ship,” says Smurf Masher. “A ship that needed a harbour, a harbour that needed a castle to defend it, and then a castle that needed a village to justify it, and so on until I ended up with millions of blocks laid.”
The result is Ephedion, a sprawling fantasy kingdom, entirely built on Console Edition, that encompasses two major cities and a huge hollow mountain concealing a dwarven ruin. It’s as vast as it is intricately detailed, and largely the work of Smurf Masher alone, although many renowned Xbox builders have leant a hand or some advice.
“I started it when the 360 edition was released in May 2012,” says Smurf Masher. “I built in Survival Mode until Creative Mode came out which I jumped on immediately! I was very lucky to be featured on the Xbox Gamehub three years ago. Looking back now, my city was nothing amazing - however, being featured opened up the community to me and I began to meet amazing builders who were years beyond my level, and I befriended them, built with them, and learned from them. Some notable builders who have helped me over the years include The Dark of Mya, lH O lD O IR, LorD of GoDz - they did the dwarven statue - kiriC0uille, WafflyPum3736, and so many more.”
Even with expert assistance, it’s unusual to find builds of this grandeur that aren’t the result of a committed community effort. “I have never been in a build team,” says Smurf. “90% of my world was laid block by block, solo, on rainy Sundays. OK, most Sundays - even if the sun is shining!”
Smurf has clearly learnt a lot across the course of the build. One bit of wisdom Smurf imparts is to be aware of how a build evolves, from blocking out square houses with layered walls, through a detailing phase in which colours, slabs and steps are added, to a final remodelling phase in which straight lines are broken and large patches of uniform texture are muddled up, to make the build feel more organic.
To avoid laying down large patches of samey blocks, Smurf suggests filling out your build bar with a selection of blocks that all fit within a palette. “Then hold the right bumper to cycle through them as you hold the build trigger to lay blocks. Instant randomisation! This is how I built my mountain.”
Some would have be content to leave the build there - but not Smurf.
“Of course my mountain now needs a dragon inside it,” Smurf says. “And the dragon needs a dwarven ruin to hide in and…”
So here's to checking in on Ephedion in another five years time!
Block block block...