The Mountain and the Village
What stories does this mysterious mountain hold?
If your walls could talk, what would they say? They’d probably remark how you put way too much time into Minecraft – in which case, whoa, chill out walls – this is a judgement free zone.
While the walls in your bedroom probably can’t comment beyond your gaming habits and the sock that’s been stuck behind the drawer for years, imagine if a mountain could talk. One that’s seen the birth, growth, and fall of an empire. What would it say? That’s the very question Lmaoki seeks to answer with The Mountain and the Village.
Starting as a would-be entrant in The Journey Through Time contest, The Mountain and the Village grew to become an epic tale through time and tragedy. “The whole idea behind this project started with a question,” Lmaoki explains. “What would happen if I tried to personify a mountain?”
After that initial question, Lmaoki’s curiosity grew. He wanted to know how a sentient mountain would interact with humans, and through his ever-evolving and growing list of ‘what ifs’ and ‘hows’, the story of the Mountain and the Village was born.
“I was particularly inspired by Greek tragedies, because in my opinion, they’re more thought-provoking than the traditional ‘happy ending’.”
The love for stories where everyone dies at the end (looking at you, 300) wasn’t the only inspiration Lmaoki took from the Greeks – he also borrowed a bit of their architecture. “The build is based of the city of Santorini in the Greek Isles. I hadn’t really seen many builds that evoked this kind of style in Minecraft so I thought I’d be the first.”
The Mountain and the Village is definitely a first for storytelling, where a dynamic and evolving build, rather than a static, singular, image is used to tell a complete story.
“Storytelling through Minecraft is all about visual communication,” he explains, “you’re telling a narrative through blocks instead of words. To tell the best story, it’s important to convey the core themes and ideas within the build alone, and only use text to fill in the details.”
Details like the little homes you can see dotting the narrow roadways. Lmaoki talks about some of his favorites. “The best part of the build is achieving the packed-city look with all the winding staircases and buildings, looking exactly the same as what you can see in Santorini.”
It was so challenging to create such a busy city center on an island that Lmaoki missed the deadline for the Journey Through Time Contest.
“I started late into the contest and so I only had about 12 days to complete the whole thing,” he explains. “By the time the contest was over, parts of the island were still empty, and there was no vegetation. In the end, I didn’t finish and so I took an extra 4 days to complete the rest.”
Lessons to be learned here? Trust your process people, never be afraid to work until it's done.
Lmaoki’s hard work paid off well for him, but not for the people who live on the mountain. “The story I crafted for this village was that [SPOILER ALERT] a civil war fueled by corruption eventually escalated, sparking a fire that tore down the empire and its people. The few survivors fled to neighboring lands/factions as refugees.”
After that, silence.
Jeez, grim much? But Lmaoki likes the grim, prefers it even. When asked if he thought about telling more of this story, he didn’t hesitate with his answer.
“Probably not. I felt like a tragic conclusion was a satisfying way to end the story.”
It’s best, then, to leave the mountain to its slumber.
Cinematic by The Bird
- Ash Davis