In fall 2019, U of M College of Science and Engineering junior Khang Lu joined 10-20 other U of M students to create a virtual replica of campus as a joke.
But their creation of the Minecraft server Goldycraft, containing a still-growing, scale model of the Twin Cities campus, took on added meaning for students when classes moved online in March 2020.
Minecraft, a popular video game that allows players to build virtual structures in a 3-D world, was perfect for recreating campus architecture. While nothing beats the real thing, Goldycraft’s detailed and extensive model captures a sense of what it’s like to walk around in Golden Gopher territory.
The team drew on Google satellite images, but to ensure accurate building depictions they also took their own photos and even used drones to get into places where Google has never tread. And they strategically place "villagers" to recreate where real people hang out.
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback [because] a lot of people were sent home to different states or even countries [and] they can’t really see the campus,” Lu says. “So, being able to walk around in a virtual campus, albeit Minecraft, it makes a lot of people happy.”
Also, “I think it's a great way for people to connect, considering not many people can see each other or greet face-to-face anymore. The more people that join the server, the better it is.”
Lu says there’s no end to the places and details that can be included in Goldycraft, and he hopes the server will be passed on to future generations of Gopher students and alums.