With some Cornellians studying from home and prospective students barred from official visits, some students have created a new way to explore campus — a virtual replica on Minecraft.
The Minecraft campus boasts Cornell staples like the Slope and the Clocktower, all the Central Campus quads and buildings, all to scale.
The project co-founders, Brandon Axelrod ’21 and Jesse Potts ’21 created the Cornell campus using New York State topological data and Google Maps, relying on those resources to ensure that everything they were building was in proportion.
According to Potts, the Cornell Craft team chose to build the server on Minecraft because the game itself was part of many people’s childhoods and its popularity would lower barriers to entry for students to participate in the server.
Currently, the project has finished 90 percent of its virtual Central Campus with only small details, like trees, remaining. However, the project still has a lot of work to do on the West Campus and North Campus sections, tasks that they hope to continue during winter break.
Apart from finishing the campus, the team hopes to make the server more interactive and replicate the Cornell campus as much as possible.
“Some ideas we floated around were working TCATs that mimic the actual bus schedule so you can even get a feel for the bus routes,” said Faizaan Datoo ’23, the project’s lead developer.
Axelrod added that the smaller details would help give a sense of the campus beyond pictures online, hopefully becoming a resource for future students.
The project has had around 25 builders contribute to the project — ranging from incoming freshmen to alumni — but more than 1,000 students have participated and visited the server.
“It was a great way to connect people of all different [class] years and with all their various backgrounds and things like that,” Axelrod said.
Beyond the free exploration on the virtual campus, the server has an automatic virtual tour based on the official Cornell tour guide scripts, offering the same information on popular destinations.
Mini-games like chess and tetris offer other opportunities for members of the broader Cornell community to interact with one another. But the team hopes to include more Cornell-themed games, like a racing mini-game where one sleds down the Slope on a box, to capture more elements of Cornell life than just the campus, according to Datoo.
The server can be accessed by entering “play.cornellcraft.com” into Minecraft Multiplayer. Students interested in becoming builders can apply on their website.