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  • Writer's pictureAidan Graham

Building Berk: How Gamemode One Brought How to Train Your Dragon to Minecraft

Updated: Jan 5

At Gamemode One, we are known for our faithful adaptations of cherished worlds into Minecraft. Our dedication to creativity and authenticity is evident in all our projects. This includes our venture into the How to Train Your Dragon world. We are not only fans of the franchises we adapt; we are enthusiasts too. We are excited to give life to these magical worlds and their captivating stories.


But what does it take to build these immersive worlds? How can we turn a blank canvas into an engaging experience? In this blog post, our talented level designer and passionate builder, Brandon Walsh, will share his insights. Join us and discover the challenges, decisions, and dedication behind this project. Are you ready to unleash your inner Viking and soar into the skies with your very own dragon companion? Let's dive in!

 

Key art for How to Train Your Dragon in Minecraft

 

Before our team could embark on executing their vision for the How to Train Your Dragon DLC, they needed to create a well-defined outline and make some tough decisions. The world of How to Train Your Dragon is vast. Not everything from the movies and TV shows made it into our DLC. With limitations on map sizing and a vast array of characters and locations, choices had to be made to pick the most iconic areas to recreate.

The journey started by making gray box scales of the world. These scales showed what could be captured within the height and size limits of Minecraft. These gray boxes were then placed in the world to determine the distances between different areas, ensuring enough space for dragon flight gameplay.

 

The size of Berk in the Movies vs an early greybox scale in Minecraft

 

One of the primary challenges faced by the team was the height limit in Minecraft at that time, which was 256 blocks. To create Berk, a vast city with a towering mountain, required careful planning. The goal was to fit everything within the limited space. After careful consideration, the team settled on a height of approximately 200 blocks for Berk, leaving an additional 50 blocks for the mountain. This meant that the ocean could only be four blocks deep to accommodate the overall layout. The goal was to capture the essence of Berk and make it feel true to the original while ensuring an enjoyable player experience, so the ocean wasn’t as important.


Berk, being the central hub of the map, demanded extensive research and attention to detail. The team analyzed concept art and references from both the movies and spin-off shows to ensure accuracy in its design. Building Berk presented unique challenges due to its slanted design, which had to be adjusted to create an enjoyable exploration experience while maintaining the appearance of a slanted island.

 

Showing off Berk's angle, Berk as it's seen in game, the reference of Berk in the Films, and the two overlapped.

 

The team carefully selected eight unique islands to be part of the world, each offering a distinct and non-repetitive experience. However, fitting all these islands into a world that measured 2000 by 2000 blocks required thoughtful consideration of the spacing between them to evoke a sense of distance. However, scale isn’t the only challenge when building a world like this, the process of choosing the best blocks, textures, and tools for the project was a collaborative effort among the team members.

Art and building went hand in hand to create a visually appealing and immersive world. The scale and design of structures played a significant role in influencing the player's experience. Each island was crafted to be unique, offering a fresh and non-repetitive adventure. The team paid meticulous attention to colors, textures, lighting, and location to evoke different moods and feelings in players.

 

The Bird House as seen in Minecraft. Look at all those custom blocks!

 

To ensure accuracy, the team set up multiple camera angles throughout the world, using them to compare with the concept art and ensure scale consistency. Overlays of concept art on the build provided valuable guidance, allowing them to make adjustments as needed. The level of research and thoughtfulness put into creating an accurate map highlights the team's dedication to delivering a high-quality experience. Brandon’s proudest accomplishment is Eret's Fort, which closely resembles its movie counterpart and captures the cinematic magic.

 

Erit's fort as it's seen in game, in How to Train Your Dragon 2, and then the two overlapped

 

Building a project of this magnitude is not without its difficulties, but with experience and passion, the team at Gamemode One was well-prepared for the task. Brandon, having worked on previous large-scale projects, found this endeavor less daunting. He advises aspiring builders and level designers to approach their creations with intent, giving them purpose and a story that will engage and captivate players.


How to Train Your Dragon is available for purchase on the Minecraft Marketplace!

We extend our congratulations to Brandon as our new Game Director! His passion and dedication have truly brought Berk to life in Minecraft, and will continue to bring life to our projects in the future. To stay connected with his work and get a behind-the-scenes look at Gamemode One, you can find him on X @Aeriooos!

For updates on our future projects and to support our creative endeavors, follow us on X, Instagram, TikTok, and join our Discord community. Thank you for joining us on this extraordinary journey, and may your dragons soar high in the skies of Minecraft!

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