A group of bored students who missed seeing their friends at school decided to replicate the entire Temasek Polytechnic campus in Minecraft.
With Singapore’s tertiary institutions still closed due to the pandemic, students learning from home like 18-year-old Ralph Frialde and friends have some extra time on their hands. They used it to recreate the 30-hectare campus in the sandbox video game that allows players to build almost anything in low-res glory.
“In the beginning, it was just a normal survival Minecraft server for our friends. After a while, we got bored of playing survival and decided to build our campus because we knew that with the COVID-19 situation, we would not be able to visit our school for a while and we kind of missed going back to the campus,” Frialde told Coconuts Singapore today.
He has played Minecraft since 2012 and started building the Tampines campus after getting bored with its standard survival mode, in which players craft elaborate hideouts and defeat monsters.
TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK
The project started in early April with over 40 current and former Temasek Poly students, some of whom were recruited via Instagram and communicate with via Discord, a chat service popular with gamers.
As of today, 90% of the entire campus has been built. That includes its iconic entrance and stadium along with the schools of engineering, business, and design.
In order to make it as accurate as possible, the team based it not just on memory but also referred to photos of the school found online and taken by students allowed back on campus after some lockdown measures were lifted.
“After the circuit breaker, students who were able to go back to school has helped us by taking pictures of the interior of the school and sending it to our Discord channel. The rest of it would be based on our memory,” he wrote.
They also relied heavily on the school’s VR tour.
The team’s fastest build was the school’s outdoor basketball court, which took only 30 minutes. The longest was the business school, that took about 13 weeks due to its more complicated architecture.
“This is because of how blocky Minecraft is and we [had] difficulties as [the] business school is slanted at around 45 degrees in real life and trying to replicate that slant in Minecraft, it’s hard,” he added.
Frialde’s personal favorite build is the school’s main entrance, known as The Plaza, where students frequently hang out. It was the area that jump-started the entire project.
“My favourite is actually The Plaza. It’s my favourite because it’s the first thing I had built on this project and it’s the one that kept the ball rolling till this date. It took us around 4 weeks in total to really get it to look as close as it is in real life,” he said.
The team is currently recruiting more builders to complete the project. Unfinished is the Singapore Institute of Technology campus, or SIT@TP, which is linked by the same plot of land.
“Most of the exteriors are done but some interiors are still a bit empty,” Frialde said. “For example, we’ve built SIT@TP exterior but the interior is still empty because we do not know how it looks inside because none of our builders has ever been inside there,” he wrote.
Their public server welcomes all Minecraft players to roam the campus. Frialde is also planning a Hunger Games-style event at the end of the semester, when most of the players are free.
The virtual campus brought back memories for some alumni and was even featured on the school’s Instagram page.
“The response from the public has mostly been positive! We’ve actually received comments that some students who graduated many years ago were able to come online to our server and relive their memories when they were a student in TP! … some courses in TP has their own Instagram page and had mentioned us on their IG page before!” he wrote.
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