If you were wondering what this tutorial is about, it is for building a settlement (i.e. village, town, city). This is different to the "Building a Metropolis" tutorial, as it is a guide on how to classify different types of settlements, as well as what goes in each type. Also, it covers other aspects.
In Survival mode it is recommended to build your settlement in flat grounds, like deserts, plains, swampland and savanna biomes. If you don't want mobs to ruin your work, set to peaceful difficulty. However, the process of building a settlement may be more enjoyable with the challenge and risk of invaders. Another option is to disable mobGriefing so that Creepers/Enderman do not ruin your builds, but can still attack. Survival with its risk and restrictions might teach you resource management skills.
In Creative mode you have all resources available. This means you can build your settlement anywhere. However, because there are no restrictions, you might be puzzled how to build your settlement. Therefore, you will need some directions in order to start. My experience is that it's actually easier to build settlements in an area where there are obstructions and terrain features such as trees, rivers and hills, compared to plain super flat mode. You will have a better time visualizing your place on the terrain.
It is recommended to publish your creation to a server, so people can experience your settlement and provide feedback.
Types of Settlement
In our world, small and big communities have varying structures and features. A small community's appearance depends on how they live. How are you going to dimension your settlement? My natural take is to adapt a Minecraft visitor without being able to fly. So they have to walk, ride horses, use an elytra, or travel by railway. This may a factor when you build your settlement. Additionally, consider if your community may only exist if it is supported by a bigger one, or if they are independent.
In Minecraft, settlements should normally not be chaotic. Although, settlements of your style can look chaotic. I cannot decide for you. The types this guide mentions are suggestions to help you find inspiration for your settlement.
It is for your best that you see three main types of settlements: villages, towns and cities. There are also other types suggested like hamlets, boroughs and conurbations (1.4). However, it is up to you how you distinguish them. It is easier to start by building your house, a neighbor, a neighborhood, a shop and then... a village, to then expand, modify and upgrade to Town status and finally City. You will see:
Have you ever discovered an NPC village? The iconic churches and farmlands? This is a typical village. They have about five-ten houses, a community house for parties/festivities and a library. Notice that all buildings are connected to the street, but not usually to each other. And the street all connect to a village center, the well. These are important characteristics of a village.
- A center
- branching gravel streets( grass paths for Pocket Edition or Desktop update 1.9+ ) that connects all structures
- residential houses and community buildings
- a landmark (e.g. church tower, monument, a river)
- farmland/food supplied from a larger settlement
- isolated (no special roads connecting other settlements)
This makes it an easy starting point for settlement, just build on an existing one generated by Minecraft!
As you grow and get inspired while building your village, it is important to add some structure to the road. One method is to form a main street, with good lighting, which runs through the village to the center. Community buildings may face each other in that street. Other streets that branch out from the side may have residential houses connected. This gives the impression of an organised village, which have some urban touch. These villages have a more unique style and culture (e.g. like the way roofs are formed, community "attractions", etc.)
Business-wise, small settlements look genuine if it has a market place. If that is not possible, add primitive small shops like bakery, blacksmith, school and forgery. They should have their respective buildings. In order to establish these, make sure that the village has become "wealthy" enough, in terms of village habitants (say 30 people = 9 houses can support these services).
If you continue to expand your village and make it a town: you might discover that there are so many residents, that the distance to the services is too long, say 120-200 m (when walking takes time in Minecraft). People who explore the city by walking may find it easier to navigate if you use all the available space inside the village, while at the same time increase the size of the buildings. One way to do this is by placing the houses together in one building, with 2 - 4 floors. This would essentially be called a residential building, which have the volume of about 4 houses At this point, the bakery, blacksmith and schools in village do not have to be placed in individual buildings, but in the same building on the first floor. This gives more space to niche markets to appear (wool shop, jewelry, cloth store, meat restaurant, fish restaurant, etc.) in the same building. This would essentially be called a department store. Now you centralize the society and it stimulates activity in the core of the town.
While the community grows, there should be a wider range of services and attractions, as well as being a primary destination on highways, the need for community services intensifies. It must have dedicated structures for hotels, hospital, museums, social places.
These are important characteristics of a town provided in this guide:
- Larger centers (open places), denser structures, organised streets
- Services or structures that share common interests are grouped or clustered together.
- More attractions
- Established road - typically in the main street
- Well known and have connections with other settlements
- Primitive train station, docking area
The city has a lot of resources. It is because it is normally the "capital" of a region. The ways to show this is by building vertically (offices, skyscrapers or use expensive material (suggesting: clay, glass). It is basically an "upgraded" version of a town, and is usually larger. Cities are main hubs for everything. It becomes the attraction and therefore it must offer services most places do not give. To support the inhabitants, it must have at least 30 houses and 5 different commercial services. Otherwise, have at least one of the following: a large religious building, industrial center or university. In a city like this, you could imagine a scenario where the inhabitants and visitors come to work, on trips, holiday or to party. They usually have homes in a suburb some distance away. Which means you will need a neat collective transit system and well established roads.
Instead of continuing to group and centralize the services in a town, the society has probably come to a point where the city itself gets so urbanized, that it needs some arrangement. Perhaps make zones to include residential, commercial, industrial places etc. respectively. More details about this is in the tutorial "Building a Metropolis". Cities are well known throughout the entire continent, and have connections with towns. Capital Cities also contain Government Buildings, maybe even a palace.
These are important characteristics of a city provided in this guide
- Downtown, bigger and higher structures, different streets and road standards
- Capital status: government institutions and departments
- Transit system across districts - dedicated train stations, signage
- Services (education institutions, hospital have their own property)
- While residential, commercial and industrial areas are put in districts,
- More attractions than a Minecraft Town could offer - a nice, green park, swimming hall, sport hall, concert halls, bars
Other types of Settlement
Smaller than a village. A hamlet is simply a small group of houses with little or no commercial services. It may not even be named!
A very large town that doesn't have official city status. It must have at least 30 houses and can have some city characteristics, as well as be part of a larger city, but doesn't meet the requirements to become a city itself.
Many towns and cities merged into one really large urban area. Just build at least two or three different towns and/or cities close enough to each other to be seen as one.
A massive city with plenty of skyscrapers and high-rise buildings. Usually a combination of boroughs.
Challenge yourself by thinking socioeconomically; how do the resources available (cobblestone, wood, farms, etc.) appear visually on your settlement? You don't have to assess this beforehand. At least, for a visitor, it creates the illusion of a genuine place to be at. This comes naturally in Survival mode, but in creative, it may be a relevant question. Do you build your settlement out of stone, when there is no quarries, mountains, or access to a shaft nearby?
Naming Your Settlement
You can name your settlement before or after you have begun.
One of the easiest queues to names are the associations to the place. Town's and city's names derive from nature, region, other's name or a mix of these. Many places have same suffixes (word added at the end). You can use names from cartoons or video games.
- River in the plains - "Flat River Village/Town/City"
- Jungle Mountain - "Monkhill Village/Town/City"
- Forest - "Bush Village/Town/City"
- Swamp - "Wet Village/Town/City"
You can name your place after it has taken shape so it is looks thematically correct. Like if your place use a lot of stone material and have sharp roofs, it may be called "Rocky Point Village/City/Town". Ask yourself; why are the Rocky Mountains in North America called Rocky Mountains?
If else, look for names of real towns and cities (possibly around your area in real life) or dig through this fantasy name generator. The fantasy name generator has an enormous name database, having 500 generators for names you could not imagine. Navigate to "place names".
You can use them to mix and match suffixes and prefixes. Here is a list of some suffixes you can fit on the end of the settlement's name with all examples being names of real places in Great Britain.
-ton (e.g. Northampton) -town (e.g. Newtown) -don (e.g. London) -dale (e.g. Rochdale) -ville (e.g. Bourneville) -chester (e.g. Manchester) -field (e.g. Sheffield) -gate (e.g. Ramsgate) -burg(h) (e.g. Edinburgh) -borough (e.g. Scarborough) -market (e.g. Newmarket) -port (e.g. Southport) -head (e.g. Birkenhead) -bridge (e.g. Cambridge) -mouth (e.g. Portsmouth) -ham (e.g. Nottingham) -ford (e.g. Oxford) -church (e.g. Whitchurch) -bury (e.g. Shrewsbury) -bourne (e.g. Eastbourne) -wood (e.g. Brentwood) -wich (e.g. Norwich) -sea (e.g. Swansea) -end (e.g. Southend)
Highways and Route Numbering
When your expand your settlement, it will need systematic routes and highways for your visitors. Here are some methods, using a sign:
- Color marks
- Number system - Route 1, 2, 3 ...
- Letter system - (Route: A1, Route: B1)
- Classed system - (Major route terminating at cities: A1, Minor route terminating at towns: B1, Expressway connecting main cities: M1)
- Combined system, using subway charts with color references and end-stations.
So if your visitor travels to your Town, and not your City. He or she needs to be able to easily orientate and find the correct line or route leading to that place.
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