Underwater Cities I Built in Minecraft

Anybody who has followed me for any length of time knows I’m a fanatic for the underwater world. In particular for the fascinating technology used to explore and inhabit it. So it should come as no surprise that I play Minecraft exclusively underwater.

My most recent, depicted in the cover image for this article, is by far neither the largest nor the deepest I have built. All were built in survival mode, never in creative, and as a result they look very “lived in” because they were. They needed to have all of the necessities to support long term habitation, so I could remain on the sea floor indefinitely.

This was my very first. It’s extremely crude. You’ll be forgiven for scoffing at all the ugly cobblestone and amatuerish construction:


It nevertheless racked up over 62,000 views. I wish I’d monetized it. Judging by the comments, it inspired a great many other players to build their own utopic settlements beneath the waves. Eventually I grew tired of the shallow seas in that early version of the game and used MCEdit to carve a deep sea trench, which I then built a smaller colony in, as well as a number of smaller nearby outposts;

This time, obviously, some hacking was used to obtain all that iron. But it was all built by hand in survival. If you’re wondering how we did it without drowning, see the illustrated guide here:

You may have seen it passed around elsewhere, I made it to share what I learned about how to build underwater efficiently.

You can see my second “real” colony in that pic. It was built on a Factions server, so I had quite a large crew living down there with me, and we had to constantly fend off raids from other factions. Luckily an undersea base is extremely defensible in Minecraft because explosions do not damage blocks that are immersed in water.

It was in unusually deep water too, on account of the custom map. This was a welcome return to the deep end for me, since building the Deep Trench Outpost only made me wish for a truly deep ocean to build a more expansive colony in. I am particularly pleased with the clustered apartment towers, which make efficient use of space and materials. Video tour below:

With each new colony I learned fresh lessons that I then applied to the next, refining my approach to minimize labor involved in construction, get self-sufficient quicker and quicker, and to keep my crew happy despite being cooped up deep underwater most of the time.

These lessons culminated in the third colony I built, “Nereus”. It’s once again in rather shallow water, though noticeably deeper than my first colony was built in. This was back when the ocean floor was still mostly sand, so all the sand we needed to smelt glass could be obtained from the seafloor. Video tour below:

After Nereus, I wanted to do something truly immense and ambitious. I gathered all my finest builders from the Nereus project and we joined the Damnation server, which hosted for us a custom map with a 200 unit deep ocean. The entire thing is just one incredibly deep ocean, there is no land anywhere.

This proved to be both a blessing and a curse. It meant we could built *up* more freely, not worried about buildings coming too close to the water’s surface. With such a large, talented and driven crew, the outcome was really something special:

The curse was that everybody was cooped up undersea full time. It was not possible to go to the surface for fresh air, to walk on land and spend some time exploring other biomes. It was just water, squid, seafloor and glass corridors everywhere you looked. Understandably people became weary of living this way. Still, what an amazing experience.

Like all good things, it eventually came to and end. I have such fond, bittersweet memories of Triton Colony. So much fun was had building and living in this city. It wasn’t even the only underwater colony on the server, either! All around the map, other people built their own deep sea settlements, connected to Triton by enclosed railway.

After Triton I was burned out on Minecraft for a long time. I put everything I had into that build. People just seemed to play less and less often until it was a ghost town. A depressing slow fadeout for such a spectacular build. But in its heyday, Triton was bustling. People running to and fro through the glass corridors, on their way to harvest materials to build the next grand module!

What crazy, fun times those were. Eventually I felt rejuvenated and wanted to return to building underwater in Minecraft again. But I wasn’t feeling social. I didn’t want to do anything with other people. So I built myself a smaller, modest underwater base with a focus on *amenities* and *technology*. That meant carpeting, decoration, and redstone machines:

There’s several videos of each of these colonies on that channel by the way, if you want to see a more thorough look at how they expanded over time. Anyways this one was lost in a hard drive crash. I upgraded to SSD after that. It was also a good opportunity to make the jump to the Win 10 version.

Why? Why would I do that when the Win 10 version has no mods and paid skins? Because I can play on the same server at home with my Oculus Rift that I can from anywhere in the world using my Gear VR. That’s too compelling to pass up. It allows me to access my build, in virtual reality, anywhere I am and at any time.

So, I joined a server I thought looked good and set about building my next colony. Very similar to the last, but much larger, using a couple different types of interlocking standardized modules that I’d become very practiced at efficiently constructing:

That’s where the story ends…for now. I can’t really explain why I am so obsessed with undersea living, but Minecraft is among the few games (Subnautica being another) which allows me to live out that fantasy in VR. It is a uniquely challenging, interesting way to play this game which adds a whole new level of complexity and problems to solve once you’ve mastered playing normally (on land).

It is the most defensible type of base for Factions servers, it is perfectly secured against creepers and other monsters when playing solo, it’s a uniquely serene and beautiful environment with squid swimming lazily past just outside the domes, and it demands more of a seasoned player to try to survive somewhere he cannot normally even breathe.

So if you love Minecraft but feel like you’ve done everything there is to do in it, think again. Fire it back up, gather some materials, and go choose the impossible.

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