Amazing mod recreates SimCity 2000 towns in Minecraft, down to the trees

Amazing mod recreates SimCity 2000 towns in Minecraft, down to the trees

Image for article titled Incredible Mod recreates SimCity 2000 towns in Minecraft, down to the trees

Image: Jernej Gosar

The year is 1994. You are playing Sim City 2000 and you think, man, wouldn’t it be amazing if I could somehow get into the game and walk these streets.

The year is 1997. You are playing SimCopter, which says on the box that you can explore the streets of the city you’ve created, but it sucks and looks like crap. You keep dreaming of a seemingly unattainable future.

The year is 2022 and, ultimately, you can do it. You can take the Sim City 2000 except you’ve been dragging around for almost 30 years, convert it into a modern video game and roam its streets as if you were born there and on your way to work. The only catch is that it’s very hard to do. And you actually play Minecraftnot SimCity.

Jernej Gosar, a software developer from Slovenia, is the man to thank for this mod, which reads a Sim City 2000 save the file and recreate it as best it can in Minecraft. “The main reason I decided to do this project was because I thought it would be really cool,” he tells me. “Sim City 2000 has been one of my favorite games since i was a kid and one day i thought it would be extremely cool to hit the streets and explore them.

In 2014, after gaining enough experience in coding through his studies and various IT jobs, he set to work to fulfill this childhood dream. Also very interested Minecrafthe saw a few mods where people had found ways to import Sim City 2000 terrain maps in Minecraftbut not the buildings and the city itself.

“So I decided to do it myself,” he says. “If I remember correctly, the basic idea was implemented within a few weeks. I was really lucky that someone wrote a detailed specification of the SimCity 2000 file formatotherwise this project could not even start.

“Probably the biggest challenge was digging into the bytes of both file formats and ultimately creating something that could actually be opened in Minecraft,” he says. The next big hurdle was simply the time it took to recreate the buildings, as even the simplest ones could take hours, but with the added bonus that, because it was a first-person adventure, Gosar’s work generated an interior (and sometimes even furniture from base) to accompany the exterior of the building.

“I haven’t finished all the buildings yet, and doing the more complicated ones (like the Arcologies) would be a big effort,” he says. “Generally, the smaller buildings only take a few hours to complete, including some indoor furniture appropriate to the type of building. And bigger ones can take a few days. The most complex building I’ve done so far was the large corporate tower, which was a big effort.

While the actual working of the mod is incredibly complex – Gosar says “at the moment it’s not usable at all for people who aren’t software developers” – when you break it down what it does in principle is actually quite simple. It’s basically taking a Sim City 2000 map and associating each pixel with a Minecraft to block. This helps the mod communicate between the two games and also helps scale everything up.

This does not mean that the conversion process always goes smoothly. In addition to the complexity issues above, Gosar says “in some cases I encountered 2D building structures that weren’t actually possible to recreate in 3D”, with one example being that some buildings were in do drawn as Penrose stairs instead of functional 3D spaces.

“Another problem is that Minecraft is limited to 256 blocks in height, so if there are a lot of hills in the city, the higher parts can be cut,” he adds. “Otherwise, the accuracy is supposed to be close to 100%, and make the Minecraft world with a tool that generates an isometric representation of it should show something very close to the original of Sim City 2000.”

Here is an example. The picture below is a Sim City 2000 metropolis built by Gosar:

Image for article titled Incredible Mod recreates SimCity 2000 towns in Minecraft, down to the trees

Image: Jernej Gosar

And here is that same city, translated into Minecraft and fully accessible on foot. Note how it even manages to catch the small individual trees and bushes in front of some buildings:

Mine City 2000

While this video highlights some of the basic interiors the mod generates for some of the buildings in the game:

MineCity 2000 + some building interiors

Moving forward, Gosar says he would like to “make the project more usable”, lowering the bar for people to use and understand it, ideally in the form of an online tool that would allow users to download a Sim City 2000 save and he gave a Minecraft world back.

For now, however, given that he has a busy day job, he “doesn’t have a lot of time to work on it, but I guess the recent attention the project has received is good motivation for the move forward”. If you are brave and want to try for yourself, you can find the project here.

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