The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss primarily revolves around Kvothe’s life at the University. The setting was the perfect place for the story, containing enough magic to keep me enamoured whilst anchoring itself with realistic descriptions and roles, but I always found myself reimagining what the author had described. I found that the description of the Archives to be boring, and that I imagined it not as a large, featureless cube, but as a great building fashioned after a Greek temple or as a cathedral-encased box. For me, the Medica looked more like a rounded off building rather than a ‘taller, less rambling version of Mains.’
Many voxel games have been released in recent years, Terraria, Space Engineers, Medieval Engineers and Minecraft to name a few, where the player is able to create anything they can imagine block by block. I have played some of them for many years and built many structures, but nothing drawn from outside inspiration.
Previously, I have seen multiple YouTubers building worlds inspired by famous books in Minecraft. YOGSCAST Sjin in particular has done many Let’s Build series. Recently, he finished making the town of Dale and the mountain city of Erebor from Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
So, why not build the University in Minecraft?
I wanted to create the world as I imagined it. However, I did entertain the possibility of creating a Minecraft rollercoaster, as nuropsych1 has done with Beetlejuice, Doctor Who and Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas.
My project was very much in line with Marie-Laure Ryan’s ideas in ‘Fictional Worlds in the Digital Age’. According to her, ‘”transfictionality” (Saint-Gelais 2005; Ryan 2006), consists of producing and posting texts that complete, modify, or stretch in time the worlds of preexisting literary texts, or that transpose their plots and characters into new environments. Transfictionality expresses the reader’s desire to free the fictional world from the control of the author and to see it live and evolve independently of the text that originally brought it to life.’ Basically, I wanted to see how The University would grow when free of the written word. When transposing and adapting it to Minecraft, I considered where each building should be in relation to one another by creating zones: residential, industrial etc. The residential district couldn’t be too far from Mains, but it had to be far away from the Fishery, and the Fishery had to be far apart from Medica. Medica would be best kept a little apart from other buildings but be close enough to react to medical emergencies. The Archives was one of the few locations with a definite position, being on ‘the horizon [as] the largest building in the University’ when Kvothe approached from the south.
Taking notes from The Name of the Wind only (any inconsistencies between the sequels and the first book would create complications if I decided to be loyal to the books), I began drafting a simple layout. However, as Hutcheon’s A Theory of Adaptation states, change is necessary in new forms of media as the ‘medium […] [does not have] an easy time transcoding print texts’ as ‘telling is not the same as showing.’ When modelled, Rothfuss’ plain descriptions of certain buildings, such as the Archives, were boring. So, I adapted them as per my needs.
Unfortunately, there were some buildings I couldn’t build for my adaptation. The Crockery is a large mansion to the north of The University where some students had been institutionalised. However, it lies in the middle of a forest, which means there must be a fair distance between the main campus and the Crockery. Because of the way Minecraft loads each chunk – a section of land – to build the Crockery at a suitable distance would unload The University I had already built, so I decided not to include it in my initial designs. If I had time at the end, I would go back and add to it.
Similarly, the Fishery was an industrial building where a lot of workshops were located and anything from smithing to dangerous artificing was taking place. Therefore, it needed to be far away from the main campus as pollution, contamination and fire would be a major hazard to the rest of The University. Therefore, it would be a little too far away from where I was building.
When it came to designing each building, I decided to use the very basic, introductory description given in the novel, and that I would then design them from there as per my own personal tastes. For instance, as you can see in the fourth episode of my YouTube videos ‘Let’s Build: Mews, Mess and Hollows of The University’ I design Mews much like its description as a compass rose, but cutting away one of the points to make room for an entrance.
The biggest issue I faced using Minecraft for my digital adaptation was the scale of the buildings. Because your character is two blocks high and one block takes up considerable space, everything felt scaled down and smaller than it should have been. Mews should have had more beds, for instance. However, to add more would mean making the building even larger, which would have made the building feel too large. As Hutcheon states ‘interactivity […] makes for different formal techniques: the sense of coherence is spatial and created by the player.’ For this reason, I contented myself with having less detail than I wanted because of the limitations imposed by the platform of my adaptation.
I used a Minecraft mod for the recording, CameraStudio available at sushenlab.com, which was easy to use in game and converted all videos into a usable file format as well as speeding up the footage by a factor of 10 to assist with editing. For audio, I used Audacity and a microphone, planning to create a simple commentary mirroring that of Yogscast Sjin to prevent my videos from feeling purely visual.
You can see the first part of my Let’s Build series here:
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And here is the second part:
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/w7IxdCjVvmk” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
You can view all the parts of my Let’s Build The University series on my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCagVHK88QxEcw95PFFxnCMg
 Schreibman, Susan, Siemens, Ray A Companion to Digital Literary Studies: 13. Fictional Worlds in the Digital Age. [Online] Available from: http://www.digitalhumanities.org/companionDLS/ [13 May 2015].
 Hutcheon, Linda A Theory of Adaptation. New York: Routledge, 2006. p. 43
 Hutcheon, Linda, p. 51