Border

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Freedonia's size is bounded by a set of borders, which prevent players roaming too far from the spawn and central inhabited zones. At the time of writing, the overall size of the world is limited to roughly 36km in diameter.

Contents

History

The need for a border

Initially Freedonia, in keeping with its name, was left unlimited and unbounded. However, some players chose to walk for hours in a single direction, leaving ugly trails of discovered land on the map, which served no purpose but taking up disk space. Initially this was tolerated, disk space not being a serious issue as hardware was upgraded over time.

However, in time it was realised that Notch was planning a schedule of updates which would alter the way terrain was generated, and introducing new block types. As Notch introduced clay and lapis lazuli, it became evident that leaving territory discovered early would be a wasteful exercise, as it would prevent that terrain from having any deposits of future materials, or new landscape features. The advent of early mapping software also demonstrated the full extent of long linear protrusions from inhabited space out into nowhere.

It became evident that a border would be needed to prevent these "spider legs" from limiting the diversity of future explored terrain, and to increase overall concentration of inhabited terrain. The administration felt that it would be nice to be out in the wilderness, build your home, wander over a hill and find another player-built village nearby; if players were suitably contained then there would be greater cooperation, more impressive villages and cities would be built, and the overall quality of gameplay would improve.

The only ocean in the original Freedonia landmass shown as a circle, as a result of 1.0 terrain generation in a previously unexplored area.
The map view of Freedonia prior to the December 2011 border expansion

Initial border creation

Of course the border had to be big enough that the illusion of unbounded wilderness, which is one of the core concepts of Minecraft, would be maintained. It was mandated that the border should not be obvious to any location that has already been discovered, and that most players could spend all their playing time without ever coming across the border at all.

The current inhabited size of Freedonia at this point was around 4.5km in radius, so a circular border was created with an 18km diameter. It was not centered on spawn, but rather on the average centre of the inhabited zone, based on a great-circle encompassing the furthest outlying warps, which were at this point AmpCity, ForbiddenOutpost and Caverns. A circular border was chosen to preserve the most natural shape, and aesthetic map display.

The centre of the border was thus decided as -1817, 1711 (map link), and it is no coincidence that this is also the location of the Central Nexus of Project Anubis.

The existence of the border was not revealed at the time of creation, in order to preserve the impression of infinite space. As the border was gradually discovered by some, the shape of it was plotted on the map and over many months, the circle filled out.

The map view of Freedonia as seen on 17 Jan 2012, showing the December 2011 border expansion filled out, prior to the second phase of the expansion.

1.0 expansion (phase 1)

At the start of December 2011, Minecraft 1.0 was released with some major terrain generator changes, along with the addition of NPC villages. It was decided to expand the border once all terrain in the existing Freedonia circle had been discovered, and this indeed happened a few weeks later (the largest area of 1.0 terrain in Freedonia being the ocean around Qarn Al Katra which was discovered during this period.

Rather than expanding the border linearly, which would have maintained a dull shape for exploration, and generated an ugly concentric ring, it was chosen to expand the landmass with a set of smaller circles, finally opening out to a smoother overall shape.

A solidworks calculation of optimal hub locations for Project Anubis, showing the original 18km border and 1.0 expansion areas at the east and south, and the eventual unification 24km border planned.

It was also decided to expand the map in stages, with each of these circles being opened as the previous one is fully discovered, so that fresh terrain would always be available but expansion room would be limited at the same time, to allow the most time for future terrain feature updates to be included.

The first expansion made was a 9km diameter circle at the existing (previously eastern, now referred to as northern) edge of the original border. This circle is centered on -1817 -7289 (map link)

Phase 2 expansion filled out, prior to consolidation phase, 11 Mar 2012

1.1 expansion (phase 2)

Although no major terrain generator changes were introduced in the 1.1 update, this coincided with the filling of the phase 1 expansion circle. This border is also 9km in diameter like the phase 1 expansion, and is centred on 7183 1711 (map link).

After exploration, the majority of this region proved to be ocean. A notable settlement is Mycelia located in the largest mushroom biome discovered. Another is the free-floating Novum Culta, at the time of writing the most remote rail route in Freedonia. There are also two square islands of pre-0.9 terrain floating in this ocean area, making a stark contrast from the surrounding ocean - one has been branded a Wilderness Preserve.

1.2.3 expansion (phase 3)

Finally a 24km radius border was opened, encompassing the original border and both of the expansion borders, opening up a large swathe of terrain between the expansions, and smoothing the whole of Freedonia into a continuous circle.

The centre location calculation went thus:

new circle:
diameter = 23591.88
radius = 11796
inner circle x=-1817
inner circle z=1711
horizontal=sqrt(diagonal^2/2)
sw corner point is 9000 sw, so
6364
corner x=-8181 z=-4653
centre point is 11796 ne, so
centre x=3615 z=7143

This expansion was carried out in stages, to minimise the impact on the server's performance from continued world generation (which is taxing, since Notch has never heard of multi-threaded design).

April 2013 expansion

On the 25th of April, 2013, a new larger bubble was created reaching from the north corner of the Phase 3 expansion to the south corner of the original Freedonia circle. This expansion makes obsolete the 1.0 expanded border, since it is now fully enveloped on all sides by further expanded territory. The motivation for this expansions was not terrain generator changes as previously, but simply a desire for more unexplored terrain to found new settlements, as by this stage all previously available areas of Freedonia had been explored and colonised.

April 2013 expansion, only partially explored two and a half weeks later

October 2014 expansion

The first expansion in a long time, initially a probing 9km diameter bubble was created into unexplored southern territory, accompanying the 1.7 version upgrade. Once that was fully explored, a larger 27km diameter bubble was opened centering on the core of Freedonia, the Central Nexus, bringing into its circle several of the smaller bubbles and simplifying the outline of the explored map considerably.

October 2014 initial expansion, fully explored in only a few days

November 2014 expansion

Since the prior expansion was fully explored so quickly, it was decided to expand the border again, more generously, to satisfy the demand for new biomes. This led to the foundation of semi-natural settlements such as Acacia Roads.

November 2014 expansion mostly fleshed out, with the new border shown in red
November 2014 expansion finally filled in two years later in July 2016

Future

Depending on future biome additions and terrain generator changes, additional bubbles in the style of the 1.0 expansion may be added.

Even without changes to the terrain generator, once the existing open area is fully explored and all major landmasses colonised, another expansion will take place to encompass the existing smaller borders and bridge the gaps between them. Ultimately the available area of Freedonia will be made circular once more.


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