Last week, Minecraft YouTuber Mysticat did the impossible. They actually built a circle in unmodded, vanilla Minecraft, like a real-arse circle. It has the round bits and everything! And it is incredibly wild to look at.
For those of you who are older than me, and for whom some knowledge of Minecraft was not a prerequisite for social survival, Minecraft is a voxel based building game based on a strict grid system. Every object is a solid block, or made of solid blocks. There are basically no curves in Minecraft. So, a circle should be impossible, at least in an unmodded game. Mysticat however, a Minecraft YouTuber who has made a bunch of great tutorial videos and some other cool trick showcases, has actually gone and done the damn thing. In fact, they took it a step further and built a perfect sphere, the existence of which feels like a dark act.
The video walks through multiple attempts to build a circle, beginning with the minecart. The minecart has some unique properties around collision, and direction, that make it an easy choice for your first attempt at a circle. Minecarts respond to being pushed, but don’t actually obstruct player movement. Additionally, they can be rotated in any direction. By spawning dozens of minecarts on the same block, surrounding them with blocks to keep them from escaping, and then removing the track they were placed on, you can then jump in the middle of the carts which sends them all spinning as they bounce off, and inside of, one another. This will create a circle, but not one you can build with.
The second attempt involves armour stands, which allow players to store and display armour in their in-game homes instead of just placing them in boring old chests. Armour stands, like minecarts, can rotate and lack collision, which makes them the natural next target for building a perfect circle.
To do this, Mysticat builds a series of command blocks, which allow players to directly inject code into the game via console commands. These command blocks spawn an armour stand, set it spinning, and then command the armour stand to summon a new armour stand in the direction it is currently facing. With a slow enough rotation speed, you can quickly make a perfect circle of armour stands. To then build with these armour stands, or give the appearance of building with them, you place a block in their head slot (via console commands when you spawn them), which causes a collision free version of the block to spawn.
Mysticat goes on to make a circle of sand blocks by making the armour stands invisible, but the blocks aren’t facing the right direction. So they, again, return to the command blocks to create a command which forces all nearby armour stands to face the same point, creating a perfect circle. By surrounding this circle with similar blocks you can make a cute little pool, the only problem is the collision on certain parts of the circle, which will cause the sand blocks to flicker black.
To fix this, Mysticat performs some odd ritual magic by changing a handful of blocks underneath the troublesome collision points. This works for…some reason. The code makes sense to me, this apparent act of alchemy does not.
Their attempts at a sphere are, all in all, a bit less successful. They make several passes at automating the process via command blocks, but nothing pans out. Instead, Mysticat is forced to hard code the entire process by chaining dozens of command blocks, each of which spawns a minecart, carrying a block in the air above it, at a slightly different angle to form a circle. Minecarts are the choice here because they can be turned on their Y-Axis, since they need to go at angles when riding down hills. Once the perfect circle is hard coded, Mysticat repeats the process at a slight X-axis tilt, with several hundred command blocks they manage to make a perfect sphere.
By creating perfect circles, and a sphere, Mysticat has totally revolutionised Minecraft aesthetics in new and terrifying ways. I fear their power, and what they’ll come up with next.