Palermo at a scale of 1:50

As mentioned in my previous blog post, it will be possible to choose between these different scales:

  • 1:200
  • 1:100
  • 1:50
  • 1:25
  • 1:33
  • 1:10

Smallest scale: 1:200

This scales are somehow limited to the progress of the map creation. Since the Minecraft maps are stored in 512×512 block large sections (called region files), the smallest size for a single Tile is 512×512 blocks.

At the Equator this corresponds to a scale of about 1:217 and at 23.5° N and 23.5° S (Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn) it corresponds to a scale of exactly 1:200. For easier use I will stick to the scales at 23.5°.

Now we have the smallest scale of 1:200 due to the region files, but what about the larger scales?

You might think that a scale of 1:1 is the biggest and best.

Biggest scale: 1:10

In reality, however, it is not useful to create a map on a scale of 1:1. This has several reasons:

First of all: Minecraft has a view distance of 32 chunks, with a chunck consisting of 16×16 blocks, this corresponds to a view distance of 512 blocks. (With some mods you can increase this value, but we will stick to the vanilla experience.)

If we take a look at the following table, we will see that a person of about 2 meters height is visible in a 5 km radius (if the earth is a perfect sphere). In Minecraft, we can only see the area of 500 meters around us, which is roughly one tenth of the real view distance. And keep in mind: higher mountains are visible from much further distances.

distancevisible object height
5 km1.96 meter
10 km7.85 meter
15 km17.66 meter
20 km31.39 meter
25 km49.05 meter
30 km70.63 meter
35 km96.14 meter
40 km125.57 meter
45 km158.92 meter
50 km196.2 meter
60 km282.52 meter
70 km384.54 meter
80 km502.26 meter
90 km635.66 meter
100 km784.76 meter

As a result, almost the entire map would look like a super-flat world that goes up or down a block every now and then. SUPER BORING!

Secondly, the exported image used in WorldPainter to create one Tile (which corresponds to 1° longitude and 1° latitude) would be about 100000×100000 pixels and this size can’t be handled with WorldPainter.

Furthermore, the accuracy of the elevation map is not good enough to represent the earth 1:1. The horizontal resolution is only 30 m and the vertical accuracy is about 10 m.

Vertical scale

One could imagine that the vertical scale corresponds exactly to the horizontal scale. But there are good reasons to deviate from this assumption.

At a scale of 1:200, Mount Everst, the largest mountain on earth with 8848 m would only be about 44 blocks high.

At a scale of 1:100 it would be 88 blocks high. With the water level at 62, that makes an ingame height of 150 blocks. At a scale of 1:50 the Mount Everest would be 239 (177+62) blocks high. Ideal for the minecraft limit of 255 blocks.

For larger scales, such as 1:25 and 1:10, the Minecraft limit is simply not enough. At least not for the whole planet. For Central Europe, for example, Mont Blanc (4810 m) would be 255 blocks high at 1:25 scale. And for Great Britain even 1:10 would be possible without mods. But for the rest of the planet, i’m currently experimenting with the mod CubicChunks, which has a theoretical build limit of 8388608 blocks.


To get a small comparison of the scales, I generated 4 maps of the island Sicily.

Full size gallery:

scaleroughly ingame sizefilesize
1:2001700 x 800 blocks49 mb
1:1003400 x 1600 blocks196 mb
1:506800 x 3200 blocks804 mb
1:2513600 x 6400 blocks3,11 gb

Here is another comparison for the city of Palermo in 1:25 and 1:50 scale (vertical scale both 1:25). You can clearly see the famous mountain / plateau at the cost. But you also notice the checkerboard pattern at the terrain, which is caused by the poor resolution of the source image material (globcover, only 300 m resolution).

Full size gallery: