People's Choice Semi-Finalist

eXoCraft made it to the People's Choice Semi-Finals (Top 25)

Solar System

Create a custom world map generator module using a gaming framework or engine of your choice that leverages altimeter, terrain and imagery data to render realistic worlds.  This will involve the use of a World Map Tile Service client to leverage over 1 TB of Mars and Vesta data for use in world generation.



eXoCraft is an attempt to build a series of tools to convert elevation maps of terrain from around the Solar System to Minecraft maps which can be explored, offering players a more interactive way of exploring topographical maps.Surfaces created so far:
  • The ocean Saturn's largest moon, Titan, with custom textures and sky boxes
  • Selected parts of mercury Mercury
  • Full global map of the asteroid Vesta, recently mapped by the DAWN mission, using mineral data to generate the surface textures

We also have large elevation map mosaics of Venus but ran out of time to pre-process and build the maps as it is a computationally expensive process.


Coloured elevation maps were acquired from a variety of mission websites and converted from RGB to HSV colour space. Generally all altitude information is contained within the hue (H) part of the HSV image. The hue was extracted using a short Octave script which was then left as a grey scale image with only hue information. This was fed to a modified version of the heightmap function of the pymclevel library for modifying a previously created empty Minecraft world into one compliant with the effective heightmap given by the hue greyscale.

Two custom block texture packs were created using Gimp, Tiled Map Editor and Piskel to make new block types to represent the local environment of Vesta and Mercury (barren grey regolith) in addition to the alien landscape of hydrocarbon seas and brown/orange tholins covering the ground.

A custom sky box was created featuring Saturn moving through the sky of Titan with its characteristic orange haze. Additionally a higher quality night sky without atmospheric distortion was added for Vesta and Mercury with the Sun being much larger in Mercury's case.

Resources Used

Game chosen to build maps for

  • Minecraft

Texture and Skymap creation:

  • Gimp
  • Tiled Map editor
  • Piskel

Base of Minecraft map modification tool

Data for Vesta:

Titan radar mosaics:

Mercury elevation data:

Made inKoper Slovenia
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How they did it