In Minecraft, everything is possible. Since its launch in 2009, Microsoft’s simple yet deeply exciting sandbox experience has empowered anyone with an imagination to create anything they want. More than 140 million monthly players Using basic building blocks and the game’s toolkit, they have been able to build real world monuments, role-playing game shows watched by millions, Y even a working computer.
Impressive as they may be, only a community of Broadway enthusiasts has managed to replicate the dazzle of showtime in a virtual space, allowing attendees to experience a version of the metaverse like no other.
An immersive theatrical experience
the Lion King The musical is one of the most successful stage productions of all time, taking the classic Disney animated film inspired by Hamlet and combining it with extravagant theater (and puppetry), the show has been presented in more than 20 countries and has been presented continuously. since 1997. When I was six years old, my parents took me to see the play on Broadway, although unfortunately, it was from the highest seats in the last row. I distinctly remember struggling to see the ornate sets and fantasy puppets, leaving me with an incomplete memory and an itch only Simba could scratch.
But more than two decades later, I had the opportunity to rectify this after the TikTok algorithm. recommended a video of the german group ORGG Studies. They had built a one-to-one replica of the entire Lion King music inside Minecraft that anyone could come and look. So I quickly secured my ticket, downloaded the necessary mods, and joined your server.
@orggstudios A pretty busy backstage #the Lion King #orggstudios #Minecraft #Shorts # command block ♬ Originalton – orggstudios
My avatar appeared on a boat next to a complete virtual replica of the Theater im Hafen, located on the Elbe River in Hamburg, Germany. In the real world, Disney’s puppet-powered theater play has been running in Hamburg since 2001 with more than 6,000 performances.
Soon, headset-wearing ushers ushered patrons in tuxedos and anime bikinis to their velvety virtual seats to prepare for the performance. As the lights dimmed and drums began to beat from the sides, puppet elephants, cheetahs, giraffes, and antelope began to walk through the halls. For the next two hours, I watched in awe as the lights flashed, the sets moved, and Simba became the rightful king of Pride Rock. None of these characters were being performed live, but instead were programmed by puppeteers behind the scenes.
Behind the scenes of the production
Two 21-year-old Germans managed to recreate the magic in minute detail within the world of Minecraft. The show itself, which combines theatrical and cinematic soundtracks, can only be attended by a select few (mainly because the game would collapse with more bodies in the seats).
“I have a great passion for Lion King musical,” show director Arne told Passionfruit. “With theaters closed due to the pandemic, we wanted to offer an alternative and new way to see the show.”
Inspiration for the show came in 2018 after Arne saw a behind-the-scenes video of the play on YouTube. Remembering how he felt watching the production when he was a child, a wave of sincere passion to see it once again hit him like Rafiki’s stick. But there was a problem: the Hamburg theater was too far away, the tickets were expensive, and the animated film was not good enough.
And as if Mufasa himself were speaking from the stars, Arne had an idea. He was going to recreate the Lion King music, in as much detail as possible. So he contacted his lifelong friend Gerome, who had been his partner on other occasions. Minecraft projects, about his crazy idea and gladly agreed to join.
“It was a project just for me,” said Arne. “I didn’t plan for anyone but us to see it.”
Over the next six months, the pair would create the first version of their show: complete with detailed sets, costumes, puppets, and a full-scale replica of the Hamburg theater. This required new textures, models, animations, and skins that had to be done by hand.
What started out as a simple fan project quickly grew into something bigger. Since then, they have performed 18 shows, recently celebrating the second anniversary of their first.
Recreating the puppets in the Lion King it was complex, requiring the addition of additional movable limbs, flapping wings, and stretched-out necks. Arne created more than a dozen models in less than a week, and designed them to move like his real-world inspiration.
The actual game is run entirely by the Blockbuster mod, a program that allows players to create any action in the game and allow it to be played. Players can perform an action, such as jumping, running, or pressing a block, and an NPC, or non-player character, will appear and re-enact the action.
Before the first performance, Arne went through the play as each individual character, following the rhythm listening to the soundtrack. That’s dozens of different performances meticulously practiced to make sure everything fits together just right. On top of that, there are also additional roles that you would see in a play production, such as a conductor waving a magic wand over the orchestra pit, to completely immerse theatergoers.
“Instead of having to code all these lines with all these specific times, essentially doing it the boring way, all you do is just run the program as one person,” Gerome told Passionfruit.. “It’s always surprising when people realize that there are no real people on stage.”
What’s under the stage is a mechanical marvel. Thousands of command blocks that can perform simple functions and control different parts of the mobile set and lights. During the performance, a crew member NPC (previously installed by Arne) presses buttons that activate the blocks below, creating a Rube Goldberg machine that ends with wildebeest running or grass floating on the stage.
But the program still has to deal with some major stumbling blocks. The soundtrack used is the exclusive property of Disney, and the House of Mouse could choose to shut down production at any time. The shows themselves are sometimes streamed live on Twitch, but never fully put on YouTube, because the platform’s moderation system flags it every time.
“Disney can still show up every time and email us and tell us to shut down, which we would do instantly,” Arne said. “As soon as they see a threat in us, it’s not like we’re safe because of our server. It’s us showing things that don’t belong to us.”
the minecraft theater scene
This production is only part of the much larger Minecraft theater community. Other Minecraft directors have executed works such as Shrek the Musical, Aladdineither Six. Zach, who goes by HipHopZoo online, has directed four full-length musicals in Minecraftusing real actors with their own voices in hundreds of performances.
“Minecraft It was created as a sandbox game where your limit was your imagination, and I think it really pushed it forward in terms of becoming the place to create content,” Zach said. “We were able to just create, without worrying about the budget, without worrying about certain things that you would have to deal with in the real world.”
Zach’s performances on shows like Bad Girls Y high school musical they were made entirely on the base version of the game, without any fancy mods or plugins.
“I always wanted everyone to have a chance to see the shows,” Zach said. “I wanted everyone to have access to see and be a part of these productions without having to be able to run heavy hardware.”
It’s what makes these performances truly amazing. The amount of passion and drive it takes to put one of these together is staggering. Everything for which is guaranteed not to be monetizable. Still, it hasn’t stopped this small but thriving scene from coming along.
“Whenever we talk to friends about what we did last weekend, I always feel a bit uncomfortable,” said Arne. “It’s a movie for seven-year-olds. I feel embarrassed for just a few seconds because after that they are in awe of what the show is.”