Minecraft player builds perfect LotR city Minas Tirith: Here’s how he did it

Mojang, Xbox Game Studios
Mojang, Xbox Game Studios /

Scrolling through Instagram has net me a lot interesting finds. Things from memes to news to interesting and incredible video game stories. The latter is usually the most fascinating, and in this case, it’s a quite remarkable Minecraft build. Being the second best-selling game of all time only to Tetris, Minecraft is no stranger to some insane builds. One day, I was swiping through IG and came across a French Youtuber Lances2. Honestly, It was one of the most impressive builds I’ve seen.

The build was one that any Lord of the Rings fans will immediately recognize – Minas Tirith. We aren’t just talking about a building or two of the great city. Instead, it’s a full to scale remake that took four years to complete. What stood out to me in this build is that the buildings are more than just the exterior facade. In addition, Lances2 created fully-functioning interiors for the buildings as well. Staircases, furniture and more are all on display.

I reached out to the creator in order to get some insight and details on how exactly he was able to pull off this creation and where he plans to go from here.

I really appreciate you taking the time to answer some questions. I’ve seen a lot of builds while scrolling through Instagram,  but yours stood out immediately. I actually thought it was a fake, CGI at first with how good it looked. Impressive does not begin to describe the level of detail in your build. To start, can you please tell us your name and how old you are?

I’m Lances2 and I’m 26 years old.

From the start, did you do any pre-planning with rough drafts on paper or something? Or did you dive right in and start building?

In the majority of cases, I start by gathering information on the project such as images, plans and everything I can find on the organization of the city, I sometimes make plans to help myself  in the process.

With a build like this, the land is just as important as the structures. What went into making sure things like the mountains and Cliffs had a realistic appearance when compared to the buildings?

I work a lot with the worldpainter software to generate the most realistic map possible while doing research to best fit with the Lord of the Rings universe.

There aren’t any real life photos that show such a close up of the structures like your video shows. What did you use as reference in order to get the detail so accurate?

Two or three images of the film model allow me to reproduce a city almost identically.  I also used plans from the books and some fanart to fill in the gaps.

The interiors of the buildings are just as large and somehow have even more detail. Did you just imagine what the inside of these buildings would have looked like?

For some I am inspired by the interior of buildings that we see in the movies, for the rest, I am inspired by the interior of medieval buildings.

In terms of scale, building is like math where one mistake messes up everything that comes after. How did you ensure that the scale of structures was accurate when compared to others in order to avoid mistakes and having to start over?

Planning is an essential step in developing this kind of construction.  However, the error is not impossible and I sometimes have to start all over again.

Regardless of how much preparation one does for something like this, I’d imagine there’s a great deal of trial and error. In terms of percentages, how much of this build was planned and how much ended up being changed as you went along?

Currently, I am on the 5th version of Minas Tirith that I have been building since 2011. I modify it according to the additions of the game thanks to the updates and I sometimes restart it completely again when the additions are important.

You mentioned in your video that this took 4 years to complete. In your best guess, how many actual hours of building was involved over those 4 years?

It is very hard for me to give a good estimate, I would say between 200 and 300 hours if we count the city and its surroundings.

With so much detail created from your own mind instead of frames of reference, have you thought of becoming an architect?

It’s a job that I would have liked to do when I was young, but life took me on another path.

Being from France, have you visited the town of Mont Saint-Michel in France that Peter Jackson used as inspiration for the city?

Not yet, but it’s planned!

Have you used anything from this city to help in your build?

Not particularly, no

Was there any special, more advanced program used to help you do this? Or was it just all creative mode?

I use plugins on a local server to help me build, I can list them for you if you want.

What other build have you done? What are you looking forward to doing next?

My plan is to replicate Middle Earth in its entirety, I am currently working on Erebor, Dale, Esgaroth, Rivendell, Orthanc, Edoras, The Shire and Minas Tirith.  I think my next project will be the Kingdom of the Cilvestre King.

An entire Middle Earth recreation in Minecraft sounds ridiculously impossible. Then again, I would have told you that this Minas Tirith build was impossible and clearly would have been wrong. We can only wait with this iteration taking nearly four years with 12 total years and 5 iterations of the legendary city in all. Fortunately, Lances2’s social media pages updates regularly with videos of his progress.

It really is amazing when you look into the level of detail in his builds, and it truly shows what video games can do for people. Think of this, Lances2 lives in Paris and only speaks French. I live in America and only speak English. However, technology (Thanks, Google translate) was able to bring two people together in order to have a conversation that would otherwise be impossible. It truly does go to show the level of camaraderie that can exist thanks to video games.

Please be sure to subscribe to his Youtube channel and Instagram page in order to follow this incredible work. I’d like to thank Lances2 again for taking the time to speak with me.