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Powerful Build Planning – Building Tips 1

Powerful Build Planning – Building Tips 1

Build Planning isn’t easy.

We’ve all been there, staring at a blank canvas wondering where to begin. Eyes glued to the superflat world or empty mountain range we want to reimagine. Sometimes we kick off our worries and take a dive, rushing straight at it blind – until we burn out and fall short of what we wanted.

It’s not a fun feeling.

We’ve got this awesome image in our mind. Desires we have to fulfil. How do we make it real?

Think of this guide as a waypoint, gesturing you in the direction of terms and concepts to think about on your path to learning how to plan – or how to find what you need to learn further! Mapping out anything from little houses to giant cities, at its fundamental level.

Screenshot (1372)
Cyberpunk City – Hotel

Self-Awareness Helps

It’s a tough icebreaker. First, know your current abilities.

These can change, but they haven’t yet! Reflect on past projects you’ve managed. Too high expectations can ruin you. You need to know as much as possible about what you need to work on, and what you’re capable of now, before you start on any project.

If you’re thinking about a Cyberpunk city, first is house design. Are you any good at it? Ever built a Cyberpunk house before? What about other houses in similar styles which might have transferrable skills? Have you built a modern city, maybe? Any roads? Cars? Other vehicles? Lamp posts? Neon signs? How much have you played around with player-scale detailing tricks like glowing signs and banners? Are you comfortable with the colourful palettes Minecraft offers?

Keep asking questions and noting answers. When you understand what you’re already good at, and what steps you want to work on, you know where to begin.

If you’ve answered everything with a confident skilled yes, it’s time to kick off the training shoes, skip the next step and head right into the build plan.

If you’re not too sure, consider changing the build plans a bit to something more manageable, or get ready to experiment!


You’ve got a skill you’re unsure of.

You want to work on it first. It’s necessary for your plan and you’re standing by it!

Just remember, a new skill is always a risk in any project. Be fair to yourself and appreciate the outcome whatever happens! Trying new things is the admirable path to success. Eventually!

Any learning process begins with research. How did other people do it? Reference projects they’ve created. Seek advice from others. Try to break down the bits and pieces that go into it. Learning is a mini project in itself, so don’t expect it to come easily either – but it will work out. No matter how difficult a skill looks, you’re always capable of making it happen.

Break it Down: Simple Steps

Planning builds is all about simplicity.

If you’re making a house, breaking it down might be the Scale, Block Palette, Exterior and Interior – in its simplest forms. Think of these as ‘categories’. Whenever you’ve got a project, split it into major requirements. What parts go into it to make the result? Other possibilities are Theme, Style and Purpose – and don’t stop there. There are no wrong answers. Focus on the simplest descriptions that tell you what’s most important about a build.

Then break it down further. Understand the details. What little things go into the big things.

Getting specific, the exterior could involve building shapes, wall designs, frames, roof shapes, attachment to nearby infrastructure, and lighting. Maybe it includes decorations like signs and windcatchers, or you’ve got fancy plans for windows.

For a city this could be what buildings you need for it, infrastructure like roads and trainlines, vehicles such as planes and busses, environment like mountains, trees and oceans, and decorative pieces such as market stalls, road construction, and lamps!

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Floating Island – Mini House

Don’t Get Carried Away! Be Decisive!

It’s a lot of thinking!

Try ironing out the details quickly. Don’t spend hours drilling over every individual step. What’s most important is you reach a result. When planning your way through a project, you need to always move forwards. Remember: A result that falls short of your grandest desires is still better than no result at all!

For this, I suggest limiting the time you spend planning your build. Test how long it takes you to complete things – not just how much you’re capable of.

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Wizard School Castle – Pieces

Measure Time and Deadlines!

If it takes an hour to build a house, a city of eighty unique completely original houses is at least eighty hours. And another eighty of indecisiveness and edits, such as changing floors, walls, or redoing entire buildings! Plus another forty for planning, organising them, putting them together in the terrain and making it all feel natural! Then another forty on top of that for all the rest of the beautification for the city, particularly player scale detailing like that little wet floor sign we just can’t do without, or the benches and flowerbeds that make it feel homely.

Measure the length of time you can expect your planning to take. If it seems like way too long, reduce the scope of the project in some way. Ideally lower quality or quantity until it’s at a time you can work with!

Otherwise, consider what time you have available to do it.

Plan a Rough Layout

Whether it’s an adventure map, tiny house or giant city, rough out an idea of what you’re doing from the start.

When I built my first procedurally generated dungeon, I began by creating colour coded boxes for each room and testing how they spawned into Minecraft. The details came later! The very first part of your project should be the basic shapes and a list of your goals. Using all the step by step logic mentioned above!

If it’s a city, plan how the houses are distributed. A group on the river, with roads in between, then another group on the other side of the river? Trees in that patch of grass, with a hotel in the middle?

Use simple blocks to represent it, so you can easily change it if something goes wrong. Quick and easy modifications are most important in the planning stage. You can change a red line in seconds. Redoing a hotel can take hours. Test everything on a smaller, simpler scale before ever taking the leap to grandeur.

Dungeon Build Plan
Dungeon Build Plan

Personal Approach

I love simplifying an idea to its most basic form and pitching how it looks. If you’re going for a fleet of terrifyingly spooky steampunk ships ensnared in mists of thick white fog and green tendrils of magical energy, barren of all life, haunted by the remnants of pirates, your first step is taking a look at the idea and wondering how it sounds in your head.

Second? Look at how other people tried similar ideas. And third? Create a smaller boat and try out ideas for the mists with blocks on a tiny scale. Does it look cool? Can it work? Are you truly ready to escalate this to the next level?

Screenshot (1374)
Cyberpunk City – Funhouse

If not, keep testing out small ideas until your plan clicks together.

If you are…

Create Your Project!

When all the planning’s wrapped up and your build is ready to exist, all that’s left is making it happen.

The planning stage is often the hardest. An excellent build plan can make a build feel worth pursuing all the way to the end, creating the best, most satisfying results. A poor build plan can crumble all motivation and leave you ready to surrender far too early, or disappointed when it’s all over.

Know your limits, know your skills, know what you need, know the time it takes you, know what the idea involves in its simplest form, and know you’re confident you can make it work!

Good luck!

Check out my post on Achieving Your Goals to stay motivated and go the whole way, and Build Burnout Destressing to relax and get your mind ready for a long creative journey. You can do it!

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