Minecraft's Twelve Days of Christmas event is all about Christmas around the world. Not everybody gets to experience the classic snowy ski village that is so popular in games and movies and so we decided to think outside the box when it came to this particular piece of holiday content. Gradually it dawned on us... We had no idea what pirates do for Christmas! After some passionate discussion the whole of the Noxcrew agreed that pirates, and particularly their holiday celebrations, have been under represented in mainstream media and we decided to take steps to fixing this important issue.
This map is filled to the brim with environmental assets and took a huge amount of time and planning! Keep scrolling for a detailed look into how we brought together voices, sounds, characters and models to create a truly pirate-y Christmas map!
If you haven't played the map and want to find out more, click the button below to visit the creation page and learn about the features of the map. Stay on this page for behind the scenes treats but take care, there may be spoilers ahead!
Before we start on the build, we all hop onto the server and start plotting out where key things are going to be on the map. In this case, red wool blocks showed where each of the pirates would be located. This is the first draft of A Pirate's Christmas in miniature form!
Behind the Scenes: The Pirates
The concept art stage an important part of creating a Noxcrew map. As ideas begin to form about the map, our artist Skyao draws the characters and from there we build upon their personality and finalise their stories. Notice that the character names haven't been chosen here, but we had a general idea of what each of them would be doing. For example, Ol' Big Nose was always going to have a cold and need that hot cocoa!
For the first time ever we used voice actors for the pirates and not just members of Noxcrew. To help the actors get into character, our writer Shronky created a backstory for each of the pirates! More on that below.
Behind the Scenes: Custom Mobs
Custom mobs always help to add extra personality into a map as well as keeping our players entertained (who wouldn't be entertained by riding on a giant Santa-hatted tortoise?!) so we always play around with cute and funny ideas like this!
Spot the name change! Fun fact, "A Pirate's Christmas" was originally going to be called "Pirate Winter Ball". We switched up the name during the final stages of the project to put the focus on the story rather than just the final outcome. What do you think? Does it make a difference?
Behind the Scenes: Working With Voice Actors
When we first decided to start working with outside voice actors, one thing that was really important to us was that the actors knew the characters, and knew each other, so that they would be at ease and bring out the best in each other, particularly during the group song. We looked to a local theatre group and brought in a few of their actors to transform into pirates for the day!
We created a temporary sound studio in Noxite's office and brought all of the pirates in for pirate boot camp.
Our writer, Shronky (Andrej Panic) was the driving forces behind bringing the pirates to life. He put together packs to help each of our actors get into character and even sang over the Midi tracks which you can hear below. Fun fact: Shronky made the final cut and plays Steve the pirate in the map itself! Click on the images below to see the full character briefs, and listen to the first cuts of each pirates' song.
Redstone: Avondale's Magic Tricks
Avondale, or Joe as he is otherwise know, is our redstone guru. He works behind the scenes on our maps to ensure that every redstone component is working as intended. He talked us through his creation of the falling snow inside Drake Thunder's volcano.
"The original idea for the volcano game was to make the volcano interior feel like you were inside a snow globe. You would shoot the snowflakes, which at the time were bats, as they randomly flew around the volcano interior. This caused two problems: 1, having lots of bats flying around tends to bog down game performance and 2, there wasn't an easy way to guarantee the player always had bats to kill without overloading the game with bats. To solve these problems, we switched the bats to chickens, so the snowflakes would fall slowly, and then cause them to take tons of fall damage when they hit the ground so they would instantly die. This gave us the opportunity to create the random snowfall pattern you saw in the game! I cloned the opening of the volcano out into our ticking area, and layered the top of it with command blocks that spawn a chicken via relative coordinates to get it to align perfectly with the top of the volcano. Throw in a couple of armor stands moved around with the /spreadplayers command and you get a snowstorm!"
Behind the Scenes: The Monkeys
This is a picture sketched out by our 3D artist Skyao for the snowball throwing monkeys! We asked her about her model making and how this drawing comes into it:
"Fox maximum efficiency I usually draw out how I want to adapt the concept art into a cuboid form and then count each and every part. That way I can start a file with enough cuboids ready for me to mess around with. Making models in Pocket Edition is quite difficult so it's really important to know what you want going into it."