With the power of friendship, everything is possible!
That is possibly what this group of friends in Melaka thought when they started the daunting project of building their high school in Minecraft.
Jasmine Tan Mei Xin, Oh Soong Teng, Gorden Goh, Wong Jun Jian, and Kuan Xiao Xi are the five individuals involved in building the virtual SMJK Yok Bin, Melaka.
All of them are 22 years old. Among the group, only Kuan was not a student from the school on Jalan Ayer Leleh, Bukit Serindit.
Tan told this SAYS writer that not all of them were friends in the beginning.
"Goh, Wong, and I spent our high school days there. Fun fact: We didn't even know each other that time up until last year when we got closer because of Minecraft," Tan related.
"Both of them eventually graduated and went to private universities. I continued my Form Six studies in the same school and this was where I met Oh from another high school."
The group had a lot of fun too while constructing their school in the world-building video game.
Speaking to SAYS, they said it took them five months to complete the project.
Kuan said that the project was, "mentioned by Tan, suggested by Tan, [and] motivated by Tan"
Tan drove past the school one day and the idea of building the school with her friends in Minecraft hit her.
"I let the idea sink to the back of my mind because initially, I thought it was impossible," Tan said.
"The same night I brought the idea to the table and was expecting them to take it as a joke; who knew, in the end, all of them agreed, and that is how it all started."
Kuan added that they had no specific motivation behind starting the project other than having fun together.
As they say, "There is no fun without hard work." When the group began to realise how difficult the project was, it was too late for them to give up.
Throughout the five-month period, the group assigned themselves to different roles to make up the ultimate school-building dream team
They built the school in survival mode in Minecraft; meaning not only was their school vulnerable to zombie attacks, but they had to manually source for building blocks from the vast world.
If the group built it in creative mode, they did not have to source for materials and the mode grants them the ability to fly so that they could have a better viewing perspective while building.
Oh, who was responsible for sourcing material with Kuan, said, "Wong was the one who was responsible for opening and maintaining the server. Tan started off by planning the outline of the buildings since she is currently an architecture student who has basic knowledge of how real-life building processes work."
"It was indeed frustrating to collect a bunch of materials in survival mode. We took hours and hours just to farm for the same items. We (Oh and Kuan) also helped to build some simple repeated structures like roofs, ceilings, and floor slabs. Goh was responsible for helping with some outlines of the building and the interior designs."
She told SAYS that they spent 15% of the time planning, 15% clearing the building site, 40% constructing, and 20% doing final touch-ups. The remaining 10% was possibly spent on having fun.
In the beginning, they had a lot of fun bombing the construction site with TNT because the area had mountains.
"We built at the same time as we ground the materials needed," Kuan added, "Usually, we used the materials we had first, if not enough we would grind more."
Kuan said sourcing materials was the most gruelling task, while architecture student Tan believed that everyone in the team had their own challenges while carrying out their respective duties
"For me, estimating everything was very challenging, I didn't even have a floor plan to begin with," Tan said.
"I needed to measure every single room by eye and did the plans myself in order to calculate the blocks needed for each area, as well as making sure that everything is as close as the real-life structure. I believe the sourcing materials team also had a hard time grinding non-stop, and the person who managed the server had to be on his laptop for most of the time just for us to finish the whole thing."
When asked if they referred to photos while building SMJK Yok Bin in the video game, Kuan and Tan answered yes.
Kuan is of the opinion that memories alone are not enough to make the project a success, while Tan revealed that they used Google Street View and photos from old school magazines as references.
"As for the smaller details that we couldn't get from any of the sources, we built it from memory," she said.
Tan shared a video of the virtual SMJK Yok Bin on Facebook last month, and it has since received more than 600 shares
The four-minute long video gives netizens a virtual tour of the school they built in Minecraft.
Hundreds of Facebook users commended Tan and her friends' effort, while some former students of the school can be spotted saying that the video brought back a lot of precious memories for them.
Tan said netizens can download the map of their school here.