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The Last Man on Earth

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Captain_JEK avatar Captain_JEK
Level 83 : Elite Hero

Hello everyone, this is my project for the “Skyscraper” building contest.

It is the largest structure I have ever built in Minecraft. It took me 18 days with 9-10 hours building per day (I have holidays now).

The complex is 254 blocks high and 317 blocks in diameter. The center tower stands on a 41x41 base because I wanted it to have a 1:6 width/height ratio. 1:7 appeared to me too slim and 1:5 too thick for a tower.

The building features a lot of weapons, some vehicles, lots of machinery and a lot of smaller and bigger details and comes with full interior (more about that below).

Teleporting command blocks take you through doors and simulate an elevator going up and down through the main tower.

I called it “The Last Man on Earth” because this is the complex the last man on earth lives in. How did it come to this? Read it in the lore!

The thumbnail render was kindly made by Ervinache235.


Humanity is almost extinct. Machines all around the world replaced workers in every position. It was the final industrial revolution.

It all began with a ridiculous invention and the construction of a tower the world never had seen before. The “Icarus Corporation” – the most powerful tech company during that time – built a skyscraper which would serve as the first ever built device to “create” matter. Yes, you heard right. This tower was able to transform energy to matter, more precisely, energy to every element in the periodic table of elements. It had a built-in fusion reactor and four large power cells towering around it. Whenever all four of them were fully charged, lightning would strike between the spikes on the roof concentrating all the energy into one single spot and thus creating matter.
It was revolutionary and extremely spectacular to watch. The other way around – transforming matter to energy – was already discovered long ago and used in atomic and hydrogen bombs. But it had never been possible before to create matter with energy.

The Icarus Corporation was aware that such a giant energy producing and storing complex would make an excellent target for terrorist attacks. Therefore, the tower was heavily protected. It basically was a tall bunker. The walls were massive and built with the hardest materials available. The company also chose a rather abnormal place for their tower: a dried up salt lake. This way, because of the salt lake's almost perfect flatness, approaching enemy vehicles could be seen early and airplanes couldn't use low-level flight to trick the radar. But there would arise a problem in that nobody had thought of…

The following years entered history as the “Golden Age”. Due to the production of whatever element you wanted products became very cheap and almost everyone was able to live a high standard life. Also, machines were able to construct, repair and manage themselves controlled by the Icarus Tower. Mechanization took over. People in every business and every job were replaced by machines. Even high ranked jobs such as managers were not needed any longer because the machines managed themselves. Mechanics, farmers, bankers – all of them lost their jobs. The stock market crashed.

At first, that wasn’t a big problem since all the products produced by machines cost almost nothing and most people had saved money. A time of mass consumption entered. There were waste incinerators in place, but they couldn’t keep up with the ever-rising amount of people and waste they produced. It accumulated in the streets and sewers. Air condition fell rapidly, and the climate change showed its effects more and more. Summers were extremely hot and winters extremely cold. Natural disasters occurred more often which resulted in death of many people.

At some point the money people had saved was depleted and they were no longer able to buy food. They needed money so badly but where to get it? You didn’t get a job since every imaginable task was done by machines. In their anger people attacked factories and destroyed the machines. But the damage done didn’t last long. It was immediately repaired by other machines.

Protests all around the world took place and people were crying out to shut down the Icarus Tower. People accused it for being responsible for their bad situation. The protests had an effect: militaries all over the world gathered their remaining forces and declared that “if the Icarus Corporation does not shut down their matter creating facility within a month we [the militaries] will see us forced to damage it to the point that it is no longer able to create matter or delegate subordinate machines”.

The poor man inside the tower was caught in a conflict: should he shut down the fusion reactor that cost so much energy to kick off and with that his tower and everything he lived for and put his whole life into?
No, that was not possible. “If they want to take my tower down, they have to take it down with me”, he thought. That was his decision.

He fired all his employees because he feared being betrayed by one of them. Now even they, working for the richest and most powerful man in the world, working for the heart of machinery (the Icarus Tower) lost their jobs.
The day came when tanks and armored vehicles from all around the world showed up at the Icarus Tower, united, from all the nations that were able to provide an army, ready to destroy the symbol of Mechanized Evil. But they underestimated how advanced its defense was…

A period called “The great Siege” entered. It was the battle of the world’s military against the tower. Some described it as the fourth world war or more formally “World War IV” since all the world’s armed forces were involved in it.

It was a desperate fight. Not only did the tower have an imposing height and the four spikes and the giant fusion reactor turbine had a large psychological impact on soldiers, but the power and precision of its weaponry was devastating. Tanks and other armored vehicles cracked like tin cans and were disabled by rocket launchers and heavy cannons in a few hits. Cruise missiles left the tower and went on their journey to catch enemy airplanes far away. Roaring Gatling guns mowed everything smaller than a tank down. And every time the power cells were full, and lightning struck upon the skies, hope of the remaining troops crumbled to pieces.

It simply wasn’t possible to take something down that powered itself with a fusion reactor generating immense amounts of energy and additionally being constantly repaired by other machines. Plus, it had thick armor and was producing its own ammunition.

Planned airstrikes, even with atomic and hydrogen bombs, failed because the planes carrying the bombs were shot down by the Icarus Tower’s cruise missiles hundreds of miles away. This also led to the death of many people since the airplanes often went down in populated areas with the bombs detonating there. The world's population had risen to the point where every square kilometer was densly populated. Unfortunately, the nuclear weapons also had a large area of effect. The military then stopped sending airplanes because it didn’t want to increase the number of civilian victims. The airplanes wouldn’t reach their destination anyway. People started calling the Icarus Tower the “Undefeatable Tower”.

Meanwhile many people died in environmental disasters or starved to death because they couldn’t afford to buy food. Some didn’t have enough money, some had become too lazy during the Golden Age to do anything. Some were too busy watching the battle between the Icarus Tower and the military on TV. Yes, they recorded the battle. People had become disturbingly numb and were hungry for scandals.

Once upon a time the Icarus Tower was shining and so beautiful, people came to visit it. But during the Great Siege more and more modifications had been made to it and the constant repairing left traces.

The battle around the tower only lasted for a couple of months although all the world’s military was involved in it. That mainly was because the tower’s destructive force was so great and partly because troops lost faith in ever taking it down. The battle eventually slowed down. More soldiers than ever before had died. More vehicles than ever before had been blasted. Soon there was no one left willing or able to fight. The siege faded out. The tower stood there, scarred and mutated to a killing machine, but it stood. That was everything that counted for the man inside it. He felt exhausted because during the battle it was impossible to sleep. Projectile hits from enemy artillery but mostly the own weapon systems and the lightning above the tower made it sound as if there was an ever-raging thunderstorm outside.

After the battle repairing machines bit by bit consumed the parts of the destroyed military vehicles. More and more people died due to heat, cold, hunger, sandstorms, thunderstorms, tsunamis, hurricanes, radiation caused by failed bombing attempts, because of the bad air condition caused by mountains of trash and the exhaust of countless machines.
The exhaust in fact was such a big problem that the sky had a yellowish shade and the sun only was a dim disk during the day. A layer of grim built up on the ground and painted it black.

The man in the tower never had a wife or kids. He was too preoccupied with his work and didn’t want to take care of a wife or children. He dedicated his whole life to the research of geons and kugelblitzs to eventually make the energy-matter-transformation possible. Years after the Great Siege he was the only human living on planet earth.
The tower around him protected him from the hostile outside. He lives in his tower and his tower lives in him. He only wanted to keep it alive.

Now, he is the last man on earth.

Building Process
I started off with a sculpture of the tower to get a nice shape and built the ramps leading up to the main entrances.
I then differentiated the tower’s shape and started decorating the outside from the bottom to the top. First, I built the elements I definitely wanted to have like the red turbine or the cranes. Everything I built started as a subgroup and was built and decorated separately and then put on the tower. That’s why some things already were highly detailed while most of the tower still was completely flat.

The Last Man on Earth Minecraft Map

The Last Man on Earth Minecraft Map

The Last Man on Earth Minecraft Map

I worked my way up until I reached the roof. The roof gave me some trouble because a flat roof would have looked dull, but most pictures of skyscrapers show them from a low angle where you can’t see the roof. Many modern skyscrapers have a flat roof, but they don’t have four spikes on top. The real problem was making a roof that looked nice and fitted the spikes.

From time to time I took a distanced look on where detail is still needed and filled the empty spaces. When I was happy with the main tower I started constructing the four energy cells and the connecting arms.

The large tower with four smaller ones around it already looked pretty good but I thought it needs something to close it off against the open emptiness of the rest of the Minecraft world. To do that I built the circular road around all the five towers. But it somehow still didn’t look separated enough.
So, I built an extra fortified wall all around the base. That’s when I knew I wanted to go for a heavy military style, not only steampunk.
At some point I changed the lanterns from that victorian style to modern lanterns, because the victorian style I had in mind at the beginning didn't fit anymore.

Over the entire time I often went back to the main tower and changed or added something. It was a constant work in progress.

Now, with the circular road and the octagonal wall around the towers I had the problem that the towers, the road and especially the wall looked very unconnected. Right from the beginning I had the picture of a massive tower surrounded by tons of smaller machines it is controlling in my head. So, I started filling up the inner ring with machines what gave me some trouble at the beginning because it was so much free space and I didn’t really know which machines I want to put in there. But images of oil refineries and transformation substations helped finding inspiration.

On some days I built machines and if I didn’t feel like buildings machines again and again I made some interior for the main tower. The interior was a lot of fun because I never built interior like that before and it was something fresh to learn and enjoy. I didn't build the stories in a specific order, I just built what came to my mind.

The kitchen:

When chunks don't load properly...

When chunks don't load properly

I was so happy when the inner ring was finally completely filled with machinery:

There still were machines missing but I had that really cool picture in my head of the tower standing in the middle of a “trash-desert” with trash towers standing around like in “Wall-E”. So, I built that first. Along with it, I installed waste incinerators and machinery like a wheel loader and a bulldozer to get rid of all the garbage laying around.

The cruise missile launching system under construction:

Building the hyper computer:

Finally filling up the outer ring with machines:

The evil tower:

Adding clouds around the spikes:

The constant work in progress tower got more detailed and I put spikes on it to make it look more defensive and evil. The sides of the energy cells looked quite empty, so I wanted to put some big spikes there. But when the spikes were done I thought it might look better if I connected the spikes to the ground and that’s how the outer joists got that gothic look. I also gained another four extra spaces to install cannons.

With an awesomely spiky tower and a lot of machines at its bottom, the wall around the base looked too clean and straight. To make the wall fit to the tower I put spikes on the outside of it which would serve as extra fortification and also make the transition from the complex to the surrounding terrain more fluent.

Lastly, I changed many little things all over the base to make it more detailed or simply better looking.

In this build a lot of things I had seen or thought of flew together. There are many different sources I was inspired by. I would like to list them here to show you that many little already existing things put together can create a very different, not yet existing thing. Everything I have seen until now and thought about influences my buildings. So, it is nearly impossible to exactly determine where what comes from because all my memories make a smaller or bigger contribution. But I would like to mention the most notable features.

The main tower, the spikes on the roof and the circular road around it were inspired by the tower Orthanc in Isengard from “The Lord of the Rings”.

The idea for the red reactor turbine came from Barad-Dûr from “The Lord of the Rings”. I wanted something that looks eye-like to imply that the tower is watching over the other machines and “sees” everything. The design of the turbine was inspired by the turbines on the chest of some “Pacific Rim” robots.

The tower constellation with a main tower and four other towers standing around it and being connected to the main tower with thin bridges was inspired by the Ziggurat from the anime “Metropolis”.

The joists connecting the main tower and the energy cells and attached to the energy cells going outwards (carrying a twin turret) were inspired by gothic architecture and in particular by the Cologne Cathedral. The outer joists (carrying a twin turret) were initially meant to be spikes reaching out into the air (like the spikes on the back of a dragon) but then I thought it would be cool to connect them to the ground and give them a gothic look.

The scenario with a trashed world, the trash towers standing around like buildings and the waste incinerators come from “Wall-E”.

The concept of cabinless wheel loaders, bulldozers, cranes and other machines was pretty much given by the story as machines can manage themselves and don’t need an operator. The design however was inspired by a cabinless tractor built by “Case IH”.

For the machinery situated at the bottom and all around the tower I used many pictures of oil refineries and transformation substations to not just build something that looks “machine-like” but has an actual connection to the real world.

The decoration was heavily inspired by the steampunk/dieselpunk/cyberpunk genres with the great love of detail, especially from the steampunk genre. I also wanted to create a “Mad Max” feeling because it also takes place in a post-apocalyptic world and I love the style of “Mad Max”.

The decoration with all the conducting paths and the scattered small things on the tower’s outside is heavily inspired by the two following pictures. If you look closely there is something wing-like at the top of the second tower. That's where I got the inspiration for the company logo from.

The tower has 17 stories with an elevator running through the middle of them. However, the elevator will take you to only 16 of the 17 stories. The room in the tower’s base where the hyper computer (yes we are that far in the future) running all systems in the tower is situated in is not accessible for safety reasons. It has its own bunker around it and sits in the tower base because the walls are the thickest there. But the elevator won’t take you there. You can only access it in spectator mode.

The interior style is futuristic/modern to show that the time when the events around the Icarus Tower take place is far in the future. The clean white and simplistic gray and orange also create a nice contrast to the dirty, gray outside world.

Not the entire tower is filled with rooms. That is because machines inside the tower, for example ventilation systems, automatic ammunition feeding systems, piping and so on, take up space. Not to forget the heavy armor in the tower’s walls.

The 17 stories from bottom to top are:
  • The hyper computer bunker in the base of the tower

  • The entrance hall connecting all four entrance doors

  • The defense administration from where most of the weapons are controlled

  • The storage and distribution story with delivery entrances on all four sides. From here the rocket launchers are swapped, too

  • The office story with working spaces for employees

  • A story with a big kitchen and two cold stores

  • A story with bedrooms for each employee and two bathrooms

  • A gym to stay fit even if you are living exclusively in the tower and can’t go out for a walk

  • A hospital to treat injuries or diseases

  • A cinema to chill out and to create a deeper connection between employees and company owner

  • A lavatory with four industrial washing machines and four industrial dryers

  • The cruise missile launching system with missile storages

  • The generator room with four turbines connected to four generators

  • The fusion reactor with plasma circulating through it and a very small room inside of it in case something needs to be repaired or otherwise accessed

  • The control center for most of the tower’s functions but most importantly for the fusion reactor

  • A recreation room with closed terraces on all four sides to be able to have a look outside

  • The company owner’s private story with a living room with tv, a bedroom with an unnecessary large bed, a bathroom and an office with pc and lots of collected books, newspapers, journals, CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray disks and other media.

To protect itself the tower features many different weapons. I listed them here and explain their function.
  • 8 heavy Gatling guns next to the defense administration’s control rooms. They are used to eliminate all kind of small to medium targets on the ground

  • 16 rocket launchers above the delivery entrances to crack the armor of armored vehicles to make it possible for the Gatling guns to fire in

  • 8 cruise missile launching units to shoot cruise missiles to catch enemy airplanes/vehicles far away

  • 48 ultra-fast firing Phalanx turrets all over the complex. They are used to destroy enemy airplanes near the complex. They are designed as anti-air turrets but also can eliminate small targets on ground

  • 8 sniper turrets guarding the outer entrance gates. They are pure anti-vehicle turrets for all types of vehicles and specifically designed to destroy approaching vehicles far away

  • 4 twin turrets at the corner of each energy storing cell. Because of their special positioning above the ground but not that high above it and thanks to the twin barrels which double the fire rate they are able to eliminate both vehicles and airplanes

  • 48 ballistic missiles in 12 missile silos used for long range bombing

  • 8 heavy grenade launchers guarding the outer gates. They shoot bombs over the wall onto enemy ground troops

  • 4 laser focusing units using two lasers being focused into one to create a powerful beam to melt through enemy armor

  • An advanced radar system connected to all other machines spread in the world making it possible to track absolutely everything

The idea of transforming energy to matter is not impossible because of E=mc². But you would need a gigantic amount of energy to form a little bit of mass. The idea of a geon or kugelbitz is to concentrate so much energy in a single spot, that it forms an event horizon and becomes self-trapped. That would be creating a black hole only with energy (not with mass). But due to the amount of energy you would need to perform this act it is pretty much impossible.

The reactor turbine (the big, red, round thing) was built on the second day and stayed like that until the end.

Nether brick is meant to be some sort of extremely durable material. That’s why I put it where I thought extremely durable material is needed and generally used it as an accentuator.

In some East Asian countries, the number “4” and most of its multiples are seen as evil because it has a similar pronunciation like “death” (Tetraphobia). I realized that while building and already had many things exactly four or eight times (red turbine, spikes on the roof, entrances, Gatling guns) and thought that it fits the story quite well, so I built even more things four or a multiple of four times.

If you and a friend of yours are really bored, you can play hide and seek in the inner machine ring. I put ladders there, so everything should be accessible just by walking. Or you set yourself a challenge to get through the labyrinth of machines.

If you don’t know who “Icarus” is look it up and read the legend. It will help you understand the story better and why the company logo are two wings.

I did not build on bedrock because I couldn’t think of another material, but because it nicely resembles dust/ash/soot covered stone. The soot comes from the exhaust of the many machines and deposits on the ground.

My favorite room in the tower is the kitchen. Don’t ask me why. I have no idea. It simply looks nice.

If you have made it this far and actually read everything, congratulations! You earned my deepest respect.
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05/15/2020 2:52 pm
Level 45 : Master Lad
IHasFins avatar
Absolutely legendary.
05/15/2020 8:29 pm
Level 83 : Elite Hero
Captain_JEK avatar
Thank you! Make sure to take a look at it ingame, too. There are so many little details that I can't possibly show them all on the screenshots.
12/11/2018 3:18 pm
Level 54 : Grandmaster Necromancer
Ervinache235 avatar
Great build! Glad I could help!
12/11/2018 10:41 pm
Level 83 : Elite Hero
Captain_JEK avatar
Thank you so much! The new thumbnail image looks so much better than my old one xD You really did an amazing job!
09/25/2018 4:06 am
Level 39 : Artisan Loremaster
Giancarlovan avatar
I love how you really captured a mechanical post-apocalyptic atmosphere to it all!
09/25/2018 4:51 pm
Level 83 : Elite Hero
Captain_JEK avatar
Thank you very much! I couldn't have said it better, your sentence is so well articulated and hits the point. I actually didn't think myself about it (The Last Man on Earth) this way. But now that you mention it, I see it, too. Maybe I should write that down somewhere...
08/27/2018 9:22 am
Level 68 : High Grandmaster Dinosaur
DinowCookie avatar
Mindblowing! Amazing build <3
08/27/2018 9:32 am
Level 83 : Elite Hero
Captain_JEK avatar
Thank you a lot :D
08/27/2018 2:26 am
Level 1 : New Miner
lennerd avatar
i love this
08/27/2018 8:32 am
Level 83 : Elite Hero
Captain_JEK avatar
Thank you ^^
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