This is a list of frequently asked questions. We will add new ones, particularly those that come up on our discord channel, to have them here as a reference:

How much can I change the map?
There are no limitations in the rules about how much you can change the map. You can add and remove as many blocks as you want. However, one of the evaluation criteria is Adaptation to the terrain and environment. So, if you simply flatten the given map, and then build a settlement, you will not score high on adaptation. But there should be no problem with believable modifications to the terrain, especially if it is clear how they help the settlement. So, making room for important roads, filling in minor holes, digging a canal or tunnel to connect to part of the map, all these things should be fine. Removing a whole mountain might be a bit much, though. If you do keep on moving a massive amount of earth or blocks it helps if it appears purposeful and believable. A previous entry ended up creating massive quarries, which the judges mostly liked, and which made sense within the Minecraft narrative. We might introduce a limitation on how many blocks can be changed for future competitions, but there is no limit currently.

Am I limited by the resources on the map?
No, there is no rule that the settlement must be built from resources found on the map. On the other hand, predominantly building from resources that are present on the map is a form of adaptation to the environment. Then again, rich parts of a city might deliberately use resources that are hard to come by locally.

What will the competition maps look like?
The competition maps will be likely based on what the build-in terrain generation in Minecraft produces. There is no limitation in terms of biomes, so everything that you can find in a Minecraft world might theoretically pop up. We might slightly alter the maps to provide some additional terrain features or obstacles. The maps from previous years should give you a rough idea of what you can expect. We aim to provide maps with a range of difficulties, so some maps should be easier to deal with than others. In the 2021 competition, we also introduce the challenge that some maps might have partially built settlements already on them. In the 2023 competition we aim to introduce maps with larger underground spaces.

What will be the size of the maps?
When running the algorithms, they will be provided with a bounding box – the area within the bounding box is the area in which the settlement needs to be built. Typically, the area will be around 256 by 256 blocks (and from bedrock to the sky limit) in size, but the exact size might vary. The algorithms should be able to adapt to varying map sizes. For example, they should be able to deal with a 200 by 300 block map. We guarantee that the maps are rectangular. In the 2021 competition, we will deliberately introduce larger maps, up to 1000 by 1000. We also have, in the past, used maps that had only very small usable surface area, such as a small island map.

Why are the maps only 256 by 256?
There are two reasons for not making the maps too small. First, judges need to be able to evaluate a settlement in a reasonable time frame and should therefore be able to walk through and see most of the settlement within a few minutes. We also wanted to ensure that we can run all algorithms on our end in a reasonable time frame for the evaluation. Nevertheless, we encourage participants to write algorithms that can adapt to larger and smaller maps.

And because this question came up a lot, we now will have at least one larger map. Keep in mind that the judges will still have to be able to evaluate these large maps. So, as they will spawn in the exact center of the input selection, you should make sure that they can find the settlement, for example by building a road leading there, or by providing a sign with information on how to find it.

Will I be disqualified if my algorithm runs longer than 10 minutes?
The 10 minutes are a rough guideline – to give participants a general idea of how long they can take. If your algorithm takes a bit longer on our PC, then this is not a problem. Once it goes on for an hour or so, we will likely interrupt it.

Will I be disqualified if my code does not run on your machine?
If we cannot get your algorithm to run on our machine, then we cannot evaluate it performance. If you are worried, we suggest you submit early, and contact us. We are willing to have a look and see if your algorithm runs on our setup. You can replace your submission later with a new submission to update it. In the worst case scenario we might contact you to run the code yourself. Please be able to respond to your registered email in the two weeks after submission.

You talk about culture in your evaluation guidelines, can I build a fantasy city?
Yes, our evaluation criteria are not limited to human or historical cultures or settlements. Keep in mind that there are two criteria, functionality, and narrative. For functionality, you have to work with the game mechanics provided by Minecraft. So, your floating city should still have a way to get around for its inhabitants and should not be lethal to a player. But in terms of the narrative evocation, you are free to generate fictional futuristic settlements – provided that they follow consistent rules, which should ideally be evident from the way the settlement is built.

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