I have written about Minecraft Overviewer before, the utility that will take the data from your Minecraft world and render it into the Google Maps format so you can see the big picture of your world in a browser. (There is a GUI utility as well, for those who want to avoid command line fun.)
While I have avoided mods and kept to a vanilla server for more than a year now, this utility is now almost essential to me for the sort of big road, rail, and exploration projects I have been interested in. Yes, with location coordinates available, I could build in a point to point fashion. But that isn’t as much fun as looking at the terrain you have explored and finding the more interesting or optimal path through the world. The great rail loop is made up of straight lines, but I usually knew where I was headed due to the map.
That screen shot of the map doesn’t do the map output justice. Being in Google Maps format, you can zoom out to get the big picture… as big as your monitor will allow I suppose… or zoom in to see details.
But Overviewer has a number of rendering options. I tend to just run it with the high quality, smooth render option set, which gives you a daylight view of the world. But you can also render the world at night.
I played around with the night rendering when I first downloaded Overviewer. It is kind of an interesting view. However, its utility didn’t seem all that great. It lets you spot dark patches in your compound, which is where monsters will spawn at night, but you can also render with an overlay option that will highlight dark spots in red on the daylight map, which is more precise than looking for shadows.
Since then though, I have warmed to the night render. To start with, I think it just looks nice.
And it does let you see how well you may have lit a given outpost.
I am definitely going to get monster spawns in that fenced off area north of the wall. Better light it better to protect my flock.
You can also see the strange yet useful bug where lighting remains behind after you burn down part of a forest to clear a path for progress.
And, zoomed out, you can see the lit path of the rail line running through the world.
It is like those views of Earth at night from space, where you can see population clusters because of how they are lit. (You can see the lit woods from the picture above along the lower left of the wide view picture.)
But it was the wider view that caught my interest. You can also see all sorts of pools of light on the map. Every bit of exposed lava shines, as does every torch I planted while exploring. (Also a little strip of woods I may have set on fire.) I realized that the night view was a handy way to find things that wouldn’t necessarily show up on the daylight map. I used to use lit netherrack to mark places, as that shows up in daylight, but in the night render single torches stand out in the darkness. You can scan about for little pools of light which highlight villages that we haven’t visited yet.
I can also locate a lot of the little overnight rest stops I have dug out while exploring, often just a door in a wall somewhere with a torch for lighting.
So I have spent some time looking for the foot prints we have all left around our world.
But sometimes I just look at the night map because it is neat, like the guardian farm lit up and glowing.
Now I wonder if there is a way to count how many torches there are deployed in our world. Given all of them I can see on the surface, plus all of them strewn about the nether, plus all of them in the various mining operations under our bases has got to add up to a significant number. I know that most of the coal I dig up goes to torch production.