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What caused the Minecraft Far Lands to happen?

Far Lands, as forced to generate in a modern version of the game (Image via u/MusicOfBeeFef, Reddit)
Far Lands, as forced to generate in a modern version of the game (Image via u/MusicOfBeeFef, Reddit)
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Jacob Burkett

The Far Lands are a now-infamous terrain generation bug well known among the veterans of the Minecraft community. It is known for its strange and nonsensical terrain generation and being nearly inaccessible to average players due to just how far away the Far Lands begin to generate.

These generation issues gave rise to the iconic and characteristic terrain of the Far Lands, often appearing stretched and pulled with strangely awe-inspiring cave systems carved out of its flat walls.


What were Minecraft's Far Lands, and why did they happen

Bedrock Far Lands

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While the development of the Bedrock Edition has happened substantially later than most other versions, the terrain generation has had its own set of issues, manifested in the Bedrock Far Lands. Visually distinct and entirely different from the Java versions of the Far Lands, the Bedrock Far Lands have the same generation distance of slightly over 12.5 million blocks away.

One of the most significant differences between the versions is that sand and gravel do not fall when generated in Bedrock Far Lands, resulting in much more stable performance, as there are no gravity calculations always running.


Java Far Lands

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Java Far Lands are the iconic Far Lands that most people will refer to when they talk about Minecraft's Far Lands. There are three distinct versions of the Java Far Lands, depending on the version of the game.

The original Far Lands is from versions of the game before Infdev 2010-03-25. This initial version of the Far Lands is very different from all the others.

Past 33.5 million blocks in a world at this time, every block generated would be solid stone, stretching out to the 32-bit limit, extending vertically from the bottom of the world to the top.

The middle Far Lands is the version that spans the game versions from Infdev 2010-03-27 to Beta 1.7.3. This is the version of the far lands that YouTuber KilloCrazyMan managed to reach in less than nine months of walking, archived in its entirety on his channel. It is the first documented time the Far Lands have ever been reached in unmodified survival.

There is also, technically, Far Lands after Beta 1.8. It is the most contentious version of the Far Lands, as while the Far Lands can be triggered using modifications to the game, the generation glitches that cause the Far Lands to occur in the base game have been fixed.


Why did Far Lands generate

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The way Minecraft generated terrain at the time was by using a noise generator, specifically Perlin 3D noise. This would generate random shapes that, when thought of as a topographical map, with different colors representing different heights, could be used to generate the landscape's slope.

However, instead of having each pixel of the noise map represent an in-game block, every 171.103 pixels represents an in-game block. This is why the Far Lands happen at roughly 12.5 million blocks instead of the 32-bit limit of 2.1 billion. Due to this interaction, the terrain generation formula completely fell apart at 12.5 million blocks.

The 32-bit integer limit of 2,147,483,648 being divided by the unit size of 171.103 results in a distance of 12,550,824 blocks. This means that any terrain past this point will use the newly broken generation methods.

There is much more depth in the mathematics, but this is a basic, simplified version of just why the Far Lands generated, to begin with. Due to this distance and seeming unreachability, they became something of a legend to the game's player base and are still remembered fondly to this day.


References in other media

The Far Lands, as seen in Minecraft: Story Mode (Image via vg247.com)
The Far Lands, as seen in Minecraft: Story Mode (Image via vg247.com)

For how prolific they are to Minecraft’s original community, the Far Lands are no longer accessible in the game. However, they have been referenced and used in other media surrounding the game.

The Far Lands, for example, is a significant location for the plot of Minecraft: Story Mode. In addition, the name of Steve’s classic mode in Super Smash Brother’s Ultimate is “Journey to the Far Lands.”


Edited by Ravi Iyer
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