Whiteark, or Wy’Taracck, Determined Sentinel of the East, is a desert city with some astonishing domed and buttressed architecture on display, and it’s been built by a single person. It’s in Minecraft - that single person bit was probably a giveaway - and when I stare at the screenshots of it, it looks like nothing so much as a hallucination from the very dead of night, in the absolute middle of winter, that’s somehow crossed over and firmed itself up.
It’s also a doodle that got seriously out of hand. According to its designer, it started as a little village project initiated a few days before Halloween, 2012, and yet it now encompasses 1057x824 blocks at its widest point. It’s so intricate and coherent, and yet it’s only been haphazardly planned. You know how you’ll be driving along the road and you’ll see birds flocking in lazy circles overhead and then remember that you read an article once that pointed out no single bird is ever in charge? Whiteark.
Man, Whiteark is weird. It has museums and public squares and a Palace of the Oases, but it has no people. It owes an obvious debt to the kind of cursed cyclopean architecture Lovecraft could never seem to dispel over a morning coffee, yet it also reminds me of the ultimate folly/calling card of any up-and-coming renaissance busybody: a utopian city project designed along very personal lines. Even with these reference points, there’s never been anything quite like Whiteark. It feels like something new, an experiment in open-ended storytelling through the creation of the geography that supports it. It feels like world-building where the lore emerges through the placement of stones. And it serves as a reminder that there’s never really been anything quite like the game it sits within. You can play this game as a survival horror if you want. You can play it as an RPG or a nature ramble. Or you can do this, and there are ultimately no words for what this even is.