FOR four and a half years, the BBC has been working on the next season of Frozen Planet – the nature documentary about the coldest regions on earth, narrated by David Attenborough.
The team has explored the world, from the Arctic to Antarctica, to the top of the highest mountains and to the frigid cold of a desert at nightfall.
Now the team is entering completely unknown territory: the world of Minecraft.
As each episode of Frozen Planet II airs, Minecraft is releasing a free map for players to explore.
The maps will feature Attenborough’s narration as players swim, waddle and fly over these blocky recreations of our planet and recreate moments from the show.
“What’s fun about working with the Minecraft team is that they’ve touched a nerve with young viewers,” said Elizabeth White, producer of Frozen Planet II.
During the interview, White plays a clip from the upcoming series, which shows drone camera footage of an avalanche, melting ice caps and animals struggling to survive in a hostile landscape. It is impressive.
“I’ve watched this a few times now and it still grabs me every time,” says Justin Edwards, Minecraft’s director of tutorials.
“The BBC contacted me and explained [the partnership idea]and my heart went back to the original Frozen Planet – it’s still with me.
“It took me a split second to say, ‘Yeah, absolutely.’ It was a game made in heaven.”
To achieve this, Mojang’s developers had to completely overhaul Minecraft’s behavior, creating eight new animal mobs (the game’s artificial intelligence) and new player behaviors, all playable from a third-person perspective.
These experiences are releasing today as a series of free worlds that players can download in Minecraft: Bedrock Edition and Minecraft: Education Edition.
“In the Education Edition, we will be providing classroom resources—that is, Word documents, PowerPoint files, and lesson plans—for teachers to use alongside the TV series and gameplay,” explains Edwards.
At this point I am shown the gameplay in a pre-recorded video.
Here the player takes control of a nesting chinstrap penguin who must collect stones for his nest while fending off other penguins who are out to steal his stones.
“The mobs aren’t just skins,” explains Edwards. “They are unique new character players in the way they move and how you interact with them.
“With the penguins, for example, a left mouse click actually moves your flippers so you can [shoo] drive away the other birds.”
Next we swim through icy seas as a killer whale and try to work together with the rest of the group to push a seal off an ice platform.
When you take control of an eagle, you can flap its wings and fly freely through a different landscape.
As a chameleon, you can change the color of your skin to match the block you’re currently sitting on.
“At the end of each game, you become an explorer,” says Edwards. “You have a camera and a notepad and you can explore the world and photograph the animals in these landscapes.”
This is where the educational aspect of the game comes into play by sharing facts about the environment, animals and what we can do about climate change.
It took the team – studio architects, game developers and outside contractors – nine months to create this Frozen Planet II collaboration.
Five worlds, eight new animals – leopards, bumblebees and walruses are some of the others – and 80 custom blocks make up the whole.
You’ll even notice that the sea has a slightly different hue than the usual Minecraft ocean, so it more accurately represents the real-world version of the location.
Much like the TV series itself, it appears to be a real labor of love.
Parents can watch the show with their kids, then launch Minecraft and visit these virtual replicas to get them more involved in the classes they offer.
It’s not just dry education either – it’s a celebration of the beauty and diversity of our planet, told in a modern, forward-thinking way that tackles difficult realities in a way that doesn’t terrify the target audience.
“I think what’s special about this show is that it celebrates those places,” says White. “The scientists in particular have hope.
“Obviously we don’t want to make people feel like everything is doomed. We have time to change things if we all get involved.”
One thing is certain in life: change.
Whether you’re an active participant and pushing for positive change, or a passive observer and watching things change for the worse, change will always happen.
When the BBC revisited the killer whales – who also starred in season one – for Frozen Planet II, they found their behavior had adapted. We are all capable of it.
I would like to imagine that there is an extraterrestrial version of David Attenborough looking down on us from his spaceship right now telling how our kids are going to save the planet because of the BBC and a little game called Minecraft.
Written by Kirk McKeand on behalf of GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN.
All the latest gaming tips and tricks
Looking for tips and tricks for your favorite consoles and games? We’ve got you covered…
Get all the news about PS5, Xbox and other video games here
https://www.thesun.ie/tech/9441791/minecraft-free-new-maps-frozen-planet-2/ Minecraft gets FREE new maps and David Attenborough in a Frozen Planet 2 partnership