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I wanted to build an OGame Death Star model in Minecraft, and I started doing it on the highest mountain I could find, for some reason... I built one third of it and blam, can't build any further! Why is that? Or is that a bug?

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    Since this question is 9 years old, it's unlikely that this will help the original questioner, but for anyone else who finds themself in this situation, you can use the /clone command to move or copy large builds around, which may be helpful if you run into the height limit.
    – Kevin
    Dec 6 '20 at 19:10
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+50

Yes

The Minecraft world is 256 blocks (as of Minecraft 1.2) from top to bottom. The reason for the height restriction is that the Minecraft world is made of 16x16x256 'chunks'. These are loaded into memory and rendered starting with the ones closest to the player. A 3D world of chunks (where the world is 'infinite' vertically as well as horizontally) is a whole lot more complex than a 2D world of chunks to manage, and optimizing for smooth gameplay would be a challenge. 256 is a convenient number that's a power of 2 (making it align nicely in memory).

Note that there is also a separate build height on servers. In the server.properties file, there is a property max-build-height which defaults to 256. Server admins can lower this value to prevent players placing blocks above a certain height, but it will not prevent natural terrain from spawning above this level, or players climbing natural structures above this height.

Although it is theoretically possible for a mod to increase the height limit of the map, I can't find any that work with the current version of Minecraft or are in active development.

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    Thanks, that's a cool explanation. But come on, it's Java, nothing aligns nicely in memory.
    – yannbane
    Dec 2 '11 at 17:47
  • The link to the height mod is dead (and also obsolete). Are there any mods for 1.5/1.5.1?
    – tombull89
    Apr 10 '13 at 18:07
  • Seconding tombull89: the build height can be twiddled with an NBT editor (I believe) or server.properties now. Oct 3 '13 at 15:31
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    @Zibbobz You are correct. The height limit used to be 128, but when Minecraft switched to the Anvil file format, the limit was increased to 256
    – SaintWacko
    Oct 3 '13 at 21:13
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    It's for memory reasons. 256 is the highest value which can be stored in a single unsigned byte. The previous format was limited to 128 because it used a format which allowed negative numbers (though they were not used). Oct 4 '13 at 13:27
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The height in unmodded Minecraft is restricted. From the bottom of the world to the highest possible point is 256 meters, or blocks.

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    Btw, if you want to check at what height you are, press the f3 key and check the Y value displayed.
    – Kurley
    Dec 2 '11 at 17:03
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You can go 256 blocks above in the overworld, but in the nether, there is bedrock above and underneath the nether.

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As of 21w06a the build height has changed, it is now from y=-64 to y=320. 64 blocks have been added to both the top and bottom of the world, since this is still a snapshot this is subject to change. The total build height is now 384 blocks and can be modified using datapacks.

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The build height limit is 256 blocks, as of pre - 1.17. The Minecraft world is made of 16x256x16 chunks. In 1.18 (Caves and Cliffs Part 2) they have changed the build height limit to 320 blocks. Also, chunks are now 16x384x16. In the Nether, you can only go up to 128 as there is bedrock at the top of the Nether.

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if you play in the snapshot 20w49a you can get blocks placed at a y-coordinate from 500 to -500 but it is buggy and requires a datapack like this: https://github.com/onnowhere/examples

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    500 to -500 what?
    – Penguin
    Dec 3 '20 at 17:43
  • @Penguin Please don't downvote, this is true. Datapacks are able to change parts of dimensions including the min and max height.
    – Ray Wu
    Dec 7 '20 at 18:07
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    @RayWu I never downvoted nor said it was not true. He just doesn't specify what "500" to "-500" is. 500 what?
    – Penguin
    Dec 7 '20 at 18:27
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    @RayWu I didn't know that, hence why I asked. Also I can't edit stuff without it taking a bit to be approved anyway
    – Penguin
    Dec 7 '20 at 18:29
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    @Joachim I agree, I was just under the impression that Penguin knew what the numbers were referring to and was suggesting a change.
    – Ray Wu
    Dec 7 '20 at 21:53
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If you want to build very high, build in the nether... That way you have plenty of space to go... Infinity. But in the over world, in order to build to infinity you need mods. The reason why there is a height limit is because the terrain would generate way to high, and the computer would lag or buffer and crash. The x and y dimensions also have a limit. 30,000,000 both sides. However, again, I have a question? Can't mojang set two height limits? One for the terrain, which is 256, or 512 and the building which is infinity?

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  • If you have a comment, you should put it after the question. Not as an answer. Feb 22 '17 at 11:38
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    The nether has the same build height restrictions as the overworld. I'm not clear where you get the idea you can build infinitely high in the nether.
    – Bobble
    Jan 3 '19 at 9:47
  • that's not really why there's a max height limit...
    – Penguin
    Dec 7 '20 at 22:13

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