Alden Coleman is an anagram for Called No Name (waygroovy) wrote,
Alden Coleman is an anagram for Called No Name
waygroovy

Minecraft...

So, there's this game I've played for the last 22 months or so called Minecraft. Great little game, can be lots of fun. But... It's wearing on me.

I started playing Minecraft around September 2010, shortly after http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2010/9/17, during the free alpha weekend (Alpha 1.1.1). It was a small indie developed game. A bunch of my friends from a forum I frequent were playing, talking about it in Mumble.

I created my account and got lost in the world of blocks. Something so monotonous and tedious as building huts and geometric shapes had a ridiculous draw for me. I could mine and punch trees for hours and feel well sated, gaming wise.

After a few months, I threw my hat into the ring of server administration. Through this game I was able to pick up a whole set of skills that I had never really taken the time to learn. Linux remote server control, bash scripting, python scripting, basic network security. I was beginning to branch out and learn what I had wanted to learn back during high school.

During this time I also transitioned from my previous job as a field service technician at ASCO, where I worked on emergency power systems, to a data center facilities technician at Google.

My minecraft server grew to occupy a very large amount of my free time. It also started encroaching on my family time, my work time. Minecraft server administration was available to me on my phone! I could chat with players in game via IRC, or by McMyAdmin console, while sitting around, while eating dinner with my family, while taking a crap, whenever!

I acquired alternate accounts for my children. They loved playing the game, but frequently my youngest, only 7, would ask questions to which I didn't want to answer. "Dad, what does FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU mean?" I tried to create a safe environment for them to play on, by giving them access to my server, by trying to implement a set of rules that would allow for them to safely play.

Still, they know how to google other servers as easily as the next kid. They wanted to branch out. They took to playing on mini-game servers, like capture the flag, hunger games, and the like. I considered locking down their access to only servers I know of, but … locking down my home internet is an arms race I don’t want to start just yet. My oldest is 12... I may already be too late.

With each iteration of the Minecraft game, there comes a period of time when customized server software lags behind the vanilla client. My first experience of this was as a user. The server I played on was running hey0 modified. I updated my client and couldn’t get on the server I wanted to play on. It was incredibly frustrating.

This frustration increased exponentially when i started server administration. When a new beta client would release, first I had to wait for a new version of the server to update. During these periods my inbox would get flooded with emails asking why the server was down, why they couldn’t get in.

Once the server modifications were completed and a build released, it was bug hunting time. How many plugins broke with this update? I would wait additional time for plugin authors to update their plugins to the newest build of craftbukkit. During this period, frequently a plugin author or two would drop off the face of the earth. One of the main features of my server was it’s Biome-terrain modded world. Initially the plugin was initially written by Buycress in late 2010, who disappeared from the internet in December 2010, then picked up by R-T-B and rebranded Phoenix Terrain Mod, who had to put it down at the loss of a family member, and was picked up by Khoon, Cayoriaon, and mysource, rebranded this time as Terrain-Control Mod.

This is only one example of a plugin/mod that has changed hands multiple times. The original authors each expressed a desire to come back to their creations, but were unable to step back in due to the amount of changes they missed out on. This has occurred multiple times with various plugins. Feel free to help me out in the comments with any you can think of.

In Feburary of 2012 Mojang announced the acquisition of the Bukkit team. I was overjoyed with the hopes that the Minecraft API would be developed and implemented. There is already a huge number of mods available, ranging from the silly to the incredible. Check out some on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/results?q=minecraft+mod+showcase or one of my favorites, Sonic Ethers Unbelievable Shaders: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6mbYM1oMpo.

With the impending release of 1.3, ALL of these mods will require at least a tweaking update. The changelist for 1.3 is not a small one. But, no matter what, it will require that all minecraft mods go through at least one more hoop before being future-compatible.

I was angry with this release. I was infuriated by Jeb’s tweet about redstone command blocks: https://twitter.com/jeb_/status/228848952240373761

What does this honestly add to the game that is not already created and implemented by the modding community? Craftbukkit servers have had a variety of solutions from command signs to command blocks and buttons. Instead of working towards a universal minecraft modding api, instead a new feature was added to minecraft vanilla. Every new feature added to vanilla COULD be added in the future via the MCAPI.

As such, I grow weary. With every update I spend more time seeking out replacement plugins for those whose developers drop off, alternatives that better fit the intent behind the game. I’ve lost the time I had to interface with my community. I rarely play Minecraft anymore. When online I spend most of my time looking at whatever cool thing a player has built, bug fixing, rolling back griefing, settling arguments, correcting plugin bugs or permissions errors...

I don’t feel like I’m alone here. I’d like to hear other MC admins chime in on their feelings. I know some of these opinions will not be the same as mine.

I’ll stick out the 1.3 update for now, but at this point I am seriously considering shuttering my servers doors.
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