jr. redstone engineer @ minecraft

minecraft was my gateway into computers.

starting a new world

exploring a fresh seed without understanding the controls was great.

my first night was guided by only the idea of digging a hole for shelter. following nights passed easier.

endless chunks offered the landscape for craft.

playing on servers

many of my friends also played this game and we would play together on servers.

the server hosted by ken

as newbs to the game we were lucky to have a friend with a tech savvy cousin who ran a server.

there was nothing special about it besides being a place for us to play.

most days after school we joined a skype call to talk about whatever mattered. this was often related to the game but sometimes it wasn’t.

separate bases were built in this world and it was mostly peaceful.

eventually a shop plugin was added where resources could be bought and sold. the shop was protected by a grief prevention plugin.

farming became my specialty since food could be sold. harvesting crops was also calming. i would later start using redstone in farms.

one mischievous day i tested the boundaries of grief prevention.

blocks in the shop could not be broken but the shop was made of wood. placing a wood block next to the shop was possible and could be lit on fire.

fire spread happened to be allowed and most of the shop burnt down.

i was soon banned and that was the end of the server hosted by ken.

port forwarding to self host

wanting to still play together we explored public servers and eventually hosting our own.

starting a local server was fairly easy but connecting across networks was hard. port forwarding was difficult and restrictive firewall settings made incoming connections impossible.

unwilling to give up we happened to discover virtual private networks.

sharing a server then became possible as long as the hosts computer stayed online!

the uptime was never perfect but it was enough to be online together.

plugin configurations

many servers used plugins to enhance gameplay. mods for multiplayer.

these added features like shops and towns and permissions and world edits. the ecosystem was flush.

i downloaded many plugins and tinkered with the configurations for our shared server.

editing these text files was my introduction to customizing a computer!

attempting to make multiple plugins compatible required research and patience. reloading the server was frequent.

settling on a setup never happened but file structures became familiar.

the managed solution

hosting remained a hard problem with our unpredictable uptimes and restrictive firewalls.

many services offered server subscriptions but the cheapest options were cost prohibitive.

one forum post suggested using an ec2 instance on the aws free tier.

i created an account and followed tutorials with confusion. just hours later a minecraft server was running!

connecting brought mostly disappointment as latency suffered lag.

paying a dedicated service was more effective for a few months. then mojang provided an alright option.

learning the mechanics

both farming and redstone enticed me and i spent many hours reading the wikis to learn nuances.

youtubers were a big source of inspiration with creative constructions.

farming resources

the meditative patterns of planting seeds then waiting then harvesting made farms for food captivating.

scaling and automating these processes brought many optimizations.

agriculture became efficient and resources plenty.

animal husbandry was occasionally practiced and mob grinders made.

modding and texture packs

modifications to the base game intrigued me but installation was often difficult.

hidden folders were discovered and mismatched settings fixed to load cheats. this spoiled my single player experience.

writing a mod was my dream and learning java in high school computer science courses equipped me for this.

complex patterns in code and confusing build systems dissuaded me.

simple changes to in-game art was pursued instead as textures loaded directly from images.

redstone and contraptions

logic and circuits were possible with a magic dust and some thinking.

wiring lights in a base and increasing smelting outputs were common projects. harvesting crops and mobs were more ambitious endeavors.

when command blocks were added possibilities became infinite.

programming within the game and intuiting designs captured all of my experimental energy and a handful of minigames were made.

staring off into the sunset in minecraft