Just Testing…Cubeville

OK – so on our last outings on Minecraft severs, HopperBoy and me were in the process of discovering how everything worked. To get things started we spent some time in the Cubeville server (details at the bottom of this post, if you want to try for yourself).

Spawn

And this is what we thought of it!

Cubeville is generally PvE Minecraft server – it offers you a community to interact with, that has additions like a money system and games for players to interact. It allows up to around 150 players on at one time, but from what we found it was never too busy and the players we met in game were nice and helpful. There are also Mods online (majority of the time we played) and they assist with any issues or inappropriate behaviour, which is great.

HopperBoy’s thoughts on Cubeville:

The Good

Gameplay was pretty much the same as normal Minecraft

The community was generally nice and helpful – thank you MrFunnyBonesMeow ūüôā

The huge world to explore with fun fairs, large buildings and other ready built creations for you to play around on

Spawn points and ‘drop areas’ onto bouncy grass were lots of fun

 

The Not-so-Good

Difficult to find a free area to build your own house on – there are lots of ‘areas’ to go to, but are heavily built on already and/or protected

Because finding a free space was difficult, when we gathered resources we could not store them safely anywhere and we played several times and lost everything when we died which was v. frustrating!

Getting food when you first start can be a bit tricky, so when you die of hunger and lose your stuff, that is even more frustrating (although a few lovely players we met who were well established did help us out and gave us bits and pieces).

 

Overall, we’d give it 3* – it was a nice introduction to sever gameplay, however, not being able to easily establish yourself and complying with the rules made it a bit tricky and at times upsetting when lots of hard earned items were lost on dying. I would have thought some way of creating little ‘land packets’ that clearly create boundaries for someone to build within (and see if they are free or not) would be a great improvement from a grown up point of view and make establishing yourself much easier and allow you to ‘bond’ with the server environment more easily and feel at home.

In our next blog post, you can check out our video to see how our first visit to Cubeville went…

 

Want to try it? Here’s how!

http://www.cubeville.org/

 

 

 

Minecraft Servers – How do I use them?

Following on from the ‘Minecraft Servers – What are they?’ post, this article aims to help you understand the basics of Minecraft¬†servers and how you can use them.¬†This information¬†is for the PC/Mac version of Minecraft only. I understand there are a few¬†family-friendly servers for the Pocket Edition and Xbox versions of Minecraft, the vast majority of servers work with¬†the PC/Mac version, which is what we’ve been using.

Server Basics You Need to Know

Before you join a public server, there are some basic things you and your child need to know:

  • Spawn Points: Just as in ‘normal’ Minecraft, when you join a server game¬†your player will¬†usually spawn (start) at a set point in the world,¬†this is often¬†referred to simply as ‘spawn’. The spawn point may be in some¬†kind of lobby area, with lots of signs telling you about the world and rules for playing (if appropriate) or it may be in the¬†centre of a main playing area, such as a city.¬†You can usually type the command /spawn¬†to return to your spawn point within the game. On some servers you will spawn in an area the first time of use only, so that you can read information about using the world, they will then allow you¬†to set your own spawn point for future visits, or might set one for you that means you don’t have to read the rules every time you play.
  • Speaking of ‘Rules’: Nearly all servers will have some rules to follow¬†as to what you can and cannot do. The¬†family-friendly servers tend to have a big list of strict rules, which will include things like bad language and virtual bullying and/or ‘griefing’ (see below). Make sure you read all the rules thoroughly, especially if you’ve got younger Minecrafters – they might find this bit a little dull and need your help picking up the key bits relevant to them. (When you first join some servers – like Cubeville –¬†they¬†make you to walk past lots of signs with the rules on and then you have to read FAQs at the end, before you can go into the world). ¬†If you don‚Äôt follow the rules, you can be banned temporarily or even permanently from the server. Having a little pad to hand, where you can jot down specific commands for that server can also be handy and save you having to open up FAQs in the text chat box all the time!
  • Griefing: A potential¬†issue on public servers is griefing. Griefing is a term used to cover¬†activities like¬†demolishing other players‚Äô buildings or stealing their stuff (anything from harvesting their crops to stealing from their chests).¬†A lot of the servers we’ve come across¬†‚ÄĒ but not all ‚ÄĒ use special plug-ins to stop griefing. Typically these plug-ins will let you lock your chests, doors and furnaces, as well as protecting buildings or outside spaces for any¬†patch¬†of land you claim as your own, which stops anyone else¬†from breaking blocks or building within your claimed area. For added protection,¬†griefing is usually¬†forbidden in the server rules and so anyone caught griefing will¬†be warned and then banned. The ‘Admins’ and teams who run the servers can also often assist with returning missing items or¬†reverting a building back to¬†the condition is was in¬†before griefing occurred. Phew! ūüôā
  • What is the difference between a server and a world?¬†A server is usually a single public location which hosts several ‘worlds’ that you can move between, simply by logging in to the one server. For example, if you go into the Hypixel server, you go into a main central area, where you’ll see lots of other Minecrafters running around, and you can select which specific mini-game world you wish to visit from there. To move between this main central area and the other worlds you go to specific points, that are clearly labelled and teleport from there into the game you’ve chosen.
  • Text Chat: Minecraft has built-in text chat (the ‚ÄėT‚Äô key), which is the default way that your kid will communicate with other players. Chat can be public or private (one-to-one). To use this function your child will need reasonable reading and typing skills – chat can move quite quickly, with mods and other players offering tips to you via this message panel. It’s not essential for them to be able to use it fully, but it will help them get the most out of the game. If you’re around, you can always help them out, or one of the things we’ve done it use the ‘typing practice’ programs to help speed up HopperBoy’s typing, which will make it easier for him to communicate during¬†online play. Bad language? Most of the family-friendly servers employ automatic filtering to prevent swearing in text chat. As with all online chat, make sure you remind your kid never to give¬†out personal details when chatting, although they are in a game, they are still strangers.
  • Voice Chat: Some servers can link up with voice chat servers such as Mumble,¬†TeamSpeak¬†or Ventrilo¬†which enable players to speak with one other while playing.¬†We’ve not ventured down this route at all – I’d be happier for him to improve his typing skills! If you do want to use this option with your child, you will need to look at what safe guards you can put in place to be¬†careful about who they‚Äôre talking to, and what they‚Äôre talking about…
  • Using Server Commands:¬†Server commands are a big¬†part of server gaming and will help you¬†get the most out of online playing. To use them¬†you‚Äôll need to give¬†various¬†commands to the server as you play, usually¬†by pressing the /¬†(slash) key, followed by the command name and, sometimes, some extra text – e.g. /home¬†teleports you to your home point (as you’ve set in the game). The commands vary from server to server, but you pick them up quickly – the notepad mentioned above can be useful for this! – also, there’s usually a command, such as /help that brings up a list of all the usable commands for that server if you get stuck.
  • Using mods: We’ve got a few mods loaded up for Minecraft, but a lot of the servers don’t allow the use of mods inside their worlds – perhaps for cheating, but also because of compatibility issues. In general, we’ve just logged in to the server using the ‘vanilla’ profile and avoided any issues.

 

So, I think that’s it for the basic ‘things to know’ – let’s get onto a server!

 

Joining a Public Minecraft Server

Joining a public Minecraft server is actually quite easy – certainly easier than loading mods can be!!

  1. Open the Minecraft game launcher and click ‘Play’ to run the main Minecraft game.
  2. When you¬†reach the main title screen, click ‘Multiplayer’.
  3. In this new screen you will see any servers you have¬†previously loaded up to link to. If¬†it’s your first time, then it will obviously¬†be empty, but¬†you can¬†click¬†‘Add Server’ button to add the server.
  4. On the new screen you can type in a Name for your server, to easily identify it. You should then type in the server location (IP) such as ‘mc.hypixel.net’
  5. Click ‘Done’, to go back to the main page.
  6. You should now have a server that you can highlight and then¬†click¬†‘Join Server’¬†to take you straight through to the game world.

 

Troubleshooting Public Minecraft Servers

Compatibility – The first and most obvious issue might be that the profile that you’re trying to join the server¬†with is too high or too low for their version. i.e. if the main Minecraft game is now running on 1.9, but the server is set up for 1.8.3 and you go in on that profile, it won’t allow you on.

This can be easily resolved (in a similar way to how you create the right profiles to use various versions of mods), by creating a new user profile from the Minecraft launcher to add to your drop-down list on the main page:

Screen shot 2016-03-29 at 19.24.20

On this screen, click ‘New Profile’ button in bottom left-hand corner.

 

Screen shot 2016-03-29 at 19.26.51

On the next screen, it will normally say ‘Always Use Latest Version’ in the ‘Use version’ drop-down box. This is where you should click and select the correct, compatible release version of Minecraft to match with the server you want to join. To help me remember which is which, I update the profile name to include the release number after my name. Click ‘Save Profile’ when you’ve done this.

If you now log back in to the Multiplayer Game – as per instructions above – the server game should be ready and waiting for you to join! ūüôā

Screen shot 2016-03-29 at 19.28.23

 

Whitelisting – This is where a server is protected by a ‘whitelist’ – essentially a list of usernames that are permitted to join the server. If your name is not on that list, then you will not be allowed to join.

In order to join a whitelisted server you need to apply to have your Minecraft username added to their list (usually via a form on their website). Sometimes it will clear in a few hours, others take a few days. You will need to make a separate application for each Minecraft username that you wish to add. Once you’re on the whitelist, you should be able to join the server via the same process outlined above.

Whitelisted servers do offer an extra element of reassurance that the users are known to the server administrators.

 

That’s it for now! Hopefully with the above instructions you’ve got everything you need to join multiplayer Minecraft worlds on public servers. As this is quite new for HopperBoy and me, we’ll be trying out some of the servers we’ve found in the next few weeks and drop some reviews on here to let you know what we think.

Minecraft Servers – What are they?

Well, this is something I’ve had to find out about since our visit to Insomnia 57 last weekend. While we were at the show¬†HopperBoy had a lot of fun playing on various mini-games at the Hypixel stand – Sky Wars, Build Battle and Simon Says were among the favourites that we’ve seen various YouTubers play from iBallistic Squid to Dan TDM. So far, I’d not really paid enough attention as to how you actually got on to some of these mini-games, thinking it would be via mods (which we’ll cover another time) and would be rather tricky.

HypixelThe Hypixel stand had rows of computers set up in groups of 8 that put everyone into their own very special versions of the popular mini-games against the players sat around them. It was really well managed with co-ordinators filling the missing seats and games running all the time. Definitely recommend a visit, if you’re considering going to Insomnia 58 in the summer.

You can find out more about Hypixel on their YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/Hypixel

Anyway, as it turns out – it’s really very easy to join these server-based¬†mini-games from inside your existing Minecraft game, just¬†type in a¬†link and join up!¬†(I’m talking about PC/Mac version here – not sure that Xbox, Playstation or Minecraft PE have these options readily available yet). And, if your child has already spent some time playing Minecraft on their own¬†‚ÄĒ or with other family members in my case ‚ÄĒ chances are, they will soon be ready¬†to play with others online.

From what I’ve seen so far, a lot of the servers feature huge, pre-built worlds, that have everything from¬†amazing cities and buildings to¬†transport networks and, most importantly it seems, mini-games for your kid to explore and enjoy with other like-minded players.

The other thing that is good with server play is that a lot of¬†the servers¬†have plug-ins, which allow¬†for a whole range of extra Minecraft gameplay features, including money systems, jobs, role-playing elements and mini-challenges. To access these features, you don‚Äôt need to modify your Minecraft game at all (unlike¬†adding mods to your own Minecraft games, which have to be compatible with the version of the game you’re running, etc.) as they are all built in to the server and available as soon as you log in to the game.

Playing Minecraft on a public server can take the game to a whole new level for young players and will likely be their first foray into online gaming, which for parents is probably the biggest hurdle: how safe are these public servers?

We all worry about¬†bad language, bullying and online predators, and of course, no public server is 100% safe, however, there are a number of servers that we’ve now discovered that cater specifically for kids and families, with active moderators (Mods of a different type) who help players learn to play the games and ensure rules are followed, as well as in-built filters to monitor bad language, etc.

(If this is still a concern and you’d¬†rather set up a completely private server for your kid and their close friends, you check out the recently released¬†Minecraft Realms direct from Mojang, which allows you to easily host a private world).

See related posts on ‘Minecraft Servers’ here, for more information and how to use them.