The server move was on.
As I mentioned in the last Minecraft post, our term with MC Pro Hosting was up this past weekend and I was looking for a new home. Performance on our server there was poor, especially at peak hours, and the only solution they had to offer was to upgrade our service. However, given that only eight people have ever logged on to our server, and having even four of us on at once was a rare occasion, I felt that our server plan (we ended up with the Iron Plan), advertised as good to host up 40 players, should have been sufficient, especially given we were using the vanilla server with no mods.
But where to go?
Back when I was first looking at hosting plans, people had nice things to say about Minecraft Realms, which is Mojang’s own hosting service. It was stable, safe, and easy. It was just expensive relative to what else was out there. However, late last year Mojang decided to fix the pricing part, dropping the rates to as low as $7.99 a month for a six month run, $8.99 a month for a three month commitment, and $9.99 for a month to month billing cycle.
And, they also offer a free two week trial.
I setup a trial server a few weeks back, and then life got in the way and I never quite got back to it until last week, after the trial had expired. Still, I had gotten a peek and decided to commit. That was on Thursday last week, and I had until Sunday to wrap things up with MC Pro Hosting.
Dealing with Minecraft Realms though, that is a little different than other hosting services. Netherbyte and MC Pro Hosting were similar, if not in pricing and service, then in how you managed your server. They both used the same third party admin tool, both gave me FTP access to our partition, and allowed me to basically tinker with all the bits and settings directly.
You don’t get any of that with Minecraft Realms. Or the bits that you do get are not like that at all. You do all of your server work in the Minecraft client.
For me, having used various other tools up to this point, it was a bit confusing at first. However, if you are coming from playing on local, single player worlds, it is clearly an attempt to make a hosted world as much like a local world as possible.
So the control panel won’t overwhelm you with options.
You can have three different worlds on your realm, though only one may be running at a time. You can generate them from scratch as with a local game, but to use a current world you have to have it available locally as a single player world first.
That meant making a backup of our current world, downloading it, and then converting it into something that could be accessed locally. That generally just means putting the “world” folder in the “Saves” directory for Minecraft, but since we tried running a couple different server types over the last nine months… in search of better performance… our directory had a some extras in it, including two extra copies of the nether in their own folders, as opposed to the DIM1 (or is is the DIM-1?) directory.
I managed to get that sorted and a right items in the right place so the world appeared as a local realm that I could successfully log into. Then I clicked on my one remaining empty world slot (the first two were test runs) where it let me select our world to upload. Weighing in at more than 800mb, the upload took a bit of time, but it went through successfully.
(At some point I will do a post about how Minecraft was in part a success due to the fact that it was created in a world where it resources like drive space were readily available.)
That was a success. I was able to log into our world on Minecraft Realms and everything looked good. Now I just had to get everybody else to follow me, which primarily meant getting Aaron to come along.
Of course, there were complications.
In order to use Minecraft Realms, you have to have a Mojang account. All of us had old school Minecraft accounts. There is a conversion process, where you start with a Minecraft account and end up with a Mojang account. It isn’t even particularly difficult. It was just, like so many things, documented by somebody who already knew how to do it, so it makes assumptions that you might not at a couple of points.
I went through the process with my daughter’s, just to see how it worked. You have to log onto the Minecraft site, go to your settings, click the link to convert your account, give it an email address (which will be your new login), click a verification link that is emailed to that address, then log in to the Mojang site using your email address, your old account name, and your password, which remains the same.
At that point you are converted and, as a side benefit, you can now change your Minecraft in-game name once every 30 days, since it is no longer your account login.
I then logged into Minecraft Realms, clicked on the Players button, and invited my daughter’s account, using her in-game name (which she can now change, so I am not sure how that will work out if she does), so that she could join the server. Minecraft Realms servers are all by invite only, so it clearly isn’t the service for you if you want to run a public server.
When my daughter logged back in to Minecraft, she had a notification on the main screen.
Clicking on the Minecraft Realms button revealed a pending invite for her.
That was the invite to join the server. Clicking on and accepting that put our server on her list and she was able to log in. Op success!
So I put that together in an email and sent it out to the rest of the team on our server.
And then Aaron had a problem. He converted his account but wasn’t seeing the invite to the server. I verified his user name on the invite list, which was suspiciously gray on a list of otherwise white shaded names. Then Xyd chimed in that he had converted his account and had logged in just fine.
Of course, the mocking tone that might have accompanied that note might have spurred Aaron to double check his end of things, as he came back a while later and reported success as well. Skronk followed up after that, though he reported problems with 1.8 client mods not working with 1.9, but at least a quorum seemed to have migrated to the new location.
I ran around the world, rolling down minecart rails, which is one place that performance lag was very apparent and things seemed okay. Aaron tinkered for a bit and said things were at least as good as before. So I cancelled the MC Pro Hosting server and that was that. We had a new home. I don’t have as fine a control for the moment… we’ll see what happens when the Mineserver finally ships… but that is okay for now. I do get an activity chart for people now.
While I was still rolling around and finding some new things with 1.9, such as a couple of the new zombie models…
… Aaron got stuck right into the new server and spawned the Ender Dragon again, something new for 1.9. After more than a few deaths… I was on but elsewhere for some of the fight… he brought down the beast, which spawned a new type of portal in The End.
Throwing an Ender Pearl into it… something in rich supply due to the Enderman farm pumping them out just down the path… brings you to one of the new cities in The End.
There he found some new treasures, new materials, a new light source (the end rod), the dragon’s head (for his collection), and more Ender men.
So there we are for now. On a new server, exploring some of the Minecraft 1.9 features, and dealing with some of the Minecraft 1.9 bugs.