After having been in discussion for the past month or so regarding the options to ensure the best future for the server, we have decided that we will be merging with WoolCity.net, another small creative server in the coming months. Below I’ve attempted to answer some questions that I believe are going to be commonly asked, however if I’ve missed anything then feel free to ask. Either I or Taylor (WoolCity owner) should be able to address any concerns.
Over the past year or so we’ve noticed a decline in the size of our community – from peaking in high teens to low 20s of players during peak hours to rarely passing 10 players online. Regrowing our community is part of the reason for merging, as a larger community is more attractive to new players, so should hopefully help with allowing the servers to grow in community size. Additionally, as a result of our shrinking player base, we’ve experienced a large shortfall in donations (£100, roughly 30% shortfall of funding for 2018 costs), and despite having attempted to downsize our costs for the start of 2019, the donations received were still far off our hosting requirements (roughly 28% of costs funded by donations), so it was clear that the server in its current state was not a sustainable option. Additionally, merging with WoolCity will result in a greater resource allocation to creative, so there should be significantly less errors such as out of RAM messages when attempting WorldEdit operations than there are currently.
Understandably you may be wondering why we’ve chosen to merge with WoolCity rather than other servers. Primarily, WoolCity has a community similarly sized to ours, so this should make the merge of the two servers seem more like a merge versus our community being swallowed up into a much larger server. Taylor (WoolCity’s owner) has also been a part of our community for the past few months, and has donated to the server - merging with a server which is managed by someone who has our community’s interests in mind also made WoolCity seem like a good choice.
Will I keep access to insert command here?
For the majority of plugins that you have access to currently (WorldEdit, VoxelSniper, essentials teleport commands ect), you will remain with access to these after the merge has been completed. Some less used plugins may be removed, and any plugins which are incompatible with servers running on 1.13 will not be available for the time being, though may be re-added in the future (for example goBrush will be unavailable until either a public 1.13 release is available, or a donation goal has been reached cover the costs of buying access to the 1.13 development builds of the plugin).
When will the servers merge?
There’s still a few things that need ironing out before the merge goes ahead, and so there’s no date set in mind – though it will be at some stage in the next few months – updates will follow as we have a better idea of when things are ready.
Will the plot world be transferred?
Whilst we are going to be transferring plots of active users who request that their plots / builds are to be transferred over, the entire world will not be transferred. The reasoning for this is that a large portion of the plots on the world are inactive / mostly empty – and due to the size of the plots, this has lead to a rather large world size of 50GB. For sustainability reasons, it is best to only transfer the necessary parts of the world in order to minimise the size of the world (for example more world backups can be stored for a smaller world with the same amount of resources). Additionally, the 1.13 upgrade process for large worlds would take a fair bit of time, so only transferring required parts of the world should mean less time where you are unable to access your plots. We will give a window of a few months to allow transferring of plots over to WoolCity / schematics to be downloaded for offline use. Current plot limits will be accounted for during the merge, however your new plot limit on WoolCity will be the number of plots you have built things on & used – not the total number of plots you can claim. WoolCity allow users to request more plots once all of their plots are full, so if you need more plots after the merge, that should be possible.
What will happen to the current plot server?
Until the new 1.13 plot world on WoolCity is ready for use, things will continue as they are on the current server, with the exception of the donation store being disabled, and donation announcements being removed (this was done a few days ago). Once the WoolCity plot world is ready, we will disable new plots being claimed on the current plot world, and will disable new players joining – this will be the stage at which we allow players to start to transfer plots over to WoolCity.
Will versions other than 1.13 be able to connect to the plot world?
Yes – if all goes to plan versions of Minecraft prior to 1.13 should be able to connect, and 1.13 users should finally(!) be able to use the new 1.13 items.
I’m a banned / muted user. Will my punishment remain active?
Due to differences between the rules of both servers, we are still working out the best way forward in handling this aspect of the merge. For serious rules which are common between both servers, such as lag plots, our list of banned users for these offenses will be imported to WoolCity’s ban list. For other minor offences / things which aren’t against WoolCity’s rules, the plan is to import these punishments as warning messages viewable to staff, so that the staff on WoolCity are able to see the past punishments of players, and can determine what action is best to take: whether it be banning the player, closely monitoring the player, or taking no action.
I am a donator – what’s happening with my purchases?
If you purchased additional plots, all of your plots will be transferable to WoolCity. In terms of ranks, we are still in the process of deciding which of 2 routes to take: transferring ranks with the majority of perks as they are over, or allocating all rank owners the equivalent donation store credit as their rank costs for use on the WoolCity store. Some perks that were rarely used will most likely not be continued post merge (e.g. arrow trails, trails), however we aim to provide a way to obtain the more useful donator perks: whether these remain donator- only, or become a feature all users can access. Updates will follow on this topic once we’ve worked out the best route forwards.
Are current server staff becoming staff on WoolCity?
Staff have been given the option to continue their role once the merge has been completed, whether they continue in their position remains their choice. If they do decide to continue, they’ll need to go through some onboarding quests and meet the requirements for being staff on WoolCity. I will be continuing helping out with the creative server at WoolCity to ensure the merge goes to plan, however am not sure how much time I will be able to dedicate to the server in the long term.
Once again I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about this merge, and updates will follow on the progress of things. A massive thank you to the 10,000+ players who’ve joined in the past 4 and a half years – hopefully we can keep this number growing once we’re with WoolCity.
It's been a while since I last posted here, and so am just going to update everyone on some of the things that I see being asked quite frequently. I now mostly post server updates on our Discord guild, and would reccomend anyone not there to join to receive updates from me sooner. Anyway, onto the questions:
In order to support 1.13 items, at present it would mean we'd have to drop support for all versions other than 1.13 (1.8-1.12). Given that around 65% of our players are using these versions, right now I can't justify dropping version support until 1.13 makes up a majority of our players, or the plugins we're relying on updates for support 1.8-1.12 client support on a 1.13 server.
We went a few months without donations, and so started to adjust features around to see what could be done to increase donations to try and keep the server alive. The first step was decreasing the default rank plot allocation from 4 plots to 2 (1 on join, 2nd on vote). After this, we trialled an in game title every 15 minutes, which is what most complaints I've seen are surrounding, which was removable temporarily by voting, or permenantly by donating. This hasn't helped with donations at all, so we've reduced the frequency to once per hour (and once on join), and will continue with chat messages about donating. To anyone asking why our donation messages aren't like all other servers they play on, most those servers probably aren't loosing money - we're actively trying to increase donations so we can continue to provide a service. I'm aware and appreciate that not everyone can donate, but am still trying to work out how best to handle funding the shortfall in donations in a way that is best to everyone.
In an attempt to tackle the donation shortfall, we've had to resort to shuffling some features around - this includes head database (/hdb) access, 2nd plot claiming, and more recently WorldEdit brushes. All of these features can be unlocked for 24 hours by voting for the server (https://theburrow.net/vote) so you can still access them without donating, however if you'd rather avoid voting for these features, you can unlock them permenantly by donating (included in any rank). I understand that this is far from ideal, however given we've gone almost 5 months with no donations (except for the day of my announcement with regards to funding shortfall & rank changes), we've been left with no decision other than to start changing things up, or shutting down the server - which I'd like to avoid as much as possible. Once the funding required for a given month's hosting costs have been met, these features will once again be available for all users without voting for the remaining time in that month, and if donations exceed our requirement, the features will carry over as far into the future as that month's donations fund costs for.
As above, we are experiencing financial issues, however we are making an attempt to resolve these in order to continue hosting the server. This year donations fell short of our hosting costs (£375) by £95. Starting in January, we are moving hosting provider - this will half our hosting costs, however will mean less resources allocated to the server, so potentially slightly slower - and also a shift in latency (better for EU users, worse for US users).
Starting from 2019, we are introducing a more clear means funding requirement goal.
We will begin to display a quarterly (Jan->Mar, Apr->Jun, Jul->Sep, Oct->Dec) donation requirement on the donation store/ in game messages rather than the monthly and annual goals that are currently referenced. This goal will reflect the costs of our hosting, so with the move to a cheaper hosting provider, the first quarter of 2019's funding requirement will be around 60 GBP.
In any given quarter, if donations do not meet the funding requirement, then we will be unable to continue operating the server, and so within the next quarter the donation store will be disabled and methods for users to export their builds / data will be provided, new plot claiming disabled, and after 1-3 months of the closing down stage the server will go offline.
In the case we receive donations exceeding our target for one quarter, the funds will be put towards the funding for following quarter(s) costs, or if donations are regularly exceeding costs, potential to upgrade the server back to hardware similar speed to what we are currently in the process of downgrading from.
We only support premium accounts, as per Mojang's EULA, we can't accept donations if the server is cracked.
I hope everyone had a great Christmas (if celebrated), and hope you all have a happy new year.
We are currently in the process of considering moving our server to another hosting provider, as having evaluated our donations in comparison to hosting costs over the past few months, it seems that donations are not meeting the requirements to fund the current server, and so we are looking at reducing our costs.
As part of this process, we are requesting that any frequent players run some network tests for us (in the form of ping commands) so that we can evaluate connectivity of players from across the world to each provider we are considering. Inside of a country the stats will most likely be similar, so we are ideally looking to get network connection stats from one or two players from each country that we have players in.
If you are willing to help us perform these tests (it should take no more than a few minutes, and only requires access to Windows command line, Mac terminal, or linux shell), please let me know so that I can send over the details of the ping commands to run.
I regret to have to inform you that one of our previous providers, MinecraftMarket, has recently suffered from a data breach. MinecraftMarket served as our donation store provider from May 2015 to earlier this month, at which stage they were hacked, and consequently caesed to operate. The breach should only affect users who have donated through the platform, although as the site had access to what was going on in the server through a plugin, other user's data may be included (though should be limited to usernames and UUIDs at most. The breach occurred at some stage on the 22nd of June 2018, though I am unaware of the exact time. MinecraftMarket seem to be showing no signs of disclosing the breach, and what data has been leaked, which is a violation of European data protection laws. Whilst I can not be certain on everything stored by MinecraftMarket, the details that I am fairly certain are in the database are:
I will update this post if any more information emerges. If you have any further questions, please let me know. Please note that no payment details that would allow anyone to make payments through your card or PayPal account were stored by MinecraftMarket, so there is no need to change PayPal login credentials or get a new card.
Our store will remain offline for the time being whilst we work on completing our new store - this will be self hosted by us.
Earlier on this year, we launched a player feedback survey, which was shared through in-game announcements. We stopped sharing this recently, and have now had a chance to look over all of the responses submitted. 39 responses were submitted.
We did promise that we would give a donator rank to the best response received. Of the responses received, the users whose responses stood out most as the most detailed & constructive feedback were geraucht, CrazyNerd and Frui - all three of these users have now received an Iron rank for the quality of their responses.
In terms of the feedback received, some of the main points received are as follows - there are the things that we will be working to improve as soon as possible. Please note that there is a lot of text, so feel free to skip over this if you’re not interested in what people had to say.
- Finding the server - the majority of respondents (33.3%) were recommended to the server by a friend, followed by finding the server on google, and then minecraftservers.org. We plan to work on finding ways to optimise our search engine rankings for certain terms that potential players may be searching for - with the aid of the responses from the ‘what made the server stand out to you’ question, this should help us include key words in our pages that will show up when others are searching for the server. Despite only 2 respondents signifying finding the server on PlanetMinceraft, will be re-listing the server there soon (was de-listed automatically for no apparent reason a few weeks back), incase this is able to help us gain players.
- General experience: 97.4% of respondents selected either a positive or definitely positive overall experience on the server, and 1 respondent selected neutral. No negative options were selected for this question.
- Feature requests: GoPaint and GoBrush - we will work on adding these plugins over the next few weeks. Sitting on stairs was also requested. - we will look into adding a toggle able way of doing this in order to prevent it interfering with players building and accidentally sitting down - this will most likely either be a command to enable the option to sit, or a command to sit down in your current position. Building competitions were also requested - it’s probably worth considering us doing a few a year, and so I’ll start thinking about what themes could be, and what prizes will be - ideally I’d love to give some non-server store credit things away, but given how we pretty much run at a loss, I can’t really justify doing that.
- Game modes: the most popular game mode to be added by far was build battle, with 23 of 39 ranking this as something they are definitely interested in. This is what we will prioritise working on as a new feature. Also ranking fairly popular was our realistic city server, which is currently in the works, though will need a few months at the minimum before it is ready for release.
- Builder ranks: there was a large interest (around 70%) in this, and so we will be thinking through what the criteria for this will be, and what these ranks will get that isn’t included in the default rank.
- Ranks / donations: overall, no valuable feedback in this area - mostly people asking for ranks to be free / cheaper as reasons that would make them more likely to donate. I think the only way to tackle the pretty thin margins on expenses vs donations will be to try and attract more players going off this feedback. Whilst this point wasn’t on the survey, something that has also come to our attention as a potential method of funding the server is through Amazon’s affiliate program - this would mean players are able to use our link when shopping at Amazon, and at no extra cost to them, we would receive a small percentage of what they spend (somewhere between 1% and 5% of purchase costs), which could help out with funding significantly (and potential provide the funding for an actual prize for build contests). We are going to review Amazon’s terms further to see if our use case is allowed, as well as looking into the data affiliates get access to - it may be possible for us build a system to work out who has ordered using the link, and the value of their orders, and use this to allow users to gain ranks from their Amazon purchases - it would work out as around £150 spent at Amazon for 1 step up the rank ladder, however if you were already planning to purchase something on Amazon, gaining a rank on the server may be a nice addition for no extra cost. If this does go ahead, we will most likely roll out this feature to customers of the Amazon UK and Amazon US sites. We have got a trial of this for Amazon UK users here, I'd be greatful if you were to use this if you plan on purchasing anything from Amazon UK - we're using this trial period to work out what ways we can use the data we get to benefit users for using the links.
- Server rules: 80% of respondents signified they were happy with the rules as they stand. The two main feedback points on server rules were possibly adding a rule to prevent players copying builds and relaxing the rules on mentioning other servers. In terms of copying builds, I’ll look into a way to prevent other players entering plots / chunks being loaded, and in terms of mentioning other servers, I’m thinking of allowing it in messages - though work needs to be done first before this decision is finalised, updates will follow on this.
- Other points: going off the responses, there were a few feature requests for features that were already available to all players for free - this has brought to light the need for a more thorough list of commands & what they do. This will most likely be implemented through the website as a searchable or sectioned list, though if you can think of any other more suitable ways for this, let me know & they can be considered.
If you didn’t enter the survey and have any feedback, or did and have some new ideas, just let me know and we can work on improving whatever is needed.