Hi! I noticed recently a lack of tutorials on how to actually maintain a server well, and so, naturally, I set out to create one. I in no way intend to show you how to port forward, edit your config files, use custom scripts, all that jazz; there are plenty of resources available to help you with that elsewhere. N, with this guide I intend to help you with your server after those stages; when it's all ready to go. Many people are daunted by this stage, and eventually close their server down due to being unable to run it - I, myself, included. So, I hope you enjoy this and find it incredibly useful. Onwards we go, with Step 1!
Section 1: Name
The name of your server is the most important part of it, really; aside from the number of players online at any time, it's the only information the world at large sees about your server, and it needs to be good enough to get people to join. But what makes a good server name? Well, you really want to think about the tone of your server; is it a well moderated, polite utopia? Perhaps a fun, build-what-you-like place? Whatever your server is or will become, it's important it's name reflects it. Let's take a look at some examples; first, a few bad names for your server:
Can you see why these are bad? The frist gives no impression of the server's content, the second is just plain rude, and the final name, while perhaps, once in a million times, actually representing a person's honest views, is still likely to deter people. So, there are the thing's you don't want to do with your name; but what about what you should? TO be, there are three main types of server names; the fun, the polite and the intriguing. Let's start with some examples of the first;
"Come join and build!"
"Ocean Build; make sure to have fun!"
Forgive me for the cheesiness of these examples, but still; do you notice something about them all? While not always the case, this type of name often includes exclamation marks, and emphasises the cheerful aspects of the server. It draws the player in; they want to be a part of this frindly community. It is important, however, not to overdo it with these; you don't want to seem too pushy, do you?
Now we move onto the second type; the polite type. These represent a civilised community where a person can build with no fear of interruption. Again, I give you some examples;
This time, there is an extremely definite pattern; while again not always the case (indeed, I just lack imagination) these names tend to be clear and to the point, including the focus of the server and the name of the server owner. Players are drawn in this time by the promise of an efficient, well-run server where they can build in peace.
Finally, we have those server names that just catch our eye in one way or another; even if there's no-one online, we still take a peek, and are often dissapointed when we are greeted with a spawn jail. I hereby show you some more examples;
As you can see, these often tell us very little about the server in question. Curiously, however, I personally find myself visiting these servers the most often, and, as aforemention, am frequently disappointed for various reasons.
So, that's my three main types of server names; but remember these three things; one, don't feel limited by the key features I've shown you here. Two, choose your name carefully, it's very important. And finally, three, two, one, Thunderbirds are go! Sorry, had to.
Section 2: MOTD
So, a player has joined your server. But if they've got a slow computer (or, indeed, you have) they're going to be spending a lot of time on that tedious loading screen. So, they might as well get to know you? This, in conjunction with the important name, is what is going to give players a good first impression of your server. Once again, I give you the bad, and the good. It's hard to ruin a MOTD, but when you do, they can be atrocious, as seen here:
Now then, the first, while not bad, exactly, isn't really very informative (I should mention, however, that with other content, this is good to use for a MOTD. Perhaps add a large number of spaces after it; people won't see it, but it will still affect the server). THe second is just plain rude, and the final one, while not the worst there is, is rather obstinate. But I had considerable trouble coming up with those (though probably, again, due to my lack of imagination); it is far easier to get the MOTD right than wrong. Here are some examples:
"Enjoy yourselves, but respect other's work."
"Work togther to build a giant ______!
"For more details, visit _____________"
The first is friendly, the second displays the obective of the server, and the final example packs in more information than possible in any of the others. And that's that! Short, sweet, simple, ssssssssseasy.
Section 3: Choosing a Map
Aha! The map, the second most important thing for your server. Obviously, you're going to need a good one. It's also good for it to be unique; we've seen flatgrasses a million times people, and ocean builds aren't far behind. I can't give you examples here, it all has to be theory, but what I do know is that a player is simply going to leave the server straight away if what they see doesn't catch their eye. Try a themed server; snow, desert, hell, caves; there's plenty of room for experimentation. There's also the option of using a normal map for a roleplay server, but I've got an entire section devoted to them, so we can leave that till later. If you choose a themed server, it's important you enforce the rules; it's no use being in hell when some recreates Candy Mountain, nor a desert when someone builds a sprawling metropolis. I'm afraid there's not much else I can say here; it's all up to you and your personal taste(lessness, perhaps).
For more help, please scroll down to Section 13. Don't be lazy, do it! :smile.gif:
Section 4: Rules
An important feature of all servers are it's set of rules; too lax, and there'll be havoc - too strict, and no-one will want to play on your server. So where to find the balance? Well, though I haven't tested it extensively, I find this method to work well; the 3, 2, 1 method. As the name suggests, it goes like this; 3 warnings, 2 kicks, and finally a ban. Modify it as you wish, but I find it to work well enough. With the actualy enforcement out of the way, we can move on to actually making the rules themselves. Most people don't want griefing on their server, so unless you're one of the few who tolerate it you'll want to mention that. Verbal and physical (AFK spleefing, anyone?) abuse is also not usually tolerated. With that in mind, shape the base rules of your server, adding specific rules as applicable for your server. I can't go into any more detail on this one, as it really depends on what your server is like, just bear in mind that dictators are really no fun.
Section 5: Do You Want a Spawnjail?
Ah, the eternal debate; whether to have spawnjails or not. I'm not going to get involved in the argment here, but I can help you decide. If your server has an emphasis on freedom, you might not want one; whereas if you want to make sure your players are suitable to build on your server, you probably will. Also, you'll want to consider the type of spawnjail; there's the usual, restrictive 1x1x2;
However, if you want to be generous, you can make it larger. What's that I hear you say? Spawn-glitch? Not a worry!
DO you see? Impossible to escape! Infact, to make it more homely, you could make the walls in a lattice pattern - or, indeed, decorate it so users have no idea it's a spawnjail; a way of testing who's a griefer! For all of those ideas, I take not any credit; I don't possess the necessary genius to come up with them. While I can't remember who came up with those ideas, whoever did is brilliant, so thank them profoundly if you see them.
Note [29-10-10]: dmitchell94 has mentioned that if you have access to a cuboid command in, for example, MCLawl, you can fill the air in your spawnjail with op_air to prevent ANY collaboration to help escapes.
Section 6: Selecting Your Ops
So, you've got your server all ready, with everything in this guide covered. But you've got a life (yes, really), and you can't moderate the server twenty-four seven! So, you've got two options; shut the server down when necessary, or promote trusted members to op status.
It's important to balance your ops well; too many, and you run the risk of chaos and feuds; too few, ad you put yourself at risk of griefing. I would advise having around six ops, not including yourself. But how to choose your ops? Well, here are some things to consider.
-Time zone; if they can moderate the server while you're asleep, great! You can keep it online for even longer.
-Trust; how well do you know them? Are you really sure about allowing them to moderate the server, inculding controlling who comes in from the spawnjail?
-How long have you known them? I wouldn't advise promoting a person to op after a few hours, unless you know them in real life. You really need to make sure it's the right decision.
-Responsibilty; has the person in question proven themself to be reliable? It's no use having an op if they don't do anything.
With these things in mind, consider your ideal op; as well, make sure they're right for your server. Now, back to reality; wake up and smell the blocks, it's highly unlikely you'll ever find the PERFECT op; but we might as well do the best we can.
Section 7: How to Treat Your Players
Now, I earlier spoke of the name being the most important aspect of your server. I lied. THe most vital thing to any server, of course, is the people that play on it. They are the ones responsible for not only building the fantastic creations on the server, but for upholding a wonderful community that makes a server what it is. It is of course, then, important to make sure you treat your players well; but how to do this? Well, first, be nice. Simple? It should be, but it isn't always so. Just make the best effort you can, and you should be fine. Second, if a player has a question, make an effort to help. This, too, should be readily evident, but sometimes it isn't. Even if you can't help the player, maintain a cheerful frame of mind, and perhaps direct them to someone who can help. But of course, most of the time, it isn't about just being friendly or helping people; at all times, you must respect your players and their needs. As I said earlier, dictators are no fun whatsoever, so don't become one. If a user wants criticism on their creation, be constructive. If a player needs help building something, help them. It's easy to do; dpn't put yourself above the commoners; become them. Aside from adminium, tp, kick and ban, you are no different to them, and you should show that. It will help make the community warm and trusting instead of distant.
Also, it's highly important as an admin to watch over your players efficiently; we don't want any griefers causing mischief. If you implemented a spawnjail, you may be more safe, but a few rogues always get through. When I first discovered I could teleport by using /tp, I was ecstatic. It meant I could watch any of my players at any time; no-one was safe from my omnipresence (I talk about not being a dictator; I'm such a hypocrite!). But of course, people can get very creeped out if a person randomly starts following them around the game, and so it is important to use tp in moderation. However, if you do that, you can't always catch every griefer - which leads onto our next section. I'm so fluid, aren't I?
Section 8: How to Deal with Griefing
By now, you're probably quite a skilled admin - but no-one is perfect, and occasionally something slips past the radar and griefage occurs. What to do? Don't panic. Your first option is to backup. If yu don't have a server script and don't manually backup, however, this is obvously not a possibility. So, the obvious choice is simply to repair it. Don't worry; no matter how long it takes, it's going to be worth it - and if you really think it's not, then just don't repair. But the chances are that you'll want to reapiar it, and there are many ways of going about this. The first is to rebuild it yourself; good for the PR, but time consuming and, if you don't have the original builder with you, you can easily get it wrong. Second is to assemble a "Repair Squad" of sorts; the same as before, but it takes far less time due to the fact that you have more helpers. Finally, there is the option of calling in the original builder. While not entirely practical, as you probably can't remember the creator of every single construction on the server, if achieved it is likely the best option; indeed, with them to direct, you can combine this method with option two and create the ultimate Repair Squad.
Section 9: Custom Server Scripts
Now, I mentioned before that I wouldn't tell you how to set up server scripts. Well, I'm still not going to. However, I can give you some advice on the different scripts available, and which you should choose. A server script can be very useful for any server; for an RP server, very much so. Each script offers unique features, which I will guide you through now. First, we have;
cMss is a nice, easy to use server script which lends itself to first time users. While I can't say I'm an expert, this is one of my favorite scripts. Though only on version 0.2 if I recall correctly, it boasts a wide variety of new commands for players and is fully customisable. It runs on Python, and so you'll need to download some database thingy - look in the thread for more precise details. It is also worth noting that, although the original script hasn't been updated in some time, mail2345 has adapted it into a very versatile and useful script, with many more commands than the original. Overall, this is a good script to use, and I recommend it.
This script is unique in just one way; it boasts the feature to control your server remotely. It has many other features, such as custom commands, et cetera, but this truly is the most useful; on any computer, you can control your server, and view the chatlog. Although it simply sounds like a remotely accesible version of the server console, it also has a rather useful and intruiging feature; the paging system. A player can at any time use a special command followed by a message, and all admins will see it. It is this feature that particularly endears this script to me; again, I recommend it.
I'll be honest here; I can't say I've ever payed this one that much attention. But it is allegedly my duty to give you fair advice (as if) and so I did a little reserch into it; I barely understand it. I was never a technical genius, and this proves it. However, from the parts that an ape like me can understand, it seems fairly efficient. It has all the standard commands expected from a custom server; votekick, voteban, et cetera. Of course, I am in no position to personally recommend it, having never used it myself, but if you look through the forum thread I think you'll find all the testimony you need.
This one's fairly new, but I can say that from what has been shown, it's very, very good. As usual, the extra commands are there, but it also includes some rather unusual choices, such as our chatroom favorites happy and sad, 8ball, and, um... trout. It also includes a built in member hierarchy; there are guests, who can use no special commands, members, who can use some, trusted members, who have a considerable amount more commands, and admins, to whom anything is available. Again, it is built on Python, and is easily customisable by those familiar with the language. I haven't used this one, either, but in this case I would still recommend it.
This one is very interesting; though not, as I understand, in a usable state at the moment, when updated this will open up a new world of possibilities for modding. Custom commands, game modes and working physics are all included here (or will be) and it sounds very very promising. As it is, indeed, only in v0.1 at the moment, I can't offer any comments on it; but watch this space.
So, that's the main server scripts I know of; I'm sure there are more, but for now that should be enough choice for you. Again, this choice is entirely dependent on your type of server, so I can't help you here. But I hope I've helped you make a decision.
If you ever need any more tools other than the ones specified at the top, I recommend this thread for more details, as there's a bunch of useful tools out there suited for your needs.
Aha, roleplay servers. These can be very difficult to get going, but once you have it definitely pays off. For an RP server, you need a definite set of rules - not the type of rules I described earlier, ones that restrict the players to help the server, and rules as in rules of the universe. You're going to need an efficient system for resource collecting, perhaps a 1:2 ratio, you're going to need a backstory, maybe a few different races, jobs... so much stuff to think about! Well, I advise doing this; open up Notepad and write a rough draft of your backstory. Now, leave it for now, you can polish it later. If you want different races, now is the time to come up with them. Then, plan the jobs. Are some jobs only accesible to certain races? What about skills levels, do they play a part in your server? Think carefully about this; you don't want to get it wrong, else your server will fal apart into anarchy. Take a look around the forums for some help; there are many threads for RPs. There's evilgrim's, with it's unique farming system, there's SpyLevels, which has little girefing, if ay, there's Spadge's, which uses a custom script... There's plenty for you to draw inspiration from. When you're ready, make sure to create a forum thread for your RP; it needs to be well publicised. And that leads on to our next section...
Section 11: Creating a Server Thread
If you're any good, you should have your server up and running now. But no-one's joining! Well, there's a simple reason; it needs publicity. That's where the forum comes in; if you create a forum thread for your server, you're much more likely to find people on it. But it's important your server doesn't come off as poorly-made (ha! As if, you've been reading my guide!), so you need to format it properly. You'll want the name of your server in the topic title, of course. It's not really necessary to incorporate the MOTD into the post, however. Make sure you describe your server and it's purpose in sufficient detail, and if you use a custom server script, say so. Consider putting in a status indicator; your thread won't become clogged with posts stating it's not online. A few images can help to draw in players; not only are they bright and colourful, but it makes it seem like you put a lot more effort into your forum post. It really is just that easy; anyone can do it, and it's a simple way to get more people to join your server.
Section 12: Community
I remember when I frist joined Minecraft and went into a multiplayer server for the first time ever. I was astounded at how wonderful and colourful it was; glass pyramids, rainbows and pixel art were abound wherever I looked. While some servers remain like this, most of the time these days servers are just polluted with griefing, or ar just dull. Community and cheerfulness is what makes the game what it is to me, and I believe it's vital to every server. All server owners shoud put as much effort into this as possible; what good is a server without anyone to talk to or build with? This is actually a little more difficult than it sounds; it requires a lot of perseverance. Make sure your server is griefer clean, frequently talk with your players, plan group projects - that last one is a rare sight these days, but definitely worth the effort; when a player is greeted with colour and magic as they enter a server, it will definitely help make them a regular.
Section 13: Map Editors and Generators
Yeah, it's me, I'm back. What, no cheers, no applause? Hmph. Well anyway, if you've gotten down this far, I'm assuming you've read Section 3, which is all about choosing a map. But I recently realised that I completely failed to tell you the best ways to create one, and that's where map editors come in. Some of them are brilliant and easily accesible, others... not so much. I'm here to guide you in choosing a new map for your server. First of all, an enormous thank you to Iguana, for making me realise what I had neglected to mention by compiling a list of map editors, one located right here. Unfortunately, however, the wonderful Iguana fails to go into much detail about the map editors, leaving you to chooose for yourself - an insane idea, dictatorship all the way, I say! Anyway, I'll be presenting them to you in a similar fashion to my section on server software, but hopefully less messily. So, onwards!
This is the map editor practically everyone knows, and for very good reason too; it boast a wide range of features (god, I say that way too much) and has a very dedicated creator. It is able to generate many different types of map, both in flatgrass and randomly generated varieties - from snowy tundras to lava-filled hells. It even includes a ruin generator and a labyrinthine cave generator! This would definitely be my first choice for a map editor. It is also fully compatible with /indev/ blocks, one of only two editors, to my knowledge, that are.
The other /indev/ compatible map editor is NBTForge, created by the wonderful aeomin for that specific purpose. While not quite as advanced as Omen, it has a similar interface, and is well on it's way to becoming a mainstream edtor, already capable of creating hollow cubes and spheres. Of course, now that Omen is compatible with /indev/, some may see little reason to use NBTForge; indeed, some may deem it inferior. And on that point, I do admit I must agree. Despite the fact it's still in the early stages of it's development, Omen is a better choice, with far more features. Nevertheless, if all copies of Omen were suddenly wiped of the face of the Earth, NBTForge would most definitely be my next option.
Aha! I like this one very, very much. Work on this began way back when, in the time when leaves were a substitute for glass, due to it not even being implemented at that point. After many months of hard work on it... we've got nothing. Well, we have, I suppose, as the creator has posted the source code. He is no longer working on it as far as I am aware, however the great osici (remember him? Yeah, the Omen guy) has said he'll "play with [it] later", which could perhaps be very promising. Don't be expecting much any time soon, though; that was only posted a few days ago. So, as I said, don't hold your breath, though you might need it to sigh in awe if this ever gets finished.
Hm. This one is interesting. It appears to be another case of "started off promising, ended up dead". Of course, I could easily be wrong; I haven't been paying that much attention to it, to be honest with you. This generator is able to create flatgrass and "box" maps, a feature I've not seen implemented in any other editor. It also has four different level themes; grass, winter, desert and fantasy, and the option to generate an upside-down map. Personally, I can't see myself using that feature much, and the fantasy generator just looks like randomly generated noise. However, if you were intruiged by the city generator above (which, I forgot to mention, there is a test level available for) but wanted to do at least SOME of the work yourself, you'll be very glad to hear that this generator includes a reasonably well done road generator. If big city builds are your thing, then this may be worth looking into.
Ooh, I like this very much. Very much indeed. This is able to generate a surrealistic map with many different configurable settings. And that's the thing I absolutely adore about ZOMG; you can control EXACTLY how many trees there are on your map, EXACTLY how bumpy said map is, and EXACTLY how surrealistic it is. Really, I can't say much about this; you have to see and experience it's brilliance for yourself. But I will say this; if Omen is my first choice for level editing, ZOMG is my first choice for level generating.
On that note, I conclude my section on map editing and generating tools; I hope, again, that I have been a help to you. I'm likely to just go into the darkness again now, but my inerest has been rekindled, so even if you can't for Parthon's city generator, you just might be able to hold your breath for a couple more updates to this.
Now, this guide is in no way complete (probably). I'm fully open to your suggestions, as I have no doubt there's more you'd like me to cover. But even in it's current, primitive state, I hope this guide has helped you in setting up your server - post aout it here, I'm sure I'll visit. Thanks for taking the time to read this, bye!
EDIT: [29-10-10] Updated with fixed links by UltimateBudgie and a note from dmitchell96 regarding spawn jails.
Stickied. Everyone should learn from this guide. You just need to add in one more section, and that is how to treat new people and watch over their actions, and this thread will evolve from gold to platinum.
Heh, thanks, I had no idea how to do it myself. Anyway, section 7 is done; it's of extremely low quality (and repeats. A lot. And rambles. A lot. Did I mention repeating? A lot.), but it gets the point across. Don't worry, I'm still working on it. So, shiny platinum medal? :biggrin.gif: