Yeah, I am still a kid inside, I like to play Minecraft. It’s fun. I like the concept of a world where you can break and take, place and change every block from top to bottom and make it your own. It’s the 16-bit version of the Matrix, and I have 24/7 access to it. But .. to be even more in control over this and give others a place to play: We run our own server. (yay) And as always with techy stuff, things change, so we keep a changelog. Well, to be honest, I try.
Psst, sorry for going off-track right away, but there’s an audible blogisode video at the end of this text, in case you rather listen than read.
This blog article is about keeping track of smaller and bigger changes that you can share with the public, on projects that you’re working on. Be it a game server or a website you’re running. Or maybe a do it yourself project at home or the garden you’re working on. We now live in a world where we tweet from the toilet that we had a great taco last night. But I rather try to be a bit more constructive and inspirational than that.
Not only is it handy to just keep track of things that you are doing, back to talking about Minecraft again, it’s nice to have a history of what you’ve done and how far you’ve come with it. Our server isn’t perfect. It’s not profitable. It doesn’t have hundreds of users on it. But it’s our server. And regardless of the amount of players, I like to take it serious enough to help me guarantee that me and my friends can do with it as we please.
When we have a call together we have the questions like ‘when did we do that? 2012? I don’t even remember!’. That’s why I started keeping track. I spoke with a few people and tried to put words to paper. (I will link the history thread in a second), and I’ve started solving this problem for the future when another five years pass, by keeping the history thread up to date and making a yearly changelog file with even more details.
And the benefits are huge! Not only do we collectively have a record later where we can see what happened in which year. Indirectly we keep better track of the plugins we’ve been and are using. Making it easier to ‘restore’ it if we decide to move it to a new computer, or if we take it offline for a few years and start it up again in the future. It is less buggy, it runs more stable. And as tech gets better we can do more with more features as well. And a lot easier. Stuff that we only dreamed off in 2011 when we started are super easy now, making it just a joy to (eh, for example) go back to older builds and continue our gameplay again, improving on what we made.
A changelog also gives me overview, it gives insight into what’s going on, where we are with the server, and what might be upcoming. Getting things done means it’s ready for the next thing. And end of 2016 when I started one for 2017. We went from an outdated server that was offline a lot to a modern solution with support for the latest Minecraft version and the server basically being online 24/7.
Oh, before I forget, another great benefit is simply that regular players can come online and check the forums to see if there’s anything new that we perhaps haven’t announced in the game. Yep, that bug is fixed now! Oh cool, that world is now open. Oh sweet, we have a new feature we can play with.
It’s also a lot easier for me to start another server based on the template(s) that we’ve created now, and it’s a lot easier to back things up more regularly. Together with a protection plugins it’s also easier to roll back abuse from griefing players, etc.
In other words, just thinking “huh, I should perhaps tell people what I am updating on the server, maybe with a changelog or something”, resulted in a fantastic year of playing Minecraft with my friends. And I made new friends as well! Welcome new players 🙂
Ok, let’s link to those threads: First of all, I run a community with Nikki and Mikey on OMGboards.com, and we’ve merged our 1MB MC website into it, the URL redirects to the sub forum on it. https://www.1moreblock.com
More about our Minecraft server (and how to play on it)
Our history thread (and what’s next)
And finally, the changelog (from 2017 and 2018)
Okay, I hope this information gives you a bit of insight on how I run my little Minecraft server for my friends. And hopefully it makes you think a little about keeping a record of sorts for your projects, and for your own reasons.