RPCreate: The Website

I apologize for the recent set of more technical posts. Then again, I guess I’m not that repentant, since this is going to be of the same breed. I was told that to attract an audience I have to focus on a certain subject; I’d rather that subject be me. Perhaps I’m just going through a technical phase… Next post won’t be technical though, just generally nerdy.

After learning how to use the basics of Google AppEngine, I’m ready to create a full-fledged website for my own purposes. It will be a clever conglomeration of some of the projects I’ve been wanting to do. These are, by name, a wiki, a forum (bulletin board), and a hub site for RPCreate. RPCreate is, of course, my new idea for a Minecraft server. I wrote a post about it not long ago. It needs a strong site to support the community, and I feel like a free forum and free wiki are not enough; not only are they missing a critical piece, the main homepage, but having the services separate and externally hosted also means I can’t implement custom features that would really help with creating a strong community.

The main front page would be largely static, with only occasional major announcements and also portals to the wiki and forum. It could also have feeds from both sites, proving an easy way to check up on the latest activity. The server would also interface with the Minecraft server, allowing server status (online/offline, players, etc) to be displayed in a banner across all the pages (in the wiki, forum, and hub).

Another bonus of consolidating online resources is that the site can have a single user database that works for the wiki AND forum, so you can view recent activity from a single profile page and track karma/helpfulness across the entire community. In addition, it would facilitate the fight against griefers, spammers, and other mischief makers. Banned or misbehaving players could have recent hurtful activity reverted with a single click. In terms of helpful utilities, setting up a system for emailing notification of server events (like steam community groups), or emailing players that haven’t logged onto the server in a while, would be trivial.

A free service like Google AppEngine would suffice, and if I posted banner ads then the revenue could be spent on something like a text notification service or a real domain name. I also like AppEngine because it uses Python to generate the entire response, so you can do whatever you like behind the scenes, unlike PHP. You can even map multiple directories to a single function, or generate dynamic directories. Because of this huge flexibility, I figure a Python-based web application would be the best choice for interfacing with another server, like a Minecraft server. PHP either doesn’t have that kind of capability or it’s too difficult to figure out for a lazy bum like me.

This entire website would also act as a springboard into other web applications I have planned. Once I have this under my belt (because I don’t pretend to be experienced in website creation), I can move on to ambitious, revenue-generating projects. I would talk about them here, but they might get stolen…

Eh, I’ll probably go over them in another post. Stay tuned, and subscribe to my RSS feed, or follow me on Twitter @mattlevonian.

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Minecraft Server: RPCreate

A while back I wrote a post about Minecraft servers. Since then I’ve put more thought into it and I’m thinking about starting a new server. This will be a much more informed endeavor, and hopefully it will turn out for the best. Here are some highlights:

The main idea is that the server puts all the players on an even playing field by allowing all users to use creative mode and basic commands. This will eliminate hoarding and allow players to focus on interacting, not making money or getting resources. It also removes any worry about stealing. However, because players have the capability to get any resources they need, I am hoping they will be more willing to fill a so for economic role (farming, lumberjacking, mining, building, etc) and resort to using legit materials as much as possible.

You need to be able to write!
Number one requirement to join will be the ability to write. This indicates that you are at least somewhat intelligent and able to express your ideas. In addition, it means you can read what others write and grasp new concepts.

You need to relax!
With a guaranteed level of intelligence hopefully comes a certain ability to compromise and handle a situation gracefully if you don’t get what you want or disagree with someone. We also need people who can play fairly and understand the importance of keeping a balanced economy by not hoarding legitimate materials or abusing creative mode.

You need to play fairly, and build sensibly.
As stated before, each member should be responsible. It is their server, and thus they need to actively work to keep it fun. This is the main idea I want to permeate through the server community: the server is merely a utility through which the players, as a community, get to act out fantasies and epic stories. There are no “admins” lording over the players, telling them how to play; it is the players that get to enjoy the world they have made, and the players who have to maintain the server.

This is not to say that I won’t make suggestions about economy and distinguish between responsible building and overbuilding; I’ll be doing it as a concerned player, not moderator. I won’t have more powers than anyone else on the server, and I won’t get the final call on decisions.

One thing I won’t tolerate, however, is plugins and mods. Besides the basic Bukkit server framework, no mods or plugins will be installed, by request or otherwise, that change or enhance game mechanics. This means no currency, no WorldEdit, no seasons or races or NPCs, nothing.

The community will have a say in everything else, though. The players will make the stories, vote on policies, and build the world. The server will be quite open to change. If the players want to institute a new policy, they can. Since there are no admins or moderators, they will be the ones carrying it out. Since there is no higher authority to appeal to, players will be forced to talk out disagreements among themselves.

Obviously its impossible to completely eliminate a leader who “runs” the server. Someone needs to host it, and someone needs to maintain the bulletin boards and websites. I suppose I would do that, but nearly anything could be changed if it was popular opinion backed by a vote. What I want is a player-made server and community, not a pre-made admin’s framework which has been filled in by the players. That breeds a dependency that ultimately leads to arguments and unrest, and it gives the players something to blame for all the bad things: namely, the admin.

I mentioned in passing a website, which would actually be a key element of the server. In my opinion, a bulletin board isn’t enough to truly let a server grow into a community. It needs independent features for planning events, posting featured videos, screenshots, and stories, and a hub for bulletin board, wiki, and all the other possibly third-party utilities. A website lets the person hosting the server to post updates, which can be emailed to people in case they didn’t catch it on the bulletin board.

If I built my own bulletin board and wiki utilities (which I am interested in doing anyways), the website could have a single account for commenting on news, RSVPing to events, editing the wiki, and posting on the forum. I HAVE been wanting to get back into web programming… maybe I’ll start that this weekend.

Status Report

At the beginning of this month I declared that I would post once a day to this blog. Admittedly, I’m pretty proud. I posted 22 days out of the 29; I started out strong, and only began to falter right at the end. I’ve stuck around long enough to get a few views, but most importantly I’ve developed a habit of trying to post something every day. Speaking of which, I was going to post this yesterday but I accidentally fell asleep early.

For March, I’m going to do two things: start a private log, and start posting more videos. In terms of videos, I think I will start a series of tutorials covering the basics of Hammer and the Source SDK. I’ve already started recording some, but mostly just to get the kinks out of my production cycle. I have 2 scripts done, and a third in the working. So all I need to do is refine my style. Mainly, I need to stick to the script and be more concise. A tutorial is about informing people. I can’t focus on making something look nice, I just need to explain the very basics and then move on. I tried to think about the tutorials I watch, and what annoys me when I’m watching a tutorial. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at analyzing things like that. Looks like I’ll have to rely on Youtube comments.

I’m going to continue posting, but only when I have something interesting to say. I will post at least once a week, however.

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