I'm posting this now so the event tomorrow will get the full attention. Also because I feel like it. But really it's to help those who haven't been around for too long to understand the full gravity of just how much this event means to me as well as to the other staff members. A year is no small thing and it's something that every member should be proud of. Tomorrow we will be revealing something very exciting for the community and I hope all of you will be able to witness it. I mean, which one of you wouldn't want to see my handsome face?
I can't even believe I'm writing this article. Seriously, I never once thought that a day such as this would come, and here I am dumbfounded when I think about the previous year. And yet, here we are. Today marks the moment when exactly 365 days ago, I posted an IP address in the Escapecraft usergroup on The Escapist. And now, a year later, I look back and see that that one small gesture, that tiny event of combining two key strokes and pasting a series of numbers into a text field, would end up effectively changing my life.
On September 21st, 2010, I had only heard of Minecraft. My knowledge of it was minimal, extending only as far as it being compared to “3D Lego.” Other than that, I wasn't particularly interested in purchasing a game where all I did was go around and place little cubes in a 3D environment building curve-challenged structures. I had better things to do. It took a phone call from my brother, Collin (GravyTrain), to change my mind. He spent almost an hour explaining to me the survival aspects of Minecraft and just how incredible his experience was with a game that was still an alpha product. I finally gave in and forked over the cash and got myself a copy of what I discovered to be digital cocaine.
Needless to say, I was hooked plain and simple. After spending quite a few hours playing my new addiction, Collin and I decide that we need to give multiplayer a try, which led to him trying to figure out how to get the server software to work with his router. A few hours on and no luck. I decided to give it a go and eventually got a server running successfully; and Escapecraft was born.
After a few days of online play Collin tells me that Minecraft would be infinitely more fun if we had more people playing together with us, and that we should begin posting the IP address on the internet. I told him I knew the perfect place and on September 26th, I pasted Escapecraft's IP into the Escapist Minecraft usergroup and before we knew it we had about a dozen people connect by the end of the day. At this time I was hosting the server on an old laptop (RIP sweet prince) and it remained on there for the better part of a few months.
By the end of the first week of the server being live we had had over 100 players connect. And then the community exploded. The Escapecraft usergroup rose to be one of the largest groups on the Escapist's site and eventually a better community solution needed to be found. On October 28, a month later, I registered the domain and paid for a year's worth of hosting for Escapecraft.net, our present home for the Escapecraft community.
We had many great changes during the following months. I fondly remember building the magnificent Central City for our wipe to Version 2. A massive city that was built entirely by hand, as the current plugins we have now didn't exist at the time. I believe it was in November when I received a PM on the forums from some player named Wokka1. After reading the message I at first came to the conclusion that this guy was somehow trying to scam me. Wokka, a complete stranger to me, was writing about how he noticed some performances issues we had been having and began listing off an impressive resume of his IT and networking skills and that he was offering those services to Escapecraft for free. FREE. And he didn't even want modship in return. He didn't want anything.
When I told the other staff members about this they were all as equally skeptical as I was. After some discussion, I decided I would take the risk and handed the server over to Wokka to begin hosting on his hardware. Out of all the decisions I have ever made for Escapecraft, this was the best one. Our performance increased quite dramatically and we experienced very little downtime than what we used to have. Looking at where we are today, I know without a doubt that we would not be where were are presently without the help of Wokka.
Of course it's only fair to also talk about one of my biggest blunders with the server. It was decided that we would make the move to Version Three, also known as Terra, once we realized that we were woefully under-prepared for monsters spawning, amongst all the other things updates would bring to Minecraft. I always thought Minecraft had excellent story-telling potential and could tell a story based on the environments a player would encounter. I wanted Terra to showcase that and I decided to change the way we as a server handled new players.
In the past two versions we always provided new players with starting help, whether it be basic equipment or shelter. In this new version, I decided to strip all that away and force the players to fend for themselves, in a similar manner to how a singleplayer game begins. My brother and I concocted a loose storyline about how the players were shipwrecked in a strange new land and upon exploration they would find the ruins of a past civilization. The goal was to make these ruins highly explorable, with rewards for players who could manage their way to the end of each one. While exploring these ruins, the players would uncover the story of what happened to the world's former inhabitants and the story would climax with a trip to the Nether.
It was a disaster. Hardly any planning went into the project and ultimately failed. Turns out players really just want to mine and build in Minecraft. Crazy, right? I did learn from this mistake. And we will be doing this right when Worlds Apart is released. The one good thing that did come from the new version is our policy on not providing players with any starting help. We are firstly a Survival server and we treat players as such. Not everyone agreed with this policy and I don't doubt we lost some players because of it, but you can't please everyone.
Now, a year later, over 25,000 unique players have connected to the server, players from 56 different nations spanning across six continents, all coming together and playing something they love.
I cannot wrap my mind around those numbers. Escapecraft has made its way throughout the entire world. It's surreal.
We've further added some incredible things to the server. We finally reached my goal of offering something for everyone whether it be Survival, Creative, PvP, or puzzles. We added a Hub which has turned out to be a fantastic tool in directing new and old players alike to each of the various worlds and experiences we offer. But most important are the people we have added to the staff over the last year.
We have an incredible staff here, each of whom share the same passion in seeing Escapecraft becoming something great. Escapecraft wouldn't be nearly what it is today without their dedication and considering that we are all volunteers, it truly is a feat to see how far we have come over the past year. They do it because they love the community, and they have good reason to.
I am proud to say that you all as a community have donated over $1,000 to the Japan Red Cross, Child's Play, and the Minecraft Documentary. Whenever I brag on about the community we have here at Escapecraft, I am sure to bring that up. You are all incredible and have been a pleasure serving. None of this would have been possible without you. It is you that gives Escapecraft life and it is you who have made working on the server and forums an enjoyable experience. Most jobs can't boast that.
This day is just as much for you all, than any of us on staff.
Here's to another year!
I wish you all the best,