RS Minecraft proposal

This is a proposal to integrate Minecraft into the Rebel Squadrons.

Game Overview

Minecraft is a sandbox-style game in which players mine things and use them to craft other things, hence the name Minecraft. Minecraft has been immensely popular for several years now and features both online and offline modes. In addition to the basic game ("Vanilla" Minecraft), there is an immensely active modding community that has released a ton of material. Minecraft works as a server-client system; end-users connect to a centrally-run server. The current server owner and supporter is Commodore Lamin Zykara.

Minecraft features three game modes. The first mode, Survival, is a traditional sandbox-style game in which players work against the environment. Hunger, hitpoints, and scarcity (among others) are primary game mechanics. The second mode, Creative, removes the restraints of survival mode, and allows players to collaborate on building structures without any of the mining or scarcity issues. The third mode, Adventure, is the newest, and allows the design of custom "maps" that other players play on. Adventure removes the ability of players to radically alter the map, permitting a degree of "level design".

Minecraft stores "worlds" as directories, and it is trivially easy to change the world being played on the server. Doing this allows the "world" to rotate on a set timeframe, allowing us to have different game modes that change regularly. This cycle of changing could tie into competition or ranking systems if that is of interest.

One of the challenges (and benefits) of working with Minecraft is the great diversity of different playstyles that the game supports. Accordingly, integrating Minecraft into the RS will likely involve a variety of activities.

Structure & Leadership

No formal structure is yet established. On the local Minecraft server, David_"Heavy" Pasiechnyk, Michael Raven, Licah Fox, and Lamin Zykara are operators / administrators.

The Minecraft server is currently hosted by ServerMiner and is reachable at rebelsquadrons.serverminer.com (backup address: mc16.serverminer.com:25968), and is paid through mid-April. It is a 1GB installation of Minecraft. Lag and other issues are being noticed as of late January, so the possibility of switching to another host is present.

Participation Types

Here is a brief rundown of types of participation that may work in the RS, along with a viability estimate.

Cooperative World Building - Survival

This is the current mode of the server. In this mode, all RSers connect and work together to build a nice world. In this mode, the game is essentially player vs. environment. At the moment, RSers are working on building up a settlement on Tarsonis, centered on Tarsonis Isle (the main settlement). This has included building a rail system, a land-bridge, barracks, stables, a library, and an extensive farm system. This mode is not inherently competitive in any way, but it does provide a fantastic form of "virtual community" whereby players can get together and see each other. In this sense, the RS Minecraft Server is a virtual home, where players can build their own houses and socialize with other players.

Viability estimate: This seems to be quite popular so far, but obviously time will tell. However, the on-going popularity of Minecraft, even without mods, suggests that this may have some staying power. One way of ensuring that this remains viable is to rotate worlds on a set schedule, so that players have equal chances to participate in new and established worlds.

Cooperative World Building - Creative

This would be an alternative to the description above, in which the game is switched from Survival to Creative. In this game, the focus would be entirely on building an incredible RS Settlement / Facility, with the constraints of Survival mode removed. The focus on the construction would shift to creating large-scale facilities, adding in customized redstone machinery, and generally creating an awesome base. Since the player vs. environment aspects would be gone, the social and building aspects would need to be engaging enough to satisfy players.

Viability estimate: This may work better for a small subset of the RS playing population, and not the entire group. Much like creation of custom missions was something that some, but not all, members enjoyed, this kind of large-scale creative building may only capture the interest of some players. If we can financially support a secondary server for these players, this may be useful in the future, but should not be an initial focus.

Modded Minecraft

The modding community for Minecraft has substantially increased on what is already in the base game. One possibility for the RS is to run a modded version of Minecraft, as to expand on the staying power of the base game. There are two major mod "launchers" currently in use in the Minecraft community, Feed the Beast and Technic. Each offers "mod packs", packages of mods (sometimes hundreds) that work together to vastly alter the Minecraft game experience. There are many different mod packs available, and they are subject to on-going development and change over time.

One concern about modding Minecraft is that it can result in substantial increases in hardware needs. This may require an increase in hosting costs, which will need to be considered if we select a commonly-used modpack. To avoid this, we may consider only using a subset of modifications. If we do this, it may be useful to create a custom private mod pack for one of the major launchers, to make it easier for end-users to connect and play. Whenever possible, we want to avoid complex setup and connection issues, as this is likely behind the decline of our older Star Wars games. Alternatively to creating a mod pack, we might try just the Star Wars Mod for Minecraft.

One benefit of using mods is that we can introduce technological items into the Minecraft world that will make it feel more like Star Wars. If combined with custom skins for players that represent their RS rank and position, this could help Minecraft be a real part of the RS canon.

Possible mods (feel free to add to this list):

As an aside, the propensity of some mod teams to use a single thread on the Minecraft Forums as their "website" is insanely annoying. -Lamin

Possible mod packs (again, feel free to add to the list):

Viability estimate: Playing modded Minecraft can be an insane amount of fun, but there are non-trivial technical issues we may need to get past. It would probably be best to focus first on implementing a few different types of game in vanilla and then focus on doing a modded server for awhile.

RS Mod Pack

Josh has taken the lead on putting together a Feed the Beast compatible private mod pack for us to use with a modded version of Minecraft that we are hosting on our own RS server. Here is what is being included so far:

(Check the discussions page for complete list)

(Check the installing the RS Mod Pack for details)

  • Zan's Minimap
  • EnderIO
  • Thermal Expansion 3
  • Applied Energistics
  • Not Enough Items, with plugins
  • Inventory Tweaks
  • Treecapitator
  • Modular Power Suits

Player vs. Player

Minecraft has no "formal" player vs. player setup in the game, but there exists a PvP community. At the moment, our current server is configured to support player vs. player, in that attacks will hurt other players. A PvP game could be set up in a number of different ways, including:

  • One-on-one, two-on-two, or x-on-x combat in an arena set up for it, and managed by a "referee" who has operator powers
  • Competing settlements in survival mode, with competition either done via gathered resources or by combat, or possibly by both
  • An all-out free for all (total war)
  • Issuance of challenges and duels, with reporting (this would be workable because disputes could be resolved by referring to log files)

Viability estimate: If a good amount of time is spent drafting rules, this could be a fun addition to the Minecraft world for the RS. It will be very important to create clear rules and, in the cases of arena or other such combat, to build a good world for it ahead of time. Aside from challenges and duels, it's probably best to not let these worlds cross with our typical PvE worlds except in very specific places (for instance, an arena built in an otherwise peaceful world).

Adventure Maps

Adventure mode allows for the creation of maps that play more like game levels and less like sandboxes. This opens the door to possible ITOD challenges of different types, and also offers a slot for RS members to become content creators. You can do pretty cool things using the adventure mode and command blocks, so this is definitely a possibility. You can also run the adventure maps both locally (download and run) or on a server, allowing for multiple kinds of participation. You could have the following types:

  • Downloaded "mission" maps that let you play through them and are scored in some way (a common trait is to have tokens hidden throughout a level, counting as points)
  • Online "races" where two players compete simultaneously to go through an obstacle course of some kind
  • Puzzle maps that reward different approaches to solving problems in-game

Viability estimate: This should probably be the next thing implemented by RS members, as it most naturally combines a competition aspect with Minecraft. The one challenge will be how to develop server-side adventure maps with only one server available. A second server may be necessary for development work.

Scoring and Participation Awards

These are ideas on how to score / reward participation in Minecraft.

Time Participation

Earn one badge per month according to the amount of time played:

  • 1 Hour (Wood Badge)
  • 5 Hours (Stone Badge)
  • 10 Hours (Iron Badge)
  • 20 Hours (Gold Badge)
  • 30 Hours (Diamond Badge)

Badges would stack by 5's, signified by perhaps a silver border. Displayable in medals box, prominently placed on RS profile. For proof of time, the logs or screenshots could be used. However, open to some griefing (players could connect and simply sit idle).

Project Participation

A Minecraft Platform Coordinator could also designate one task per month, and if members complete it, they'd earn another badge similar to the above, with a sample title being (Nether Badge). These would also stack as described above.

Skill Badges

The RS profile would display a skill badge for Minecraft, ranked from 0 to 20. Zero indicates no tasks completed, ten is a high level of competence, and twenty would be a complete expert. Here is how points would be awarded:

  • Get whitelisted and log into the server: 1 point (confirmed in-person or by logs if needed)
  • Play with another RSer for at least an hour: 2 points (confirmed by the other player)
  • ...for at least 2 hours: 1 point
  • ...for at least 3 hours: 1 point
  • ...for at least 5 hours: 1 point
  • ...for at least 10 hours: 2 points
  • ...for at least 25 hours: 2 points
  • ...for at least 50 hours: 2 points
  • Complete all in-game achievements: 6 points (confirmed by screenshot)
    • This may not work, due to trouble viewing all achievements on one screen. Perhaps we could do 6 difficult achievements (at the end of a line), 1 pt each, which would work via screenshot.
  • Achieve Level 50 XP: 2 points (as confirmed by screenshot)

The levels could be:

Points Name Symbol
0 (n/a) (n/a)
1-2 Tree Puncher MC-LEAVES-MC
3-5 Wheat Farmer MC-FARMER-MC
6-9 Creeper Hunter MC-SSBOOM-MC
10-14 Diamond Miner MC-CARBON-MC
15-19 Nether Diver MC-NETHER-MC
20 Cubist MC-CUBIST-MC

Other Games

We can use badges and skills with other games as well. Since competing for the highest score on ITOD missions does not motivate pilots very strongly these days, it may work well for the X-Wing series. Let's try it: RS X-Wing reboot. The skills follow the pattern of Beginner's Path. Badges reward regular activity, while skills reward one-time achievements.