Join Us – #netnarr Minecraft

Propaganda Poster for #netnarr that promotes a Minecraft session exploring digital alchemy.

Play with us! – We are playing the regular computer version of Minecraft. If you want to play, contact Keegan about joining our multiplayer server ASAP.

(Or) Watch us! – Come hangout, watch, and talk with us about digital alchemy, Minecraft, and other #netnarr shenanigans by visiting Keegan’s Twich profile on Sat. February 18th at 3PM CST.


Propaganda Poster Citations:

  1. Public domain assets from pixabay.com
  2. Fonts from dafont.com
  3. Minecraft images from Minecraft Wiki

Final Potion Ingredients – Preparing For #netnarr Minecraft

Voice Chat Software – Discord

I setup a Discord “Server” (essentially equivalent to a Slack team) to offer us the ability to voice chat while playing Minecraft on our computers. Discord has an interesting integration with various streaming softwares that allows all the chat audio to be captured and included in live streaming sessions. So, while we’re talking about Digital Alchemy and #netnarr, we’ll be able to have conversations publicly with anyone else from #netnarr that wants to tune in instead of playing. The only downside is that people who want to chat will need to create a free Discord account and join my Discord server.

That being said, I’m looking forward to connecting with the participants of #netnarr to talk about the teaching and learning they’re doing this semester, even more than playing Minecraft. 🙂

Live Streaming Software – Open Broadcasting Software (OBS)

I’ll use the free and open software OBS to live stream our Minecraft sessions. The major setup requires obtaining my “Stream Key” from my Twitch account to connect OBS to Twitch. I will setup a couple basic scenes with a few video and audio input sources. If you’re interested in learning more about live streaming with OBS, start with Twitch’s setup guide. Also, there are tons of video guides on YouTube; and here’s the middle of a comprehensive playlist that covers setting up a Stream Key:

Streaming Platform – Twitch

My go to streaming platform is Twitch. Although I’ve used YouTube Gaming in the past, I prefer the longer-standing Twitch service. Being older, it just has many more integrations, some of which we’ll use (like Discord’s integration).

Scheduling – Doodle Poll

Since the #netnarr family practices Digital Alchemy far and wide, I’ll likely coordinate playtime availability through Doodle polls.

Connecting – Minecraft Usernames

I’ll be gathering the Minecraft usernames of all the #netnarr players so I can invite them to the Realms server to play.

Other Equipment

I’m using this gaming headset to capture my voice.

I’m using this webcam.

My computer (that’s running everything) has these specifications:

OS: Windows 10
CPU: FX-6200
GPU: GTX 650 Ti Boost
RAM: 8GB

Our Goal

As a reminder, we are setting out on this adventure to explore the different types of Digital Alchemy present in Minecraft. This #netnarr content will drive our learning. Feel free to read more about all that here and here.

Let me know if you have any questions about anything! I’m trying to document and share all the components from logistics to equipment. 🙂

Deciphering Server Alchemy – Preparing For #netnarr Minecraft

I recently surveyed the #netnarr family to see if anyone was interested in participating in Minecraft. They were! 🙂

Platform

Making sure we have access to the same version of Minecraft is the top priority. As you can see, fortunately we all can play using computers or mobile devices:

Graph showing that 5/5 people prefer to play Minecraft on computer or mobile device over consoles.

Between the two, I’m going to pursue the computer version of Minecraft as it’s more feature rich, will be easier to use in conjunction with live streaming, and has more multiplayer options.

Multiplayer Deciphering

We have three options to play together on PC:

Option 1: Self-Hosted Server

tl;dr – I can setup, but I can’t run continuously and can’t guarantee good connections

I have a spare computer and access to the Minecraft server software. Following configuration, I’d need to work with my router to setup the appropriate port forwarding (port 25565) and firewall settings for a public IP address for the server.

However, since I use this spare computer for other tasks, I wouldn’t be able to promise constant access to the server. Additionally, I’m a bit concerned with running a live stream AND a Minecraft server from my home in terms of internet reliability. Since live streaming demands high bandwidth, I’m worried the server might become too laggy for others.

Option 2: Minecraft Realms Server

tl;dr – Minecraft offers an official server rental service called “Realms.” It’s easy to setup and should offer great connections for everyone, but costs a few dollars a month.

I haven’t used Realms yet because, besides costing $8 a month (only for me the host), these servers have a few limitations like a 10 player-per-Realm cap and restrict mods and customizations. Also, paying for the Realms service means I won’t learn the server configuration for a dedicated Minecraft server. (That is a learning journey I still want to pursue eventually.)

However, even with my hesitations, a Realm server may be the most appropriate option for a #netnarr Minecraft group. First, we’re under the 10 player cap. Second, I anticipate a Realms server will offer every player a lag-free experience. Third, a Realm is available 24/7 so if #netnarr folks want to play/explore on their own from time-to-time they will have the freedom to do so. Fourth, using Realms is easy and will reduce the complexity of setup so we can get started sooner and avoid potential troubleshooting. Finally, even though it delays a desirable learning opportunity, I do want to try out the official Realms to experience them for myself.

Option 3: Rent Dedicated Server

tl;dr – I can get and setup an AWS server for free. However, I’m concerned the free option is not enough to give us a good experience.

There’s a huge amount of documentation on how to use AWS to host a Minecraft server and the free tier of AWS means this could be accomplished without cost. Here’s one video, in particular, that I’m relying on to guide me through the setup process:

However, I’ve recently played on a friend’s AWS server and I’m not convinced the free tier is powerful enough to provide an adequate experience for our group. For example, on my friends AWS Minecraft server there were times where lag-spikes and disconnections occurred. Not consistently, but frequently enough to make me hesitate with this option. As Down Time (the author of the above video) states the free AWS server has 1 GB of RAM and that is “tight” for running a Minecraft server.

In other words, if I pursue this route, I may want to spend money to get a faster server to provide a better experience for folks. If I’m going to spend any money, I’d rather pursue Realms servers.

Decision

I’m going with option 2. Realms are easy, I anticipate they will be the most reliable setup, and they’re pretty cheap (there’s even a free 30-day trial currently available).

I’ve spent part of the weekend engaged in this digital alchemy so we can explore the digital alchemy of Minecraft! I can’t wait for potion brewing, weapon enchanting, and live streaming for the rest of the #netnarr community. Next, I’ll need to coordinate schedules to setup our play times.

Are You Interested In Playing Minecraft #netnarr?

I’m interested in playing Minecraft with the good folks of #netnarr. Does anyone share my interest?

Here’s what I’m thinking.

Since we are studying digital alchemy, I want to focus on this as it relates to Minecraft. Specifically, I’m thinking about playing with the objective of exploring both the potion brewing and enchanting built into Minecraft. (I’ve still not fully explored the potion brewing beyond a couple recipes, so this would be new content for me.) Anyways, here’s an outline of the goals checklist I was thinking about:

For Potion Brewing

  1. Acquire diamonds
  2. Find lava (or obsidian)
  3. Go to the Nether
  4. Defeat Blaze
  5. Craft potion brewing station
  6. Collect potion ingredients
  7. Brew potions!

For Enchanting

  1. Acquire diamonds
  2. Find lava (or obsidian)
  3. Craft enchantment table
  4. Acquire Lapis
  5. Enchant tools and equipment

Additionally, I was thinking that we should stream our #netnarr Minecraft adventures using Twitch (or YouTube live, etc.). That way we can include more of the #netnarr community in our adventures as everyone may not want to play but may still be interested in watching and chatting. This is also a “two birds with one stone” situation though because the act of “live streaming” is another tool in the digital alchemists tool belt that we haven’t discussed yet. In other words, not only am I interested in furthering Minecraft and game literacies, but I’m also eager to explore live streaming and other digital literacies skills.

Here’s an outline of those (learning) goals:

Learning Minecraft

  1. Explore the digital of “Digital Alchemy”
  2. Uncover Minecraft crafting recipes
  3. Learn about games and multiplayer networking
  4. Reflect on our exploration of Minecraft’s version of digital alchemy

Learning about Live Streaming

  1. Create accounts with live streaming service
  2. Setup live streaming software
  3. Practice engaging with a community while live streaming games
  4. Reflect on where else your new live streaming skill might apply

Whether you are comfortable playing Minecraft or live streaming video from a computer, this is an opportunity to learn more about these domains because I’m happy to teach both topics (and learn together if I don’t know all the answers). Anyways, if you are interested in this, please fill out this form so I can get an sense of how many people might want to play or watch digital alchemy in Minecraft:

If there is enough interest, we will do this! If not, no worries. 🙂

PS. I like taking the digital of “Digital Alchemy” to the extreme. This idea was inspired while I was writing my previous post.

4 Elements Via Minecraft

I’m having too much fun with Minecraft at the moment and this is bleeding into my #netnarr experiences. Rather than avoid this crossover, I plan to embrace it further. So, here are the 4 elements as they appear in Minecraft (the order was inspired by Marissa’s post that included a reference to Avatar):

Water

A pond of water in Minecraft.

Earth

Dirt blocks in Minecraft

Fire

Netherrack blocks on fire in Minecraft.

Air

Cloud blocks in Minecraft.

All 4 Elements

Water, Earth, Fire, Air all represented in Minecraft

Reflection

As I’m thinking about the 4 elements, digital alchemy, Minecraft, etc. I am reminded how fortunate we are to live in this age. In particular because we have access too virtual worlds where we can practice alchemy. When thinking about the nature of Minecraft, for example, it is about combining different blocks (“crafting”) and typically follows the pattern from simple compounds to increasingly complex materials.

In other words, I’m thinking about the building blocks of Minecraft as they relate to the metaphysics behind the 4 elements as the building blocks of reality. Now I’m wondering if anyone has written about the metaphysics of Minecraft. <quick search online> Yep. They certainly have. Here are a couple resources I found: