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.

2 Replies to “Deciphering Server Alchemy – Preparing For #netnarr Minecraft”

  1. Thanks … so a question … I have MC on my laptop, for my son to use. Can I connect MC to the server you are setting up but not impact his account with MC? I guess I need to dive into the program to see what things look like.
    Kevin

    1. Yes, you will be able to use that account to play. That shouldn’t be a problem. You will want to be sure it is the version from http://minecraft.net rather than the “Windows 10 Edition” version (which is actually the Mobile Version in disguise).

      I am working on the last setup pieces for us to get rolling and I will communicate more of these details soon. (Also, we had some more signups so that’s fantastic!)

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