Preliminary 1.11.2 Test Server Proposition

LWK texted me a reminder today of a request a while back whether we could put up a Vanilla world. I tried finding the original post just now with no luck; then again, I am rushing to post this. It was probably right in front of my face.

Mudwog and I discussed putting up a bare Spigot server at the beginning of the year; something that would allow members to play with close to home. We have had bare servers before – one pre-Arda and the pseudo-test server last summer for several initial 1.9+ updates. What we recall was that members initially explored and played around with new features, but then usage fell. The most common comment was that members missed our mainstay plugins and that having come and seen, they would be back when updates were done.

We considered making it more enticing this time around, creating a separate server with the new Seraph’s Realm seed, deployed with as many plugins as possible. We thought to merge this world and its content into the final update. Ergo, players would not lose their builds, inventory, currency, or other “stuff” provided by plugins. However, as nice as it would have been, the amount of work required to merge claims, balances, shops, etc., would be impractical. We would also need a master whitelist for preventing John/Jane Q. Public from joining and mucking things up in one way or another. Furthermore, we felt that some members may feel chided not knowing or having the opportunity to “pre-explore”. Hence, we didn’t consider it any further.

However, for some reason LWK’s reminder was still floating around in my mind all evening long, spawning other points of interest and concern wrestling with each other, till I came to the following. Before we can update Arda, we need a test server for live trials of all plugins, new and old. While there would be setup work, there is no show stopper that prevents us from putting up a pre-release of the test server now!

Preliminary Test Server Talking Points

Let me present the following points and solicit your comments/ideas. Please keep them simple and avoid splitting hairs. This is after all intended as a test server, a.k.a. temporary server, and not to be set in stone. The primary goal is testing all plugins while at the same time making it as reasonably possible enjoyable to all.

1. Do we use the new Seraph’s Realm seed?

Personally, I am for it, as it would allow members to explore and note interesting places for potential sites after the update. Should I be concerned that some members might feel slighted if they found out after the fact that they could have pre-explored the world?

2. Do we restrict access?

Given that a server whitelist is now UUID-based, we’d have to write a few scripts to parse our database to collect a candidate list of active members after some cutoff date, say 01/01/2016. Moderators can always add individual members manually should they have been missed; however, I’d like to minimize that effort and not have them swamped with requests. Any thoughts on how to handle this better? Or, do we try no access control at first?

3. Do we merge data into the update?

We will not merge non-world data into the update. Non-world data is any data tracked outside of a Vanilla world. This would include any plugin data and any player data such as player inventory, experience points, and other player-specific information. The only data merged would be the world itself along with items inside Vanilla containers such as chests, furnaces, droppers, etc. Members will be responsible for placing items in their personal inventory and/or shops into chests prior to the final update or lose them forever. Note: This only applies to the test server and does not affect the main server in any way.

Once updates are completed, members can hoof it back to their Seraph’s Realm base (make sure to note its location) to find their items intact. Since all other data is gone, member bases will not be protected, leaving it up to them to move their stash elsewhere or create a new claim around it. Short of the honor system and fear of being banned, nothing would prevent a malicious player from stealing items; though, consequences of such would certainly ensue.

4. What about lost “stuff”?

This is a test server. There may be a chance that data and items may be lost due to crashes, resets, and anything else. The safest place to keep items are in chests. Anything else, including player inventory, is fair game to gremlins and such. While not guaranteed, claims are generally immune to loss.

Tentative Test Server

Without any feedback, considering it was just asked, these would be the operating conditions of the test server pre-release.

Initial Setup
  • Uses Seraph’s Realm seed.
  • Players receive into items when first joined (armor, tools, food, etc.)
  • Players will receive 2,500 claims block and limited to 2 claims. Deleted claims are refunded at 75%. No additional claim blocks may be purchases. These settings allow members to claim one or two areas but also prevent them from going willy-nilly “reserving” spots all over Hell’s half acre.
General Operation
  • Server will be up as much as possible.
  • Server may shutdown or restart unannounced. We’ll try to give a heads-up, but not the usual 10-15 minute warnings. This is a test server.
  • Server may crash and remain off for as long as required to determine/fix cause.
  • A “Test Server” forum will be provided for placing announcements/change logs, bug reports, and feedback.
  • Bans are permanent and cannot be appealed; however, bans apply to the test server only and will not limit access to the main server now or after its update.
  • Members are permitted to “test” plugins and Spigot for weakness, security, and/or potential exploits. These tests are limited to in-game attempts using a normal client with reasonable mods. However, members are bound by honor to report successes and not to exploit them (e.g. item duplication). Protocol and other server-targeted “tricks” are still not allowed.
Updates
  • There is no tentative order in which additional plugins will be added.
  • Additional plugin command and usage documentation may be provided.
  • Any plugin, except for GriefPrevention, may be removed without notice.

In Sum

I probably left out some important details while hurrying to get this “to the press.” Do not hesitate to ask reasonable questions. The goal is not to contemplate the best solution, but something that most would find reasonable and hopefully provide some willing victims, err… test subjects, to hammer out any kinks.

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