Why Your Server is Messed Up ;) part 1, Spawn

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Otter
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Why Your Server is Messed Up ;) part 1, Spawn

by Otter » Thu Nov 22, 2018 22:33

Having jumped around on a bunch of servers, I have found a few issues that show up on too many of them.
The first issue is the grand and wonderful spawn. Spawn should be a good place to start and a good place to meet up. Then you had to go and ruin it. Worse than that, I helped you ruin it.

When I start on a survival server, I want to be able to mine and build pretty quickly. If I can't find wood and apples within a reasonable time, I am abandoning your server. Sorry, but I am starving while looking at all of the wonders. I have to play a bit before I can afford to gawk at your awesome works. I would not mind having a good pick and a stack of bread, but what I really want is to be able to get started, earn my way and then interact with other players. If I starve through my initial stack of food and health, or if I die and lose that starting stack of food needed to reach or find a place to plant and harvest, I am not coming back. I already wasted time reading your rules. Time is ticking.

There was a server I loved. It changed. I had no issue with it restarting and my losing things there. Easy come, easy go. I was advanced enough to be looking for a new challenge and I had exhausted most of them. The new version started me out with a bit of food and a few tools. Then I nearly starved to death looking for a freaking apple.

Everything was protected around spawn. I ran out of food before I got out of the protected area. I was near starvation when I found an apple tree. When I managed to get a few bits of wood things seemed be looking up. I was frustrated from literal hours of trudging through protected areas, but now I though I might be able to plant a few wheat and perhaps live. Nope, wood armor and a steel sword is no real defense. In the dark, I was killed instantly by a monster I could not see. I should have built a nooby tower and waited until dawn instead of making armor. But then I needed food and waiting all night would have killed me. I should have typed /sethome the second I found an apple. Then again, as paired down as things were, I am not ever sure that /sethome would have worked.

I had no starting food and I had no chance of reaching my bones before I starved again. I came back to life with half my life missing. Fair enough, but now I was dead no matter what I did. That was the last time I logged on to a server that at one time, I really enjoyed. There was no motive to even try. I probably should have complained to the admin, I rather like the guy, but I was too frustrated at the time to compose a polite message. Now time has passed and I have other servers to play on. I also don't want a handout.

I really don't want a handout. I want a decent chance. I don't want to hike through endless protected areas. I want to play. I don't want to have to type /sethome every five minutes to be able to find the bones that I cannot survive without. I am a freaking noob. Even if I know Minetest I don't know the mods you use and even if I do, they may not be the same. I don't have time to study it all, I am a noob. My health is ticking down. If I die I may loose the start items I need to survive on your server. I would rather be able to have a chance and start without a stack of food and a handful of tools.

Even if the admins don't protect huge empty areas of land, Spawn gets crowded with cool buildings. Over time the result is the same. There is a great area to show. It's really amazing. Nice work dudes. Now I starve looking for the nearest spot to pick an apple, cut down a tree and dig a hole. If I find the best and nearest spot, now I am part of the problem. After I protect it, make a garden and make it look cool, like everyone else, I have made the game worse for the next noob. A new player will probably starve looking at food he can't harvest. There are some really nifty servers out there that have a crazy long hike to find a place to build. When your admins and moderators have sealed off huge parcels of land near spawn, they have told me that I, as a noob to their server, am not loved.

If I could see on the minimap or any map, that areas were protected, it might help me not travel for days in the wrong direction. My having guessed wrong is no excuse for the admin's management. Just tell me I am not welcome on the greeting sign. Don't make me have to waste a hour learning how little you love me. A nice addition would be to make protected areas glow or something when I turn on "see protections." I would love to have the ability to see protections from a distance. Honestly I am tired of rejoicing that I have finally found a rubber tree and then find out that someone has done the world a service by protecting it from me. Honestly I would have replanted it, but that is not always how the noob behaves.

Here are a few ways this can be solved. Some places have made paths to where you can start and build. This is great, but the path just gets longer or the portal gets further away from where I need to go. When the path crosses desert, it just makes me sad. More health gone while looking for materials to make a hoe with. A community garden can help me prepare for the long hike and a place to harvest trees and replant them does not feel like a total handout.

Portals from spawn to places in the wilderness are a good start. Not always perfect though. Yellow phone booths that let me travel are great. Anyone who has played on a server I play on can tell you that I make hundreds of them. That said, they don't look right in low tech construction areas. A ton of portals will solve this problem until those areas are taken and a noob can't find a good place to join a community. Travelnet solves problems but travelnet also makes for road travel becoming a thing of the past. Carts become a waste of time or a nifty ornament. They stop being a tool.

Another way to solve this by giving out a few mine carts and having a wild ride across the country side.

Homesteading might be another cool option. Give me a one block parcel of land out in the boonies with a few apple trees on it and I could make a good start. Keep the monsters out in the wilderness. Or you could have them spawn on brush or something and make me race to clear whatever they spawn on from my area. Having rats endlessly show up unless I have a hundred torches in every room gets a little tired after a while.

Another cool start would be to begin in a nice instructional place up in the clouds. The instructions tell me that I can choose when I want to start interacting with the world. Till then, I am immortal and I have fly. I have noclip that does not work in protected areas. Protected areas glow and let me know that I can't build there. This way I can find the place I want to start out. I can look at all your neat buildings and not lose my life starving while I do it. If I want I can cheat and look underground to see if this area has too much lava to mine safely. When I start interacting, this sets my home for me. I can always return to spawn. I can set a new home, but for the nooby, having home set for him might save a few issues.

Having spawn move around is sort of cool too. I have not seen this done actively but I have been around when it moved and made things easier for the noobs.

In any case, this is the first thing I run into when I go to a new server. It is also the first reason why I bail on a server and find myself uninterested in coming back.
 

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Re: Why Your Server is Messed Up ;) part 1, Spawn

by parasite » Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:46

Otter wrote:When I start on a survival server, I want to be able to mine and build pretty quickly. If I can't find wood and apples within a reasonable time, I am abandoning your server. Sorry, but I am starving while looking at all of the wonders.


1)
First, let me explain the "answer" from hard survival server player perspective. I would not like to be perceived as being rude, but let me suggest that you should consider playing on creative servers if the survival servers are too much of a challenge for you. For example, I love difficult servers. It's okay to die a dozen times at the beginning, before you will learn the specifics of a given game and create some simple shelter, bridgehead, with a chest, some food (like smelted rats or apples) and a bed (I assume that the survival server is defined as one that does not have /sethome). When some game is too hard for you, you can always try to find easier game. There are servers without mobs, and servers where administrators help players all the time, if they are online.

Note that many servers are created by the community. If the players who played there earlier, built houses around spawn, and there is no free area nearby, it's hard to blame these players. Blame yourself that you started playing so late. And best of all, do not blame anyone, just discover the great charm of the place and look for a free area far from the spawn. That's how you play the minetest. You are looking for a place on the server that is suitable for your base. After you establish some basic base and collect some basic stuff, then you can come back closer to spawn to try to add something from you to the city that is there. You must plan the right strategy.

You cannot just wander without a plan. If you do not have a diamond armor, you must avoid mobs, you must also get some food. This must be done wisely. Food must be multiplied (farms). Most survival servers have grass, from which you can get a few wheat seeds, and that is how you can start. Survival game is not about building, it is a strategy game. At least at the begining. You can`t think about how to make it easier, you should think how to make it harder lol. At least that is how I feel that topic.

If I want I can cheat and look underground to see if this area has too much lava to mine safely.
But that does not make sense! Playing on survival servers is not like that! The fun is to take the risk! Well, if minetest survival servers are too hard for you, you can always try to find easier game. Like minesweeper. Oh no, sorry, you will not like that, as bombs/mines are not shown there at the begining. ;-) Playing on a survival server is not about mummy showing you a place that is not protected or where you can dig ores and not die from the lava. You have to take the challenge yourself, plan the strategy and implement it, and modify it when it will be needed. The more troubles, more deaths, the more joy you have when you finnaly achieve your goal. Do you need a lot of resources? It's hard, you have to spend a few or a dozen hours playing in the mine, dying from the lava or mobs there, going back to the place of death to recover bones (and stuff that was left in it) and so on. If there is no good area for your base, just go a whole day in one direction to find some wild area. If mobs are too hard at night, dig a hole and sit there all night. You need to make a goals yourself, like "survive first day", "get working farm of potato" after you find a single potato, "make first protector" and so on. That is what is all about with survival. A challenge, dedication, persistence... whatever you need, you can do it yourself, even it will cost you few hours and hundreds of bones.

Well, we should start here with an elementary explanation. I guess you want to talk about intermediate servers, not really survival, but without creative privs. Those servers are much easier. There are servers whitout mobs, and servers in which you can get thousand of powerfull resources after first 20 minutes of gameplay. It is really hard to die at intermediate server. Many great admins come up with various ways to make the game more enjoyable. And sometimes to make it easier too.

2)
But the issues you are talking about are interesting issues. I think that every admin of the popular server is considering them.

Portals from spawn to places in the wilderness are a good start. Not always perfect though. Yellow phone booths that let me travel are great.
Well, what travelnet or teleport or anything like that is doing on true survival server? If you can build travelnets, that for sure is not real survival server. But yes, some intermediate servers use that solution. For example Pandorabox. The old trick (used in many old servers, I do not know if it is still in use in modern servers) is to create an area where players place their travelnets next to each other, so that everyone can quickly move to different regions. Of course, the creation of the travelnet network also requires strategic thinking from a player to prevent griefing. It is easy to find and use somebody mines and farms then... but it is also easy to explore, to look up to somebody creativity, to visit somebody places and get some ideas from it too. Also, another old tric is to move spawn to a new location, so that new players could spawn in an area that has a lot of free land around.

Another way to solve this by giving out a few mine carts and having a wild ride across the country side.
It is a different traditional solution. For example, JT2 and MustTest servers has the main city covered with a network of streets with rails. Further development depends on the players. If they are wise and want to build a cool city, they should create streets with rails themselves. It is a boring job and I am sure that most children cannot enjoy the creation of something that can make it easier for other players to play. But sometimes there are players who have pleasure in building public infrastructure (it is also about public mines, farms and so on). Recipie for carts are so easy, that anybody can get own cart after 5 minutes of gameplay. Default recipe is just 5 steel ingots. So you need to mine 8 cobbles (for furnace), one or two coal (for fuel) and 5 iron ores! If this is too hard for a player, than such player should not play survival. And LinuxWorks Next Generation server has trains mod so you can ride to different areas and cities with a train if you like. Trains are different than carts, becouse only admins (or selected players) can made new rails (it need a little bit more effort to configure it). You should go there to see how much effort was put in to create a working rail network there. Just stand at the station and wait for the train to arrive. (Pandorabox mentioned above also has a trains).

Homesteading might be another cool option. Give me a one block parcel of land out in the boonies with a few apple trees on it and I could make a good start.
There are mods which generates villages (mg_villages). Such village contain generated farms, houses and chests with stuff. You can spent some time inside such village buildings, you can dig them or protect them. In some games you can even buy them too. Here you can check the ESM server for example. If you are able to survival map exploration, you can find some villages with food in farms and in chest, where you can spent the night (to hid from mobs) and go for another exploration during the day. There is also a mod (plot_system) that creates small square plots on a map. Player can buy such a plot to build on it. But I do not know if there is any server with that mod running right now. Also skyblock games can be considered here.

Another cool start would be to begin in a nice instructional place up in the clouds. The instructions tell me that I can choose when I want to start interacting with the world. Till then, I am immortal and I have fly.
Lol.

There are many more ways for new players to find their place close to spawn than you mentioned. Some admins even introduce a tax system so that inactive players lose protection if they will not pay the taxes in time lol. There are many great solutions that have already been implemented, but we can always discuss new ones. As long as it will not be flying and cheating.

3)
Finally I guess that you should check Pandorabox, as it fulfills your criteria. Each city on the map is so small that you can quickly find a free area (at the end of the street or next to almost any building) where you can build your something as a part of that city. Main city, called "New Town" if I remember it well, also has a lot of signs that display information where are shops, mines, other stuff. Spawn contain a dozen teleports that can takke you to different areas, like "New Town" or wild area that is waiting for builders. This server also has a browsable map that display which area is covered by others and where are still free, not protected land. If you have some time to explore and learn this server, you have many options to use to find what you are looking for.
 

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Re: Why Your Server is Messed Up ;) part 1, Spawn

by ptvirgo » Fri Nov 23, 2018 23:14

Otter - nice summary; I've had similar experiences of showing up on a server and not being able to get away from spawn before I starved. Can't remember which, but I remember being especially annoyed on a server that had a public farm, and some admin came along and told me not to take too much after the first time I starved just trying to walk someplace unprotected, even though I was replanting.

I like your teleport / homesteading idea the best as the "simplest thing that could possibly work." Seems like there must be (or should be) a mod somewhere that can teleport players to random, unpopulated areas after they visit spawn and check the rules.

So what's part 2 going to be..?
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Re: Why Your Server is Messed Up ;) part 1, Spawn

by Otter » Mon Nov 26, 2018 15:06

Part 2 is going to relate to the basic fundamentals of of Character description. In many ways this relates to flaws basic to RPG's in general.
 

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Re: Why Your Server is Messed Up ;) part 1, Spawn

by bhree » Mon Dec 03, 2018 12:42

I have the same thinking about traditional spawn. Fortunately, I found a mod which has adjustable spawn area and I made a very wide area almost whole map as spawn. New player will be randomly spawned somewhere in an unprotected area and each player will have their own unique spawn point. /home and /sethome is not necessary anymore I see some players can be abusive with those commands. And another thing, You don't have to see other players' buildings.
 

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Re: Why Your Server is Messed Up ;) part 1, Spawn

by Linuxdirk » Mon Dec 03, 2018 13:59

Plot-Twist: What about not having a central spawn at all? Randomly spawn users somewhere in the world and let them start from there. The spawn system checks for the player being safe when spawned and not being spawned in a protected area.

Protections will only be made if a user requests one and all users only have a certain amount of cubic meters free for protection (this encourages building things together because the space that can be protected will be added).

A must-have in this case is that unaltered map chunks will be removed from the database after it is unloaded because otherwise the map file will be gigantic at some point (or maybe map blocks so the system has to check a smaller area for changes).
 

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Re: Why Your Server is Messed Up ;) part 1, Spawn

by texmex » Tue Dec 04, 2018 09:41

Otter wrote:Part 2 is going to relate to the basic fundamentals of of Character description. In many ways this relates to flaws basic to RPG's in general.

Loving this writeup, keep it coming!
 

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Re: Why Your Server is Messed Up ;) part 1, Spawn

by redblade7 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 19:04

Otter wrote:Everything was protected around spawn. I ran out of food before I got out of the protected area. I was near starvation when I found an apple tree.


My server "THE DIGITAL FARMS" is similar to survival (there is no PvP or monsters) and to avoid starvation by new players, I have a "newbie pond" near the spawn area which I try and keep stocked with plants around it.
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Re: Why Your Server is Messed Up ;) part 1, Spawn

by Byakuren » Tue Dec 11, 2018 21:33

I think some headings would have given me more motivation to read that wall of text.
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Re: Why Your Server is Messed Up ;) part 1, Spawn

by jas » Wed Dec 12, 2018 15:50

My server has a bunch of holes you fall into and get stuck in. Plus, there's tons of objects and I made the active_object_send_radius 6. I did think of this post when I made spawn a small box, but it's still laggy. I think phones will have to be high powered for Minetest, that is all.
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Re: Why Your Server is Messed Up ;) part 1, Spawn

by Sokomine » Mon Jan 07, 2019 05:04

Otter wrote:Sorry, but I am starving while looking at all of the wonders. I have to play a bit before I can afford to gawk at your awesome works.

Er, yes. That is..kind of understandable.

Otter wrote:Even if the admins don't protect huge empty areas of land, Spawn gets crowded with cool buildings. Over time the result is the same. There is a great area to show. It's really amazing. Nice work dudes. Now I starve looking for the nearest spot to pick an apple, cut down a tree and dig a hole. If I find the best and nearest spot, now I am part of the problem. After I protect it, make a garden and make it look cool, like everyone else, I have made the game worse for the next noob. A new player will probably starve looking at food he can't harvest.

That's a very good summary of life of/on a server. All larger servers encounter that problem sooner or later.

Otter wrote: There are some really nifty servers out there that have a crazy long hike to find a place to build. When your admins and moderators have sealed off huge parcels of land near spawn, they have told me that I, as a noob to their server, am not loved.

For me, it feels the opposite: A lot of land protected, and great buildings to look at - perfect! This server owner values people who invest time into creating something. My house will be save on this server. I can build here (well, perhaps after dying a couple of times...). Still, there is the problem of wanting to add to that nice spawn town and finding a place for the house. That's often also a huge challenge.

Otter wrote:Honestly I am tired of rejoicing that I have finally found a rubber tree and then find out that someone has done the world a service by protecting it from me. Honestly I would have replanted it, but that is not always how the noob behaves.

Yes, sadly, quite a lot of new players turn unprotected areas into chaos. There won't be any trees there for you to dig either - other new players harvested them already and didn't care the slightest to replant. They only left holes for falling in. Perhaps some of them are still struggling with their clients. Such a spawn isn't really much better. Except that it'll attract less players, and so you don't have to walk that far. It's a slum and not the center of the city. Land is cheap...

Otter wrote:A community garden can help me prepare for the long hike and a place to harvest trees and replant them does not feel like a total handout.

Public tree and food farms are great! All servers ought to have them. If there are enough players, the farms will be cared for. Still, it's time consuming because not all new players replant.

Otter wrote:Yellow phone booths that let me travel are great. Anyone who has played on a server I play on can tell you that I make hundreds of them.

I'm glad that you enjoy my travelnet mod :-)

Otter wrote:That said, they don't look right in low tech construction areas.

That's right. Based on their size, they could be made cloaked as a medieval outhouse - if someone were to do the textures. But I'm not sure if that would feel "right" in such an environment. The Lord of the Test game has turned them into roundish blocks, called palantiri (or so) - which fits nicely into that fantasy environment.

Otter wrote:Travelnet solves problems but travelnet also makes for road travel becoming a thing of the past. Carts become a waste of time or a nifty ornament. They stop being a tool.

Roads may still retain their value as people might have built something great alongside them. Roads attract buildings. Carts didn't really work well when I wrote the travelnet mod (did they exist back then?). Besides, the decision to travel instantaneously instead of moving the player slowly from A to B was deliberate: It becomes tiresome to run past the same scenery hundreds of time, wasting minutes of life pressing the forward button. And it puts some load on server, client and network. If server owners worry about travelling becoming too cheap, they might restrict placement of travelnets to a few trusted players, providing just basic infrastructure.

Otter wrote:Another way to solve this by giving out a few mine carts and having a wild ride across the country side.

Carts seldom work for me. Most of the time I don't really end up where I want to. Perhaps my network is too slow.

Otter wrote:Homesteading might be another cool option. Give me a one block parcel of land out in the boonies with a few apple trees on it and I could make a good start.

That's definitely a good approach for those who intend to create something. Sadly, the area will soon be filled with abandomed homesteads. I don't have a really good solution for that yet. There is that one idea about a plot system with rentable plots lingering in my mind, but...that needs more thought and time to implement. If you have any ideas, please share them!

Otter wrote:Having spawn move around is sort of cool too. I have not seen this done actively but I have been around when it moved and made things easier for the noobs.

Yes, that's another approach a server may take. And in a way a travelnet leading into the wilderness is a kind of new spawn as well. Those places need to be changed from time to time, and old ones need to remain accessible for those who live there. On Redcrabs server, new towns where frequently created, and all who liked started building there.

Public farms, building roads, shops, infrastructure, founding new cities where new players have a place for their houses and farms - that's not always done by admin and staff. On Redcrabs server, regular players prepared these new cities.

Perhaps you ought to talk to established players you encounter on a server with such a "starving" spawn, tell them of your worries (they'll understand if they're not too busy/distracted), and help those players understand what's needed. They might even come to spawn with a package of food so that you can search a nice new place for a new town together. Of course that implies that there are any players online. If not, it gets a bit tricky. Still, the server thread in the forum here might enjoy a posting about the problem.

bhree wrote:And another thing, You don't have to see other players' buildings.

Sorry, I disagree with you there. Without beeing able to do sightseeing, what would be the point? What you're saying feels to me like "oh, you don't have to play the game. Just stare at a blank wall for some time. Equal fun". Er. Guess we're all diffrent :-) Sharing buildings is one of the great opportunities this sandbox game provides (the other sandbox is modding).
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