Ten problems that parents can have with Minecraft

From Minecraft Mum (a great source for Minecraft parents):

http://minemum.com/minecraft-parent-problems

“I hate Minecraft. I want to kill it with fire.”

A friend was ranting to me in an email about her kids fighting over the game and running into problems on a multiplayer server. She’d well and truly reached her limit, and was thinking about banning Minecraft from her house altogether.

She’s not alone – there are loads of parents who are baffled, frustrated or tearing their hair out over their kids’ passion for playing in this blocky little world. Which is a shame because the game is full of a lot of really positive things and can be a wonderful experience for kids.

But it’s important to remember that Minecraft was never specifically designed with kids in mind, and so naturally there are aspects to the game that can be a problem for families – including a couple of things that have the potential to cause some major drama.

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This Dad moves to Minecraft Realms

[A post I started in April 2016!]

realms

Some time ago (before April 2016 evidently) I decided to give Minecraft Realms a try. Realms is a service accessible through the Minecraft application itself. It’s a server that you control through your account rather than a possibly dodgy affair somewhere in the internet.

minecraft-splash-screen

It’s that third button on the Minecraft splash screen.

I should say that I am referring to the PC (Mac or Windows) version of Minecraft Realms since I have taken so long to post on this, Mojang has now set up Realms for Pocket Edition as well. As of yet you can’t be on the same Realm with Pocket Edition and the PC edition (or a console version for that matter) however Mojang seems to be working towards making this possible in the future. If you want to play together on a Realm you need to have the same version of Minecraft.

Pros

  1. Always on. No more calls to “turn on the server Dad” or “the server’s down Dad”.
  2. Fairly straight ahead integration with the Minecraft application. It may be that there are the same number of clicks necessary to get to a public server through “Multiplayer” however you don’t need to fish through a long list of server names.
  3. Low cost. It’s about $10.39 CAD if you choose the ongoing cost. 30, 90 and 180 day charges are slightly more than this per month. The only change to this charge I have seen since starting on the recurring charge is that the monthly cost has gone down(!).
  4. You can upload your old maps and you have three “slots” to use that you can switch back and forth. You can also start from a selection of contructed maps or just start a random map as you do in single player.
  5. Your maps are automatically backed up every hour if there has a been a change made and you can restore them to a recent back-up with a click. (Useful if a mostly unintentional fire breaks out in game.) You can download the map you have been playing on in case you don’t trust the backups or you want to edit your map.
  6. The fourth “slot” is set up for a selection of minecraft mini-games. These vary over time as the game gets upgraded (see below). Unlike the other map slots they are reset each time you start them but this is just the nature of mini-games. Your map progress is saved each time so you can switch between your map and a mini-game easily and quickly.
  7. Easy administration of players. You start out with just the account you made the realm with and then add players by invitation. A list of active players is available through the interface for Realms in the application.

Cons

  1. Realms uses latest stable version of Minecraft released by Mojang when you are playing. This may make things difficult for some who are hanging in with older OS versions and computers.
  2. Due to #1 mini games that are made to work in certain versions may be removed from Realms when they become incompatible with the latest released version. This makes for variety in min-games but perhaps will be disappointing if you have a favourite.
  3. You can’t add mods to a Realm at this time. (This may actually be a pro for parents who would prefer not to deal with them.)

I found the transition smooth. Uploading our old map was easy although we would up starting a new world using one of the starter templates available. It’s been a lot easier to deal with since then and I have been able to encourage the use of Realms mini-games instead of this found on possibly dingy servers elsewhere.

https://minecraft.net/realms/faq

Raspberry Pi Minecraft server

Raspberry Pi is an open source design for a small computer suitable for DIY projects. It is the basis for the Mineblock project, however ambitious souls can make their own. Here’s a link to a guide below. You will need some basic skills in setting up your Raspberry Pi in the first place however there are online and hard copy sources for this. The advantage of using a Raspberry Pi is principally it’s footprint: It’s very small.

http://www.raspberrypi.org/minecraft-server/

http://picraftbukkit.webs.com/pi-minecraft-server-how-to

Another home server option… coming soon

http://killscreendaily.com/articles/mineblock/

Earlier this year, eight-year-old Jivan Armen logged onto a Minecraft server in his home in east Vancouver to start building something new, as millions of his peers do each day. Jivan loves roller coasters and had begun constructing one to transport sheep throughout his world. Then disaster struck.

A griefer logged on and set his roller coaster ablaze. There was no recourse; only tears. Jivan ran to his father for consolation. “It’s not a great introduction to the Internet,” Jivan’s 46-year-old father Haig says. In fact, since then, Jivan has been shy to log into his favorite game out of fear of abuse.

Later, on the 10-minute walk to school, Haig shared the experience with other parents, many of whom echoed poor Jiven’s tragedy. “They all said that inevitably some jerk gets on their child’s server and ruins everything,” Haig says. Fortunately, for Jiven and the children of Vancouver, Haig Armen has a solution.

About a year and a half ago, Haig began working on an ingenious device called the Mineblock. A physical object powered by the credit card-sized Raspberry Pi computer and not much larger than your hand, the Mineblock does just one thing: run a private Minecraft server.

Your private server choices

So you were googling for how to set up a server for your kids to play minecraft (PC/Mac version) on because they are being griefed or you are tired of them having to see the rough and sometimes obscene language in the chat on many of the public servers. Maybe you are also hoping to find a cheaper solution than Minecraft Realms or there is some hardware/software issue holding you up.

Let’s back up. If you want to set up a server of your own that will allow you to have only those players you approve to play then you have three choices:

  1. Minecraft Realms ( https://minecraft.net/realms ) – This is probably the most convenient solution. It is available directly through the minecraft software you are already using. The game is hosted on Mojang’s servers so they take care of all the work on that end and you don’t have to fiddle with the firewall setting on your network as the minecraft .app . It’s available in almost all markets now. They only thing you may balk at is the price. I think it is priced fairly however you may want to consider the long-term costs if you kids are going to play together over a year.
  2. Amazon Ec2 ( http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/ ) – This is do-it-yourself solution, but with someone else’s computer. If you are not already familiar with the nuts and bolts of unix and the concepts of server and client software, you have steep learning curve here. You will need to run and administer this using a number of tools to control a remote computer. On the up side, Amazon offers a year free for their lowest tier of service. Here are some good tutorials on how to set it up:Setting up a free Minecraft server in the cloud – part 1 http://www.blog.gartonhill.com/setting-up-a-free-minecraft-server-in-the-cloud-part-1/

    HOW-TO: Run a server on Amazon EC2 http://www.minecraftforum.net/forums/support/server-support/server-administration/1892104-how-to-run-a-server-on-amazon-ec2

  3. DIY