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Sunday, May 24, 2020

Community Minecraft server calls for more developers

Student-run server has approximately 700 joined users and is asking for help

The official logo for the WWU DormCraft server, created by server co-founder and owner Cole Levy. // Photo courtesy of Cole Levy

By Cameron Lautenslager

The WWU DormCraft Minecraft server was built from an idea between two friends at Western.

Cole Levy, a first-year at Western, launched DormCraft alongside second-year Emmanuel Buell on Nov. 17, 2019, and as of May 2nd, they’ve seen over 750 users join. They support an active Discord server where players can talk over text or voice chat in chat rooms.

“It seems like just about everyone born between 1995 and 2005 has played Minecraft at some point or another in their life, and I don’t know anyone who has a particularly negative experience with the game,” Levy said. “That’s why we started the server. We set out to offer students a chance to relive that simple, shared experience of just playing Minecraft with your friends. I think we’ve succeeded.” 

When players join the server, they are met with a spawn area for players to learn how to play and get started with the fundamentals. Levy and Buell made an effort to keep their game free of anything that inhibits the natural play of the game.

“The server is a delicate balance between ease-of-use improvements to gameplay and familiar ‘vanilla’ features so that it retains the classic feel of the game,” Levy said. “We avoided unfair microtransactions, opting instead to offer donators cosmetic items and benefits which can be shared with other players, so that supporting the server is encouraged and rewarded without offering an unfair advantage.”

If you own the game and are interested, join by entering the IP address play.wwu.world in their Minecraft launcher.

“[DormCraft]’s player base has surprised me with their compassion, building a community through our Discord server, which now has more than 100 members,” Levy said.

From the start, Levy and Buell have run the server and kept up with any bug fixes or updates. Now that the server’s size has ballooned, they are asking for more support to run the server.

“Since I have been absent recently, Cole has been handling most of the server creation and upkeep on his own. For the future, we would love to have a team of developers working on the server so the community gets more support,” Buell said.

“Emmanuel and I can’t stay on top of all the bug fixes and updates we need to do, so why not open it to the Western student body?” Levy said. Levy is asking for individuals who have some experience with MineCraft server hosting and or Java, C++ and HTML/CSS.

When it launched, Levy and Buell originally set out advertising the server in chalk on Western’s campus. Since then, a community has been fostered primarily by word-of-mouth, according to Levy, and has provided a way for students to enjoy the game with others.

“I believe everyone just enjoys playing the game while being able to talk about classes, professors and all the other things that us college students have in common,” Buell said. “As soon as the original chalk ads were put up on campus, we had a lot of new users show up every day. And of those, most have stuck with the server since creation.”

While stay-at-home orders have limited human interaction for many Western students, the DormCraft servers have served as a beacon for people to congregate and converse over common interests.

“The server is an impressive example of students’ desire to connect with one another,” Levy said. “Student-led organizations like the DormCraft server have the power to bring a diverse group of students over a common interest. It’s really one of the friendliest groups I’ve met at Western.”

DormCraft is holding a virtual commencement ceremony in the game for students whose graduation was disrupted by campus closure.

“Quarantine has been a struggle, but DormCraft is using it as an opportunity,” said Sequoia Roessel, a third-year at Western and moderator for the DormCraft discord. “We are going to host an in-game commencement ceremony event with games for the seniors who cannot have one.”

The DormCraft servers are more than just a group of people playing a video game. It’s a reminder that amid global uncertainty, the most fulfilling remedy is human connection.

“It’s a community, and a rather nice one at that,” Roessel said. “We need that now more than ever.”

People interested in helping the DormCraft team run their servers can message Cole Levy at colejlevy@gmail.com or join the DormCraft discord at https://discord.gg/RgUpuP8. Watch a trailer for WWU DormCraft here.

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