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How to Download Your Builds

We can’t upload our world this season (too big!), but Mircokroon has been kind enough to make a program that downloads the world as you walk around in it. We’ve put together a short guide on how to use it on a Windows computer. The process isn’t all that different for other operating systems, so feel free to follow along with the video (or the written guide below).

Video Guide

Here are some links that you’ll need in order to follow along with the video

Written Guide

Download and install Java 17 (or above)

To begin, you’ll need a working Java installation (either 17 or greater). Here’s a link to where you can download Java 17 if you don’t already have it installed. Feel free to use other resources, such as a package manager. Download and run the installer for your OS.

Download and run the Minecraft World Downloader

Now that you have a working Java installation, download the Minecraft World Downloader. Here’s a link to where you can get it. If you’re on Windows, you probably want the .exe. Any operating system can use the .jar file.

Make sure you have Minecraft open. The stock launcher is suggested for this, though others will work with additional configuration needed. Run the world downloader, then navigate to the “Connection” tab along the top. In the “Server address” blank, enter play.voidtreemc.com and press Start.

Connect to the local proxy

Launch Minecraft, then click “Multiplayer.” Rather than connecting to the server itself, click “Direct Connection” at the bottom, and enter localhost:25565 into the “Server address” field. Finally, click “Join Server”

Walk around!

You should be able to walk around and interact with your copy of VoidTree like you normally do. While you’re doing this, keep an eye on the world downloader window. It should appear to draw a map centered around you as you walk. This map will be initially shaded red, but will gradually turn into the proper color of the terrain. Once it has done so, that area of the map is saved.

Your next job is to walk around to save all of the areas that you want a local copy of. Remember: if you don’t visit somewhere with the world downloader running, it won’t be saved. Be sure to give the map displayed inside the world downloader time to update (the red shading will update to proper terrain). After you’ve saved everything, close Minecraft. Wait a moment or two, then close the world downloader.

Move the saved files to your Singleplayer worlds

Now that you’ve saved all of those regions, the next step is to move them to your Minecraft singleplayer worlds folder so that you can access your copy. Head to the directory that you ran the world downloader in (this is likely your Downloads folder). You should notice that the program has created two new folders: cache, and world. Copy the world folder to your singleplayer saves directory.

For Windows users, this is located at %appdata%\.minecraft\saves.

For Linux users, this is located at ~/.minecraft/saves.

For MacOS users, this is located at ~/Library/Application Support/minecraft/saves.

Copy the world folder there, and you’re good to go! You should be able to access it as a singleplayer world now.

You’re done!

Good job! Try to join your singleplayer world, and you should notice that it has a copy of all the places where you visited with the world downloader active. You may have to teleport yourself to some of them using coordinates. The command is as follows:

/teleport <my username> <x> <y> <z>

See you in the next season!

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News

Season Two, We Will Miss You

Table of Contents

We plan to take Season 2 VoidTree down on

Thursday, July 7

and bring Season 3 up on

Tuesday, July 12

These dates are subject to change based on the progress of software updates and real-world commitments of the team.

Here is what you need to know.

Saving Your Stuff

It’s not possible to make the world download available to everyone because of its size. Multiple downloads would beat up our network connection and shove us right over our monthly data transfer limit, costing us money.

There are other options. For the remainder of the season you are permitted to use any mod that will allow you to save your stuff. There are lots of world downloaders out there that haven’t been updated to 1.18 and won’t work. We’ve taken a look at this one and think that it’ll work, though obviously we didn’t write it and can guarantee nothing. Keep an eye out for a blog post tomorrow illustrating how to use the tool. Litematica may also be useful.

In addition, we are releasing the Season 2 seed for everyone to do whatever they like with before the reset: -8137619694342170443

Go nuts.

Vote Packages Carry Over

To encourage people to keep voting, any unopened voting packages will persist across reset and can be opened once the new season starts. As we did last season, we are going to update material rewards to be appropriate for season start. That means no ancient debris for a bit. Instead you will find more items that come in handy when you don’t have all the things yet.

As always, you can redeem your voting rewards for XP or money. The amounts will not change.

Balance Changes

Based on our experiences last season, we’re making some changes. We’re going to keep you informed of these changes in blog posts. As always, the main web pages will be updated to reflect these changes, so you can go look up how things work.

We were looking at balance issues even before we heard rumors that people think our server is, well, easy. As you know, we have a policy to avoid taking things away from players. But a new season gives us a chance to improve game balance.

Pride Shears

Pride shears are powerful. They give you extra wool, extra colors of wool, and they never wear out. Wool farms are, well, overpowered. We are therefore lowering the number of wool blocks you get per shearing. You still get a small amount extra, but not as much.

We may adjust the number of wool blocks up or down depending on how our economy looks further into the season.

The number of candles you get from using shears on beehives will stay the same for now as those can’t be farmed.

Changes to /shop

We have removed from /shop some items that can be made from other items still for sale there. As a pleasant side-effect, there are fewer blocks to sort through when you are looking for the ones you need. The /shop is a convenience and was never meant to replace making items.

In addition, we currently plan to purchase the paid version of EconomyShopGUI. Paying for plugins was unthinkable a year ago, but we feel that it is appropriate given the regular support we get from our users. The paid version allows us to configure limits on /shop purchases per player and time period, which will improve balance and encourage more player-to-player shop activity while still allowing people to get the blocks they need to complete sacrifices or round out a build. The handy GUI for editing shop configuration without possibly blowing it up will be much welcomed, especially as I get to configure all of the item purchase limits.

Changes to Voting

For Season 2 players received rare voting rewards a random percent of the time based on their vote streak. This was unsatisfying for a couple of reasons.

  • It’s sad when your streak drops.
  • “Random” isn’t the same as “feels fair.” If you randomly get multiple rare rewards close together, you might get bored of them. If you get no rare rewards for a while, you might feel left out.

Therefore we have a new mechanism for rare rewards. You now receive a rare reward every 28 votes, which means that if you vote consistently and don’t make any typos when entering your name in voting sites you get a rare reward once a week. The rare reward is randomly determined. It might be a custom item. It might be a villager egg. You never know.

Money, XP and material rewards are still based on your streak level.

Changes to Altars

The VoidCoin flow into and out of altars has been revised.

  • Re-rolling a sacrifice now costs 5 VoidCoins.
  • The chance of getting a rare reward from completing a sacrifice has been reduced but increases with altar level.

Keep Newtown Lag-Free

We are adding an important rule for Newtown.

To keep Newtown lag-free for all, there will be no automated farms there. No redstone clocks, and keep your hoppers to a necessary few. If you would like to build a giant wool farm, there’s plenty of space in the wilderness.

End Opening Delayed

The End will be unavailable initially. The gods will be looking for signs that people have built bases and got decent gear before graciously permitting us to End Bust.

The opening of the End will be announced ahead of time so you can plan.

Start Small

Last season we pregenerated a world that was 15,000 blocks in all directions (or 30k x 30k). It used a lot of disk. This time we’re going to set a world boundary at 5,000 blocks in all directions (10k x 10k) and move the boundary out as the season progresses.

Keeping the world file size smaller may make it possible to put the world up for download at the end of season and will give us some needed flexibility.

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News

Money Stuff, Code Stuff

Money

The net withdrawal after fees was:

$157.71

That works out to

$52.57/month

As you may recall, our total expenses per month are $72.99. This means we’re $20 in the hole every month. This is exceptionally good cash flow for a public Minecraft server these days, and I absolutely do not mind the outlay. I’m not sure how I could have this much fun otherwise for a mere $20/month.

We started running VoidTree in June of 2021. The exact date Proton first brought up a server for us to play with is lost to history, but we’re marking June 25 as our official anniversary, because that’s the date of the first “card” in our issue tracking system (we were discussing what to name this place).

For the last almost year, my total expenses are $179.48. Again, this is very good for a public Minecraft server. Extra thanks to Solly for keeping our accounting spreadsheet organized, as it’s very important for me to prove to the tax people that I’m not making any money on this.

Growth

If enough people join, our current setup may not support them all without some lag. We have a plan for this. When regular contributions increase sufficiently, we’ll double our Linode bill. We’ll use the additional resources to bring up a creative server alongside the survival server and rejigger what runs where. As our current Linode bill is $60/month, that will mean an increase to of the Linode bill to $120/month and the total bill to $132.99/month.

My current plan is for the creative server to get triggered when we hit about $90/month in Patreon contributions, leaving me with about $40/month to cover, an amount with which I’m completely comfortable considering I may be otherwise picking up slack when contributors depart.

Change Log

Solly has been at it again. Some changes:

  • If you do a /findshop and click to teleport, you will be dropped in front of the right chest shop if it is in Newtown, and you will be facing the sign.
  • Added The Bee Lord’s Wand to Winter’s shop.
  • Added bat eggs to Winter’s shop.
  • Fixed many and various errors in altar code. Thanks for helping us debug, folks.

Categories
News

Altar Build Party

This is not a contest. It’s a party. That means everyone wins. To go there, /warp altar_party.

Here are the rules.

  • The build party starts on May 11, 2022 at 11:59 PM EDT.
  • The build party ends on May 18, 2022 at 11:59 PM EDT.
  • All materials are provided.
  • If you want to discuss the party in Discord, we made an #altar-party channel just for the purpose.
  • Participants will build their interpretation of altars, as few as one and as many as five (one for each type).
  • Build one altar in each square sub-plot.
  • You MUST use all the materials provided, but you may use other materials too if you want to decorate or get clever.
  • If you want to participate, ask in #altar-party any time on or after Wednesday, May 11, and a staff member will assign you a plot.
  • Your reward for participating is five VoidCoins for each altar built up to five, and you get to keep the shulker boxes.
Categories
News

Altar Upgrade

Hunter Altar

We are pleased to announce a brand new themed altar for VoidTree. Let’s have a round of applause for the brand new Hunter Altar!

You build a Hunter Altar the same way you do other altars. Stack up the materials, click the interface block, and get sacrificing! The Hunter Altar will ask for items you get from mobs, including every color of wool.

Other Stuff

  • Now when you use the Trans (dimensional) Pick on bedrock, the glass that appears will be in attractive pink, white and light blue colors. Break all the barriers!
  • Patreon contributors at Gold level and above can now use the /echest and /craft commands anywhere in game for a pop-up enderchest or crafting table.
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News

Are You Not Entertained?

Technical Details

Recently we’ve heard that our players want to create some badass builds to entertain each other, and we need a better place for this than Newtown. Why? Because redstone is a major drag on server performance.

If you build redstone at your own base, it gets unloaded when you log out. Newtown is loaded into memory and fully operational all the time whether people are in it or not. This isn’t a problem for us yet, but it will be soon. Nobody wants to see server performance collapse when we have more players.

Furthermore the one-chunk plot size limit really cramps people’s style. Newtown was set up to give us particular features, but it’s not the right place for everything.

How to Participate

We haven’t finalized the exact details, but I’m going to go ahead and tell you what we’ve determined.

  • The casino, landscaping and background scenery builds are being handled by staff. We appreciate the offers of help, but we’ve got this part covered.
  • If you want something included in the casino and surrounding areas, build it in survival mode first. We will evaluate your build and copy it in if it works for us.
  • All redstone MUST have an off switch. No exceptions.
  • Not everything will fit inside the casino, though we can expand it if needed. There will be space outside for different types and sizes of builds.
  • Odds or evens? The casino is an odd number of blocks in most dimensions that count. While a chunk is always 16 blocks on a side, you may want to build so that the center of your masterpiece lines up with the center line of the casino.
  • We expect to copy the entertainment district into subsequent season servers so your build can persist through 1.19 and beyond, assuming it works when upgraded.

More details when we figure them out.

Categories
News

First Ever Actual Egg Hunt

We’re using an existing plug-in written by someone else to provide the egg functions. We’ve tested it, and we think we understand it, but we could always be wrong. Isn’t this exciting? You know where to report bugs.

A rainbow striped cubic "egg" Minecraft Style, sitting on the ground.
Eggs look like this.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • There are fifty (50) eggs total.
  • The hunt starts on the afternoon of April 10 after a short downtime and will end on April 24 at 11:59pm Eastern time.
  • The eggs are located in Spawn or Newtown. Remember that spawn is pretty big. Any part of Spawn or Newtown might have an egg, including the Phantom Arena and some locations you probably haven’t visited since you first logged in. No eggs will be located in player-built parts of Newtown.
  • Prizes are valuable, silly, or vaguely spring-like, including rare standard items, custom items, and VoidCoins. In addition, each egg you find will award you $2,000 of in-game currency.
  • The eggs are instantiated per player. That is, each player can find each and every egg. You’re not competing with anyone.
  • All eggs are reachable without flying. No eggs are hidden in absolute darkness. You may have to get a little clever to find or reach some of them, though.
  • If your inventory is full, the prizes are supposed to drop on the ground, but we recommend that you empty your inventory periodically just in case. Finding several eggs may fill you up quickly.
  • You are completely allowed to tell other people where to find eggs, but do not spoil the information for others unless you are asked.
  • We are opening a new channel on Discord just for the egg hunt. Any discussion of egg locations should happen in the #egg-hunt channel.
  • Want to know how many eggs you have found so far? /ee found.
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News

The State of the Server

Expenses

  • Our Linode instance, where the Minecraft server lives, costs $60/month.
  • Our web and email server instance on Digital Ocean costs $10/month.
  • Google Drive storage for backups costs $2.99/month.

==============================

$72.99/month

Linode is more than twice as expensive as managed Minecraft hosting, but the performance is much better. We have far more tools to control memory usage than we did when we were on managed hosting. You benefit from the performance improvement whether you notice it or not.

Income

Our Patreon takes in $35/month. This is fantastic! Thank you! We have had a few one-time contributions, and they’ve been a surprise and a delight every time.

Please keep in mind that we do not get to keep all $35/month. There are fees. To keep the fees as low as possible, I’ve been withdrawing funds only every three months. I can get away with this, so it’s worth the wait. In February I withdrew $72.56, which gives us about $24.18/month, which covers about 1/3 of our operating expenses.

Public Minecraft Servers Do Not Make Money

Well, OK, maybe some do. I wouldn’t know. As you can see from the numbers above, VoidTree is about $40 in the hole every month it runs.

Where does this money come from? My pocket.

I’m OK with this. Working on VoidTree is wonderful, complicated, occasionally frustrating and positively rewarding experience which has probably put off my becoming senile for at least a couple of years. It’s a fantastic way for a retired IT person to stay in the game. I’ve made many sustaining friendships through VoidTree during some stressful times indeed. It would be hard to get such a rich experience otherwise out of a mere $40/month.

I do very much need to keep the burn rate from creeping upwards, though.

Complications

Minecraft is a resource-intensive game–that means it takes a lot of RAM and CPU power to run lag-free. As a Minecraft server becomes more popular and gains players, it need more resources to keep players from lagging. But that’s not the biggest issue.

Every version of Minecraft has used more resources than the previous version. For a while this resource creep has been partially offset by the increasing power and lower prices of new computer hardware.

Such was not the case in Minecraft 1.18. The expansion of the world on the Y axis resulted in a tremendous increase in the resources used. All of the guides for “How to tune your Minecraft server” are now woefully out of date. Some large public Minecraft servers are really struggling.

What are you supposed to do if you suddenly need twice as much resources to run your Minecraft server and contributions aren’t increasing? You avoid having that happen to you is what.

Staff have all played on other Minecraft servers, and some of us keep in touch with friends there. We’ve been watching what other servers do and how that works out for them.

Minecraft servers often monetize by selling items to players for cash. It’s not pay to play if anyone can get the same item for a voting reward if they wait long enough, right? But items in Minecraft can break or get lost. How would you feel if you died and lost an item you just paid $5 for? Yeah, me too. So let’s not go there, hm?

You will never see “loot crates” for sale to support VoidTree. Taking money in exchange for a random chance for a good item is gambling. Gambling has a place, but the people who spend money on loot crates are often the ones who have less money and fewer opportunities for fun–young people and students, and adults who are house-bound for some reason. It feels yucky, and I don’t think it’s sustainable.

Grow Slow

Resource usage is not the only problem. More users will mean more support requests, more bugs found and fixed, more potential interpersonal drama and more providing a shoulder to cry on for someone who has died and lost all of their stuff.

I’ve completely shelved some plans to attract more players through alliances with streamers and similar. Maybe some day, but not now.

Likewise, we initially wanted to bring up a creative server alongside survival, but paying the additional $30/month is not in the cards. We’ll know we’re ready to expand when we have enough regular players contributing regularly that we can cover the cost.

How to Help Out

We cheerfully accept support contributions towards running VoidTree, both one time and recurring. But there are many ways players can support us that do not require cash money.

  • Play! The server is just a bunch of inert code unless people are on it having fun. You make VoidTree come alive.
  • Vote! Voting gives you rewards and helps us reach new players.
  • Bring friends! Most of our growth has been via word of mouth.
  • Share! Tell people about VoidTree on Twitter. Make an account on Planet Minecraft and post pictures of your builds or discuss VoidTree in the forums. When we announce posts on social media, like them.

When the World Ends

We reset the world when 1.18 came out, and we will do so again when 1.19 arrives. There are a lot of good reasons to do this. It’s our opportunity to leave behind decisions we made that didn’t work out and to reset a few things behind the scenes to work better. A reset will happen approximately four weeks after Minecraft 1.19.0 arrives. It takes that long for all of the plugins we use to update and for us to test our custom code.

We have no information about when 1.19 will arrive. I frequently do web searches looking for clues. The only thing we know so far is “some time in 2022.” I’ve been hoping that this wouldn’t happen until December, but I’m seeing rumors that we’re looking at June. No official word from Microsoft yet, so please don’t quote me on any of this.

We know that saying goodbye to all you built is sad. I’d like to offer you at least one thing to look forward to.

For VoidTree Season 2, we followed standard advice to pregenerate our world to improve load performance when a player enters a chunk for the first time. Pregeneration has downsides. A pregenerated world must have boundaries that you cannot cross. It also takes up a lot of disk space to store areas that have never been visited, and we have to manage ours carefully to avoid out of disk space crashes. At the same time we’ve noticed that our premium hosting on Linode may be good enough that nobody will notice load lag on a new chunk.

Resetting VoidTree would allow us to choose a non-pregenerated, infinite world and might present more flexible options about how to respond to future version changes.

Beyond these esoteric technical issues, a reset tends to be fun. People who wandered off come back for the excitement of something new.

Closed vs. Open Beta

Our initial plan was to get our custom code stable, gain experience, drop the allowlist and declare Open Beta. Some things have changed.

We will not be dropping the allowlist. Sure, getting spontaneous connections from new players is great, but some new players cause new problems. VoidTree has become a warm, friendly, grief-free hangout, and nobody wants to see that change.

In December 2021, a very serious exploit threatened Minecraft servers and, indeed, the entire internet. The main method of combating exploits is to keep everything up to date with the latest versions, but preventing expoiters from joining our server is also important.

The upshot is that without a plan to drop the allowlist, we’re no longer sure what Open Beta will mean for our server. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe we’ll declare Open Beta when Solly clears his bug list and feels comfortable with the stability of our custom code base.

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News

Bug Fixes and New Toys

Altar Updates

  • Fixed a bug that occurred if your town was deleted due to nonpayment and you started a new town.
  • The gods of VoidTree are fickle, but sometimes they notice when you make a sacrifice. Added a small percentage chance of receiving a random reward when you complete a sacrifice. Note: right now you might not get a reward if your inventory is full. We have plans to change this, but you are warned.
  • New boon: Blessing of the Slime. If this boon is on, you will not take fall damage inside of your town. You will bounce. Try it. It’s fun! Just make sure if you throw yourself off a roof you land inside your town.

Custom Item Changes

  • New Item! Foliage Axe. You’re a lumberjack and you’re OK!
  • TAB fix: added code that prevents TAB from breaking containers.
Categories
News

Updates and Bug Bounty Announcement

Updates

  • We added a new type of phantom to our Phantom Event. It introduced a new bug. (I’m not saying any more in case you haven’t seen it yet. Be surprised.) We fixed the bug. We also introduced a new bug, but we fixed that one too. Yay us! And by us, I mean Solly.
  • The bug that causes flight potions to deactivate when you teleport between dimensions has been fixed.
  • Added logging for VoidCoin purchases from Winter and reforging of custom items at the Legendary Blacksmith. You won’t see this, but we will use information about how people use Legendary items in order to improve the game.
  • VoidCoins can no longer be placed so they don’t accidentally get turned into mundane sunflowers.
  • Taylor, the fox with the food stall near the Phantom Arena, now sells food items, mostly items that are already available from /shop for the same prices. There are a couple of new items, though. Right click Taylor for details.
  • Altars can no longer have two instances of the same boon selected.
  • Progress has been made on the bug that causes people to die a normal death during Phantom Events rather than being dropped at the arena entrance. This bug has proven very slippery because we haven’t been able to reproduce in test situations every last way that people can die. If the bug bites you, be sure to say something in chat for when Solly reviews the logs.

VoidTree Bug Bounty

If you find a bug, you win virtual cash from us. The minimum cash award is $25,000, which is the same amount that the first place winner for the Phantom Event receives. There are some conditions.

  • It has to be a bug that we can fix ourselves. Bugs in Minecraft that only Microsoft can fix do not count.
  • You have to post about the bug in #bugs on Discord. Telling us in-game doesn’t count.
  • It has to be a bug we didn’t already know about. Don’t worry, there are probably plenty of those.