If you’ve played Minecraft, then it’s easy to see how much fun it can be. Running your own server lets you bring all of your friends into the same game, and you can play with rules you get to make or break. It’s the ultimate in an already addictive game!
We’ve already shown you How To Get Started with Minecraft, a Game Geeks Love. What’s better than single player? Multiplayer, of course! You can join one of hundreds of servers at minecraftservers.net to get started, or search around for more exclusive ones, but ultimately you’re bound by their rules and discretion. Running your own server lets you and your friends can play together with your own set of rules, and it’s really easy to do.
Download and First Run
Head on over to the Minecraft Download page and go down to the “Multiplater beta server software” section. Windows users can Just download the .exe file and run it. OS X and Linux users should download the .jar file, then run the server using the following command in Terminal:
java -Xmx1024M -Xms1024M -jar minecraft_server.jar nogui
If you want to devote more (or less) RAM to your server, change the 1024M to something else, like 2048M. The first number is the maximum amount it can use, and the second number is the minimum. Since everything is in Java, you should have at least a spare gig of RAM to devote to Minecraft. Things can get unruly with a decent amount of people playing, especially when you start to do crazy stuff like blowing up huge caverns with massive amounts of TNT.
In the server window, you’ll see the memory and processor thread use on the left, the list of connected players in the lower left, and the log and chat window on the right side. The first time you run the server, you’ll get some errors at first. That’s normal, so don’t panic!
The server didn’t find the configuration files it needs, so it’ll make them. You’ll see some new files come up in the same folder as your server.
There’s the “world” folder, which contains your generated map area, an ops list, and a server.properties file, among other things.
Once the world is finished generating, you’ll get a little notice about the help file. Close the server, or if you’re running it in Terminal, just type “stop” (without the quotes). We’re going to tweak and we can’t do that while the server’s running.
Tweaking the Server’s Properties
Open up the server.properties file in notepad. You’ll see something like this:
You’ll see some important options.
- level-name: This is the name of your Minecraft world. If you change this name, the server will look for a folder with a matching name, and if none is found, it will generate a new level with this name.
- spawn-monsters: If set to false, monsters such as zombies, skeletons, and creepers will not spawn. Often turned off for “op” or “creative” servers, where everyone builds and survival is not the focus of gameplay.
- spawn-animals: If set to false, animals such as wolves, cows, sheep, and chickens will not spawn.
- pvp: If set to false, players will not be able to harm one another, although you can still inflict damage by pushing other players off of ledges.
- white-list: If set to true, the server will only allows the usernames in the “white-list.txt” file to successfully connect and play.
For a complete description of all of the options, check out the Minecraft Wiki’s page on server.properties. Once you’re done changing things to what you want, save the file.
Since it’s your server, be sure to add your Minecraft username in the “ops.txt” file. That way, you’ll be an “operator” with full admin rights. You can generate any item you want, ban players, make other players ops, and change the in-game time.
In order for your friends to connect to your server you’ll have to configure port forwarding on your router. The default port is 25565, but this can be changed in the server.properties file. Your friends will need your IP address (or DNS alias/redirect) and this port number so that they can connect.
When you’re ready, start up the server again.
Playing On a Server
When you start Minecraft, you’re given the option of connecting to a multiplayer server. Clicking on it will allow you to enter its address information.
If you’re playing on the same computer as your server, you can just type “localhost” (without the quotes). Otherwise, plug in your server’s IP address or domain name. Click connect, and you’ll join the server.
Hit T to bring up the chat console.
You’ll see all of the public messages by users, system messages, and commands that you’ve executed. Notice the little prompt (>) in the lower left corner. Typing something and hitting Enter will send a message to all other players in a group chat. You can execute commands here, too, and they always start with a forward slash (/).
As an op, you should be able to type “/list” and hit Enter to list all of the connected players. You can also give items to any player (including yourself), ban and pardon specific users, and change the system time. If you’re unsure of a specific command’s requirement, you can type “/help” to get more info. For the full list of server commands, check out the Minecraft Wiki’s Server Commands page.
Now go and tell all of your friends to join! There’s nothing that beats building massive structures, exploring the vast landscape, and mining into moutains, except doing it with 8 of your best friends.