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    Hey, everyone! Just within the past day, we've taken the first step on migrating CU's server to a BungeeCord setup. There's a lot of technical talk about that in here, what it will entail, and how our plan has changed from the original goal. Additionally, we've got some details on my break as well as the current status of my job. If any of that interests you, keep on reading. My Break As most of you also know, I took a fairly long break from working on CU stuff due to some drama and other nonsense that transpired towards the end of summer. Those events, combined with me already growing stressed and tired due to the seemingly insurmountable pile of bugs, as well as a desire to go back to working on Blamite, led me to finally retreat into Elaztek. Unfortunately, it seems that while I was gone, player counts have begun to drop back down again. They haven't plummeted to 0, but they've gotten uncomfortably close. Granted, I don't think this is entirely my fault, but there's no doubt that my departure contributed to this. Now, for those of you who have been around for years, you likely have seen me do similar things before - and me taking a few months off here and there tends to be somewhat ordinary at this point. However, there's a lot of new faces around this year - and to them, the thought of me taking multiple months off seems absurd. I want to try and explain my thought process on this. Let me start by saying that yes, I am well aware that these breaks are not ideal. Ideally, I'd have things set up in such a way that, when I feel the need to take these breaks, the server doesn't have to come to a grinding halt. I know this - but I don't know of any way to solve it in the immediate future. My primary reason for taking these breaks is to avoid the same trap that the staff of old CU and ND fell into. People like Alex, Nik, Kendev, ntx2, and many more all devoted everything to CU for a few years. Whether they loved it or hated it, they gave it their all pretty much nonstop for years. But after those few years, they were done - and they never came back. The only significant figure of old CU/ND staff who's really still around is Nuke (aka, Atomicbeast101) - but even he isn't exactly considered active. He's still largely moved on with his life - only coming in when he feels the urge to do so, or if his advice in particular is being sought after. But everyone else? They're pretty much gone. The most I've seen from the others is a single drop-in after a few years, followed by departure. I don't mean to say it's a bad thing per se. People move on with their lives - that's a given. But me? I genuinely don't see myself ever truly wanting to leave. Maybe I'll change my mind someday, but I easily see myself still doing something here in another 10 years. What I fear is going too hard too fast and burning myself out - to such a point where I too want to wash my hands of CU and move on with my life. I don't want to do that. I never want to do that. While I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who would love to keep CU going, and even people who may do it better than I did - I don't know of anyone who would be willing to commit to it this long term. I've been doing this more or less consistently since 2014. I've taken breaks during that time, yes - but I'm still here. I still do my best to ensure the continued growth and survival of Chaotic United. I may not be the best when it comes to carrying this torch, but I sure as hell won't ever let go of it. I don't know if anyone else out there would be willing to do something for 6 years - all while seeing such limited success. I'd imagine most people would call it quits a year in if their server only brought in 4-5 people. But even if someone else out there could and would do what I do - I love this community. As small as it may be, Chaotic United has been a part of my life for nearly half of it. I first joined in January 2012, and almost 9 years later I'm still here, still playing on CU. I don't want to let it go, and I don't want to burn myself out to such a degree where I can't bring myself to even touch it again. And this isn't just me either - the advice "remember, this isn't a job" has been given to me pretty regularly since I began, often from those same people who have since moved on from it. And it's that approach that leads to these extended breaks. I haven't, and likely never will treat CU as a job. When it begins to feel like one, I know that means it's time to step away for a little while. Ideally, I'd have things in place so that when those times come, it doesn't inevitably lead to the server suffering. This is a problem that likely won't go away anytime soon - but one that I eventually hope to nail down and resolve. But it's something that can only happen with time. If you're upset at that fact, I'm sorry. I understand if some of you are irritated that I don't commit 150% into CU like those who came before me - but I try to look at it from the broader scheme of things. Is it better if I burn myself out and end up deciding to close CU after a year or two of that? Or is it better if, while I may take long breaks here and there, I am able to stick around and keep pushing forward for potentially another decade, if not more? I lean towards the latter, but hey - that's just me. The good news is that this topic also marks the formal conclusion to my previous break. I am officially back to working on CU stuff again. I've got a lot of stuff planned (as always), and for those who read my previous announcement, this may come as quite a surprise. What happened to that job where I was working 60 hours a week? Well... My New Job 2.0 If you're active on Discord, you likely have heard the news. I quit USPS after just a week. Yeah, I know. It's kind of pathetic, but not without justification. The job at USPS was not only physically demanding, but also mentally taxing as well. In addition to effectively lifting weights for 8 hours a day (at least), you also had to keep your mind on about 8 things at once. That detail, combined with something I should've known from the very beginning, led to me taking a rapid exit before things got too crazy. What was that other thing I should've known? The fact that I am not willing to work 48-60+ hours a week. I imagine that for many people out there who don't have a ton of other stuff going on in their lives, they can afford to devote hours upon hours to work. But me? I've got enough on my plate to stay busy without any job at all - so in retrospect, accepting a job that would demand more than 40 hours a week was a fairly dumb decision on my part. So, if I knew that going in, why did I go through with it? Why accept it only to quit after a week? Two reasons: One, I had the idea that as a PSE, aka a Mail Processing Clerk, that the job would be largely non-physical. Maybe it's just me, but when I think of the term "clerk", I think of an office clerk or something similar to that. I don't imagine lifting these heavy things nonstop for 8-12 hours a day. I expected that I'd be doing occasional lifting, with the bulk of the job being standing or sitting somewhere, sorting letters into slots. What's worse is that I didn't have anything to go against that until my 4th day at the job. The first two days were orientation, the third was supposed to be training but we ended up being shoved into doing work for a whole different position, and the 4th day was the first day doing our actual training. The second reason was largely more to do with it - the pay. I would be making $18.15/hr, and that detail alone had me distracted and justifying anything else to myself and to those around me. I was so fixated on that hourly rate that I forgot my own personal beliefs and values. I've always been of the mindset that time is infinitely more valuable than money. I'd rather make enough to get by and be able to enjoy my time out of work, rather than dedicate 20-30 years of my life to work and do little else. I want to enjoy my youth as best as I can, I don't want to wait until my body is falling apart after decades of abuse to finally enjoy myself. But fear not - for I've already landed a new job: I'll be a cart attendant at Walmart. Yes, I'm going back to Walmart ladies and gentlemen. And yes, this will still be a very physical job - but the difference is that it will only be physical. Mentally, I can essentially tune out aside from ensuring I don't get run over or shove a bunch of carts into a vehicle. Along with that, you're largely left alone as long as you're doing your job well. It doesn't pay as great as USPS, but it starts at $11/hr, which is fairly decent all things considered - and assuming my hours are decent, will still leave me doing pretty okay once things stabilize. Not only that, but I'll have a much better work/life balance that I wouldn't have had at USPS. Most of all, however, the job itself is something that I not only have experience with, but is something that I could honestly see myself growing to enjoy. I did it for an hour at a time twice a day back at Schnucks, and out of everything I did there - I enjoyed pushing carts the most. I liked the freedom and peace you had when you were out there just left alone. And that was during the winter, too - the weather I enjoy being out in the least. For those unaware, I'm a bit weird in the sense that I really like being in hot weather. I've routinely gone on walks in over 100 degree heat, and while I finish those hour long walks drenched in sweat, I always felt good during and after them. I don't know why, but for me - sweating genuinely feels good. Maybe it's just the feeling of accomplishment from having done something to make me sweat rather than the sweat itself - who knows. I enjoy the heat, sun, and rain - and I can tolerate cold and snow. All of that combined makes me think that, after the initial adjustment phase of getting used to being on my feet that many hours a day, I'll actually like the job. I find myself honestly looking forward to that first day pushing carts in the heat - as weird as that sounds. The point of all of this is that I've switched jobs, and with this job, I'll still have time to dedicate to CU and/or Elaztek. In other words, everything in that previous topic about me not being around to do stuff? Forget about it - that's all null and void as of now. But enough job talk - let's get technical and talk about this renewed plan for BungeeCord! BungeeCord In the past, I've been both gung-ho and also extremely hesitant to start jumping ship to BungeeCord. I always knew in the back of my head that it'd become a requirement for continued feature and player growth, but for a while I figured we'd be fine up to 60 or more players. However, there were a couple brief times earlier this year where we hit 15 players - and the TPS dropped from 20 to 17. TPS, aka Ticks Per Second, is used to measure how fast or slow the server is running. Minecraft natively runs at 20 ticks per second, so 19-20 TPS is considered perfect. 17 is playable, but lag is noticeable. 15 and below starts to become very frustrating, and anything below 10 is usually considered unplayable by most. You may recall some of the issues with BungeeCord - namely that things begin to feel more sparse and separated. Things that people take for granted just don't work between servers, so for me that was a deal-breaker. Not only that, but getting those features introduced would take months... so why is BungeeCord already here? Well, upon reflection, I've decided to adjust how these changes will come into the server. The original plan was to get everything accounted for, then split off all the gamemodes at once and shove the entire transformed server out at once. I think that grouping everything into this umbrella made me feel more hesitant to start to tackle it, due to just how much work was attached to this - which in turn sapped my motivation to even do it. This is what led me to shelf it repeatedly. The new plan is to, instead, introduce these changes gradually over time. As of today - Chat, Ranks, Announcements, WorldEdit schematics, and the tab menu are cross-server. As time goes on, things like Mail, Player-to-Player Teleportation, Warps, and CUEmotes will become cross-server as well. These will be developed and rolled out as time goes on. Once these core features are made to work between servers, gamemodes will be broken away from the main server, until eventually every gamemode has been sectioned off into its own server. Make no mistake - this will all take a while still. However, doing it as a gradual rollout means that you'll see these changes gradually come into effect, and it means that new gamemodes (like Semi-Vanilla) will be available sooner, rather than having them held back until the surrounding components are ready. As of now, there are three servers available, currently accessible using /server: Hub/Waiting Room (hub) This server will act as a fallback in the event that one of the other servers is restarted or crashes. At the moment, restarts will unfortunately still kick users outright, but at some point we plan to get this solved. Here, you'll find a modified version of the hub that we used when we were merged with Nuclear District, and they still had their own server. It's kind of been a tradition that every time we've had BungeeCord setup that we end up bringing this old hub back - so why should this be any different? Semi-Vanilla (sv) Once everything is ready, this is where you'll go to play Semi-Vanilla. Much like when we had it before, it's server name is simply sv. It will be largely comparable to the original Semi-Vanilla server - no advantageous perks for donating, no crazy custom items, just a vanilla survival experience with economy and grief protection. You know - the basics. The only significant change is that unlike before, you'll still have your same rank on this server - as ranks are synchronized between servers. You'll have the basic cosmetic perks (like /me, chat colors, etc), but all of the real perks will remain locked to Survival. As of right now, you won't be able to do anything here. We've still got some work to do before Semi-Vanilla is ready. When that day comes, expect an announcement all about that. Main Server (cu) This is the main server, and it's largely unchanged from before. As of right now, all the gamemodes are currently within this server. Over time, however, gamemodes will be broken off into their own separate servers - at which point this server will likely act as a true hub server, and might contain some of the other miscellaneous stuff (such as builder world for instance). Also in keeping with tradition, the server name was kept as cu - since back when we were merged with Nuclear District, this was the name that our server got. This is one of those other things that has largely remained unchanged every time we've messed with BungeeCord before. Other Changes A few other smaller changes have been made that are notable, but don't really warrant a full section of their own. So, let's go through them here. Branding First off, you'll likely notice that some branding has been updated within MC. Since 2013, CU has rocked a Cyan and White color scheme within in-game messages. Outside of this, however, we've mostly stuck to a regular blue color. As of 1.16, Minecraft now supports hexadecimal color codes. What this means is that we are no longer limited to the 16 colors available, but that we can now use any color we could possibly want - including the exact shade of Blue that we use on CU's forums. After holding a poll, the overwhelming majority of the community voted to use this Blue color instead of Cyan - so you'll start seeing more and more Blue instead of Cyan. This won't be a universal change starting out, as some plugins don't yet support these color codes. Along with that, all of our custom plugins have the CU branding hard-coded in, and many of them will keep their existing Cyan branding for the time being. As time goes on (most likely when each of these plugins receives an unrelated update), the branding will be changed to the new Blue color scheme. Dynmap Since dynmap doesn't have any native support for BungeeCord either, we have to have separate dynmap instances for each server which uses it. In order to ensure the livemap continues to be easy to use, you'll now see a navigation bar when viewing the map on Desktop, which lets you switch between the different dynmap pages for each server, as well as return to the Forums or Homepage. Right now, the only options are the Main server and Semi-Vanilla, but this will expand as gamemodes get broken off into separate servers. Announcement Plugin Port Since 2014, we've been using the same Announcement plugin that I found on BukkitDev one day. It hasn't been maintained past 1.8, so I've been keeping it updated myself since then. Since it's such a simple plugin, I tried to see if it was possible to port the entire plugin to BungeeCord - that way, announcements would display cross-server (and that way the same message would be broadcast). Turns out, yes! With the only major changes being how configuration files are written/read, the old plugin never did anything that depended on Bukkit APIs that didn't also have an equivalent in BungeeCord (since it was just chat). This doesn't mean a whole lot to you guys, but I thought it was neat that this old Bukkit plugin was able to be completely ported to an entirely different API. Redesigned Tab Menu Since our old tab menu plugin lacked BungeeCord support, we needed to find a new plugin. And boy, did we find one. This new tab menu is everything I wanted the tab menu to be back in the day. Have a look for yourself: Old Menu New Menu The old animations were easy to migrate over, it has support for the new hex colors, and you can do a lot more with it than you could with the old plugin. Not only does it group players depending on what server they're in, but a few useful stats will always show at the top and bottom of the list. Additionally, you'll notice that usernames display differently as well. Each username will display in a different color depending on what rank they are - a feature that has been absent since Nuclear District's original MC server in 2014. Along with that, staff members will have a gold star (yes i know it looks like a snowflake, its an 8-spoke star) next to their name, and AFK users will have a gray hourglass next to their name. They're small additions, but ones that I think are pretty neat. Contextual Information in Chat Try hovering over a player's rank prefix or username in chat - you'll find something new! If you hover over someone's username, you'll see a few stats (as of their message) and you can click their name to start sending a message. If you hover over their rank prefix, you can get some information about that rank - be it what they do, or how to earn it. User Tooltip Rank Tooltip Wrapping Up Whew - another nice and lengthy announcement update in the bag! A few other minor changes were made here and there, but if you're interested in those you'll need to check the full changelog. Otherwise, that's all we've got for now. Hopefully, we'll have another one of these coming sooner rather than later.