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The 11th Year - A Shift in Focus

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Man - 11 years. Who would've thought we'd still be here this long?


Unlike the past few, I'll be keeping this one a bit brief (or trying to) - so let's cut to the chase. The past several anniversary posts have been more or less the same thing, although somewhat different each time. The common thread is that "THIS year will be year that we finally start to get popular guys!".


This year, I'm not gonna tell you that. Because the reality is, I don't know when that year will be. With everything that has gone on (and continues to go on), I can only say that we're slowly but surely getting closer to that goal - but I can't sit here and say that this year, for real this time, will be the year we finally do it.

Shifting Focus

What I can tell you with confidence, however, is that the past year or so has seen me starting to shift in focus. For quite a long time, I've had a disproportionate focus on the history and legacy of Chaotic United. And while this isn't necessarily an issue - what is an issue is when that becomes the only focus.


This is something I've only started to become aware of within the past year or so - which is the realization that most new players simply will not care about the history and legacy of Chaotic United. They won't care about the community, they won't care about the history - they'll care about one thing and one thing only - is the server fun? Is there a decent amount of players online? If not, they'll move on to the next server. It's this key element that I've been missing - and is something that we'll be focusing on further going forward.


What I feel we really lack - and have lacked for far too long - is something that makes us unique. Sure, some might say that the community makes us unique - and while that may be true, that alone simply isn't enough. The server itself needs to have something unique and attention-grabbing. Something that makes people choose to play here rather than any other server. Because as it stands right now, most of what we offer can be had elsewhere - with a more lively playerbase and likely a bit more polished than what we offer.


This needs to change. And it's going to. Our focus going forward will include branching out into custom content, as well as some RPG elements. Things that can be enjoyed solo or together. In order to build a strong community, we need a strong base for that community to be built upon.

Coming Changes

Custom Content

By far the most significant piece of the puzzle is custom content. But you might be wondering - what does that mean exactly? What counts as "custom content"?


In this case, custom content refers to new blocks, items, armors, mobs, and so on. Similar to how Durite introduced a new type of tool and resource, we plan on including other new blocks and tool types - as well as a variety of blocks that can be used to make your builds look and feel a lot more detailed. Some of the ideas we have include:

  • Giving Durite real block textures
  • Copper tools/armor
  • Furniture (chairs, tables, sofas, etc)
  • Additional new ores (and tools/armor to go with them)
  • A whole lot more that we don't want to detail just yet 👁️


Further on, you'll see some other minor details and changes as various RPG-related features make their way into Survival. One thing that we'd like to clarify is that these RPG features will never become a mandatory feature. The content and features we have planned are largely going to be supplementary - something that you can engage with if you like, but you don't have to if you don't want to. So, if none of this stuff interests you, don't worry - you won't be required to engage with it if you don't wish to.

Fixes and Polishing

The other major focus is going to be on polishing some of the rough edges seen in some areas of the server. While many areas of the server are more or less fine, there are still some features which don't work as intended, or are unintuitive to use. Some of the existing features that we plan to improve include:

  • Re-implementing the "Play" compass in the Hub
  • Allowing for cross-server teleportation
  • Allowing for cross-server warping
  • Allowing for cross-server nicknames (if possible)


Additionally, there are a few features here on the website that we often use for things like bug and suggestion tracking. While in many cases it's better to have this feedback submitted directly through the website, we have heard feedback from some users wishing for an easier way to do this - citing the forums as being difficult to use. And while we do plan to continue making the forums and website overall more accessible, we do have a plan to allow for easier reporting of things like bugs on the Minecraft server.


It's actually something that the old CU had as well - a /report command. The idea being that a user can use /report ingame to submit a bug report, and not only can they provide some information ingame, we can also automatically fetch other information that might be helpful as well. For instance, we could store the world, server, and coordinates of a player at the time of a report - which saves the player from having to manually include this in a report submitted online. A similar system could also be implemented for things like suggestions as well, and potentially we could leverage this in other ways, too. Ideally, we'd like to have a fair bit more communication between the MC server and forums, allowing them both to benefit and link back to each other - to help encourage increased usage of both.

A Sidenote: Why does progress seem so slow sometimes?

Something else I'd like to address is something that comes up a lot - and while for some of you it might not be what you want to hear, it's the reality of how I have and will likely continue to operate Chaotic United. It's no secret that I tend to not be the fastest worker at getting things done - and there's a few reasons for this.


The section below is a bit ramble-y. If you aren't interested, feel free to skip over it. If you are interested, however, expand the spoiler below and have a read. I provide a lot of in-depth discussion as to why it is that progress seems to be sporadic in nature, and why that it's likely going to continue being the case. If you're curious as to how I tend to think about things, I encourage you to give it a read. 




For starters, for most things I'm a one-man army. I have help in some aspects - like building, configuration, and stuff like that - but when it comes to programming and software development, it's pretty much just me. And there's a couple reasons for that. One being that I have a certain standard of quality that I want met with plugins. Now to be clear - I'm not saying that any plugin that isn't made by me is automatically bad - in fact, the most popular and well-received features so far haven't been touched by me whatsoever. However, there have been some things about other plugins - either with how things are presented ingame, or how the code itself is written - that, to me, makes it feel less polished than it otherwise could be. There are certain techniques that I may want implemented, and there may be certain things that I want to always be done a certain way.


The reality is, for most of these issues, I don't have a ton of ground to stand on. Nearly all development work on the MC server from other people has been unpaid. When you're getting free work, you can only ask and expect so much before crossing into choosing beggars territory. That, and eventually people get busy and end up with other responsibilities - the end result? Nowadays, it ends up being just me doing things - and it'll likely stay that way for a while yet.


For me, I'm at the point where if I ever have outside help with development again, it's going to be paid work. I want to be able to pay someone at least somewhat decently for their work - both so that I can expect for things to be done the way I feel they need to, and also so that putting up with me and my nonsense is actually worth their time. I recognize that I can be a bit difficult to work for when it comes to things like this, as I tend to be a bit picky about how things are done - and I feel that the best way to make that work without compromising my own vision and standards is to simply pay whoever is doing work for me. To be clear - we are not currently hiring, and won't be for quite some time. It won't happen until I have some sort of real income once again and I know for a fact that I can safely pay an employee without fear that I won't be able to pay them in a few months.

Time Management

The other big reason that things tend to be slow just comes down to how I work. I don't treat Chaotic United, Elaztek, or anything else like a job. For me, these are hobby projects - I work on them when I want to, and more often than not, if I'm not feeling it - I'll do something else rather than force myself. To some of you, this may sound absurd - particularly if you've donated. After all, you've paid money, you expect that money to go towards something, right?


Believe me - I get it. However, there's a couple reasons for this that I want to go into publicly.


For starters, while some may cite donations as evidence that I'm being paid, and thus I should treat this like a job, here's the reality: the amount we get in donations is nothing compared to our expenses. We spend over $4K per year in expenses for Chaotic United, and that's only counting standard, recurring bills. With a large library of domain names, multiple dedicated servers, and so on - this stuff isn't cheap. And as it stands, yearly donations barely make a dent. And while on the surface it sounds bleak, here's the thing - that's fine. In fact, that's by design.


From the very start back in 2014, I have always been of the mindset of never wanting to become reliant on donation funds for CU to continue operating. The way things work, we could make $0 a year or $1K a month, and CU would be operating pretty much the same. However, going with that, I also generally reserve the right to use any donations on whatever I please - the only exception to this being when users donate and specify the "I want this to go to CU only" option at the time of donation.


What I'm getting at with all this - is that while it may seem as though I get paid to do this, the reality is that I'm paying to do this. A significant amount, at that. Now don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to be all "woe is me, running a community is so expensive guys :(", because that's not how I look at it. But I want to lay that part on the table as there have been a few times where people have suggested that I should treat this like a job because I get some amount of income from it - and I imagine that others in the future will also share this idea. So, I want to get that down on the table to explain why it is that, currently, donation funds don't really factor into this at all.

Treating CU Like a Job

However, the biggest reason I don't force myself has nothing to do with income (or lack thereof). And it has everything to do with the administrators of the past. You see, once upon a time - the folks who administered Nuclear District and/or the old Chaotic United made CU/ND their mission. Their passion. And in some cases, treated it like a job. Folks like Nuke, Alex, Falkerz, Nikfection, Kendev, Ntx2 - and many more. Folks who you might notice, aren't really around anymore. You might see them drop a message in Discord once in a while, or hop on MC for a few minutes here and there - but besides that? You don't hear from them anymore. And there's two key reasons for this.


One is obvious - they're older. They have jobs and lives - they've moved on and don't have time for this community stuff anymore. That's a given, and for some folks that may be the end of it. However, I believe there's another component of this - something that some of those same people have cautioned me about early on, and something I've always taken seriously.


Those people all treated things like a job. This resulted in 1 or 2, maybe 3 years of solid, responsive progress. If you're around during that time, it's great - lots of new stuff happening quickly. But keep in mind that these people are human, too. No matter what it is, nobody can do the same thing day in and day out without some kind of breaks without getting completely burnt out and sick of it. And this is the heart of the issue. These people went 100% for a good couple years, and after that - they were done. They put in their time, got completely burnt out, and then wanted to move on.


I don't want that to be me. From 2014, I always wanted to be the one to be different from that group - I didn't want to just throw in the towel after a couple years, I wanted to be here for the long haul. And for all of the issues we've had, I think I can say with confidence that I've managed to be here for the long haul. This September will mark the 8th year of the rebooted Chaotic United. I've been here for over twice as long as any of the other administrators were - and I have no plans of going anywhere. And for me, I think a big key reason for that is the fact that I know my limits, and refrain from forcing myself to do work when I'm just not in the right mindset. Sure, it means that progress is slower than most of you probably want. But it also means that I'm not going anywhere - and as such, Chaotic United is also not going anywhere. I think there's a real chance that had I been going full boar for a few years, that I would've been totally wrung out by 2016 or 2017, and that I would've just shut it all down by then.


But I think I speak for everyone here when I say that I'm glad that never happened. And I intend to do whatever it takes to ensure that doesn't happen. Sometimes, that means things take longer. But I'd also like to remind you that for every month of me working on something else, there's another month where I do go hard on CU, and go hard on getting stuff done. It just happens in bursts, rather than as a constant stream for a couple years.


The Next Step

So, what happens after all that work is done? Well, the plan is to, once the server itself is in a satisfactory technical state, to begin exploring options for paid advertisement. I don't yet know what that looks like yet - as it could be any number of things. A paid server list slot, paying YouTube/Twitch content creators, something else entirely - I really don't know yet. However, I finally am in a position where I can afford to put some cash on the line to try and kick-start the community - but I want the technical issues to be resolved before I even think about doing that. First impressions are important - so I want to make sure that when the time comes, we're putting our best foot forward.


While I tend to end these things like a broken record on repeat, I really do think that this year is the start of something. It has the potential to be the prelude to a new beginning of Chaotic United. I don't know how long it'll take, I don't know to what degree it'll work - but I hope that all of you folks out there can come along for the ride, and join us as we carve this path into the future together - one block at a time.


Until then, keep your eyes peeled for future announcements - we've got some big stuff planned.

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