Sterlcraft » History

Sterlcraft has an oddly long and complex history for such a small server. Drama has ensued, hacks have succeeded and what-has-it. For those curious, or those seeking nostalgia, here's a basic rundown of the events occuring prior to today.

Derpcraft server logo

Origins: a simple pastime

Before the name-change to Sterlcraft, the string of loosely-related Minecraft servers in question—sharing only the name, owner and basic theme—was known as Derpcraft. In October 2013, my friend Blu and I decided to start our own server. Minecraft was comparatively popular at the time, and was a common pastime on iBrony, a now-defunct social network for fans of a certain cartoon show. A site-sponsored server was already in existence—“Manecraft”[1], it was called—but we found it to be hog-wild and full of restrictions, regulations and stuffy administration. Because I had a little more of the technical know-how, I hosted the CraftBukkit 1.6.4 server on my Windows 8 home computer, a Dell XPS 8700.

Within a few months, the player base grew to friends, friends-of-friends and fellow iBrony users, reaching over seventy in just about three months. Blu and I were the only administrators, and the position of Moderator[2] hadn't yet existed. As the userbase expanded, there was a clear need for a hierarchy of staff. We asked three trusted players to hop aboard as mediators and technical specialists on the server: Vinyl Dash, Deca Wrench and Byooki.

Minecraft Dynamic Map screencap

Peak popularity & the iBrony exodus

During the eventual fall of iBrony beginning circa January 2014, Manecraft was shut down (partially due to a shift in players) and Derpcraft took over as the de facto site server. When iBrony entirely ceased to exist in April 2014, LightningBlaze and Ratchet Wrench (two former iBrony staff members) soon created a PHPFox-based de facto successor, PhilomenaMagikz (recently defunct), becoming the main destination of the post-iBrony exodus.

Derpcraft was now in a second incarnation, as the players wanted a clean world for the 1.7.2 update. The server enjoyed some popularity on the new PhM as well, in fact surpassing all previous records and states. Total unique, regular players peaked at 134, and the most simultaneous online players seen was 17.

Dramatic decline

Rainbow-coloured tower of suites in Minecraft

Derpcraft players had plateaued, but it was a pretty high and barely manageable plateau. A server started in September 2014 by Vinyl Dash and Deca Wrench (the “Farlands”) soon overtook Derpcraft by claiming better performance and less latency. Admittedly, as much as I tried to reduce server lag and increase performance, my server could barely hold over six or seven simultaneous online players due to the deteriorating copper-wire West Virginia communications infrastructure.

Tower and bridge built in a lake

In the end, they weren't wrong. Staff migrated to the Farlands one-by-one till only myself, Blu and two IRL friends remained as regular players, shifting its purpose to a moreso friends-only server. Drama ensued, as well as malaligned competition, slightly tarnishing my reputation as a server administrator.

In an attempt to give the server purpose, Derpcraft was reinstated in a third incarnation[3] and re-advertised after the sudden disappearance of the Farlands. However, not only was the heyday of Minecraft over, but the brony fandom was in an overall decline after reaching its plateau-peak circa 2014–15. A small surge of players came, but went down one-by-one till no one remained whatsoever. By June 2015, Derpcraft was temporarily halted for six months.

Temporary growth

In January 2016, Derpcraft was restarted in its fourth incarnation, this time using Spigot. The intention, however, was not as a community server for a certain fandom or group, but instead as a way for my friends, their friends and anyone in between to collaborate. Instead of focusing on player count and popularity, the staff (only then myself and the current administrator Poukles) strived towards a well-kept, whitelisted server for just the occasional fun. Two-week stretches of next-to-no activity weren't fretted upon, now was the fact there were only twelve unique players.

A significant contributor to the growth and likelihood of the server was my new technological experience and equipment. Derpcraft was then (and is now) hosted on a dedicated computer with an independent network connection. And as for uptime: there hasn't been a single minute of unscheduled downtime since it first ran![4]

The server had steadily grown up until around April 2017, having not been based off serving such a large and volatile community. However, this was around the time my friends (most of which are younger than me) changed going into high school, and said friends ceased to be friends. Poukles and I remained the only players at that point, but the server continued to exist. Even if it was just us, we had a lot of fun.

Small but surviving: the fifth incarnation

Large animal and crop farm surrounded b y fence

In February 2018, a small localised fire along with a system upgrade gone wrong deleted my backups and actual data of the server, respectively. A few screencaps survive, I'd believe, but I have yet to find them. I resultingly opened a new Paper server almost immediately for Poukles and myself; to distinguish it from previous incarnations associated with the brony community (from which I've almost completely separated myself), I named it Sterlcraft, the namesake of which is my pseudonym and pen-name Sterling.

A few friends played on the server from time-to-time, eventually dwindling to nothing as my friend groups as well as their interests shifted. As I myself had almost no time to play amidst my college classes, I simply shut down the server in November 2018 to no fanfare or complaint. However, thanks to Minecraft's tenth anniversary around May 2019, interest started reviving as people sought nostalgia and some simple fun. I booted up the server once more. Now, it's less of a community and moreso myself and maybe two or three friends, along with the ghost-town-esque builds of former players.

Former staff

I can't help but feel obligated to pay tribute, so-to-speak. The list also includes current staff who were a part of Derpcraft prior to the current incarnation.

Footnotes

  1. I've done immense digging through what brony forums and websites are still up, as well as contacting old friends from way back. The only descriptive information I've successfully gathered aside from my own memories (and a scant donation page) is a YouTube video touring the server in 2013, courtesy of friend and long-time player Sketchy Mane. In fact, you can see my little post-office system at the 3:38 marker.
  2. Moderator position doesn't exist in the current incarnation; the staff hierarchy is practically the same as the original.
  3. Despite being an entirely planned reincarnation, most backups and other data of the previous were lost at an unknown time in an unknown fashion. The only remaining glimpses of the second incarnation as it was known are a few CDs of the regular weekly backups of region data. Restoring such data proved difficult, and I temporarily abandoned the effort.
  4. As of writing this (late June and early July of 2018), my ISP has been performing upgrades to their local system, causing spontaneous and sometimes lengthy downtimes. However, before this was an issue, I made the playerbase aware of such impending connection inconsistency.