Itching to play Minecraft

Ashe and I have been watching a lot of GeminiTay Minecraft videos on YouTube. She’s such a great YouTuber and Minecrafter. Her voice is so soothing and her Minecraft builds are just out of this world. I’ve even been learning. lot of new things despite the fact that I’ve been playing Minecraft on and off since just after college, more than a decade ago.

Of course, this has Ashe and I itching to play Minecraft again. We have our own private worlds in both vanilla Minecraft and Better Minecraft and they’re very fun to play. As much as I love to play on my own though, I’d love to play on a community server again – or at least a shared server between me and Ashe.

In the past, this wouldn’t be too much of a problem. If I didn’t have a spare computer sitting around, I’d just rent an online server specially designed for playing our preferred modpack and Ashe and I could even invite our friends from all over the world. There’s only one issue…

We don’t have consistent internet at home

“But you work remotely! How can you not have internet at home?”

Great question, believe me. When Ashe and I decided to move out to the country, I said that one of my biggest priorities was making sure that we had decent internet so that I could continue to work from home. Our realtor assured us that would be the case but, long story short, it wasn’t the case and I decided that I loved this house so much that I’d just figure out how to deal without having regular internet.

We’ve mainly done this through a combination of our personal mobile hotspots and the local library’s mobile hotspot loan program. This has been working out fine for going to work and even watching YouTube but we’re constantly at our data limits and playing Minecraft over this internet setup would both be a terrible and laggy experience and would cause us to run out of data almost immediately.

Therefore, we’re not doing that. The solution then, would be to either connect to each other’s games ad hoc or to set up a home server.

We’ve played a little vanilla Minecraft ad hoc and that went pretty well. Ashe shared their world with me and I really enjoyed working with them on projects. However, Better Minecraft has a ton of extra content and is laggy when Ashe runs single player on their computer. I’m concerned that trying to add multiplayer to that scenario would make for an even worse experience, even if we used my most powerful laptop as the host.

Playing ad hoc is fine when it works. However, since the person who isn’t hosting can’t play in the world when the person who is hosting isn’t present, there is a tendency for that world to become fairly dominated by the host player just because of how much time they can spend in the world when the other player isn’t around. This is fine, but I would rather play in a world where Ashe and I are somewhat able to surprise each other by building things when the other person isn’t around. I think it creates a world that is more interesting, balanced, and full of wonder.

That means that my option is to go old school and build some sort of server out of an old computer that I have lying around. In the past, it was pretty common for me to have a desktop computer of some sort that I could easily turn into a linux server to run a Minecraft server on. For the last 7-8 year though, all of the computers I’ve gotten have been laptops since I tended to move around a lot and had constant access to the internet.

So the question is, what do I do?

  • I’ve got a couple of old laptops lying around that I could figure out how to have on constantly. Where would I set them up though? A desktop can easily sit on the floor but a laptop has different space needs. Would I put linux on them or try to run a server on Windows or Mac OS?
  • I could buy something refurbished – they’re high quality machines and I don’t need anything top of the line. That’ll still cost me $100-200 and I’m currently feeling very financially constrained. But I could even get something like a refurbished Mac mini which would be really low profile without sacrificing performance. It might be a worthwwhile investment if we can also use it as a media server.
  • I could maybe see if I could figure out a Raspbery Pi setup. It would be small and easy to fit anywhere. It would also be pretty cheap as I could probably put something together for about $60. However, these setups can be fairly technically complicated and I don’t know if it would be possible to run modded Minecraft or if it would even be powerful enough for Better Minecraft.

Let me know if you have ideas or opinions. I’m still mulling this over and I’m not sure which direction I should go.

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