I briefly mentioned in a earlier post (Minecraft) the Essentials Bukkit server mod, for the game Minecraft.
The server plugin adds a basic set of admin/staff tools to a server, and can add a lot of easy to use tools for players at the same time. The idea behind Essentials, is that the core plugin provides a basic set of commands that cover the traditional and most common uses/problems on a Minecraft server. For example it allows you to ban a player who has gone offline by their last used IP address, or allows you to mute a player who is spamming chat.
At the moment, I’m one of the two lead developers on the project, and been an integral part of the team for over a year. I drifted into development by joining the support team, and then began to contribute bug fixes or minor changes that were brought up during support sessions. After a while, I ended up handling the brunt of most feature requests and bug reports, while running the IRC support channel.
I’ve really enjoyed my team working with the team, and had a hand in directing the development of both the code base and the community, although since I’ve taken a full time sysadmin position (to earn some real money) I’ve had far less time to donate to the project.
The Minecraft community in itself, is quite interesting. There are all sorts of overlapping characters, ranging from public figures to developers, all of which shape the community at it’s core. I’ve never been involved with such an active development community before, but for the most part loved the dynamic. Becoming the lead developer of such a (in?)famous plugin, has been interesting in itself. Since the plugin is seen as very mainstream, or even anticompetitive, it has been interesting to see conversation changes, as people work out who am I am.
At this very moment (while writing this post) the Essentials statistics function which I added to the last major release (2.9.x) shows that since the release, the plugin has been started 23 million times, and in the last 7 days was running on just over 170k servers. Since the statistics function is opt-out, and only includes the figures of servers running the last major version (2.9), the numbers feel almost overwhelming.
One of the things I personally find to be a little depressing is the donation conversion ratio. Since I joined the team, I believe we have received donations to the project from less than 20 people running the plugin. When you join any of the big servers (with 100+ players online) there is a very good chance that you will see advertisements for donation to the server, for ingame perks or ingame items, often selling the features I coded. The server owners using the server as a way to generate money. Most of the top 100 servers take more away in profit each month than the entire total donations to Essentials.