Minecraft’s Oldest Server is still a Mind-boggling Menagerie of Marvel and Wonder


Minecraft’s Oldest Server is still a Mind-boggling Menagerie of Marvel and Wonder

It is believed that 18th-century Americans first used the term "Freedonia" in the aftermath of the War of Independence as a colloquial (and rather on their nose) nickname for their newly freed nation, founded on the principles of equality and freedom. Nearly 250 years later, America is now called The United States of America. However, Freedonia continues to be a favourite name for fictional countries and nonexistent nation-states all over the globe, including the one found in MinecraftOnline, the oldest server in Minecraft's history.

MinecraftOnline was created within an hour of Notch opening Minecraft to the online community. It is a living museum that displays seven years of block-building history. It hasn't been reset one time, and the server is still open to the public to this very day. This makes exploring its treasure trove of wonders an experience unlike anything I've ever experienced as a long-term Minecraft player.

To travel to Freedonia, you will need to install Java Minecraft version 1.7.10 and enter the IP address. Once you are in, you will find yourself in a hall with many corridors. Each branch represents a language for new visitors such as Turkish, Dutch or Spanish.

Already I feel the commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment. The introduction makes it seem like you're about enter a theme park or visitor attraction. That's the best thing about Freedonia. It's like visiting a virtual Disneyland. There are shops, restaurants, shops, casinos and tours. There are also amazing community structures and many other things to do.

"The only thing that prevents players from vandalism"

Freedonia follows a similar policy to museums. It prohibits any modification to historic landmarks. You can still contribute to the world, but you could be banned for vandalism or grieving. Anna, an administrator at MinecraftOnline, spoke to me about how it feels to keep Freedonia's integrity intact as a living, evolving monument of Minecraft history.

She explains that the main thing that prevents players from vandalism are the strict rules of no griefing and the fact bans last forever and don't expire over time. "But players can sometimes appeal their bans to an administrator in the IRC.

So Freedonia does have its own rules and laws, despite its name. However, this is only to protect its in-game antiques. At the time of writing, there are currently 22216 bans. This may seem like a high number at first glance, but considering the age of MinecraftOnline, it speaks to MinecraftOnline's professionalism in moderation and protecting law-abiding Freedonians as well as their creative achievements from harm.

Anna says that the community is friendly and interconnected in general. "Players travel across the map building towns together. Players who are not so nice often leave or become banned for not following simple rules."

After taking the in-game tour through Freedonia, which takes me to various observation points scattered across the landscape, my teleportation back into the main area spawn area allows me to enter the visitor centre. But not before gazing at the gigantic Pac-Man statue right in front. Later, I discover that Pac-Man is a tiny yellow blip in a vastly larger and more richer tapestry.

MinecraftOnline is unfathomably large. Take a look at the live map to see how densely packed it all is. Freedonia as a whole can seem overwhelming to a visitor. But, thankfully, the world has a vast infrastructure of railways, roads, and sea networks that connect all its major points of interest. It also makes it easy to walk to the smaller gems around each hub thanks to helpful signage.

I make my way towards Grand Freedonia Station, where I take the train to Lava Town, a popular tourist spot. I am a frequent user of public transport and find the London Tube-style map at the ticket booth to be particularly impressive. It shows me which routes and connections are required to get there.

The history of Freedonia, aside from its geographic grandeur, is rich in mythology and lore. Lava Town is, for instance, the birthplace of the Freedonia railway. It also houses Pigchinko, a popular Freedonian pastime, and Skypixel, a well-known MinecraftOnline administrator and chief "purveyor" of ShyPixel Bakeries. This fort was built upon the foundations a lava-spewing mountain. This is my favorite spot so far.

"If players could get away destroying the work and reputation of others, they would often choose to do so."

Lava Town is only one of many attractions found in Freedonia. Others include Drum City, Catville and Pokethedral as well as the Temple of Supreme Fishiness and East Austania. But where did all this come from?

Every world has its roots in someone or something, and Eugene Hopkinson is the founder of Freedonia. You can find his latest game, called sphereFACE, here. Anna was kind enough in pointing me to his online location, giving me the opportunity to have a chin-wag with a virtual God, though he is far too modest in real live to identify as such.

Hopkinson tells us that the idea behind MinecraftOnline was to create a neutral environment that allows more intelligent players to express themselves freely and play in any way they choose. It does not require any type of doctrine or force any particular style of gameplay. "We knew from the beginning that the core game was flawed for public multiplayer. If players could destroy the work of others, they would often choose to do so. So we had to address that first.

This is how Freedonia's system for human moderation was created. It ensured that players were treated fairly and held accountable for their actions. Hopkinson also believed that a ban should be permanent because it makes it clear that the punishment is temporary and you are continuing to engage with them .

Although it may sound like Hopkinson had a clear, long-term vision of MinecraftOnline, the truth is that he didn't know how large and lasting a Freedonia would become. "I expected it to last for a year when I started it. But it was only a year before the main Minecraft game caught up to our changes. There were so few servers that were professionally managed and cater to a more mature and emotionally-sensible player base.

It becomes clear to Hopkinson that he and his team constantly adapted MinecraftOnline to compensate for Mojang's failings, not to mention its tenuous relationship with its community. Hopkinson was able to lead a team of administrators, moderators, and computer and server management experts, which allowed him to make Freedonia a long-term endeavor with goals that were far beyond what he originally envisioned.

"MinecraftOnline has become far more popular than we ever expected. I don't think that we can predict what will happen next. We aren't actively working on growth because our core community is happy as it is. However, as long as there's demand to the particular flavor of gameplay we offer, we'll still be here. The server is entirely volunteer-run and funded by donations from players. There's clearly enough demand to keep it going as it is.

It is strangely heartwarming that the oldest Minecraft server also represents the best of what Minecraft can be. A welcoming, active community of builders, benefactors, and a positive space without harassment or any notions about toxicity. It is an extraordinary playground of sights, sounds, and constantly flourishing under its inhabitants' creativity. Freedonia is a virtual ancient civilization in Minecraft years. You'll quickly see that Freedonia is not antiquated if you spend just five minutes admiring its amazing surroundings.

GamesRadar's Features writer, I am responsible for making the internet as beautiful as possible with my words, including previews and interviews. Lucky internet!