Leaving Palace Network

Leaving Palace Network

Hey there - I'm Marc, also known as Legobuilder0813, or just Lego. You likely know about me from the Minecraft server Palace Network, or MCMagic before that. I've been a part of this community for almost eight years now, most of which I spent as a Developer or Manager. For the past few years, I've been a Co-Owner and the Development Director for the server. As sad as it is to say though, I have stepped down from my position on the team.

It's strange to say, but this is certainly one of the most difficult decisions I've ever made. I spent a lot of time over the past year considering my position here on the team, as well as where I am in my life right now. In May, I'll be graduating from Stony Brook University with a Bachelor's degree in Information Systems. Shortly after that, I will start working at a full-time job (not sure where yet - still working on that!). However, there are other factors that aren't so simple to explain. Maybe it'll make sense by the end of the post.

Before going any further though, I want to discuss the effect of my departure on the network. I couldn't be more confident in the development and leadership teams the network has right now. They knew I was planning on stepping down since early March and were incredibly supportive. We worked together to make sure there was a smooth transition of responsibilities and knowledge from myself to others on the team. If there's anything I forgot to explain, I expressed a willingness to help the team in the future. And, I "officially" left the team and stopped working on projects in early April, and the team's been running well since then!

So, while I will certainly miss the experiences that come with leading and developing for a community like this one, I have the utmost faith in the people in charge. I think the recent changes made to the network are great, along with everything that's still in the works.

This community is special because of the people that are a part of it. Whether you're a guest, someone who's bought a rank, a sponsor, a guide, a designer, a creator, or you're on the staff, developer, or leadership teams, Palace exists because of your support. It's reassuring to know that a place like this can exist on the internet - where people can get together and have fun in a safe, inclusive, family-friendly environment.

I first joined this community back in 2013 when it was known as MCMagic. I had just started playing Minecraft and spent most of my time building in Creative mode. One of the first things I started working on was a recreation of the Disney Dream cruise ship. After working on that for a while, I started looking for other people's recreations of the ship. I ended up coming across MCMagic - not because they had cruise ships, but because of their Walt Disney World recreation with functioning rides, which was pretty impressive! I did offer to add my cruise ship to the server, but it didn't happen (looking back on my building skills, maybe it was for the best haha).

When I wasn't exploring the parks, I was playing on the Creative server building all sorts of things. The build I remember the most was Lion King Land, though I unfortunately don't have any screenshots of it. It was something I worked on with a couple of friends I met through the server: Cait, Kenny and Matt! It was essentially a theme park designed entirely around The Lion King. There was even a theater where we were making a musical. Yeah, it sounds funny, but it was a lot of fun! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

As I spent time playing on the server, I became more and more fascinated with how it worked. Sure, the rides were cool - and back then we only had Minecarts, no 3D models - but how did they work? What did the redstone look like? How were they using new features added in the new 1.5 Redstone Update? I decided to apply to be a Cast Member (CM), and was accepted! I didn't know it at the time, but in September of 2013, right as I was starting my first year in high school, I would start volunteering and helping run a server that I would stay with for eight years.

One of the first screenshots I took on the server!

Not long after I became a CM I started to explore making Minecraft Java plugins. The server had recently developed a show plugin that allowed us to run automated shows (before that, CMs had to manually launch fireworks in time with music played by an in-game record player - crazy!). I thought it'd be cool if we could have Glow With The Show ears much like the ones Disney had in the real parks. Unfortunately, at the time Minecraft didn't have a command to set the armor a player was wearing. So, I made a plugin with a command to do just that!

As time went on, I began exploring all of the different things I could do with a plugin. In-game economies, formatting chat messages, automating the Stitch's Great Escape show with functioning seats and effects... there was a lot to do. I also started to poke around the staff team and learned more about how the server was run. Linux servers, MySQL databases, Apache, and so much more. Several months in to being a Cast Member, the Managers promoted me to be a Technician. In that role, I focused more on plugin development and system administration than actually building things on the server. I was also included in discussions the Managers would have about running the network. Though the rank and role names have changed over the years, this is essentially the role I've been in since. It was a whole new level of responsibility, but I was up for the challenge.

Me working on a moderation plugin with ban commands - clearly I hadn't figured out how to disconnect the player yet 🙃

I could write so much more about the early days of the server, but I'll stop there for now. In the years since then, I continued to develop new plugins and features, learn more about software development, and most importantly learn what it's like to run a community. It was a mixture of excitement, stress, achievements, and failures. Most importantly, though, it was fun.

There's a lot to like about the server. The rides, the shows, Creative, Seasonal, the events, the live streams... and I do enjoy all of it. But, if I had to pick one thing about the server that's my favorite, it wouldn't be something on that list. It's not something tangible that you can see on the server. It's the opportunities people are given to learn and develop interesting skills. For me, that meant software development and system administration. For others on the team, it could mean graphics design, or architecture, or leadership skills. It's such a great chance to get practical experience in ways not usually available in school, like with show development or event planning.

My favorite event in recent memory on the server - celebrating 2020 graduates since ceremonies were cancelled due to COVID-19

Like I mentioned earlier, I first started getting interested in software development because of the time I spent on the server. If I hadn't joined the server back in 2013, I'm not sure I would be as interested in programming as I am today. I did have other opportunities outside of Minecraft to learn how to program, like my high school's FIRST Robotics team. But, while I did enjoy learning what goes into designing, building, and programming a robot on the team, it was the hundreds of hours I spent programming for MCMagic/Palace that truly solidified my career path. I'm incredibly grateful for it, and I hope it continues to give similar opportunities to others in the future.

As if the previous 13 paragraphs didn't do a good enough job explaining it, it's been difficult to decide to step down from my position in the community. The past year has been challenging for everyone for so many reasons, and all the time spent at home gave me an opportunity to consider "what's next" for me. Like I said before, I'm graduating in May, and I plan on starting to work full-time after that. There's still a lot that's up in the air - like where I will actually be working! I've spent a lot of time on job applications recently, and it's certainly true that getting the first job is always the hardest. Because I now spend most of my time focusing on my last semester and applying for jobs, I figured it was the best time to execute that transition of knowledge and step down.

Random Buster picture - cuz it's always a good time for a Buster picture 🐶

The one thing I will miss above all else are the people I got to work with and get to know over the years. I'm amazed at how many people with a common interest of Disney and theme parks have come together (and still do!) at Palace and other Minecraft servers. I'd be lying if I said I could name everyone I've worked with since it's literally hundreds of people (and I have a terrible memory), so I won't even try. On the off-chance some of you are reading this: Hey, hope all is well! It's probably been a bit since we last talked. Feel free to reach out to say hi!

In closing, I wish all the best to everyone on the staff, development, and leadership teams at Palace Network. I'm so glad to have been able to contribute in whatever way I could to manage the servers and enable the rest of the team to do what they do best. Should you ever need to reach out, whether it's to ask a question or just to chat, go ahead! And, thank you to everyone that supports those teams by being a part of the community. I'm excited to see all of the upcoming changes that have been announced - including some that haven't been! 😁

My Lego Disney castle decorated with a cool Palace Staff sticker 😄

P.S. I plan on posting to this blog more in the future. If that sounds interesting to you, then you should follow me on Twitter!

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