The Chunk Diaries: A closer look at Chunk^2

First off, it's been almost three months since I said I'd be making more Chunk Diaries. I have been busy with other commitments, and I put this on the backburner. I finally have some time to polish my work and release it.

Dear Diary:

2014 was the biggest year that The Chunk had. That's not an understatement: 2014 brought multiple large updates to The Chunk. In this post, I'll cover Chunk^2 specifically.

One more thing before we begin

I did not like the style of my previous Chunk Diaries posts. I feel as if they were too short and sparse on details. This one, I aim for a much longer post with more detail.

The premise of Chunk^2

After the big influx of players thanks to the large, very famous YouTubers we got (even SkyDoesMinecraft, by some miracle we will never be able to repeat), The Chunk largely languished, with 300 players online maximum if you were lucky.

We needed to find a way to revive Chunk. We brought back Sam (redx475) into the team and we decided to come up with some ideas. At first, we decided to release Thimble (now DeathDrop) as a premium game. After one YouTuber decided to publicly release a video about it, we were forced to open the game publicly despite the fact that there were still some issues with the game. Deja vu repeats itself too: We had the same situation with Tower Defense in February 2015.

Quick history lesson

Before I talk any further, we need to get some more history out of the way.

The Chunk was comprised of MinerWare, Pig Wars, Ender, Mineshooter, and GLDesert.

  • MinerWare was the superstar WarioWare clone that got us noticed. It was made by redx475.
  • Pig Wars was best known as the game that SkyDoesMinecraft disliked so much, he used /antioch gratuitously and crashed the server. This was made by Chipmunk9998 and was removed in January 2014, but made a re-d├ębut in a slightly altered form in Arcade in the Month of Summer Fun update.
  • Ender was an especially spooky game made by Chipmunk9998.
  • Mineshooter had its origins in a server called MC-COD, created by Chipmunk9998. Chunk partnered with him in mid-2013, before vemacs and I entered the picture.

GLDesert

The Chunk and GLDesert were at one point linked. GLDesert was your standard Towny server with a desert theme with world generation to match. However, GLDesert never seriously fit with the rest of the network, so we decided to part ways with them before the update's release.

BlockWars

With Thimble soiled, we searched for new ideas. I was browsing an old list of Garry's Mod games and came across one game where you built up boxes to defend a flag. We decided that this idea could work in Minecraft, and BlockWars was born.

BlockWars grew from its tiny embryonic seed to become the most popular game on Chunk (until Tower Defense uprooted it).

The base game was largely completed in one week during the epic cold wave of December 2013. We created several test maps for the game, many of which (except for a select few) were removed before release due to poor quality.

Haunted

The history of Haunted is more tricky to track down, so here's what I wrote back in July 2014:

Haunted was the most contentious. It was originally called "Horror". Work started October 28, 2013, and it would not be complete for three months.

Website

Chunk's previous website was an unmitigated disaster. It was a fully custom solution based on Django with the wonderfully drab look of default Bootstrap 2.

We hired Connor Peet to design a new website using Laravel and esoTalk. This had serious consequences later on, but at least the website didn't look like default Bootstrap, which was very important to us.

Release

When we released, we had a perfect confluence of events.

  • OVH: We purchased new servers to have sufficient capacity to hold players. But at least one of our spanking new HOST-128s kept rebooting every few days. It took us several weeks to convince OVH to replace the hardware on the server, which resolved the issue.
  • Misc. downtime event: This was actually me discovering a IRC bot that some skid placed on one of our servers. We reinstalled the server and strengthened our security measures as a result.
  • User verification: We originally wanted to engage people in the community by having them register on our site for the full game play experience. Players found this to be counter-productive and annoying, and upon popular request we removed it.

What went right

  • BlockWars took off.
  • DoubleTrouble was moderately successful.
  • We had the stage set for March-April 2014.
  • We shed some image-related debt.

What went wrong

  • Haunted was a total flop.
  • OVH.
  • DoubleTrouble and Haunted later became debt to our image. (We finally removed Haunted after about a year, but I feel as if it was too late.)

Conclusion

Chunk^2 was able to succeed in bringing The Chunk to public attention again, despite a rocky start. However, this magic could not be repeated until TowerDefense's unexpected release.