What is Skyblock?
The Minecraft gamemode of Skyblock has taken many, many forms over the years, growing more complex and innovative with every player’s new creative and novel ideas. Team Visionary want to explain everything you need to know about making a Skyblock Server.
To truly understand Skyblock as the explosively popular gamemode that it is today, we must start from the beginning and understand its roots and beginning.
History of Skyblock
Skyblock originated as a very simple, yet unique, survival map challenge. The concept of it was simple: players started the game by spawning into a completely void world, on top of a very small island made of a few grass and dirt blocks. This island would also include a regular sized oak tree, as well as a chest that contains some necessities: such as various plants and seeds, an ice block and lava bucket (for cobble generators), and similarly necessary items for early survival.
The general goal of Skyblock is to, then, progress along the gameplay progression of Minecraft while being heavily limited by the fact that the world is entirely made of void, and that there is no overworld.
In strictly vanilla versions of this, players would begin by creating a renewable source of blocks via the tree (by planting the saplings from the tree and subsisting off of the apples), creating a cobblestone generator with the ice and lava, then farming all necessary resources from monsters at night. Eventually, the most ambitious of players would be able to start a villager farm, opening the possibilities to iron farms with iron golems, and the like. There are also certain variations of these survival maps, wherein players instead spawn on a nether skyblock island, etc, to add an extra layer of difficulty.
To add to the gameplay, Skyblock survival maps traditionally offer players with “Challenges”, or rather, a list of concrete goals for players to accomplish during their Skyblock gameplay run. These challenges are often provided to the players via forum posts, or a book in-game, meaning that players can choose to follow them or not, without affecting their progression.
And there you have it! While it seems relatively simple, the boundless possibilities and creativity that these limitations of being on a void island inspired in Minecrafters across the world quickly made this gamemode an explosive phenomenon. Players loved the idea of overcoming the heinous difficulties and limits, and it was incredibly rewarding starting with nothing and expanding their islands to encompass factories, kingdoms and empires.
And so today, we’ve seen Skyblock largely become a household name among any Minecraft players worth their salt.
Skyblock Today: Servers, Multiplayer and More
However, Skyblock has come a long, long way from its humble roots of being a challenge based survival map. From Hypixel’s unimaginably immense Skyblock servers that average tens of thousands of players daily, to the countless smaller community servers that range through every server listing site, Skyblock servers have become the norm of any Minecraft hub network, as well as the ambitions of many a new server owner. That might be why you’re here, in fact!
As the development capabilities of Minecraft servers expand and new ideas and new norms arise, the features of Skyblock have also increased greatly. What may have been the standard “good” Skyblock server a few years ago — vanilla Skyblock with Essentials features such as sethome and warps, a nice and functional build, a few events here and there, a server shop with reasonable prices and maybe even quests if you were feeling fancy — have now long been left in the dust in this new age of Minecraft servers.
Today, Minecraft players enter new Skyblock servers with heavy expectations. It’s not uncommon to see features such as Island Top Rewards, Quests, Challenges, KOTHs, Envoys, Outposts, Quests, Missions, Challenges, Custom Daily Events, Custom Recipes, Custom Drops, Crates, Kits, Bosses, Dungeons, Minions, Generators, Extra Currencies, Custom Enchants, Casino, Lottery, Auctions and Chestshops, etc being tossed around and plastered all at once on a single server’s server listing.
For the players: this is absolutely fantastic. With these higher standards of gameplay that have come to become the norm, players will only continue to enjoy more and more complex, increasingly intricate server features. However, for the server owner looking to get into the scene, it may all be very, very challenging to wrap one’s head around.
In an age where Skyblock servers are expected to tote all the newest plugins, features and content, how do you even begin to start creating your own server? Where should you get the builds? Which plugins should you use, and what features should you choose to include?
How do you even start hosting your own Minecraft server, anyway?
Well, that’s what we at Team Visionary are hoping that our article will help you understand better. So without further ado, let’s get into things!
Server Features – Please note that if you’re looking for essential (ha) plugins for basic server infrastructure, such as Essentials, Worldedit, WorldGuard, etc, please skip ahead to the next section. This part will largely cover the popular server features in Skyblock servers today.
Is Top / Rankings – This is essential for any Skyblock server — players will utilize this ranking system to compare resources, wealth and progress with each other. This will also be the basis for any is top rewards that you might be giving out to encourage gameplay. In the same line of thinking, Island Upgrades can also be a rewarding resource sink for your players, while also giving them something to work towards and compete against each other with.
Quests / Challenges / Missions
These are also important to add to player gameplay — grinding at an ore-gen is lovely and all, but sometimes your players will need a little break. The difference between these three things is as follows: quests are usually one-time tasks your player will receive from NPCs, challenges are achievement-like tasks that your player will automatically complete when they fulfill the task, and missions are regular (daily or weekly) tasks that are generated for your players.
KOTHS / Outposts / Envoys
These are further activities for your players to partake in. KOTHs — King of the Hill — and Outposts are extremely popular PvP activities that involve players trying to take over and hold a capture point, while fighting off attackers. Envoys are also PvP events — although they can be made simply a first-come-first-serve race with some config tweaking — that involve players making a mad dash towards loot crates that fall from the sky, fighting their way through other contenders.
Minions / Generators
Minions and generators are one of the newer additions to must-have Skyblock features, having been made popular by some large networks in the past couple of years. These are both sources of materials, resources and currency — Minions are entities that players can place down to perform actions for them, such as mine items, kill monsters, etc. Generators are generally blocks that can be placed down.
Crates have become a common sight in any Minecraft server. These adopt the “lootbox” model of monetization that has become popular in many games today. They offer your player potential fantastic rewards, which encourages them to purchase crates / crate keys to randomly roll for said rewards.
Kits & Ranks
Kits, ranks and other webstore items have also become an everyday occurrence in any sizable Minecraft server. These packages can ordinarily range from a few USD to hundreds. While these are incredibly great sources of revenue for your server, it’s also vital to balance them properly to avoid hefty accusations of running your server too “pay to win”, which may alienate non-spending players.
Last but absolutely not least on this list are Custom Enchants. Custom Enchants, commonly abbreviated as CEs, are exactly what it says on the tin: enchantments that function similarly to vanilla enchantments, but do completely different things. Popular CEs include ones that can imbue your players’ armor, weapons and tools speed, lifesteal, jump height, auto-smelt and armor shattering effects, to name a few.
How to Set-up Your Server
Rent Your Hosting – Since running a server requires enough resources to have an enjoyable multiplayer experience, if you have an older PC or none at all then renting a server could fit your needs better. Companies or organizations that host servers allow you to customize what hardware you might need for your uses. Some even offer comprehensive support for not only getting the server up and running, but for guidance and assistance in troubleshooting any problems that might arise!
Server Hosting Sites – Among the current top tier of Minecraft server hosting sites is Apex Hosting and GGServers. Both of these services provide very stable servers, and offer customizability from the server’s settings down to even the hardware!
Realms – Minecraft also offers their own type of server hosting, dubbed “Realms”. Truthfully, this is among easiest methods to getting a dedicated 24/7 server running for you and your friends. The subscription to Realms Plus gives you a personal server with up to 10 players simultaneously and includes 100+ Minecraft worlds, texture packs, skin packs, and more from the Minecraft Marketplace. Whether you want a Java or Bedrock server, Minecraft offers subscriptions to either one of the versions.
Self Hosting – All of that being said, If you already have a PC with enough resources, running a server without an upfront cost from a computer you already have, would be another way to get started with one. The biggest pros to hosting yourself is that you’re able to control every little aspect of your server.
Since the Java Edition and Bedrock Edition run on two different types of code, each server is incompatible with the other and there are alternative steps for each version. Overall there are two larger steps to complete to fully get your server up and running for each version.
1. Download/Configure server files.
2. Port forward.
Fortunately, Minecraft developer’s have provided the community with a comprehensive server file package for both versions of the game. Before you begin, make sure you have the latest version of Minecraft, Java, and a program like 7Zip downloaded.
1. Download the Java server files here.
2. Create a folder to store your server files in and place the downloaded file inside.
3. Paste the following into a new text file within that folder
java -Xmx3G -Xms3G -jar server.jar
1. Save the file as a batch file with the name “ServerStart.bat” – Note: The “3” in -Xms3G and -Xmx3G is the number of allocated server memory in GB.
2. Run this file whenever you want to start your server. At this point, files will begin appearing in your folder.
3.A file called EULA.txt should have been generated. Open this file in a text editor.
4. Locate the line that has “false” and change that to “true”. Save this file and close all things related to the server, except the Windows File Browser.
5. Finally run the “ServerStart.bat” file one more time.
6. Congrats! You now have your very own server up and running. The GUI for your server will look similar to this:
- Download the Bedrock server files here.
- Create a folder to store your server files in.
- Extract the contents of the downloaded .zip file to the new folder.
- Run the bedrock_server.exe file.
- At this point, a lot of other files will be generated in the folder and this is your server up and running. It will look like this:
Sharing IP/Port Forwarding
Now that your server is running, I’m sure you and your players are going to be wanting to connect and walk around in your server’s world. Port forwarding is what allows other players to connect to your server. You’re going to be doing this by logging into your home router’s settings, but getting to the port forward options will differ from router to router.
- To get to your router’s login page, use Google and search for “what is my ip”.
- Copy and paste your IP into the address bar and this will get you to the router’s login. The username and password are likely to be somewhere on the router itself.
- Navigate to the router’s port forward options.
- Once you’re able to access the port forward options, add a new port for Minecraft with the port: 19132 and with Protocol settings UDP. Though this might not make a lot of sense, what’s happening here is your opening up a secure channel that the network traffic will be routed through.
- Lastly, all you need to do is give your players your public IP. Have them paste that like any other server IP into the multiplayer server settings and connect.
Server Types & Themes
Minecraft server types are as far and wide-ranging as the game itself! Servers can be built on minigames, simple survival multiplayer, or even custom maps like Adventure maps or Skyblock.
Minigames – From my experience, minigames servers seem the most populated as they consistently have new and fun games rotating throughout their uptime. Some exceptional minigames servers include ones like Hypixel, this server has been around for about 7 years now. Hypixel had garnered over 18 million unique log-ins, which is about half of all Java Minecraft players. Needless to say, minigames servers are extremely popular.
Survival Multiplayer (SMP) – Survival Multiplayer servers are very simple inside and out, from the name it is what it is, A multiplayer survival server. However, don’t let the simplicity of the name deter you from considering this kind of server, with plugins like MCMMO, Towny, Factions, etc. you can bet that there’s plenty of ways to structure your survival like a community of players rather than individuals building bases. This type of server is great for small or large groups of friends!
Hubs and Lobbies are like the town square of your server, from this area your players are gonna be traversing your server, whether it be minigame to minigame, adventure map to adventure map, or even from survival base to base. Our builds at Team Visionary support all kinds of themes and ideas and all kinds of server types too. We also recommend looking at learning materials such as the Team Visionary Minecraft Building tips & resources.
Through the Wormhole – This awesome, new age, sci-fi looking map comes with many great features such as a place for crates, leaderboards, tutorial area, rule boards, outposts and a fully custom war zone.
See the Through the Wormhole Video example below:
Dragon Hub – This hub offers a great big deal of content, including two massive dragons battling it out on your server! This hub comes with ample amounts of space for rules, leaderboards, server shops, and more!
More of Team Visionary’s builds and builder experience can be found here. On this site, you can find several examples of our handcrafted builds, and you can feel free to hire us to complete unique maps to explore!
Why not take a look at the Team Visionary Dragon Skyblock video below:
Optimizing Your Server Performance
If you’ve played on servers before then it’s very likely you’ve encountered some sort of lag or performance issues. As such, you’ve probably also recognized that playing with even a minor amount of lag can get frustrating very quickly. As the server owner, you have the ability, nay the responsibility, to limit the server’s lag. Minecraft runs in “ticks” in this case the game runs in Ticks Per Second (TPS). Ticks are the tasks that are completed at a rate of 20 TPS. These include any interactions between blocks, entities, objects or timing-centric tasks like crops, movement, etc.
By keeping this number at or as close to 20 TPS, your server will be well-equipped to handle a majority of what is thrown at your server. Below will be listed ways to optimize and even determine what is causing your server’s lag. There are two ways to lower your TPS, optimizing hardware or optimizing software. Both are recommended for best results.
Hardware – The best way to increase your server’s performance is to simply give it more resources. Whether you do this by increasing the number of GB in your server’s settings or through physically increasing your computer’s amount of RAM.
Software / Files – Most Vanilla Minecraft servers utilize plugins to give their players the best experiences possible and your server shouldn’t be any different from that. To begin, you first need the files and folders structure for your plugins. This guide will use PaperMC as it is currently one of the most well-supported and used API.
- Backup your server files.
- Download the PaperMC server .jar here.
- Open the folder that contains your server files and place the downloaded file into the folder.
- Paste the following into a new text file within that folder
java -Xms2G -Xmx2G -jar paper-1.16.4-###.jar
- Save the file as “all files” with the name “PaperMCStart.bat”.
Note: The “3” in -Xms3G and -Xmx3G is the number of allocated server memory in GB.
Note: The “###” is the build number of the PaperMC download.
2. Run the .bat file.
3. Congrats, you have successfully installed PaperMC!
At this point, you should see many, many, many more files in your server folder, including one labelled “plugins”. This folder is where you will be putting any and all plugins for your server into. If you’ve played with mods before, this is pretty similar to that. Now that you’ve got the foundations of your server together, here’s where you can really begin optimizing your server.
When a player runs around the far reaches of your world or explore their surroundings, they are generating chunks over and over, this causes your server’s TPS to slow down as more resources are going towards generating chunks than to other interactions. As such, preloading your chunks means that your server faces less lag and your players face less interruptions.
- Download Fast Chunk Pregeneration plugin here.
- Open the server’s files, navigate to the folder labelled plugins.
- Place the downloaded file into the plugins folder.
- Restart server
- Run the command “/worldborder set 30000”
Note: This means the worldborder is set 30,000 blocks by 30,000 blocks with the center at 0, 0.
- Run the command “/fcp fillvanilla 3 <WORLDNAME>”
Note: For most, the <WORLDNAME> should be just “world”, it’s the names of the folder that your level.dat files are contained in.
Incremental Chunk Saving
Now that your world’s chunks are loaded and players are building on these chunks, it’s time to consistently be backing up your server in case of griefing, data loss, or other unforeseen events.
Navigate to your server files folder.
Open the paper.yml file in a text editor.
Locate the line that says: “max-player-auto-save-per-tick: -1”
Change “-1” to “6”.
Note: “-1” just means to use the default Bukkit settings, but for optimization, 6 works best.
Timing reports provide you with comprehensive statistics on the performance of your server. The generated link will also have a “Lag” tab so you’ll be better able to see what is using your resources most.
Wait at least 3 minutes after starting your server.
1 hour is recommended.
Run the command “/timings paste”
Open the given URL.
In essence, the higher the percentage number for “###.##% of tick”, the more resources that task is requiring. This page gives you more information on the specifics of what’s causing problems.
Beyond the performance plugins mentioned above, plugins also provide your players with greater flexibility and multiplayer interactions that Vanilla Minecraft wouldn’t be able to accomplish alone. If you have joined servers before, some of these plugins will look very familiar. You might even already be well-versed in the commands of many of them.
As aptly named, EssentialsX offers hundreds of essential commands that nearly every server, if not all of them, give their players. Commands like “/tpa” and “/kit” and even “/warp” are in this plugin pack. These allow for transport between players and locations without requiring moderator or admin privileges. It even adds an economy, you have ways to create sign-shops, manage currency, or even charge in-game money for access to some commands.
LuckPerms adds ranks and the ability to restrict or allow access to commands. By being able to have better control over what ranks allow what commands, you can have greater control over the security of your server. For example, you’d want to give administrators their moderation permissions so they can do their job, but wouldn’t want to hand over full control of the server. Since you’re likely going to be adding many many new commands, this plugin gives you fine-tuned control over all of them.
One of my first experiences with being on a Minecraft server involved me griefing and ultimately getting permanently banned from the server, even to this day. I can only imagine they had some sort of plugin or methodology similar to CoreProtect that allowed them to isolate the player responsible. This plugin stores every action of every player in a database so you can see exactly which players had previously interacted with a block. Though, one thing to note is that these files will get larger as more players join and as more interactions are stored. It is recommended to clear this database roughly once a month. If you have less players, you might not need to clear it as often. Use the command: “/co purge t:30d”, this’ll delete all data within the database older than 30 days.
WorldEdit / VoxelSniper
These are particularly important plugins for your builders to have when building for your spawn, but that’s not to say that they won’t be used during post-release, either. Having WorldEdit on hand gives you absolute control over the blocks in your server and can save you tons of time, whether you’re trying to fix a small issue in spawn, set a region with WorldGuard, replace all of one type of block in any given build.
Had those shops I griefed back in the day had a plugin similar to WorldGuard, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten perma-banned… 🙁 This plugin allows you to set rules to protect your entire server or regions of it. Disabling mechanics that could be detrimental to the server is a good way to prevent and repel undue damage. You can deny players from building in an area, disable PvP, disable entity destruction (TNT, Creeper, etc.), or even blacklist entire items.
Citizens lets you place NPC characters that look like real players, these NPCs can be used for quests, stories, or what I’ve seen them commonly used for, as statues showing off you and your server’s staff! This plugin doesn’t add too much of content, but what you do with the NPCs is all up to you.
If you’ve logged onto a server, you’ve probably seen floating text that turns as you walk around. These Holographic Displays are what’s added through this plugin. Though simple, these displays can be placed anywhere so you can display stats, label things, or simply make it look cool!
I decided to group both of these plugins into one as some sort of organizational plugin is a big necessity, especially for survival servers as they grow larger and larger. Both of these plugins serve similar purposes but differ in execution.
Towny relies on a stable government-esque system wherein the owners and citizens of the Towny pay in-game “taxes” to keep their Towny running.
Factions relies more on an anarchist-esque system where it’s used to label differing groups so that the players can stay more organized. Many faction servers also rely on PvP and engage in raiding, but that’s not necessary.
BuyCraft is a great plugin to get started with monetizing your server. No matter how or why you wish to sell cosmetics, perks, or features, this plugin has been in development for years and since it’s creation has expanded to 12 other games as well. BuyCraft is the Minecraft specific plugin, but the platform for all games is called Tebex.
Clearlag was designed to, as named, reduce the amount of lag your server experiences. Using an analysis of the Timings Report discussed above, clearlag would be your second step after the analysis. The plugin offers tools to delete dropped items/entities, limit mob spawns, limit even AI processing for your CPU, or anything in between and beyond, ClearLagg is among the top-tier of lag support.
One final tip for you: Play on other servers! Not only are you a server owner, you are also a player, so find the kinds of experiences you like on other servers and use your influence to support those kinds of experiences on your own server! You will not only be more engaged in what you’re doing, but drawing people with similar feelings to your server. Testing the waters with unique servers will help broaden your creativity for your own work. Also please feel free to learn more about Minecraft Adventure Maps and
Whether you begin this project for your friends or you have grander visions in mind, creating your own server can be a very rewarding experience, there’s so much to learn and to do from the point that you connect to your server up to having hundreds, or more, players enjoying your community, your server.
WorldGuard, or a custom alternative, is considered an absolute must-have for Minecraft networks, no matter what kind of gamemode or servers it has. WorldGuard allows you to define certain regions in your world, setting them up with “flags” that determine how the region interacts with your players. You can set flags that range from “no block-breaking” to “no firespread” to “no hunger loss”, etc, making it essential in protecting your server from malicious players and griefers.
Core Skyblock Plugin (aSkyblock, SuperiorSkyblock, etc)
Of course, to run a Skyblock server, you’re going to need a core skyblock pluginthat handles the creation of islands. Some of the most popular options are aSkyblock, bSkyblock, SuperiorSkyblock, etc — these each have their advantages and disadvantages, and we recommend thoroughly looking over them before making your decision. Most custom features that involve islands will end up depending on this plugin, meaning it won’t be as easy to switch out once development starts.
BuyCraft / Tebex
The BuyCraft / Tebex plugin is the most popular model of monetization, allowing you to link your server to your webstore for all your micro-transactional needs. There’s not much else to elaborate here: the bottom line is that if you’re planning to monetize and profit from your server, you’re going to need this.
Permission Plugin (LuckPerms, PermissionEx, GroupManager, etc)
A permission plugin is vital for any good server. This will handle all your player’s permissions, as well as the definition and permissions of donor ranks and staff ranks, ensuring that no one is doing stuff that they’re not meant to be doing. By extension, you’ll also want a chat plugin to complement this permission plugin so that all the ranks show up correctly in chat.
Beta-Testing Your Server
So! You’ve done your homework and gotten all the preparations done and dusted for your fantastic new Skyblock server.
Your never before seen features have been custom coded into optimized plugins, you’ve done some preliminary testing and they work exactly as you had in mind. Your beautiful custom, handmade builds line every warp, spawn and location of interest in your server.
You’ve got a solid team of staff, competent management, a lovely forum, plenty of documentation for your features, and a Discord full of players who are eager to bust through the gates and start grinding the minute the whitelist is turned off
So surely… now is the perfect time to turn that whitelist off and open the floodgates?
Not at all! Unfortunately, a very, very big part of creating any sort of game or gameplay content — and one that most server owners tend to forgo in the interest of time and money — is testing your server before releasing it!
Why is Beta Testing Important?
This is a question that I’ve unfortunately been asked way too many times by server owners who are always all too eager to hit enter on the /whitelist off command. It’s understandable, of course: you’ve spent months and hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars on the development of your server. You want to start making back your investment as soon as possible and see your server flourish in the midst of happy players.
However. Once you hit that release button, there is no going back. If a player finds a game-breaking bug and (god-forbid) abuse and exploit it, you’re going to have to make some very, very tough choices.
Consider this scenario: You’ve just released your server, and everything is going smoothly. You look on /baltop to see how the players are doing in terms of balance. To your horror, the first player on baltop is sitting on billions of dollars, and he’s /pay-ing chunks of money to the rest of the confused players. After some soul-searching, you realize that you configured a quest wrongly, and he’s been able to reclaim the valuable rewards infinitely, selling them to the server shop rapidly for fast, infinite money. He starts telling other players about this, and they’ve started to do it too.
Certainly, the first course of action would be to punish and remove the offending players from the network. However, what do you do after? Even if you’re able to track, via logs, who exactly the exploiting player has /pay-ed, will you be able to track what they’ve done with the money? Will you be able to take it away before it’s invested into more money-making objects such as spawners and generators? And log tracking is made all but void with the addition of the /withdraw command that’s popular on Skyblock servers, which allows players to drop their balance in item-form to any player without any command trail.
Now that the damage is done, perhaps the best course of action would be to rollback the server — certainly, you have backups, right? However, is this fair to the players who were uninvolved in the exploitation process, and may have made sizable amounts of progress in the server that will be rolled back? If you choose to rollback, be prepared to be faced with dozens of angry complaints, threats of quitting and chargebacks, etc. And on top of all of that, you’ll need to go and find a fix for the offending bug in question — with the server having to stay down as you fix it, causing more players to be unhappy with the downtime.
It’s a mess, really, and one that I’ve lived through countless of times. This could all have been avoided if you had allocated a week or two for a beta test on your server — and in the long run, is guaranteed to save you plenty of time, money and heartache.
Test your server. Test your server before you release it, please, for the sake of both you and your staff.
How to Start a Beta Test
Here are the basic steps to hosting a successful beta test
Decide whether you want to host a closed or open beta. With closed betas, you’ll have more flexibility over choosing exactly who you want to let into the server.
Decide on a timeframe — you can’t beta test forever, after all. Depending on the amount of features you have, I would recommend 1-2 weeks at least for the testing phase, and allocate another week for your staff and devs to fix any issues that might arise.
Create a way for your testers to communicate their ideas with you. A Google Form is the best way to do this, as it also allows you to create a spreadsheet with the results that your staff can then work with to check off bugs.
Decide on a prize for beta testing. While some players might do so, the best testers won’t be looking to work for free. Paypal rewards for the most bugs reported is a huge motivator, although Buycraft, custom kits and titles, etc may well be enough.
Ensure that you and your staff will be available during the beta testing phase, to perform hotfixes for especially game-breaking bugs.
Engage with your community throughout the server. This is not only a beta testing session, but the first impression that many of your potential players will get of you and your management.
Take the reports and suggestions to heart, but also remember that you are the owner of the server, and that you have the last say in terms of the direction and vision that you’d like to take your server in.
Keep track of the most active, knowledgeable and reasonably vocal players — they’re really valuable! You’ll be able to work with them later on when you need any specific feature tested, or advice.
In the last stages of beta, consider giving your players lots of resources, money and other currency, so that they can test late and end-game content as well!
Lastly, and more of a tip than anything else, remember to keep backups (and make changes to said backups) of before the beta test!