“The Dashboard Update” has been in the works for quite some time now. I started planning it back in May of 2015, and started work on it one year later. Obviously, it’s been something I’ve been waiting to release for a while. But, you probably haven’t noticed too many changes. Most of the modifications made in this update were actually made in the back-end, or behind the scenes.
The main goal of this update was to increase the performance of the servers and, ultimately, reduce the amount of times our servers crash. Another was that if a server did crash, the majority of the network would remain online and accessible. So, what was changed?
For those that don’t know, a BungeeCord server isn’t a plugin, mod or something you install onto a Minecraft server. It’s something that runs on its own and connects other Minecraft servers together. So, when you connect to imaginears.club, you’re connected to a BungeeCord server which, in turn, connects you to TTC, MK, etc.
Imaginears Club used to run off of one BungeeCord server. We never really had issues with handling too many players on our one BungeeCord. In fact, we had over 700 players online once at our January 2016 Public Meeting! But there were still some problems with the way our network was setup. Depending on one BungeeCord server to handle your entire player base is okay for smaller networks, but as you grow and expand, the chances of one of those servers going offline increases. If you have 250 people online and your one connection source (Bungee) goes offline, everyone gets disconnected and waits for service to return. But, what if we could have multiple instances of BungeeCord running?
One of the changes made in this update was the ability for us to use more than one BungeeCord while still connecting everyone’s chat, warping, etc. We currently have two running and, if one goes offline, half of the network still stays connected. Now you might be part of the unlucky group that gets disconnected, but keeping half of the players connected is better than none.
Connecting BungeeCords was a lot more difficult than it might seem because, by nature, BungeeCords aren’t built for “talking” to each other. Their only purpose is to connect a player to a server. To overcome this we created a separate process known as Dashboard (where this update gets its name!) which enables BungeeCords to talk to each other now. Now, if you’re on Bungee 1 and say “Hello!” in chat, players on Bungee 2 will still see it.
Again, you wouldn’t have really noticed any of these changes unless you read this post, which is why they’re considered back-end updates and improvements.
TL;DR: Expect less server downtime in the future
Although only a few changes were made to the Audio Server, I’ll still explain what they were. The old Audio Server used to connect directly to BungeeCord which is why it always crashed after BungeeCord restarted. However, with this update, we can have more than one Bungee. This was a problem for the old code for the Audio Server since it now had more than one place to connect to. Since Dashboard connected all BungeeCords together so they could talk, it also connected the Audio Server. This means that if you get disconnected because of a server crash, the Audio Server will still stay online!
TL;DR: The Audio Server shall (almost) never go offline again!
Multiple Park Servers
If 120 players are on the MK server at our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and, all of a sudden, MK crashes, all 120 players will be sent to the TTC at one time. This can be a bit overwhelming to TTC since each of those new connections require the server to fetch data from the database. (info like your balance, rank, inventory, etc.) The database is built to handle all of this information-fetching, but TTC has trouble making all of the requests to the database. This can cause TTC to crash and send all 120 players to the Arcade which is the definite fallback server and can handle a load of players connecting at once. But, if you’re on a Park server and it goes offline, we want to keep you in the Parks instead of sending you to the Arcade every time.
To combat this issue, like Bungee, we added the ability to duplicate Park servers. What this means is we can have 2 TTC servers and load-balance between the two. When you connect to Imaginears Club, you’re sent to the TTC server with the least amount of players on it. (type /whereami in-game to find which one you were sent to) This also means that, when MK goes offline again, those 120 players are split between the 2 available TTC servers, each getting 60 of the players. We can also add a 3rd TTC, 4th TTC, etc. however it isn’t necessary right now. (Tip: Connect directly to a specific TTC with /join ttc[number], so /join ttc2 sends you to the 2nd one)
We also now have the availability to split up servers other than TTC like MK and Epcot. However, doing this would make it more difficult for players to meet up with each other at warps, so we have no plans on doing that any time soon.
TL;DR: Joining Imaginears Club should be quicker, and server crashes won’t disconnect you. (most of the time)
Other Improvements and Additions
Unlike the previous two topics, there were some things added during this update that you can see! One of them was a new command: /chat. This command allows you to choose which channel of chat you want to speak in. Guests have the ability to choose between all and party.
If you’re in a party with some of your friends, typing /pchat before each message can get a little repetitive and annoying. Now, if you type /chat party, everything message you type will automatically be sent to party chat! You don’t have to worry about typing /pchat before each message anymore. Note: Commands are not sent through party chat. If you choose the party channel and type /warp castle, you will still be warped to the Castle. To return to typing in main chat, type /chat all.
Another new feature everyone has experienced already was the Welcome Tutorial. Even if you’ve been playing Imaginears Club since the beginning, you still have to go through the tutorial. (Even Cast Members have to go through it!) It’s a 60-second tutorial which goes over the basic features you can use on Imaginears Club such as the Resource Pack, Audio Server, and MagicBand, and explains how to travel to different Parks and Servers. If you haven’t been on since The Dashboard Update was released (October 9th), or are a new Guest, expect a tutorial on your next connection!
I feel like I’d be skipping out on a change if I didn’t mention this, but the -> seen in private messages is now green 😛
TL;DR: /chat, a tutorial, and a new color for the private message arrow
That’s all for now, thanks for reading the update! As you can see, a lot of work went into the development, testing and release of Dashboard, and I’m really happy to finally release it. We did experience some weird glitches and bugs here and there over the first few days, but that’s always going to happen with new software. Thanks again, and have a great day!
P.S. Don’t think we forgot about MyImaginears Club 😉