On the first week of the activity, the students were introduced to the project and the people behind it. We explained to them the objectives and reasons for participating in it, as well as some general rules of classroom behaviour and group management that they would have to respect for the duration of this activity, as in any other school project.
The main goal of the first week was to test the PocketMine server that was already up and running on our Mac mini. With so many users accessing the server simultaneously, placing and removing blocks and working on different parts of the map we had to make sure that the server can support all this data traffic. For this reason we generated a “Test” map and gave our students their whitelisted usernames in order for them to access the world. The students had only one job to do, try and crash the server by any means necessary.
Children are so capable and innovative at creating as they are at destroying! Within minutes of accessing the server, and after the initial awe and excitement that they could see and interact with each other within the same world, that open green flatland was turned into a battlefield of epic proportions. Lava rivers, floods, TNT explosions, zombies, it was chaos.
Fifteen minutes into our ruinous frenzy and the server was already lagging, although still standing strong. Another fifteen minutes and some students were mentioning that the blocks they were placing were disappearing out of sight , while others couldn’t move anymore to certain positions of the map. After one whole hour pure destruction we had to ask everyone to log out, as the server was not responding to most of the functions that the students were inputing.
All in all we failed our primary objective to crash the server. It became unresponsive and extremely slow, but it did not crash down. Which was fantastic news because this meant that the server could hold on well by itself and keep its save file intact, since it keeps saving in real time. As for the students, they had a fantastic time trying to bring the server down. This activity not only served as an introduction to the tools and user interface of the game itself (something all students are completely comfortable with already), but it also served as an icebreaker and helped the students to feel comfortable inside the classroom, they got to know each other better through play (since they come from different classrooms) and were given the opportunity to do something completely free of rules and objectives before diving in into the project itself.