Interview: Nuclear_Poptart from Mineplex

Angry-Mob.com Mineplex interview nuclear poptart

It’s time to grab your pickaxe because we are going mining! I recently had a chat with Nuclear Poptart who is the community manager of Mineplex. This official Minecraft partnered community was established in January 2013 and has made quite the journey. It offers a whole host of minigames, ranging from Bridges to Super Paintball. Since adding the YouTuber CaptainSparklez to its roster, its player count has multiplied greatly, allowing Mineplex to become one of the biggest servers currently available.

Greetings Nuclear, Thanks for doing this interview with us. First of all, How are you doing today?

I’m doing well, thank you for asking! My team has been pretty busy, meeting several times over the past few weeks regarding some changes we plan on making, and just getting ready for a busy summer. Overall, I can’t say I’m bored, so that’s a good thing. (Hope you’re doing just as well, too!)

I’m doing great, thanks for asking. For the ones who are unaware, can you tell us a bit about yourself and the community?

Mineplex is known in part for the diversity of its gamemodes—anything from quick and casual Arcade, to the more hardcore and competitive, which boasts their own league (MCL). This forges an equal diversity in playerbase, and that’s what makes us so unique! We have players who are very open and honest with us, and quick to give their thoughts and opinions on every update we drop. As a Community Manager, this makes my job awesome. I never have to fish for player feedback, and it’s cool to be part of something which so many people feel so passionately about. This is largely why I stay, and what originally drew me to join the Mineplex staff team back in 2015. Since then, I’ve helped out in several different capacities—Forums Management, Customer Support, and (of course) Community Management.

I got a bit overwhelmed by the size of your community when I was doing my research. Tell me, how did you guys manage to grow this big?

Haha, yes—we’re a pretty big bunch!

Our community has certainly come a long way since our beginnings in 2013. As a result of a server merge, we did have an established playerbase at the get-go, but it was a fraction of the size which we grew to. That happened rapidly, and almost entirely based on two things: YouTube, and word-of-mouth. While (then) up-and-coming names like CaptainSparklez & ParkerGames brought a lot of traffic to us, our games and established community made those players stay. Currently, we have more unique players than any other server (across both servers: Java & Bedrock), once even peaking at 40,000 concurrent users on Java, and bringing around 100,000 unique players per day via Bedrock.

Across our platforms, we’re lucky to have brought some entertainment to over 20 million different people since opening our server.

(That’s a lot of blocks)

Mineplex is an official Minecraft partner. How did you achieve this status and what does it entitle?

Being a large-scale server and on good terms with Microsoft has definitely helped that along, needless to say. Our partnership has been very exciting for us, and like the other partnered servers we’ve been actively working with Microsoft to push cool content updates. They have an extensive QA team and other awesome resources which are available to us—particularly on the Bedrock end of things. The Bedrock launch in and of itself was a huge project which we were thrilled to be involved with. The concept of connected play was something which was once impossible. The idea that servers could be totally streamlined through console, mobile, and PC was far-fetched for a lot of people, and when we successfully launched, it was considered a big win. Alongside Lifeboat and InPvP, our team helped to pioneer this—and continue to, in friendly competition & working together (such as our seasonal/holiday updates, which we drop together through Microsoft).

What kind of servers does Mineplex have (Java, MCO)?

Java-wise, we currently have two servers: US & EU (us.mineplex.com & eu.mineplex.com ). These serve to cater to the connection needs of our community globally. Aesthetically, they are identical, and offer the same game assortment. Players on either server can enjoy the same experience, and connectivity issues don’t have to hinder the way they play!

Our MCO/Bedrock server is mco.mineplex.com
As I previously noted, this is definitely a server for players on the go, which is very cool. Players can start up their gameplay experience on Xbox and finish that same experience down the street or on a train via smartphone or tablet. And, Microsoft Marketplace content offers a ton of extras as well to further customize gameplay. Accessibility makes Bedrock attractive; you no longer have to sit at a computer to enjoy the games you love. Your only limitations are where your feet & imagination can take you (you can’t play under the sea or in space…although, any astronauts or mermaids are certainly welcome to try)!

“We come from humble roots, and are happy to help support content creators & channels of all sizes”

I noticed you guys are active on Youtube. Do you have a policy regarding Youtubers/streamers?

We come from humble roots, and are happy to help support content creators & channels of all sizes…not just the bigger ones!

We have a special YT rank on our server. This provides tags and privileges for smaller, up-and-coming channels to help them expand their audience and make recording & streaming easier across our server. In addition to this, we have a Streams Team which is dedicated to making sure that any streaming/recording goes without a hitch, by moderating the stream behind the scenes for our content creators.

I noticed Mineplex has a support center, something that is needed with a community this big. Can you tell me a bit about the staff and how they operate?

Our Support team is small, well-trained, and definitely packs a punch for their size. We have a huge playerbase and a constant flow of tickets—and our Support Manager, Amanda, does a great job of keeping wait-times low. They work long hours, weekends, holidays…whenever they need to, for our players!

In their down-time, the Support Team also has their own private server to play around with. Aside from the obvious Build & Administration teams, Support would be the only other rank to have building permissions in a lobby. Just an extra perk; they’re pretty creative!

Mineplex is no stranger to hosting events. Any special ones coming up?

“IRL”, our team has a great time going to various events across the country—like Minecon and Minefaire—and giving back to the community in various ways. Our next upcoming convention appearance will be Minefaire, NJ coming up in August. Anyone in the area should definitely stop by and say hi!

Aside from this, our Events Team hosts a variety of events in-game as well! Our spring Events Season is coming to a close, but definitely keep an eye out for summer events—our Events Team has been hard at work planning some fun stuff for our community; both in-game and on Discord.

If you don’t want to wait, we do have some regularly scheduled events to tide you over as well. We host karaoke every Saturday & Sunday on our official discord channel (discord.mineplex.com) . Every Friday night @ 2PM GMT, we host our Friday Night hangout. This varies, and could be anything from a movie night to in-game party. We have a full events schedule which is up to date on our website—it’s definitely worth taking a look! Everyone is welcome.

Let’s talk development real quick. Does Mineplex have it’s own team of developers or do you hire third party developers?

We hire our own Devs for both Java & Bedrock. One of our owners, Jonathan, is very hands-on and involved with this process himself!

Any tips for starting developers out there?

Only what would be applicable to any other hobby or interest you could pursue. Nothing worth your time is ever going to be easy. There are a lot of people who take game design & development at face-value… “Oh that’s cool, that’s something I’d like to be part of!” And while it *is* cool, there is a ton of work which goes into learning how to do this, and do it properly. Learning how to code is like learning a language. It’s something which you can learn in a day and be magically talented at doing without any work. You aren’t going to sit down one day with a handful of YouTube tutorials and come out with the next big indie game (I mean, if you do, then even more power to you).

Understand that there are baby steps involved. Perfecting any craft takes time and dedication—but you can make some beautiful work once you know what you’re doing.

*whispers: hey, you working on anything new?

SO much which I can’t give away! Our team has been pretty tight-lipped across the board.

Our regular players will have noticed the lack of “big” updates in the past few months. We’re working on some pretty big things for Mineplex, internally, and production has definitely been kept busy. We’ve also been taking heavy notes from our players on what they want more of, so you can expect a very busy summer, heavy focus on Java, and *maybe* even a makeover of sorts very soon. You definitely didn’t hear that last bit from me, though!

“All criticism is feedback, and not all feedback is criticism”

Over the years you must have seen a lot of things happening within the community. What are some of your fondest memories?

My fondest Mineplex memory actually didn’t happen in-game; it happened at an event. I went to Minecon Anaheim to work the booth, and I shared a hotel suite with some good friends from work (including our Forums Admin, Tony, and a lovely staff Recruiter named Grace).

We took an extra day just to enjoy the sights of the city, got some ice cream and went to Disney. Of course, being very tech-savvy just by the nature of our work, we had brought all sorts of phones, tablets, laptops etc. and had nowhere to put them for the water rides.

Tony, our hero, packed everything up into his backpack and sat all of our expensive tech on his lap…right in the first row of the splash-zone.

The screams, oh, the screams.

Our phones and tablets were fine, but even though this happened years ago, I still bust his chops about it occasionally.

As always, do you have any tips for (starting) communities out there? Be it Minecraft or a different game.

Overall, I think a mistake which I see a lot of start-ups and new community-oriented Staff make; a successful, self-sufficient, and thriving community isn’t a “goal”. To see it this way is unrealistic, because that’s not how things work. Building a community is very much like building up a friendship: it requires care, and work on both ends.

Regardless of if your playerbase is 50 or 50,000, the same reality maintains: they’re going to want that give-and-take, where their opinions and thoughts matter. Your players will turn to you for that and expect you to provide…and providing in a lot of cases isn’t all black and white. As a Community Manager, you can use your tools to help stress and push updates which your players demand, but you can never be entirely certain how implementation of that could play out, or whether those ideas and updates will actually be as successful as you could have planned for. You need to be open to feedback, ready to make tweaks and changes, and most of all, you need to be human. Acknowledge that you aren’t perfect and that any criticism you might get from your community is all coming from a good place—after all, you’re on the same team and (hopefully) have similar goals for direction.

Be malleable; growth of your community will require growth on your part, too. You can either use that experience to your benefit, or you can shut it out and hurt the people who anticipate your response—and this can kill a community and dissuade the people who spend time trying to help you build it. This is so critical.

Keep in mind:
All criticism is feedback, and not all feedback is criticism

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About Syff

Founder of Angry-Mob.com, keeping your game community up-to-date with articles, guides, interviews & more! Besides Angry-Mob I currently am employed as a Sharepoint developer and multimedia advisor. You can find all my projects on my portfolio: https://Rokbock.nl