Hello Crystals!

It's been a long time since I've updated anyone with what's happening with the server, so here's a nice long update for you...

Where has everyone been?
Unfortunately all our staff members are at an age where exams, college and university take priority over anything else, which has meant that for a while the server have been neglected since December. This is about to change though; we have some HUGE plans!

What should we expect in terms of changes?
Well, we have several changes that we'll be releasing as soon as they're done. These include a brand-new spawn, as the current one has been perceived as too complicated by new players; the new spawn is a straight line where as the current one curves, this should hopefully remove any confusion and allow players to walk straight out of spawn instead of 'getting lost' in spawn. We've also upgraded the Crystal Portal to be larger and have a nicer animation. As some of you may know, I'm currently at University studying Computer Science, and so to help my course and also the server I am going to be taking the task upon myself to create some custom plugins for the server as well as update the Crystal Portal plugin (which has been discontinued) so if you have ANY ideas of ANYTHING you would like to see added, let one of the staff know and we'll see about adding it. We've also cut the number of items that are in the shop to a few blocks and items that we think are essential for building, this is as we're planning on changing the ways in which you can rank-up, but I'll talk about this later.

Smaller shop?
Yes, we have decreased the size of the shop, however this will not affect too much, as instead of having a large shop with infinite supply that helps no-one, we've added in tents out the front of the shop in spawn which can be purchased by players for a limited time (although can be extended by purchasing multiple times) and can be turned into shops selling whatever you wish to sell. This will increase player trading and make it easier for you to make money, this should also help create the 'community feeling' that we are aiming for.

New spawn?
This was the last thing that I wanted to do, as I love our current spawn. However, it seems like new players struggle with the concept of following the path around the curved spawn and would end up leaving instead of finding a way out. So, to fix this we've created a new spawn that has no curves to get out and you can see the exit from where you spawn. If anything, creating a new spawn has actually allowed us to do new things like the player shops and decrease the shop size without struggle.

What about the bank?
Well, the bank in the new spawn is probably my personal favourite thing about the new spawn. This is due to the fact that it has dramatically increased in size, has a new interior and a larger maze (not to mention a lot more money inside!)

What about advertising?
I've started work on an animation to show the backstory of the Crystal Portal and why it is the center of the spawn (yes, it's in the center of the new spawn) and Paige (donutnut1) has done the draft of the same thing but as a comic (which may eventually be released). We also plan on using all of our contacts to try bring as many people back to the server as possible in an attempt to show people why they should play on our server.

What's happening to the old world?
Absolutely nothing! We're leaving the old world exactly where it is and how it is, there will be a portal in the portal area for you to get to it or you can use your homes or warps. However the original world we used has been removed from the server, if this has caused you any issues please let a member of staff know and we will find a way to help you out.

What about custom achievements?
We're currently deciding different achievements to add in which will help you improve your experience on the server. Hopefully these achievements will be amusing and some may tell you some of the lore of the Crystal Portal. Keep an eye on the achievement section of the (new) spawn to see when we add more.

Did you say something about changing the way we rank-up?
Indeed I did. We plan on implementing a double-rankup system which means that you will be able to rank up two ways; using money (like currently) and also by building. For those of you who don't know, I've run servers before and before Crystal I always had a system where you would build something and show it to a staff member to rank-up and it was a success, things only started going downhill when we changed this. Although we do understand that people enjoy grinding mobs for hours to get money (for some reason) so we are making it so it is possible to rank-up two ways! What we have planned currently is that only I (Matt) will be able to rank people up for building, as that will remove any confusion about if someone has been ranked up for a build already and any confusion over how much building must be done to rankup. To account for the change in rank-up system we are changing how much each rank costs and will be resetting everyone's rank.

Resetting everyone's rank?!?
I realize that people are going to complain about this, as you've all worked extremely hard to get your ranks, and we have taken that into consideration which is why we will allow you to keep your money and builds, this means you can still rank-up using what you have previously done. The reason we are resetting everyone's ranks is to make it fair, if you think about it we're completely changing how the server works by changing the rank-up system and although I'd rather avoid resetting the ranks, it makes it fair (for both our old players and new ones).

What about all the NPCs in spawn?
We were planning on removing thes NPCs from spawn anyway so these will be removed. This is because it removes the need for conversation amongst players as you can literally just talk to an NPC (also they're buggy to use sometimes). We want this to be a community server and the NPCs removed the feeling of this by taking out the whole human aspect and making the server seem too clinical (that's probably the best way to describe it).

What about all the hidden secrets in spawn?
These will be remade in the new spawn (although they will be in different places obviously) and more will be added in. We have tonnes of ideas on where to put new secrets, some of which will show the lore of the server. Feel free to explore and find them when we release the new spawn. If you have any ideas once you've seen the spawn of where we can hide them or of what we can put inside them, then let us know!

That's all for now.
Thanks for reading!