From forced rollbacks, to hackers and liars, running a public MCBE Realm can be a tricky task to navigate. Realms were designed by Mojang to be used by a small group of friends who all know and trust each other. However they didn’t give a proper cross-platform option for people who want to make larger, more public Bedrock communities.

Realm promo image
Credit: Minecraft

Mojang doesn’t care about public Realms

So here we are, at a bit of an impasse. Mojang won’t give Realm owners any real moderation tools, and Realms owners are using their “personal” Realms to run large public communities. Not only has Mojang not added any moderation tools, but they’ve actually taken them away over the years. Realms used to have an activity log, something I would kill for now, but had to remove it due to some privacy/legal issues.

Not only has Mojang not added any moderation tools, but they’ve actually taken them away over the years.

You will probably hear that line a few times. “..had to remove it due to some privacy/legal issues..” In fact, it’s the same thing that happened to the community feed feature. Another feature that seemed to be catered more towards a public style Realm, was taken away in 2019 with almost no warning. Microsoft being a massive global company has to play by a lot of international rules, especially since their product is marketed to kids 10 and up.

Due to these constraints, Realms has been stripped down to nothing more than it’s core concept: a cloud hosted micro-server that allows up to 10 players plus the host to play together cross-platform. No built in community features, no moderation tools, hell, even the member management is clunky. Even with just that, the service still struggles. At 11 players online including you, nearly any Realm will be riddled with rock bottom TPS.

An uphill battle…

So yeah, despite what Microsoft and Mojang may or may not have originally intended for the Realms service, it’s not catered to public groups in any way. It is an uphill battle getting things to work properly, and having a consistent user base while fighting with the inherent bugginess of Realms. Having said that, get ready for battle, because we’re going uphill on this one.

Here’s a quick breakdown of some basic essentials for running a public Realm successfully:

  • A social platform
  • Clearly written rules
  • Some type of application process
  • A diverse mod team
  • A niche

Social platform

As a realm owner, you will need somewhere to communicate with your player base, and much more importantly, for them to communicate with you. Somewhere to write and update your rules, to give announcements about major changes (example), and somewhere to funnel new players to get them acclimated.

Social media platform logos
Credit: weblications.com

This can take the form of really anything. A Facebook group, a Twitter page, a subreddit, a Discord server, or even a group chat. However, for communities that plan to grow past ~15 daily active players, I have to recommend a dedicated Discord server. Discord is designed for gamers first, and the heaps of customization you get with bots and role hierarchy is incredibly helpful for managing a player base.

If you choose not to use Discord, that’s fine, but you have to use something. With the removal of the built in community feed, there are really no social features in Realms aside from the game chat that is HEAVILY censored. You have to find somewhere you can easily communicate with players, and in-game chat won’t cut it.

Clearly written rules

So you might think, “I’ve got a good small community.” Maybe you, some friends, and a couple people you’ve met through the internet. Things are going well, you haven’t had any issues, and there aren’t any written rules because people just use common sense. Well that’s fine if you plan to never grow your community. Unfortunately as you grow, common sense will matter less and less. People will join your group who aren’t as like-minded, maybe they’re used to a different set of rules. Maybe they like to push boundaries if they aren’t clearly defined.

Rules on a chalkboard
Credit: commsbusiness.co.uk

What rules you choose, will define your server, and should compliment your chosen niche (we’ll get to that later). They are entirely up to you, and some will probably be very common sense. For example, unless you are planning an anarchy Realm, you will likely want to make the use of hacked clients against the rules. Other rules will not be as obvious, and you will probably have to deal with an issue before the rule is written to avoid it in the future.

Your rules will be a living document, something that adapts to the player base as it grows. Do not underestimate their importance.

Application process

Throughout this article I’ve repeatedly used the term “public Realm” which I realize now is maybe misleading. The truth is, the only truly public Realm that can run successfully, is an anarchy realm. If you make your Realm invite code/join link available to anyone, expect destruction within a few days, maybe even hours.

Realm application on paper

The trick is to run your Realm “semi-public”. Easy to find, slightly harder to join. It’s the same thing I’ve done with my Realm, EverCraft. It’s easy to find on YouTube, Reddit, or even Google. You can go to our public website and learn about us, watch video tours of our worlds, and easily join our Discord. However, you wont find our Realm code anywhere. Search high and low, and you’ll never find an invite link. Why?

Invite codes are the enemy

Realm codes can be made invalid with a single click of a button, however it’s really easy to forget to do that. For this reason I highly recommend having every member of your realm add you as a friend on XBL, and manually invite them to the realm. This way, you don’t have people leaking in unexpectedly.

An example of a griefing incident.
Credit: minetexas.com

Whether you want to have a super short application process so members can fly onto your Realm in a couple minutes, or if you want to do a 3 week process with video interviews, it is up to you. Ultimately the easier it is to get onto your Realm, the harder your mod team will have to work.

Diverse mod team

Having a great team behind you will make you look like a kind and understanding owner when it’s called for, and a terrifying omnipotent justice-bringer when things go south.

One person can’t run a public Realm. I’ll say it again for the people in the back one person cannot effectively run a public Bedrock Realm! You will eventually need a trusted mod team. How many mods/admins you have, how you recruit them, and how much responsibility you entrust them is 100% up to you and will change based on your situation.

The biggest tip I can give you is to not have a bunch of mods just like you. On the surface level, it’s best to have mods from many different time zones to deliver the best coverage. Beyond that though, having a diverse cabinet of admins can give important perspective on complex issues. Having a great team behind you will make you look like a kind and understanding owner when it’s called for, and a terrifying omnipotent justice-bringer when things go south.

TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More
Credit: idealist.org

On the flip side of that, having an echo chamber of mods can quickly cause issues. If your mods are always agreeing with every decision you suggest, things went wrong somewhere. An echo chamber of a mod team will lead to poor decisions. This can quickly lead to a sentiment that you are an out of touch owner.

What’s your Realm niche?

So far I have been giving really general advice. Almost everything I’ve written so far can be applied to any type of Realm. Your niche is where that changes. Your niche is what makes your Realm unique. Is your realm a pure vanilla experience for people of all ages? Or is it a modded anarchy experience for retired telecom professionals? Well if it’s the latter… weird, but also very smart! The more basic your realm, the more it will just blend in with all the other vanilla SMP realms out there.

EverCraft v1 - Greenstone Waterfront at night

I’m guilty of this myself, when I made the EverCraft realm it was literally just a pure vanilla SMP world. Overtime, as the community grew, I took community advice. We slowly adapted into a Vanilla+ realm with 1-player sleep, organized towns, a shopping district, and a post office. We went from a generic group, to a heavily community focused Vanilla+ experience.

Run your Realm however you like, but I think the more unique it is the better. You’ll have more fun, and probably have an easier time finding players.


Thanks for taking the time to read this “How To”, I know it was a bit longer than my normal stuff, but I hope it helped you out! While you’re here, why not check out some of my other gaming content?

1 Comment

  1. Pristinefrog

    Reply

    Great general guide for starting a successful Realm, and packed with some good advice that is easily overlooked the first time around.

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