Last night my son wanted to play Minecraft with his mates. It’s really easy if you’re in the same house or on the same WiFi access point. During New Years Eve he spent an hour with his mates, iPads a-plenty, on the sofa creating new worlds together.
They were all in the same house, so after hooking into the same WiFi hotspot they all connected up easily thanks to the clever “Publish to LAN” feature and off they went.
However, if you’re in different places it can become a bit tricky. It involves connecting to a server on the internet, but if you want to make one yourself you’ll have to download a Windows executable or a Java file which you can run on Linux. You might have a Windows computer kicking around the house somewhere, but do you really want that left on all the time? It’ll only be showing this screen…
That’ll mean that you need a computer running (or a server on the internet) and you’ll need to open the relevant ports.
However, you can actually do all this on an old Android phone. What you’ll need is this PocketMine app and a phone you can leave on. Before all that though, you’ll need to know a bit about how your broadband router works. Most routers are pretty locked down, and your broadband provider doesn’t like you messing around with the settings too much. However, if you do like to have a “fiddle”, here’s the details.
Grab the app and download whatever version you fancy. I found the “Stable” one worked well for me.
I’ll come back to the rest of the app setup process in a minute but it’s all pretty self-explanatory, needing a name and a not much else.
If you open up Minecraft and click “Play” then “New” you’ll see a little symbol at the top that looks like this..
..not any people hit that. They just create a world and then off they go. However, you’ll need to hit that in a minute and it’ll ask you for the name of your world (you can put anything in), the IP address or name of your server and the port.
That last bit is where you’ll need to tweak your broadband router. First, find the external IP address for your broadband connection. Just type “IP address” into Google or head to a site like whatismyipaddress.com. You’ll need to give this to your friends or relatives so that they can put it into their iPads or phones / tablets to join your server. However, they’ll be trying to connect on a certain port. This can be almost anything on Minecraft, so choose one (or keep the standard one it comes up with as default) and then go into the advanced setting of your broadband router. You’re going to be looking for something called “NAT / PAT”. Tell your router to send requests for your chosen external port through to the appropriate internal port on the internal IP address of your LAN.
Yes, this can be a bit confusing. Let’s start with the the PocketMine app. Run it and it’ll ask you to create a server name, a port and what sort of game you want to create (Creative, Survival, Adventure, Spectator). Once you start it, you can stick that phone somewhere in the house and forget about it. However, you will need to know what the local IP address of that phone is – head into your WiFi settings and find out what IP address it has internally. It might be 192.168.0.7 or something like that. Make a note.
Next, head to your router and go into your NAT / PAT rules and set it so that any requests for your magic port (say, 22535) go to 192.168.0.7 (your phone) on port 22535. What you’re doing here is basically a bit of routing, which is what the thing is for.
Then it’s just a matter of getting your friends to whack in your IP address, the port you set and away you go. Provided the app is running on your spare / old Android phone, you’re set, and everyone can play together. Job done.