Emerald Jungle was a 1.6-1.9.2 SMP & KitPvP Minecraft Survival server from 2013-2016.
I became interested in creating my own digital world and managing a community after joining Club Penguin. I later purchased Minecraft per the recommendation of a friend and discovered the servers weren't run by Mojang, but by regular people.
With the help of YouTube tutorials, I initially hosted my server on a Lenovo ThinkPad in my bedroom with Bukkit, later switching to Spigot. The name was a combination of my favorite vacation spot - Emerald Isle, and my favorite Minecraft biome - the jungle.
Emerald Jungle started off with generic plugins and game-modes including a simple creative and survival world. It was just a few online friends I met via Google+ who joined using my family's private, dynamic IP. I realized this caused both connectivity and privacy issues and eventually masked it with a static, third party IP.
Overtime, these friends helped create an entirely unique server from the ground up with custom plugins, architecture, graphic design and advertisements.
We each focused on our strengths and efficiently developed a distinctive experience, despite our age range of just 10 to 15 years old at the time. New gamertags began appearing and a consistent player-base of familiar faces formed.
It was at this point that my poor home WiFi and 5 year old laptop could not handle more than 5 concurrent players, or my family, who could no longer get webpages to load due to Emerald Jungle hogging the bandwidth.
I created a PayPal account and charged $5 for a server membership, inspired by ranks I saw on other servers. A few players sent money with their parents' credit cards and I used it to purchase third-party server hosting, webhosting and domains.
Our after-school time was taken up with developing the server week over week, growing at a gradual pace. We offered new game-modes, with the most popular being survival roleplay until being beaten out by our KitPvP minigame created from scratch, inspired by Super Craft Bros on Minecade (...which was inspired by Super Smash Bros by Nintendo).
We were constantly expanding the server. All the new features gave the opportunity for various levels of paid, lifetime ranks. The "Iron" tier was $5, "Gold" tier was $10, "Diamond" was $15 and "Emerald" was $25 USD. If permanently blocked from the server for violating a rule, you could re-join with a $10 un-ban payment. It this revenue that kept the server going.
Emerald Jungle never became popular the way servers have in more recent years. However, around 2015 there was 15-20 concurrent users, occasionally peaking at 35-40. It became routine for dozens of players to get home from school, log on, collaborate, battle and talk via Skype for upwards of 6 hours a day, every day while on the server. We were motivated to keep people thrilled to join the next day with constant expansions and re-works. From a new pathway with parkour to explore around spawn, to improving the chat safety for players - you could join Emerald Jungle any time and at least one person was making improvements to the server.
It was hard not to enjoy the experience, even during raids, DDoS attacks, doxing and griefing by hackers and rival servers. It was even exciting to figure out how to patch Emerald Jungle to be more protected after safety breaches. We occasionally baited trolls by leaving artificial vulnerabilities just to see how strong our improvements were.
As I gradually adjusted my time to other projects and players drifted to other games and communities, the player base declined. I decided to keep the server going until the Emerald Jungle PayPal account ran out of money. One day, near the end of Summer in 2016, the balance reached $0 and players logged off of Emerald Jungle for a final time.
It was a super fun project and I consider it a keystone of my teenage years!