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Best Approach to Signage in Minecraft

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There are lots of different ways to display information in-game on a Minecraft server; signs, holograms, chest menus, the list goes on. But all of them have drawbacks that should be avoided.

Below is a comparison of the different approaches to signage.

Signs

Signs are the most common way to display things in-game. Pretty much any server you join will have these at their server spawns, often to display things like available commands or donator ranks. The main reasons signs are used the most is because they work in vanilla Minecraft - you don't need a server-side plugin just to use them, whereas for things like holograms and chest menus plugins are needed which need to be maintained on each Minecraft update. Generally speaking, using signs works well, but there are a few drawbacks:

  1. Signs are used on pretty much every server that exists, using something less common like holograms will make your server stand out.
  2. Inn certain cases where you might have lots of signs in one place (e.g. 20 or so at a spawn point), it might be better to use something like a hologram, as you can fit more content per line (although put too much there and this becomes an issue, this is explained in detail in the holograms section).

Holograms

Holograms have become very popular over the past 2 years. These are different to signs in that they allow you to display text in mid-air, which always faces your users. So if a player goes within 20 or so blocks they'll be sure to see it - compared to a sign which you'd need to be within say 3 or 4 blocks to read it. There are three big drawbacks to holograms:

  1. Holograms don't come with vanilla multiplayer - you'll need a plugin to add support for them (currently we recommend the Holograms plugin for this, which isn't perfect - but it's the best we've come across so far).
  2. Whatever plugin you use needs to be kept up-to-date. Typically hologram plugins are version-specific, so whenever a new Minecraft update comes out your holograms will break and you'll have to update. Often developers will become inactive, so you may have to switch between different plugins every year or so.
  3. An issue with all signage, which is even moreso in this case, is displaying too much information in one place. If you have a 10 line hologram with 20 words per line, it's very unlikely players are going to read all of that. It might even put them off and cause them to rage quit if they can't find the information they're looking for. Instead you should put together all the information you need in a text file - then go through it and only keep the most important parts, display the more detailed information on something like a Forum or on signs in a less public location.

SHAMELESS PLUG: We use holograms widely on our own server, take a look at our approach at www.minerifts.com.

Title Bars, Action Bars & Sidebars

This approach is something many servers do wrong. I explain issues such as text going off the screen on a separate tip here. Generally speaking you can display things like minigame stats & game progress in a sidebar, things like welcome messages & important notifications in title bar (the large text that appears in the middle of the screen) & things like countdowns & join/leave messages in an action bar (this is text that appears in the middle of your screen just above your health bar).

The general rule of thumb is to try and display only relevant information in these - don't display everything you can. For example on a minigame server displaying a players health & kills in a sidebar makes perfect sense, but on a Survival server this would just get very annoying. Another might be displaying join messages in an action bar for all players - which on a large server would cause serious spam, so having a setting to disable this would be useful, or maybe just display this for friends.

Chest Menus

This is something that started appearing a few weeks ago. Typically chest menus are used for things like in-game shops, auctions or maybe displaying a list of friends. But recently servers have started using them to display things like server updates & announcements on login. This can be very effective because it's even more unique than holograms, and allows users to choose the information they see by clicking on for example a sword for pvp-related content, or a snow block for spleef-related things; done well this can be a great way to display information.

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Written by Simo389

Simo389 has been running Minecraft servers since 2012, and developing for them since 2013. Currently he runs MineRifts, a YouTube channel and shares advice in these tips on how to publicise & improve your own Minecraft server.