Hi gang!I had this post planned for quite a while, even started writing it several times and throwing my drafts away just as many times as well. Then I also considered not posting at all but yeah... this is one of those posts of which I don't care if anyone reads it; as long as I get the things I want to share off my chest (how selfish ).Today it's been one year ago when I first set foot on the Empire. Of course this isn't the official date I actually decided to join, that's further away, but that's something I'm only sharing with close friends. There has been a little bit of somewhat turbulent history But after one year I can now finally and fully say that it is all behind me. Even though, in all honesty, I honestly still feed sad when thinking and looking back. Without going into details: when you care about something, warn the people about your concerns and see them ignore it then I really do not take any pleasure -what so ever- out of seeing myself proven right one year later. I'd rather be wrong But that's enough about that, this is about Empire Minecraft.For those of you who don't know me... Almost 2 years ago I discovered Minecraft and quickly took a liking to it. I like the extensiveness and depth of the game, but also like the sometimes simpler things which you can do. My favorite activities in Minecraft (vanilla) are cave exploration, fighting mobs and building (sometimes complex) redstone circuitry. And as mentioned above I stepped onto the Empire one year ago and boy... It has been one heck of a ride.I am the kind of player who's in it for the experience and the fun, and not so much the rupees and the in-game wealth. Don't get me wrong here though: I also have my 'me' moments. For example when I have just discovered this cool abandoned and undiscovered mineshaft, or a stronghold. All mine! During those moment only a very select few people would get my coordinates and most of them know that it might also be just as well not to bother asking Yes, I like to hoard some stuff from time to time. But in the end I don't play for wealth, I play to have fun. I've said this quite a few times now: I had fun when I just started with 15k, I had fun when I managed to obtain the unimaginable amount of 800k+ rupees and I had just as much fun a few weeks back when all I got was 200r. Help the world and by doing so you're helping yourself.I guess I must have been doing something right because I had the honor and privilege to be a winner of Hashhog's "Good Samaritan Award" (I take great pride in that, also because it's an event organized by the community for the community) and as if that wasn't enough I also became an official Community Defender by becoming one of the winners in the official (staff organized) community appreciation awards.Honestly guys; that undeniable amount of feedback that you must be doing something right... It meant a great deal to me.So, looking back...We've seen some great developments and innovations. For example I'm still very excited about the new chest interface: if you want to give someone access to your residence then all you need to do is /res cpset <playername> and merely click on whatever you need them to have.Or what to think about the preview sign? That didn't exist when I just joined.. And then there's the teleport sign which no longer requires a pressure plate (read: redstone signal), the awesome grouping abilities (/res gset <groupname> flag1,flag2,etc.) and so on.But you know what guys? With all due respect for Aikar and the developers hard work... All of that is important, don't get me wrong, but not the most important thing. In my opinion obviously. Why you wonder? Once again I need to stress out how much I admire and respect all the work Aikar and the developers put into this. Let there be no mistake about that part.But the problem with all that is that in the end it becomes common, we get used to it and will consider it normal. I mean.... Auctions anyone? How common has it become to put a preview sign on top of your chest?This is going to sound very clichéd and maybe bordering the edges of fanboyism for some but... In the end I think the most impressive and important part is seeing the continuity of how the staff has been present and kept being present on EMC. You know: on some rare occasions you can actually meet up with Aikar and just have a good time. I still remember Aikars private "mob arena" on SMP1's spawn, right after Krysyy had made it quite clear that she wasn't too appreciative of Aikar blowing up the spawn area Honestly guys: I think that some of you don't realize how lucky you are that the senior staff are as active as they are. I've experienced the opposite and trust me: that is rough.So when looking back at one year I also need to address the staff and thank them for all their hard work and effort which they put into this.And trust me: I know the staff isn't perfect. How do I know? Simple really: because that's plain out impossible. With so many people around there are also just as much different opinions and ideas and obviously you can't please everyone.For example: just look back at when the town worlds got filled up. Fact of the matter: Utopia was filled up; for a long time only 1 and a few weeks later even 0 free residences were available. The town expansions pleased a lot of new players who ended up with their own private area on EMC, but it also annoyed others who liked living in the town outskirts.And that brings me to another aspect: How real EMC actually is.Yes guys... it is only a game, it is simply Akairs playground and obviously there are some interests into all this. Totally not my point.EMC is a real community with real people who more than often will also proof and acknowledge that fact. Are you unhappy that your border residence got filled up with new plots and you now live in the middle of the town border? Are you angry at the staff because of it? Good!Now remember that experience, remember it well, and when you end up getting tempted to buy your own house in the future, a house which may sit right at the edge of the town you live in (in real life, yes) then remember this experience!Seriously, I am not joking here. What you may have experienced in-game is what plenty of people have experienced for real.In some cases EMC can be more real than you may realize for now. Trust me on that....Which brings me to some lesser joyful moments which I still want to address. We've also seen our staff take action against some people who a lot of us came to love and respect. We each dealt with that in our own way, sometimes we may or may not have gone a little rogue. Now, I do not know the staff up close and personal but in general my impressions and observations usually tells me a lot.I am, right to this date, honestly convinced that the staff didn't like those events any more than we did. But the problem with those things is: if you set out a set of rules, and then don't follow up on them because at that particular point you don't like their effect then you're opening up hells gate. The rules should apply to everyone and if you make exceptions "just because" then you take risks. No, I do not like the events I'm referring to anymore than you, dear reader. But as much as I dislike it I also respect the staffs decision in them.Having that out of the way I also want to share my admiration for those people who made some of those mistakes. They didn't whine in public, they didn't start on a staff hate rampage but they accepted the decision, swallowed it up and continued head on. You know who you are, and it gained a helluva lot of respect from me. One of you is back where you belong, one more to go. Sorry: not mentioning names, you know who you are.So yes, one year worth of EMC.I'd like to end this post by specifically thanking: Shiyvah, Elfinpineapple, DoubleCakes9001, AyanamiKun, 607, AussieZaid, Hashhog, Kephras, Claremuss (had to do this ), NamiMay, Palmsugar, Skeletin007, CadenMann, CakeMaster (I can't remember your new name ), kevmeup, LadyJaye, HelloKittyRo (in a tuxedo ), fBuilders, Casualist, deathconn, poofasaurus, uber_corq, kyukyu, oldmanwillikers....Sorry if I forgot anyone (doubt it) but this is all from mind.But I'd also like to thank the staff in general. Like 'm or not: they make it all possible.