Jarate Chop!

The Beginnings of a TF2 Network

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It's been almost 2 months since I last posted and that's because I've been working on the Smurfy Fortress servers.

It all started with the release of MvM. Fletcher Dunn from Valve posted a notice saying that a MvM server would require as much CPU as a regular TF server. At that point I had never run a TF2 server so I had no idea how much CPU that actually meant but one thing was obvious - every CPU currently dedicated to a 24 player server could only handle 6 players in MvM.

In other words, at MvM launch the vast majority of players would want to try it out, and unless there was a 4 fold increase in hardware dedicated to MvM Australia wide there was bound to be massive queues for MvM.

The other realisation was that if there's only 6 players and the recommended minimum rate per player was only 30kB/s the peak bandwidth required is roughly 180kB/s or 1.5Mbps. My cable connection is 100/2.4Mbps. Woah, that means it's entirely possible to host a MvM server on my cable!

There didn't seem to be any good guide out there about how much CPU was actually required but keeping in mind that TF2 came out in October 2007 it's fair to assume that one doesn't need to have the most modern overclocked CPU to host a server.

Being a Linux nerd I fired up a KVM on my dev box (a Q9400 quad core) with 1GB of RAM and that was perfectly fine for MvM.

TF2 MvM CPU usage

On the network side an MvM server averages around 600kbps, and peaks at less than 1Mbps outbound.

I've written down the full specifications for an MvM server.

I ran an MvM server on my cable connection for about 2 months and continued to play regular PvP TF2 on the games.on.net servers. Unfortunately in early October all of the GON TF2 servers disappeared. It turns out they were doing a massive platform upgrade.

As a regular 24p TF2 server requires more bandwidth than my cable can handle I began looking at VPSes. I managed to get a couple from GloVine and Exigent to experiment with, and thus Smurfy Fortress was born. It's been an interesting experience finding VPS hosts that allow game servers but I'll save that for another post once I have more data.