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Why Smurfy Fortress

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Smurfy Fortress is my attempt at building the game server network that I want to play on.

Most of the Australian TF2 servers are perfectly fine from a technical standpoint - their servers & networks are fantastic and ye olde problems of lag etc are no longer an issue.

The things that did bother me on other game networks were mostly configuration and community related.

Playing on other servers I felt restricted in the efforts I could make in making the servers better to play on. It's hard for admins to know who to listen to, and making changes always involves some risk of not only breaking the server, but also alienating existing community members so admins are understandably reluctant to make frequent changes.

There are 3 key things that I hope to make "better" on the Smurfy Fortress servers.

The first is to listen to feedback, observe player behaviour, act quickly, and observe the results. I'm running the servers as a never ending series of experiments. It's clear after playing TF variants for 15+ years and having been involved in my fair share of theorycrafting that there is no perfect answer. Let's just try things out and see what works, and do it in a tight loop so players don't feel like they're ever stuck with a shitty status quo.

My second goal is for the Smurfy servers to be generally pleasant to play on. There's two aspects to this.

One is removing bad actors. I have no tolerance for players who want to grief, troll, hack etc, and encourage our admins to ban such players. My feeling is that there's no shortage of players who will be nice to each other and by banning those who aren't we establish a co-operative community that will hopefully attract other friendly players.

The second is fair games. Team stacking is a huge problem on many servers. Some servers run gScramble and auto-scramble the teams when an imbalance is detected but finding the right thresholds so that it triggers just enough and not too much is really hard. There isn't a perfect solution but so far we've been trialling auto-assigned teams with good success. At the very least auto-assign prevents deliberate stacking so if you get rolled at least you know it wasn't due to malicious intent by the other team.

Lastly, one thing that has always bugged me about some community run servers is the abuse of admin powers. Apart from arbitrary kicking & banning it also extends to things such as randomly changing maps on a whim. Another is the use of reserved slots for either paying members or admins - this breaks auto-diallers for ordinary players and basically says "we don't value you plebs". I think this is a flawed attitude as you need a reasonably large group of co-operative players to make the game fun long term.

Funding & admining the servers long term is a challenge. The sums of money involved are not huge but I would like to get Smurfy Fortress to a point where it is self-sustaining.