Saturday, 21 December 2013

Ma-hoo-sive updates

Thanks to everyone playing, testing and reporting bugs over the last few weeks, we're confident we've found and fixed the biggest issues. We've been up and stable for a few weeks now, and have seen an average of 1500+ unique players every day for the last 2 weeks. 4000 lobbies created since this beta went live, and almost all of them are now successfully launching (failures are caused by server crashes or out of date SRCDS installations, which are out of our control currently).

So what's new? We have (or will, very soon) put up a changelog and will be updating it as and when we deploy fixes and features, but the highlights:

  • Added manual sub reporting alongside our auto-reporting. Check out !tf2center on in-game chat
  • Added ability to ready up before a lobby fills - this pre-ready-up status only lasts for a few minutes, so we're still making sure you're around when the lobby launches. If it expires, you can pre-ready-up again and again
  • If you are reported automatically but rejoin your slot, the sub request is removed
  • Split out EU/NA players online on display, and fix Friends Online counter
  • UI improvements all round the place
  • Mumble from now is accessible before lobby launch

As ever, your feedback and bug reports really help us find the issues and fix them. We can't play in every lobby, so let us know if you see problems and we can look at fixing them :) We'd rather have 10 reports for the same issue than none!

Also a quick but important note on whitelists:

When setting up a server we can't transfer whitelists, all we can do is reference a whitelist on your server already. We currently specify the ETF2L whitelist for EU lobbies, and UGC whitelist for NA lobbies. If you are hosting lobbies, please ensure you have the relevant whitelists on your server!

Friday, 20 December 2013

2D graphics designer wanted!

Hi guys!

We have some awesome updates coming tomorrow - watch this space, more info to come tomorrow! But in the mean time...

We’re working on some pretty cool ideas, but need some help to bring these to life! We’re looking for a 2D artist to help design and draw some icons.

If you’re interested, please contact Mother Tereza directly who can talk you through what we’re after and answer your questions. 

Requirements: drawing skills, vector/bitmap graphics skills, Illustrator/Photoshop experience preferred.

Thanks, and check back tomorrow for more information on the upcoming updates...

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Beta 3 - It's almost like we planned this

Our third beta test (now with Even More Fixes) is up! To coincide with this, other lobby sites seem to *not* be up, so if you usually use another Team Fortress 2 Lobby site, why not give us a try this weekend!?

Some of the key things fixed over the last week:

  • Massive fixes to substitutes - hopefully no more erroneous reporting of players
  • Non-standard characters now supported
  • SourceTV is ignored when checking for players on a server
  • More fixes for lobbies failing to launch
  • Server setup handled at creation of lobby, so launching it when full should be much quicker
  • Logs cleaned up - less unexpected-but-recoverable errors, and cleaner logs so we can tell more easily what's happening
  • Various UI fixes
There are some known issues - we're working on them but they're tricky to nail down and fix. We know of problems with the following things:
  • Page is slow to auto-refresh
  • TFTrue map delay on server can cause problems. Fix for this will go out over the weekend.
Please leave feedback in the usual ways. Apologies if I haven't replied to you directly - I promise we've read all the feedback so far, but sometimes I hold off on replies until things are fixed. If you have any questions about feedback you've raised, feel free to contact me directly (, or add me on steam). 

Hope you find TF2Center even better this weekend! Let us know!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Beta 2 - Success

Hi again!

The second open beta will come to an end on Monday (19th Nov) at 09:00 CET.

On almost all fronts, the second beta held this weekend went well and we had steady progress seen from last week. Thanks again for all of your help - because of the time you guys put in we discovered some more issues, but also confirmed that we have a strong platform to build on. Unfortunately having said that, we didn't feel the site is ready to stay up at this stage due to some pretty important things that need fixing first.

From last week, we spent a lot of time fixing the lobby creation and launching functionality. On the whole this worked well - there are currently some known problems (TFTrue plugin and map-change delays, servers and expiring registration) that we'll be working on, but we've fixed most of the big problems on our side. We do need to make the failure reasons more obvious though!

The biggest issues that people have reported is with the automated substitutions system. As you may know, we monitor the server to see when players fail to join the server and report them as missing (and thus request substitutes automatically) - however there have been cases where this was being handled incorrectly and lobbies either had subs reported, or the lobby closed, when they shouldn't have been. This is one of the highest priority things on our list, and we'll be looking into this week.

The second issue from our point of view is server performance - things got a little sluggish towards the end and that's not what we're aiming for, so we'll be looking into that too!

Despite this being a beta, we had some overwhelmingly awesome stats we wanted to share from the ~36 hours of uptime:

  • Over 2,300 unique players
  • A peak of over 500 players online at once
  • Over 420 lobbies created
  • Over 2,600 mumble logins (players are duplicated, but still)
  • Peak of 100+ simultaneous users in mumble

Thanks again for your support. Numbers like this, and the positive feedback we receive about the site, really show us that the work is worth it. Honestly we're pretty overwhelmed with how well it's been received, and will continue to enhance the site as much as we can!

I also want to point out that I've been receiving a lot of the congratulations on the site, which is an awesome side effect of being the guy doing the public announcements. However I really cannot overstate how much time and effort Mother Tereza and MasterNoob have put into this. I joined the project in June, pretty recently in comparison to them, and yet take all the plaudits!

Thanks for your support guys!


P.S. I want to add from myself that without Foxy's invaluable technical and PR help, his huge patience, politeness and kindness this project wouldn't exist. So mr. Foxy you deserve all these plaudits. Cheers!

Mother Tereza


Saturday, 16 November 2013

Open Beta - Tonight onwards

Hi All!

We'll be opening up TF2Center to another open beta from tonight onwards (in about 30 minutes from writing this, so ~21:00 CET). Please come have a play! --- note the beta2 URL, for the new server -- this will be active in 30 minutes

We know there's a small issue with lobby spectators not updating and we're working on it now :) However, most if not all of the major bugs from last weekend are fixed, and as ever anything you find can be reported via email or the feedback tab. There will be members of the team around for most of the evening at least should any issues come up. Hopefully you won't need us :)

Please also check out the new FAQ page (work in progress!) for some of the common queries!

For those curious, here is some of the things fixed this week.


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Open Beta

Progress on TF2Center has been steady, and when TF2Lobby went down on Friday we had many questions from the community about whether we were good to go. We thought we needed a little more time, but keen to take advantage of this situation we went for it, since so many people were asking.

Firstly, we'd like to say thank you. The site has been built for all of you guys, and it's so pleasing to see so many players trying it out. As I write this, we have 8 lobbies being played with over 90 people in mumble, and throughout the day we've seen about two thirds of players using mumble during the game. We've peaked at over 200 simultaneous active users, and the performance of the site as a whole has been great.

There have been issues. Most of you will have seen some of them - particularly when launching lobbies. We know how frustrating this is, and again would like to say thank you for the patience and understanding shown. Hopefully all the biggest issues are now fixed and the majority of things Should Just Work (tm).

The feedback we've obtained in the last 36 hours or so has been invaluable. Our inbox's have exploded with bug reports that would have taken us an age to find otherwise, and we've taken a massive step towards release with what we've learned over the weekend. However if you see any issues, they can be reported through or using the feedback tab, on the left hand side of the pages.

At the time of writing this, the Open Beta is live and (largely) working. We plan to keep this running until ~09:00 CET tomorrow (Monday 11th), and then we will shut it down. This will give us time to focus on fixing the bugs that came up and making sure things are in a better state, and all being well the site will re-open next weekend, with things running a lot smoother.

However, if TF2Lobby stays down tomorrow morning, we'll keep the beta running until they come back up.

We'll post updates as and when we have them, but a great big thank you from all of us!


Monday, 21 October 2013

Almost there

Hi all!

I said in the last update that this one would contain the date of the next round of testing, and I was half right! But first, where are we up to?

What have you been doing recently?

Most of our time, until last weekend, was spent finishing and perfecting the design implementation, and I'm happy to say this is now complete for the initial version. There are some things that will probably be missing from the first release (that I'll get to shortly) but everything we're planning to put in is designed and styled.

This week we've been playing the fun game of Front-End meets Back-End, which is going largely to plan. We hope to have this finished by Wednesday (23rd) of this week. After that comes some internal testing to make sure we haven't missed anything, and then we head towards the initial, limited-time release.

We've also been given the use of some virtual machines for hosting the site and game servers. The machines themselves are pretty awesome and should allow us to host a whole load of game servers for you guys to use.
Running some benchmark tests on the application server VM. I think it'll be okay.

What's the limited-time release?

We've tested the site ourselves. We've tested with a handful of friends. We've tested the multi-user aspect of things as much as we can, considering there's only a few of us! We've even abused Chrome's profiles to get as many instances of the site running as we can at one time, to see what the performance is with many clients connected. But this is obviously different from the real-world, many tens / hundreds of concurrent users.
Jayserp's PC got sad at running more than 80 individual instances of Chrome
As such, we will (at a date yet to be determined, but likely within 2-3 weeks) be opening up TF2Center for a roughly-one-day open beta test. That is, the site will be available for everyone to use, but just for a limited time. At the end of the day, the beta will be closed and we will go off and fix any bugs that came up, check out our logs and make sure we're happy with how everything was running from our end. The final open release date will depend on results from this open beta, and we'll be inviting as many people as possible to give us their thoughts and feedback.

We stress that during this open beta, things may go wrong and the fixes may (in the worst case) require the server to be restarted or the beta to be closed early. We don't expect this to happen but the open beta comes with the disclaimer that things may break, and we ask for your patience if these situations arise.

We'll keep you posted with updates as we get them. Any questions or comments, as usual let us know here, via Steam or email


Friday, 27 September 2013


It's come to our attention that TF2Lobby has been down for a while. While this would be a great opportunity to launch TF2Center, I'm afraid we're not quite there yet!

But don't fret, we're still working hard at this and hope to have something to show you guys soon. There's nothing more concrete at the moment to pass on - we're finishing the design implementation and making performance improvements, which is hard to demonstrate - but rest assured that we haven't forgotten about you (and we hope you haven't forgotten about us!)

The next update I write will (hopefully) have a date for the next round of testing. That's probably a few weeks away at this point, but watch this space!


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Progress update

Hi all! It's progress update time (wooooooo)!

So wee've been stomping bugs left, right and center after the beta test, and while we still have a bit of a way to go, we've got the biggest ones out of the way. For those at the beta or anyone that's heard about it, this will make sense. For others, its just words on a page but hey, who doesn't love words?!

  • Added chat throttling
    • One thing we noticed was over-enthusiastic users could impact performance by sending walls of text over and over. We've added some throttling to stop the overly keen users from sending too much at a time (either accidentally or maliciously)
  • Added a ban system
  • Added IP location lookups when creating a server, to auto-select the region when creating lobbies and make it even easier to create lobbies
  • Added integration with the UGC API. For now this gives us ability to discover if a player has a UGC profile, and link to it if so
  • Increased performance by serving static content in a more cache-friendly way
In addition to these, we've added 2 new members to the team. We have Jayserp from the UK to help out with the server side of things and keep an eye on performance and infrastructure, and we have tstm from down under in Australia to help out with the design implementation. They've already been dipping their feet into the project, and you'll hopefully be able to see some of the cool stuff they're doing soon.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Beta outcomes

So there may have been some confusion over the beta - the beta test held yesterday was a "closed" beta - we invited a handful of people to come try out the site and try and break it. It wasn't available to everyone, we'd mentioned this in previous posts but not in the one announcing the beta date, so sorry for any confusion caused! The beta itself was successful in a way. People broke things we thought would break, and they broke things that we didn't think would break. The good news is that most of the underlying functionality exists and worked - we created and launched a match with people there. There are issues we've spotted and issues that were reported, and we'd like to publicly thank the people that gave up some of their time to help us test - its pretty invaluable for us. We're unfortunately no closer to knowing a launch date - some of the things we need to work on are performance-related, and some are functional-related. One or two need some time spent on them before we're happy, and there's a lot of small fixes that we need to do to. We'll keep you posted here with updates as we get them!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Site Preview

Hey all! Ahead of the beta test on Sunday, we've got a cool video preview of made by Cyan, to demonstrate some of the features that will be coming soon with the site launch.

Enjoy, and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


Just a quick one since it's been too long! Progress continues, and we'll be having a beta test of the site this Sunday. All being well, we'll need some time after that to fix bugs that come up and apply the polish, but we'll keep you posted!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Designs - now with added colour!

So far, we've shown wireframe designs for some of the pages. But that's not all we have, and it's time to put some colour and styling onto those designs! As previously stated, these are the hard work of Mother Tereza, our resident UI designer, so send the kudos towards them if you like them!

There's not a huge amount to say about these at the moment, so I'll largely let the pictures speak for themselves!

Figure 1 - the main lobby page

Figure 2 - lobby page, Highlander

Figure 3 - 6v6 lobby slots 
One thing to point out on figure 3 above, is the slot limitations. We've discussed and investigated this, and almost every 6v6 lobby uses the standard team setup of 2 scouts, 2 soldiers (roamer and pocket), medic, and demo. As such, we've made the page clearer by removing the additional slots.

Figure 4 - Lobby Launched
The server details panel on here contains information for both the game server and the mumble server. While you'll be automatically connected to the game server on launch, the option to join mumble is a manual step (since there may be a legitimate reason you don't want to use it). However, if you do (and we're hoping you do!) then launching mumble and connecting is just a single click away.

Figure 5 - Create Lobby modal
We hope you like then plans! The biggest delay at the moment for getting the site completed is making all of these awesome designs a reality. We're getting there though!

Monday, 29 July 2013

New Features

Let's spend some time going over some of the features that players will see in the TF2Center lobby system, because we think they're pretty cool. Lobbies now-a-days have many pain points that make them not as enjoyable as they could be, and we've spent time and effort to find these points and remove them as best we can.

Missing Players and connection tracking

It's frustrating, isn't it. You spend 10 minutes waiting for a lobby to fill and start, and then someone doesn't turn up. Or drops mid-game. And not only that, but the hassle it seems to cause people to actually report them as missing, you'd think they prefer to play with a huge disadvantage!

Well, not only will we be able to track and display each players current connection status (differentiating between not yet connected, crashed, and genuinely disconnected), but we use this data to automatically report missing players after a set length of time. We've tried to keep this from being too aggressive against players who connect slowly, but we can detect whether you're connecting or just not there, and handle the situation accordingly. This will continue throughout the match, so if someone drops during the match and shows no signs of returning, we'll automatically call in a sub. And if the sub drops, we call in another sub. You get the picture.

Mumble Integration

Everyone likes good team work - that's why we play competitively. Unfortunately lobbies can lack this, and having 9 headless chickens run around isn't fun for either team. In-game voice does a job, but the quality is poor and the delay of a few seconds can be important at times, and is especially frustrating when there are solutions out there that give so many benefits.

Mumble is one of the more popular solutions for TF2 team play - it's easy and free to install, doesn't use much in terms of resources, and comes with a nice discreet overlay that you can move or turn off as desired. As well as hosting a free mumble server for use by all our players in general, every lobby that is created will have dedicated team channels created to allow quick and easy communication. Obviously this only works if people adopt it, but seeing as the gains massively outweigh the installation time, we think it will be great.

Roamer / Pocket seperation

Sometimes it's the little things that make a difference. A standard 6v6 team has 2 scouts, 2 soldiers, demo and a medic. The soldiers are split into roaming soldier and pocket soldier. Well, so are the slots. No more getting into a game and arguing about who is which, decide when you take the slot!

Class restrictions and slot reservations

I've already touched on these in a previous post, but just to highlight the details here again (since we think they add so much). Certain slots can be reserved for friends by use of a custom password. We know this enables "lobby stacking", but it already exists -- it's just now, you won't be getting kicked for no reason over and over again!

Class restrictions add certain requirements onto a class, so that the important classes in a lobby aren't taken by people with no knowledge or experience. Lobby creators can choose to put restrictions on any class or the entire lobby, and restrictions are based on any combination of number of lobbies played, lobby reliability, or overall hours in TF2 (as reported by the Steam API).

Stock servers

There are times when players are calling for a lobby, but no-one has a server available. TF2Center will be hosting so-called "stock lobbies" to help with this, along with a lobby voting system. I'll go into more detail on this at a later date, but the general idea is that players can vote for lobbies they want to see created, and periodically if there are enough votes, we'll spawn that lobby on one of our own servers.

We want TF2Center to be an accurate representation of what the community wants in a lobby system. We have a pretty good idea based on our own experiences and what we've been told by players, but if you have any suggestions then let us know!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Designs - lobbies themselves

Just a quick post today!
So far we've shown you the designs for the main lobby overview page, but now it's time to give you a glimpse of the inner lobby page. As with the last post, these are wire-frames currently. We have the full colour and detailed designs ready, but you don't get to see them...yet!
Figure 1 - The Highlander lobby page, as seen by players
As with the lobby overview, we are aiming to give as much information as possible here, while keeping the interface clean, clear and simple to understand. We want to make it simple for players to log on, join a lobby, select their class and play.
Figure 2 - The 6v6 lobby page, as seen by players
The 6s lobby page is very similar to the Highlander page. We've decided to split out two soldier roles - pocket and roamer - here since it removes confusion once the lobby has started.

One thing that you may note with both screens is the large amount of spectators - there is no limit to the number of spectators in a single lobby. No idle spectators holding up a lobby slot now, so if you're slow then you don't get the class slot, sorry!

The chat window stays available until after the lobby finishes, and so you can continue to ask questions or state issues ("I can't connect guys!") there for the players to see.

The final point of note is the lack of a ready button. The readying-up method used in TF2 Center is different to the method you may have seen on other lobby sites. More on that to come though...

Sunday, 7 July 2013


It's easy to say things are being worked on, without actually giving any information out. It's easier to not say anything at all, since if you fail in some aspects no-one will know. We, however, like the hard way! And it's because of this that over the new few posts, we'll be going into some of the designs for the site, and explaining some of the features. The designs here are all wire-frames at the moment; we do have full colour and details designs for most pages thanks to the hard work of Mother Tereza, but they're not quite ready for public consumption yet.

Figure 1 - The main lobby overview page
Figure 1 above shows the wire-frame design for the main page of TF2 Center. Users will spend the majority of their time there, and so it's important for us to get this page right. We're adding as much information as we can onto this, while (hopefully) keeping it simple and intuitive to use. It's a change to what lobby players will be used to, but we feel that's a good thing!

Figure 2 - Lobby summary, displayed on the home page
Figure 2 shows a lobby summary, and is typical of what you'd see on the home page. The basic lobby information is there - map, match type, location - as well as showing not only the classes needed but also how many of each.

We also introduce restrictions into lobbies. The above example shows that there are restrictions on certain classes, and from the homepage users can open any lobby summary (Figure 3) to see more details about that specific lobby, without having to go into the lobby or leave the homepage. There are a few things of note here that we feel will really enhance lobbies.

Figure 3 - Lobby detail, as seen on the home page
The first new detail of note is slot reservations. Particular classes can be reserved by the lobby leader during creation and protected with a custom password, so that your friends can join without needing to rush in. Players being kicked because the lobby leader is saving a slot will hopefully become a thing of the past, and will make the experience better for both lobby leaders and players alike.

Class restrictions are also introduced here. Restrictions can be placed on an entire lobby or on specific classes, and can be any combination of matches played on TF2 Center, match reliability, and playtime on TF2 obtained through the Steam API (either in total, or on a specific class). Restrictions are set by the lobby creator, and can be fully customised.

Hopefully you agree with us that this shows off some of the features we're introducing. We're aiming for a clean and clear user interface and if you have any thoughts or questions, as always please feel free to get in touch (either through comments here or directly over steam). In the next post, I'll be going into some of the designs of the lobby page itself, so expect to see that posted over the next few days.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Still alive!

We're still here!

Just a note to say that TF2Center is still very much alive and kicking - development is ongoing, but we want to make it great for the players before launch so it takes time. If you don't know who or what we are, check out our About page for more information.

Lessons were learnt from previous months - we won't be giving out a firm release date until we're sure we can commit to making it, but we will be posting regular updates here with progress updates and interesting news about the site.

Best to keep it short and sweet for now, but continue to check back here for progress updates and news!