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!


  1. do you have to have you´re own server to host or can I use one off yours?
    And how many servers do you have and will be having?

    1. The stock servers will automatically spawn new lobbies as they are voted in by the online players, so for example if there are 12 people not in a lobby, but voting for a Badwater lobby, then it will be created and managed by TF2Center automatically.

      We're starting off with a handful of stock servers that we manage ourselves (since we don't know how well this feature will take off), but it's simple to expand this number out if demand is there.

      However if you do have a private server, you can use that to host the lobby too!


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