Friday, April 25, 2008

Team Fortress 2 General things to know if you want to host your own server, and a quick review!

Team Fortress 2

General things to know if you want to host your own Team Fortress 2 TF2 server, and a quick review!

(I’m going to take a break from the usual Telecom/T1articles and throw in one for fun. If you don’t play video games, or you’re not interested in this article, don’t read this article and simply enjoy my past articles.)

After nearly ten years after it was first announced, and many failed designs, the Valve Corporation has finally released Team Fortress 2. I’ve been playing it since the first week of Beta and I have to say, the game is more fun than words can explain. For those of you who don’t know, Team Fortress 2 is a multiplayer team-based FPS (First Person Shooter). The original Team Fortress was a free mod created with the Quake game engine. Team Fortress 2, or TF2 as the Internet crowd fondly calls it, was also originally supposed to be free until the Valve Corporation came in to employ the development team behind the game. A simple port of the original Quake Team Fortress game was released under the name Team Fortress Classic (TFC), to buy time as the sequel was being developed.As this happened, an entirely new game called Team Fortress 2 was being developed with features that sounded a lot like what would appear in the Electronic Arts’ “Battlefield” franchise (Battlefield 1942, Battlefield 2, etc). All news on the game abruptly ended and news about the game and its release came and went several times. During a July 2006 Electronic Arts conference, Valve announced that Team Fortress 2 would be released with Half-Life 2: Episode Two. The beta version of the game was available in the Orange Box pre-sale package September 17, 2007 on Steam, followed by the official release of Orange Box on October 10, 2007.


Since this game is designed for 24 players in a server (some servers may set their max at 32 players), you’re going to need a decent system and broadband provider to play efficiently. For those of you who want to run a server, you’re going to need to look into the various companies that offer servers to host your personal or clan server.The most important thing for a server is its ping and stability.

When players search for a game, they want to find the server with the best latency. Once they decide which server to join, they’ll play and will stay if the server runs the game without any chocks, lag or lockups. If it’s a personal server and you’re hosting the game on an Ethernet connection, like say, out of a PC Gaming place or for a LAN party, it would be recommended to at least have Cable or DSL. With that being said, you shouldn’t expect to be able to host more than one server, and it may lag for anyone connecting out of the actual LAN.

The best bet for you if you wanted a consistent, dedicated server is to rent out server with 100 ticks, and a solid T1 line. If you want better than a T1 line, you should go for a 100 Meg fast Ethernet line at a collocation data center. Ask the host provider if their T1 lines or Ethernet lines are oversubscribed. An oversubscribed line can lead to lag and other problems that will make your server less desirable to other players. Find out the subscription ratio. 2:1 ratio or less is best. The prices may range between $50 to $100 dollars depending on what hosting company you decide to go with. Remember to compare different plans and the different features each company offers. Some may offer multiple servers in their price, whereas some may only provide one. Plus, see if you can get an SLA to guarantee quality of service. You don’t want to sign a contract and not have any protection against a shady hosting company. You’re paying for a dedicated service and your game should have continuous streaming.

You should also think about whether or not you want people on the other side of the country connecting to your server. Many servers ping over 100 or more to players in Los Angeles if the host is in New York. The ping may range between 300-700 if someone in Los Angeles was to connect to a server in London, or vice versa. I remember the days when I used dial-up to play video games, and 150 ping was pretty good, but anything over 100 will get complaints from gamers nowadays. A good hosting provider will have low ping guarantees for roundtrip packet times across the country which should be detailed in their SLA agreement. The lower ms the better. Networks with good peering should be highly considered. Good peering arrangements on the ISP’s network will guarantee good playability for everyone regardless of where they are located and what network they are on. I’ve even seem some servers ask for donations to keep it up and running. That may be an option for you if your server is highly popular. Assuming some of the visitors of your server actually donate, you can save some cash.


The designers of the game seem to have everything perfectly balanced. Spawn camping, a problem with many FPS games, is difficult to accomplish for long. Team classes also have counter-classes (i.e. Pyro counter spy, but spy counters engineers, etc) so that no one class is the dominating class. In fact, this is a game where even if you’re not being Rambo by single-handedly taking out the opposing team, you can still feel like you’re contributing big; either by healing as a medic, providing defense with sentry guns as an engineer, or scouting as a spy from behind the enemy. Valve really emphasized the “team” in Team Fortress. Personally, I think this game is off the hook. One problem with the game is its little number of maps, but Valve assures us that they are working on new maps. The cartoony style that resembles that of Disney/Pixar’s “The Incredibles” really gives a fun atmosphere when you play. I can go on and on about this game that was 9 years in the making.Will this beat Counter-Strike (another game that was originally a free mod that Valve bought rights to) in popularity? I don’t know, Counter-Strike was ridiculously popular, and still has a huge fan base. I think Team Fortress will hold its own, though. After being one of the most highly anticipated games for 9 years and still not disappoint, Valve has another winner in its hands.

If you play, you can visit my clan’s ([Comrade]) server New York server hosted by

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:Minimum: 1.7 GHz Processor, 512MB RAM, DirectX® 8 level Graphics Card, Windows® Vista/XP/2000, Mouse, Keyboard, Internet ConnectionRecommended: Pentium 4 processor (3.0GHz, or better), 1GB RAM, DirectX® 9 level Graphics Card, Windows® Vista/XP/2000, Mouse, Keyboard, Internet Connection