Hello FirePowered friends and family!
We're working on some big changes to our TF2 server lineup and I wanted to briefly explain why, and what to expect over the course of July.
Goodbye Dead Servers
All our vanilla play servers (the quickplay-eligible ones) that were empty the majority of the time have been cut. For Phoenix that meant Payload Rotation and Featured Rotation. For Ashburn it meant Payload Rotation, and Harvest. Additionally, Ashburn dodgeball was removed because it was by far our worst performing server. I know there's going to be some people saddened by the death of payload because at one point it was one of our most popular servers. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case for over a year now.
Why did it change?
FirePowered isn't as large as it once was, nor is TF2. We grew to as many servers as we had because we had the player base to support it, and those players wanted more choices in both location and maps. Now that we're back to being a more condensed community, our servers should reflect that.
The big takeaway is this: most people have more fun playing with friends on a map they don't love than playing on a map they do love with bots and strangers. Additionally, empty servers have been discouraging everyone who tries to seed our servers above the quickplay threshold from seeding at all. It's hard to motivate anyone to help fill the servers when you look at the server list and you see 0/10 quickplay servers are above the minimum threshold to be in the quickplay pool. This change will allow us to focus our resources on 3-4 servers instead, which also means it will be easier for us to moderate them and keep the atmosphere FP-flavored.
Really, the fewer servers there are, the more often you'll end up running into fellow FP members. And as we all know, where there are a lot of FP members, there is a party. In turn, this will show new people to our servers what a fun group we really are and should help add new and diverse blood into our arteries.
What's on the horizon?
Ashburn 2Fort is also on the chopping block. I was asked to leave it up for now to see if it could get seeded and start a trend in upward mobility. If that doesn't happen, then we must not have the audience to support it and the server will be removed.
Mumble vs Discord: A Showdown
Nothing, yet... We want to hear your feedback. For those of you who use Mumble, how do you feel about using Discord instead? For those of you who use neither, which would you be more likely to use?
The mumble server is in our homepage sideblock, and you can click here to join our Discord server. Feel free to take your time and compare, but I imagine most of you will either have an opinion immediately or not care either way.
Discord is a lower barrier to entry than Mumble. It's newer, designed with gaming in mind, and has a fully-featured chat interface. There are a lot of us on IRC who only use IRC, which also has a fairly high barrier to entry. We have a Discord server already with about 45 people in it, and it may help bridge the gap between the IRC crowd and the voice-chat crowd. Plus, there's all sorts of bot integrations we could potentially do (@UberActivist has been fiddling with that).
I think by replacing Mumble rather than having Discord run side-by-side with it would mean that our members would be consolidated on the same platform and be more likely to interact with one another (see the theme here?).
If needed we can open a thread to vote on it, but I'd like to start with just hearing your opinions.
West never has pulled its own weight. Only a few members actually play on the servers over there, which also means the potential donor pool is very small. Even if every single member who used Phoenix were to become a donor, it wouldn't cover the cost of renting the server hardware. In the short-term that's fine, but our year long contract just ended which means we either need to lock in to another full year to keep the discount we've had all this time, or have to pay ~15% more for the server while renting month-to-month. I don't foresee West ever being able to pay for itself, so once it's removed it will probably never return.
What's on the horizon?
We're planning on shutting down Phoenix near the end of July. Sorry MGE players! We'll need to migrate a bunch of stuff over to Ashburn, such as the Minecraft server, but we'll have plenty of extra resources since we just shut down some TF2 servers. With the way the TF2 servers are setup now, the only map we're actually going to lose is Turbine, but if needed we can start one up on Ashburn. The Phoenix servers will remain online until our rental is up.
I hope this covered all the big stuff. It's been a very long day and I'm off to bed. If I missed anything, I'm sure someone will fill in the blanks!
Edited by UberActivist, 26 June 2016 - 12:00 AM.
Updated Discord link to a permanent one so that people don't have to try to join with an expired link.