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Consider reducing the max player cap to 24 for the servers?

 
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2020 12:58 pm Post subject: No icon Consider reducing the max player cap to 24 for the servers? Reply with quote

Heya.

I recently stumbled over the forums after hearing people talk about randomcrits/all-talk yesterday on the nocrit server, so figured I would join the discussion with something else entirely that has been bugging me for a while.

I believe the servers would heavily benefit from lowering the max player cap to 24 instead of the current 28.

While I would be able to understand a 28 player cap if THG only had a single server, we clearly have multiple. "Player overflow" isn't an issue with a second (or even third!) server at hand. Outside of this, a higher player cap offers no advantages and only disadvantages that heavily impact the game negatively for all players on the server.

The reasons why a 28 (or 26) player cap is bad can be summarized in two categories:

- Balancing issues.
TF2 is a game designed around 12vs12. Maps are made around this size, and in a game where a single individual matters a lot, having 4 extra players is a big deal. Several gamemodes become horrible to play (CP, Koth etc.) due to maps being horribly overcrowded, chokes becomes nigh impenetrable due to excessive spam and class balance is thrown out of the window, with Demomen and Soldiers becoming demigods and classes like Scout and Spy no longer being able to pass a choke point without being torn apart due to mentioned excessive spam. There are other gameplay aspects which get screwed due to 28 players (Spies no longer being able to find an empty spot to decloak as easily, Pushes vs. Engineer sentries etc.) and I will gladly list them if asked, but I hope you get the gist of this point. This noticeably makes the game worse to play for a lot of players.

- Performance Issues.
Once again, TF2 is a game made around 12vs12, and is thus optimized around this number of players. Having 4 extra players, each with their own entities attached to them (Hats, weapon models, rockets etc.) puts a much larger stain on performance - and I often see people complain about performance in in-game chat if the game has 28 players. These performance issues can even cause the the server/people to crash! - which does happen. If you are interested in the technical details, the source engine can muster up to 2047 dynamic entities. Any more than that, and it falls on it's knees and often just outright crashes. With most maps and 24 players, this limit is never reached. Throw 4 extra players in which each have their own weapons, stickies, engineer buildings, particles, hats etc. and on certain maps, this limit is bound to be reached, causing certain players or even the entire server to CRASH!.
Needless to say I probably don't have to explain why low FPS/crashing clients is a bad thing.

I made this post after playing on the nocrit server yesterday, which mostly stayed at a player number of 22-24 when I was playing. I noticed I was having much more fun than usual since my performance was a lot better and said balancing issues weren't deteriorating the gameplay. Mind you, a 26 player cap still has these issues, but since it's just 2 extra players, it isn't as much of a deal (even though 24 would still be A LOT better).

I usually try to get a lot of my friends to join, but each pass when seeing the 28 player cap for reasons explained. It's a shame :(

I heavily implore y'all to consider lowering the cap. There are only benefits to be gained for everyone involved.

Thanks for reading.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2020 10:55 pm Post subject: No icon Re: Consider reducing the max player cap to 24 for the serve Reply with quote

First, Welcome!

New ideas/suggestions are always appreciated and considered.  Map player count has already been discussed on multiple occasions (and the most recent discussions are still ongoing) and below are my personal takes on your points in no particular order:


  • We very rarely see server-side crashes. DaV might be able to provide actual stats but I'd be surprised if it was more frequently then reboots for server version updates and config changes.  This might be something that is more prevalent in 32 size servers?  There are a couple of maps that can cause people (not server) to crash but these are generally related to the individual's setting with mat phong being the main culprit.  We tend to avoid known maps where this is an issue.
  • Yes, some maps don't work particularly well with larger player populations, KoTH in particular.  However, the inverse is also true - payloads don't really work with low player counts - and on the whole, player-selected map choice favours those with more flanking routes and looking at map nominations/winning votes, the community has a heavy preference for payload maps with other types making the odd appearance.
  • We have class limits that help encourage reasonably balanced class choices.  Disregarding the complaint of "counter class X keeps killing me", the most common complaint seen on server is a team lacking the heavier classes rather then overpowered with too many of them.  
  • More fps is always better but most people have settings they feel are an acceptable balance between monitor refresh rate, cpu/gpu and graphical niceties.  The map itself contributes a lot more to the frame-rate then 2-4 extra people that most likely aren't in screen anyway when you take point 2 into account.  


Keep in mind gameplay will be different with differing player counts.  6s plays very differently to highlander which in turn plays differently to casual, etc.  None of these modes are objectively better or worse, just individuals will have preferences for one over another.  Our community is not attempting to be a competitive, perfectly balanced game mode.  We actively encourage people to do funny/crazy/random things (provided it's not to the detriment of somebody else's enjoyment).  A larger player count helps with this as one player's actions have a little less influence on the match so doesn't prevent objectives from being achieved.  If this is not to you or your friends liking that's fine - we'll be here for when you want to kick back and relax instead of having to be rather more focused in the competitive scene or a break from the random-strangerness of casual.

I'd be delighted if you and your friends are able to help populate #2 (the no crit/fixed spread server) during the week as it may help #2 return to it's previous levels of activity throughout the week instead of just being active on Sundays and occasionally Saturdays.  With the 25th and 26th slots being hidden it does trend towards the 24 player count.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2020 11:26 pm Post subject: No icon Re: Consider reducing the max player cap to 24 for the serve Reply with quote

Derfy wrote (View Post):
First, Welcome!

New ideas/suggestions are always appreciated and considered.  Map player count has already been discussed on multiple occasions (and the most recent discussions are still ongoing) and below are my personal takes on your points in no particular order:


  • We very rarely see server-side crashes. DaV might be able to provide actual stats but I'd be surprised if it was more frequently then reboots for server version updates and config changes.  This might be something that is more prevalent in 32 size servers?  There are a couple of maps that can cause people (not server) to crash but these are generally related to the individual's setting with mat phong being the main culprit.  We tend to avoid known maps where this is an issue.
  • Yes, some maps don't work particularly well with larger player populations, KoTH in particular.  However, the inverse is also true - payloads don't really work with low player counts - and on the whole, player-selected map choice favours those with more flanking routes and looking at map nominations/winning votes, the community has a heavy preference for payload maps with other types making the odd appearance.
  • We have class limits that help encourage reasonably balanced class choices.  Disregarding the complaint of "counter class X keeps killing me", the most common complaint seen on server is a team lacking the heavier classes rather then overpowered with too many of them.  
  • More fps is always better but most people have settings they feel are an acceptable balance between monitor refresh rate, cpu/gpu and graphical niceties.  The map itself contributes a lot more to the frame-rate then 2-4 extra people that most likely aren't in screen anyway when you take point 2 into account.  


Keep in mind gameplay will be different with differing player counts.  6s plays very differently to highlander which in turn plays differently to casual, etc.  None of these modes are objectively better or worse, just individuals will have preferences for one over another.  Our community is not attempting to be a competitive, perfectly balanced game mode.  We actively encourage people to do funny/crazy/random things (provided it's not to the detriment of somebody else's enjoyment).  A larger player count helps with this as one player's actions have a little less influence on the match so doesn't prevent objectives from being achieved.  If this is not to you or your friends liking that's fine - we'll be here for when you want to kick back and relax instead of having to be rather more focused in the competitive scene or a break from the random-strangerness of casual.

I'd be delighted if you and your friends are able to help populate #2 (the no crit/fixed spread server) during the week as it may help #2 return to it's previous levels of activity throughout the week instead of just being active on Sundays and occasionally Saturdays.  With the 25th and 26th slots being hidden it does trend towards the 24 player count.


While I am aware these are personal points I do feel a bit of stuff is off from my perspective.

I can't exactly see how Payload doesn't work with a playercount of 24 players - that is quite literally the playercount the entire gamemode was designed around. Why do you believe Payload "suffers" from the default playercount of 24 - what benefits do you see in payload being populated by more players?

Payload being the choice of the playerbase of the server is the natural consequence of the playercap. Can't exactly pick something other than Payload when the other gamemodes play vastly worse due to the higher cap...

As far as the class limits go, that doesn't exactly change that the game balance is still thrown off entirely. It doesn't matter if the extra players are playing heavy, pyro etc. - it's still more meat across the map. If anything that actually raises the point that having a lower max cap makes it less likely for a class limit to be reached in the first place, which is something good, since people get to play the class they want to.

Making comparisons with 6s and Highlander feels off to me, as each of these come with their own other restrictions to the rules that aren't just playercount. 28 player vanilla TF2 is just... well, worse usual player-count TF2 for reasons explained.

And I know THG isn't exactly aimed to be competitive. The point I was trying to make was that a higher playercount than 24 actively makes the game worse both for the tryhards and the casual players that just screw around. In the early ages of TF2 I used to frequent a server that is much like THG - except 24 players - with the same kind of "mentality" of "just have fun, dude.", and it worked just fine, with players being able to screw around as much as they want, matches and objectives were still met. I - and quite frankly the people I wanted to introduce to the server - are not competitive players. THG isn't a place I "go for a break to" - it's kind of the only way to play vanilla TF2 properly in the EU nowadays, since casual is horrible and bot-ridden and all the other community servers are just stuff like 24/7 hightower or ride heavily away from vanilla TF2. THG is as close as you can get to the good ol' community server, vanilla TF2 in which you can play the actual game while still screwing around and seeing familiar faces. That's why I made the post after all, since something I like could be a lot better.

Regarding the suggestion to try to populate the third server, the people I was talking about were single individuals over the course of months/years. I wish I had a designated group of friends to ring up to fill it up, but sadly that isn't in my cards.

Alas, thanks for responding with your take on the subject. I appreciate it.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2020 9:55 pm Post subject: No icon Re: Consider reducing the max player cap to 24 for the serve Reply with quote

Hi,

You're actually one of the first people to mention to me regarding a reduction in the player count. I've had a few others in the relatively recent past ask about increasing the maximum player count, which isn't really an option.

Regarding crash stats - we've had 2 crashes after the Halloween map update. Prior to that, we had 1 - 2 crashes in over 12 months. Server stability really isn't an issue here.

The vast majority of the time, it's only #1 that's filled every night. You mention that "player overflow" isn't an issue but that's a little too simplistic. In theory yes, we have enough players to fill multiple players and like Derfy, I'd also be delighted if we could consistently fill 2 servers every night.

However the reality is actually quite different. It's hard to fill (and keep full) 2 servers and generally, the lower player count server acts almost as a donor server to the other one. Sometimes it works the other way, but ultimately the result is the same. One server stays full, the other empties.
People also enjoy playing with certain members of the community for a variety of reasons (team work, atmosphere, comms, banter etc) and splitting across two servers counter-acts that.

Peak time for #1 results in a full server every night often with multiple people queuing. Filling a second server would alleviate some of that pressure, but #1 is still hard enough to get in at the best of times. Dropping the count to 24 makes it even harder for people to get in - with some likely choosing to go play another game rather than queue or join a mostly empty server.

Having the player count at 28 is an imperfect trade-off. It pushes some maps to their limits (subjective, though, some maps are worse than others), but overall it's designed to allow the maximum numbers of players we can reasonably get on a single server without it becoming too chaotic.

As Derfy mentioned, #2 is close to 24 slots, with only 2 secret slots which is closer to your desired maximum of 24.


DaV
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2020 10:13 pm Post subject: No icon Re: Consider reducing the max player cap to 24 for the serve Reply with quote

DaV wrote (View Post):
Hi,

You're actually one of the first people to mention to me regarding a reduction in the player count. I've had a few others in the relatively recent past ask about increasing the maximum player count, which isn't really an option.

Regarding crash stats - we've had 2 crashes after the Halloween map update. Prior to that, we had 1 - 2 crashes in over 12 months. Server stability really isn't an issue here.

The vast majority of the time, it's only #1 that's filled every night. You mention that "player overflow" isn't an issue but that's a little too simplistic. In theory yes, we have enough players to fill multiple players and like Derfy, I'd also be delighted if we could consistently fill 2 servers every night.

However the reality is actually quite different. It's hard to fill (and keep full) 2 servers and generally, the lower player count server acts almost as a donor server to the other one. Sometimes it works the other way, but ultimately the result is the same. One server stays full, the other empties.
People also enjoy playing with certain members of the community for a variety of reasons (team work, atmosphere, comms, banter etc) and splitting across two servers counter-acts that.

Peak time for #1 results in a full server every night often with multiple people queuing. Filling a second server would alleviate some of that pressure, but #1 is still hard enough to get in at the best of times. Dropping the count to 24 makes it even harder for people to get in - with some likely choosing to go play another game rather than queue or join a mostly empty server.

Having the player count at 28 is an imperfect trade-off. It pushes some maps to their limits (subjective, though, some maps are worse than others), but overall it's designed to allow the maximum numbers of players we can reasonably get on a single server without it becoming too chaotic.

As Derfy mentioned, #2 is close to 24 slots, with only 2 secret slots which is closer to your desired maximum of 24.


DaV


That's fair, and I can see why the "player overflow" comment might've been a bit too simplistic.

However, the way I see it is the following: Would you rather want 4 extra people playing and make the game worse for a decent chunk of the audience currently on the server, or would you rather have less people playing, but have the people in-game actually have a better time? It's definitely a tough question, however from my perspective the positive of 24 outweighs the negative of it (in this server's situation).

If you don't believe so, a cap of 26 is still an option. I'm confident this was already thought of before, but I'd argue reconsidering the status quo will overall benefit the server(s).
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2020 10:02 am Post subject: No icon Re: Consider reducing the max player cap to 24 for the serve Reply with quote

DaV wrote (View Post):
I've had a few others in the relatively recent past ask about increasing the maximum player count, which isn't really an option.
DaV


It's funny as I was going to suggest this :)

I don't get on much down days due to work, life blah blah, so the only time I go get on is about the time the server dies down, especially if I have been queuing to get on, which as you can imagine is frustrating.

I've seen the admins try to encourage the other server to fill up, and even seen them move to the other server, but then the problem is everyone inevitably follows to the new server and the other one quickly empties.


DaV wrote (View Post):

People also enjoy playing with certain members of the community for a variety of reasons (team work, atmosphere, comms, banter etc) and splitting across two servers counter-acts that.

DaV


+1 .The reason I play here and why I  guessing it's always full is...

Random pannings, competitive but light hearted, friendliness, like being welcomed when I join the server (Aeryn etc <3), reflecting suski's rockets, Baguette trying to push ppl off cliffs and herself falling off, Boris's murderous suicide pyro runs (and evil laughs after), Jeff's terrible terrible jokes, Daves sniper humpings, new maps and the list goes on...

My wish is that the server goes on a little later than the 9pm drop off, which is understandable due to there being some many EU players on the server (time differences).

Maybe that's something we need to take on our shoulders as a community to find out a core group of people that can/would play longer, like a THG after party of something ;)

I've tried playing casual and it really is the dredges of humanity. Also, apologies for agreeing some much with DaV, I am off to sit on the naughty step

Gilly Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:19 am Post subject: No icon Re: Consider reducing the max player cap to 24 for the serve Reply with quote

will prepare the naughty step for you gilly, complete with lift muzac if we can find a plug in for it and no escape for 2 mins.... Very Happy

i think another problem with the 9pm drof off a the moment is the server fills alot earlier due to lockdown, so a bit of tf2 fatigue sets in by then and other games are played instead.......however if there are some that would be willing to start later and finish later that would be good as i also know not everyone wants to, or is able to, jump on the server at 4.45pm, and i count myself in that bracket, so i will go to the no crit server instead if i see a few waiting, or if someone lets me know they are going to try and start it up.  sometimes this works and we have 2 going in conjunction for quite a long time, other times it does not and the servers end up merging.  i am not sure there is ever going to be a solution to this......especially as many of the community come from mainland europe so are one or two hours ahead of us....
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2020 7:56 pm Post subject: No icon Re: Consider reducing the max player cap to 24 for the serve Reply with quote

I am the exact opposite of OP on this one, I would like the server limit to be put up to 32.

Much like Gilly, I really can't be fucked having to wait for 20 - 40 mins every single time I want to join unless I get on at 5pm.

We never have enough players to fill both servers during the week, but we ALWAYS have more players than the fun server's max.

The fun server is supposed to be a non-serious place, I really don't see why balance is that big of an issue.

Performance wise? Its TF2 so its always going to run somewhat badly due to the way its coded. If you really want to increased performance how about we start talking about banning unusuals? They are a big part of performance issues Razz

Jokes aside, lowering the player count is just going to cause more anger for more people.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2020 9:07 am Post subject: No icon Re: Consider reducing the max player cap to 24 for the serve Reply with quote

A partial solution I would suggest - is organise a weekly highlander match for the community. Play two or three maps in a 9v9 configuration, once a week.

At least then you get a regular opportunity to play the game in its intended format.

It also helps the queuing issue, in that players can reserve their slot ahead of time.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2020 9:12 am Post subject: No icon Re: Consider reducing the max player cap to 24 for the serve Reply with quote

Sam wrote (View Post):
A partial solution I would suggest - is organise a weekly highlander match for the community. Play two or three maps in a 9v9 configuration, once a week.

At least then you get a regular opportunity to play the game in its intended format.

It also helps the queuing issue, in that players can reserve their slot ahead of time.


I would be up for this, might take a lot to organise tho, but I am sure regs (like myself) would be willing to help the admin organise and herding ppl together
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2020 9:22 am Post subject: No icon Re: Consider reducing the max player cap to 24 for the serve Reply with quote

Sam wrote (View Post):
A partial solution I would suggest - is organise a weekly highlander match for the community. Play two or three maps in a 9v9 configuration, once a week.

At least then you get a regular opportunity to play the game in its intended format.

It also helps the queuing issue, in that players can reserve their slot ahead of time.


I appreciate the sentiment and idea but that wasn't exactly what I had in mind. I really am mostly interested in normal pub TF2 - except the players on the servers are actual players (which can't be said about Casual Matchmaking.)

"Highlander" isn't exactly TF2's intended format either.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2020 5:44 pm Post subject: No icon Re: Consider reducing the max player cap to 24 for the serve Reply with quote

Sorry, thought I'd posted a response to you shortly after you responded but I don't see it (might have hit preview instead of submit?)  A (somewhat) shortened rehash is  

bigtimerush wrote (View Post):

I can't exactly see how Payload doesn't work with a playercount of 24 players - that is quite literally the playercount the entire gamemode was designed around. Why do you believe Payload "suffers" from the default playercount of 24 - what benefits do you see in payload being populated by more players?

by low player counts I was more thinking of 6s rather then 24 (i.e. KotH is a direct opposite to payload).

bigtimerush wrote (View Post):

Payload being the choice of the playerbase of the server is the natural consequence of the playercap. Can't exactly pick something other than Payload when the other gamemodes play vastly worse due to the higher cap...

While this might be true for some players map voting/nominations (and I'd agree it's certainly a factor for some of the other players choices) - there are players on the server who just do not like other map modes regardless of player count.  As usual with any significantly diverse population, there are also those who prefer non-payload.  

A thought I'm having as I rewrite this is: - As far as I know nobody has ever done a survey/poll to find the TF2 population's map preferences and how they change as player count increases.  Might see if I can arrange for one with questions asking for preferred map type regardless of player count and preferred map type at each common server limits - 12 (6s), 18 (highlander), 24 (casual), 28 (us), 32 (some other community servers).  Could also add a question per map type for what is the maximum player count you would play this map type at.

bigtimerush wrote (View Post):

As far as the class limits go, that doesn't exactly change that the game balance is still thrown off entirely. It doesn't matter if the extra players are playing heavy, pyro etc. - it's still more meat across the map. If anything that actually raises the point that having a lower max cap makes it less likely for a class limit to be reached in the first place, which is something good, since people get to play the class they want to.

As sniper is the most common limit complaint (followed closely by spy for non-regulars or pyro for regulars) I suspect we'd need to be heading towards highlander player counts before we'd regularly see open slots.

bigtimerush wrote (View Post):

Making comparisons with 6s and Highlander feels off to me, as each of these come with their own other restrictions to the rules that aren't just playercount. 28 player vanilla TF2 is just... well, worse usual player-count TF2 for reasons explained.

Most of those restrictions are either a direct cause of the playercount (in 6s, mobility is king so the most mobile classes have a higher limit, highlander playercount is set to ensure 1 of each class is represented) or an attempt to remove weapons tournament organisers feel are imbalanced at that particular player count (c.f. the difference in 6s and highlander allowlists [aka whitelists]).

bigtimerush wrote (View Post):

And I know THG isn't exactly aimed to be competitive.

I didn't recognise your forum name so I wasn't sure if you were a newcomer, semi-regular/part-timer or newly signed up regular so thought I'd put the full explanation to cover all bases - even if you fell into the later categories other readers may not.  DaV and BigT both told me your in-game name shortly after I posted.

bigtimerush wrote (View Post):

The point I was trying to make was that a higher playercount than 24 actively makes the game worse both for the tryhards and the casual players that just screw around.

I think this is the heart of the issue - the ideal playercount for any server is a balancing act between gameplay, active playing population (those who are all trying to join the server at the same time) and total server population (those who are aware of the server and will play at some point).  All 3 of these are subjective not objective and therefore result in different people settling at different points in that balance.  


bigtimerush wrote (View Post):

THG isn't a place I "go for a break to" - it's kind of the only way to play vanilla TF2 properly in the EU nowadays, since casual is horrible and bot-ridden and all the other community servers are just stuff like 24/7 hightower or ride heavily away from vanilla TF2. THG is as close as you can get to the good ol' community server, vanilla TF2 in which you can play the actual game while still screwing around and seeing familiar faces.

This is both nice to hear and saddening at the same time.  

bigtimerush wrote (View Post):

That's why I made the post after all, since something I like could be a lot better.

I (and hopefully everybody on the server) always want to see positive discussions - no other way to get improvements that everyone buys into and agrees with.

bigtimerush wrote (View Post):

Regarding the suggestion to try to populate the third server, the people I was talking about were single individuals over the course of months/years. I wish I had a designated group of friends to ring up to fill it up, but sadly that isn't in my cards.

Ah ok, I though you meant a group of you looking for a place to play consistently.  Most of us (myself included) don't have that charisma to fill up a server, sadly.
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bigtimerush
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 3:41 pm Post subject: No icon Re: Consider reducing the max player cap to 24 for the serve Reply with quote

Derfy wrote (View Post):
-snip-


I appreciate you coming back to give a response despite the original getting lost, not sure if I would've bothered.

I reflected upon what I posted & your response and ultimately came to the conclusion that what I am asking for is essentially just me trying to potentially form THG into something which I truly miss, which is basically an old Community Server from like 2012- 2015~. Just a 24 player, critvote, vanilla community server where most maps/gamemodes are played without a major bias and players are decently competitively minded while still fooling around a bit.

After having looked at the playerbase the last few days and thinking about it a bit more, I accepted that it was silly of me to suggest that, and that a playercap of 24 is ultimately not fitting for the playerbase THG currently has. The closest to that old server I frequented is the nocrit server on sundays when Kaibz and a few specific players join in and heavily change the tone of the server, but even that one is mostly active for 3-4 maps until it fizzles out - 1 day of a week.
The way I used to think about and enjoy TF2 and the like simply isn't exactly available anymore due to a variety of circumstances (playerbase shift/valve changes to community servers), so I really shouldn't try to force that on an audience that is differently minded and simply move on.

Sorry if the initial post/response came off a bit harsh.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2020 2:36 am Post subject: No icon Re: Consider reducing the max player cap to 24 for the serve Reply with quote

The valve change to hide community servers from the easy join/search really did kill off a lot of communities due to a lack of exposure to newbies Sad
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