Hello everyone, after more than 9 years of hosting gameservers and providing a community/clan for players to join, I have decided to fully stop doing so by the end of this month. While I am not that happy to take this step, I have given this a good thought and eventually decided for it. Basically, later this month, all of FoG’s public and private gameservers as well as most related servers (such as SourceBans, Demos, etc.) are going to be taken offline. The contracts with each of our gameserver hosts have already been cancelled. Now, before I go into a bit more details, I would like to list several reasons which ultimately lead into the decision to close everything down. Even though the sections are pretty long, to get the full picture, please still take the time to read them. There’s only a very small TL;DR at the end. Valve’s lack of support for player-hosted servers Spoiler Over the past few years, I (and pretty much every other “legit” server host in TF2) had to watch how Valve more and more drove people away from player-hosted servers over to their own, resulting in the death of, for example, Dustbowl, 2Fort and (to an extent) Randomizer - basically all our “standard” servers. The process started in January of 2014, when Valve decided to make Quickplay default to their own servers. While the effect of this change was not immediately noticeable at first (at least for us), it showed more and more as time progressed. Over time, I saw player numbers drop by at least 50%+. This also caused the “great server purge” of 2014, where a lot of smaller-sized communities already closed shop. Now, Valve (somewhat) did that with a reason. Back then, a lot of “communities”, or rather, server farms existed whose sole purpose was to farm money, used certain plugins to fake player counts and direct traffic from Quickplay to their servers, thus producing revenue. Instead of actually solving the problem (e.g. actually banning those servers or making the requirements for entering in Quickplay more strict), Valve decided to take the lazy route and lock everyone out. Even though this change was a pretty drastic one, some of our servers (2Fort) still managed to somewhat survive. As time went on, Valve added more and more features which were exclusive to their own servers, such as the whole contract system, which, again, only grants rewards on their own servers. This eventually also caused me to not host any halloween servers last year, considering noone would join anyways. The eventual final nail in the coffin was put when the MyM update came out, which entirely scrapped Quickplay and instead added today’s MM system. This system, by design, only connects to Valve official servers, thus cutting off pretty much all newer/lazier players who do not wish or are too inexperienced to use the server browser.. However, this problem is not only limited to TF2. A similar turn of events happened in CS:GO with the whole fake econ items debacle. Back in 2015, Valve asked all server owners to stop using any plugins which alter a player’s econ items. I immediately (well, on the next day at least), decided to take measures and removed the !knife and !ws plugins from our servers. Unfortunately, similarly to TF2, certain bad actors still continued to run those plugins and “avoided” bans by using so-called token services, where you can buy GSLT tokens for cheap. Instead of simply patching out the “exploit” (similarly to how you cannot see unowned hats/items in TF2), they decided to simply do.. nothing. Thus, if you want to have any stable population and be able to compete with the bad actors, you have to run those plugins yourself. This is the reason I re-enabled the plugins several months ago. There have also been made several attempts to get Valve to talk with server owners about the whole community server situation. with low success rates. All in all, I don’t really think anything is really going to change any time soon. Now, some of you may say that our servers still get a lot of players. While that’s true, the player counts are still quite a bit lower than some years ago, and less stable. Additionally, I don’t host any “base game” servers anymore, such as 2Fort, DB, etc. Lack of motivation Spoiler With all of the inaction or lazy actions by Valve, I slowly began to lose motivation more and more. Certain people (may) have already noticed it, e.g. me denying to create the level/ranks system for TF2, implement certain (bigger) suggestions, the multi-mod server etc. Despite me trying to offload certain tasks to other people (such as admin management to Avaritia), a big chunk of the administration / development work still falls back to me, mainly due to security concerns (not going to hand out root access to anyone) / knowledge or, in case of development work, people simply jumping off. Add to that that I have now been working in a job as a software developer for 3 years, which itself is a mentally demanding, I just don’t feel like spending even more hours doing stuff like that. Eventually, I decided to only do the bare minimum required to continue running the servers, which in the long-term is not really healthy for a community either. Personal issues Spoiler While I don’t want to disclose them publicly, I have been having some personal issues that need to be taken care of. An aspect of that is also taking a proper vacation once in a while, which I haven’t done for a good while. In summary, with all of the (more or less) recent changes made by Valve, as well as my own lack of motivation and the issues I have been having, it does not really make much sense to me continue doing this. Details After explaining my reasoning in the previous section, I would now like to explain how the shutdown is going to affect each service / service group in more details. Gameservers Coming as a no surprise to anyone, with the shutdown, all gameservers, both public as well as private (such as test servers), are going to be taken offline permanently. To inform all regulars / players ahead of time, I am going to replace all server chat adverts with a single one pointing to this thread. Moreover, all video/audio adverts (the monetized ones) are going to be removed as well, considering that I no longer need the money to run the servers. Once the servers have been taken offline, they’ll no longer show up in your favorites/history, or will be marked as offline on server ranking sites (GameTracker). If, by some miracle, Valve reverts some of their community-destroying measures or stop being lazy (highly unlikely, but who knows) and the whole hosting situation improves, I may open a community some far away time in the future, under a different name, For that, I will be backing up the config files / specific plugins for the servers. Gameserver-related services All services, which are directly related to the gameservers, are also going to be taken offline permanently. This includes, but is not limited to, the following: SourceBans The demo site Alt lookup / player tracking Reporting (bot / site) Donation bots All recorded player times (Surf) gameMe After the gameservers have been shutdown, all related servers are going to be taken offline as well and all of their data deleted permanently (all bans, player connection logs, etc.). Unlike the gameservers, these serve no real historical purpose or are barely useful for possible / future hostings, therefore, I am not going to take backups of those. Some scripts I may still keep for future reference. If you wish to take screenshots of your times, stats, etc., please do so until the end of October. Some of the relevant plugins (e.g. the TImer) may become open-source, in case someone else wants to host a server using them. Forums Due to the fact that all of our previous SR reports (more than 4,000) including all evidence are still hosted on the forums, those are going to remain online. Especially considering that hosting a low-traffic site like ours is pretty inexpensive, there is no real harm in simply keeping the forums online. After the deadline (when the gameservers are taken offline), the forum will remain largely open, as in, new posts can be created. The only exceptions are certain sections which are tightly related to the gameservers, mainy: Admin applications (these have already been locked down more than a week ago) Ban appeals Reports Anything server-related (basically both, “Team Fortress 2 servers” and “CS:GO servers” sections) If the activity on the forums dies down entirely, or it still causes to much trouble/work to manage, they may also be locked down entirely in the future. Then only serving as an archive. Currently, I am still not sure how to proceed with new user registrations, may leave those open for a while though as well. As for ranks, basically none apart from “Administrator” (aka. me) will remain. Staff which remain part of the community till the end will be put into special groups, giving access to the admin-only sections and serving a a badge of honor in some way.. FoG Trade / Filehost / LZ Archive On our trade-side of affairs, everything will keep running and be functional even after the shutdown. This, again, is because all evidence (the never one) is hosted there and I would otherwise have to transfer all data over to SR, which causes some data privacy issues. Here, the main changes will be that no new reports can be made anymore and the file host will only accept uploads from the trade site directly and from a very limited user circle. All appeals for FoG tags on SR will still be handled by us, at least as long our trade moderators are willing to do so. Once that is no longer the case, SR is going to take over (already talked to them a while ago). Donations Considering only very very few people knew in advance that the community is going to close, I have decided to do refunds to everyone whose VIP perks would only expire after November 1st this year. The amount you receive is calculated day-exact and is relative to the amount you have donated. For example, if you have donated for an entire year ($40), you’d get ~10 cents/day, while for everything below that, you instead would get ~16 cents (discounts). If you have donated with items, today’s refined worth of keys will be used to calculate the fractions. Detailed refund amounts (for easier access in $, if you donated via Items, you’ll receive an equivalent amount in keys/refined/skins): Spoiler Marce_ - $1 נαмεs - $1.33 Lain - $2 ArvidG03SWE - $2.5 Duchess - $1.65 ˣᴰ Poi ツ - $3 wizardhat - $3.66 shin - $3.17 chris_ - $3.84 Bot Useless - $6.33 Mr.Nub :3 - $8.5 Mild - $16.65 Tikupra - $21.04 .ax - $22.46 * Krazyclass - $23.34 * Spicy Tacos - $25.10 * BuffedNexus - $28.38 PixelPornMan - $31.78 * = People who have donated using the bots. Keep in mind that the amounts above were calculated using the minimum amount required for each “tier” / timed package. In case you donated more than that, the amount you are going to receive will be higher as well. As I have disabled donations on October 1st already, I only consider VIP perks which expire after November 1st (as mentioned). People who have paid for permanent VIP perks are not going to receive a refund, as: No new lifetime perks could be bought since the start of 2017 The amount one paid to receive “lifetime” perks was much lower than the one you had to pay to receive year-long ones, thus already acting as a one-year payment. All refunds will be distributed by the end of October. If you wish to receive yours early, please send me a message on Steam or the forums. Keep in mind though that it may take a few days for me to respond, as contrary to the set date at the end of October, I don’t have taken a day or so off to process such requests. Timeframe Here’s a list of important dates you should keep in mind: 03/10/2018 (today) - public announcement about closure 26/10/2018 - 27/10/2018 - refund processing 27/10/2018 - 31/10/2018 - server backups, some preparation for the shutdown 31/10/2018 - 01/11/2018 - offline date for all public/private gameservers 01/11-2018 - later - offline date for gameserver-related services (SB, demos, etc.) Thanks to all current and past admins who have taken care of the servers during the past years, as well as all of our regular players! If it weren’t for the reasons listed above, I would still continue hosting, as the current crew / regulars are chill and nice to talk with. Moreover, the professionalism has improved a great deal over the past years. Special thanks to Downy, Downie/Watson for handling most of the community for 2+ years. You were a big help. Also thanks to Yoda/Avaritia for taking off a small load and handling the staff in the past year. Another special thanks goes out to Chickpoint who has been very supportive to me and the community in general. However, as the saying goes, everything has to come to an end once. If you have any further questions, feel free to post below! This thread is also going to be posted as an announcement in our public Steam group. PS: As a general thanks for all the support over the years, I will be hosting a multiple-$100 Steam Giftcard giveaway as well, more infos on that later.