How to Host Your Own SPUF Event (It’s Easy!)

Friends, mercenaries, SPUFers, lend me your ears!
Friends, mercenaries, forumites, lend me your ears! Picture from the collection of TF2 Wallpapers here.

The SPUF server has been home to many fun events over the years, from the juggernaut semi-competitive events like SPUF vs. SPUD and ever popular Gunslinger vs. Highlander series, to smaller sillier events like The Guillotine Games and tomorrow’s WAR Update Part 2. Have you ever had an idea for an event, but weren’t sure if you have what it takes to run it?

My first event ever was the first Demoknights vs. Demomen, created by The Pyro King and abandoned by The Pyro King. I still wanted the event to happen and saw many others did too, so I stepped up and took over the event. I PM’ed supremecmdr for the first time asking what I should do to make this event happen, and he walked me through the steps that led to its successful completion. The SPUF community has a network of individuals ready to help anyone who hopes to run their own event, here are some tips of the trade:

Step 1: Come up with a cool idea. Doesn’t even have to be yours; people on SPUF talk about all sorts of things, and most people who offhandedly mention an event would love if someone else picked up the slack. The hilarious Short Curcuit vs. Fan O’ War Fight to the Death happened because somebody jokingly suggested it in another thread and VenomousPastry wanted to see it happen.

Step 2: Contact a SPUF server admin and propose it. John Caveson, Veez, supremecmdr…there are a number of us who know the coming schedule of events, and can let you know how we can incorporate it in. You’ll have to reserve a day from supremecmdr, find a server admin who can be present the day of the event and can prepare the server ahead of time, and probably write the SPUF announcement thread yourself.

Step 3: Decide on specific things potential players will want to know. While writing the SPUF announcement thread, make sure you’ve worked out these details and that all are clearly explained in the OP:
*The time of the event. I almost always pick 6:30 pm GMT, because it’s a fairly balanced time for our N. American and European SPUFers (as is the New York-based SPUF server).
*A description of the event.
*The rules of the event. Are random crits/damage spread enabled? Are any weapons banned? What are the class compositions of each team?
*Provide a link to the SPUF server. SPUF events always use custom server unless supremecmdr otherwise states.
*How players sign up. This gets its own bullet below. I also personally consider it bad form to sign up for your own event until everyone else has had at least 24 hours to join, but not every organizer agrees with me on this.
*The map cycle. Some events leave this open to the players’ votes, but I’ve never seen these votes work very well. If you really can’t decide, find a single friend who understands TF2 balance and talk to them; TheConfusicus is largely responsible for the 3 maps I chose for the Medieval Highlander tournament.

If your OP can clearly state all of these things, it’s a good announcement.

Step 4: Decide how players will join the event. Usually some sort of buffer is necessary to prevent anyone from joining into the event. Early in SPUF history, events often posted a bunch of blank slots, and SPUFers could jump in first-come-first-serve. This proved to have a number of problems; it unfairly favored SPUFers who were online when the announcement was posted, said posters often forgot they signed up due to the minimal attention span posting “oh boy I’ll play!” required, and these two factors combined to make most people miss the event. Since then, we’ve come up with some alternate models that work better:

*Schedule a signup period beginning 24-48 hours after the announcement goes live. This gives enough time for everyone to get a chance to see the announcement, and then if somebody really wants to be in the event, they know when to be online for signups. This works best for events with specialized roles, such as Highlander, where every joiner will need to specify what role they’re going to play.

*No signups, instead it’s first-come-first-serve the day of the event. This works best if everyone will be playing the same class/any class of their choice and it’s less important for specific slots to be reserved. Then you don’t have to worry about signups not showing up because, well, it’s right now. If they sign up, they’ve made the event.

A note on backups: I find reserving backups pointless, and my events never have them. They’re no more likely than primaries to show up, their job can easily be filled by people online at the time of the event, and it sucks to be someone who signed up for a backup slot, arrived on time like they were supposed to, but don’t get to play. But other organizers regularly have backup slots, so you aren’t losing anything by having them. It’s your call.

(The other thing I consider impolite is to sign up for our own event immediately. As the host, you should be in spectate making sure rules are being followed, not to mention that you have an unfair advantage when it comes to securing the spot you want. If you must sign up for your own game, I recommend waiting at least a fair amount of time (I use 24 hours) so that the community members had a chance claim the spot they wanted. Also, if you don’t have backups, you’re the first person who gets to fill a slot if somebody doesn’t show up.)

Step 5: Post the OP. You’ve figured out how everything is going to go down and you’re ready to answer any questions. Post the article and check it frequently. Answer any questions people have and keep people informed about changes in rules or times or servers. Be moderately flexible; sometimes the community requests a rule change and you realize it might actually benefit the event. Enough people said that random crits should be enabled for the Medieval tournament due to melee crits heavily influencing balance, so I added them. But don’t cave in unless you actually agree; not everything the loudest group wants is necessarily a good idea.

People always have problems with time zones, so one polite gesture I like to do is to post the OP at the exact time of day the event will be, and then mention this so that people may use that as a guide for when in their time zone the event will be.

Step 6: Write an announcement for the Daily SPUF. I’m looking at you, John Caveson. >:C

The Daily SPUF covers all SPUF events in the announcements section. Typically, the event organizer writes this announcement, and it usually looks like the SPUF thread OP slightly modified to match the new format. All you really need to do is provide a link to the SPUF thread and find a picture. Gen. DeGroot can help you with that in his Loadout Picture Request Topic if you don’t know how to make a picture yourself.

Step 7: The time of the event, be ready to take charge and help everyone file into place. The admin you got in Step 2 will help with this. You can trust most of the attendees to be capable of joining the server at roughly the right time, and that’s basically it. If people haven’t shown up, try to get ahold of them. If you can’t, find replacements. Ask your friends. Work to get people on the right team and the right class. Notify the admin to kick people who are being disruptive and aren’t signed up for the game. This part can be the most challenging, but it’s the home stretch. Once everyone’s organized, your event begins!

Step 8: Record a demo to upload to Youtube. Once the event is over, recordings will be the way people can look back on your event and reminisce. It’s very easy to record a demo — you just type

record filename

in the console, where filename stands in for whatever you want to name the demo file, and when you want to stop recording, you type

stop

The complicated part isn’t recording, it’s getting the demo into a format that can be uploaded to Youtube and so forth. You can watch demos in TF2 itself by typing

playdemo filename

in the console, and send the files to other people to watch in TF2 as well, but in order to get it bodged into Youtube shape, there’s a bunch of silly kludgey hoops you have to jump through. (Special thanks to Trebel for these instructions!) Personally, at this point I just played the demo while recording in FRAPS then turned the FRAPS video into an .mp4 file with Windows Movie Maker.

And there you go! This is the process I go through every time I run an event. It’s not that hard, just requires a bit of dedication. But it’s worth it when the event is happening and you see a bunch of TF2 players having fun in a format you came up with (or at least put the elbow grease behind). Give it a try; we’re here to help you every step of the way!

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