Community Server Trading Integration

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OwnerGeel
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Note: this is a "call-to-arms" post; we're sharing an idea we have that we'd like to implement, but we need your feedback and thoughts on how best to move forward, if at all. If you own or operate a community server, we'd especially like your thoughts on how you'd use this system!

Over the past 7 years, we've built a powerful Steam trading infrastructure that enables us to provide a lot of really cool services. There's no doubt that ScrapTF's level of user activity is directly related to our TF2 trading network. We'd like to provide access to this same trading infrastructure for community TF2 servers, to enable them to provide their own unique and interesting services. 

 

The Basics

Essentially, we'd like to provide community servers the ability to send and receive TF2 items to and from players on their server. Hosting even a single trading bot is difficult business, and building something like ScrapTF is on another level entirely. Our proposed system would allow community server owners to do all of this without ever needing to worry about hosting a bot, delivering items to users, or tracking items users send them. 

Here's how it'd go down:

  • Server Owners would register a special API key through ScrapTF, granting them access to our trade network.
  • Server Owners would then install a SourceMod library that provides access to our underlying API, allowing them to grant items to players, and receive them, however they please.
    • Plugins would be written on top of this library, allowing for unique and custom functionality.
  • Server Owners would be given a page where users could trade in items to their server.
    • The server(s) would receive real-time updates when a user has traded in an item, allowing them to create unique features that handle items however they please. 
    • For example, a "giftuchet" plugin could listen for an item being traded in, and then give that item to a random player on the server, with appropriate fanfare.
    • Of course, this could also be used to allow players to donate to servers, and show in-game announcements whenever someone donates.
  • There would be no fee or commission for server owners or players. This would be a 100% free service.
    • The only area that might incur fees in the future would relate to bot storage space usage. Servers that use large amounts of bot inventory space may be asked to pay a small amount for this space. This is something we hope to not have to implement.

 

Our Goals

We recognize that the ScrapTF Network -- scrap.tf, backpack.tf, and marketplace.tf -- are, collectively and individually, the largest and most popular TF2 websites in the world. We also recognize that community servers have not had an easy time of it in recent years. Although there have been rumors in recent years that Valve may make efforts to revitalize interest in community servers, there's nothing to suggest that's actually going to happen. We believe that we're the best positioned to make a serious impact on the TF2 Community Server scene, and revitalize it in ways that haven't previously been attempted.

Profit is not the primary goal. This applies to both ScrapTF and the servers that would make us of this system. While there are acceptable uses of our network that would enable server owners to gain items from their servers, we think this system is best used to create genuinely engaging and fun experiences that haven't been possible on community servers before. To this end, the following restrictions would apply:

  • No gambling, wagering, etc.
  • No game benefits as a result of trading in items. This means no stat buffs, no godmode, nothing that would give any player a game advantage over another.
    • A server should still be fun to play in for those who don't use its trading features.
    • Custom gamemodes (especially PvE) may be a different case, but the community would need to be strongly in support of such a thing before we would allow it.
  • No paywalls to access a server.
    • The only valid exception we could envision might be some form of custom MvM tours, but it would need to be an extremely high-quality experience for us to allow our network to be used in this way.
    • Reserved Slots might be acceptable as well, given that this is already provided in most servers that accept donations.
  • Nothing that circumvents Valve's trading policies
    • Helping scammers/trade-banned users trade, bypassing trade delays, etc.

 

It's important to lay out what you can't do, but it's more fun to suggest some cool implementations of our network that the community might create. Here's some ideas we have for how servers might use this service:

  • A "giftapult" plugin that allows users to gift their items to another random player on the server.
    • What about a mega-giftapult where everyone in the server can contribute items until it reaches a limit, and a random player is given all of the items? (Of course, the chance to win would be entirely random, with no contribution necessary to win).
  • Donations, of course.
    • What if every donation caused something cool to happen on the server? (Non-gameplay affecting)
  • A "loyalty shop" plugin that allows users to cash in loyalty points (gained through gameplay on the server) for a random craft hat, a key, or entry into a giveaway.
  • A "random drop" plugin that randomly distributes items to users who are active in the server.
    • This would need to be combined with strong anti-idler policies / plugins.
  • A "mass spycrab" plugin for trade servers: anyone who trades in at least X keys' worth of items (configurable) can start a mass-spycrab, where the winner gets it all!
    • Servers could not charge entry fees or require any other form of consideration to enter.
  • A custom MvM tour that awarded players with items upon completion.
    • These items could be drawn from the items that are donated to the server.
  • Whatever else you can think of!

These are all ideas for things that we expect the community to create using our service. We would provide the base infrastructure to create such features, but would not provide the individual features listed above; the community would be responsible for developing their ideas on top of our service.

 

Server Spotlight

We'd also like to spotlight community servers running this system on the frontpage of ScrapTF and/or Backpack.tf. Because every server we spotlight is guaranteed to have unique trading functionality, we believe that this will drive traffic to these servers in a way that previous community spotlights haven't. 

 

What we need from you

We need you to tell us what you think!

 

If you're a server owner, we'd love to hear your thoughts on how you'd use this for your own server(s), or if you're just not interested in general.

If you don't own any servers, we'd still like to hear what you think! What kinds of things would you like to see made with this framework? Let us know!

 

Your feedback will inform how we proceed in developing this system (if at all). This entire thing is designed to benefit you, the community, so we can't do it without your input.

Tip of the Hats: Win a Golden Pan!

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OwnerGeel
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Tip of the Hats is back for 2018 and begins on October 5th, 2018 at 11:00AM CDT! As usual, this year's event is sponsored by Marketplace.tf and is going to be bigger and better than ever. Tune in for a phenomenal charity livestream featuring TF2, Fortnite, Overwatch, and more!

 

If that's not enough, there are some amazing prizes up for offer this year, including a Golden Frying Pan, a Nintendo Switch, and more! No purchase or donation necessary to enter or to win. See official sweepstakes rules at tipofthehats.org/sweepstakes.

 

If you won't be able to tune in this year, don't worry: donations are open now. We're so excited to bring you another great year of Tip of the Hats. Stay tuned!

Tip of the Hats 2018 Donations Open!

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OwnerGeel
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Tip of the Hats 2018 is just 1 week away and donations are now open! Click here to see your donation options and give some charitable cash or item contributions for the kids.

New this year are sweepstakes for some awesome prizes, including a Golden Pan! No donation is necessary to enter; see https://tipofthehats.org/sweepstakes for more.

INFO:

See you there!

Tip of the Hats: Item Donation Changes

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OwnerGeel
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Tip of the Hats 2018 is returning on Oct. 5th, and donations will be opening soon. In preparation for Tip of the Hats 2018, we've made a number of substantial changes to item donations. These changes serve to make donating to charity easier and more accessible than ever, and with more incentives to boot.

First, we've expanded the amount of different items we accept by over 10 times. These new items represent a very diverse range of TF2 items of all different kinds. It's almost a certainty that you'll have something you can donate!

Additionally, item donations are now able to bid put towards incentives. If you're unaware, incentives are a unique TotH system whereby donations go towards a common goal; for example, $10,000 to shave Getawhale's head. In previous years, item donations were unable to be used on incentives -- but that's no longer the case. Also, item donations now get put into the main donation reading queue; if you have something heartfelt to say in your donation, there's an equal chance it'll get read on-stream as if you had donated cash.

Finally, we've made a number of small tweaks that make the process significantly smoother. 

 

Tip of the Hats 2018 is running from October 5th to 7th, and it's going to be better than ever. Make sure to tune in!

The Blapature Co. Charity Bash

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OwnerGeel
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The Blapature Co. Charity Bash, a 24-hour Team Fortress 2 charity livestream, kicks off this weekend! Starting on Saturday, July 28th, at 7pm CEST, join a host of personalities from the Team Fortress 2 community as they raise money for Child's Play Charity.

Everyone who donates at least $5 will receive a special in-game medal. There are additional medal styles available for larger donations! The stream will cover a large variety of gameplay types and content, including competitive TF2, custom community servers, TF2 trading and more!

The stream will be broadcast live on the Essentials.TF Twitch Channel. To donate cash, visit the event donation page. You can also donate in-game TF2 items through ScrapTF

Cash and item donations get combined when determining which medal you receive! For instance, donating $10 in items and $5 in cash will count as $15 total for your account.