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.

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