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I recently purchased a Team Fortress 2 server. It (at the time) featured mostly control points maps with a few maps intended to act as breaks mixed in (sd_doomsday, cp_gravelpit). Voting was enabled so if people wanted to skip these maps if they wanted.

I invited people I could, and eventually people started joining randomly. The best we got was 7 v 7 (it's a 24 slot server). Then the map changed to granary and some people left. After that, the map changed to cp_well and everyone left except for one guy who was trading for a vintage direct hit. After receiving said item he left.

After that I removed all non-cp maps and also removed well from the rotation.

What can I do to get people to actually join the server without inviting tons of people each time? I thought we would have had enough people to sustain the server, but well apparently killed it instantly, and we were losing people in granary, so I don't believe that would have been enough.

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Is there any particular reason you want people to play on your server? Is there particular a reason for them to want to play on your server? –  kotekzot Jul 10 '12 at 11:15
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Personally, I'm quicker to leave a server when it changes maps. Not because I don't like the new map necessarily, but because the load time represents a natural stopping point. I also tend to leave when it gets below 4v4 or so. I wouldn't read too much into that one session. –  Jon Ericson Jul 11 '12 at 20:08
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2 Answers 2

Map Voting might be a good start.

Personally I hate when servers have bots (and usually instantly blacklist them) but if your server looks like it has people in it and its a map they enjoy then they will join, so bots might help you, im not sure how you set it up but i have played on servers that have bots that dont appear as bots and the only reason i realised they were was their playstyle.

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From what I've seen the servers with bots posing as real players never really get a ton of real players (and only really attract newer players who don't have the skill to realize how terrible the bot AIs are). I don't really have a problem with there being bots (they make 3v3 tolerable if there are bots to pad out the teams) but please don't try to hide that they are bots. I know valve has taken steps to make it harder to fake bots as real players, but I don't know how successful those have been. –  PeterL Aug 22 '12 at 20:52
    
I'm making a suggestion for starting a server, I'm not saying I like the idea of doing it. –  Jacxel Aug 23 '12 at 9:45
    
If you enable bots, see if there's a way to make the bots always choose medic if there's no human medics. I'd play on a server more if I knew there'd always be heals available. –  Steve V. Sep 5 '12 at 18:55
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It takes a lot of time and effort to get a TF2 server popular. Be on the server a ton, start a clan associated with the server, recruit like mad and offer some basic perks to clan members. Essentially, you need to give some people a reason to want to come back to your server. Once you have some core regular joiners, that will keep momentum going to get more public players in. I had a server going that was decently established with good regular turnout that completely died after I went on vacation for a week. I hadn't established enough incentive (didn't have clan/server members or any admins to fill in for me) for people to keep coming back. I'm sure I could make a server successful if I wanted to, I just don't have the time it really needs.

Also, you can just do a 24/7 2fort or Orange_x3 server. People loooooooooooooove those maps.

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Or one of those 24/7 halloween (cp_manor_event, koth_viaduct_event) servers, for people who are missing the Halloween achievements. –  jSepia Jul 16 '12 at 9:34
    
host MvM = insta full server atm –  Jacxel Aug 23 '12 at 9:52
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