TF2 on DigitalOcean

Or how I spent 3 cents on Digital Ocean to play MvM with my friends for 2 hours.

Maybe the MvM servers were having issues, but 4 different people trying to create a game didn’t work (or at least TF2 kept on saying ‘connection error’ – for everyone.

So I decided to try and spin up a server, like I used to do on EC2, except I decided to use the $10 of credit from Digital Ocean that I got when signing up, simply because Digital Ocean seemed a lot easier to use than Amazon’s Spot Instances.

Used Digital Ocean’s 1GB/1CPU node ($0.015/hour) in the Singapore location, no complaints about slowness/ping issues from the people in Singapore/Japan, but my ping in Ontario was ~330ms.

One line command, untested:

sudo yum -y install wget screen less vim && sudo service iptables stop && wget && tar -xvzf steamcmd_linux.tar.gz && mkdir tf2 && ./ +force_install_dir tf2 +login anonymous +app_update 232250 +quit && mkdir -p ~/.steam/sdk32 && cp linux32/ ~/.steam/sdk32/ && cd tf2 && echo "hostname famiry MvM
rcon_password tehfamiry" > tf/cfg/server.cfg && ./srcds_run -game tf -maxplayers 32 -console +map mvm_decoy

See also: – TF2 server config generator – list of what each config option does – Valve’s official guide on running TF2 servers. & – fancy systems for automating setup & running of TF2 servers

Why Digital Ocean: In terms of money, 3 cents a week isn’t going to kill me. But I still have some Amazon credit, so it’d be nice to use that up first.

Looking at the prices (as of Jul 20), Digital Ocean is definitely cheaper than Amazon – the cheapest instance that looks like it would work is the t2.small instance, and that’s 4 cents an hour. (I’m pretty sure a t2.micro instance won’t be good enough) More interestingly, a m3.medium instance is ~10 cents an hour.

The m3.medium instance is interesting because it has a spot instance option – and the price when I checked it was 1.01 cents/hour. However, I’m pretty sure the OS install + the TF2 files would be larger than the 4GB of storage assigned to the instance, so I’d also need an additional EBS volume, say ~5GB. Those are $0.12/GB/month, so for 5GB for ~2 hours, so the cost would be pretty much negligible.

However, there is one final cost: data transfer out. Above 1GB, Amazon will charge 19 cents for a partial GB. Assuming I play 4 weekends a month, I’m pretty sure the server will send more than 1GB of data (exceeding the free data transfer tier), so I’d be charged the 19 cents. Averaging this out over 4 weekends, I’d get charged ~5 cents a weekend. Thus, even with the actual compute cost being lower, I’d still get charged more than double on EC2 than Digital Ocean.

But this is still only 7 cents a weekend.

The $10 of credit from Digital Ocean will last me approximately 6 years of weekend playing, assuming no price changes. I have ~$15 of Amazon credit, so it looks like I’ll get 10 years of TF2 playing in – and I’m pretty sure we’ll have moved onto a new game long before then.

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