Gamer and developer, Drunken F00l (owner of SourceOP- a Source plugin for Half Life 2, TF2) rocked the Team Fortress 2 community recently with the creation of a program that allows you to idle servers for item drops without having the game open on your computer. Basically, it simulates idling a server, so you don't actually open the game and manually join.

You need to have Steam running with Steam Community connected for the program to work. Then you simply open the program and allow it to run, connecting you to one of several “idle” servers created specifically for the program.

The latest version of the program will show you when you get new items. It will also display timestamps so that you know when you got them if you come to check later. This is a great way for users to calculate how many items they are getting in a session and the percentages on these item drops.

Also, included is a settings file. Currently, you can enable three things from the settings file:

1. Logging to file
2. Duplicate deletion (excluding duplicate hats)
3. A summary of what others are earning

The settings.txt file controls all the settings. Change the contents of the file to set the settings you want using values of 0 or 1, save the file, and then start the program. The latest version of the program will now show you how many idlers there are in the minutely item summary if you have it enabled.

If you have the latest version of the program, you can specify a port to use by placing -port and the port number on the command line (ex: SteamStats.exe -port 1234). This should help with people having issues connecting on multiple machines from behind certain NATs.

As a member of the community, I had early access to the program. Drunken F00l's Steam stats program took off when he posted on his community forums asking for testers. Not only did the SourceOP community go crazy over the idea but word spread quickly and it was even linked multiple times on the Steam forums, sending loads of traffic over to DF and SourceOP.

The forum thread now has over 180,000 views and growing and while many players were thrilled with the program, others were less than pleased. There are still those players who consider any type of “idling” for drops to be a form of cheating the system and they scorn anyone who chooses to get items this way.

Regardless of your personal feelings regarding idling for items in TF2, one must acknowledge the ingenuity of such a program and you can't help but admire the attention it received in the TF2 community.

Drunken F00l was inspired to create the program when Valve implemented a system of getting item drops (such as unlockable weapons and newly introduced hats) by complete random from time spent playing the game. Players became frustrated with playing for hours and not getting the items they wanted.

Thousands of “idle” servers began popping up all over the TF2 community, created for the sole purpose of joining to idle and get items. But there were many flaws with these servers and they required you to have Team Fortress 2 opened. DF's program resolved these issues.

Now Valve has altered their system once again, allowing players to get unlockable weapons both through achievements and through the “random” drop system, however the new hats are random drops only. This means the program is still very popular with players trying to get their hats.

Drunken F00l reports over 6000 unique SteamIDs using the program since he began tracking individual stats. He is also keeping stats regarding how many items drop and which items drop the most. Full percentages of the drops for each item can be found on his website/forums (with detailed charts and graphs).

Source by Lisa A Mason