Near the beginning of 2011, I got into the Garry's Mod SpaceBuild scene. There were about 30 or 40 servers for that gamemode. They were mostly alright, and I was even an admin on a few of them.
However, none of them felt quite right. Some had poor performance, had a lack of useful addons that work with the server, or had uncaring admins and/or a dismal community. In the words of Captain Picard, "You know...there really is no substitute for holding the reigns."
So, I decided to experiment with SRCDS on my machine, and got a bunch of guys I played with on other servers to join it. It was wonderful. The feeling of listening to user input and improving the server as if it was an evolving organism was amazing. I methodically installed addons and fixed bugs. We all had a great time.
However, we had a problem. Even though the machine I was running was powerful, the network connection was pathetic ADSL running on rotting, decades-old phone line, and everyone had horrendous latency. Further, I couldn't just leave that machine on 24/7 for use as a server, it was my household work and gaming machine, and I didn't have another machine available. I needed a host.
After asking around, I was directed to Xenon Servers. They were alright during the initial setup and testing stages, but when popularity eventually took off and the server was full, it started choking on us pretty badly. Oftentimes, the serverside FPS hit the single digits. There was no webspace mirror for sv_downloadurl. The control panel was very restricting and clunky. Questions to support about the specs of my machine or how many servers were on it were shot down as 'being over my head.' Their SVN updater kept inexplicably breaking. After a month of this, I'd had enough and cancelled the service. Disappointment all around.
Dejected and wondering if I was doing something wrong, I started playing on other servers again. Eventually, I came across a newly set up SpaceBuild server. I helped him set it up through Steam chat, and played for a while with him, the server being password'd for the durration. I noticed good performance and latency, so I asked him who the provider was. It was none other than NFo. Not knowing of NFo at the time, I was intrigued. I was impressed with the realtime web-based rcon, and the apparent speed of the creation time. We 'stress tested' the server together, and found it could take quite a lot of physics calculations before it started to slow down. My mind made up, I bade him farewell, and started off with a new purpose.
Upon buying the server (cheaper the Xenon's, I might add), I rounded up the old gang for a second shot. This time, everthing worked perfectly. The webspace allowed me to set up a wiki for tutorials about ingame building of spacecraft and such, and exposed me to webserver administration for the first time. After a month, we had many unique hits and some regulars, and a clan started to coalesce. The core group I started with were add admins, and mire were added in different timezones to keep an around-the-clock watch on the server. It was beautiful.
Which brings us to present day. It's ranked in the top 5 SpaceBuild servers. I've attracted coders, modelers, and mappers, so now my server ha unique content compare to others. According to the user play time database, there's been thousands of unique SteamIDs to enter the server. Many interesting contraptions have been created on the server, and will be for some time still. Our non-competitive clan, TurboNerd Team (+TNT+), is thriving, with a brotherhood and sense of camaraderie that I haven't felt anywhere else. Truly., it was a great decision to go with NFo.
I enjoy admining servers so much, I've added a Minecraft server to the TNT clan's selection (yes, bad name for a clan that plays Minecraft, but damnit, I'm sticking to it). I have no idea what I'm doing yet, but I will learn.
Thank you for your servers and your time, NFo. Keep on keepin' on.
(Holy crap that felt good to get out there.)