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Revision as of 17:36, 18 February 2021 by Desolate (talk | contribs) (→‎Rules)

A Pickup game is a spontaneous organized match and is intended to bridge the gap between tournament level play (very serious and infrequent) and open server play (not serious at all). It is generally restricted to a few popular teams games such as Fortress and Sumo, but can also be for CTF, Racing, and experimental servers.

How to play

Matches are organized in a chat server using a bot that keeps track of participants. We currently use Discord for chat. Please join the server with this invite.

Once in the server, go to the #pickup channel. Type !help to see a list of commands. Here is a typical output (may not be current):

   !add: Add to all available fort / sumo game modes
   !add <gamemode>: Add to a specific game mode (options are: = fort, tst, wst, koth or ctf)
   !add fortauto <tron auth>: Add fort with auto team generation. Can use !add fa for short. Once you've added with your username, it will be cached until the bot restarts (~12 hours) and thus doesn't need to be specified again. If you are a new player or your auth is not captured on https://armarankings.com/, you can add using "!add fortauto player1"
   !add sumo: Add to sumo game modes only
   !remove: Remove from all added game modes
   !remove <gamemode>: Remove from a specific game mode
   !who: Display who is added to each game mode

Pickup games are hosted on servers that require authentication. Please make sure you have an account on the official forums before adding yourself to the #pickup queue. To join a pending Fortress match, type the following, replacing username with your forums account name:

   !add fortauto username@forums

The pickup bot will respond with a list if players in the queue. When the queue is full, the bot will announce that a match is ready to begin! Players will then go to a pickup server and play. If you need help, just ask for help in the Discord server and someone will gladly explain everything you need to know.

What happens when the queue is full?
Game Pickup Bot Behavior
CTF, Fort, WST, KOTH Bot chooses captains at random, captains pick teams in #pickup channel
TST Bot creates random pairs, team/color order is Purple, Orange, Ugly, Gold
FortAuto Bot creates teams and assigns them based on player rankings. More info

Ranked games and fortauto

The results of some games (TST, Fort) are parsed and displayed as rankings at armarankings.com. In the case of fortauto, these rankings are used to create balanced teams. This is a great system, however it takes a little effort and understanding from players to make it work. Here are some things to consider:

  • The accuracy of rankings improves with the number of games played (usually takes about 60+ games).
  • The pickup bot needs at least 20 games to recognize you when !add'ing to fortauto.
  • The Global ID (usename@forums) you use in #pickup is NOT connected to the rankings. Only the login you use in the server is recorded
  • If you haven't played 20 games in a Fortress pickup server, then you will have to add using a default username. !add fortauto player1 - !add fortauto player12 are all available default usernames.

This may seem like a lot of work, but the old system of letting random captains pick teams made for some messy and seriously not fun Fortress matches!


Games organized in the pickup channel are serious matches, and in the case of Fortress and TST, ranked.

  • Do not queue for a pickup game unless you can commit to playing the entire match, which usually takes 30-45 minutes (sometimes longer!).
  • If you have to leave before the game starts, use !remove the leave the queue
  • If you have to leave during a game (shame on you), please request a substitute in the #pickup channel and wait for them to arrive in the server.
  • Do not !add for another game while playing a pickup match. Do not leave your current pickup match and !add for another game.
  • Do not leave the pickup server before MATCH_WINNER is displayed. The ranking system will capture your score after this message is displayed.
  • If you are chosen to be captain and do not want the responsibility please ask someone to take the role captain.

Pickup games are serious. Because of this, players can get frustrated and there is sometimes a temptation to rage-quit. Please don't. It's better to lose gracefully and win humbly. The community is small and it's not worth letting temporary emotions damage relationships. We're all friends here, right? Be civil.


Modern #pickup was originally conceived of and created sometime before January 2010 and the first chat server was on freenode.net. This method of game organization was (and is) extremely popular. At the time of this writing, hashpickup.net is still online and contains tons of historically relevant information about operations and rules, many of which are still relevant today. Few if any original pickup administrators or developers are involved in today's Discord #pickup administration. There is no official website and no documentation other than this page.

See also: https://github.com/lavamoulton/tron-discord-pickup-bot