Complete guide to using TF2Idle

First of all, you will need:
Steam accounts to idle on. You can create new accounts here.
Sandboxie so you can run multiple Steam accounts. A full version is needed to run multiple sandboxes.
(optional) A Steam Dev API key for an account which contains a purchased game. This will be used to access steam backpacks so you can see your drops happening.

All my instructions are written assuming you will be running 8 idle accounts, and are running Windows 7. XP and earlier OSs do not have the mklink command available for making the symlinks needed to save a ton of hard drive space. I’ve also written it assuming you have Steam installed in c:Program Files (x86)Steam and you put all your idle steam copies in C:idle if you have these in different places, you will need to change the below info accordingly.

Preparations:

Firstly, you need Steam installed and TF2 downloaded and playable. If you’re idling then you no doubt already have an active account and play the game, so will already have this.
(I’m not sure if these parts are needed, but I saw that tf2idle checked for an idle.cfg so I did some googling and found this:)
Go to your steamappsusernameteam fortress 2tfcfg folder and create a new text file. Name it idle.cfg (Make sure it isn’t idle.cfg.txt turn on the showing of file extensions if you aren’t sure, google if you need to know how) and paste in the following:

fps_max 30
r_rootlod 2
r_lod 2
mat_picmip 2
threadpool_affinity 0
mat_aaquality 0
mat_bumpmap 0
mat_antialias 0
mat_reducefillrate 1
mat_specular 0
r_shadowrendertotexture 0
r_waterforceexpensive 0
mat_hdr_level 0
mat_hdr_enabled 0
mat_hdr_level 0
mat_hdr_manual_tonemap_rate 0
mat_aaquality 0
mat_use_compressed_hdr_textures 0
mat_disable_bloom 1
mat_bloomscale 0

Also, open up your server.cfg and add the following:

hostname "Valve Loves Idlers"
fps_max 30
rcon_password typeapasswordhere
sv_password typeapasswordhere
sv_minrate 13000
sv_maxrate 13000
sv_minupdaterate 20
sv_maxupdaterate 20
sv_mincmdrate 20
sv_maxcmdrate 20
sv_region 255
mp_waitingforplayers_cancel 1
mp_disable_respawn_times 1
mp_timelimit 9999
mp_allowspectators 1
mp_idledealmethod 0
mp_idlemaxtime 9999
sv_pure 2

*End of possibly unneeded stuff*

In your steamapps folder, create a new folder containing the username of each account you are going to idle with. Go into your original one, and copy the ‘team fortress 2’ folder, and paste it into each of these named folders. 

Create a folder to contain all the copies of steam needed for the sandboxes. For me, I simply made a folder in the root, c:idle
In this folder, create a new folder, and give it a simple name with a number at the end to help differentiate it. I named mine steam1 to steam8. Into the steam1 folder, copy the contents of your normal Steam folder, minus the steamapps folder, as that will be a huge folder. Once you have the steam1 folder, I simply copy+pasted it 7 more times into the folder, renaming each folder so I had 8 steam folders.
Each of these folders needs a symlink to your steamapps folder. This makes it appear that there is a copy of the steamapps folder in each of these steam installs, when in fact they are all automatically redirected to your base steam install. This means that you don’t need 8 copies of the ~10Gb of TF2 files for each sandbox.
Open up a command prompt (Not sure if you need admin rights, but run it as an admin just in case), and navigate to the first idle steam folder (c:idlesteam1 for me)
Once there type the following:
mklink /D steamapps “C:Program Files (x86)SteamSteamapps”

Now if you go to the steam1 folder, you will see what appears to be a shortcut to the steamapps folder, double click it and you go there, but the address bar still shows it as being in the steam1 folder, which is what we want.
You will need to repeat this for each idle steam folder you have, you can’t simply copy+paste the steamapps symlink. Use the command prompt to go to the steam2 folder, run the mklink again, and so on for all the idle accounts you want.

Now all that is prepared, you need to install Sandboxie, which is a program that will allow us to run multiple instances of Steam. Once installed, on the menu go Sandbox>Create new sandbox. Give it a name, don’t bother copying the settings.
Once created, right click it and go to Sandbox Settings.
In there, you need to go to the restrictions>Drop Rights option, and unsure it is unchecked
Next go to the Resource Access>File Access>Full Access, and add the root folder of the drive that contains Steam, and the drive which will contain all the sandbox files (If they are both on the same drive then you don’t need to add it twice)
Now, create more sandboxes, one for each account you will be idling with. With these, copy the settings from one of your previously made sandboxes so you don’t need to go into the settings for each one. Giving them all simple names is strongly advised.

Finally, run TF2Idle. I put it into c:idle so I had everything in the same place, but it doesn’t matter where it goes. Its a stand alone exe, no installing, though it does make its own cfg file, and will make error files to check if there are problems, so its nice to have it separated.
Hit the ‘add account’ button and it will bring up a simple screen. Your steam username and password are self explanatory. You will need to log into the Steam community page with each account to create a vanity ID, which is required for item tracking.
In the Sandbox Name, this needs to be the name of one of the sandboxes you created earlier in sandboxie. The sandbox path needs to be the root directory of one of the idle steam folders you created. For instance C:idleSteam1
You don’t need any of the other options, so just hit ok and your account will be listed there. Repeat this process for each account you want to idle with, remembering you need a different sandbox name and sandbox path for each account.

Once all the account settings have been made, in TF2Idle go file>settings
In the TF2 tab, the steam install location and sandboxie install location should have been filled automatically, but point it the right way if not. Enter the Steam API key obtained right at the top to allow you to track the drops into all of your accounts. The API key can be from any account, it just needs to have a game tied to it to be able to generate the key.
The backpack viewer is optionally used as a way to view details on an item that has dropped. Leave the idle launch settings how it is, and I would advise increasing the account launch delay to ~120 seconds, as this gives each account time to create a server and get through any CPU/ram intensive tasks before the next one tries. And you aren’t going to miss a couple of minutes not idling.
Any other settings are optional. In the TF2Idle tab you can select to encript the config file, as this otherwise contains the steam account usernames and passwords in plaintext.


And you’re done! For the first time running, I would select one account at a time (orange icon if selected, grey if not by default), and hit the ‘start idling’ button. This will launch steam through sandboxie, and you will eventually get a command prompt full of text as the game runs in text mode. For reference, mine looks like this. The important thing is that it contains the ‘<account name> connected’ line near the bottom, as this shows you have connected fine. Once it looks ok, unselect the first and select the second, and start idling again (You don’t need to close the first one). Repeat this for all of the accounts, until they are all idling. Once they started up ok, next time you can just select them all and hit the start idling button and it will do all this automatically, but for the first time I find it better to start them manually so you can spot any problems.

Once they are all idling you can hit the ‘terminate sandbox’ to obviously stop them idling.
Otherwise, you can hit the ‘drop log view’ to see the drops, though first you will need to click ‘add accounts’. This should bring up a message for each account confirming that it has started logging the drops. Then you can sit back and watch as the list slowly fills up with all your free items. 
And now you’re idling!

References:
This thread for the .cfg contents

Questions or comments? Ask here! Everything I’ve just posted comes from searching various forums and threads trying to work out how exactly to get this working, so I hope this proves useful to some of you. And in the end, all credit goes to Moussekateer for actually making TF2Idle in the first place!
And remember, free TF2 accounts can only find weapons, no hats. And you can’t trade either, you’ll need to buy a copy of TF2/buy something from the Mann Co store if you want to get the top drops and start shifting them over to your main account.

Here’s some pictures of my setup:
http://i.imgur.com/KFoqQ.jpg – Idle folder containing 8 physical copies of the steam folder, bar the steamapps folder.
http://i.imgur.com/hhFsj.jpg – Inside one of the steam folders, showing the mklink steamapps
http://i.imgur.com/LAmCw.jpg – Inside the steamapps folder, account names blanked out.
http://i.imgur.com/TZZIi.jpg – TF2 idle settings, API key blanked out
http://i.imgur.com/R6CrP.jpg – More TF2 idle settings, details blanked out
http://i.imgur.com/yYPUv.jpg – 8 named sandboxes
http://i.imgur.com/gtPBn.jpg – Sandboxie full access

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *