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Failure of the Fortress Fanatics

I have to get something off my chest about Team Fortress 2. I’m not happy with the direction its taken as of late and I need to vent.

Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty to like about TF2. I’ve been greatly inspired by the art style and I’ve been able to enjoy playing through all the classes that are based off of the game that was easily my favorite time spent digitally battling others in. Along with Valve’s dominance via Steam and the ease it takes to play the game it is easy to see why it’s so popular and continues to be one of the leading multiplayer PC titles worldwide. However TF has a very rich history and to me it feels that the evolution of this franchise has gone in a direction that most people in the older communities from QWTF, TFC and Q3F can’t embrace like they could with earlier iterations.

My main concern with TF2 right now is the class updates. While I’m the first person to get excited for new content and have the game I enjoy continue to grow the way the implementation has gone has really killed any possibility for competitive gaming to get on board. This is nothing new for TF2 as on release the tools to allow for competitive gaming to be able to produce balanced structures of competition were not available and when those tools were finally introduced it was already too late. Maybe it was the 10 years in the making but nowadays gamers don’t need to have the same attention span older games could survive through, the more options they have the less loyalty they give. Even longtime Fortress gamers who had been eagerly anticipating TF2 soured quickly and moved on to other franchises who had stepped it up like Call of Duty. So with the addition of all these new items and with only giving them to certain classesintermittently we have this grossly misbalanced game right now. Originally the items needed to be earned and gamers had a goal in mind and needed to earn the items, giving them a more valuable return on the time investment. But now we have random drops based off of who knows what and every idiot is running around fully stocked to the gills with all the new weaponry.

Actually, that is slightly incorrect. Every idiot is currently on an idling server gaining all the unlocks for absolutely no cost. Now I’m not going to pretend that I am the best game designer out there in the world but I am employed as one and I can’t fathom how someone actually thought this would of been a good idea to change. I can understand why they didn’t agree on the first unlock mechanics as newer players had to be turned off by more experience players using these foreign weaponry on them while they are stuck with the basics. But someone on their design team should of really grabbed Gabe by the collar and told him this was a mistake. Oh wait, how could that happen. Valve doesn’t employ game designers.

Quote from Robin Walker:
We’re hiring for all disciplines at all times, since we don’t believe in hiring for specific slots (we’d hate to turn away someone good because we didn’t need them at the time, or hire someone not so good just because we were trying to fill a quota). The only exceptions are pure designers and producers, which we’re never hiring (our collaborative design / production-oriented structure doesn’t really work with them). A pure designer to us is someone who doesn’t have a production skill of shippable quality. So pure designers are those who write design documents, modify spreadsheets of data, build prototype assets that must be rebuilt to ship, etc. Designers who can also write code, or make levels / art assets of shippable quality are not.

Valve is known for bringing in strong mod developers and high talent coders. By using other dev members in their design and production needs they manage to put together some of the best games out there so kudos to them. As a ‘pure designer’ I obviously don’t agree with this mentality but that also stems from knowing they’d never be interested in my services. It also stems from knowing that your pure designers are the ones who invest in your games entire package, the ones who play their game (something else the game development world is severely lacking) and the ones who think about feature sets from all ranges of their users. I’m not saying their structure doesn’t work, they have the success to prove it does work very well but I do have the opinion that not having a concise plan for your DLC and not approaching it in a way to nourish your community is a mistake.

I originally got into game development because of QWTF (Quakeworld Team Fortress, the Quake mod that Valve eventually purchased) and the reason this game was amazing and lived for 10 years was very simple, balance. You could always guarantee that regardless of how the players present used the 9 available classes that both sides had the same bases to defend and to attack and if one side ends up winning it was a valid conquest. Once the game had solidified the mod team allowed the original release to be modded by the community and I helped out on Mega TF, a bastardized version of the original mod. Mega TF added a few simple features such as the ability to lay down, being able to drop a infectious syringe and colored sniper dots. That was it, the balance remained and the mod was a hit. Over time more additions came and custom maps began to surface. As the mod took on its own direction the balance began to sway quite considerably. This is for the exact same reason we’re about to see once everyone has all the weaponry unlocked. With more options players find ways to exploit scenarios that are in their favor and make no mistake, if a player can exploit a scenario over doing meaningless objectives they are going to do it. Valve has different concerns for TF2 and that is mass market appeal. Nothing wrong with that but it’s sad that the communities that built the Fortress brand are the ones who now suffer.

2 Responses to “Failure of the Fortress Fanatics”

  1. shawn  Says:

    wow. i’ve been playing TF2 for like a week now. Your write up’s hit everything I have experienced so far right on the head. I usually just play sniper and soldier, and I consider my 5 years of qwtf play to be quite good, and still carry over to playing now. But now, you dominate someone and all they have to do is go pyro, or spy and you are barred absolutely helpless, no matter what class you are. Those classes, and sentry guns dominate the map, at least on public servers, no matter what. That is NOT how it should be. And defensive scouts with 125hp? oh, sorry and soldiers are now as slow as hwguys.

    good write.

  2. FruitLoops  Says:

    If it doesnt even have grenades theres no point in calling it tf.

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