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One of the things we've been up to lately is working on new weapons for an upcoming update. And when we iterate on new weapons internally, we tend to make a lot of them. It helps ensure that the weapons we finally ship are as fun and additive to the overall gameplay experience as possible.
But it also means we're usually left with a lot of bad weapons that, for one reason or another, are better left unshipped. So while we keep busy with the latest update, we thought you might get a kick out of some of our absolute worst weapon ideas from past ones.
Any time someone starts thinking of weapon alternatives for the Demoman, one of the first questions is usually "Instead of having a bunch of small sticky bombs, what if he got one big one?"
Unfortunately for everybody else, unilateral area denial usually isn't fun for anyone except the player doing the denial. While there are some weapons that make traversing an area more difficult, they're not so overpowered that they shut down entire areas while removing the ability to respond. Rather, they lead to alternative routes and tactics, giving players an opportunity to "counter" in a variety of creative ways (airblasts, sapping, ubers, etc.).
These opportunities simply weren't available with The Big Bomb. Because it was replacing the existing demo sticky launcher (an incredibly powerful weapon), the Big Bomb also had to be incredibly powerful. Making it powerful enough to deter a team from entering a room meant that either A) as a player you felt stymied with no options, waiting for it to detonate before resuming the fun part of the game; or B) you didn't notice and immediately got exploded. In playtests, neither of these choices wound up being fun for players on either team. This includes the Demoman, who was stuck with a low-skill-ceiling, fire-and-forget weapon that primarily added spam but not value.
Also worth noting: over countless playtests, not a single life was lost to the Big Bomb. The only thing worse than a weapon that everyone hates fighting against is a weapon that everyone hates fighting against that is also terrible at killing people.
Sometimes we're pretty confident right off the bat that an idea is terrible. But if we can quickly make a testable version, sometimes we'll playtest it anyway just to make sure. Even a terrible weapon can turn into something interesting with a little iteration.
The Facestab Knife was not one of those. While brainstorming ideas for the Manno-Technology update, one of our resident Spy players asked the question "What if there was a knife that was almost useless from the back but could backstab from the front?" The video below provides the perfect answer to what would (and did) happen.
The Pyro's Sucker was intended to be the opposite of the airblast, moving enemies closer to the Pyro by applying a steady force over time rather than a one-shot blast. However, on top of the unenjoyable gameplay issues it caused, the Pyro's vacuum-inspired Sucker also had a host of technical issues.
One of the reasons why TF2 works and feels solid even on slower network connections is that every client is constantly predicting its own movement without having to talk to the server. Your player can move forward in real-time on your screen, responding to your input the same way the server eventually will.
The Sucker played hell with the prediction system. The constant force by the Sucker moving the victim around over several seconds was an impossible-to-predict situation, causing a lot of disorienting view stuttering for players who got hit with it. While an explosion or a standard airblast would cause prediction to be wrong for a single frame, the Sucker would cause prediction to be broken for a group of players for as long as the button was held down.
Even on fast networks, where prediction plays less of a role, the Sucker was lackluster. It gave the Pyro, a class that's deadly in close quarters, a tool to move anyone into range. We've found that TF2 works best when classes and players support each other, making up for weaknesses and combining into new strengths, rather than giving any one class more and more tools to solve all potential problems.
Mobility is really important in TF2, both during and between engagements. When we saw that community members Sexy Robot and Square had created an amazing Soldier parachute, we started thinking about the options it might open up for that class. Being airborne provides strategic position benefits, but at the cost of maneuverability. Increased movement options against Pyros and Demomen are balanced by increased exposure when fighting Heavies and Snipers.
In playtesting the parachute, we all had a bunch of fun, and at the end of the day that's really what we're hoping for with all of our weapons.
Wait, this isn't a terrible idea at all. Okay, forget that last one.
A lot of lore can stack up over seven years. If you've got a friend you think would love the ongoing TF2 digital comic series, but you think they'd find all the shirtless Australian men, magical gold bars and centuries-old vendettas confusing, we've put together a Catch-Up Comic that blasts through the backstory like an expository rocket-sled. Now your friend can dive into the ongoing comic, and finally figure out what all those jpgs of a nude Soldier covered in honey were about.
Gray Mann has taken control of Mann Co., the mercs have disbanded, and the Administrator has disappeared! Six months later, the Administrator has tasked her assistant Miss Pauling with getting the team back together for one last mysterious job. With Demo, Spy, Scout, Soldier and Pyro already on board, Pauling must find the rest of the team before Gray finds her. Meanwhile, Saxton Hale has reunited with Maggie, an old flame, only to discover she is now working for Charles Darling, his greatest nemesis. All caught up? Good. Here's Issue #3.
Let's see, what else? Oh, we're also working on a Moonbase! It's got a whole bunch of interesting new gameplay and we're pretty excited about it. We think you will be too. Here's some concept art:
Last thing: taunts! We're working on a way for you guys to upload your own taunts to the Workshop, which should be a lot of fun. We're also animating some new ones ourselves that we think you're going to love. We'll leave you with a tiny preview:
The word "hero" gets thrown around a lot these days. Mostly by cowards who've never killed a man for no reason. But if you're a distinguished war veteran like me, you know that only three types of people deserve to be called "hero": men who dive on top of live grenades, men with the cahones to throw a live grenade, and the hard working men and women on the assembly line building live grenades.
That is it. End of story. No exceptions.
Having said that, if you're a distinguished war veteran like me, you also know how the chain of command works. So when some pencilneck down at TF2 HQ tells you to write a blog post adding someone to the Hero List, you do it! So listen up, because the hundreds of 3D modelers, texture artists, concept artists and other creative types who submit to the Workshop each and every day are the greatest generation of heroes, and Kritzkast is honoring them. These are just some of the many people who've made Team Fortress 2 what it is today, and by God, they deserve your respect until we are told otherwise.
Well, it's December again, assuming you adhere to the Gregorian Calendar, there's an etching of frost on the ol' window panes, unless you live somewhere temperate, and the lights are shining brightly on the ol' tree you may or may not have, depending on religious affiliation and stance on deforestation. That can only mean one thing: It's Smissmas, everybody! It's a holiday we invented that we'd love you to celebrate with us.
We're of course shipping the usual Smissmas celebrations, including new festive weapons, new winter-themed community cosmetics, and a great big sale in the Mann Co. Store. And starting this year, we're also giving everyone who plays during the event a Stocking Stuffer full of goodies. Click here for a full list of changes, fixes, and new content.
2013's been a great year for Team Fortress 2, and next year's looking to be even better. We've got some truly big surprises planned for 2014, and since nobody wants them delayed until 2015, we'd better get back to work.