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Every one of you deserves a medal!

May 22, 2009 - Erik Johnson

First off, a quick note: We put so much stuff into this update that we didn't manage to cover it all on the internets before the update went live, so we made a special Bonus page. In addition, our merchandising crew had as much fun coming up with Spy & Sniper themed merchandise as we did making the update, so make sure you go and check it all out.

Secondly, we wanted to take a moment to talk about the new item drop system in the update, since we're getting a lot of questions about it.

Why did we build a new system?

  • With our first four class updates we were tying the new weapons for each class to a set of achievements. Our intention was to make a set of achievements that eventually all players would get, and would be fun to get along the way. In some cases we did a good job at this (Scout), and in some cases we did a bad one (Medic). Across all of the class packs we were disappointed in the number of people that got to play with the new weapons, and feedback from the community was generally not favorable with this approach.

What did we do?

  • For the last number of months we've been working on using the Steam Cloud to store a player's inventory. With that finally in place, we were able to deploy a new system focused on the giving of items to players. That new system watches the amount of time that players are playing TF2, and gives them a chance to find items at regular intervals. They aren't guaranteed to get the item at those points, but they have a pretty good chance. We based the system on granting items on the amount of time played because we don't want players to have to do weird things like join achievement grinding servers to get new content. Basing it off time also has the benefit of ensuring that if you play a lot of TF2, you're going to get more items than players who don't.

How long do I have to play to get an item?

  • When we were tuning this system we first looked at the average amount of time that players spend playing TF2 daily. From there, we set the goal of most players having around 20 items in their inventory after a couple of weeks of play. If you're someone who plays a lot of TF2, you're going to get items a lot faster than that. In the first few hours after the release yesterday, we had some issues that prevented the system from working properly, so that timeframe was not indicative of the system as it's designed.

Is this the way we'll find items from now on?

  • Like everything else we build, we'll be iterating on this system for a while, and have a lot of features planned. Some of the next things we have planned are:

    - Item trading. This is why you're finding duplicates.

    - Giving players a method to influence the system so they   can work directly toward getting specific items.

    - Adding more rare items like the hats.

    We're going to be working on and rolling these out while we're also working on the next class pack, with the goal being to get it all released before then.