Sunday, December 13, 2009

Become a Follower!

Seriously, it would help me have an idea of how large my reader base is (which currently indicates that there are about 18 people reading this blog on a regular basis.)

As an extra incentive, my Followers will be the first to be notified of the coming project, which, if it has no success, I can't imagine what will.

Furthermore, I am restricting comments to those using Google Accounts (otherwise known as Gmail.) This is an effort to put a stop to the flow of advertising that is being snuck into the Comment Sections of certain articles. For the record, this article has the record of most vandalism. At the time of the publishing of this article, there were 48 comments, only one of which was in English and not advertising large televisions or promiscuous women.

I do not have time to clean all these sections out, but I am doing it for the sake of my own sanity. Good day, and become a Follower.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

And Though My Hands Are Warm...

I am certainly not sitting on them. I am currently in the process of completing an enormous project that you ALL will be able to help with eventually.

Will You Pre-Order Left 4 Dead 2?
  • Yes, I already have. 13 votes (36%)
  • No, but I will buy it later. 13 votes (36%)
  • No, the demo sucked. 6 votes (16% )
  • Yes, the demo was awesome. 4 votes (11%)

In the meantime, enjoy Left 4 Dead 2 (a very fine game) and vote in the latest poll.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

How Do You Think The Update Changed The Game?

With almost 200 people voting on five different options, you would think that some sort of discernible consensus could be reached. Unfortunately, the finale of the last poll I initiated put me in a two month spot of writer's block.

You see, since I view myself as a responsible, organized site manager (with, like Valve, punctuality being at the bottom of my list of admirable qualities), I couldn't bring myself to just ignore the poll. Therefore, I had to mention it in a post.

Poll Results
  • The game is worse. 47 votes (25%)
  • The game is the same. 43 votes (22%)
  • The game is better. 42 votes (22%)
  • The game is much better. 29 votes (15%)
  • The game is much worse. 27 votes (14%)

My readers, you will not be entirely blamed, because I also cannot decide how I feel about what happened. When I thought long ago about simple changes to the game, more options did not seem like they could hurt anyone. But look what happened!

Obviously, the ability to turn off Critical Hits and Random Damage Spread is a harmless option that greatly assisted fair competitive play but Class Limits screws everyone over once in a while!

For a detailed description of how to cope with class rushes, you can view my most-widely quoted article, but if you have already read it, just remember to avoid Engineer Rushes like the Black Plague.

The rushes I mentioned above are relatively harmless compared to the restrictive (and disturbingly common) trend among some hosts of blocking access to just one or two classes. As the self-proclaimed generator of the last patch, I feel it is my duty to both apologize, and, more constructively, suggest a solution.

As you know if you are reading this, the current build of Team Fortress 2 on the Xbox 360 allows hosts to toggle Critical Hits and Random Damage Spread, as well as set individual class limits on all class limits with the options 0,1,2,3,4,5, and Unlimited.

I think that a different set of options would be more suitable and more fair. If I could have had my way, Valve would have released a patch with the option to toggle Critical Hits (Random Damage Spread is toggled alongside this instead of two different options) and the ability to set individual class limits with the selection of 1,2,3, Unlimited, and Rush.


Here, have a picture so you don't get bored.

The revised options I suggest create an optimum balance between fun and fair, while also considering confused beginner hosts who have no idea what Random Damage Spread is because it doesn't present itself in GIANT GREEN LETTERS.

Next up, readers, I have to announce a momentous discovery I made a while back that I must thank you all for (because I think you had something to do with it.) But first, you must activate Google.

Is Google loaded? Good. Now, search "team fortress 2 xbox" or just "tf2 xbox." Are the resulsts in? Scroll down, scroll down. There!

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, pat yourselves on the back for coming to this website a load of times. Fun fact: type "Neal Kenneth" and autocomplete says "Neal Kenneth tf2" before "Neal Kenneth w md." Translation: I am more popular than a doctor in Virginia.

That's all about Team Fortress 2 for today! If you want to read something cool, check out this incomplete work I have written in anticipation of Left 4 Dead 2!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Join A Clan...TODAY!

Have you ever noticed that the word TEAM is in the name of Team Fortress 2? Undoubtably you have at one time or another. But have you ever thought about it?

Many modern day multiplayer first-person shooters, such as Halo 3 or Call of Duty 4 tote strong clan followings. When you get into the nitty-gritty of those games you realize that they are just as fun whether you go solo or with your friends.

But Team Fortress 2 is much different. As the name suggests, Valve created this game for teams. The more organized your team is, the more fun you have. Sure, griefing is cool for awhile, but eventually all players yearn for the white-knuckle action of two evenly matched teams duking it out.

And what better way to ensure you have these types of games than to join a clan?



For those of you who are already playing Team Fortress 2 a lot, this would barely entail a lifestyle change. For those of you that are new to the game or fear you suck too much to be on a clan, don't worry. Playing in the competitive scene is probably the best way to get good quick.

I have two websites for you to look at if you are considering this matter. The first of the two, TF2 Laddder, has been in my suggested links for a long time, and handles the 8v8 clans. The other is a more recent website, named TF2 360, which handles the 6v6 clans.

Now, you might be thinking, “Neal Kenneth, you aren’t even in a clan!” The truth is, there ARE reasons in the world not to be in a clan, though few and far-between. I cannot commit to a clan because of my erratic playing schedule. Sometimes I go for weeks without playing, than I am on LIVE for five days straight. Any clan willing to take in that kind of member probably isn’t worth joining.

Other than that, the only other legitimate excuse for not being in a clan would be that you aren’t willing to spend $10 on another crappy Microsoft headset.

Good gaming!

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By the way, the above photo is from Ubercharged.net's excellent competitive guide already in progress. Even if you are already in a clan, I suggest you take a look.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The 10/10 Project

I don't know what I was thinking when I made the last poll. I yawn everytime I read it, and it made me have writer's block for some time. The question was "Which of These Actions Do You Find Acceptable?"

Final Poll Results
82% (318 votes) Sapping Telepoter Entrances
30% (117 votes) Spawn Camping
27% (107 votes) Class Stacking
17% (68 votes) Using the Developer Console
10% (41 votes) None Are Acceptable Actions
3% (13 votes) Skywalking
2% (11 votes) Glitching Through Walls

It appears as though 82% of you disagree with me on the subject of Sapping Teleporter Entrances. I had even written a heated article about it for Ubercharged.net when I was a fledgling author. But you know what? Do you know why it doesn't matter? BECAUSE VALVE AGREES WITH ME.

In that article, with the assistance of Tim M and Wiser Guy, I came to the conclusion that Sappers should be removable from either end of a Teleporter. And if you look closely at the list of changes in the recent Classless Update, you'll see that VALVE AGREES WITH ME, B****ES!



Now onto other things.

When I wrote this poll, I thought that few (or none) of the readers would possibly decide that using the Developer Console was okay. To my suprise, 17% of you did. I wondered how this could possibly be until I found this thread, followed by this video.

Basically, a group of dedicated modders were working to bring the Payload Mode to Dustbowl. In my book, that makes them heroes. As far as I can tell, Microsoft is the thing that would stand in the way of this. I have a feeling Valve would tell us how to do this (and hold our hands on the way), such is their stance on free content.

But you guys who said Glitching Through Walls and Skywalking were acceptable are pulling my leg, right? I admit I put those two in as a joke.

Speaking of jokes, what the hell is this? Community gamer smellsam44 posted a thread about me ragequitting a Sniper-only match, which is entirely true. smellsam44 killed me with a crit Kukri and I rage quitted. Big deal, right?

Apparently not. smellsam44 proceeded to write a thread about it in the Steam User's Forums. No harm done, right? Just a little story, bro?

Apparently not. I have never seen a community get so defensive before about something so trivial. I couldn't care less if smellsam44 decided to post such a story. I find it funny, but the rest of you didn't. It went on for three pages, during which it was agreed upon that I was a terrible player and that smellsam44 was a terrible person.

I don't agree with either of these. smellsam44 had a tale to tell, and it was a fun one. On the other hand, smellsam44's insistance that I was a worse player than him leaves me no other option. smellsam44, if you are reading this, I challenge you to a 1v1 match on Well or Granary, in which it will be decided whom is the better player.

Anyway, what about updates for the Xbox 360 version of Team Fortress 2?



Furthermore, why doesn't Valve make a thread as cool as this one for Xbox users now?

That is where The 10/10 Project comes in. This is, by far, the most ambitious idea to come to Xbox 360 players since my very own petition.

As you know if you are reading this, the petition was somewhat successful. With the help of 625 signatures, I was able to coax Valve into releasing an update to us Xbox 360 gamers. But I am convinced that the 10/10 Project is even better. Instead of a long list of names and one e-mail, why not a long list of e-mails?

The plan is to have Valve give out information by October 10th, 2009, the second birthday of The Orange Box. Obviously, this requires a form letter, created by community leader Frymon, which I present to you now.

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Title of e-mail: You Choose one.

Dear Mr. Newell/Walker/Lombardi,

I am writing to you out of concern of Team Fortress 2's XBox360's port, I play this game [as much as I can/Often/Sometimes/Never because of the bugs] and I was wondering if you have any news about the update?

I am a member of the 10/10 Project. (http://forums.steampowered.com/forum...d.php?t=939754) This is a fast-growing XBox360 Only group that is dedicated to get information about the XBox360 Update.

Henceforth, here is my request to you and your company, to answer the pleas of the XBox360 community, I am asking you to release information about the XBox360 Update in a blog post on www.teamfortress.com by The Orange Box's 2nd birthday, October 10th, 2009 (10/10/09) or sooner.

The community does not want much, but, we are VALVe customers and as such, I think we deserve at least a bit of news about our Update, not small things plugged into an update every 6 months.

Thank you for your time,
[Your Name Here]

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The plan is to send them all in on August 20th, 2009, but if you don't read this until after that date, send it in anyway. If you have any other questions, ask them here. Good luck to us all!

In the meantime, you can vote in the new poll or watch The 10/10 Project's official video.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dealing With Class Rushes

In honor of the first title update to the Xbox version of The Orange Box since April 1st, 2008,I decided to throw together a small guide to help you all fight your way through a new trend that has emerged. That trend is Class Rushing.

This new Class Rushing isn't the one your Grandma used to play. This is a whole new beast that consumes an entire match and is completely unstoppable (except by the host.) While Valve "rushes" to fix this, there is only one thing to do: prepare yourself. So, without, further ado, I present to you a guide written to help you deal with Class Rushes.

The Scout Rush

This rush will haunt your dreams. The sound of pattering feet and "Doc, c'mon man!" will become a trigger of fear in your mind. Never again will you underestimate the power of a 2x capture speed multiplier.

But if you are a Scout who knows when to switch to Pistol, you may become a god. If you didn't even know you had a Pistol, immediately start dodging and don't stop. Your friends may wonder why you are hopping around in the Respawn Room, but you will be the better for never stopping the Dodge.

If an enemy Scout runs at you holding a Baseball Bat, take out yours as well and pray for a Critical Hit. If all else fails, hide and taunt until the match ends.

This Rush is best played on: Well and Granary, though it has its moments on Hydro.

The Soldier Rush

I am an excellent Soldier. I know all the best Rocket Jumps. I know when to switch to Shotgun; I know when to switch to Shovel. I crafted the Soldier into an art form through my controller, and yet...when you are in a Soldier Rush, your best bet is to jump/crouch everywhere and shoot at the ground near your enemies.

Sadly, this tactic is neither difficult or particularly inventive, but it works quite well. If you time your shots correctly, your screen will become filled with bloody body parts as your enemies explode. If not, your screen will be full of your own blood and guts.

This Rush is best played on:Gravel Pit and Granary because of excellent verticals.

The Pyro Rush

Take your Shotgun out and don't switch to Flamethrower unless your enemies can't see you. Why? Hit detection with the Flamethrower is bad, but a Shotgun blast from point blank can do 90 HP damage. Also, this is the only time in which a Pyro is guaranteed to not get a kill from afterburn damage.

No matter how ugly things become, do not attempt to W+M1 (or Forward+R1 on the Xbox.) The enemy Pyro will naturally backpedal and flame you in return. When moving forward, your flame is shorter. When moving backward, your enemy's flame is longer. So, yeah, you just died.

And always remember to taunt over your enemy when you kill them. Always.

This Rush is best played on:Dustbowl because the chokepoints keep it from becoming too chaotic.

The Demoman Rush

The grenade spam in this type of rush will bring you fond memories of Team Fortress Classic. But, in all honesty, this is the most fun you will have during a rush. The Demoman is so *cough*overpowered*cough* versatile that acting offensively and defensively as a team actually takes strategy.

It is possible that it will just degrade into spam, as aforementioned, but that is still visually entertaining. In fact, it reminds me a little of a screen from Meet the Demoman.

In this rush, the most important skill you can have is to know when to reload. If you completely waste your ammo (which happens more frequently than you might think), you better hope you aim your Bottle well.

This Rush is best played on: any map, even 2Fort and Hydro. It's that fun.

The Heavy Rush

WHIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

When you play this rush, turn down your speakers or you might go deaf. The sound of Sasha spinning and shooting does not cease and if one person is calling a Medic, everyone else is too.

If you are unlucky enough to turn a corner and spot a few Heavies that are already spun up, the remainder of your life will look like you are entering Hyperspace.

Quite frankly, the number of bullets wizzing through the air during a Heavy rush is astounding. You will be taking damage continually, so be ready to run. But to dominate in a Heavy rush, you must know where to find ammo. Ammo is all you need to succeed (unless your aim is terrible.)

This Rush is best played on: Well because health and ammo packs litter the floor. In addition, capturing the final point feels epic.

The Engineer Rush

Prepare for stalemates. Do not attempt on Attack/Defend maps like Dustbowl and Gravel Pit.

Uh, that's all there is to say about Engineer rushes really.

This Rush is best played on: 2Fort becuase it nicely complements the general unplayability of the map.

The Sniper Rush

When you play in a match set to Sniper Rush, it will suddenly feel like Halo or Call of Duty.

The quest for team victory dissipates and is replaced with the search for individual glory. Snap shots are very possible as a headshot will kill anyone without a charge. Furthermore, the SMG feels like an Assault Rifle. If you didn't have to switch to your Kukri to melee, it would become just like those games.

As expected, this rush is a superb way of training to be a good Sniper. If you want to frequent servers like this, you should crank down your sensitivity. Doing so will have a major payoff.

Your best chance of starting a kill streak would be to snipe from unexpected places and to stay in motion. The less the enemy suspects, the better your chance of an easy shot. I could make a Weighted Companion Sniper joke, but this picture will suffice.

This Rush is best played on: 2Fort, obviously. But forget about capping the Intel. Think about blasting out the brains of the guy across the way instead.

The Medic Rush

This type is very odd. The Medic is the best support class, but when he can only support his own kind, things become quirky. You start to realize how powerful the Needle Gun is when you play this rush. At the same time, you wonder if the Ubercharge is really too useful.

With health everywhere, the commodity to watch is ammo, but that rarely becomes a problem. Even when depleted, the Bonesaw deals out a solid amount of damage. But no matter what you do to try to kill an enemy Medic, deaths will be rare. The Medigun heals too fast for long-term damage to be an option.

Therefore, to be effective, you must attack hard and fast. Chase the enemy to the edges of the map and remember to cut corners. It will take a bit, but eventually they will die.

This Rush is best played on: Well, Granary, or Hydro because playing it anywhere else creates bizarre balance issues.

The Spy Rush

Last, but certainly not least. The first thing to do is to forget your disguise. Your not fooling anyone.

Play a couple rounds of all-Spy and everyone will stop using their knifes. The Revolver is king.

When everyone decides to disguise, it is a mess. Chaos erupts because the Spy lacks a good Spychecking weapon. Everyone will want to be a Pyro, but they can't. Too bad.

If you ignore the loss of espionage, the game is still very fun, and it is teaching you to aim as well. I just wish we had The Ambassador.

This Rush is best played on: 2Fort. Carrying the Intel reveals which team you are on, creating an interesting side effect.

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That's all for today! I hope you enjoyed the read!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Neat Tournament Ideas (With Posters)

By now (if you are someone serious enough about Team Fortress 2 Xbox 360 that you read a blog about it) you know that Valve has announced that a nice, simple title update/patch is coming to us very soon and has already been sent in for certification by Microsoft.

This update will include fixes to stop jackasses, excuse me, hackers, as well as a few hosting options that may have been inspired by one of my earlier articles. It is very exciting, mostly because I know it is true, and because it can no longer be slowed down by Valve.

These hosting options will bring the world of competitive Team Fortress 2 fully to our doorstep. We will be able to turn off random crits and damage spread, as well as set class limits. But now that these options are available, I would hate to see them wasted on just 6v6 matches.

So, to give the community a broader range of match/tournament ideas, I searched the internet, and here are two separate and awesome posters for tournaments that have happened over in the PC Team Fortress 2 community.

The first is for a Soldier and Medic only tournament. It is entirely 2v2 and with no critical hits or damage spread, it could become extremely intense and satisfying. Furthermore, it would make excellent use of the map Hydro, with quick rounds, but clear progression and defeat/victories.



The second is not based on a joke, believe it or not. Rather, it is a match style designed to introduce casual players to the competitive scene. It would be a 6v9 match where the casual team has one of each class and the other team is a clan. I think this would be a lot of fun and would be a great way for clans to practice.



Expect articles to come a bit more rapidly after this. I have been pretty busy lately, but things are clearing up. Also, any sign of movement from Valve rejuvenates my enthusiasm for Team Fortress 2.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Spah Sappin' Mah Poll!

I glance away for a moment and, out of the corner of my eye, I spot movement. A puff of smoke, perhaps a blur of color. I look directly at it quickly and nothing is there.

I scroll up the page and check on the poll. Which class is the reader favorite? I see the results, gasp, and immediately know that something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Poll Results
Spy- 64 votes (31%)
Medic- 23 votes (11%)
Scout- 22 votes (10%)
Pyro- 21 votes (10%)
Soldier- 19 votes (9 %)
Sniper- 17 votes (8%)
Engineer- 16 votes (7%)
Demoman- 14 votes (6%)
Heavy- 9 votes (4%)

This should be a close one! Why wasn't there a nine-way tie? And why in the world is the Medic, whose job was referred to by computerandvideogames.com as "joyless service," in second place? Isn't it supposed to be boring to play Medic? Apparently not.

Still, this oddity pales in comparison to the strangest thing of all: the Spy managed to take the victory with 41 votes and 20% over the nearest competitor. Why is this odd? Because most of the other classes did not receive half of that number of votes and most didn't reach that much percent.

This poll has been messed around with, and I am sure the Spy has something to do with it. Wait, what's that behind me?

SP-

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Adapting To Survive and THRIVE

Many of you are probably keeping track of all things Valve in the last couple weeks.

For one thing, Left 4 Dead 2 is coming out on November 17, less than a year after the release of the first one. I, who never bought the first one but played it a couple times, was happy to hear this and I plan on buying it as soon as I can after its release.

Maybe you are one of those 32,000 people who have joined that cute boycotting group. Undoubtedly, that resolution won't last more than a few hours after seeing the first reviews.

I can see it now. In one day, 30,000 leave the group to go play their new favorite game. Good luck with Valve taking boycotting groups too seriously after that.

But I can't deny they have made a hilariously clever picture for themselves.



If you have been paying closer attention to Valve's noteworthy news, you have also stumbled across this wonderful interview by now. I highly suggest reading the entire thing if you haven't yet.

For the first time, Valve revealed a very specific tidbit of information regarding the update process of any game that has to go through Microsoft. That being, any required content following release must be 8 MB or less.

Which means, in essence, that there would be no possible way to ensure every player of Team Fortress 2 on the Xbox 360 would have all the unlockable weapons. I don't even think basic gameplay alterations to Team Fortress 2 on the PC version totals less than 8 MB.

Knowing this, and also knowing that Microsoft is unlikely to change their entire update process for one company leads me to think that a fresh start is in order.

To get right to the point, I think that Valve should release Team Fortress 2 over Xbox LIVE on November 17, 2009.

This would be an excellent move for Valve, using the hype surrounding Left 4 Dead 2 to promote their major multiplayer game, perhaps even adding incentive for purchase, such as 50% off Team Fortress 2 if they own Left 4 Dead 2.

But, since the patch size for the game would be so small, it would have to built without any problems and under the assumption that no major changes could be made afterward, especially not for free. More exactly, it would have to be designed like other games, with only map packs following release.

Obviously, it could not be made in the same way as the PC version, and it would entail a completely separate set of difficulties that would have to be addressed. Here is a list of problems in the current Team Fortress 2 that would have to be fixed before the release over Xbox LIVE:
  • Lag and latency
  • Class balancing
  • Map balancing
  • Bad competitive game
  • Bad party game
  • Cheating and hacking is easy
  • Matchmaking is flawed
I will be writing several articles on how to fix each of these problems, if only to entertain the thought, as Valve is unlikely to notice this at all.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Experiencing Side Effects

Just a short time ago I went to Ubercharged.net to ask for assistance in the plight of the Xbox 360 player of Team Fortress 2. I was hesitant, to understate things, because PC gamers have what I thought was a well warranted reputation for being elitist snobs when it comes to their favorite things.

"Stubborn to budge or be helpful in everything except the advancement of their own agenda," was my definition of the average PC gamer. I did not come to this conclusion by the guidance of others; it was formed in my own mind following various experiences with their kind.



A separate species I considered us two, like the monkey and the man. Similar in shape, but different in mannerisms. The console gamer was much more thoughtful, much more tolerant, it seemed. I expected little help from the PC crowd, save maybe a signature or two.

Instead, do you see what has happened? No less than 200 signatures in less than two days stating that the PC gamer understands, and not only that, is willing to risk the delayed arrival of their next update, for the sake of Valve's focus on the Xbox 360 update until its deliverance.

It is shocking, to be honest, and the waves of shame still rock my body. Never before have I been proven so profoundly wrong at an assumption. I beg your forgiveness, my PC brethren, for my (formerly) hidden bias!

But it doesn't stop there. Unbidden by me, the Xbox players began setting things in motion that were inspired by the message.

Since the posting of my article on Ubercharged.net, there has been a Facebook group founded to advance the movement, and, believe it or not, a Youtube video has been made that mentions the petition!

Now, the other end of those two links may be misguided and have false information in some parts, but the fact that they exist astounds me. I did not ask for this, it came naturally. It is because of this, the unified forward motion of both groups of gamers, that I feel we are destined to succeed.

How can Valve see these things and not be moved to action?

I assure you that they cannot, and it is because of you that this has happened. What an unprecedented merging of the minds.

Dustbowl Takes the Title

Are you as surprised as I am? Who knew that this beauty had victory coming?

I am, of course, entirely joking. I slighted this map to win from the beginning due to the amount of time I see it being played on XBox LIVE matches.

I am wondering, though, how Gravel Pit managed to pull off a close second. On Xbox LIVE, the second most commonly played map is 2Fort (who placed third, but was nowhere near the top two.)

One possiblility is that hosts like 2Fort more than Gravel Pit. Personally, Gravel Pit is my favorite map of the six and I am glad it came in second.

It is dissapointing to see that Granary and Well scored low, but they are better suited for competitive players. My only explanation for this is that the majority of the community is casual, which may or may not be true.

Surprisingly, Hydro is NOT stradling the bottom of the rankings. No explanation is required.

Here are the final results:

  1. Dustbowl: 178 votes (31%)
  2. Gravel PIt: 170 votes (29%)
  3. 2Fort: 83 votes (14%)
  4. Granary: 59 votes (10%)
  5. Hydro: 42 votes (7%)
  6. Well: 36 votes (6%)

Now stop reading this and go play some Team Fortress 2!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dear Valve, The Solution to the RAM Problem

Remember the last blog update that said the Xbox 360 update was on its way?

That was different than others because it was the first time that Valve admitted that they were having trouble. The RAM on an Xbox is a measly 512 MB, so it is understandable why this problem arised.

Hearing Valve state this was troubling, regardless. And considering that they haven't said anything since then, I can't help but feel scared for the future of the update.

There have been a few good suggestions as to how Valve can fix the RAM issue, such as lowering graphical quality or using new technology, but the former would be dissapointing and the latter is unrealistic and in Microsoft's hands.

The RAM is definetly being consumed by the new weapons and their various effects, so, for the sake of finally getting an update, would you sign this petition that states we would like an update with 1) all the new maps and 2) updates to current weapons/items?

Weapon and item changes would be upgradable Buildings and ammo nerfs to be specific. Also, a fix for the Ubercharge griefing during setup and some sort of Tournament Mode for the clans, poor guys.

The new items/weapons would be nice to have someday, but if they can't physically operate on the Xbox 360, than tell Valve that this is the solution for the time being. We are tired of waiting and want something to chew on to pass the time.

I am sure that we are all willing to pay ten dollars for 18 new maps, right?

/signed: Neal Kenneth
/signed: KazooieBanjo
/signed: iexplode
/signed: devilmyroy
/signed: ShoeMaster
/signed: geeko55
/signed: x Mischka x
/signed: Green Ninga 87
/signed: x ThisHasBeenDoneBEfore x
/signed: Shadowmancer88
/signed: Mental Scrooge
/signed: Champion1337
/signed: oZONED OUTo
/signed: Virus the fox
/signed: TheLastNewb
/signed: iGotzNoEyez K
/signed: m2msucks
/signed: SirSullymore
/signed: hackjackz
/signed: The Box Engi
/signed: motherfan
/signed: OptimusHagrid
/signed: ToShredsYouSay
/signed: KillitMrBubbles
/signed: Hallet1873
/signed: MoistKiwi
/signed: Duece Loosely
/signed: Erix360
/signed: HBH Cyro
/signed: HBH Priest
/signed: macDBH
/signed: KillerMidget568
/signed: Dirty Pickle
/signed: ultimatum21
/signed: haides777
/signed: Kindlyaznboy
/signed: azncheckmate777
/signed: tropikill777
/signed: Evil Bunny Hat
/signed: StarPilot87
/signed: ALBROSKY
/signed: Barry White CC
/signed: Marvin Gay73
/signed: Chuck Berry MC
/signed: Di11bo
/signed: PigeonHuntr1389
/signed: Kaptain K Rool
/signed: Captain Rocket
/signed: ISI Phantom
/signed: xxRickyDxx
/signed: UNDERtaker091
/signed: Seroiph
/signed: HumboldtRaider
/signed: Anahka Nostrand
/signed: EnigmaticOne
/signed: Benni Blonde
/signed: lanx10
/signed: B100d1ust
/signed: Skilled Luck
/signed: DEATH 1NCARN4TE
/signed: KingPax526
/signed: MySp00nlz2Big
/signed: AtomFury
/signed: Twilight_prince32
/signed: dimeq
/signed: tofusoss
/signed: HurricaneDPG
/signed: FLANKER 152
/signed: KillerProtist
/signed: OwnageExplosion
/signed: Jikal
/signed: Holys Gamertag
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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Well

Central Capture Point:

Don't let anyone fool you. A match of Well does not start when the gates open. What makes this map unique is that both teams can focus on preparation.

If you are an Engineer, it is of utmost importance that you set up the Teleporter Entrance the very first second you can. This map has a lot of travel time from spawn to center, so herding along reinforcements is beyond helpful. A suggested spot is beneath the central point, in the sideroom with entrance to the water.

If you want to kill somebody, though, you should take a look at those railcars on the side of the big building. You can shoot under them, to the side of them, heck, you can even jump over them if you are so inclined.

But the class who really excels before the clock runs down is the Sniper. The enemy dumbos will probably be peeking right through the gates to see the middle point (for reasons unknown,) leaving you with an easy instakill, until they wise up. Still, if they remain standing in one place, you'll be privy to some memorable feet kills.

Once the gates finally open, it is the job of every person on the team to rush in and try to take the center point, obviously. A Medic should deploy their Ubercharge as soon as it becomes available because the risk of death is so high in the first seconds of this match.

If things are looking good, send a disguised Spy out to the Transitions Point to attempt a quick capture. If things are looking bad, the survivors should busy themselves with distracting the other team and slowing their progress to the next point. The Scout, for example, can effectively stop an entire team from moving forward by making a large circle in the center building, continually grabbing the health packs.

No matter how ugly it may be, though, don't stoop down to the level of taking enemy Teleporters offline by sapping the Entrances. There is something about that action that screams that you are a skill-less husk of a player.

Once your team has formed a presence on the capture point, a Demoman should visibly place sticky bombs in the two ground entrances. This scare tactic can temporarily keep the enemy team out, even if the Demoman isn't watching his trap.

To summarize, keep the other team as distracted as possible to stop them from moving forward, if that be to your Transition Point or another wave of enemies to the Center Point.

Transition Point:

If you are defending this point, the best thing you can do for yourself is to keep checking into the Resupply Room (the one that doubles as a Spawn Room if you capture the Central Point.) No matter how intense the firefight is on the Transition Point, it is always a short retreat to full health and an instant reload.

Regardless, on a team of eight, only two or three people should be guarding this point. The rest of the players should be high-tailing it out to the Central Point, because you can't win the match without capturing it. If the whole team plays defense, it is setting itself up for stalemate (at best) or defeat (pretty likely.)

A Heavy, Pyro, and Demoman can lock down this point by themselves if they make regular trips to the Resupply. An Engineer isn't so helpful here because the geometry prevents a single Sentry from blocking a majority of the pathways. Instead, the team Engineer should go offensive and try to make some real progress.

As it takes so long to get up to the Sniper Deck, I would discourage any Snipers from trying to defend from that location. Like the Engineer, they are more useful being offensive.

Medics can make a massive impact when trying to capture this point, so if you are defending and the other team pops an Uber, run back to the nearby Resupply Room and wait it out.

Attacking this point is a whole different beast. Once inside the building, sight lines are very short and the list of movement options is short. Thus, a forward press of Soldiers and Scouts is unlikely to succeed as quickly as a barrage of Heavies and Pyros.

A Spy will be right at home here with many corners and dark places to hide in. Additionally, they have easy prey waiting in the Sniper deck. If your team begins to capture this point, it is your duty to get to the Final Point as fast as you can to attempt a quick capture.

Final Point:

If your team is pressed back this far very suddenly in a match, press forward right away. The opposing team is unlikely to have much offensive backbone, instead having had a quick cap on the Transition Point by a Scout or a Spy. A Heavy or a Pyro can do an excellent job of guarding the Final Point from a stray Scout or Spy while the rest of the team captures the Transition Point.

Many teams, instead of doing this, turtle up defensively and wait for the match to end in a stalemate or their defeat. Unless the entire enemy team is on your doorstep, only three or four players should defend this point while the rest of the players move forward.

The worst habit you can get into is "preparing" for the siege as an Engineer at the beginning of the match. You know who you are: the ones building Dispensers and slowly making their way up to the rafters. Sure, it might save you in the end from total failure, but it certainly isn't helping your team win.

If you are attacking as an Engineer, try to set up camp on the third floor. This valuable property will allow your team to reap the benefits of height advantage without climbing three flights of stairs, and is also difficult for the other team to recapture.

In the event that your team captures Transition Point, you should regroup than move forward together. In the meantime, a Scout or two can pester the enemies to buy you more time.

If you manage to build up an Ubercharge, be sure to use it wisely. Wait as long as you can to deploy it, and hope that someone doesn't get lucky and Crit the Medic. If you find yourselves alone on the Final Point and Ubered, the Medic should switch weapons so that he and his patient can capture the point before more enemies come.

If it is apparent that the other team is turtling, the team should try to make an attack from the balconies surrounding the Point. The vertical difference allows Soldiers to bombard the defense and Snipers to make a massive impact.

If your team is communicating, a good strategy is to snipe off the Engineers and Pyros while friendly Spies sap the Buildings. After weakening the team this heavily, your victory is imminent.

Well is one of my favorite maps if it is played correctly. Teams will often go back-and-forth over control of the Center Point, showing how much deeper the strategies and teamwork are on a 5-point symmetrical than an Attack/Defend like Dustbowl.

Suggested Improvements: The good news is that the issues I bring up have mostly been fixed on patches for the PC edition and are coming our way. The biggest problem is the ridiculous travel time from the ground floor to upper floors. An extra staircase will be added, but I also think that one of the windows on the Sniper Deck should be "busted out" for Soldiers and Demomen to jump through. Otherwise, I think time before Sudden Death should be a minute or two longer. Some epic charges have been ruined by that timer.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why Not Competitive Settings?

Having played Team Fortress 2 on the Xbox for over a year now, I have become, if I do say so myself, very good.

Now, I understand that this IS a game and, as such, should do its best to deliver good, clean fun. It has done that well, thanks to Valve, and the pacing is incomparable to any other multiplayer FPS in existence.

But as I get better and better, the more and more I am spotting a hole in the game: it does not translate smoothly into a competitive fashion.

Especially for the clans, poor guys. They could use an Xbox LIVE way of organizing things. Of course, they have made other outlets for our clans that are fantastic, such as this site, but surely being able to join a game as a group would be better for them.

Anyway, the main problem arises in the gameplay. Unless you hack/cheat/mod, there is no way to set up a fair, competitive, skill-based game, which I am desiring more daily. This is very different than the PC version, where all of the clans change settings to make the game more competitive.

It isn't unfair glitching, its just common sense, and I wish that XBox players could have the option to change the game to "competitive mode" or some stupid name like that. What would competitive mode entail? It would be something like this:

-No random critical hits
-Static damage (instead of dynamic)
-The ability to set class caps
-Friendly fire (turn on or off)
-Vote Kicking

Basically, a lot of little tweaks that would change the game drastically. Since the update has taken so long anyway, I don't see why Valve shouldn't take another day or two and write coding for this gaming option.

I know it would mean a lot to me to filter out the silent players in the community and search for a game that almost certainly would have better teamwork and a more serious perspective. And for clans, this would make all the difference in the world.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Take Comfort in Your Skill

It has been a couple days since my last post, but I have good reason. This new post has taken a bit more elbow grease on my part than usual (even worse than editing artwork of controllers on Paint.)

It all started when I began to think of the usual responses from PC gamers about the disadvantages of being a console gamer. Most of them I find acceptable, like lack of updates and the inability to create maps. But there has always been one that has bothered me a bit more than the others: CONSOLE GAMERS HAVE LESS SKILL.

This never, ever made sense to me. At what point did the game require less skill? If everyone on a computer games with a mouse, their controls are equal, creating an equal playing field in that respect. Similarly, everyone on the Xbox 360 uses the same standard controller. If the level of threat is equal from everyone, when does the PC users abilities make more influence against other players? The answer is that it doesn't.

Certainly, if a PC gamer came along with a mouse onto an Xbox 360 match, they would probably be extremely successful because the mouse is a superior input device. Instead of going through this much thought, however, PC gamers, instead, say that they have superior skill. This is completely untrue. In fact, if our input device is inferior and we accomplish the same things, that would actually require more skill.

When I had made peace with this, I heard another comment that deeply disturbed me. I was told that Team Fortress 2 on the Xbox 360 had auto-aim. "It isn't true," I told myself, "every frag of mine is my own, not assisted by some coding!"

"Maybe it wasn't so bad," I thought after awhile, "many 360 games use auto-aim, like Halo 3 or even Call of Duty 4. Heck, even Half-Life 2 used auto-aim on the PC!" My confidence was growing again, but only on the surface, and I would often remember this comment when I went on a 15 kill streak or sniped a Scout that was right in my face.

Soon after, I had my first air-shot kill with the Rocket Launcher (one of the most exhilarating moments of my gaming career, coming close to winning that Strider battle at the end of Episode Two.) But the experience became less exciting when I realized that it had been the game, not me, who had shot that soaring Soldier.

Then it hit me fast and hard. I had predicted that movement, not the computer. Auto-aim didn't make one difference in this case. I felt real success and I now considered Soldier to be a class of ridiculous skill because he couldn't rely on auto-aim.

But sometimes I still thought about auto-aim, and the more I played, the more I'd think about it. I began to watch my reticule while I played. Did it ever bend towards players? Could I miss by just a little and still do damage? When I was sighted in and I took my thumbs off the sticks, did my reticule follow the enemy?

The answers to these answers were all, surprisingly, NO, and in one day, months of discontent became confusion. How was auto-aim implemented if it did none of these things? Then I did something I should have done much earlier. I asked Robin Walker.

In his own words:
Hi Neal.
Nope, there's no auto-aim on the Xbox.

Robin.

So now I can take comfort in my skill. That is, unless I get lucky.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gravel Pit

Capture Point A:


This point is the hardest for RED to defend of the three on the map, probably because it is the furthest away from the spawn of the two initial defensible positions.

A clever Soldier or Demoman on team BLU can make it up to the point very quickly because much of the travel distance is vertical from the exit tunnels. A Sniper on either team can have a tremendous impact on the outcome of this point because the arena is basically a narrow strip. However, many objects obscure the view of players, and the upward slope can lead to a limited view for a BLU Sniper.


With all the height options here, a Scout can flank easily, while remaining mostly unseen. To slow down the Scouts, the single health pack is stored on the inside of a small building, forcing the Scout to move in a predictable fashion to retrieve it.

It is an excellent idea to have RED Pyro wait by the largest health pack (directly beneath the point), ready to spring into action if BLU begins to capture and essentially lockdown the health pack from BLU opponents.

Putting a Teleporter Exit in a clever hiding place near this point can mean the difference between losing the point and letting it get captured. Sentries are less useful on this point due to the long sightlines for Soldiers and Snipers to shoot them down.


All these factors mean that Point A is usually captured first, making every defensive decision surrounding it become extremely tense. The mission of RED should be slightly kamikaze because it is so unlikely that Point A will be saved from capture. Therefore, it is important that RED delay BLU for as long as possible here, but also to sacrifice it when saving it becomes unrealistic in order to defend A or B.



Some of the greatest chainstabs I've ever had have happened immediately after BLU captures A and they are headed to B. The emotional high of success can lead to them letting their guard down temporarily, so good Spies should capitalize on this opportunity. I know I do.


Capture Point B:



Following that terrible lead in to Point B's Introduction, some of you might not be taking it seriously enough. I cannot let that happen. Point B is one of the best map elements of any game I have ever played.

Standing about an equal distance from both RED and BLU's spawns, the Point B Building is likely to be in contention for a majority of the match. Much like a Teleporter Exit near Point A, a Soldier or Demoman on the roof of the Point B building provides an enormous amount of leverage. Note: If you are Engineer that get to this rooftop (without hacking), I highly suggest you build a Sentry farm up there. It is nigh impenetrable and a Teleporter Exit there can provide quick reinforcements.

A Spy can wreak havoc on RED defenses here because they can convincingly come in from any direction. Scouts can also be very effective on either team because they have a wide range of motion outside the building without every having to risk going inside, on the capture point.

In other words, it allows Scouts to impact the match without going where the Sentries are (something that Dustbowl has failed to do.) At the same time, once the Sentries are eliminated, the Scout can rush in and capture from any number of entrances.

If RED stays inside the building, they will eventually be bombarded to death from the outside, but if the team can keep BLU busy outside, a Heavy and a Pyro can clean up anybody that breaks through. RED Pyros also have an extra bite because BLU cannot return to spawn to douse the flames. A single BLU Medic can solve this problem, if BLU has one (it should.)

Stopping BLU from capturing Point B is fairly easy to do, even if they manage to collect a good presence there. If the point is almost captured, a good strategy for RED would be to split their ranks between setting up camp at C and sending one more squad to B. If B gets captured before the squad reaches BLU, they can at least disrupt their forward movement to C, giving the other squad more time to get ready.


Capture Point C:


Valve's intent, when creating this part of the map (according to the Developer Commentary), was to enforce a free-form battle until a decisive victory of one team was discernible. This invokes images of a fierce, climactic struggle.

This is stamped all to hell by a Spy decloaking on the point right after it becomes available. However, I cannot deny that this is a superb strategy. Even if this doesn't work, it shakes up team RED pretty badly, and soon they are making hectic, irrational decisions, such as Demomen trying to sticky-jump to the point using three stickies.

Since there are five separate entrances to the arena, team BLU has a lot of opportunity to cause chaos. Team RED can also flank from lots of areas, making Spies and Scouts even more useful than usual.

With point C being at the top of a large vertical building, a Solidier or Demoman has a lot of chances to rocket/sticky jump to attack or defend. Besides being a practical way to ascend the ramps quickly, it is also a great way to impress your friends.

Snipers will be right at home if they take the passage from A to attack the defenders on Point C. Conversely, a Pyro can make themselves usefull by periodically flushing out that area of the map of enemies.

All-in-all, Point C provides a lovely finish to a well-designed map. When you look at it, you begin to understand why Team Fortress 2 took nine years to make.


Suggested Improvements:
BLU has a small lead in the statistics, so measures to help RED win should be minor, not dramatic. The geometry is great, so my suggestion would be to have RED's respawns happen a little more frequently after Point C becomes available for capture.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

If You Haven't Yet, It's Time To Optimize your Controller

One of the earliest problems I had while playing Team Fortress 2 was that I felt limited by the control scheme that Valve had set for me to play with. After much tweaking, these are the controls I have settled on.

The reason I like this way of playing so much is that you never have to take your thumbs off of the movement/aiming sticks while performing actions that require precise movement/aiming.

For example, you don't need to make aiming adjustments while reloading, switching weapons, or taunting. At the same time, it is easy to dodge and attack simultaneously without any trouble.

Setting the controls this way also makes crouch-jumping incredibly easy and Rocket/Sticky Jumping possible. To further increase the simplicity, I would suggest switching the crouch from Toggle to Hold.

Finally, the most critical thing you can do to your controls to improve your game is to adjust your sensitivity so that it is as high as possible. It may seem challenging at first, but in the end, it allows you to defend yourself much more quickly, and to attack both accurately and with a better response time.

And for those of you who really want to take it to the next level in any FPS title, I would highly recommend you invest $10 in these Kontrol Freeks. They may look bizarre, but they make sense scientifically. The greater leverage supplied by the extensions allows for minuscule aiming adjustments that are otherwise impossible.

I can testify that they have improved my skill significantly, and they are quite sturdy, so don't worry about them getting broken. Good gaming!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Introduction

I bought my Xbox 360 almost 18 months ago, but the year prior to that was quite a struggle.

A lot of issues come up when you consider the affordability of an Xbox 360. I chose to budget myself, yet I didn't want to lose anything by spending less. And so the research began in January 2007. I had price checked, literally, hundreds of sites by the time I began to narrow my focus to just a few. I had to factor in so many things, such as Shipping&Handling charges as well as seasonal bargains that would no longer exist by the time I had gathered enough spending ability.

My list of essentials began to shrink with time, with my overlying goal soon entailing the gather of as many resources as possible with an expense of less than $800. I might remind you, at this point, that the average price of an Xbox 360 at that time was about $400, so it wasn't as easy as it would be nowadays.

I needed to have two controllers (costing about $100 together), a Play-n-Charge Kit ($25 that I didn't want to spend on batteries later), and my own television set (a $100 hard-to-find beauty that I suggest you take a look at).

Do the math, and you'll realize that I was left approximately $175. With that much I couldn't even afford to have three new games. The level of frustration was so high now that I almost decided to buy a good camera instead.
But I collected myself and brought forth a new level of dedication to the cause. It wasn't so bad, I thought, and I wasn't to give up on an idea I'd been working on for 8 months. So began the research into which games I wanted.

I quickly decided that I would try to get one good game for each of the major genres: FPS, RTS, RPG, Action/Adventure, Racing, Sports, and Music. The only obvious choice to me was to purchase Halo 3. Yes, marketing and advertising does work when the hype train starts to roll.

Other games were more difficult to find. Racing went to Burnout Revenge. Action/Adventure went to Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (included in the package I bought.) On and on the list went, but I wanted more.

That is when, by strange chance, I discovered a preview for Portal. I fell in love instantly. The innovateness of Portal is subtle but undeniable. After Portal, I read a review for The Orange Box. Suddenly, Halo 3 was out the window forever and The Orange Box reigned supreme.