Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of the Update Address #1

The time has come to make our last stand.

This will be the final project I will amass and organize in regards to an update for Team Fortress 2 on the Xbox 360. My dedication is such as that failure might leave a larger impact than success. But, before we begin, we must familiarize ourselves with our list of objectives. What is it that we really want?

Our simple demand is an answer. Overall, this is the most satisfying response we can safely hope for from Valve. Is it really coming, this update you promised? We agree, Valve, the sense of closure we would receive from a "no" would far outweigh any aggressive response or retaliation.

Having been in the dark for so long has provided ample opportunity for the pondering of possibilities, though, and I can see no reason to completely abandon us. I am a realist, I understand the issues, and I can see the optimum solution.

The best way, I have decided, to begin this proposal is to outline the issues to those who may not understand fully them. By doing so, I wish to produce an educated audience and, perhaps, move Valve to see the actions they could take to appease us.

THE PROBLEMS:

-Micrsoft is forcing Valve to charge for potential updates.
-The game changes are limited by the amount of RAM the XBox possesses.
-As Team Fortress 2 is an ongoing process, it is difficult to determine when, if ever, to update.

Having laid out the short list of true obstacles, it is easy to see that they can be solved and that compromises can be made that would not have been so well received before.

For instance, paying for an update may have seemed unfair in the summer of 2008, but that hardly concerns us now (within reason.) The other two problems have a joint solution that is more complicated and that I will spend the remainder of this article elaborating on.

My main concern is that RAM limitation is a massive (post-release) technical issue. Truly, if Valve would dedicate themselves to managing this, I would pity them. Their system of continually adding new content to the game entails an ever-increasing amount of RAM, which is impossible for the Xbox to keep up with.

I have presented a solution to this, and it was widely supported by the community. We attained almost 650 signatures on one petition, enough that I got tired of adding them to the list. We did have some success with this. Valve patched the game (for better or worse, you be the judge.) But you missed the point, Valve, and that has stalled contentment.

Forget anything that would greatly stress RAM requirements, Valve. This includes new weapons, animations, taunts, voice lines, ANYTHING. This idea is trudging steadily towards one year since its inception, and yet, you have ignored it just as long.

Most game developers must wish for such a clear, unanimous demand from their customers (that makes a task easier, nonetheless,) but having it, you've done nothing to appease us. Why?

Having said this, I will move on to the remaining issue: the feud with Microsoft over pricing. Judging by the latest news from Valve, it would be very large and not that expensive. Some people say that a priced update would force a split in the already-small playerbase, but I ask; whom would not buy this update? Show yourself if you exist.

You don't exist, I assume, unless you are one nasty troll, and, in an instant, the third problem disappears completely.

Leaving us, finally, with the last order of business, the substance of the actual update. What would it include?

That comes next time, readers, in full clarity.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Little Something to Nibble On

Not too long ago, I saw that I was nearing my 666th post on the Steampowered.com Forums. I needed to do something really awful, but inspiration didn't strike me until I remembered Valve's promise to us. The one about "news by the New Year."

I assaulted the Team Fortress 2 PC forums with this little ditty, entitled This Is Your Last Chance, Valve.

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"If you don't mention something about the Xbox 360 update (even its cancellation) by the end of the year, it's over.

I mean it this time, I will really break up with you. Good luck finding another person that loved you as much as I did.

This is your final warning,

Neal Kenneth
"

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The PC community could not have responded in a better way. I expected trolling to some extent, but the result was too beautiful for words.

When things started to cool off, as all things do at some point, I decided to reveal to them that I was awarding +rep to the best responses. Thus, the "niceties" continued for some time. Here are some of the best.

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Lord Vader: You will be missed, and then there will be cake.

Slayer479: Hope left you a long time ago lad. She's with me now.

Rell109:
Valve Employee #1: Did we make a game for the Xbox other than L4D/L4D2/

Valve Employee #2: Don't think so...

NoRegrets: Watch out, you guys, he has a blogspot account and isn't afraid to use it!

Richiek13: Failbox 360 is fail anyway.

ColonelTwitch:
Deep within the bowels of Valve, Gabe Newell laughs hard for a few seconds, and then begins to wheeze uncontrollably.

and so on...

After the WAR! Update reached its conclusion, I saw that the updates to the PC version are mostly irrevocable, so I changed my mind with a concise REVISION.

I have some surprising news, readers. Very soon, I will own a computer capable of running any of Valve's games. I have little desire of switching from Xbox, but this could revolutionize my posting abilities.

As such, I am somewhat changing my original plan, pushing it back a couple weeks. Stay tuned!

Friday, January 15, 2010

TWO Posts in 24 Hours?

That's probably a thought that went through your mind in the last couple of seconds. Sorry to disappoint you, but this is only to report the results of the last poll and set up a new one.


Which Class Update (So Far) Do You Desire the Most?

Sniper/Spy: 69 votes (50%)
Pyro: 22 votes (16%)
Medic: 16 votes (11%)
Scout: 15 votes (11%)
Heavy: 14 votes (10%)


The Sniper/Spy Update pulled away with a massive victory (half the vote!), with the final three positions being a tight joust. Overall, about as exciting as poll can be.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Screw Your Weapons To The Sticking Place!

Over the past two years, Valve has been dedicating all of its abilities to slowly (but surely) destroying the Team Fortress 2 we console gamers know and love.

Too drastic, you ask? Definetly. There is not a large possibility that this was Valve's intent, but it has happened nonetheless. I mean, have you seen the WAR! Update?

The promotion was the regular Valve fanfare, known to most of you as "better every single damn time." Really? A comic? SWEET! A battle between Demomen and Soldiers? EVEN COOLER! A series of convincing newspaper covers! OMG, WOW! Truly, no one else gets you excited for something as well as Valve does.

To give you a rough idea of how good Valve is at being awesome, the badass picture above was made by a fan. And it only got third place in the poster contest. Which had over 11,00 entries.

Woah, wait, over 11,000 entries? Yes, that's right. 11,000 entries in a period of FIVE DAYS. This is unlike anything that has ever happened in the history of gaming, which is actually a regular thing for Valve to accomplish.

And then you look at the new weapons and wonder what the hell went wrong...

I don't even know where to start, so I'll just rant. The Direct Hit is basically a shotgun at close range and bullshit at long range. The only redeemable quality it has is mini-critting on air shots, which also makes it grossly overpowered in the hands of a skilled Soldier.

Then there's the Scottish Resistance that was clearly designed to be a clumsier, less useful version of a regular Sticky Launcher. I really can't think of any other design qualities Valve was going for here besides that. I will literally award a prize to someone who can think of a reason to use it instead of the Sticky Launcher.

Next up is a Buff Banner (with Bugle) that takes any Soldier and makes him look like a harmless Abercrombie model about to come out of the closet.

You thought I was joking until you saw that, didn't you? What if I told you it turns the Soldier into a walking version of everyone's favorite jar of urine? Yeah, I didn't think you'd be excited either, but I am trying my best to justify its exsistence.

I'd like to tell you that things get better from here, but the worst is yet to come.

Remember that time when the Heavy was fun to play? No, don't give up! Think way back to when you first started playing Team Fortress 2. Ah, the smile on your face tells me that you've made it there. Difficult, wasn't it?

The problem with the Heavy isn't that he isn't useful or that he is overpowered; these couldn't be further from the truth. I have less than five hours of Heavy playtime, but I'd calculate my Kill to Death Ratio as Heavy at around 7:1. He also holds my record for most kills in one life, at a solid 22 bodybags. So, in the right hands (preferably a Medic's) he is a killing machine. Too bad he is about as fun to play as a round of Monopoly. If you didn't chuckle at that joke, it's because you've never finished a round of Monopoly.

Out of this comes the real tragedy of the WAR! Update. See, the Eyelander, the Chargin' Targe, and the Equalizer are gimmicks when equipped to a Demoman or Soldier, but they would have revolutionized the Heavy. Think about it. A Heavy that becomes faster as you damage him. I piddled a little just considering it. Or even scarier, getting bull-rushed by a Heavy that proceeds to lop your head off your shoulders!

How could this have been overlooked? Where is the Valve I know? Why must the Heavy be left to die on the streets of Dullwood?

I'll tell you why. Valve has lost touch with the original concept of Team Fortress 2.

Now try to stop crying, son, and listen up. This is where you and I come in. Who better than those whom have played the unchanged game for...ever...to remind them of what they have sacrificed in the name of cheap "fun?" Stayed tuned, reader, this is just the introduction to what comes next.

We will get attention. We will have ours. I will take you there.