Sentry Heatmaps

Not sure how many people will find this awesome, but a guy has been collecting heatmaps based off of TF2 games on his server. On the heatmaps, they he recorded the data of where they were built and how many people they killed in order to get the best positions to put sentries. I’ve actually used this to get better positioning on my sentries. I’ve started playing engineer more and am really, really enjoying it. It’s certainly a needed class and sometimes no one wants to play it. It’s especially necessary on pl maps for defense to lock down those capture points.

I love what Valve has started here with collecting and organizing all of this data. They supply the hooks to the servers and collect much of the data themselves too. This has allowed them to design better maps that are more fun, more balanced, and less frustrating to both sides. I fully approve of this type of data collection for awesome purposes.

TF2 and Why the New Drop Sucks Ass

I have a long history with the team fortress franchise. Not nearly as long as some (I never played the original qwtf since I didn’t ever really play quake), but I’ve easily, easily played over 1000 hours of TFC and TF2 combined (114 or so in TF2). I didn’t care for a lot of the changes they made from TFC to TF2, but I’ve come to accept it as a new and different game and enjoy it nonetheless.

I’ve long espoused the benefits of mods that release somewhat regular updates. It’s why I’ve loved DOTA, counter strike, tfc, natural selection, science and industry, and all of the other mods I’ve played over the years. I get bored of games that don’t ever change and love that Valve is continually changing TF2. I don’t always agree with their decisions, but overall I’d say they’ve been pretty good. Up until now, that is.

This latest update they’ve done has been the biggest disappointment to me since finding out the only way to counter an uber is with another uber (that has since been rectified with the invention of the pyro’s bounce blast thank god). They’ve changed the unlocking of new weapons to something that I absolutely despise. The way it used to work was you had to do a certain number of achievements with a class to unlock weapons for that class. The more you play that particular class, the more you’re likely to unlock the new weapons. It’s not a perfect method as it spawned achievement servers for people who really wanted the weapons, but I enjoyed it for the most part. I at least understood what Valve was trying to do with it even if it frustrated me a bit that I couldn’t have the new weapons without getting achievements.

The new system gives weapons (and now hats too!) based completely on time in a server. It is utterly random and will even give you duplicates of items you already have. Whereas before, you at least knew how to get items and weapons, you now can’t get them without luck. I could understand that for things like the hats which don’t do anything except look cool, but for the weapons, it generates some serious weapon envy. It’s also incredibly frustrating when you find out you got something new only to realize that you already have three of it. Valve has stated that they wanted to make everyone get the weapons eventually, but their algorithm is absolutely terrible. It’s spawned idle servers where people just sit in servers doing nothing and getting items. It’s even more dumb than the old achievement servers where the people were just trying to get the achievements.

There’s no sense of accomplishment when you get one, there’s envy when someone else gets something you don’t have (especially when they say it’s their third), and there’s no way to change it. It feels like there’s a black box that randomly gives out gifts even if you don’t want them.

Please fix this Valve. An idea I had, which I still really like is that if someone has the new item/weapon and you kill them and pick it up, you now have it as well. Yes, people will abuse this, but they’ll try to abuse any system. Also, why is it that they have to be unlockable at all? What purpose does this serve? Coming from a background of being a serious competitor in TFC, I can tell you that if I were in leagues and someone had an unfair advantage over me by have unlocks that I literally couldn’t get, that would piss me off.

Another thing you can do is have the random drops only drop things you don’t have. Valve has said that they’re going to implement trading later on, but really, what’s the point? Is this some test bed for a game they’re working on and they want to get the system all worked out before implementing it there? It’s really fucking annoying and has zero place in TF2 land. It’s putting a system in place to solve a problem that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

Long and short, this new system is terrible. It’s frustrating for people who can’t get the weapons, it’s frustrating for the people who have multiple items, it’s stupid for having people idle in servers to get the weapons, and overall it doesn’t give any sense of achievement or purpose to the game. Even when people get the items and weapons, they didn’t do anything to deserve them, they were just playing the game. I guess maybe that’s what Valve wanted, but if that’s the case, they went a really backwards way of getting people to play.