TF2 Blog


Issue #5 is live! Man, it feels like just yesterday since Issue #4 came out. How long's it been since we released that, anyway? Let's see... one month, two... hm. three... four... wow, five...


Actually, let's not focus on how long it's been. The important thing is Issue #5's out! The last two should be coming out a little quicker.


Product Update - Valve
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:

  • Fixed a security issue related to map loading (thanks to Nathaniel Theis for this report)
  • Fixed a client crash related to custom HUDs
  • Fixed a client crash related to the material system
  • Fixed Gun Mettle weapons not always displaying their wear level in the tool tip
  • Fixed the Lurker's Leathers not using the correct Blue team material
  • Fixed a bug in Mann vs. Machine that allowed players to refund credits without losing their upgrades
  • Fixed a bug in Mann vs. Machine related to the Medigun shield
  • The Dalokohs Bar can now accept Allies Extinguished strange parts
  • Updated the materials and model for the Outta' Sight
  • Updated the The Crosslinker's Coil, The Br tal Bouffant, and The Wilson Weave to add a 'No Headphones' style
  • Updated the localization files
TF2 Blog
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:
  • Fixed a security issue related to map loading (thanks to Nathaniel Theis for this report)
  • Fixed a client crash related to custom HUDs
  • Fixed a client crash related to the material system
  • Fixed Gun Mettle weapons not always displaying their wear level in the tool tip
  • Fixed the Lurker's Leathers not using the correct Blue team material
  • Fixed a bug in Mann vs. Machine that allowed players to refund credits without losing their upgrades
  • Fixed a bug in Mann vs. Machine related to the Medigun shield
  • The Dalokohs Bar can now accept Allies Extinguished strange parts
  • Updated the materials and model for the Outta' Sight
  • Updated the The Crosslinker's Coil, The Br tal Bouffant, and The Wilson Weave to add a 'No Headphones' style
  • Updated the localization files
TF2 Blog
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:
  • Added Collection Trade-Ups!
    • Check out the blog post for more information
  • Added Map Stamps and Strange Filters for the featured maps in the Gun Mettle Campaign
  • Added the Gun Mettle Cosmetic Case which contains new community cosmetic items
    • Gun Mettle Cosmetic Case can only be found by players with a campaign coin
    • Cosmetics in a collection can be listed on the Steam Community Market
  • All Strange items now have a visible icon in backpack panels
  • Added an option button to display paints and/or styles options for items in the Mann Co. Store preview page and the Steam Workshop item import tool
  • Added the OWL 14 tournament medals
  • Added a Steam Community Profile option to the player right-click context menu in the scoreboard
  • Fixed a buffer overflow exploit (thanks to Didrole for this report)
  • Fixed a Mann vs. Machine exploit related to purchasing upgrades while not at an upgrade station
  • Fixed a Mann vs. Machine exploit related to the Medigun shield
  • Fixed the Gun Mettle Coin not displaying its proper level in the Steam Community view
  • Fixed the Enforcer getting a damage bonus as the Spy was disguising and not fully disguised
  • Fixed the cvarlist command truncating some cvar/command descriptions
  • Fixed hitting 'Enter' while in the backpack menu triggering buttons in the main menu
  • Fixed invalid map names in nextlevel convar or the map cycle causing the server to fail to change level after displaying the score panel
  • Fixed the Engineer losing revenge crits and picked-up weapons after using The Eureka Effect to teleport back to base
  • The Dalokohs Bar can now accept Ally Healing Done strange parts
  • Updated several HUD elements to include the name of the weapon's owner when a player is carrying a weapon they picked-up
  • Updated the materials for the Stickybomb Launcher
  • Updated Mann Co. Store prices for foreign currencies to current USD equivalents
  • Updated the localization files
  • PASS Time update
    • Fixed scoring in your own goal if you change teams while the jack is in flight
    • Fixed disguised and cloaked enemy Spies having a shield drawn for them in the HUD
    • Fixed players sometimes not being able to throw the jack
    • Fixed another case where players could teleport the jack with The Eureka Effect
    • Fixed The Dead Ringer making it impossible to throw the jack or deactivate the Dead Ringer
    • All global special abilities that are activated with alt-fire are now available while carrying the jack, unless you're actively aiming the jack
    • Unlocked console variables for community servers to experiment with without requiring sv_cheats
    • Fixed Scouts being able to pick up the jack while drinking
    • Fixed disguised Spies being able to carry the jack in some situations
    • Made weapon switch faster after throwing the jack
    • Fixed not getting a speed boost if you score and then get the jack after it respawns
    • Fixed a crash if mp_tournament was enabled and someone scored during pre-game
    • Improved the way blocking works
    • Fixed being able to cancel enemy taunts by hitting them with the ball
    • Fixed seeing a phantom jack in your hand if you threw the jack and couldn't switch back to your previous weapon (jars, cleavers, etc.)
    • Updated pass_warehouse
      • Fixed issue with jack getting stuck behind props
      • Fixed exploit of jack getting stuck in dropper
      • Fixed issue with unbalanced ammo and health kits
      • Moved resupply closets further from the doors
      • Added plank walkway to central warehouses on top of the containers
  • Server Browser
    • Fixed the history tab of the server browser failing to record servers
    • Fixed the spectate tab of the server browser not working at all
    • Fixed the game info dialog for SourceTV master servers improperly showing the server as not responding
    • Fixed connecting to SourceTV servers via the Favorites tab in the server browser
    • Fixed SourceTV relay servers not properly registering on the server list in some situations
    • Fixed the game info dialog for SourceTV relay servers not allowing connection despite open slots
    • Fixed SourceTV relay servers appearing to have negative max players
  • Maps Workshop Beta
    • Fixed map cycle files specified before the initial map load not properly tracking workshop maps
    • Fixed game servers using registered accounts via sv_setsteamaccount being unable to access workshop content
    • Fixed servers getting stuck in a loop when the nextlevel convar contains a un-loadable workshop map
Product Update - Valve
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:

  • Added Collection Trade-Ups!
  • Added Map Stamps and Strange Filters for the featured maps in the Gun Mettle Campaign
  • Added the Gun Mettle Cosmetic Case which contains new community cosmetic items
    • Gun Mettle Cosmetic Case can only be found by players with a campaign coin
    • Cosmetics in a collection can be listed on the Steam Community Market
  • All Strange items now have a visible icon in backpack panels
  • Added an option button to display paints and/or styles options for items in the Mann Co. Store preview page and the Steam Workshop item import tool
  • Added the OWL 14 tournament medals
  • Added a Steam Community Profile option to the player right-click context menu in the scoreboard
  • Fixed a buffer overflow exploit (thanks to Didrole for this report)
  • Fixed a Mann vs. Machine exploit related to purchasing upgrades while not at an upgrade station
  • Fixed a Mann vs. Machine exploit related to the Medigun shield
  • Fixed the Gun Mettle Coin not displaying its proper level in the Steam Community view
  • Fixed the Enforcer getting a damage bonus as the Spy was disguising and not fully disguised
  • Fixed the cvarlist command truncating some cvar/command descriptions
  • Fixed hitting 'Enter' while in the backpack menu triggering buttons in the main menu
  • Fixed invalid map names in nextlevel convar or the map cycle causing the server to fail to change level after displaying the score panel
  • Fixed the Engineer losing revenge crits and picked-up weapons after using The Eureka Effect to teleport back to base
  • The Dalokohs Bar can now accept Ally Healing Done strange parts
  • Updated several HUD elements to include the name of the weapon's owner when a player is carrying a weapon they picked-up
  • Updated the materials for the Stickybomb Launcher
  • Updated Mann Co. Store prices for foreign currencies to current USD equivalents
  • Updated the localization files
  • PASS Time update
    • Fixed scoring in your own goal if you change teams while the jack is in flight
    • Fixed disguised and cloaked enemy Spies having a shield drawn for them in the HUD
    • Fixed players sometimes not being able to throw the jack
    • Fixed another case where players could teleport the jack with The Eureka Effect
    • Fixed The Dead Ringer making it impossible to throw the jack or deactivate the Dead Ringer
    • All global special abilities that are activated with alt-fire are now available while carrying the jack, unless you're actively aiming the jack
    • Unlocked console variables for community servers to experiment with without requiring sv_cheats
    • Fixed Scouts being able to pick up the jack while drinking
    • Fixed disguised Spies being able to carry the jack in some situations
    • Made weapon switch faster after throwing the jack
    • Fixed not getting a speed boost if you score and then get the jack after it respawns
    • Fixed a crash if mp_tournament was enabled and someone scored during pre-game
    • Improved the way blocking works
    • Fixed being able to cancel enemy taunts by hitting them with the ball
    • Fixed seeing a phantom jack in your hand if you threw the jack and couldn't switch back to your previous weapon (jars, cleavers, etc.)
    • Updated pass_warehouse
      • Fixed issue with jack getting stuck behind props
      • Fixed exploit of jack getting stuck in dropper
      • Fixed issue with unbalanced ammo and health kits
      • Moved resupply closets further from the doors
      • Added plank walkway to central warehouses on top of the containers
  • Server Browser
    • Fixed the history tab of the server browser failing to record servers
    • Fixed the spectate tab of the server browser not working at all
    • Fixed the game info dialog for SourceTV master servers improperly showing the server as not responding
    • Fixed connecting to SourceTV servers via the Favorites tab in the server browser
    • Fixed SourceTV relay servers not properly registering on the server list in some situations
    • Fixed the game info dialog for SourceTV relay servers not allowing connection despite open slots
    • Fixed SourceTV relay servers appearing to have negative max players
  • Maps Workshop Beta
    • Fixed map cycle files specified before the initial map load not properly tracking workshop maps
    • Fixed game servers using registered accounts via sv_setsteamaccount being unable to access workshop content
    • Fixed servers getting stuck in a loop when the nextlevel convar contains a un-loadable workshop map
TF2 Blog


If you haven't already bought a pass to the Gun Mettle campaign, it's not too late! But it will be in a week, because we're going to stop selling them. So this is your last chance to get a Gun Mettle Campaign Pass. If you're thinking, "The Campaign's almost over, why buy one now?", the answer is that you'll still get access to all past contracts up until now, in addition to all of the contracts for the remainder of the campaign. There's still five weeks until Gun Mettle's over, soo that's a heck of a lot of chances to snag yourself some one-of-a-kind campaign-exclusive weapons.


Speaking of those: If you've got ten campaign-exclusive items just sitting around, we've got good news for you. Now you can trade them in for a higher-tier item! Simply click on any Gun Mettle item in your inventory and choose "Mann Co. Trade-Up" from the drop-down menu to give it a shot!


We're also shipping the Gun Mettle Cosmetic Case, an exclusive community cosmetic item collection now available as a weekly random drop for folks who own a Gun Mettle Campaign Coin. Just like the weapons, all of these 16 cosmetics have a chance to contain Strange capability, and the nine hats in the collection have a chance at being Unusual.


Let's see, what else? We've made it so you can now preview Gun Mettle cosmetic items in your inventory the same way you can preview Gun Mettle weapons. We've also added map stamps and strange filters for all of the community-created Gun Mettle Campaign maps. (Don't forget to submit your maps to the Maps Workshop Beta, mapmakers!)


PC Gamer

Erik Johnson

Erik worked as a QA tester for Sierra on the original Half-Life, and subsequently joined Valve to work as a shipping manager. According to his official bio, he's now one of the company's 'business development authorities'. That's not a job title, mind.

Earlier this month, during the International, I had a chance to sit down with Valve s Erik Johnson for half an hour to discuss Dota 2 s past, present, and future. In particular, I was keen to talk to Erik about Valve s approach to the community—the way it chooses to talk to, and not to talk to, the increasingly large group of people who make Dota 2 their hobby. I can t promise too many hot scoops from what follows—this is Valve we re talking about—but it should be of interest if you re curious about how Valve operate as a game developer and service provider. This is the philosophy that produces the stuff you love about Dota as well as the stuff that makes you angry. The two are not, it turns out, entirely separable.

PC Gamer: With regards to Reborn, how has the beta been going? When you rolled it out, the plan for launch was post-TI . Have there been any surprises? Has it progressed slower or faster than you expected, in terms of issues rolling in?

Erik Johnson: Not really. There s a bunch of cool custom games getting built which we kind of expected. We re happy with overall performance of the engine across a variety of hardware. Dota runs faster on higher-end machines, which is what you d hope would happen if you made a big technology investment, so yeah—we re happy with how things are moving.

PCG: Is there an ETA, for Reborn?

EJ: No ETA, but sooner rather than later. Once this tournament s over, that s the thing we re pushing hardest.

PCG: I thought it was interesting watching, from Manifold Paradox to New Bloom, how your approach to designing live events for the community changed [you can read more detailed thoughts about said events here, for what it's worth. - Ed] Manifold Paradox was controversial for being the first event that brought new mechanics inside the regular Dota game. New Bloom moved away from that. Was that a case of trying it and finding that it didn t work?

"We still feel that, fundamentally, our strongest form of communication is software."

EJ: Everything that we do like that, we re just poking at something specific to see how it works. We re not technically running a science experiment, but we have ideas—like what if there was an additional level alongside the things that are going on in everybody s day to day Dota matches . How do we fit that into the experience? How do we build new content around an event that exists for everyone, rather than being something separate? That was the impetus behind that. I believe it tied into Oracle—we like building stories and depth into those heroes and making that all make sense for people.

We got a bunch of good data from it and then we did a more traditional event around the Lunar New Year. But so much of our focus has been on getting Reborn up and running and that was something that we were doing without talking. It wasn t very out in the open for a long time. We weren t making huge investments publically in events as we have in years past because we were pretty invested in Source 2.

PCG: I remember a post written in the aftermath of the Diretide that didn t happen, that said this is how we re going to change how we communicate . There seems to be a little bit of tension in the way Valve communicates between that openness and the desire for those big reveal moments. There are times when it s a case of silence, silence, silence, silence, then suddenly something new. Does that all-or-nothing difference need to be smoothed out a little?

EJ: We still feel that, fundamentally, our strongest form of communication is software. You can discern everything we ve done and everything we re thinking by reading through an update. We think that there s some amount of value in just surprising the community with something you didn t think was coming and we wouldn t want to lose that. But we hear when people are saying that we do a poor job at communication and some of it s an artifact of the type of company that we are. I think sometimes it turns to what I feel is a place that s not super accurate, like Valve doesn t care . We care a huge amount about our users and our community.

PCG: There s an orthodoxy for community management among people who run online games. Valve is really different. There s no video person who s in front of people every day.

EJ: Exactly. I guess we just take a different approach. Instead of a community manager, the person that you re going to hear from at Valve is somebody who is working on the game every day. There s a currency of time that we re all investing into our products, and we could either be getting what looks like community management or we could be working on the next hero and it really is that kind of tradeoff.

In our heads we re constantly saying, fundamentally, what do I think I could add the most value to? But the question really is, what does the community want me to work on today? If we told everybody what we were doing, would they say oh, that s the right thing to work on ? That s how we re testing the decisions we re making. When an artist s saying 'I could make a blog post about what happened last week, or I could start sketching out what Pit Lord s going to look like' they say 'I think people just want me to make Pit Lord.'

PCG: There s a certain degree of trust on both sides there, right? You re trusting that you know what the community will respond best to, but you re also asking the community to trust that that s what you re doing. They don t have that information. There s no sense of even how big the Dota team is or what day-to-day looks like. That s the flipside. Do you think that you need to let people in a little bit more, or simply refresh that trust from time to time?

EJ: It comes up often enough that certainly it s something that we need to look at.

"We certainly don t want to come in and enforce our set of rules."

PCG: Something that seems to have not come up for a while is player behaviour. There was a bunch of different approaches to the report system and—must be more than a year ago now—some data about how it affected things. Is that something to return to post-Reborn? Because that s one of Dota s problems, as a piece of software—people. Is that something that should get more attention?

EJ: It s not something that currently bubbles up super high, at least in terms of what we see in terms of feedback. But there are people at Valve who look at that problem almost continuously.

PCG: For the platform as a whole? For Steam?

EJ: For Dota also. Matchmaking and behaviour in Dota have a pretty strong relationship. So the same people look at those problems all of the time.

PCG: We talked about community management in terms of PR, but it also concerns how the community talk to each other, the language they use—is that something you feel that you can wade into? It seems a point of tension with the notion that the community is always right. Sometimes they are calling each other names.

EJ: I think the community s reasonably good at policing itself when it comes to the type of language they use. We certainly don t want to come in and enforce our set of rules. If the community rallies around a certain set of things that they want to make happen then we re happy to write the code that makes that come true. We have access to a bunch of data that s useful for us in terms of measuring how those things are being done inside of the game, so maybe our view on it is a little bit... we think more accurate.

Surely people get angry and say bad words when they play games of Dota, especially when they lose, but as a whole, if you walk around this event…

PCG: ...people are nice in real life.

EJ: We fundamentally love our customers and our community. We re not really willing to go to the place where we feel that we need to make a bunch of decisions about the content they create for each other.

PCG: Related is the newcomer experience. It s something that you ve experimented with two years running at this event and in terms of the game itself. Dota s other big problem is its accessibility. How has your approach to that changed? You did the first spate of tutorials a year and a bit ago. You re doing new ones for Reborn. What was the thinking behind that?

EJ: It was a little bit of hey, let s go back and revisit this and tinker with it . Dota has a lot of users so its accessibility actually seems pretty great. People tend to play the game and keep playing it for a really long time. I think, fundamentally, people come into Dota 2 the same way they did with DotA 1—one of their friends is playing Dota and they want to play games together, and that s how they get into the game. But, especially around the International, we cast the net pretty wide because there could be a bunch of people who want to try it out and see if it s the thing for them. The training maps, that s their goal.

Same as the new player stream that happens with the event. The audience for that might be a bunch of people that just want to show, say, their parents. Clearly there s no strong business motive for Valve to get a bunch of parents to watch Dota when they re probably never going to play it, but there is a bunch of value in a bunch of fans feeling good about the product that they care so much about. Does that make sense?

PCG: That s an interesting angle. Speaking to you before, and speaking to others from Valve, I understand that you serve the audience that you have. But what if you want somebody else to join that audience, somebody who doesn t already have a channel into it?

EJ: As with any problem, you want to make it the simplest possible problem. Valve want people to play Dota. They re only going to do that if they re having fun. If they re not having fun they re going to go and do something else because entertainment time is hard to come by. We don t make our world super complicated— what region should we go into where we think a certain percentage of users would be playing Dota? What s the demographic of our users? We re like, how do we make a bunch of people happy . That s really all we re trying to do. With this event, it s how do we make the people who come here super happy . When people are playing Dota or using Steam or playing Counter-Strike: how can we make our existing customers super happy so they tell their friends, hey I m super happy come play this game with me .

"There s this pull towards a bunch of short-term good, long-term awful decisions."

PCG: Does that allow you to take a longer view? I was wondering if you d seen a lack of growth because of the lack of landmark updates during the time that Reborn has been in development. The rate of new hero additions has dropped off dramatically over the last couple of years, from 13 in 2013 to three last year, one so far this year. In other games those things are done specifically because it gets the game back out in front of people again. Do you feel the need to compete in that way?

EJ: We re still growing pretty well in terms of users. We were at eight and a half million users this time last year and we re at eleven and a half million this year. Again, like, it s data that tells us that we re pushing things forward but we re not driving at some magic number and we re not driving towards growth. I feel like—let s just keep making people happy and keeping them entertained, because that s a hard enough problem—to convince someone to spend some of their very limited entertainment time on a thing we built.

You asked if this is the long play on things? I hope so, because everything we do at Valve, that s how we try to approach it. We ve always felt like there s this pull towards a bunch of short-term good, long-term awful decisions that are just sitting there waiting for people take all the time. We re sad when we see other companies do that. As long as Valve s been around, our decision has been to just do the long-term thing. That s the company we want to come in to work at every day. Not some silly short-term decision being made.

PCG: Finally, Pit Lord. Question mark?

EJ: It d be awesome if Pit Lord was in the game. I don t actually know, though.

PCG: Fair enough. Valve things.

EJ: Looking forward to those five-man teleports, though.

Still hungry for Dota 2 hot takes? Check out Three Lane Highway.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Philippa Warr)

Welcome to part two of “Thoughts about MOBA tutorials” – I hope you are as excited as I… WAIT COME BACK!

Tutorials might sound like a weird thing to devote two columns to given the wealth of other shenanigans and dramas in the MOBA communities at any given time but tutorials (or lack of them) can be the difference between having a good introduction to those games and communities and bouncing off so hard you could have treated the game as a launch rocket.

Last time I took an in-depth look at what Valve are doing in Dota 2’s Reborn client, this time I’ve had a chance to return to Smite [official site] and League of Legends [official site] to check out what they’re doing and not doing. I also have some suggestions for other ways to get players up to speed. Here’s what I reckon:

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.>

Not Global Offensive. Not Source. I’m talking the original Counter-Strike. The Half-Life mod; the game that was more popular than its online competitors combined; the game that in many ways pioneered both games as services and games as playable alphas; the game that spawned two follow-ups but which even right now, as I’m writing this, has 20,211 concurrent players through Steam.

… [visit site to read more]

Community Announcements - Gautam ☁
The quality of workshop submissions has been steadily increasing. We’ve seen some incredible work by new and returning contributors. For the next case, in order to direct this amazing creative force in the most useful direction, we’ve decided to announce in advance the weapons we hope to ship.

Shipping a case means balancing an ideal case design against the available weapons on the workshop. Often we’d like to ship a particular weapon at a particular quality, but can’t find a match on the workshop. As a result we end up shipping some weapons more frequently than we’d like, and some a lot less.

While we expect to ship several of the items already on the workshop, we’re hoping this announcement can help guide artists to fill some gaps (marked with an asterisk below). Note that the list isn’t a guarantee of the final case design. With that caveat out of the way, here is the list:

Covert
  • M4A1-S
  • G3SG1*
Classified
  • USP-S
  • AK-47
  • SSG 08*
Restricted
  • M249*
  • P250
  • MAG-7*
  • Galil AR*
Mil-Spec
  • Glock-18
  • Dual Berettas*
  • FAMAS*
  • SCAR-20*
  • XM1014*
  • MP7*
  • MAC-10

We will be making our final selections after September 7th.

FAQ

Do I need to do anything special to be eligible for this case?
No, all you have to do is submit your designs by September 7th and make sure your item has been finalized on the workshop.

Do I need to use the new paint style in my design?
No, it’s just one more option that you can consider. As with any weapon case, we’ll be looking for variety in art style.

Do I get paid more for a weapon in a higher tier?
No. Every weapon in a case pays out an equal share.

How do I design for a specific tier?
It mainly has to do with visual salience and design specificity. Weapons with bright colors and designs that perfectly complement a weapon’s geometry end up in the upper tiers. Weapons with more subdued colors and/or more randomization in the pattern application end up in the lower tiers.

What can I do to stand out?
Give your weapon a story. This is more than creating a beautiful design; it’s giving the weapon a visible history that hints at a larger narrative. Good examples are the AWP | Asiimov, the P250 | Cartel, AK-47 | Wasteland Rebel, and the P90 | Elite Build.
...

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