Despite my continued efforts to better you by yelling at you through a microphone to do better, it is often difficult -- and thus disheartening -- to figure out if any of you damp piles of mulch are actually improving.
I found the answer, in all places, in one of the insipid gun-themed women's magazines Miss Pauling leaves lying around, where I stumbled on an article about self-improvement. It was a revelation: Instead of screaming at you to improve, I could scream at you while you <i>improved yourselves</i>.
I immediately telephoned Mann Co. and demanded to speak to Mister Reddy. Then that lummox Saxton Hale intercepted the call. I tried to explain my idea as patiently as possible, telling him about self-improvement. ("If they're like me, Helen, they're already perfect. And if you take something perfect and make it more than perfect, you get, hell, probably a wormhole or something. Damned scientists. No, I don't like it.") I explained the possibility of mercenaries tracking their own statistics. ("If they're like me, they win 100% of their battles in the best way possible. If they need to remember that, they can write it on their hands like I do.") Several minutes of this and many clumsy pick-up lines later (something about steak dinners), I lost my patience entirely and told him to put his assistant Reddy on the damn phone, and between us we hashed out a plan.
Interested in self-improvement, mercenaries? Of course you are. Read on.
<strong>The Per Diem Perk</strong>
Mister Reddy has prepared <b>three absolutely unique one-of-a-kind hats</b> that will rotate through the mercenary community every day. Who will get them? The three mercs who <b>give the most gifts, win the most duels,</b> and <b>purchase the most map stamps</b> on a given day. Presumably wearing these one-of-a-kind hats will make the winners feel like they've achieved something. Or not, I could give a damn. So long as they make you all better killing machines.
Only found in crates, Strange Parts will help you study specific aspects of (what I charitably call) your performance in battle by letting you customize your favorite Strange weapon. Now you're free to track the number of enemies you gib, projectiles you reflect, heads you've shot, and more. It is Mister Reddy's hope that you will be able to track your performance and celebrate improvements while isolating weaknesses. It is my hope that when you're confronted with the abysmally small numbers you wastes of space are doubtlessly achieving, you'll stop goldbricking around and do something.
Also, Mister Reddy asked me to remind you that Strange Parts are still a work in progress. So if the mood takes you, visit the TF2 forum and let him know what you're interested in tracking. I’m sure he'll do his utmost to accommodate you. Moreso than I would if you came to me with your problems, at any rate, unless your problem is that you love shallow graves and hate breathing.
There. Enough motivation. Now. IMPROVE or I'll DESTROY YOU.
If there's one thing we know more about than hats, it's probably romance. Remember that romantic scene in Say Anything where John Cusack holds up a boom box in the rain? Well, we hold stuff up in the rain all the time. Golf clubs. Our wallets. An umbrella. Whatever's handy, really. And do the girls go for it? Hard to tell - it rains pretty hard in Seattle, so the limited visibility combined with wind shear makes it tough to see the appreciation on the ladies' faces.
Anyway, today's Valentine's Day, and that means if you're dating or married, you're going to drop somewhere in the area of $600 tonight on flowers, dinner, babysitters, hot air balloon rides, a hospital bill for rain-related holding injuries (Seattle only). It adds up fast, and you might be asking yourself at the end of the night, "Was it all worth it?" The answer, emphatically, is no. Happy Valentine's Day, stupid.
But wait! What if we told you that you could waste as much as 1/6 less money this Valentine's Day? What if we added that you could do it without even leaving your house? Then what if we sweetened the deal further by saying sorry for calling you stupid earlier?
Introducing the "Something Special For Someone Special". It's ring-shaped, it's gift-wrapped, it's basically useless, and it's really expensive ($100!). In short, it's the most accurate simulation of an actual Valentine's Day gift ever made available to the public.
Here's how it works:
First, it's not tradable, only giftable. When it shows up in your special someone's backpack, they can click on it to open a menu that will let them accept your proposal. Once the proposal's been accepted, a message will be broadcast to the entire TF community that will include your name, your special someone's name, and whatever you decided to call the ring. Then presto, the gift turns into two matching diamond bands you can wear in the rain while you smooch up a storm, you crazy kids.
<i>My radio's bad from the Boulevard.
I'm a hip-hop gangster and my name is Todd.
Terrorising my neighbours with the heavy bass.
I keep the suckas in fear by the look on my face.</i>
-LL Cool J, 1985
Most people only know LL Cool J as a rapper, actor, fashion designer, record producer, and author. Now, though, you can add "spooky-ass Nostradamus" to that list, because we've just released a misc slot item for the Scout called "The Boston Boom Bringer" that pretty much exactly matches the lyrics LL penned <i>almost thirty years ago.</i> Is it a radio? Yes! Is it "bad"? Yes! When you taunt while it's equipped, will it play music to terrorize your neighbors and scare suckas? Yes! Are you a hip-hop gangster named Todd? That's gonna vary from person to person, obviously, but it's not totally out of the question! The point is, there's probably an LL Cool J song that predicts your death. The secondary point is everything we just said about the sweet new boom box item.
If you thought the end of the world was the only thing to look forward to in 2012, guess again. There's a ton of TF2 stuff on the horizon, running for their lives just slightly ahead of the Mayan blood tornadoes.
<b>A Secret TF2 Project!</b>
The TF2 team is working on something brand new for 2012. We can't tell you what it is, because they won't tell us, but what they WILL say is that it isn't a hat, it isn't a map, and go away. From this we can only conclude that the TF2 team is working on some ungodly hat-map hybrid that you can wear on your head while you run around in it. You heard it here first. Also last, because they just told us it's not that either. But it's<br />really cool.
<b>A Steam Workshop Blog!</b>
You might think we went a little overboard putting an exclamation mark on that title, but hear us out: we bought a gross of exclamatory punctuation on eBay, and we've got to get rid of these things before someone finds out how much we spent on them. ($7,000!!!!!!) Anyway, the blog is live! <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/workshop/">Check it out here</a> for the latest workshop news and announcements! There've been nearly 4000 user-generated items submitted so far, and we're going to keep shipping them throughout the year(!), so head over to the Workshop and vote on what you'd like to see."
<b>The Last "Meet the Team" Short</b>
That title probably deserved an exclamation mark, but we over-estimated how many we had and now we're out. This year, the lovable, indecipherable <a href="http://www.teamfortress.com/classes.php?class=pyro">Pyro</a> finally gets some time in the spotlight. <i>There will be blood</i>. And not like in the movie <i>There Will Be Blood</i>, either, where there was only blood at the end, and not even very much of it. Ours has lots of blood pretty much all the way through. If the butterscotch mint-sucking old mummies who pick the Academy Awards thought <i>Look Out, There Might Be a Little Blood</i> was great, wait’ll they see how many gallons we managed to cram into our movie. They’re going to have to melt down Fort Knox to make all the Oscars we’re going to win.
<b>The Second Annual Saxxy Awards</b>
Just in case the Oscar mummies don’t recognize the subtle dramatic undertones of the uninterrupted blood explosion that is Meet the Pyro, we can always stack the deck at the Saxxys, our own awards show. This year, expect the Saxxys to be much bigger and better, due to the imminent unveiling of another secret. Is it that we’re giving Meet the Pyro five Oscars? That’s not the secret, but let’s just say we’d like to thank the Academy. More specifically, we’d like to thank the Academy’s lawyers for not reading this blog post.
With all the hustle and busty fustle of Australian Christmas, you probably thought we forgot the most important part of it: The gift-giving. Well, we didn't forget. We were hoping <i>you</i> would. But you didn't--you guys are sharp! So get your Gift-Gettin' Pants on, because you are about to <b>get gifts,</b> and we'd prefer you were wearing pants for it.
<b>GIFTED!</b> All the community items previously only available in the Nice Crates are now craftable, droppable, and available in all the ways you're used to getting them!
<b>ALSO THIS GIFT!</b> A free Secret Saxton for every premium account!
<b>DUCK! GIFT COMIN' ATCHA!</b> To acknowledge all you generous souls who've been handing out Secret Saxtons and piles of gifts since the formation of the TF economy, everybody is receiving a Spirit of Giving badge. It's a plate-sized x-ray illustrating to your peers exactly how big your heart is, and consequently, what a good person you are. You—and more importantly, everybody else—will actually be able to <b>see</b> your heart grow over time depending how many gifts you're giving. We strapped an actual decommissioned Soviet-era x-ray machine to several team members' chests, and trust us, the science checks out: The people in our experiment with the biggest hearts <b>were</b> in fact the nicest guys on staff. How do we know? You should have <b>seen</b> how many people showed up at their funerals.
<b>STOCKING STUFFER!</b> In an effort to get the gift-giving juices flowing, we've made every map as Smissmassy as possible by wrapping lights around every rope!
<b>BUT THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL...</b> was <i>inside you all along.</i> It's blood! Turns out you can sell it! See you at the plasma center! Merry Smissmas, everybody!
In the spirit of Australian Christmas/Smissmas/Your Holiday Here, we'd like to give a few shout-outs to all the hardworking boys and girls who made this update possible. First, a big thanks to all our community holiday item creators. Thanks also to the Dr. Grordbort guys for their cool retro-futuristic Engie and Pyro weapons. If you think they look nice in-game, wait'll you see their real-life equivalents, on sale right now at <a href="http://www.drgrordborts.com">drgrordborts.com</a>!
Just because the update’s coming tomorrow doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be playing RIGHT NOW, because guess what: Double drop rates start tonight! They’re only around until next Wednesday, so get in there and take advantage of all the double dropping!
What <b><i>is</i></b> the true meaning of <a href="http://www.teamfortress.com/australianchristmas/">Australian Christmas</a>? Some say it is a hamfisted attempt by the Australian government to turn a notorious felon into a beloved folk hero. Others say it's a calculated ploy by the novelty munitions industry to sell guns that shoot mistletoe.
And then there are those who look <i>past</i> all that, and maintain that it is a time to reconnect with friends and loved ones, and to be thankful for the blessings in our lives.
And <i>then</i> there are those who are still licking their emotional wounds from all the reconnecting with friends and loved ones they did at Thanksgiving, and realize that the <b>true</b> true meaning of Australian Christmas is zero human contact, eating candy, and getting as many presents as possible.
And those people are correct—<b>that</b> is the true meaning of Australian Christmas. We looked it up.
Today, we're introducing a <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=212">new item</a> from the Steam Workshop, voted on by the community and buyable by everyone. The “Itsy Bitsy Spyer” is a miniature Spy voodoo doll that clips onto the Engineer's belt. It's featured in our Mann Co. Spotlight box at the immediate right of this post!
And for you traders out there, there's a link right underneath the Spotlight item that'll let you buy keys without going into the game. Plus, we’ve removed the three-day trading cooldown for anyone whose first Steam purchase was 30 days ago or more.
It's that special time of mid-November, where nothing is special yet, but you can feel the tingle of impending specialness right around the corner. All the signs are there. When you kill a man, you can actually see his last breath hanging in the chill mid-November pre-specialness air. Turkeys have retreated to their bunkers in a vain attempt to weather the upcoming onslaught of holidays devoted to gleeful turkey slaughter. And, are those sleighbells we hear? Because our legal department assures us they aren't. That's right, TFers. It's beginning to look a lot like an upcoming holiday our legal department won't let us mention, but that rhymes with "Smissmas".
Everywhere, that is, except in our item submission queue, where there doesn't seem to be any Smissmas joy at all. No Smissmas trees. No smazzletoe. Not even a smamukkah bush, which is a different holiday we can't mention but would also have been acceptable.
So it's up to you, item crafters! You've got until December 1st to have your hearts grow three sizes, be visited by spirits in the night, and get in the Smissmas spirit by submitting holiday-themed items to the <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/workshop">Steam Workshop</a>. What holiday? <i>Your guess is as good as ours!</i>