Mann vs. Machine's been up and running for over a week now, and we've been hard at work since we launched to make the experience even better. We've upgraded our matchmaking system and given a huge boost to our server count, reducing the average wait for Mann Up Mode down to a minute or less, and Boot Camp to around two minutes. So you should be able to get in to play a lot faster, and get matched up with people a lot closer to you.
Also, guess whose birthday it is? Did you guess Team Fortress or Valve? Well, technically sure, both are sixteen years old today. But more importantly, today is the birthday of high-wattage Hollywood megastar Steve Guttenberg, who is probably 112 years old today, if we had to guess.
In celebration of all of these birthdays, and birthdays in general, Birthday Mode is active in the game! Happy sweet sixteen, everybody! We're not going anywhere! Long term, we mean. Short term we <i>are</i> going somewhere, because Team Fortress is now old enough to drive, so we're gonna go Tokyo Drift over to the cake store.
We couldn't be happier to hear this, firstly because it once again proves that TF2's got the most generous community in gaming history, and secondly because <b>U! S! A! U! S! A!</b> Actually, there might be some Canadians on the team. <b>Close! E! Nough! Close! E! Nough!</b>
Interesting math fact: If you added up every Steam Screenshot, every YouTube clip linked from a Steam account, and every Workshop item you guys have created together, you'd have over <b>89,000,000 pieces of community-generated content.</b> Wow, is that a big number. And since we take the time to print out every TF2 screenshot, transfer every TF2 video to DVD, and lovingly whittle every TF2 item you design out of soap, the TF2 offices are getting a little cluttered. A load-bearing picture stack in the screenshot district toppled over last week, and the fire department suggested we create some sort of central online hub for this stuff before somebody died.
Introducing the <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/app/440">TF2 Game Hub,</a> a central repository of community-created and official content, as rated by you, the Steam users—game-centric discussions, workshop items, screenshots, videos, news. It's all here, under a single virtual roof.
And this is just the first step. We plan to have a hub for every game on Steam—<a href="http://www.steamcommunity.com/communitycontent">click here</a> to find out more about the new Steam Community. We're sending out an invite-only beta for the Community today, but the TF2 hub's outside the beta and visible to everyone, so feel welcome to drop by and check out some of the new features.
All right, men! This is it! Gray Mann's robot army is HERE! The Mann vs. Machine war has begun!
The robots are at our doorstep, men, and trust me – they are not going to be asking for a cup of sugar. No! These monsters are going to <i>break down</i> our doors, <i>take</i> our sugar, and sprinkle it on our <i>graves!</i>
Have you seen the movie <i>Alien</i>? Remember how tough that alien was? Well, imagine if there was a version of <i>Alien</i> but with like hundreds of aliens. One: That would be a great movie that we now own the idea for. Two: The impossible odds of that situation pretty accurately describe the trouble you’re in for when that carrier opens on Wednesday and Gray Mann’s robot army pours out. Luckily, we solved the enormous plot hole that would have plagued our currently-in-production <i>Alien</i> sequel by offering MvM’s plucky heroes a whole mess of deadly upgrades for their weapons, items and abilities, which you can <a href="http://www.teamfortress.com/mvm/mercs/">read about here</a>.
We’re also unveiling a new museum-themed map called <a href="http://www.teamfortress.com/mvm/coaltown/">Coal Town</a>. It features many informative placards about the fascinating details of life in a turn-of-the-century mining community, which you can read when you’re lying on the ground holding your own guts in while a robot stomps on your neck.
This is Saxton. Hale! And that legion business in the title was a Bible quote to let you know how serious this all is: <i>Bible serious</i>. So listen up, mercs. Some <a href="http://www.teamfortress.com/bloodbrothers/">puny coward's</a> built an <a href="http://www.teamfortress.com/mvm/">army of robots</a> to fight his fights for him. I don't know if robots have human emotions, but if not, they’re doing a Saxxy-worthy impression of them, because <i>they look mad.</i> Also, Reddy tells me they’re heading straight at Mann Co.
So there's a big fight coming, and I'm going to need you mercs to fight it for me. Not for <i>coward</i> reasons, though. <i>Fight</i> reasons. I got a <a href="http://www.teamfortress.com/fateworsethanchess/">different fight going</a> and I can't fight both fights at once. Well, I could, but the fights are on different continents.
Boyohboy. If you're like me, reading the word "fight" this much has got you in the mood to fight. Last thing you probably want to do right now is read. Unfortunately, Bidwell wrote a <a href="http://www.teamfortress.com/mvm/machines/"> stupid report</a> on all the heavy hitters you’ll be running into out there. If I was you I’d skip it.
Alright, enough reading advice. It's man-to-man talk time. I am not going to lie to you: I am going to have to lie to you. You men are <b>absolutely</b> prepared to deal with this, and <b>you are going to be just fine.</b> Right. End of lie. Now get ready to absorb some bullets so they don’t hit my factories.
Were you thinking, "I really like playing TF2, but I wish there was a King of the Hill map set in a Chinese cityscape"? Well, your oddly specific and scarily prescient dreams have come true! Introducing Kong King - TF2’s first city-themed map! - created in collaboration with Sleeping Dogs and community member Valentin Levillain, aka 3Dnj.
We’re a little disappointed that Valentin is spending all of his time making TF2 maps and not fulfilling his true destiny as a roguishly handsome super-villain, but it gives us a chance to finish our costumes for our inevitable battle atop a snowy mountain where we will fight for the love of Cassandra Prosciutto.
You may be able to capture her physical form with your hyper-advanced laser-traps, Levillain, but you will never capture…her <b>heart</b>!
Interesting China Fact: Did you know China has a mafia? Did you know that, not only do they exist, they'll loan you money? And not even a little -- as much as you want! We hadn't even heard of them until last week, and now we're treating them like a cash machine. Seriously, these guys are nice. They've even started calling us all the time now, probably to ask how we're getting along with all that free money they gave us.
Anyway, the Chinese Mafia made their own game, Sleeping Dogs, so we've added some <a href="http://www.teamfortress.com/triad">all-new items to TF</a> in honor of our new best friends. Also, if anyone's seen Robin Walker, tell him somebody mailed us his hand, because he's probably looking for it.
It isn't often documented, but there tends to be a lot of cross-pollination of ideas across the various teams here at Valve. There are a lot of talented folks walking around the halls here, and it's incredibly helpful to show them things and get their feedback, because with each round of feedback we'll manage to solve a problem or even find some new inspiration. Case in point: When the Source Filmmaker team was working on ideas for what the "Meet the Pyro" would look like, one of the ideas stood out. Not only were we amused at the proposed world of the Pyro, but immediately were thinking of how much fun it could be to play inside it.”
Of course, one of the immediate issues with this was how to bring the pastel color scheme and various whimsical storybook elements that made up Pyro's dream world into the textured world of TF2, with its more naturalistic palette and real-world setting. Achieving the Pyroland look would not only require creating a completely new texture set, but would have to be constrained both by texture memory and artistic resources.
Some of the things we ended up creating to solve this included, firstly, a replacement system that let us override the default textures in the game with an alternate version; and secondly, a new graphics shader system that we called "Pyro Vision". Here's what the final result was, but it took a few tries to get there.