In much the same way that most of the characters in the 1983 haunted elevator movie “The Lift” were warned – repeatedly - to take the stairs, we warned you that the frankly terrifying <a href="http://www.teamfortress.com/blizzbobarrabas/">Scream Fortress Halloween event</a> was coming. And now it’s here, and you’re scared, and you don’t have anyone to blame but yourself. This year, you’ll experience the tear-squirting terror of being trapped in a living nightmare with a vindictive ghost, just like everyone in M. Night Shyamalan’s epic of elevator haunting, “Devil”. Before we get to the horror proper, though, we’d like to thank everyone in the community who contributed such terrific items on short notice. Alright, enough talking. As female reporter Jennifer says just before the final elevator battle in “The Shaft”: It’s going DOWN!
Yes, we're talking directly to YOU, Aaron A. Aaronson! This prophecy of your death is coming from INSIDE YOUR OWN COMPUTER! AWOOOOOO!
Hello, everyone else! What you just experienced was a brave new frontier in Halloween scaring technology: personalized terror! Rather than generically scaring all of you a little, from this Halloween forward, we’re going to scare one specific person... TO DEATH! Admittedly, much like the Human Genome Project, this is going to take some time. So everybody be patient - you'll all be scared eventually. Also, if any of you know Aaron <i>B.</i> Aaronson and don't want to deprive him of the thrill of dying of terror next year, don’t tell him about this blog post.
But just because we’re all now living in the amazing far future of scaring, being frightened in ways that until moments ago seemed impossible, that doesn’t mean we don’t have some more traditional Halloween horror planned for you. First of all, we’re happy and scared to announce the Fourth Annual Scream Fortress Halloween update, dedicated to the loving memory to Aaron A. Aaronson. It doesn’t ship until tomorrow, but you can <a href="http://www.teamfortress.com/blizzbobarrabas/">read all the eerie details here</a>.
Secondly, we’re pleased to present the first in our new series of Halloween-themed release notes. It’s a terrifying little tidbit of fearful fact reporting we call “John Carpenter’s Changes to the Functionality of Halloween Gifts”! Last year, gifts spawned publicly and could be claimed by whoever got there first. This year, players will receive private gift spawns that they can grab at their leisure without having to race everyone on the server for them. The end. Directed and programmed by John Carpenter.
Since 99.9999% of you probably read that title and went directly to the Mann Co. Store, we assume we're now speaking to the three of you who don't believe in reading titles. And now that we've restated the importance of reading the title, we assume those three are gone too. We're essentially talking to ourselves right now, but Valve has a minimum word count for all blog posts that we haven't quite reached yet. Did we mention that items will be anywhere from 25% to 75% off? Well, we have now. Also, the minimum word count is 100 words. Bam!
Much like in <i>Goldilocks and the Three Bears,</i> specifically the part where Goldilocks broke into a bear's house looking for a place to sleep, some of you thought the one Tour of Duty we shipped with Mann vs. Machine was too hard. Others of you found it too soft. A lot of you thought it was <i>just right</i>.
In the fable, of course, Goldilocks held the defenseless bear family at gunpoint until her boyfriend Chet got there, at which point things turned truly grim. This is where our story diverges from that true crime drama, because we've sidestepped the issue by adding more Tours of Duty to MvM mode. Now, in addition to Operation Steel Trap (hard), we've got <b>Operation Oil Spill</b> (less hard) and <b>Operation Gear Grinder</b> (very hard). As Chet might say, "You goddamn bears are in for a lonnnnng night."
In the same way that Goldilocks and Chet drove off covered in bear blood and honey with a flatscreen TV and fourteen dollars in cash, we've cooked up some <b>tour-specific loot</b> you can take to your hideout in Florida. Just like the Botkiller heads awarded to survivors of Operation Steel Trap, we've got some brand new spoils of war you can only get in these new tours: <b>rusty, blood-covered 'bot heads</b> for the intermediate-level Operation Oil Spill, and some <b>24-carat diamond 'bot heads</b> for the expert-level Operation Gear Grinder, so those of you players who survive the tour can show off a little bling to prove it.
(Remember: as always, loot is the <i>only</i> difference between MvM on the unofficial "Boot Camp" server and official "Mann Up" servers. Otherwise the gameplay is identical.)
Improved Matchmaking! You can now select multiple missions you'd like to play, to maximize the chances of finding compatible players as quickly as possible. We’ve also added some handy buttons that'll let you select all missions of a particular difficulty level, or all missions not yet marked off on a Tour of Duty.
Lastly, like when Chet and Goldilocks beat a retired cop to death in Boca Raton and were sent to separate federal prisons, when your MvM group beat a mission, we used to disband the group. Now we've made it so that when you beat a mission to death in Boca Raton or elsewhere, you and the other players on the server are sent back to the matchmaking screen as a group, so you can keep playing together.
In just under a month, we'll start accepting entries for shorts made with the <a href="http://www.sourcefilmmaker.com/">Source Filmmaker,</a> Valve's filmmaking tool. You'll be able to submit in five different categories (Best Action, Best Drama, Best Comedy, Best Original Universe and now Best Replay) with the hope of taking home a Saxxy at the star-studded <a href="http://www.teamfortress.com/saxxyawards2012/">Second Annual Saxxy Awards.</a> So if you've got an SFM opus in you, crack those knuckles and get creating — November 1st'll be here in no time.
Also, a couple of quick changes for entrants:
<b>We've Added a Replay Category</b> The Source Filmmaker is the perfect resource for creators looking to dramatize the TF2 mercenaries' off-hours — but after we announced the Saxxy rules, we realized we'd under-represented some of the great dramatic, comedic or just plain violently entertaining moments in-game. So we've added a new category to celebrate all the creators out there who'd rather make their movie magic on the battlefield.
<b>You Can Use Non-SFM Tools for Post-Production</b> Because the SFM didn't ship with a few post-production features, like titling and transitions, we've decided to let people use other effects and editing tools for this year's contest.
Remember, though, that nothing makes us happier than people using and giving feedback on the SFM. We want this tool to keep getting better and better, and to do that, we'll need creative folks like you pushing the SFM in new directions.
It's a well-established fact that every Halloween, all the ghosts, goblins, Draculas, bigfoots, Frankensteins and Area 51 aliens leave their house at the cemetery to scare humans. But what would happen if you snuck down to the cemetery <i>before</i> Halloween? <b>You would die.</b> Of scaredness? No! <b>Of boredom.</b> That's because between now and October 31st, all the monsters are busy having meetings (about terror) and conducting focus groups (to test all the latest scaring techniques). Oh no! What's that chupacabra doing lurking in the shadows? (Answer: Reading a spreadsheet about blood.)
Scariness doesn't just <i>happen</i>, people. It's serious business. That's why we're giving you until October 1st to fill the Steam Workshop with <b>horrifying Halloween-themed cosmetic items.</b>
If you're not an item-making sort of person, you can still keep busy. Why not <a href="https://steamcommunity.com/workshop/browse?appid=440&p=1">visit the workshop</a> and rate other people's Halloween-themed items? Rating terrifying items will also help you build up your resistance to being scared before we unleash this year's Scream Fortress update. Other tips: Pay people to jump out and yell "Boo" at you. Have somebody paint ghosts on their car and then try to hit you with it. If you know an ugly person, why not ask them to try scaring you? Every little bit helps.
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.