Aug 16, 2012
Team Fortress 2's long awaited Mann vs. Machine update launched yesterday and so far it's been a mixed bag. As Mike Fahey mentioned earlier today, matchmaking is an unplayable mess, due to the sheer demand and a lack of community servers. Hopefully that will be resolved in the coming days, but in the meantime you can still play the mode directly, using the server list.
And that's exactly what I did!
The video above is from the last wave of a match I played earlier today. As you can see, they've significantly revamped the system to include perks. Near the end, my Engineer's turret was a monster.
Oh, and a word of advice: Beware those sentry busters. They pack a wallop.
P.S. I am aware that I suck.
P.P.S. In retrospect, Engineer was a poor choice for video.
I've been seeing this screen a lot since downloading the Team Fortress 2 update yesterday, and I am not alone. With hour wait times, server connection issues and various other problems, Mann Vs. Machine co-op play is nearly unplayable.
I say nearly because you can still grab a group of friends and start your own server. I made one by myself and it started up fine. Then the robots came, and destroyed me.
But if I try to get into a community game server I get close to an hour wait. Obviously people are playing, but those people are not me, and they aren't many of the irate inhabitants of the Team Fortress 2 Steam forums either.
In the forums players are also reporting long waits for the Mann Up servers, the premium $.99 per completed mission servers , indicating the wait starts small but goes on much longer than indicated. One user claimed to have been sitting at a 10 minute wait time for more than a half hour.
I can't confirm this personally, however — when I tried to buy a ticket the store wouldn't complete my purchase. Take my money already!
At least I can watch! Joining an MvM map on the server list works, but unless there are less than six people playing I'm stuck as a spectator.
So far there's not much from Valve on the matter. We've reached out to the company to see if we can get some sort of update on when everything will be running smoothly, and will update the post should we receive a response.
In the meantime, stick with your friends and you should (theoretically) be okay. If not, make yourself a sandwich and hope the connection doesn't time out.
Aug 15, 2012
It's the third and final day of reveals for Team Fortress 2's big Mann vs Machine update, and Valve has saved the most important for last.
Well, most important if you're the kind of person who's still playing TF2. Because if you are, you probably enjoy hats.
The robot wars will include a game mode called Mann Up. Completing these maps (which can be linked together to form "tours of duty") gets you rare loot in the forms of attire and accessories for your characters. But to get onto those maps you have to pay.
Think of it as an amusement park ride. You pay $0.99 for a ticket (this isn't part of the metaphor, it's actually what you pay and what you get), and that ticket is used to get on an official Valve Mann Up server. Once there, you're in line to get the rare loot.
Note that this is purely for cosmetic purposes; the Mann vs Machine game modes are free to play on any non-Mann Up server. And those who do pay are only getting superficial items, they won't be getting better perks or more powerful weapons
Still...this is a game whose entire economy is built around hats. Now that there are better and newer hats, making money shouldn't be a problem for Valve.
Mann vs Machine is now out and ready for download.
Mann Up [Valve]
First revealed yesterday, Team Fortress 2's new Mann vs Machine mode threatens to be the biggest change the game has experienced in its five year existence.
We've already seen the robots, now today, we see how the cartoon mercenaries are going to fight those robots. If you've played Call of Duty's zombie mode, you'll be right at home.
For starters, every player now has a single slot for what's essentially a perk, with five different abilities to choose from, ranging from temporary invincibility to short bursts of never-ending ammo. Each class of soldier now also has specific tactics (see: abilities) they can uniquely use to slow down or destroy robots.
Both of those things, as well as your weapons themselves, can be improved throughout a game by visiting an "Upgrade Station", where you spend money earned by killing on stuff to help you do more killing. If you're wondering where you'd find the time for this, remember: this is a wave-based game mode, so there'll be breathers in-between all the killing.
Oh, Valve also took the wraps off a new map, called Coaltown.
How do you get people interested all over again in a game that's five years old? Why, this is how.
Mann vs Machine goes live on August 15.
Mercs [Team Fortress 2]
Valve's announcement of a new "Mann vs Machine" game mode for Team Fortress 2 didn't just come out of the blue. It didn't even have its hat tipped over the weekend.
No, the studio that does crowd-teasing like no other has been building up to this moment for over two years.
The history of the update's promotion has been catalogued over on this Reddit post, which shows the build-up to Team Fortress 2's biggest update in years began all the way back in May 2010, with the release of the "Meet the Engineer" update. In the first 15 seconds there are several glimpses of robot heads, at the time seemingly harmless but now revealed to be the skulls of two of the game's new robot foes.
The paper-trail continues through the release of new maps (with hidden rooms containing clues to the impending robot army), updated game files containing further clues and even hidden links on the game's website.
It's exhaustive. If you needed further explanation as to why there's no impending Valve game with a "3" in the title, it's because they're all too busy being funny-buggers with the code to a game that's nearly five years old.
As expected, Valve's "Gray" teases have indeed led us to the dawn of the franchise's war against robotics.
The robots are modelled after each of the existing game's iconic classes. There's at least one new map built for this new game mode (pictured below), which has the robot army trying to deploy and detonate a bomb. There are also new achievements.
What's more, between waves you'll have the chance to upgrade both your character's abilities and weapons. Those making it to the end will pick up, you guessed it, loot. Which I'm guessing it hats.
Only details on the update's robots have been released today. Info on changes to the human players and just what the loot and equipment for the mode is will come later in the week.
The update is scheduled to go live on August 15.
Mann vs Machine [Team Fortress 2]
Diehard Team Fortress 2 fans have spent all weekend sleuthing out Friday's tease, in which a "Gray Mann" is revealed to be the brother of Redmond and Blutarch Mann, owners of the game's RED and BLU teams. Tons of evidence suggest this is going to mean the introduction of a robot faction, which Valve itself all but confirmed today in two more clue dumps—the will of the brothers' father and, more importantly, a new webcomic in which Gray is shown for the first time.
Read it for yourself, but it's quite apparent this guy Gray uses some heavy duty prosthetics. The will, which surfaced sometime overnight, can be found by clicking on a second bloodstain appearing on the banner of the Team Fortress 2 homepage.
A NeoGAF reader also notes that, on the front page logo, Scout, Heavy and Spy all seem to be giving Engineer dirty looks, which conforms to the thesis of that amazing video at left. It collects two years' worth of visual clues, leaks and curiosities that imply Engineer is responsible for the construction of a robot team, and that whatever this mode of play is to be, it'll be called "Man vs. Machine."
Sure, maybe we kinda know what this is all about by now, but that doesn't mean a forensic investigation of it isn't fun. Especially if it reveals some kind of a canonical structure for this feature going back two years. For more, visit the thread on NeoGAF, they seem to have uncovered some kind of encrypted file in the latest update, which upon decoding looks like the basis for another ARG.
Update: Reader iamjethro explains both the ARG and how the webcomic was discovered.
Someone found out by equipping an item that was not supposed to be equippable and high fiving someone, the person you high fived would receive a secret message in the form of a joke. The jokes turned out to be hidden hex code, which then revealed nine things. Eight of them just revealed a word, but the nineth one revealed a zip with a password lock (a Keepass thing). Using the words as a PDP code list somethignsomthingsomething(I'm not exactly sure here), people found a link inside linking to tf2.com which turned out to be a crafting recipe in game. Crafting all the items together caused a GAME wide message, linking the comic.
And that my friends, is a VALVE ARG. Special thanks given to the fine people who inhabit the valvearg.com chat for solving all this.
There's a blood-stain on the logo atop the Team Fortress 2 website. A reader at the message board NeoGAF noticed today that it links to a letter. And in that letter is a story, a story that reads like a tease, a tease that seems to be pointing to something new for Team Fortress... a third faction?
The letter describes a heretofore unknown sibling to the owners of the game's Blu and Red teams, a person named Gray. Well, if Redmond and Blutarch are the owners of the multiplayer shooter's Red and Blu teams, could Gray have a team of his own? And what/who is the eagle?
Some of the folks on NeoGAF think a gray team could all be robots. (A Kotaku reader speculates the possibility of Red and Blu teaming up in a horde mode against Gray. Hmm.)
We know about as much as you do. Note the date of the sons' birth: September 2, 1822. September 2 of 2012 will be a Sunday, the final day of PAX, the big tradeshow that occurs in Valve's neck of the woods, Seattle Washington. On September 2, in Benaroya Hall in Seattle, Valve will host the final day of a tournament called The International. The tournament is for DOTA 2, Valve's upcoming MOBA-style game. It presumably has nothing to do with TF2, but, as with all things Valve, you get teases... you get hints... and we'll all find out soon enough.
(I've asked Valve what's up. I tend to think they won't say just yet.)
Gray couldn't have gone off and changed his name to Gordon, right? Nah...
It's not that the current offerings have been terrible, far from it, but ever since Valve released the Source Film-maker there's been the quiet expectation that it would really start to shine once professional animators, and not just dedicated fans, got hold of it.
Well, here's what it looks like when a professional gets their hands on it.
This lengthy short, detailing the daily problems faced by an Engineer, is the work of James McVinnie, a cinematic designer at BioWare. If you think the animation looks a little better than what we're used to seeing with these clips, that's because he used two Kinects to grab motion-capture data.
Sure, it took him 130 hours, but the fact something this impressive can now come from just one man...
Oh, Source Filmmakers, is there anything can't you do?