PC Gamer
Back to the drawing board. Image by Legoformer1000
TRIGGERNOMETRY

We write about FPSes each week in Triggernometry, a mixture of tips, esports, and a celebration of virtual marksmanship.

When Valve released the massive Gun Mettle update for Team Fortress 2 earlier this month, it was another tally mark in a 500-strong patch dynasty for the everlasting multiplayer FPS. The update s brought rebalances and tweaks to one of the PC s most popular games. Most critically, it reinforced Valve s dedication for making sure TF2 s meta doesn t languish into mediocrity, a necessary step with competitive matchmaking on the horizon.

Most significantly, the update changed the mechanics of Engineers, TF2 s guitar-twanging, sentry-slinging staple. As the subject of another major overhaul patch back in 2010, the Engie has already seen both subtle and overt adjustments to his gameplay. The addition of the Gunslinger and the ability to pick up and move buildings practically transformed the Engie from immobile turret-babysitter to maneuverable hardpoint, and the increased flexibility between adopting either strategy type to suit the team redefined the class entirely.

Gun Mettle took this a step further by shortening construction, setup, and redeploy times for an effective sentry operator that can now more easily keep up with a push, retreat, or pivot to defend a fresh attack angle. Below, I ve extracted and summarized some of the more impactful patch changes, but be sure to read the full log for far more minor adjustments and rebalances for other classes.

  • Buildings construct faster, teleporters/dispensers redeploy faster, and hauling buildings incurs a smaller movement penalty.

These changes are the unifying theme surrounding the Engie for the Gun Mettle update—a focus on minimizing downtime and thumb-twiddling during pre-round setup and redeployment. You only lose about 10 percent of your movement speed while carrying a building, so aggressive sentry spots are now a far more appealing tactic than before.

You ll also spot more Engies using their shotguns and pistols more often, as they ll be spending less time thwacking away at getting their gear up and more time delivering direct firepower to the team. Even better, swapping the wrench type—say, from a Southern Hospitality to the Gunslinger or vice versa—now only self-destructs the turret and not your entire nest, keeping vital teleporters and dispensers intact instead of having to completely rebuild once more.

  • Mini sentries are now repairable, but they construct slower and have a smaller initial health pool while constructing.

Mini sentries—the cute, ankle-biting turrets used by Gunslinger Engies—were traditionally set-and-forget annoyances tucked into unexpected corners or sat brazenly in the open for a small burst of crossfire. With Gun Mettle, minis bulk up in durability by being repairable, but they need slightly more minding from their creator while building up—instead of starting at 100 health during construction, they re now halved at a fragile 50. Gunslingers will need to be a little more choosy as to where their little friend goes; a few pistol shots or a couple scattergun blasts will do in the poor thing before it even finishes coming out of the box. If you haven t already, consider pre-building your mini in a safe spot or while near teammates before hauling it to your designated perch.

  • While a sentry is shielded by the Wrangler, repair and ammo given by wrench hits is reduced.

The Wrangler, a pistol replacement that allows Engies direct control over their sentries while equipped, is a fantastic choice for direct pressure or long-range chip damage at the expense of vulnerability while keeping an eye on the target. A deadly combo often seen in final Payload point defenses entailed one Engie Wrangling his sentry while another constantly repaired and resupplied it, as the Wrangler effect provided a protective shield for the turret which cut down incoming damage by around 66 percent.

Post-update, repairing a shielded sentry returns health and ammo at the same percentage as the shield provides—66 percent. This tips the odds of a direct attack on the sentry back into whoever s firing on it, as Engies will need to let the shield expire after a few seconds of switching away from the Gunslinger—lose its added armor, in other words—to repair at full efficiency.

  • The Jag wrench swings faster but repairs a smaller chunk of building health per swing.

If you want to experience the Gun Mettle Engie changes in the most direct and fun way, equip the Jag and try constructing a building or two. The Jag s baseline bonus—a faster swing speed and construction speed boost—is additive to the universal build speed increases noted above. That means an incredibly fast setup and upgrade time for a full nest. (Check out the gif; it takes less than a minute to get everything built.)

The downside: you ll need more metal to repair your stuff, as the Jag now fixes up to 80 health per swing instead of the stock 100. An emerging popular loadout (and one of my favorites at the moment) involves pairing the Jag with the Rescue Ranger shotgun for additional ranged repair power and metal retention.

PC Gamer
The more the merrier? Image by CrudeCuttlefish

Since the time Valve began publicly tracking hours-played in July 2009, I ve launched 341 different games from Steam. Today, Steam adds at least that many games each month and a half—55 each week, on average, or almost eight per day. There s no question that Steam is saturated. Steam grew by 561 games in 2013, but added 1,814 in 2014. Seven months into 2015, there s already 1,592 new games on Steam. But is that truly a problem?

Steam s library is growing at the fastest rate in its 12-year history, and those of us who play and write about PC games full-time will never dig more than a spoon into Steam s mountain range of more than 5,600 games. It s certainly tempting, even natural, to label that as a problem. Last year, there was a wave of concern following a Gamasutra post that visualized the volume of new games hitting Steam. Kotaku wrote that the trend was hurting developers and gamers. Spiderweb Software s Jeff Vogel told of the imminent burst of the indie bubble, and others jumped up from their chairs to agree: there are too many games on Steam.

Seven months into 2015, there s already 1,592 new games on Steam.

Those who point at the perpetual logjam of new releases feel that Valve has abandoned any semblance of quality control. They fear that Steam will become like the App Store, known more for what it rejects than what it showcases. And they have a point: who wants lazy mobile game ports, halfheartedly erotic pinball, soccer-fighting games, something called SpaceCorn, or Gynophobia, a horror shooter about abnormal fear of women, on Steam? How can deserving, independent gems to stand out in an ecosystem filled with junk? And when games do break through, how can developers retain interest long enough to build a healthy community?

The most irrationally paranoid thought is that we re inching toward the PC gaming equivalent of the video game crash of 83, when the level of saturation of games and platforms gutted the industry, forcing many hardware-makers and publishers to collapse or withdraw forever. Consider this prescient quote from 1986 by Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo s president: Atari collapsed because they gave too much freedom to third-party developers and the market was swamped with rubbish games.

How small studios feel about Steam

Whatever your reaction to this trend, the people whose lives are most braided to it are independent developers and publishers. And when I reached out to them to talk about Steam, I was surprised that the majority of them are unfazed by how crowded Valve s platform has become.

To Swen Vincke, CEO at Larian Studios, today s Steam is simply a return to the way things were before digital distribution, but not in a bad way. Access to retail used to determine which games we got to play, something that hampered the evolution of videogames, says Vincke, who believes digital distribution has created a true renaissance in the industry. However, the quantity of games being released now means that the new barrier to entry has become discoverability, and as a developer you need to plan from day one how your target audience will find out about your game, and ensure that your game has more reasons to be played by players than a similar game your competitor may be making. Which, if you think about it, is exactly how it s always been. There are just more competitors now, so there s no room for slacking. That s a good thing, too, in my opinion.

Paradox Interactive has grown in parallel with Steam over the past several years. They ve become a more diverse publisher in that time, having a hand in Pillars of Eternity this year as well as Cities: Skylines and stuff like Magicka. Despite this, you d expect Paradox to be exactly the sort of entity that s sensitive to a crowded market. Games like Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis—heritage franchises for Paradox—rely on word of mouth, on player anecdotes, to spread their reputations, capture attention, and grow.

Rocket League and ARK: Survival Evolved are recent hits on Steam.

But Susana Meza Graham, COO at Paradox, mostly shrugs off Steam s open-doors policy. Yes, on any given day, there are a lot of games being released. And of course visibility is a challenge for developers, just like navigating the content is a challenge for consumers, says Meza Graham. But the challenge of visibility has always been there for us in one way or another. During the years of retail the survival of your business depended on your ability to get shelf space. And shelf space was dictated based on pedigree and previous releases, your marketing budgets and your ability to commit to a release date six months to one year in advance.

Like Vincke, Meza Graham sees Steam as more of a blessing than a burden to discoverability. Digital distribution, she says, has completely changed how games are developed and brought to market overall, mainly because the people playing the games are much closer to the process from start to finish, and games are developed and supported over a longer period of time after release. That, more than the volume of games releasing, has impacted the way we work with our projects.

Room for everyone

The smaller studios I spoke to mostly echoed these sentiments: sure, Steam is crowded, but that doesn t mean PC gaming will become a zero-sum, winner-take-all marketplace. We definitely feel a lot of pressure but we also fundamentally trust the PC audience, says Paul Kilduff-Taylor from Mode 7, who released Frozen Cortex in February. There's a big group of gamers who want novel-but-intelligent games with a lot of depth and that's what we aspire to make; we'll continue trying to do that at whatever scale is viable in the future because it's what we love doing.

I also spoke with Greg Kasavin, a veteran of the industry who made the transition to game development after working at GameSpot for 10 years. I'm happy that we live in a time when games are more accessible than at any point in the past, both for audiences and for creators, says Kasavin. For creators this state brings some new challenges of having to gain visibility in an increasingly crowded market, but that set of problems I think is far, far preferable to the alternative where only a handful of people in the world are able to develop and publish games. Kasavin says that Supergiant Games approach to making games hasn t changed. I think we've seen similar growth and challenges in other media industries, and in the end I think it's what's best for the medium, even if it's inconvenient for some individual content creators who might personally benefit more if they didn't have as much competition.

We have to differentiate ourselves in a way that hopefully doesn't derail our process but still makes us visible and provides value to fans.

Daniel Jacobsen, studio director of Gaslamp Games (Clockwork Empires, Dungeons of Dredmor) mostly agrees with his peers, but believes that business awareness has greater value today than it did in the past. There s more emphasis on PR and advertising across most non-AAA studios, says Jacobsen. The major change for us is that now we can't just have a game that people want to play. For the best chance at success we have to be a game company that people want to support which is making games that people want to play. We have to differentiate ourselves in a way that hopefully doesn't derail our process but still makes us visible and provides value to fans.

Of the feedback I received from developers, Dave Marsh, co-founder of Zojoi, expressed the most concern. As an indie studio, we re big fans of giving any developer the chance to publish their games in the largest marketplace on the web, says Marsh. While we have received solid support from our publisher and Valve, the sheer number of titles (and sales) available drives down the price players are willing to pay, hurting our ability to make the kind of games our fans love for the PC market. Thus we are forced to consistently offer Shadowgate at significant discounts, putting us in a precarious position: change our development model, find additional funding, look at other platforms, or leave the market altogether. Marsh s comments recall a debate in 2012, when concern was raised that the high frequency of Steam sales would diminish the value of PC games overall.

The approach for us is the same

I also spoke to two major indie PR representatives, the people working every day to rise above the surface of Steam s churning, ever-rising sea of games. Like Jacobsen, both of them underline the need to stand out, but neither mark Steam itself as the problem. So many games launching weekly dramatically increases the need for a well thought-out communication strategy—getting lost in the noise is more of threat than ever, says Stephanie Tinsley Fitzwilliam of Tinsley-PR, who over the years has worked with Stardock Entertainment, Devolver Digital, Piranha Games, Deep Silver, and others.

Evolve PR, like Tinsley-PR, represents a spectrum of independent game makers. The company s founder, Tom Ohle, doesn t seem to flinch at the volume of new stuff hitting Steam each day. There is definitely a lot more noise out there, but fundamentally the approach for us is the same: figure out the appropriate audience for a game and then try to reach that audience, says Ohle. This all just puts even greater pressure on developers to really stand out, to make games that offer something unique. Whether it's visual style, game mechanics or narrative themes, developers have to make their games different in some way from competitive offerings. Even then it's no guarantee that the game will succeed or get attention. You're still relying on media and content creators—already overloaded by the number of requests they're getting—to actually open emails or read a tweet or whatever... and considering we get about 25 to 40 percent open rates on our emails, you're always fighting a bit of an uphill battle.

Steam isn't an obstacle

Most of us, less than a decade ago, were buying our PC games in boxes. And independent developers, in order to get their games on those physical shelves, had to deal with a number of middlemen: distributors, publishers, disc manufacturers and printers, and the retailers who would ultimately decide how many copies of a game deserved to be on display.

Steam leveled the playing field on PC. And getting in early was a boon to games like Garry s Mod, Killing Floor, Peggle, and Audiosurf, when the ratio of tens of millions of users to only hundreds of games assured a disproportionate amount of promotion. But Steam stopped being a platform that guarantees some level of success and exposure years ago. Today Steam is, for the most part, the playing field—a massive shelf of 5,600 titles where everyone gets, for the most part, equal prominence.

But when we say that Steam now has a discoverability problem, the laziest possible criticism that I myself have been guilty of parroting, we fail to examine how the entire landscape of digital communication has shifted to promote discovery, more than compensating for whatever comparatively trivial changes in policy Valve has made in the past couple years.

Millions of people now operate massive engines that promote discovery: YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, Twitch, websites like ours—all resources that didn t exist in anywhere near the same form even three or four years ago. Livestreaming was universally a hassle as recently as 2011; now it s a one-button proposition through utilities like ShadowPlay and OBS.

This is the new normal. Valve s policies have made Steam something of an open port—the digital equivalent of Ellis Island. But Steam itself isn t a problem, it s merely a reflection of the larger, exciting state of PC gaming, the intersection of game development tools being more accessible than ever, engine licensing in particular becoming cheaper (or free), and the greatest level of evangelism and grassroots promotion of PC gaming since 1999. Steam isn t where developers compete—they compete in the much larger ecosystem of communities and systems of sharing that constitutes PC gaming.

PC Gamer

Team Fortress 2 is getting a substantial new update in the form of the Gun Mettle Campaign. The campaign will offer two contracts per week over a three month period, with each offering a new skill-based challenge. Examples include "get a kill with a reflected projectile as Pyro", or "survive 1000 damage in a single life as Heavy". 

Completing contracts will grant campaign-exclusive weapons or an unlockable weapon case. These weapons will come in six grades of rarity but won't give you a competitive advantage, according to the Gun Mettle Campaign FAQ. Instead, each (and by 'each', I mean every single weapon assigned to every single player) will come with a unique paint job. If you don't like a weapon, you can sell it. 

Access to the Gun Mettle Campaign will set you back $5.99. Some of the profits will go to the map creators responsible for maps featured in the contracts. These maps, which come in the form of Borneo, Suijin and Snowplow, as well as the new Valve-built map Powerhouse, will roll out free for anyone not partaking in the Gun Mettle Campaign. More info over here.

PC Gamer

Every once in a while, Team Fortress 2 pops its head out of the gravel to remind us all that it exists. "Oh yeah, TF2," we'll say, "that's a lovely hat you're wearing. Are you up to much these days?" And yes, it is, as Valve has now implemented Steam Workshop support for maps.

The new Maps Workshop—currently in beta—collects up the community's vast range of unofficial maps. Here, in Valve's own words, is what it does:

"Are you great at making fun, addictive TF2 maps? Do you have no idea how to make a map, but you like playing on them? Are you only vaguely aware of what maps are and prefer to just walk in a single direction until you find what you're looking for? Introducing the Maps Workshop Beta, a place for all three of you to upload, enjoy or just learn about the existence of maps!"

Maps, then. If you're a map-maker, this seems like a neat way to get instant feedback on your creation. For players, though the change may be slightly less revelatory. TF2 has always auto-downloaded maps from the server list, negating the need to pre-prepare community content. Now, when joining a server running a Workshop map, the client will instead auto-download it through the Workshop. A change, then, but a slight one.

Nevertheless this is one of those updates that seems long overdue. If you'd like to browse the community's current crop of Workshopped maps, head over to Team Fortress 2's Steam Workshop page.

PC Gamer
"This won't hurt a bit."
TRIGGERNOMETRY

We write about FPSes each week in Triggernometry, a mixture of tips, design criticism, and a celebration of virtual marksmanship.

When you donate your body to science, there s a general understanding that you don t expect to use that body again. It s old, or parts of it are broken, and you hope that some doctor will be able to learn a valuable thing or two about pancreases or elbow cartilage with the help of your husk. Whatever the outcome of that mortal tinkering, it s a transaction with no return policy.

Despite the many transplants, facelifts, and amputations Valve has subjected Team Fortress 2 to, it refuses to die. No FPS, and perhaps no game in any genre, has endured such aggressive and continuous experimentation and lived to be one of the most-played games on PC. It s a body that s sustained 494 surgeries, including:

  • Becoming free-to-play
  • The addition of a full-fledged item economy (item drops, crafting, market, trading…)
  • Steam Workshop integration; transitioning away from primarily developing TF2 internally to sourcing a significant amount of TF2 s new content from the community
  • Continuous holiday events that transform TF2 into, among other things, bumper cars
  • The use of TF2 as a vehicle for greater Valve projects, like The Saxxy Awards (Source Filmmaker/replay editor), Mac compatibility
  • The addition of Mann vs. Machine, a cooperative horde mode
  • Numerous crossover promotions via pre-ordering other games
  • Having its nine carefully-designed classes (and meta) reinvented many times over by the addition of new items

TF2 is a guinea pig grafted to Frankenstein s monster created on The Island of Dr. Moreau. Over eight years it s become an organism that Valve exposes to new stimuli and learns from watching what happens in order to improve other games or aspects of Steam. CS:GO s post-launch addition of item crates is one example of something prototyped in TF2.

What makes TF2 so malleable?

But typically, there s a cost to all that tinkering, some unexpected side effects. Your hair falls out. You get a rash. TF2 s forced mutations probably would have killed weaker games. An MMO going free-to-play is often tantamount to defibrillation, and often to the detriment of original designs. If Gearbox had welded an item economy to Borderlands 2, added competitive modes, or handed off most of its development to community mapmakers and modders, what sort of unplayable mess would it be?

What makes TF2 durable enough to survive all these changes and emerge each time remaining one of the most-played and beloved PC games over the past decade?

Meet the Writer

TF2 s characters, and Valve s commitment to telling their story, form a thick, regenerating skin. However many hats, hoods, rainbow flamethrowers, Street Fighter references, mutant bread, or $10 Deus Ex arms Valve throws on its nine mercenaries, they retain their charm, and their personality carries TF2 forward.

Throughout its life, TF2 s characters have softened the blow of its big systemic and mechanical changes. They re the sugar in the medicine. When Valve strapped an economy to TF2, they didn t explain it as a series of dry bullet points (although there was a FAQ). A bare-chested Australian arms dealer shouted the news at us. When TF2 became playable on Mac, its characters visited a fictional Apple store to poke fun at the unexpected news that TF2 was coming to a platform that s considered to be one of the PC s rivals. It sounds like some kinda hospital for fruit, the Scout says.

When Valve strapped an economy to TF2, a bare-chested Australian arms dealer shouted the news at us.

When TF2 was about to become a free-to-play game, arguably the biggest single change to the game that s been made, Valve understood that it had to be handled delicately. (Perhaps revisiting this announcement could ve improved Valve s recent handling of paid mods.) Jog your memory: in 2011, there was still plenty of discomfort among western gamers about free-to-play. Even with League of Legends in the wild, Korean titles like Maple Story and Facebook games had given F2P a bad stigma.

When TF2 went free, the announcement was one piece of a five-day package of stuff rolled into the Uber Update, which Valve deliberately built and billed as The biggest, most ambitious update in the history of Team Fortress 2. Every class but the Engineer got new items, and most got a whole set. True to my point, the Uber Update culminated with one of its characters literally performing surgery on another, the Meet the Medic video—arguably the biggest piece of the update in all considering how wildly anticipated each of the class videos have been.

Image by Zummeng.

Valve s used a similar approach for reinventing individual classes. One of Valve s attitudes throughout TF2 is that they didn t want individual classes to stagnate around an optimal strategy. And in order to manage that aspect of the metagame Valve have been completely willing to put the very identities of each class on the chopping block. For the first couple years of TF2, sentry turrets were the hinge upon which most of the rest of the mechanics swung: it gave everyone else something to do, something to kill, something to support. Arguably no other single thing in TF2 was more integral to how the game was played.

And Valve demolished that paradigm. In the 2010 Engineer update the Engineer went from being a gun babysitter to being a class that you could build as an offensive harasser, or an even more defensive (but more active) turret operator. Engineers gained a mini-sentry that deployed almost instantly, and an item that allowed them to manually aim turrets (and deflected two-thirds of incoming damage while doing it). The manual aiming of turrets even allowed Engineers to reach whole new areas of the environment with sentry jumping. If that wasn t enough, the update made the previously static guns movable.

Short of turning TF2 into a JRPG, I can t think of a more insane change than all of that. How did Valve sell it to players, some of whom had spent years getting invested in what it meant to be an Engineer? It wrapped the Engineer update in four days of mini-reveals, hidden links to images, and added a Golden Wrench competition across the entire event that was straight out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The teaser video tied the update nicely to the Engineer s personality, too: he s an inventor, and the update is a collection of his new creations.

The community has embraced TF2's incongruence. (Halloweiner from Steam Workshop.)

As an FPS critic, I have plenty of things to appreciate about TF2, about the way it mingles Quake s DNA with a playfulness that softens the blow of defeat, about how it applies Valve s ideas about readability so well. But its longevity, and its distinct ability to survive its own transformative changes, is owed to how consistently Valve has integrated storytelling and its international cast of mercenaries into practically every patch.

TF2 s updates aren t content patches, they're happenings in the Team Fortress 2 universe that inspire their own lore. The Administrator,  Zepheniah Mann, Saxton Hale, Australium, Australian Christmas, the Bombinomicon, the towers of hats, the Scout's mom—this stuff isn't window dressing, it's the connective tissue that's kept TF2's identity solid as it's mutated continuously over eight years. Valve has been able to spin and contextualize wild changes to TF2—many of which were made so that Valve could learn something about player behavior—not as new versions but as new episodes in an ever-evolving Saturday morning cartoon.

PC Gamer

For the past few Junes, right before one of the busiest gaming weeks of the year, we ve taken a moment to imagine the E3 press conference that PC Gamers deserve. It s become one of our tiny traditions (along with Chris questionable behavior in survival games). Mostly it s an excuse for us to publish something entirely detached from reality before we fly to Los Angeles and publish every scrap of gaming news and opinion that our bodies will allow. It s therapeutic to daydream about Gabe Newell materializing atop a unicorn through a fog of theater-grade dry ice to announce Half-Life 3.

We get valuable stories, videos, and interviews out of E3—you can imagine how handy it is to have almost every game-maker gathered under one roof for a few days. But it s no secret that the PC doesn t have a formal, organized presence during E3. Generally speaking it s the time of year when Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo jostle for position about who can create the most buzz. Despite being a mostly exciting few days of announcements, E3 has never given the biggest gaming platform in the world an equal place at the table.

That s our collective fault, not E3 s. One of our hobby s greatest strengths is the fact that there isn t a single owner. The PC has no marketing arm, no legal department, no CEO to dictate what should be announced or advertised. And thank Zeus for that. The fundamentally open nature of our hobby is what allows for GOG, Origin, Steam, and others to compete for our benefit, for the variety of technologies and experiences we have access to—everything from netbook gaming to 8K flight simulation to VR.

Everyone involved in PC gaming has shared ownership over its identity. One of the few downsides of that, though, is that there isn t really a single time and place for PC gaming to get together and hang out. We love BlizzCon, QuakeCon, DreamHack, Extra Life, The International, and the ever-increasing number of PAXes. But there s something special about the pageantry of E3 week, its over-the-top showmanship, its surprises, its proximity to Hollywood. And each June, even as we ve jokingly painted a picture of PC game developers locking arms in a musical number, we ve wanted something wholly by, for, and about PC gaming.

Well, hell, let s do it.

For the past few months we ve been organizing the first ever live event for PC gaming during E3, The PC Gaming Show. Tune into our Twitch channel on Tuesday, June 16 on 5 PM and you ll see a spectrum of PC gaming represented on stage: a showcase of conversations, announcements, hardware, trailers, and other stuff that makes PC gaming great. We ve been talking to everyone we know, big and small—if there s a game or developer you want to see—tell us! So far, Blizzard, AMD, Bohemia Interactive, Boss Key Productions, Paradox, Dean Hall, Tripwire, and more have signed up to be a part of this inaugural PC gaming potluck (Paradox has promised to bring nachos), and we ll be announcing more participants as we lead up to June 16. And hey, the endlessly friendly Day[9] is hosting. We love that guy.

We re sincerely, stupidly excited about this. The PC gaming renaissance we re all living in deserves a moment of recognition during the biggest gaming expo of the year—it s about time! Listen in on Twitter and on our Facebook page as we share more details leading up to June.

PC Gamer

Valve is bringing matchmaking to Team Fortress 2 as a 'high priority', a feature that has been rumoured for a while and craved by the competitive community for even longer.

Details are thin on the ground right now, mainly because Valve apparently hasn't got very far into implementing its system, but the team does have plenty of other, successful competitive online titles to draw from.

You can watch the video where the matchmaking elements - and a few other things - are talked about right... here:

The folks at TeamFortress.tv will be offering up more details of what they learned on their trip to Valve on Friday, so you'll have to wait until then to get a clearer picture of what's going on. But for now, the competitive community can probably afford to smile a bit, right?

PC Gamer

Team Fortress 2 would probably work as a musical, but, unless Valve has something spectacular planned for the game's ninth year, we'll have to make do with this mod. Created by 'Vincentor', it replaces every piece of dialogue in the game with exactly the same piece of dialogue, only auto-tuned.

The mod covers all vocals—including every class, NPC and the announcer. To install, just download the mod and extract it into "tf/custom" folder inside your Team Fortress 2 root directory. You'll have to supply the house backing track yourself.

PC Gamer

I know, right? I'm asking you to watch a twenty-minute internet video. Think how many shorter videos you could watch in that time! Think how many gifs you could see! You could watch this video of two geese honking almost 60 times.

Don't though, because Live and Let Spy is a quality Source Filmmaker production. It starts as a heist movie, goes a little bit James Bond, and then ends in all-out cartoon war.

Yes, the animation is a little off in places—the Spy/Heavy holding a broom is a bit weird, and the main Medic's arms are kinda odd. Still, for the majority of the film it's impressively smooth and expressive.

This is the third part of The Winglet's "Fedora Chronicles" series. It's a sequel to The Bolted Behemoth, which you can watch here.

PC Gamer

Thanks to a new user-made TF2 taunt, you can play as a saxophonic Sniper.

...

What, you don't think that's enough for a news story? Fine, as part of that—maybe even because they saw an epic sax Sniper—Valve has opened up the Steam Workshop to accept TF2 taunts.

You can use the Source Filmmaker to create one, and submit it for community approval in the usual way. As always for curation-based Workshop items, Steam users will vote for their favourites and the best have a chance of being added into the game and sold for actual money.

Three user-made taunts have been added, and you can see them all in the below video.

You can get more details at the TF2 blog, and see this technical FAQ for help making your own taunts.

...

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