We've been pretty quiet lately, but thankfully, that's about to end. In the next few days we'll have an update out that has a couple of new features for the Engineer and Spy, and a variety of other smaller fixes.
Since the release of Meet the Sandvich in August, several people have asked us how something we'd boasted would be "our magnum opus," "over four hours long" and "make Citizen Kane look like something dumb a complete idiot would make," ended up being one un-dramatic minute spent inside a refrigerator.
Well, it's been a couple of weeks since we updated the blog, and we thought it was time to let you know why we've been so quiet. The last couple of weeks we've actually been moonlighting on Left 4 Dead. While the L4D team has been focusing on finishing up the core cooperative gameplay, we've been helping them by working on their Versus mode. Versus is the recently-announced competitive mode where one team plays the Survivors and one team plays the Infected. We've learned a lot while working on TF2 in the last year, and we were able to apply some of those lessons to Versus mode. As a result, we've just finished adding critical hits, respawn waves, flawless auto-team balancing, and facestabs to L4D, while removing anything that looked remotely like a grenade. I kid, I kid.
The path to arriving at a final design for a character is sometimes a long and winding one. This was especially the case for the Demoman and we thought it would be interesting to step through that process and shed a little light on how we arrive at our final designs. Early on in the process, soon after we decided that we were going to start a new, more stylized direction for TF2 it opened up a whole range of possibilities in terms of what that meant visually. One of the first (albeit short-lived) ideas that was being thrown around was to try to recreate a look of claymation for our game. The idea was to make the world look like a miniature set built for clay figures which animated and gibbed into chunks of clay.
We decided to create a new TF environment after sensing some desert-fatigue, both internally and externally. The new theme had to be a departure from the current look without being so different that the characters felt out of place in it. We also wanted to leverage some content from our existing environments, since crafting every asset from scratch would mean we'd be moving the release beyond Valve time and into the realm of geologic time.
We've been a little quiet for the last week as we've put the finishing touches on the Heavy update. We thought the Pyro pack was the biggest we'd be doing for a while, due to the large changes to the Pyro, but the Heavy update has turned out to be even bigger. In addition to the three unlockable weapons and thirty-five achievements for the Heavy, we've got a new game mode with five new arenas for it, a new Payload map focusing on more open spaces than Goldrush, and another popular community-made map. Throughout the rest of the week we'll be giving you the details on all this, and if all goes well, you'll have your hands on it shortly afterwards.
One of the things we're looking at for the next update is the creation of a new type of environment for our levels to be built in. We're pretty happy with the way our environments have turned out so far, but as we create more and more maps with these achievement packs, we want our level designers to have more to work with in terms of giving their settings a unique look.
For this week's update, we've got another set of trading card images to take a look at. The focus of our most recent achievement update, the Pyro is a character that players may have seeing a lot of lately - making life a nightmare inferno for both the Spy and Medic.
One of the things we hope to do on this blog is to point out the creative things that members of the TF2 community are up to. The Steampowered TF2 forum members have been collecting links ever since TF2 was released, and you can take a look at the list (and its accompanying 46-pages-so-far (!) forum thread)here.