Team Fortress 2

By way of speedrunning, roleplaying servers and performance subcultures, I love communities that tailor games to suit their own esoteric interests. To this end, Team Fortress 2's annual trick jumping competition The Beginnings is underway.

As reported by Rock, Paper, Shotgun, The Beginnings 5 hosts contests in trick jumping, speedrunning and a live race. "Do you have what it takes?" asks this Reddit post. "Beginnings 5 is an organized event for competition within TF2 jumping. This year we will be holding three separate competitions, a speedrun competition, a trick jumping competition, and a live race. 

"There are in-game medals to be won. To be eligible for a participant medal you must send in a run that's faster than the showcase time of the map you submit a run on, send in a trickjump that isn't obviously bad, or participate in the live race."

The Reddit post points those interested this way, and notes that the race will be held on  June 23 and will be streamed on Twitch here. 16 racers for each class will take part, this post explains, with racers going head-to-head till two jumpers meet in the grand final. To enter, players are required to submit eight demos—four in POV, and four in SourceTV. 

The following map showcase is impressive all told, but I was particularly taken by the moves from five minutes onward.

More information on The Beginnings 5 lives here. Here's Evan's words on how Team Fortress 2 changed FPSes forever.

Half-Life 2

Earlier this week, we asked you to tell us the last physical copy of a PC game you bought, while sharing our own choices. Today, as a kind of sequel to that question, we ask, what was the first downloadable game you bought on PC

In the PC Gamer Q&A, we ask the global PC Gamer team for their thoughts on a particular subject, then invite you to add your thoughts in the comments below. We'll also feature a few answers from the PC Gamer Club Discord, accessible to anyone who's a part of our membership program.

You'll find our answers below, and we'd love to hear what your first paid downloadable game was too. 

Jarred Walton: Half-Life 2

I'll take the easy route on this one, because it's also true: Half-Life 2 was the first downloadable game I bought. I also played Counter-Strike 1.6 on the platform (including using the Steam beta), but that was a mod for Half-Life so I didn't pay for it. Anyway, HL2 required Steam, so what else was I going to do? I'm old enough that having a credit card and high-speed internet back in 2004 wasn't a problem, and I was luckier than some, in that Steam worked basically without a hitch for me. Sure, there were a few outages, but I don't recall them ever really affecting me. 

I played (and benchmarked) Half-Life 2 all the way to the end in the first week or so after its release, and I thought the convenience of downloading a game was pretty awesome. Others hated the idea, but I don't think any of us could have guessed how huge Steam would become over the next decade. It went from a place where you bought Valve games and maybe a few others, to eventually becoming the virtual storefront for 95 percent of all the games I own. No wonder EA, Ubisoft, and Activision want a piece of that pie.

Jody Macgregor: Uplink

I kept buying boxed copies of games for ages because slow Australian internet made downloading them a hassle, until I got into small indie games that wouldn't bust my data limit. The first was Uplink, which let me live out the fantasy of being an elite computer hacker and also the fantasy of having really fast internet.

It's designed to make you feel like you're in the movie Sneakers, and for a while it did. Like every other hacking game I've tried—games like Hack 'n' Slash, and else.Heart.Break()—it eventually started to feel like work instead of fun. Now when I want to pretend I'm a hacker I just go to hackertyper.net. What it did get me into was playing more small, personal projects and I found plenty of those to love. The next two were Atom Zombie Smasher and Audiosurf, both of which became favorites.

Samuel Roberts: Audiosurf

Right when rhythm action games were blowing up on console, but tended to focus on guitar music that I didn't really like and plastic controllers that took up way too much space in a single person's bedroom, a friend explained how there was a rhythm action game where you could play your own songs. The novelty of this was huge to me. I was 20 at the time, working on a PlayStation magazine, and I didn't really have the cash for a good PC, having wasted hundreds of pounds on a PS3 I needed for work—which broke a year later. Sigh. At least I got to play Uncharted, I suppose. Eventually, my parents bought me an okayish laptop, and one of the first things I did was download Audiosurf on Steam. 

It was pretty amazing, to upload my favourite tracks into the game and to have so many cool and challenging ways to play them, along with leaderboards. This was one of the first PC games of the modern era that really showed me why playing on PC was better—both in terms of the variety of games available, and the experiences that only PC could give you. If I wanted to play the theme tune from Max Payne 2 in a rhythm action game, I could do it, damn it! 

Now I own close to 1000 games across Steam, GOG, uPlay, Battle.net and Origin, and I don't know why I've done that to myself. 

James Davenport: SiN Episodes

Remember the short-lived SiN Episodes reboot? I can't remember why I chose to make that my first digital purchase rather than, say, Half-Life 2, but it was. It was this whole ordeal. I didn't have a credit card and Steam bucks weren't really a thing back then, so I went to a friend's house (hey, Anton, I'll find that copy of Kingdom Hearts and return it as soon as I can) just to ask their older sister to let me use hers. Digital game marketplaces were a new concept back then, and she didn't play many games anyway, so it 100-percent came off as a con. 

Your little brother's good friend rolls in with wearing the edgiest Linkin Park t-shirt he could find at Goodwill, then asks, under his breath, to borrow your credit card to purchase something from "Steam" called "Sin". My ma had just started preaching at the local Presbyterian church and everyone knew it, so the look Anton's sister threw my way had me worried her eyes might pop out. Not sure why she agreed in the end, but thanks, Roxie. Only had dial-up internet at the time, so my parents paid for it next with a phone line that wouldn't put a call through for a day or two. And when I finally played Episode 1, the only episode ever released, I remember feeling like all the trouble was worth it. The novelty of a game floating somewhere in the ether that I could call mine and play from any computer was incredibly empowering. Bit of a shit game, but SiN Episode 1 got me hooked on Steam, and set me right in the path of innumerable indie games I would have missed otherwise. 

Phil Savage: Prey, the original one

I spent most of my 2000s dealing with a laptop that became too hot to handle after just 20 minutes of Command & Conquer: Generals. As such, the advent of Steam passed me by—if it wasn't a sedate isometric strategy game or RPG, I wasn't prepared to suffer the third-degree burns required to play it. In 2008, though, I got a real job and saved enough money to buy a desktop PC. I downloaded Steam, fully intending to finally play Half-Life 2. Instead, I ran face first into a Steam sale. Prey was on offer for about £3. I didn't know what it was, or if it was any good, but at that price how could I not immediately buy it?

It was good. Prey is far from amazing, but if you don't know any better—for instance if you hadn't played an FPS since Quake because your last decade had been spent ordering many sprites to gib many orcs in the various Infinity Engine RPGs—it looked spectacular. I also bought Audiosurf on the same day, because everyone bought Audiosurf in 2008.

Chris Livingston: Half-Life 2, probably

My Steam purchase history only goes back to 2007 for some reason, but I have to assume it was Half-Life 2. I remember staying up late to unlock it. It launched fine, and I remember seeing those Combine metrocops walking around on the menu screen. Instead of playing, though, I decided to change a couple graphics options, and then had to restart. And that's when Steam completely tanked. I couldn't get back in. I missed my window to play a game I'd been waiting years for, and after about three hours of not being able to connect, I just had to give up and go to sleep because I had work in the morning. I'm sure glad that 15 years later games no longer have launch day issues, huh? Huh?

The PC Gamer Club

We got a few answers from the Club Discord, so thanks all who responded. "I'm pretty sure my first digital game was Mass Effect 1 &2 in 2010 because I'm old and until that point I always got games from a store," says user IronGnomee. "A podcast I listened to at the time was always saying how amazing Commander Shepard was so I finally tried it out." 

"As far as I can remember, it would be The Orange Box," says user Buttface Jones in Discord. "I had played PC games before TOB, like Quake, Command and Conquer, and WoW but always from a disc. I bought TOB on Xbox and fell in love with TF2, despite how bad and limited the Xbox version was. I eventually got fed up and downloaded Steam specifically to play 'the real TF2'."

User Buttz says Garry's Mod on Steam. Imbaer adds, "Orange box in 2008 for me." Fellow user erdelf adds "Stargate Resistance honestly, before that I bought games in the store or played f2p online games." 

Let us know the first downloadable game you bought below!

Half-Life 2

Former Valve writer Marc Laidlaw outlined his ideas for the story of Half-Life 2: Episode 3 last August, a bizarre, bare-bones tale of a research vessel in the Antarctic that's phasing in and out of time and space. That led a team of die-hard fans to launch an effort to bring Laidlaw's vision to life in the form of Project Borealis, named after the ship at the center of Laidlaw's story. 

The team announced today that its first-draft take on Laidlaw's tale, which was at roughly the half-way point at the end of 2017, is now complete—and work has come along far enough that it has also released a short "in-engine" video showcasing weapons, movement, and flashlight animations. 

"The writing team has taken the plot points outlined in Marc Laidlaw’s Epistle 3 and fleshed out the details and gameplay elements into a full and engaging script," the Project Borelias team wrote. "Since finishing this first draft, the rest of the team have had the opportunity to give constructive feedback, and the writing team is now working on incorporating some of those suggestions into a second draft."

Gordon Freeman's animations are working well, on the same timing as in the original games but with "some subtle flair of our own." Early levels are on the process of being blocked out for preliminary testing, and "huge strides" are being made in the creation of new environmental assets. Work on rendering techniques, physics updates, a graphics settings menu, and a new sound system are also underway.

There's a bit of new concept art to look at too, including a few images of an updated Combine Elite helmet and Alyx in some winter duds.

It's still a very long way from complete (and you should probably temper any "play it soon" hopes you may be holding onto: If there's one thing we've learned over the years, it's that large scale fan projects are slow going) but with the project picking up speed, the mod team is also looking to fill some spots. If you have relevant experience and want to get involved, you can sign up for some action on the Project Borealis recruitment page

Team Fortress 2

It's a question that has troubled many a videogame scholar: Who would win in a fight, Team Fortress 2 or Overwatch? While the former gets points for being the original posse, the latter brings a undeniable sense of flair. It's a tough call, but we finally have a clear answer thanks to talented Source Filmmaker animator The Winglet, who made the video above to settle it once and for all.

Clocking in at just over eight minutes, it's a surprisingly lengthy (and hilarious) video that shows each cast of characters duking it out on one of TF2's Payload maps. I love that each character archetype, like Widowmaker and TF2's Sniper square off against each other as the larger battle rages around them. There's also a particularly hilarious scene involving Mei and Spy that I won't spoil. But damn, I couldn't stop laughing.

You can check out The Winglet's other videos here.

Thanks, Kotaku.

Half-Life 2

Oh, snap! It's yet another PCG Q&A, where every Saturday we ask the panel of PC Gamer writers a question about PC gaming. You're also very welcome to share your thoughts in the comments below. This week: which game actually lived up to the hype?

Jody Macgregor: The Witcher 3

I hated the first Witcher game, and although the second one's an improvement in a lot of ways I still thought most of it was dull—apart from the bit where you get drunk and wake up with a tattoo, obviously. So when glowing reviews came out for The Witcher 3 I ignored them. There was plenty of other stuff to play in 2015: Tales From the Borderlands, Rocket League, Life is Strange, Pillars of Eternity, Devil Daggers, Her Story. I was busy.

It took a solid year's worth of articles about how incredible every aspect of The Witcher 3 was, from the side quests to the potion-making to the characters to the wind in the goddamn trees, before I finally caved and tried it. Everyone was right, it's now on my "best games of all time" list, and I've become one of those people who says you should turn the music down so you can hear the wind in Velen. There's an entire subreddit devoted to whinging about games journalism's never-ending love affair with writing about The Witcher 3, but without that constant praise I wouldn't have pushed past my disinterest to give it the chance it deserved. And now I've become one of those people who won't shut up about The Witcher 3.

Samuel Roberts: Metal Gear Solid V

Not everyone will agree with this one, but I've lived through multiple Metal Gear hype cycles (MGS2 and MGS4 most memorably), and this is the one game that really deserved it. While this Metal Gear has the worst story in the series by far, it's also a superior stealth game. With its suite of upgrades and repeatable missions, I easily played MGSV for over 100 hours, and I have no doubt I'll reinstall it someday. 

Chris Livingston: Portal 2

I think the original Portal was a near-perfect experience. You learned to play as you played and each test chamber increased in complexity at a rate that was challenging but never frustrating. It was funny and surprising and satisfying, and short enough that it didn't have time to wear out its welcome. When trailers for Portal 2 began appearing, I was just as excited as anyone else, though I wasn't really expecting to love it in the same way. More complex, more characters, more story, more puzzles, more more more. I just couldn't imagine it matching the original, which proved (to me at least) that less is more.

It definitely lived up to the hype, though. Portal 2 is amazing, funny, challenging, surprising, and every bit as brilliant as the first. Maybe it's still true that less is more, but that doesn't mean more is less.

Jarred Walton: Half-Life 2

Piggybacking off Chris here, Half-Life 2 was an incredible follow-up to one of the best (if not the best) games of the '90s. The original Half-Life surprised the hell out of me with ways it changed the first-person shooter. After playing a ton of Quake and Quake 2, story seemed to be an afterthought, but Half-Life revolutionized the genre. Okay, the Xen levels at the end almost ruined it, but I still wanted more.

And then I waited, waited, and waited some more. Daikatana proved that games too long in development could suck, and HL2 felt like it might be doomed to the same fate. But with the addition of the gravity gun and physics, plus a great setting and story that made you care about the characters, it exceeded its source material in every way. I'm still holding out hope for HL3, naturally, but those are some massive shoes to fill.

Tom Senior: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

I was dangerously excited when a new Deus Ex was announced. I was hyped to the extent that it would have really stung if a new Deus Ex fell well short of expectations. Human Revolution had a few problems, but it was exactly the atmospheric cyberpunk playground I wanted and the art direction added a new dimension to the Deus Ex universe. Due to the technological limitations of the era the old Deus Ex games struggled to show art or architecture (apart from that silly Earth-in-a-giant-claw statue at the start). Human Revolution decided that everything would be gold, and full of triangles, and its depiction of futuristic augments was gorgeous. I would quite like a pair of Jensen arms.

Human Revolution really got Deus Ex. It had hacking, vents, and intricate levels. But it also had something else, something new: retractable arm-swords. Not many people would look at the groundbreaking masterpiece of Deus Ex and think 'this needs retractable arm-swords', but Eidos Montreal had the vision to make retractable arm-swords happen. I will always respect them for that. 

Andy Kelly: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

I remember the buzz around Vice City vividly. Every time I saw that stylish advert on TV, the one with 'I Ran' by Flock of Seagulls, I got a tingle of excitement. Magazines were full of gushing previews, treating every morsel of information like it was the biggest scoop since Watergate. And then when it came out, it was everything I dreamed it would be. A bigger, more detailed city. An incredible soundtrack. More fun and varied missions. A better story. An all-star cast. HELICOPTERS. Being able to fly around a city of that size back then was a genuine thrill.

GTA III was great, but it felt like an experiment in places; a concept for what a 3D Grand Theft Auto game could be. But Vice City was the first time Rockstar really nailed it, and laid a solid foundation for the 3D era of their world-conquering series. The '80s (or at least some exaggerated, romanticised version of it) has begun to saturate pop culture to an annoying degree lately, so I can't see Rockstar returning to that setting. It's too obvious. But I would like to see Vice City again in a different, more contemporary era, perhaps showing the bleak, faded aftermath of its hedonistic '80s heyday.

Andy Chalk: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

The first time I saw this teaser I made a noise like a ten-year-old opening the latest issue of Tiger Beat. Then I saw this teaser, and I pretty much hyperventilated and passed out. I knew in my heart that DX: Human Revolution couldn't be that good, because Deus Ex was lightning in a bottle: Ugly, clunky, with terrible voice acting and a ridiculous, incoherent story, all of which somehow got smushed together into basically the best game ever made. How do you fall down a flight of stairs and land in a bed of roses twice? 

But then Human Revolution came out, and it was that good. Not perfect, and I will never not be mad about those boss fights. But Adam Jensen is the perfect successor (predecessor, I suppose) to JC Denton, I loved the visual style (including the piss filter) and the music (because it's not Deus Ex without a great soundtrack), and the whole thing just felt right: Not as off-the-conspiracy-theory-hook as the original, but big and sprawling and unpredictable—a legitimate point of entry into that world. It took more than a decade to get from Deus Ex to Human Revolution, and it was worth the wait. 

Team Fortress 2

Which games would make great movies or TV shows? That's the question we've put to the PC Gamer staff in this week's PCG Q&A, and almost all of us preferred the idea of TV series to films (perhaps because game movies are destined to be dumpster fires forever). Let us know your suggestions in the comments, too!

Andy Kelly: a Silent Hill anthology show

The cursed town is different for every sinner who's lured to it, and I think that's a perfect setup for a series of standalone horror/mystery stories. The supernatural nature of the setting would allow the writers to come up with some really twisted, mind-bending plotlines, and the town would provide some loose structure, making all the episodes feel like part of a whole: similar to the brilliant Inside No. 9, in which every episode is set in a house or other indoor setting numbered 9.

With the success of shows like Black Mirror, Electric Dreams, Inside No. 9, and Room 104, the anthology is making a comeback, and I think I prefer them to ongoing narratives that take 80 episodes to wrap up. So I'd love to see Silent Hill, which is basically an anthology series itself, get the same treatment on TV.

Tom Senior: BioShock

The next time Netflix want to embark on an lavish showcase project like Altered Carbon, perhaps they should take a look at the underwater city of Rapture from the BioShock universe. Watching one guy sneaking around firing bees out of his arms isn't going to be good television, but a show set during the fall of Rapture—before the events of the first game—could be great. You've got warring factions, competing philosophies, demented splicers and the oppressive threat of the ocean itself wrenching districts apart. 

It could be a decent horror show, though it will be tricky to find heart and empathetic characters among Rapture's central ideologues. It's nothing a little retcon can't fix. Follow a few good souls as they fight hard to stay sane and escape as society implodes. It might be hard to find room for a second series, but hey, Bioshock 2 turned out pretty well didn't it? 

Chris Livingston: BioShock (but it's a sitcom)

I'm thinking BioShock but as a Friends-style sitcom, set in Rapture just as everything is going to hell. The gang still meets for coffee (if they can scavenge it out of garbage cans) and wrestle with personal relationships but with the backdrop of a ruined and leaking libertarian paradise filled with lunatics where superpowers can be bought from vending machines. Episodes could include "The One Where Phoebe Dates a Splicer", "The One Where Joey's Corpse Is Harvested for ADAM", "The One Where Chandler Kills His Boss With A Swarm of Bees", "The One With All The Thanksgivings", and "The One Where Ross Discovers He Has No Free Will After Caving In Andrew Ryan's Head With a Golf Club". So no one told you Rapture's gonna be this way (clap-clap-clap-clap-clap) Your home's a joke, it broke, your best friend's D.O.A....

Tim Clark: PUBG or Fortnite as reality shows

The obvious answer is a PUBG or, better still, Fortnite reality show. Just a bunch of poor bastards on an island trying to rapidly build log cabins while their neighbours fire at them with sniper rifles from the tree line. In the current climate we’re probably less than 18 months from this show being commissioned by ITV2 in the UK. “C’mon Chad, stop sobbing, the frying pan is actually a pretty sweet piece of...” *BLAM* “...looks like we lost, Chad. GG WP.” 

Jody Macgregor: Team Fortress 2

I'm saying Team Fortress 2 because what I really want to see is more of the shorts Valve have made for it. Expiration Date was 15 minutes long and that was rad, and the Team Fortress 2 comics have been hilarious as well, so I'd love to see what they do with a string of connected half-hour episodes. I only ever reinstall the game to play it when they do their 'Scream Fortress' Halloween events, but I would watch the hell out of that. 

James Davenport: Dishonored

They should make an anime out of Dragon Ball FighterZ.

But I think a Dishonored movie or HBO-quality series is a no-brainer. Frame it as a political drama and leave the assassin stuff in the margins. I'd love to see the world described in all the diaries and notes and books depicted on a massive scale. Season two or three can see the characters off to Pandyssia, the wild continent described in Sokolov's journals, in search of a lost friend or dark truth. Toss in some kissing and I think we'll have a hit on our hands. 

Andy Chalk: The Final Station

I struggled with this, because I'm not really a TV/movies guy, but I think The Final Station would make for a brilliant (if not particularly coherent) film. Action, drama, tears, Brutalism, and a weird future-train that's prone to breakdowns: What's not to love? I doubt very much that it could be pulled off in any kind of satisfying fashion, and if it was it would surely be a tremendous box office flop. But give me a cinematic experience that's equivalent to the game—the desolation, the mystery, the loneliness of survival in the midst of pure existential horror—and you'll get my money in exchange. 

Samuel Roberts: KOTOR

Since they insist on making Star Wars films until I die, why not adapt a decent Star Wars story that already exists? KOTOR is set so long before the Bad Trilogy that you could adapt BioWare's RPG without contradicting anything. You've got a great ensemble, a killer twist and an interesting backdrop. It sounds better to me than this Han Solo movie, anyway. Plus you can make a killer sequel, too. 

Half-Life 2

Gabe Newell gives a presentation at Valve about upcoming card game Artifact.

At a presentation for upcoming Dota 2-themed card game Artifact at Valve's offices in Bellevue, Washington today, Gabe Newell reiterated that Valve is getting back into developing new games beyond its current roster of multiplayer titles. After talking about Valve's focus on Steam and hardware during the past several years, which he described as "an investment in the future", Newell said "Artifact is the first of several games that are going to be coming from us. So that's sort of good news. Hooray! Valve's going to start shipping games again."

That's games, plural: Artifact isn't the only game Valve is working on. In a January 2017 Reddit AMA, Newell did confirm that Valve was working on at least one fully-fledged singleplayer game. And the following month, in roundtable interviews with PC Gamer, Newell said that Valve was working on "three big VR games." Today's statement doesn't make it 100 percent clear whether Valve has projects in development beyond these previously mentioned games, but it is a possibility. "We aren't going to be talking about it today," Newell said, "but sort of the big thing, the new arrow we have in our quiver, really, is our ability to develop hardware and software simultaneously."

Newell gave some background on Valve's projects from the last few years, like SteamVR and the Vive headset, explaining that the company was worried about the PC heading in the direction of an iPhone-esque closed ecosystem. "You can see that Microsoft was like, wow, how can we make Windows more like that? Or Zuckerberg is saying, 'well I tried to compete in the phones, I got my ass kicked, so I'm going to create this new thing, VR, which will allow me to recreate the kind of closed, high margin ecosystem that Apple's done.' And that really started to worry us, because we thought that the strength of the PC is about its openness … So we started to make some investments to offset that."

"We've always been a little bit jealous of companies like Nintendo."

Gabe Newell

Those investments, Newell said, meant they hadn't released a new game since Dota 2—but that work wasn't wasted time. "The positive thing about the Vive is, in addition to making sure that nobody created an iOS closed platform for it, was also that it gave us the opportunity to develop our in-house expertise in hardware design. Five years ago, we didn't have electrical engineers and people who know how to do robots. Now there's pretty much no project in the hardware space that we wouldn't be comfortable taking on. We can design chips if we need to, we can do industrial design, and so on. So that added to that."

With Valve's new hardware chops, it seems like we can expect more than new games from the company. "We've always been a little bit jealous of companies like Nintendo," Newell said. "When Miyamoto is sitting down and thinking about the next version of Zelda or Mario, he's thinking what is the controller going to look like, what sort of graphics and other capabilities. He can introduce new capabilities like motion input because he controls both of those things. And he can make the hardware look as good as possible because he's designing the software at the same time that's really going to take advantage of it. So that is something we've been jealous of, and that's something that you'll see us taking advantage of subsequently."

Team Fortress 2

It's the weekend, which means it's time for the PCG Q&A.  We ask a question to our PC Gamer writers, then you answer the same question in the comments below. This week brings out the worst in us all: What's the meanest thing you've done in a game? 

Wes Fenlon: Knights of the Old Republic 

Knights of the Old Republic 2 took a nuanced look at the differences between the light and dark sides of the Force, challenging what you think of as good and bad and the justifications for your actions. It was thoughtful enough to make me strive to be better, to do what I thought was the right thing, even when that thing had complicated repercussions. But the original KotOR wasn't that thoughtful, and its more traditional light vs. dark breakdown made the dark side way more fun

The powers! The powers were so much better. And the rewards were, too! Why do a fetch quest for some dumb alien for 100 credits, when I could then bully him into giving me 200? Why would I listen to Carth Onasi blather on when I can make him miserable, crushing his moral righteousness with every decision? Why let Bastila be Malak's servant when she could be my own?

I think I made the meanest possible decision at every point in Knights of the Old Republic, and was rewarded each time with a more entertaining story and cooler abilities. Honestly, though, making Carth miserable was reward enough in itself.

Chris Livingston: Team Fortress 2 

Way back in 2008, Team Fortress 2 released it's second major update, centered around the Pyro. One of the new weapons was the Axtinguisher, an axe that would result in a critical hit to an enemy on fire. At the time, to unlock the new weapons, you needed a bunch of achievements first. So, I went to an achievement server and started grinding.

Some of the achievements required teamwork, such as delivering a certain amount of damage while being healed by a medic. At some point during my grind, another player appeared and offered to help me out. For hours this extremely nice guy helped me grind out all the Pyro achievements I needed to unlock all the Pyro's new goodies. Finally, my eyes bleary, my wrist cramping, I ticked over into completion and had my new Axtinguisher.

'Now help me?' the player asked in chat, wanting to farm his set of achievements. I glanced at the clock. It was about 3 am. I had to leave for work in three hours. There was absolutely no chance of me helping this incredibly generous person who had devoted his entire night to being my assistant. I know, it's a terrible thing to just quit without a word and leave him stranded. But even more terrible is what I actually did. I wanted to test my new Axtinguisher, so I set him on fire, hit him with the axe, killed him with a crit, and then I quit without a word. Damn me. Damn me to hell.

Tyler Wilde: Rocket League

When playing Rocket League it is generally considered unkind to, while winning 8-0, score a ninth goal at the buzzer for no reason other than to watch your own replay, which as the timer hit zero will conclude with the match immediately ending. It's not the meanest thing in the world, but obviously unsportsmanlike, and I always feel bad about it, even when I do it on accident, and especially when I do it on purpose, which I only do because it's so hard to resist an open net. If that isn't mean enough for you, here's a college football game that ended 222-0, which is pretty mean.  

Steven Messner: Runescape

Back in the early days of Runescape, long before its multiple overhauls, scamming was a pretty common and easy to pull off activity. There wasn't much moderation back then, so it was largely the player's responsibility to make sure that any trade deals wouldn't go awry. It was a lesson I learned the hard way after having a full set of adamantium armor—the second best at that time—stolen from me. The scammer used a well-known exploit to swap items in the trade window at the last second before both players accepted the deal, so thinking that I was getting an amazing deal for selling my armor, I instead got some useless bones. I was furious and looking for payback.

A few minutes later, walking along the road penniless and armorless, I spied another relatively new player wearing a set of steel armor. It was hardly expensive and I could've had my own set in just a few hours of grinding, but for a new player steel armor was a big deal. I wanted revenge, and this poor sap was going to be my victim. I walked up to him and asked about his armor and began telling him that it was possible for me to 'trim' his armor. At the time, the developers Jagex had recently rolled out variants on a few armor sets that had a cosmetic lining around their edges that looked pretty cool, so most players were after it. I told this poor sap that if he gave me his armor, I would return shortly with it trimmed. 

Of course, that was a total lie, it was impossible to modify already existing armor like that. Still, he handed it over and I walked off with my new set of steel armor. I didn't even wait until I was out of eyesight to put it on. About an hour later, I started getting messages from the poor guy eagerly asking if I had trimmed his armor and when he could expect it back. I didn't have the heart to tell him, so I just ignored him. Every day for about a week he messaged me, and every time I wouldn't reply. It was a heartless thing to do—especially because the armor was barely worth anything to me. I had replaced it for something better within the day. I'm a monster.

James Davenport: Kingdom Come Deliverance

I know I've done worse. I've selectively blocked these memories to maintain a healthy self-image, but yesterday's incident is too fresh to forget, I'm afraid. I'm no real monster like Steve or Chris, but last night during a session of Kingdom Come, I went through the woods just to see what I'd find. What I found was a hunter, someone I suspected of poaching due to how rude he was when I arrived. I walked up to say hello but he told me to get lost right away. I stuck around because fuck that guy. He brought out his fists, I brought out my sword, he brought out his sword, and I stabbed him enough times to send him running off through the forest. I could've let him go, but I didn't. I chased him for a few minutes, set on murdering the poor man. 20 hours in my Henry was a fairly virtuous kid, kind to strangers and non-violent whenever possible. But here I was running down someone because they were rude to me. Clearly I was imprinting a personal, petty desperation for revenge onto this Good Virtual Boy, and he would be my unwilling puppet until the deed was done. It took a few arrows to the back to slow the guy down, each smacking into his back with a dull thud. The final arrow dropped him to his knees with a groan. His body went slack and the woods were silent again. I didn't feel any better, but I made a decent amount of coin off flipping his clothes and weapons.

Team Fortress 2

Well, you can add Team Fortress 2 to the growing list of entries into the Steamed Hams meme. A mapper called Whomobile has created a Steamed Hams map for TF2, in which players collect steamed hams and deliver them to Skinner's house, which intermittently catches fire. Players, upon dying, drop steamed hams. (That's what Skinner calls hamburgers. It's an Albany expression.)

If you're not familiar with the Steamed Hams meme, it stems from an episode of The Simpsons called "22 Short Films About Springfield," in which Principal Skinner invites Superintendent Chalmers over for dinner, accidentally burns his roast, and attempts to cover it up by passing off Krusty Burgers as his own cooking. The skit culminates with Skinner's house burning down with his mother trapped inside while he pretends the flames are the Aurora Borealis, in an attempt to avoid embarrassment in front of his boss. The episode has been the source of a number of video remixes posted to YouTube, including a surprisingly good "Steamed Hams but it's Metal Gear Solid."

The features list for the map, at least, is breathtakingly honest:

  • Not Very Well Balanced!
  • Gigantic Sightlines!
  • Based off a meme that will die off in a month!

I didn't see anyone actually playing the map on any community servers, but I ran around it solo for a few minutes. There's an approximation of the Krusty Burger across the street from Skinner's house, and there's huge stack of newspapers in Skinner's garage area, presumably a nod to the episode where he got pinned underneath them and was presumed murdered.

Also, I sincerely doubt the meme will die off in a month, or ever. Memes are eternal. Plus, "Steamed Fortress 2" has a nice ring to it.

Team Fortress 2

Update: So it seems that the report below was incorrect. I initially wrote that Valve was banning Linux users with Linux usernames that included the word 'catbot', but Valve has said those claims were a "tactic employed by cheaters to try and sow discord and distrust among anticheat systems".

It's a bit confusing because a Valve moderator on GitHub, as you'll see below, initially seemed to confirm the story by saying that the banning of users was "deliberate". But another Valve employee has since clarified the matter in a Reddit post.

"VAC will not ban you for simply having catbot in your user name (either your Steam profile or on one or more of your Linux accounts). The bug report—and I suspect many of the posts in this thread—are a tactic employed by cheaters to try and sow discord and distrust among anticheat systems.

"VAC has many different types of detections and we cannot discuss what they do publicly because doing so makes them less effective. However, one thing I can disclose is that all detections require that the detection occur while a user is actively cheating and connected to a VAC-secured server.

"Linux historically hasn't been a problem for cheating--the base rate of cheating is significantly lower on Linux than it is on Windows. Unfortunately, a 'healthy' community of cheaters grew up around catbot on linux and their impact on TF became large enough that they simply could no longer be ignored. Those banned users are very annoyed that VAC has dropped the hammer on them."

Original story:

Catbots, if you're not familiar with the term, are player-created bots that flood TF2 servers, lining up headshots on everything in sight. They're all called things like 'catbot 1574', and they're a nuisance. But in an attempt to stamp them out, some players are claiming that Valve has crossed a line. Anybody with 'catbot' in their Linux username (yes, not their Steam username), will now find themselves with an automatic VAC ban, regardless of whether they've actually booted up TF2 or not.

Now, I don't know how many Linux users have 'catbot' in their username, but there is at least the potential for friendly fire here. On the GitHub thread where the issue was uncovered, one user said that their Steam account was VAC-banned despite claiming to never have cheated. Another said: "I installed Ubuntu on a virtual machine and named the computer catbot-918 and installed Steam, within an hour of not playing anything I received a VAC ban."

A GitHub moderator for Valve confirmed that the policy was in fact a deliberate attempt to combat bots, adding that it was "not open for discussion on Github" (which, on my reading, doesn't mean that the issue is not open for discussion at all, just not on GitHub).

Valve does have a responsibility, and a right, to stop cheaters playing its games. But as a lot of people on this Reddit thread discussing the issue have said, it does seem a bit ham-fisted to ban someone simply because of their choice of Linux username. And besides, it looks like catbot setups have already switched to a different username, which was inevitable. It's probably not the last we'll hear of it.

...

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