TEAM FORTRESS 2: RUN, COWARDS! [Archive] - NAG Online Forums
They soon began work on what they called Team Fortress 2 as a commercial . Valve says: The fastest and lightest of all the classes, the Scout uses his Dynamic map system) Dynamic maps explained by Robin Walker (Video) .. Yeah, meet the Spy should be badz.info, how much space do you. We've written about Team Fortress 2 a lot, you may have noticed. the carefully planned additions and refinements that have trickled in over the years .. James: I didn't meet anyone quite as rude, but my time with SOS hasn't been too surprising. . that goes on, as all reports will be backed by some form of video evidence. JOHN COOK [co-creator of Team Fortress, programmer at Valve , founder of Sodium, ] All the games I had were ones I'd typed in from the backs of computing From age 13, I decided I wanted to make video games. . that Walker had pulled out of his Diablo II Collector's Edition box.
The early Quake-mod days were like that. There was a lot of sharing of mods and techniques, things like that. IAN CAUGHLEY As you can imagine, when you consider the slight time delays involved with the server telling a game where the enemy is, followed by the game telling the server that the player fired in a certain direction, it becomes quite difficult for the server to calculate if a weapon hit its target. This is compounded by the server not being able to trust the game, since a cheater could be playing with a modified game designed to make weapons always hit.
The Pyro's main weapon, the flame thrower, did not need to be targeted accurately. Instead of looking along a line to see if the weapon hit, we looked in an invisible box in front of the player, as if that area was filled with flames, because it was. If the weapon hit its target, they would be lit on fire, causing damage over time so, once you hit your target, you didn't need to keep hitting them. Couple this with the fact that faster units would typically have less health, and a pyro could be quite an annoyance—deadly—in a confined space.
On the downside, they had no range, so were almost useless out in the open, though the flames could be used to make it a bit harder to see where your head was—always a good thing when there are snipers about.
There were a lot of things we wanted to do, like set whole areas on fire. We got that working, but the performance was bad. Having 20 flame sprites on the screen started to slow things down. Plus, it turned out that area denial is not that fun in FPS games. Running through areas is fun, but having a grenade that sets a whole area on fire for half a minute is not a good gameplay idea. Trying to figure out how to get Quake to do something was fun. If you managed to figure it out, you wanted to tell everyone.
I think that's why you see things like grappling hooks showing up everywhere. It was such a neat that to even be able to get Quake to do that. I think everyone wanted to try it. You aimed and shot forward using the mouse. We wondered, 'How do we get the charging mechanic right for powering up? How do we make it slow to shoot but still rewarding when you get head shots? We did try a few [implementations], and that one sort of balanced the difficulty of shooting and feeling like you really accomplished something when you shot someone.
I think the clarity of design we reached years later, when fundamentally we had a design for 32 people who don't know each other—and who probably won't know each other again after this game—and they're all going to have their own individual goals, and a small view of everything going on—our goal was to make it so that as they all individually and locally optimize for their experience, optimization at the team level falls out of that.
They could look left, look right, and see teammates doing some stuff and go, 'Man, we're working well as a team,' even though we started with the base assumption that they were all ignoring everyone else, because it turns out that's the way most players work.
What are the extents of this game engine? What can we take advantage of to do more gameplay? You can't just do anything. You have to understand limitations and work with them to make the best game we could. There's a combat medic: A medic is an obvious [class] to build if you're trying to have people care about each other. But this is the core problem of multiplayer game design: You're trying to get a bunch of people to work together as a team, but they want someone else to play Medic; they want someone else to [defend the base].
The Demolition Man had a tool we used in a bunch of maps that let him alter the map. He had a big bomb, he could go put it [somewhere], if it blew up before the enemy stopped it, it would destroy a wall and his team could get through. We didn't keep that concept in TF2 because we kept finding that it was a perfect example of everyone wanting someone else on the team to do that. What can we get Quake to do? What are its capabilities as a modding platform?
I ended up writing a pre-compiler for it just to, okay, we want to make this thing; how do we do it? ROBIN WALKER At a design level, you were constantly torn between providing enough value to that [type of scenario] so that when someone does it, the team is rewarded and happy, but not such that everyone feels like, 'We're screwed if someone doesn't do it, but I don't want to do it, so I'm going to jump into Demoman, do it, then flip back to the class I actually want to play.
JOHN COOK We could take a small amount of code and have the pre-compiler generate a large amount of code so we can deal with all these limitations of the system. QuakeC didn't have a lot of conditionals. You couldn't concatenate strings together. I had to make a system that was, okay, I want to concatenate things, so really, I need a giant if-else statement which handles all the different ways these four strings can be concatenated so we can share a status bar at the bottom of the screen.
It was limiting, but it was still awesome. They're more like induced friction or punishment. It didn't seem like a good long-term strategy. I think the Medic is a good example of that. TF's Medic is not really a fun role. We made him a thing that needed to exist if teams wanted to be competitive by making him powerful, but that's not really a good solution.
Just add a healing pack and you are done, right? I'm sure it's far from perfect, but at least we understood that the right way to treat this class was to make it the single most important person on the battlefield for specific points in time, and make him be the way teams can break stalemates. I think that was a lot more successful. We just printed a bunch of text to the screen, and made the person hit a number that corresponded to the [option] on the screen that they wanted.
If you wanted to make a menu with a bunch of transitions, that was never going to happen. You couldn't add any data to a Quake entity, so every entity had the exact same data.
The player has a variable for the amount of nails ammo they've got; that means every other entity has that variable as well. But you couldn't add variables, so what you'd end up doing is [repurposing data]. All classes in QTF sporting red-team colors. People just thought that was funny. The low fidelity was consistent enough that that was just how the product was. They found the [humor] in it. The idea had never occurred to us that we be planning to sell, or that anyone would want to buy it.
When the going got tough, Cook and Walker took comfort in the fact that they weren't the only ones trying to flip the script on Quake. A burgeoning community of amateur developers was hacking the game and pollinating email lists and Internet forums with their results.
One part was the standard coding to get what you wanted. The other part was: I want to do this specific thing, and at face value there's no way Quake will allow me to do this, but maybe there's some way I can make it. Sometimes you'd come up with solutions where you'd completely misuse something from the way it was intended just to get what you wanted. Every now and again we'd get something to work that we didn't think we'd ever be able to get to work.
It was a puzzle in that sense. I really enjoyed that. It was really fun. We wondered why people always switched over from it to the base shotgun.
Does it not do enough damage? Well, it does good damage, but you have to [land a lot of hits], and the nails are slow. The Quake C mailing list was full of people saying, 'Oh, wow, I just realized that if you do this and this, you can do this!
They weren't making mods so much as they did short-form experiences. The Quake Rally guys were turning the whole damn thing into a vehicle-based game.
The grappling hook is a good example. I can't remember who built the first grappling hook. I think it pre-dated CTF, but I can't remember. But once you saw it was possible, you wanted to learn how to do it. That was really fun. A view of the blue team's base from high atop red's fortifications in the classic 2fort map for QTF.
No matter which version players tried first, no matter which class they favor, no matter the art or gameplay styles they prefer, the words "Team Fortress" call to mind a vivid scene: Red and blue teams fighting to defend their flag and capture the opposing team's. For most players, this scene plays out a map that's been synonymous with Team Fortress players as well as its developers since I want to say that was the third release, but I'm not super sure.
It was kind of what we wanted, but instead we went ahead and did capture the flag because we understood it. I started making a map for that, which was 2fort. I think a lot of its design came from John. We really only had one map for some period of time; we were simultaneously making the game using the map, and making the map. Every time we were playing it, we were playing on an updated version of 2fort. You've got this case where the classes were molding themselves to fit the map, and the map was molding itself to fit the classes.
In retrospect, it didn't surprise us that 2fort was the most popular map. It embodied Team Fortress's gameplay better than anything else. The core gameplay evolved at the same time at that map, so it's not a surprise that it worked the best out of all the maps. The Sniper needs a place to be. Snipers want to be up above enemies, and have a place to retreat, so the battlements show up. Once the Engineer appears, you think, What's the Engineer's role in this?
You have all these places where classes end up in terms of 3D positions in the map, and we would iterate on those rooms just to make them more fun to be in as a Soldier, or an Engineer, [or other classes].
I don't know who builds forts like that in real life, and why it's a '2' instead of 'two. Newer fans may be surprised to learn that 2fort was not packaged with Team Fortress right at its humble beginning. Likewise, the idea of fighting over sheets of cloth affixed to poles was a concept that arose shortly after Team Fortress's initial release. Cook and Walker weren't the only ones to take their design in that direction. David "Zoid" Kirsch, creator of the popular Threewave CTF mod, got there first, but players still debate over which implementation was more popular.
We never specifically coded Capture the Flag into TF. The only reason I remember that is because there was this fight online between various fans about who came up with flags first, like it was Quake that had invented flags. The reason I point this out is because it wasn't clear that Capture the Flag was going to become [the de facto mode of play]. We wanted to build something that hopefully would support [the type of gameplay] people wanted to do. He was helping test the new version of Quake World.
The new version broke Team Fortress, so he talked to us about that.
They could be an object, and the game rules could be encoded by the map maker into the object. Say, if the player touches this, it should be attached to the player; if the player carrying it dies, it should fall to the ground, or maybe it should return back to where it was, or return back to where it was after a certain amount of time—all that sort of stuff. I think Zoid was a lot better at communicating to people. It pulled off data that anyone could pull off a Quake server at that time.
The data showed us that there were more people playing TF than Quake itself. More than anything else. That was a shock to us. That was something that caused us to believe we had some hope at doing it professionally. CTF is simple in concept: Each team defends their flag while waging assaults on the enemy base to steal theirs. For all its versatility, QuakeC made executing such a seemingly straightforward mode quite tricky. One of the positives of TF's map system was that level designers had a lot of power to control exactly how the game played out on their map.
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One of the negatives was that level designers had lots of power. What that meant was you might play two maps that both call themselves CTF maps in TF, but they might have subtly different rules.
He spent a lot of time making a system so that the map makers could do a little bit of programming without all the setup and do more interesting things with the maps. That's how you ended up with maps like The Rock and other [gameplay] variants. I think he did most of the design and implementation of this bit on his own, and what he came up with was pretty amazing. He effectively wrote a 4GL language that map builders could use to define map behaviour and objectives and opened up modability like never before.
Now map makers with little coding experience could build games, not just maps. Well, at least within the context of TF.
This is when we saw so many more ways to play TF get developed. So many of the game modes that are seen today in FPS were created by map designers using Robin's toolkit. That was entirely up to the map maker. We unified those decisions across the [CTF] maps we shipped as a way of promoting the rules we thought were best. You would get stuff from the enemy base and take it back, and build up structures. These structures would rise out of the ground and power-up your weapons as you [upgraded them], but we hit the wall, technically, on what we could do.
In terms of dynamic worlds, Quake wasn't suited to that. It had a timer above it, and you had to [defend] it where it fell for 20 or 30 seconds; then it would return. We liked that because it meant that instead of the only place you defend your flag being your starting point, we liked the fact that [defending a dropped flag] caused teams to suddenly have to spring up defense in another place.
Team Fortress didn't make its way online until late August of Once it did, feedback trickled and then flooded in from the mod's growing fan base. Weeks ahead of release, Cook and Walker availed themselves of a more immediate method of feedback.
We just went at it as we could, and trusted that we could fix it up on the weekend when we were playing it with other people. Lots of coding, tweaking the 3D player models, new textures, map design.
None of us had great artistic skills, so after the mod had a little initial success, we started getting more art contributions from the other people in the community. This made the game look much more awesome. Everyone sort of contributed to design ideas. In the later versions of Team Fortress, as they got bigger and bigger, John and I started alternating.
On one update, one of us would do 75 percent of the coding and the other one would relax. I don't remember organizing it that way. We just fell into that [routine]. Sometimes it would just be: He did the capture-the-flag system, I did the pyro class.
We'd sort of bounce back and forth that way, just taking a big piece. Now I can look back and realize that if not for him, I would have petered out much earlier. The game was better for having two of us with [preferences] for what should be in it. The first gamers to download and play our game would have been other modders; we were all trying out each other's ideas.
I think we were forced not to work on the codebase at the same time because we didn't have a tool to share code. Strategy never survives contact with the enemy. I think you could adapt that to, 'Game design never survives contact with the player base. Feedback changes things, ideas change things. The Scout left and Pyro, as seen in TF2. Thanks to the advent of social media, blogs, YouTube, and indie publishing channels on platforms such as Steam, fans are able to follow nearly every step of a game's development leading up to its release.
On August 24,the date of the initial Team Fortress release, Walker and Cook didn't think of themselves as developers.
They had made a mod for a game, and they published it with all the fanfare they felt such an effort deserved. There was no official release. We added some stuff that wasn't all Quake. The Medic had a medikit, and the Sniper had a sniper rifle. The rest of them, I'm pretty sure, just used Quake weapons. He had a directory on the FTP for Quake mods. We had downloaded Quake mods from there, and we were kind of done making Team Fortress with its five classes.
We put it up there with a little readme file that said, 'Hey, we made this thing, check it out. We hadn't really entertained the idea of releasing it.
It was written for our LAN parties, so we had a group of Quake players who showed up every couple of weeks and we'd just play it. Those were our core customers and play testers for quite a while. Are you going to do any updates? If people like it. There weren't flags or anything because there weren't maps built with the idea of [CTF] in mind. We put new versions up and mailed the people who had written us [to let them know].
We got some more play-time in, and more people kept mailing us to the point where we built a website for it and hosted it off the university. It was a very organic process. Something about the two of us even then, we just really didn't like the idea of promoting what we did. We thought about how Quake had this ecosystem of mods coming online. We thought about maps in the same way. We wanted it to be that people would find good maps, instead of ours shutting down other people from making and playing other maps.
So, you could effectively play TF on any map, but only TF maps would link to our objective system. But we were very open about how to write a TF map, and collaborated with other map makers as much as we could. I'm reasonably sure that once we had done the big objective code re-write, we didn't do much of our own map making from that point forward. Other map makers were better at it than us, and we were too busy playing their maps.
Here's the game, and you can get the maps separately. We put the maps up separately from the game, so it was almost an invitation for people to make their own maps. At first, Cook and Walker were as bemused by the attention as they were delighted. Learning how to promote their efforts proved more difficult for them than building the mod.
But we still weren't thinking of ourselves as [professionals]. If you'd asked us then, 'Are you guys game developers? That never even occurred to me. We were proud of the product and thought it should speak for itself. We know now that doing that is doing an injustice to a product. If it's good, it's worth telling lots of people about, telling people why you're excited about it.
It's just not quite in our nature. Even though you know it's worth telling people about, you also know it's a bunch of work for you, a bunch of socializing. The games industry to me seemed like it was in the UK, and to a lesser extent, the US.
The UK dominated it. Just knowing people are consuming your work and going and playing with it was pretty awesome. You could make a really good game, but you didn't have a good way to get it to customers in a way where they could give you money in return.
You could put it online and people could download it, but if you decided you wanted to sell it, there wasn't an opportunity for you. There was this narrow window we went through. If you have value in this Team Fortress but it's not being delivered to our customers, fix that. Get it in there for them. It was pretty awesome at the time, and I think influenced future music choices across the industry.
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It wasn't just Steam. Really, the whole Internet just got to a point where a whole bunch of people were buying [products] through it.
If we had done what we did four years later, we would never have gone to Valve, because I think we would have been far more convinced we could have done it ourselves. It all seems incredibly naive to me in retrospect. John and I have talked since about how much we threaded the needle in life. That the path we followed didn't exist before Quake, and it was a path that ended not long afterwards. It was also very awesome that we could effectively develop our game iteratively. Companies do it all the time now with early access, but it was a new concept back then for games.
I guess that's because games still came from ships, but mods came from the net, so in a way the free mod market back then was the pre-cursor to the modern online game markets. Looking back now, I should be surprised how many people donated their time and artwork to the game, but like I said, there was lots of sharing within the modding communities.
They said, 'We love your game. Let us know what you guys are doing next. But that did make us think, oh, maybe there are some real opportunities here. Originally packaged as part of Valve's Orange Box bundle inTeam Fortress 2 continues on as a free-to-play title. Platforms Walker's and Cook's proficiency in game design and in wrangling QuakeC grew in parallel to the Quake community's enthusiasm for Team Fortress.
With more experience came more ambitious character classes and styles of play. We were a little more thoughtful about the product at that point. They started as a concept: From there we just tried a bunch of ideas, and the dispenser and sentry gun came up.
The Engineer was a lot of fun to make. The sentry turret felt like we were doing something that had never been done before in an FPS, and it had all these implications on map design and game balance beyond just adding a character with a new gun.
Maybe they don't have the aiming skills they would like, or maybe they just want to spend more time thinking about which way enemies would be coming in, and where enemies would get to, and exploit that. The sentry gun was a tool to serve game design problems we were interested in solving, which I don't think is how we started out. Things you want to do come from all over the place. JOHN COOK Balancing got easier as it took off on the Internet because you could just go play with other people and see what they were doing, and make changes appropriately.
Just because of the situation, we were very comfortable updating live, basically. If I remember correctly, the Spy came from a bug. For a while, we had a bug that made players appear like they were on the other team. There's a chunk of code responsible for making sure you're the right color and the right skin, depending on the team and class you picked. At some point we had bugs where players would look like they were the wrong class or the wrong team. Somewhere amidst all that, as we worked on fixing it, we thought, Hey, that might be an interesting idea for a class.
QTF's Spy, looking dapper. The Spy should be able to look like any class. At that point we had target ID: When you mouse over a teammate, you get info about their name and health and so on; Spies needed to be able to fake all of that. The Spy was a nightmare to code. There are so many exceptions in the code that exist just for the Spy. There were a bunch of things we could do in TF that were kind of hard to do in Quake, the big one being that if you were a Spy on team red disguised as an enemy on team blue, then team blue players saw you as team blue, but team red players also saw you as on team blue.
That meant your own teammates saw you as an enemy. The number of times we'd see new players trying to kill a Spy only to be confused because, hey, this guy's not taking any damage, and how did this enemy get into our spawn area? We fought that as much as we could in Quake. JOHN COOK Eventually we did beta releases, but at the start, a lot of it was just, okay, let's make some logical guesses about gameplay changes and see what happens.
Everywhere you've got a piece of code that says, 'Is the player I just shot, or bumped into, or am looking at, or whatever—is that player on my team? If so, do this. If not, do that. Or, is it on my team but disguised as being on the enemy team? You have some creative process afterwards to take that data and turn it into something actionable. Like, okay, they're using it or not using it in certain situations: You come up with a theory for that, and come up with an idea for a [solution].
You say, 'Okay, here's a more fun way to do the same thing. One of the mini-games we'd play in our one-on-one deathmatches was to run backwards. I don't know why. We played a lot of Quake, so we just tried everything. We'd do one-on-one deathmatches where you were only allowed to move backwards. You had to run past your [opponent] to be able to shoot at them, and then circle around them. It was a strange way of playing, but fun. You'd play the map so well that you could get across lava jumps and [other obstacles] just by jumping backwards because you knew where everything was, you'd played it so damn much.
OverTeam Fortress garnered more attention from players.
Pause Screen: Threading the Needle - The Making of Team Fortress
The transition from tinkerer to developer happened so quickly that it took Cook's and Walker's mutual friend, Ian Caughley, to point it out, and to suggest taking the next big step. He said, 'We should all start a company. I was still coding and designing, helped a bunch on the promo. I was also doing a lot of managing of third parties that were providing art, sound and music.
Also, importantly, I was paying the rent and buying the food. Frozenfireside Portal add ons for those who wanted more http: Run through the door backwards ; That is of course if you aren't invisible. All the local servers appear! Just put your filter in-game to Africa. Or you can just give me the IPs? Did you get some one to turn your PC on and log into your OS for you, then find this forum, this thread and click on the "Reply to Thread" button for you?
Miktar Etienne, stop being a lazy bitch. And any other tips about saving cap and stuff like that would be appriciated. Yeah, but you see When I'm at home, I want to play. I don't want to wait for the list to get refreshed. At this moment, I am at work. I don't want to work, so I ask people for server IPs. Thus, when I get home, I have the IPs and can start playing immediately. Turning off VOIP might save you some bandwidth, but isn't as fun. Not blabbering away needlessly on your mic could help your bandwidth and your reputation.
It might be more when there is updates available. The Ideal ping would be between 0 and 80 ms ping. I can still remember the good old modem days when a ping was acceptable: D Miktar IS TF Server 2: D I play TF2 with a ping of Now was that so hard? Like does the NAG group play often? If so how do I know which game it is. Getting average ping and not having any problems playing. Seems i can only play on sgs though, my ping on IS ranges between and 2 million.
Leaves me with only one server to play on, and its almost always full. Which is why I wondered why you couldn't do it yourself, because I couldn't imagine a practical reason. The servers I listed are the lowest ping locals. AFIAK playing with a high ping messes things up for the other players on the server. Which is why a lot of servers have rules that kick players pinging above Incase you're wondering why people are giving you dirty looks.
Are you sure my friend hacked dont worry he hacked overseas servers as theres not alot of local ones and the admins ban him vac doesnt pick up his hack i dont hack by the way: And it was my first time playing.
Not sure why though. Azimuth That is the most awesome multiplayer game ever. As a medic player I have to disagree. The guy we're healing is the bigger threat, honest. That's why we're healing him! And if you ask me I think the IS server is running on an overloaded machine. That's why it has strange response issues. I have to agree with dislekcia, I always found the guy I'm healing to be quite a bit more potent than my syringe gun. Totally loving this game I'm just so terribly newby at it though.
It might tear me away from q Or a conspiracy ; I will really be bummed if I can't play when I only have local bandwidth: Dislekcia says that the SAIX servers are set to kick you if you ping too high. Alas, we must suffer. Had to rush out. Blah, I always say: Ignore screams for help, for they will soon go away. My 5am to 8pm shift dictated that sleep was more important. Hope to be on tonight. See you guys there.
Is there an option for bots? The first on didn't, but I'm hoping they made the effort here Bots for TF2 would be a bit hard, I think, since it's all about the synergy between classes and exploring those. P Miktar D Don't like the clan thing personally but grats. On the topic of bots The spy and the Pyro look like a gaming shirt I could wear in public. I will never wear it in public though.