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Team Fortress 2 is a multi-player class-based first-person shooter created by Valve Software. It is available as part of The Orange Box, a suite of games on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, or as a stand-alone title on the digital distribution service Steam.
Like its predecessors, Team Fortress 2 is focused around two opposing teams competing for an objective. These teams, Reliable Excavation & Demolition (RED) and Builders League United (BLU), are meant to represent two holding corporations that between them secretly control every government on the planet. Players can choose to play as one of nine classes in these teams, each with his own unique strengths and weaknesses. Although the abilities of a number of classes have changed from earlier Team Fortress incarnations, the basic elements of each class have remained. The game was released with six official maps, although 24 extra maps; 9 arena maps; and two training maps have been included in subsequent updates. In addition, a number of community assembled maps have been released. When players join a level for the first time, an introductory video shows how to complete its objectives. During matches, an eternally dissatisfied woman voiced by Ellen McLain announces various game events over loudspeakers. The player limit is 16 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. On the PC, a vanilla server can hold twenty-four players, but in 2008 Valve updated Team Fortress 2 to include a server variable that allows up to 32 players. Third party modifications have made it possible to host up to 36 players on one server.
Team Fortress 2 is the first of Valve's multi-player games to provide detailed statistics for individual players. They include the time spent playing as each class, most points obtained and the most captures or objectives achieved in a single life. Persistent statistics tell the player how he or she is improving in relation to these statistics, such as if a player comes close to his or her record for the damage inflicted in a round. Team Fortress 2 also features numerous achievements for carrying out certain tasks, such as scoring a certain number of kills or completing a round within a certain time. New sets of class-specific achievements have been added in updates, which add new abilities and weapons to each class once unlocked by the player. This unlockables system has since been expanded into a random-chance system, where the player can also obtain the items simply by playing the game. Achievements unlocked and statistics from previously played games are displayed on the player's Steam Community or Xbox Live profile page.
The objective of the game is defined by the game mode in use.
In capture the flag maps, the objective for both teams is to obtain a briefcase of intelligence from the enemy team's base and return it to their own base while preventing the opposing team from doing the same.
Control point modes are more varied in their objectives, but share the common aim of capturing a particular point on the map. In some levels, the objective for both teams is to secure all the points on the map. On other levels (attack/defend), one team already holds all the points and must defend them from the other for a set amount of time. A more complex variation (territorial control), introduced with the map "Hydro", is based on territory: each team must capture the other team's single active control point to secure that section of the map. Once all sections have been captured by one team, they are then able to attack the other team's base directly. In an update on August 13, 2009, Valve included a fourth control point variation: King of the Hill. In this mode, both RED and BLU have to capture the center point and defend it for a set amount of time before the opposing team does. When a team gains control of the point, their timer starts to count down. If the other team captures the point, the former team's count down is stopped, and the latter team's starts.
In payload maps, one team has to work to escort a rail cart carrying a bomb along a track through a series of checkpoints, eventually detonating the bomb in the other team's base. The other team has to defend their positions and prevent the cart from reaching the end within a set amount of time. In the payload race variation, both RED and BLU attempt to escort a payload along symmetric (either parallel or opposing) tracks. The payload mode was introduced in April 2008 with the map "Gold Rush"; Payload race, a game mode where both teams control a cart, was released in May 2009 with the map “Pipeline”.
Arena is a team deathmatch mode. Arena maps focus on smaller environments and no respawning after the death of a player's character. A team wins in arena by eliminating all of the other side's members in the arena or capturing the map's central control point. Arena was introduced in the August 2008 update.
Nine classes are grouped into three categories: offense, defense, and support. One difference between Team Fortress 2 and the original is that each class is more unique. Abilities have been added, changed and removed from each class to make each one a completely different playing experience. The most prominent of these changes is the removal of conc jumping and grenades (primary and secondary, with the exception of the demoman). The classes in Team Fortress 2 are:
|formerly Heavy Weapons Guy
Team Fortress originally began life as a free mod for Quake. Development on Team Fortress 2 switched to the GoldSrc engine in 1998 after the development team Team Fortress Software — consisting of Robin Walker and John Cook — were first contracted and finally outright employed by Valve Corporation. At the point of Team Fortress Software's acquisition production moved up a notch and the game was promoted to a standalone, retail product; to tide fans over, work began on a simple port of the game which was released in 1999 as the free Team Fortress Classic. Notably, Team Fortress Classic was built entirely within the publicly available Half-Life Software Development Kit as an example to the community and industry of its flexibility.
Walker and Cook had been heavily influenced by their three-month contractual stint at Valve, and now they were working full-time on their design, which was undergoing rapid metamorphosis. Team Fortress 2 was to be a modern war game, with a command hierarchy including a commander with a bird's-eye view of the battlefield, parachute drops over enemy territory, networked voice communication and numerous other innovations.
The new design was revealed to the public at E3 1999, where it earned several awards including Best Online Game and Best Action Game. By this time Team Fortress 2 had gained a new subtitle, Brotherhood of Arms, and the results of Walker and Cook working at Valve were becoming clear. Several new and at the time unprecedented technologies on show: Parametric animation seamlessly blended animations for smoother, more life-like movement, and Intel's multi-resolution mesh technology dynamically reduced the detail of on-screen elements as they became more distant to improve performance (a technique made obsolete by decreasing memory costs; today games use a technique known as level of detail, which uses more memory but less processing power). No release date was given at the exposition.
In mid–2000, Valve announced that development of Team Fortress 2 had been delayed for a second time. They attributed the delay to development switching to an in-house, proprietary engine that is today known as the Source engine. It was at around this time that all news ran dry and Team Fortress 2 entered six years of silent development. During that time, both Walker and Cook worked on various other Valve projects — Walker was project lead on Half-Life 2: Episode One and Cook became a Steam developer — raising doubts that Team Fortress 2 was really the active project that would be repeatedly described.
The next significant public development occurred in the run up to Half-Life 2's 2004 release: Valve's Director of Marketing Doug Lombardi claimed that Team Fortress 2 was still in development and that information concerning it would come after Half-Life 2's release. This did not happen; nor was any news released after Lombardi's similar claim during an early interview regarding Half-Life 2: Episode One. Before Episode Two's release Gabe Newell again claimed that news on Team Fortress 2 would be forthcoming, and Team Fortress 2 was re-unveiled a month later at the July 2006 EA Summer Showcase event.
Walker revealed in March 2007 that Valve had quietly built "probably three to four different games" before settling on their final design. Due to the game's lengthy development cycle it was often mentioned alongside Duke Nukem Forever, another long-anticipated game that had seen many years of protracted development and engine changes. The beta release of the game featured six multiplayer maps, of which three contain optional commentary by the developers on the game design, level design and character design, and provide more information on the history behind the development.
Team Fortress 2 does not attempt the realistic graphical approach used in other Valve games on the Source engine such as Half-Life 2, Day of Defeat: Source and Counter-Strike: Source. Rather, it uses a more stylized, cartoon-like approach "heavily influenced by early 20th century commercial illustrations" and achieved with extensive use and manipulation of Phong shading. The development commentary in the game suggests that part of the reason for the cartoonish style was the difficulty in explaining the maps and characters in realistic terms. The removal of an emphasis on realistic settings allows these explanations to be sidestepped. The game debuted with the Source engine's new dynamic lighting, shadowing and soft particle technologies, among many other unannounced features, alongside Half-Life 2: Episode Two. Team Fortress 2 was also the first game to implement the Source engine's new Facial Animation 3 features.
The art style for the game was inspired by J. C. Leyendecker, as well as Dean Cornwell and Norman Rockwell. Their distinctive styles of strong silhouettes and shading to draw attention to specific details were adapted in order to make the models distinct, with a focus on making the characters' team, class and current weapon easily identifiable. Silhouettes and animation are used to make the class of a character apparent even at range, and a color scheme that draws attention to the chest area brings focus to the selected weapon. The voices selected for each of the classes were based on imagining what people from the 1960s would expect the classes to have sounded like, according to writer Chet Faliszek.
The map design has a strong evil genius theme with archetypical spy fortresses, concealed within inconspicuous buildings such as industrial warehouses and farms to give plausibility to their close proximities; these bases are usually separated by a neutrally-themed space. The bases hide exaggerated super weapons such as laser cannons, nuclear warheads, and missile launch facilities, taking the role of objectives. The maps have little visual clutter and stylized, almost impressionistic modeling, to allow enemies to be spotted more easily. The impressionistic design approach also affects textures, which are based on photos that are filtered and improved by hand, giving them a tactile quality and giving Team Fortress 2 its distinct look. The bases are designed to let players immediately know where they are. RED bases use warm colors, natural materials and angular shapes, while BLU bases use cool colors, industrial materials and orthogonal shapes.
Release and ongoing development
During the July 2006 Electronic Arts press conference, Valve revealed that Team Fortress 2 would ship as the multi-player component of The Orange Box. A conference trailer showcasing all nine of the classes demonstrated for the first time the game's whimsical new visual style. Managing director of Valve Gabe Newell said that the company's goal was to create "the best looking and best-playing class-based multiplayer game". A beta release of the entire game was made on Steam on September 17, 2007 for customers who had pre-purchased The Orange Box, who had activated their Black Box coupon, which was included with the ATI HD 2900XT Graphics cards, and for members of the Valve Cyber Café Program. The beta continued until the game's final release.
The game was released on October 10, 2007 both as a standalone product via Steam and at retail stores as part of The Orange Box compilation pack, priced at each gaming platform's recommended retail price. The Orange Box also contains Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, and Portal. Valve offered The Orange Box at a ten percent discount for those who pre-purchased it via Steam before the October 10, release, as well as the opportunity to participate in the beta test.[
Since the release of Team Fortress 2, Valve has continually released free updates and patches through Steam. In addition, the game is also being expanded by fans with the tools used by Valve to create the game. Valve has included some of the most popular community-created levels in the official updates. In January, 2010 Valve started allowing users to submit additional content, such as hats, weapons and Steam avatars, through a contribution site. With the first such update with the best community made content being released in March with several new hats and weapons. A current series of updates sees the classes gaining alternate weapons with different abilities, while putting in certain drawbacks to each unlockable weapon to maintain balance. The Medic, Pyro, Heavy, Scout, Sniper, Spy, "Classless", "Hallowe'en", Demoman, Soldier, and Engineer updates have been completed, together updating all nine of the classes. To hasten obtaining these unlockable weapons and cosmetic hats, a minority of players began using third party programs that idle the player's client on a server whilst external to the game. In response, Valve removed any items gained using these programs, and awarded those who did not use these programs with a free hat. Valve has also occasionally released new game types as part of their updates, the most recent being Highlander. Valve has created a blog to keep players up to date with the ongoing developments in Team Fortress 2.
An update called WAR was released on December 17, 2009 for the Soldier and Demoman. Based around a supposed war between Soldier and Demoman classes fighting over new weapons, it included a major overhaul of the inventory system to allow crafting of weapons and hats. Throughout the 7 days of the update, players were encouraged to play the Soldier and Demoman classes, as every kill of the opposite class would add to a tally and the winning class would receive a fourth item. On the day of the release it was revealed that the Soldier had killed more Demomen, and the gunboats, the secret item, was given to the Soldier. They are boots which drastically reduce damage from rocket jumping and occupy the second weapon slot. This update also introduced a beta version of Team Fortress 2 bots, based on AI systems in the Left 4 Dead series and initially only supporting the King of the Hill game mode.
Development of the new content has been confirmed for the Xbox 360, while development for the PlayStation 3 was deemed "uncertain" by Valve. However, the PlayStation 3 version of Team Fortress 2 received an update that repaired some of the issues found within the game, ranging from graphical issues to online connectivity problems; this update was included in a patch that also repaired issues found in the other games within The Orange Box. The updates released on PC and planned for later release on the Xbox 360 include new official maps and game modes, as well as tweaks to classes and new weapons that can be unlocked through the game's achievement system. The developers attempted to negotiate with Xbox 360 developer Microsoft to keep the Xbox 360 releases of these updates free, but Microsoft refused and Valve announced that they would release bundles of several updates together to justify the price.
On June 10, 2010, Team Fortress 2 was released for Mac OS X. Players playing the game on a Mac before June 14 got an in-game item, earbuds, which can be worn when playing on either Mac or Windows once acquired.
The Engineer Update was introduced on July 8, 2010. It introduced several new weapons for the Engineer, including the first Engineer community weapon. It also introduced a new game mechanic that allows an Engineer to move his buildings after they are built, at the expense of slower movement when carrying them, and taking some time to rebuild once placed. Three new Valve maps and one community map were also included.
To promote the game, Valve released an ongoing video advertisement series entitled "Meet the Team". Constructed using the game engine and slightly more detailed character models, the series consists of short videos on individual characters, displaying their personalities and tactics. The videos are usually interspersed with clips of the character in combat in the game. The manners which these are presented have varied drastically: the first installment, "Meet the Heavy", depicted an interview with the gun-obsessed Russian while "Meet the Soldier" showed the Soldier giving a misinformed lecture on Sun Tzu to a collection of severed heads as if to raw recruits. The videos are generally released through Valve's services, though in one notable exception, the "Meet the Spy" video was leaked on YouTube during the Sniper/Spy update week. The "Meet the Team" videos are based on the audition scripts used for the voice actors for each of the classes; the "Meet the Heavy" scripts is nearly word-for-word a copy of the Heavy's script. More recent videos, such as "Meet the Sniper", contain more original material. The videos have been used by Valve to help improve the technology for the game, specifically improving the facial animations, as well as a source of new gameplay elements, such as the Heavy's "Sandvich" or the Sniper's "Jarate". Newell has stated that Valve is using the "Meet the Team" shorts as a means of exploring the possibilities of making feature film movies themselves. Newell believed that only game developers themselves have the ability to bring the interesting parts of a game to a film, and suggested that this would be the only manner through which a Half-Life-based movie would be made.
In more recent major updates to the game, Valve has presented teaser images and online comic books that expand the fictional history of the Team Fortress 2, as part of the expansion of the "cross-media property", according to Newell. In August 2009, Valve brought aboard American comic writer Michael Avon Oeming to teach Valve "about what it means to have a character and do character development in a comic format, how you do storytelling". "Loose Canon", a comic associated with the Engineer Update, establishes the history of RED versus BLU as a result of the last will and testament of Zepheniah Mann in 1890, forcing his two bickering sons Blutarch and Redmond to vie for control of Zepheniah's lands between them; both have engineered ways of maintain their mortality to the present, waiting to outlast the other while employing separate forces to try to wrest control of the land. This and other comics also establish other background characters such as Saxton Hale, the CEO of Mann Co., the company that provides the weapons for the two sides and was bequeathed to one of Hale's ancestors by Zepheniah, and the Administrator, the game's announcer, that watches over and encourages the RED/BLU conflict.
Valve had provided other promotions to draw players into the game. Valve has held weekends of free play for Team Fortress 2. Through an early update, Valve allows players to change or add a hat to any of the character classes, giving them some ability to customize the look of their character without impacting gameplay; hats can be earned as a rare random drop, through the new crafting system, through part of a promotional period for the game, or more recently as a bonus item by purchasing or downloading other content from Steam, both from Valve (such as Left 4 Dead and Alien Swarm) or other third-party games (such as Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse or Worms Reloaded). According to Robin Walker, Valve introduced these additional hats as an indirect means for players to show status within the game or their affiliation with another game series simply by visual appearance.