team fortress

All posts tagged team fortress

Michael Walbridge the Game Anthropologist has some interesting things to say about why he felt the Team Fortress 2 community was more civil and mature than what we’ve all experienced to be the absolute dregs of humanity in other online FPS’s. I won’t mention Unreal Tournament, Counterstrike, and Halo, but oops I just did.

While I think his points are on the dot about the way the team dynamic of the game fosters a cooperative us vs. them bond for the players that ultimately leads to self-regulation, and I like how he explains that anti-social behaviour is deflated by being an actual part of gameplay, there’s another point I’d like to add. So far, his comments are true for most team-based online shooters, just handled more elegantly in TF2. Yet one aspect of the game that stood out to me only after a lot of intense playing is that the character classes in TF2 were like tools to me.

Tools? Well, at a certain level of skill, we pick and choose from a small range of classes that we know well, and apply them to the current situation on the battlefield. I don’t think the majority of players play only one class. For myself, I choose between soldier (objective-driven offense), pyro (defense and chokepoints), and engineer (control) constantly as needed. The classes are like my swiss army knife of the proper contributions my team needs.

I think this leads players to identify less with some avatar online through which they would normally evoke all the horrors of anonymity, and instead a certain fourth wall is broken and a player is displayed onscreen as his tactical choice. In my opinion, this places players and their decisions in much greater proximity to each other because their intentions and personalities are more transparent. Only in that kind of openness will player-to-player advice and criticism mean much. I had similarly mature companionship in games such as the Battlefield and the Tribes series, and provide the same way of thinking about your avatar. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

We've been working a lot recently, coming home to squeeze in what time we have left into some of the great titles out right now. I indulged in a week of the Hellgate London beta, which is my first Diablo-esque, and consequently was a virtual ambush of vacuous addictiveness.

Xstine and I have had some great games in Team Fortress 2, which I is part of the greatest game deal of the year, Orange Box. It's got the utterly surreal and anti-genre Portal, and Team Fortress itself is an excellent fast-paces team-based shooter that has ingenious visual design based off 50's commercial art. You can even play the levels with developer commentary, with behind-the-scenes design processes described in detail as you run around relevant parts of the world. Now that is a labor of love.

I also want to say that the character designs for each of the Team Fortress classes is especially well done, with each having unique body/weapons silouettes that are geared towards making them easy to read in the frenetic action. Characters have a concentration of lighting and color saturation in the chest area, and the shapes that the colors and lines form lead the eye to the chest, and by extension to the weapon the character is holding. For example, you have the medic class with a lab coat that opens out to form a V that points back up to his upper body. A tremendous amount of thought has gone into these character designs. My only regret with the game is that its lack of levels really limit the creativity of a team's class make-up.

So anyways, I'm working on my annual portfolio post-mortem. Here's to hoping Helicopter Ben keeps the market buoyed 'til the end of the year, as inflation has taken a backseat to the credit crunch as the big issue. In the meantime, I'll continue to fill my pre-bedtime hours with unhealthy doses of Puzzle Quest; it's mutation of mindless Bejeweled into a satisfying RPG-lite experience is way more playable than the unsummed parts would have you think.