Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint, about rewiring things and punching people, and now I'm working on a new one called Heat Signature, about sneaking aboard randomly generated spaceships. Here's some more info on all the games I've worked on, here's the podcast I do, here are the videos I make on YouTube, here are some of the articles I wrote for PC Gamer, and here are two short stories I wrote for the Machine of Death collections.
The ongoing story here is that Valve pronounced their expected batch of unlockable weapons for the Heavy would also include an unexpected fan-made map, cp_steel, a brand new Payload map, Badwater Basin, a whole new game mode, still unnamed, and five new
maps ‘arenas’ for that mode.
They’re revealing these elements day by day until the whole thing goes live on Tuesday (probably around 8pm BST, I’d guess). The latest is that the replacement minigun, Natascha, slows enemies ‘for an instant’ when they’re hit. But the real news is the image of the thing: not the gun itself, but that the blurred scenery the Heavy is standing in is green grass and grey rocks: a type of terrain so far unseen in any TF2 map.
Mess of original post and updates follows:
Sandwiches: While the names might be enigmatic and the descriptions missing, if you download the icon set for the Heavy achievements Valve have just revealed, the filenames are more explicit about what they’re for. The interesting ones, name then filename:
Sypalectical Materialism – Uncover Spies
Combined with the Something Awful hint “Think Ghostbusters” I wouldn’t be surprised if they did a Medigun that did nothing except turn red when used on a Spy. Also, I once said to Robin Walker and Erik Johnson, “You guys should make a Medigun that lights up when it’s used on a Spy” and they said “That’s a good idea”. Then I saw them take notes, then scurry off to their PCs, and make that, and put it in the Heavy update.
More probably, as several commenters say, it’s just an achievement for hitting Spies while they’re cloaked, and nothing to do with seeing through disguises.
And not for nothing, but that Spy has a giant freaking silencer.
0wn The Means Of Production – Clear Stickybombs
The interesting thing here is the icon – that’s not a Sticky being pushed back slightly, it’s breaking. Not also the zero in ‘own’, to emphasise how totally pwnsome the means by which you do this is.
Update! Craig points out that this compilation of the SomethingAwful hints is now two-for-two. The third unlock, according to this, is a minigun that slows people down. If true, a) I will be surprised, b) there will be riots, and c) ha! In your face people who said the Hobbler could never be done because slowing people down is always a bad idea! I may entirely agree with your claim and not even really like my own idea, but if Valve do it it’s automatically right.
Day Two! Click the image for details, and the names of all the achievements. Some of them strongly hint at what the other unlocks might be. Others – Pushkin the Cart, Stalin the Cart and Permanent Revolution – are just genius.
Five of the new maps are for the new game mode, all of which is currently mysterious. The sixth new map is a new Payload one focusing on wide-open spaces, and the smart money is on this being the oft-mentioned one where the cart is a platform you can build Sentries on. The seventh is an officialised version of cp_steel, that incredibly awesome-sounding changing map Chris blogged about ages ago and for which I’ve never been able to find a good server running.
Worth mentioning: some goons at Something Awful claimed to have playtested the update and offered enigmatic hints as to its content a while back. One of the three said, against all odds, that the Heavy update would come with a new game mode.
Another says “think Popeye”, but also claims the update will cost money, which is patently false.
The third says “think ghostbusters… it’s really that weird.”
Edit: Seven! Seven new maps! Maths degree, right here!
ZomBuster: Ha you read that too?
They also said the new gamemode will take TF2 "to the next level"
roburky: Are we sure that is 5 new maps? By the use of the word 'arenas', I was thinking it meant one map file with 5 different sections to it, like hydro, but not ones that are played in any kind of sequence.
DoctorDisaster: This is JAW-DROPPING.
Also, damn Valve's evil marketing department! Tantalizing us with six days of tiny leetle baby updates? I thought this game was updated by MEN!
Yeah, fine, this drip-feed of information is going to build anticipation to a fever pitch. And sure, it's going to have the whole gaming community nattering and speculating and providing free publicity all week. And I suppose Valve will get record numbers on the free weekend and go swimming in a Scrooge McDuck tower full of pretend internet money.
But... but... I want to know now!
BullDozers: Fuck. I TOLD them that turning on the LHC would result in those massive snowball-in-hell avalanche effects. And portals. To Xen.
In other news, HL2:EP3 delayed until 2012... :( Heck, I wonder if anyone at Valve remembers that silly game that came out a while back... think it had something to do with a GarÃ§on Fruit Man... of the Whack Mesa (note to self: DON'T type Garcon into Google to get the Ã§...)
BullDozers: (the 2012 thing is a JOKE. there's still reason to live!)
Tom Francis: According to Evil Avatar, roburky, it originally said 'maps' and was changed to 'arenas'. So I suspect they're not each big multi-stage maps like Dustbowl, and I guess the difference in size has something to do with the nature of the new mode. Something simple, or tightly focused. A lot of people are saying Deathmatch, but I don't buy that: too many classes don't suit it.
I don't think they ever would have teased Hydro as "Six new arenas" or similar, they've got to be more separate than that.
Azzen: The ghostbusters clue made me think immediately of "Don't cross the streams".
roburky: They did describe Hydro as being like eight maps, though (or whatever number it is).
The arena thing does bring deathmatch to mind, or at least something similarly small in scale. Putting several small maps into one map file would make sense, getting extra variety without having to endure the map loading screen.
If they changed the wording from 'map' to 'arena', that even supports the idea that it's not actually separate maps, doesn't it? They are not just using a more stylish word for map, they actually thought the word map didn't fit.
Iain “DDude” Dawson: Seven!? I feel like I may be overloaded with that.. and not in the good way.
Tom Francis: We'll see. To me that change suggests that it's more a case of managing expectations about the quantity of new content than correcting an outright lie. But I only have EvAv's word that it ever read 'map', so I'm not putting too much weight in that. I just read 'arena' and automatically thought 'small map'.
I never did hear them call Hydro six maps, only ever "One map that's different each time you play."
Any thoughts on what the video might be? Previously they said it wouldn't be a Meet The Team, now they're saying it's a special installment of Meet The Team. I wonder if it's the Heavy talking about his unlocks, or something to illustrate the new game mode.
Mr. Brit: meet the REDs
The_B: My thought is the return of the VIP mode, and thus the new Meet The being Meet The VIP. Or something along those lines.
roburky: But payload is TF2's evolution of the VIP mode.
Wormbrain: I'm SO excited about this, it's borderline sexual.
Mr. Brit: BOARDERLINE??
DoctorDisaster: I really, really hope it's Meet the Voice.
"The payload has almost reached the final terminus, mmmm WAHAHAHAHA-- what? an interview? now?"
J-man: BTW, ubercharged.net disagress with your tweak fortress ideas for the demoman: scroll down to the sticky launcher in this article: http://www.ubercharg... ...e-demoman/
Jason L: Who's Ubercharged.net and why should I care? Anyway, the article's bullshit of a type I'd forgotten some people still put on their front pages. It includes a non ironic 'learn to play noob', and the response to the primary complaint, Stickies as a direct weapon, boils down to Iit somehow causes more "chaos" if I can use my masterful skillz to CLICK THE RMB, using a booby trap in a way it clearly wasn't designed for to kill you all dead. And I like doing it, so leave my Stickies alone.'
I would have thought that posting a few of your stats for each class would be obligatory when writing an article of that type. Apparently I was wrong.
DoctorDisaster: It's also kind of hilarious that, in an attempt to sound reasonable, he offers "you can nerf my weaker weapon I guess." Yeah, and if the heavy's overpowered after the update we'll nerf his shotgun and that will fix EVERYTHING.
Confession: normally I quite like ubercharged.net. But this article is very poorly thought out, almost to the level of commentary on the steampowered forums. So I'll say this quite slowly:
That situation you describe, where you launch a sticky straight at someone and detonate it in their face?
THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO USE THE GRENADE LAUNCHER FOR.
Stickies, as the name implies, are defined by the fact that they stick to things. If you think the "core mechanic" or "fundamental technique" of the sticky launcher doesn't involve sticking the bombs to things, that just proves that there's a major flaw in the weapon design. It's on the shotgun slot; it's supposed to be a secondary weapon for laying traps and annihilating fixed positions, NOT a direct fire device.
The suggestion of nerfing midair damage is actually a good one. For good or ill people are used to midair stickies by now. But "10%, tops" is a retarded, arbitrary number, and he should have just said what he was thinking: "It better not actually change anything." NO. It should be nerfed to a point where playtesters go for the grenades rather than the stickies in a direct combat situation.
Mr. Brit: Yeah, I thought the mid-air damage reduction was a good idea but it should be something more like 50%.
Also, any timesplitters players remember the virus mode? I'd love to see something that captured the terror of rounding a corner to see a monkey on fire rushing at you in TF2. It's a pity it wouldn't really fit with the team aspect. Still....BLU are infected and must besiege RED. RED can do 125% damage BUT if a BLU player touches them they are infected and will change teams after 30 seconds unless they get to a health pack or a friendly medic. I'd remove the spy, scout and medic class from BLU because scouts and medics are faster than all the other classes and spys can just cloak and bump into everyone. RED loses when all the team are in BLU. BLU loses after a time limit is up. Also, to prevent spawn camping, BLU can enter the RED spawn. Hmmmm....could be a little complicated making it fair....Still love to see the virus mode though....
Dante: You mentioned stats there Jason, and it's interesting that if you check out the class stats here:
They don't really tally with the general feeling of the community. The demoman is firmly in the middle in terms of kills, and oddly enough the Heavy, who even Valve think is underpowered tops both the kills and points per hour charts.
Of course he's still one of the least played, something I can't adequately explain myself.
Jason L: That is interesting. Hmm. Off the top of my head, maybe the casuals aren't willing to use a cheap tactic? That sounds farfetched. Alternatively maybe everyone's wrong, including me, but not for the reasons given at IStickyULOL.net. The complaint isn't precisely that Demos get all the kills, it's that they can't be beaten - if you meet a Demo as any other class you're probably going down. That, and the 'sploiting of a weapon outside its intended role, are where the (psychological term) outrage comes from. I must admit, it sure seems like 'unbeatable one-on-one' should be logically equivalent to 'gets the most KPH', but maybe that's an incorrect assumption somehow?
Tom Francis: Ubercharged.net is a bunch of different guys, the one who kindly links me - and spells my name right! - is Himmelstoss.
I like this quote: "The demoman would then be forced to use the sticky launcher to set up traps all the time".
I'm against a damage nerf for fireworks (Stickies detonated mid-air) as it stands, because I don't think the same explosion should do different damage amounts in different circumstances.
What you could do is have Stickies that grow in size and power during the second or two after they leave the barrel, with an escalating hum, until they are MAXIMUM POWERFUL.
Edit: Duhh. That's, like, the second comment on the Ubercharged.net article.
Also! I've just remembered I can edit comments.
Dante: Well chances are that we just aren't factoring in the skill curve. ie: the general poorness of novice demos is making up for the unbeatability of expert ones. Who'll not just own you one on one, but also get plenty of kills in a big firefight due to their ability to bombard.
As for the ubercharged guy, the way he falls flat is with: "The demoman is a master class-and thatâ€™s how it should be." I'm sorry, no, there shouldn't be one class which dominates with experience and is rubbish to noobs, that's not balanced, not fair and not interesting. It makes the game more exclusive, and one of the thing I love about TF2 is that you can get into it without having the insane twitch reflex skills so many other online shooters require.
As for the stats, well they just confirm that the Heavy is awesome, fine by me if no-one else wants to play him, then I have him all to myself.
Tom Francis: Yeah, those per-person stats aren't terribly useful.
It's a shame there's no percentage of total kills chart, by class or by weapons. The only useful chart is the percentage of total damage, which is predictably topped by two classes that tend to do damage to everyone they fight, whether they win or not: Soldiers and Pyros.
Demomen, on the other hand, tend to either kill their opponent or be killed before they can bring their weapons to bear. Certainly more so than Pyros, Soldiers or Heavies, so their chunk of the total /kills/ will be higher relative to their chunk of the total damage.
DoctorDisaster: I've speculated before that the reason heavy is underplayed is that his vulnerabilities are all to insta-kill classes. Play heavy and you're suddenly MUCH more likely to fall to a sneaky, infuriating backstab or headshot than someone actually standing and fighting you. I think this leads to a lot of people in respawn thinking, "Damnit that's the third headshot in a row! Forget this, I'm going scout and showing that sniper who's boss." They just happen to forget how many demos, pyros, medics, scouts, and soldiers they effortlessly mowed down on their way to that headshot.
Dante: you've hit the nail on the head. The skill/deadliness curve on the demoman is all out of whack. At low skill, you're useless, then at high skill, you're unbeatable. The stats are thrown off because there are just more low-skill players out there than high-skill players. (This also explains why heavy is on the top of the chart.) So Valve is faced with quite a problem: how to nerf the demoman for skilled players WITHOUT making him even more untenable for newbies.
DoctorDisaster: Oh great, Pentadact, not only do you post while I'm busy replying, you show up with VISUAL AIDS!?
Tom Francis: And of course, skilled players are the most vocal, passionate and free-time-wealthy members of the community, so any effective change is going to cause verbal riots.
I don't know where you speculated that before, Doc, but if it was here I probably replied saying "Yes! Exactly!" Even if he weren't more vulnerable to the two assassin classes, the fact that he's so much less vulnerable to the others increases the percentage of his deaths that make him pound his mousemat with rage. And people want to give him a shield?
Tom Francis: Heh, you just did the same to me, twice. But you don't have AIDS. Well, I don't know, you're the doctor.
DoctorDisaster: Look at "Soviet Union." Is that a FEMALE heavy?
Jason L: The previous 'headshots=infuriating' from DD was in Tweak Fortress, of course, and your reply was 'True, but more importantly I just never think of him as the best tool for what we're facing.'
People, like me, want to give him an anti-headshot shield - either a mask or helmet applied to the headbox, or a hitbox that can be put in front of the head along a certain vector. The whole idea is to give him some way of stepping out a door or walking past a window without dying instantly to a person in a known or cliched position. Again, something like holding Sasha up in front of his head - can't shoot, can't see well, still sucks up damage to his legs or exposed parts of his body if anyone's around, still gets blasted if a Sniper's someplace clever, but he can make the one-second trek across a window without getting plinked again by that camper his teammates won't turf out.
DoctorDisaster: One of the sandwich achievements is an obvious reference to the meet the scout video: "Don't touch sandvich" for killing scouts. But EAT sandwiches?
The new game mode is capture the sandwich???
Tom Francis: Heh, thanks for keeping track, Jason. Doc's is the reason people stop playing Heavy, mine is the reason people don't go back.
Newt Pulsifer: "Spies, the icon for which suggests some kind of Spy-detector ray. Worst game ever."
Why? I liked the icon ^^
I doubt the Heavy is going to get a "spy detector" it is just that he can spam everywhere with his minigun and than force the 'flick' animation of the spy, reveling him!
Probably the shot-unlock will be a sandwich (i saw that suggestion on the steam forums) that heals the HW when he eats it! (or NOT!) :b
Man Raised By Puffins: "Look at "Soviet Union." Is that a FEMALE heavy?"
It's one of the early Heavy concepts, which had a mullet. So that's either a throwaway reference or they'll be bringing in alternate skins, maybe?
Also, good to see the "Pow!" taunt is getting the insta-kill treatment.
BullDozers: I bet the "Soviet Union" icon is that of a medic. It makes sense in the tf2-play-on-words kind of sense. Union of a HWG and a Doc, you know.
"Crock block".. hah.. i like that.
Tom Francis: That achievement's icon file is called Assist Heavy - so it's probably for assisting Heavies.
Tom Francis: Unrelatedly, Christ I should really learn when to start a new post. This thing is an epic mess.
DoctorDisaster: Puffins: That is such a relief. The world is not ready for female heavies.
Some anti-spy measure would actually be nice for the fatty... but it seems to me he'd have to suffer greater vulnerability to straight combat classes to make that worthwhile.
Chijts: Also with this whole demoman thing, surely his kills or stats are lower anyway because most people are using him for defence or whatever, unlike a soldier or pyro who basically run in guns blazing. I don't trust statistics much anyway.
As for the "Sypalectical Materialism" thing I think it is just a fancy way of saying kill X amount of invisible spies. I prefer my "If it bleeds we can kill it" title for that achievement though...What does Sypalectical even mean.. I understand it's a play on a word but I can't figure out what that word is.
"Think Ghostbusters" The new gattling gun is like some sort of ray gun like in Ghostbusters, perhaps even "trapping" (Tom's hobbler thing) the victim by slowing him down, or your secondary weapon is Peter Venkman.
"Think Popeye".. maybe the sandwich thing is coming true and the heavy gets more powerful or something like when Popeye eats his spinach. Which sounds lame in my opinion.
Jason L: Chijits, the mystery word is 'dialectical' - it basically means 'antagonistic' or 'struggling'. Dialectical materialism is the philosophy behind Marx' theory; the dialectical part is OK enough in a symbolic sort of way, while the materialism part is quite wacky.
MacBeth: It's a pun on Dialectical Materialism:
Chijts: Ty clever peeps! Although I suppose I can be forgiven for not knowing the reference...
Dante: "The stats are thrown off because there are just more low-skill players out there than high-skill players. (This also explains why heavy is on the top of the chart.)"
I hope you aren't suggesting the Heavy is a newbie's class LITTLE MAN
Jason L: 'Some people think they can outplay me. Maybe...Maybe. I have yet to meet one who can outplay bullet'.
Tom Francis: New thought for the special Meet The Team:
Eye of the Tiger training montage of the Heavy learning to use his Killing Gloves of Boxing.
Sam: You reply alot more than Chris, I like that.
Demoman: I didn't trawl through all the comments, so forgive me if this has already been spotted, but the filename for the 'show trial' achievement image is 'tf_heavy_kill_taunt.png'. So does that mean he has to kill someone who is taunting, or, possibly, that they've instated another deadly taunt.
Healey: Forgive if i'm naive... I can't help but think "Think ghostbusters" (Five Second Plan) refers to killing an enemy right before they teleport away... Maybe because you only have about five seconds?
Yeah, its been a while since I last saw Ghostbusters.
Pixel Knight: I can only wait for the Demoman's Ka-BOOM taunt to become an instakill.
Also, Best. Achievement names. Ever.
Andrew Doull: No one has speculated on something I suspect will be the case with the heavy update, which is that they'll give the base heavy minigun an ability that they can then 'take away' from the alternate weapon.
I suspect, based on the above evidence, that this ability will be to destroy stickies - either placed or in flight. This may also be extended to rockets and/or grenades.
This gives the HWG an increased measure of defense against Demos (and maybe soldiers), while still leaving his vulnerability to snipers, spies and pyros with Backburner intact.
DoctorDisaster: Sasha + newbie = newbie gets kills
Grenade launcher + newbie = newbie blows himself up
Tom Francis: I got the impression that changing the standard Flamethrower was something of a last-ditch measure by Valve to address what they felt was a real problem. I'm not sure they think the Heavy is as 'out of whack' as they felt the Pyro was. Wouldn't rule it out, though.
By the way, Andrew, when I came across your site in my Incoming Links stats a few days ago, I couldn't figure out where you'd linked me. Just curious.
DoctorDisaster: Wouldn't a minigun that chews up stickies just provide even more incentive for demomen to use them as rockets rather than traps? I think the lightning bolt through the sticky just refers to them disappearing when you kill the demoman.
HoW Monty: VALVE USED MY IDEA!
Look at comment 109 of this 1fort post: http://www.1fort.com... .../#more-226
"Unlockable Number One:
Natasha: A little while ago Robin Walker posted a blog (entitled â€œA Heavy Problemâ€) that asked readers to come up with a weapon that would make the Heavy more effective when no Medic is availible . My suggestion is Natasha (ideas for other names would be appreciated), an alternative Minigun which drains health from enemies it hits. It is unable to fire critical hits and also has a slight damage reduction."
As you can see, I suggested that the minigun replacement should be named Natasha. I also posted a thread on the official Team Fortress 2 forums: http://forums.steamp... ...p?t=709534
I'm realy pleased by this and honoured that Valve used my idea.
Chijts: I think Natasha is a stereotypical Russian name... But as Valve do creep around places it may very well be true.
Tom Francis: It's particularly common among Heavy unlock ideas. Before I trimmed my unlock post to one per weapon, there was an alternate minigun in it called Natasha too.
Dzamir: They have updated the description of the achievements! :D
Dzamir: AND THERE ARE SANDWICHES!!!!
Konspicuous Konsumption: Eat 100 sandviches.
HoW Monty: Pentadact: Way to take my moment of glory away. *dies inside* Now I'm left with my only other claim to fame: I once ubered you when you were a disguised spy.
Qazi: Natascha is Not Sasha. Oh VALVe, you jokers.
Tom Francis: Heh, sorry. And thanks for the uber, always appreciated. Still waiting for that magical moment when an enemy Medic Kritz's me and I use it to shoot him dead.
Thanks for the tip, Dzamir - looks like they're all either what we thought, or the most obvious explanation. Rasputin is superb, though.
Dante: Doc, I don't think a minigun that would shoot down stickies would encourage their use as rockets. The reason being that if you launch one straight at a Heavy that's firing at you it'll blow up in your face in an amusing fashion. In fact it encourages the use of the grenade launcher, which would arc up and over the line of fire.
I thought about this because I came up with an 'interceptor gun' as a possible unlock, interestingly I dismissed the idea of a slowdown gun as being really annoying for all the other players.
Jason L: "Rasputin"! Ahhhh hahahahaaahahaaa!
Shadowmancer: Wow finally valve have learned that not all players like the damn 1,000,000 achievements and have got rid of them, most of the heavies are archieveble in normal play but raputin and redistribution of health and some of the other assist ones look hard.
audiman: When the unlocks are released, I propose The Official PC Gamer Picnic, where Heavys meet on the 2 fort bridge and have tasty sandviches for the Konspicous Konsumption acheivement.