Join me, Lola, for part 3 of my interview with 6 gamers whose experience within the SA gaming community has earned them the respect of players across all platforms. In this final part, they finally share their thoughts about TF2 as a game, the local TF2 community and what it would take to make TF2 the game to play in South Africa.
What made you choose to jam TF2, was it just because it became free?
Lag_Beast: “I bought it 3 years ago when it was released with the Orange Box, I guess I started playing recently because many of my friends had started playing it because it became free.”
Bubbles: “To be quite honest, I never had an interest in the game because I knew very little about it. I am co-owner of a multi gaming organisation for girls called mixed chicks. It’s through the members, more specifically Lola, that I was introduced to TF2. I was looking to play more games and after some convincing I purchased the game in 2010. I don’t regret it at all, it’s an amazing game.”
Kev: “Yeah because it’s free and because I was asked to write a new pickup bot for #TF2. I don’t like coding for projects without any knowledge of what I’m coding for :p”
Russ: “I only started playing TF2 between the end of last year or the beginning of this year. I have racked up over 1000 hours on CSS and it kept getting worse the more I played. The one notible change was that huge 2GB update that totally threw CSS down the drain IMO. Luckily for me I saw TF2 on special on Steam for 50% off. I jumped at the opportunity to buy it. Of the few friends of mine that owned the game ALL of them spoke highly of TF2. Ever since my 1st pub round I’ve only played 10mins of CSS since. TF2 is the ultimate game out at the moment for me.”
Roskii: “Back when TF2 was released, most of the players in Rival CS were looking for another title to compete in. We decided to all give it a go as we were fans of the original Team Fortress. We then formed Damage Control TF2 and competed in some of the earliest known competitive matches in our local TF2 scene.”
RoBoHoBo: “I was subbing for a team called ‘Criminal Misfits’, who taught me alot about TF2 in a competitive format. What’s required from the class that I liked the most and whats required to win as a team. After a few league games with CM the game seemed very appealing to me, honestly the only reason I don’t jam TF2 is because I like CoD4 more.
Do you feel that you are going to be playing TF2 for the long haul or is it just a temporary, fun, game to play?
Lag_Beast: “I’m not sure at this moment in time, I’m kind of waiting for Battlefield 3 to come out in October and I want to go all out with that, so for now I’m just playing for fun and learning as much about the game as I can.”
Bubbles: “I don’t see myself playing TF2 competitively. The game is fantastic and I really enjoy playing with friends, but I already play CoD4 competitively. If I had more time to invest in the game I would definitely consider it. So for now I’ll stick to playing social TF2.” (MixedChicks recently formed a div 3 TF2 team with Bubbles as part of the team).
Kev: “In all honesty, it will probably be temporary, depending on study work load and other important factors.”
Russ: “Now that TF2 is free I see the longevity of the game drastically increasing. TF2 is easily the best game I have ever owned and I see no end in sight as to how much time I’ll spend playing TF2. The community is quite large, meaning good demo’s for people trying to get good competitively, as well as quite a few map developers to keep the game fresh. Not to mention the hundreds of wonderful hats Valve still have planned for us to keep us hooked and to keep the game fresh for pubs.”
Roskii: “If we can get back to the community that we had a few months after the game released, then I’ll definitely be in for the long haul. Sadly, it became very elitist after that, with a few local players discouraging any new players from entering the competitive arena.”
RoBoHoBo: “That all depends on the CoD4 scene at the moment.”
How does TF2 compare to games like COD4 and CSS / CS 1.6 in terms of gameplay, strategy, skill required and fun?
Lag_Beast: “Well, I must say, I dont know too much about the strategy involved in TF2, but from what I’ve heard I guess it’s similar to both CSS and COD4 with there being set objectives and team based play. As far as skill is required, each game is different, you can’t really measure which game requires more skill to play, but I will say this is definately the most fun to play, especially with friends over VOIP.”
Bubbles: “I have not played TF2 competitively, but from the few mixes I played I noticed that, as the name clearly states, there is a big focus on teamwork. I don’t know much about CSS, but TF2 is faster than CoD4 in the sense that there is constantly movement as a team. CoD4 can be very fast paced but it also gets very slow at times and often individual skill comes into play, which can often make a difference in the end. TF2 on the other hand puts much more weight on team play and I would say requires a little more skill. I can’t really choose one above the other though, I have fun playing both.”
Kev: “TF2 is more fun for some reason. Depending what class you play, it’s a lot slower and/or faster. CSS is just slow. Snoar.”
Russ: “CoD4 is quite a fast paced game because every player can sprint for a certain length of time (class dependant), which makes it really awesome to play. Coming from a CS 1.6 background, I see any game that allows you to snipe dead straight while flying through the air as intrinsically flawed, but in pub that doesn’t matter too much, so CoD4 is great fun for lolz. CSS is totally broken, noobs pawn and it’s all about spray and pray. Bad game for both comps and for fun. CS 1.6 for me is still one of the ultimate competitive games. Even though it is quite old it still has a huge following. Gameplay is not sacrificed for better looks and thats exactly how I like it. As far as playing for fun goes, CS 1.6 is quite dead and I see no revival in sight for it. TF2 on the other hand has a bit of everything. There is speed, there is aim, there is strategy. What more could you ask for? When I first started playing pickups I was put off by the fact that there is no minimap but it just makes you realise how much focus the game puts on teamwork!”
Roskii: “Well they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I think entering competitive TF2 is not particularly hard compared to the other titles. If you’ve had experience in another competitive game, then you will definitely have a heads up. Just look at Serpent, an excellent Quake player that has used his skills to become one of the best Soldiers in the country. The gameplay is certainly influenced by the number of factors involved, the variety and uniqueness of the classes play a huge role, allowing for a number of strategies to be developed. In the end though, skill is the underlying factor, the medic that gets his/her uber a second after the opposing medic can win the game.”
RoBoHoBo: “In terms of gameplay I prefer it to CS because of the speed, what it misses is the S&D (search and destroy) side of CoD4 and the maps.”
From your pov, why has the TF2 community struggled to take off?
Lag_Beast: “I think it comes down to people wanting to play TF2 competitively. I don’t think there are enough of them and the ones that do play or did play, broke up after a very short amount of time, instead of sticking together and getting better as a team.”
Bubbles: “I have not been a part of the community long enough to know. I would probably say lack of interest due to the fact that there was no proper competitive scene for it.”
Kev: “I honestly dont know, probably because it’s had such a small player base.”
Russ: “I think it’s a mixture of many unfortunate things. I think TF2 would have been a lot larger in SA if not for CoD4. TF2 and CoD4 were laucnhed roughly at the same time. In its early stages, TF2 look and worked quite a bit differently, although I think over time it has improved drastically. TF2 is also quite different from the traditional play style people expect and when they are met with something different they struggle to adapt, just because its ‘difficult’ a lot of people didn’t put in the time to try and adapt and so TF2 didn’t take off like it should have.”
Roskii: “As I mentioned before, the attitude of the top players really took its toll on the newer/younger players. While those players were discouraged, those elitist players kept on advancing in skill, gaining competitive experience. Now we are lucky enough to have a huge flood of new players through the free-2-play initiative, but it may be too late, seeing as the top echelon of players are miles ahead in skill. Also, Valve constantly promotes the game to the casual gamer. With the constant bombardment of hats, items, and so on, we are constantly reminded the game is for the casual, whereas other games such as Counter-Strike needed to naturally progress as it didn’t have developer influence, only player influence.”
RoBoHoBo: “I dont really know the scene that well, I’ve heard the rumours though ;). Maybe the amount of players was just not enough. The new free to play gift from steam should help in that regard.”
What advice would you give the TF2 community in order for it to become a respected, sought after competitive game to play?
Lag_Beast: “Treat the new comers with respect, teach them the in’s and out’s and promote the game at every chance you get, without putting down other games. Make it fun for people, make it competitive and you will have the buy-in from folks everywhere.”
Bubbles: “I am not sure what the TF2 community has done in the past to become a more successful and sought after game. Maybe get more people to join IRC and have them join pickups and let them get a feel for the competitive side of it. I really think it’s the small events, such as the 16Bit TF2 One Nighter’s Cup that make a difference in the community. Also, a proper tournament with good prizes and many teams attending might boost the community spirit and interest in the game in general.”
Kev: “Less pubbing more pickups :D”
Russ: “As is, the TF2 community IMO is the friendliest in SA. All we need now is a few more teams and some sick competitions. People from other games will take a look at us and see how easy it is to get started in the game, we have experienced players who are willing to give their time to help you improve, so all they need to do is download the game! We just need to keep on as we have been doing recently and hopefully in not too long the community should be booming.”
Roskii: “Keep promoting the game to every casual you come across, invest whatever spare time you have in helping a community initiative, and remember that we are a very small community that has unique needs. The Call of Duty 4 community has epitomised this. The top players have helped to train the younger guys and gals, pickups have become a place to share knowledge, and LANs have been well attended even in the absence of a substantial prize pool. They put the game before their own needs. Thank you for the interview and lets see the SA TF2 community grow to new heights.”
RoBoHoBo: “I think people need to be more patient with the new players, I know coming from CoD4, people might think otherwise, but we really do try to improve the newcomers and the amount of pickups that get played on a daily basis show that. It really does have to be more casual at that level. More people need to get involved in organising competitions and pushing for it to become a league in DoGaming.”
Most people agree that TF2 is the most fun game to play, why then do we struggle year in and year out to get the competitive scene going? The one thing that keeps on being repeated by all 6 of these extraordinary gamers, is that in order to build a growing competitive community you need mutual respect and support for pro’s and noobs alike. In terms of support, I think everyone will agree that we as a community provide more than enough coaching and support. When it comes to respect, one has to but read some of the threads on tf2csa, play in a few pickups where someone gets raped or just read some of the threads from the last do gaming cup to notice the disrespect that at times seems to flare up. In the broader gaming community TF2 has a reputation of being the ‘most angry community’.
Wise words from one of the people who has done the most for TF2 SA, I think we would all do well if we follow his advice.
Razerfox: “The only thing I can say is to hope for a better community by combining respect and sportsmanship, because without that we cannot build friendships. Fun and friendship, that is the secret :)”