Has it been five years? A reflection on Team Fortress 2..

This morning I found that I had a memory pop in to my head: it was a few years ago and I was stuck on a rainy day in Italy using a Florentian hotel’s WiFi to try to download Team Fortress 2 to catch even a tiny, first-hand glimpse of the title I’d been anticipating for quite some time. I almost fell out of my chair after a quick Google search which seemed to confirm that it is, in fact, 5 years ago today(-ish?) that TF2 was released! Therefore I believe it’s only appropriate for me to spend a little more time than usual writing about it.. but first, let’s get the Crack Clan’s TF2 news done:

Our premiere team is gearing up for their 4th week challenge, scheduled for tomorrow against what is now a very capable Epsilon lineup. I caught up with @Retsh0ck and @Smzi last last night to talk a little about how they’re gearing up with PCWs and psychology in general to deal with a team that carries a lot of combined experience and skill especially in light of pulling off a tie against TLR in Week 3. The attitudes seem to be perfectly set for a clash of the titans so I’d implore even the casually interested to check out and support our boys as we head in to what should be one of our hardest games and carries the potential of being an epic battle! Coverage should be available from our friends at VanillaTF2 so be sure to check things out!

The boys in Blue with Crack TF2 are also in here setting up to take on a busy schedule and a likely roster change to sort things our with RELAPSE! Gaming on Snakewater and Process. We’re not sure if coverage will be available but stay tuned to see how our guys fare this Sunday!

Now, if you like, come join me after this fold to share some of my memories, reflections and affections on the subject of TF2, me and Crack Clan over the years..

Let me ask you this (it’s not rhetorical, try out the poll on the right side): how many games do you still have installed that are five years old? I’ll admit to having a few but out of all of them it’s Team Fortress 2 that still manages to get the most play-time from me and, honestly, I find that fact amazing in this day and age of titles that deliver a couple weeks of fun before being tossed out with the rest. Heck, I’ve got a stack of unopened titles waiting to be tried out while I go through yet another round of Mann v Machine.

I still remember smarting from the realization that my game-changing grenade skills from Team Fortress (Classic) were now ancient history and that the game was entirely different from what I’d loved before (TFC rocked); but the combined art direction and overall game play as well as tip o’ the hats to the original sucked me in and gobbled up my interest. The constant stream of support from Valve was really refreshing in the land of broken games and I loved playing it with my teammates and was sure that it was going to be my chosen title for a long time.

It was, perhaps ironically, the constant patching and the addition of hat collecting that killed my competitive TF2 playing career. I still maintain to this day that TF2 is, on paper, not well suited for competition (mid-match patches, periods of inconsistent balance, no competitive support from Valve, emphasis on public play/collection, weird weapons and a little more randomness than some other games) but it’s the darned charisma of the thing that’s actually really changed my e-sports life for the better.

You see, it’s while I write this that I have come upon a realization: my experience and history with Team Fortress, my position in Crack Clan and what Valve has done have directly led to a cathartic aptitude toward enjoying games vicariously through others.. Before all this, I was never really one to watch other people play (I prefer.. you know.. playing?) and had narrow interest in supporting titles that I didn’t play competitively myself.

TF2 blew the hinges out on my disinterest and has launched what is now a fervent, lasting, five-year long support of the community title from casual through to professional levels. Wringing my hands as a new “Meet” video loads, loving the highly creative nicknames and in-game teamwork/assistance of the first TF2 generations, rejoicing at community initiatives like launching TF2 in to UKESA or making something special happen at an i-series event, the now countless practices, scrimmages and matches, getting dry-humped by a pink panther, the players that have come through our doors and the teams we’ve been able to support from mentoring through to flying out to international competition to collect novelty-sized cheques.

There’s even far more reasons beyond the game, community and development studio as to why Crack Clan has grown in to being one of the cornerstones of the competitive Team Fortress 2 community, too many to count, but today I simply find myself feeling the need to express my gratefulness for the experiences it has delivered to me and those who enjoy it along side the cc//.

For the title which taught me to love a game I don’t directly compete in and which I still laud as the best game to really teach team-based FPS fundamentals (its rock/paper/scissor reality, plus ability to easily discern the various classes not to mention the nature of most of the maps forcing you to know when to push/hold/fallback cater to the core set of most any decent team) – happy birthday!!Please feel free to share your sentiments as I have on, well, anything Team Fortress: fire up a comment and share the love – BONK!

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