Valve Explains New Team Fortress 2 Unlock System; Item Trading, Other Improvements Planned

By Nick Breckon, May 22, 2009 4:34pm PDT With yesterday's Sniper vs. Spy update, the way unlockable items are earned in Team Fortress 2 was changed entirely, from the achievement-based grind to random item drops. Now Valve has posted on its official TF2 blog to explain the changes, and what improvements are coming next.

"[The] new system watches the amount of time that players are playing TF2, and gives them a chance to find items at regular intervals," writes Valve's Erik Johnson. "They aren't guaranteed to get the item at those points, but they have a pretty good chance."

"When we were tuning this system we first looked at the average amount of time that players spend playing TF2 daily," he continues. "From there, we set the goal of most players having around 20 items in their inventory after a couple of weeks of play. If you're someone who plays a lot of TF2, you're going to get items a lot faster than that.

Johnson also touched on some of the bugs that users noticed last night while trying out the new system.

"In the first few hours after the release yesterday, we had some issues that prevented the system from working properly, so that timeframe was not indicative of the system as it's designed."

Johnson further noted that players finding duplicate items is an intentional result of the system, as Valve plans to add the ability to trade the items in a future update.

"Giving players a method to influence the system so they can work directly toward getting specific items" and "adding more rare items like the hats" are also goals that the team revealed.

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48 Threads | 197 Comments

  • These unlocks are clearly for adding variety to the game, essentially to breathe new life into the game. Of course people are going to play the game more, much like when DLC comes out for other games. The great thing is that we get it free!!! Well, free in terms of money anyway. This is a good thing in that it re-invigorates people's interest in playing, and thus gives me more opponents. The issue is that after playing numerous hours (which I enjoyed just fine), I still have not had the opportunity to try any of the newer game elements (other than getting spilled upon by some sniper whizz). It defeats the purpose. To be honest, I wouldn't have played nearly as much this weekend if there wasn't the opportunity for more game variety. So, an offer of variety is the drive for a number of people. But when everyone shows up for the party and alot are left in the cold, it leaves a bad taste in people's mouths. When people voice their issue (full well right to), it is chalked up to crying and greedy impatience. Sorry, but that is just short sighted. It comes across as being just as obnoxious as you see the complainers being. That's not to say some of the nay sayers aren't going overboard in their angst.

    Clearly there are issues. This is not just a matter of a few noisy whiners, and this won't just blow over in a couple weeks. Something will need to be fixed, and until then, you have just as much choice not to play or read as those you would have follow the same course of action if "they" don't like it.

    Kudos to Valve for keeping up the support for this game, and I look forward to playing more when Valve have this matter sorted out.

  • To be perfectly honest, when I first started playing with the new unlocks (I quit for awhile) I wanted all the unlocks right away and thought the system was retarded. Frankly because I don't play the Spy or Sniper enough to get the unlocks. I just wanted to try new and different things. In other words I wanted it to be fun and not a grind.

    However, after I earned the upgrades I felt that they should be earned the same way I did. Selfishly I'll admit that I don't want people to have the same upgrades without doing the work.

    I believe that is a misconception a lot of people are having in games. They believe because they spent time doing something, everyone else should and that they don't want other people to have special things because they want to be different form everyone else. To gloat or show off what they've earned.

    I also believe that is a foolish and asnine way to think about anything and I'm ashamed to have felt that way. Games are, afterall, all about fun. Grinding isn't fun.

    If you're playing a game in order to get a sense of accomplishment from getting 'stuff' you should consider why you're playing in the first place. WoW is the same way.