More-or-less the same team but a different League, we’re trying Highlander again!
After coming second in our division in the ETF2L Highlander Community Challenge and with some good games under our belts, it seemed only logical that Keep Calm and Listen to Lefty continue as a team. Except we’re not. Or at least not as KCaLTL. We’re now For No Raisin! For no raisin I can tell (that’s a joke by the way).
This is the line-up:
|NICKNAME||USERNAME||STEAM ID||JOIN DATE|
We’ve been placed in Division 4 (out of 5). I’ve taken a look at the other teams in our division, I recognise some of the names of the players. I have a horrible feeling that many of them are quite good so FNR! will have it’s work cut out but it’s all good practice.
These are the maps:
We played and won on Lakeside in the Highlander Challenge. On Foundry we were rolled the first time we played, but after that won our matches. On Badwater we won but that was against the weakest team in the Division. On Upward we were pretty much destroyed.
The others are new to the team (and a couple totally new to me).
To be honest, I’m glad we’re having these Highlander games. Due to the difficulties and requirements of getting servers started, Seeding a Server, the WDG public server isn’t used so much anymore and the community is becoming more fragmented onto other servers and into other games, so it’s nice having the opportunity for us to play a bit together. The Highlander format since it allows all classes, lends itself well to TF2 pub communities since it gives everyone more of a chance to join in. It’s often seen as more fun and relaxed than 6v6 yet it’s still competitive enough, needing teamwork and tactics, to provide a more satisfying experience in many ways to straight pub games.
Reflecting on my Raiding Days in LoTRO, there are similarities. For a time, when new content was lean, it was the Raid that kept half the kinship logging on and playing together.
Not sure what’s happened but I’ve found myself taking part in Season 2 of the ETF2L (European Team Fortress 2 League) Highlander Community Challenge. Keep Calm and Listen to Lefty; that’s the team. Lefty; that’s Lefty, he’s the Leader, the one who had the idea (of the team, not the Challenge).
The team is a mix of WDG clan members and regulars on the Server.
I’m not sure what class I’ll be; since I can’t play any of them it’s academic so I can probably be quite flexible. I could be a very effective back-up too.
And of course I have no competitive experience at all. I’ve no idea what it might be like. We did have our 3v3 Clan KOTH League a while ago, I played one match, but then it fizzled out the way these things do sometimes, a mix of people being busy in real life and, as I’ve mentioned before, losing a bit of interest in TF2. Highlander is supposed to be quite a good way for a pubber (someone who plays on public servers e.g. Berath) to start competitive play, in that it involves all 9 classes, one of each, 9v9, with more weapons allowed. Therefore, it is immediately more familiar to the general player. Standard comp is 6v6, all classes are used but Spy, Heavy, Sniper, Pyro and Engie only situationally with a narrower range of weapons permitted…for any of the readership unfamiliar with TF2, Valve provides TF2 with a more-or-less constant stream of updates, some including new weapons, most including hats.
Finally I don’t know what division we’ll be in. I’m hoping Division 6 (the bottom one). Unfortunately a fair few of those signing up I know have played in Division 5. Lefty plays in Division 3. But I have a feeling that with the number of newbies in the team and with the team aim to focus on fun, Division 6 will be where we end up.
Filling up your server; one of the biggest issues with Servers running on-line, multiplayer fps games. When I played just MMORPGs, it wasn’t something I thought of. I was in my kinship, and alright there had to be a certain number of players to run an instance or a Raid, but apart from that, you could happily play/quest on your own or just with a couple of people. A small kinship could happily function by itself.
It’s not quite the same with an online multiplayer fps. For starters, games often only take off once a critical number of people have joined. Before that number is reached, players are basically hanging around, entertaining themselves. But they need to stay as just by being there, they increase the likelihood of others joining to make up that critical mass.
So, for a clan or community server, you need that core of players who are willing to do that.
TF2 has something called Quickplay, BF3 has something similar. I’ve written about Quickplay before, but essentially it’s the insta-join facility that you can use as a new player when you start up the game, directing you to Valve-approved servers where you can start playing. The WDG server has now been running the Valve-approved configuration for a few weeks now. Previous to this, we were finding that the server wasn’t filling. People would join briefly, see the server was more-or-less empty and leave, understandable, they wanted to play a good game of TF2 straight off, they didn’t have time to wait. Now we are getting players through. It still needs that core, but maybe after a couple of maps, people start to feed in, though the rate does vary, and the server fills, and stays full. We’ve checked the server status and currently it rates at
Trending: Upward Fast.
Basically this means, that new people are joining and staying. Apparently, when anyone joins, the server score is deducted 15 points, then for every minute they stay, the score gets incremented by 1 up to a maximum of 1 hour. The whole system intends to weight itself towards busy, well-run community servers to try and ensure that new players experience the best of TF2. So from that alone, our Server should do well. We have our seeding core of Clan and community players and, as well as new players, when the server is full, we have our more experienced regulars dropping in and out to give them a proper flavour of the game. And we’re seeing regulars who haven’t played for a while, stopping by for a couple of maps, easier now the server is staying full which is a great outcome.
Think of a map, a 5cp map.
Ensure it consists almost entirely of chokes between each point, ideal for spamming. Now set it to 32-man. Now make it insta-spawn. Make sure crits are allowed.
Congratulations, you may have thought of Lazytown on the GFTO server.
This map is one of the most chaotic, spam-filled, manic maps out there, I’m sure. Yet I play it all the time. It has a daytime version, Lazyday, and a night time version, Lazynite.
Most of the time I play Demoman. The map is made for Demomen. We can sticky trap the choke points and spam our grenades through them. With an uber we can wipe out an engie nest and with a kritz, well just go for it. It’s a good map for Engineers too, if they’re fine about constant building destruction. Engineers are vital, two is really the bare minimum, unusual – normally two is the maximum that any team needs on a map. But this map is so spammy, dispensers are essential to dispense ammo and due to the instaspawn, teams need to be teleported to the front line at top speed to hold positions. The only class which really has difficulty is the Scout. Flanking opportunites are a problem and they are easily taken out by the large number of sentry guns and spamming Demomen and Soldiers.
The extreme ebb and flow of the game is marked too. I suspect here, that the server I play on benefits from the majority of players having got many hours of TF2 play under their belts, much gained on the Lazytown map. Without the co-ordinated attacks that you can get with experienced players, the map would just end in a defensive stalemate. As it is, one moment you can be about to cap final point, the next a couple of well-timed ubers from the opposition could find you driven back to defend your last. Games can go on for a long time.
I’m not sure if it’s improving my game much. I do think I’m getting better at dodging because of all the flying grenades and rockets. Also at bouncing grenades round corners. And at timing detonating sticky traps; just as ubers wear off for instance. And at spamming. Always spamming. It’s a map where no-one is annoying because everyone is.
I had some good games in Battlefield 3, the other night, on our new BF3 server. Yes, after years of rejecting the realism of the standard first-person shooter, I’ve started playing one. Having been softened up by TF2, I reckon.
TF2 = downward spiral
Anyhow, we’re trialling a server. Many in the clan and community have moved away from TF2 now, they’ve been playing it since it began and there’ve been many changes in the game, which some feel have diluted it’s nature. So it made sense for the Clan to look at other games being played. And BF3, being one of the most recent and biggest releases seemed an obvious choice.
We decided to start modest and get a 32-slot servers and trial it for 3 months. It’s been set to a mix of Rush and Conquest maps (Rush: basically attack and defend, Conquest: basically capture points) with a 2-player start up. The default is 8-player but this is a large number of players for a small community to guarantee being available to start a server up (below that number, you’re just frozen in place waiting for others to join).
The first night we only managed to play with three or four of us, with no randoms joining us. Randoms tend to be the key to a server’s success; players who either find the server via the Quick Play option or via the server filter. Regulars are also vital of course, but unless you have a huge pool, there are often not enough fill a server. The hope is, of course, that enough randoms will favourite the server and become Regulars to do this and build a community. It’s the same really in TF2.
The other night, however, we managed to more-or-less fill the server. A fair few were us, along with various friends, but others I didn’t recognise. I hope they were randoms. There have been complaints in BF3 forums that the Quick Play system wasn’t picking up some servers so they weren’t getting random players. Also that only a certain number of servers ever showed up in the browse servers option, this option seriously needs refining anyway. You can’t filter for ping for starters which means a large number of the servers that show up after a search are of little use. But maybe the other night showed that the WDG server was managing to get itself picked up.
Anyway, time will tell.
Edit: patch came out today which seemed to set minimum number of players to 4, to prevent stats padding apparently. They have also reduced idle time before you get kicked. Together these are potentially not good.
(shameless plug: server name WDG)
In Team Fortress 2, it looks like I’m maining Demoman (in as much as anyone mains anything in TF2). It’s the class I enjoy most. And I have got better. I’ve now got to the stage where if I find myself on a server of predominantly f2p players with probably about 20 or so total TF2 hours play between them I can do reasonably well. In other words I have now effectively become good enough to be able to take candy from a baby. Result.
I’ve been practicing my aim on tr_walkway (a training map) and sticky jumping (this is where you explode one of your sticky bombs at your feet and use the explosive impetus to move forward/upwards). My sticky jumping is still random and I’m not very confident doing it. I don’t feel 100% in control, haven’t got the technique quite.
I’ve also carried on trying to develop mindset, as I’ve written earlier. I’ve read various tips and watched videos, and I found one of the most useful ones on a thread on the Steam TF2 forum. Here someone who felt they had plateaued in their development was asking for help. Someone replied with
1) Every time you die spend your respawn time thinking about why you died and what mistakes you made
2) Make note of your class weaknesses and play with those in mind, try to say with players who can help you compensate. A Demoman is weakest in close combat. Therefore it makes sense to stay close to classes who are better here. I sometimes now focus on making myself hold myself back, in line with a Pyro or a Soldier (who can also protect against scouts). In return as Pyro I keep an eye out for my Demomen allies.
3) Think, think, think about what is going on, where you are and what everyone else is doing, don’t be rushed, don’t rush in. I suppose this counts as developing gamesense. As Demoman, this means I’ve been looking for choke points, trying to spot where opponents might come from, thinking about tricky sticky trap placement. And sticky placement to help the team as well, to protect the medic, to protect the advancing frontline (grenades help here too) and to defend it.
All this can be seen as pretty basic, but it’s the kind of stuff that can suddenly ‘click’ and make you go, ‘Oh yeah, duh.’ Things that you pick up in bits while you’re playing but don’t quite put together as a proper game plan and focus on.
I know that I’m still a fairly conservative and defensive player, I can’t dodge for toffee, my aim is dire and I die too much. I spend most of my time cheerfully at the bottom of the points table on my regular servers. But it’s all a start and it keeps me busy.
Last week I bought Brink, the new fps from Splash Damage. There are currently a lot of issues with it concerning general bugginess and lack of balance in classes and maps, but I’ve been enjoying it.
I’m only playing the single-player at the moment, mainly to get a grip on the game and to unlock all my abilities. And, since Engineer is my favourite class in TF2, I’ve been playing the engineer in Brink. In Brink, various abilities differentiate the classes, apart from these, all use the same weapons and can have light/medium/heavy builds. This is, of course different in TF2 where each class plays and handles very differently in it’s own right. In Brink, I’ve now reached level 10, rank 3. I can buff weapons and armour and I can use sentry guns or turrets, I can now use medium turrets. The buffing is straightforward but the turrets are more interesting. Reading the forums, opinion is divided over whether they’re any use. Some people feel they’re underpowered, others feel they don’t not lock on to their targets or track fast enough, or at least consistently. This last point, I think is fair enough. I haven’t really noticed it yet, but as I said, I’ve only played off-line up to now.
But saying they are underpowered, that to me is debatable. A lot of the time, the turrets are being compared with TF2 sentry guns. Now in TF2 there are basically two ways of playing Engie, defensive and offensive. The defensive Engineer will often build a level 3 sentry gun and with one of these, and a level 3 dispenser at his back to provide healing and metal, can pretty much defend a control point or hold a choke point on his own until taken out by an uber, a spy or a focussed attack by the enemy.
However, playing offensively, the Engineer needs to be able to move more, keeping up with the front line and is often a Gunslinger Engineer, equipping a gunslinger melee weapon, raising his health and allowing him to build combat mini-sentries. Now these are totally disposable. The damage they give out is even less than a level 1 sentry gun and they are easily destroyed, so it’s pretty obvious that they can’t be used for holding control points. But they can be built very quickly for less metal, so the Gunslinger Engineer will sling one up where it can distract, where it take people out unawares, or where it can provide back-up and kill assists. And as soon as one goes up, the Gunslinger Engineer is already thinking about where the next one can go.
So, is this how turrets should be used in Brink? They’re only under powered if you try and use them like a TF2 level 3 sentry gun, and that’s not supposed to be their purpose. I’m looking forward to trying the turrets out under ‘live’ conditions, as it were, on-line. Like I said, interesting.