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i46 – The Write Up!

Oh well, i46 is now over and done with and it’s now LAN Death time as we return to our normal lives.

It was good and in the same way I did for i43, I’ll go through it bit by bit. First:

The Venue

Same as last year, little change, still  Telford International Centre. Multiplay had arranged the Halls so that players of the same game could sit together. Hall 3 was the TF2 hall. It had it’s own bar, no idea why, next door to the VanillaTV casting area, no idea why. The main stage was in the same hall as the exhibitors. They’d increased the seating area from last year, introducing tiered seating at the back. With 400+ openly self-admitting TF2 players attending and a TF2  final, this was sensible.

Multiplay had arranged it so food (including a cooked breakfast), drink (including beer) and pc components could be delivered to your desk, while you gamed, ordered and paid on-line. You only needed to leave to sleep and go to the toilet. Rumour has it that Multiplay are working on that for i49 next summer.

The Accommodation

I hotelled it again. Due to my advanced age, the hotel very kindly put me in a room with emergency pull cords by the bed and in the bathroom and a seat in the walk-in shower. There was also a grip rail by the toilet. It could’ve have also been, of course, that the hotel had assumed that I might get very drunk.

The Company

As well as the main halls, Multiplayer also provided a number of clanboxes that groups could book. UKCS (their site is affilliated to Berath’s Brain Burps) booked one of these and managed to fill it with 64 people including me; the WDG community didn’t attend though two dropped by on Sunday. In the end two adjacent clanboxes were opened up together. And what a fine and well-met collection of people they were….too many to name; intellectual giants as well because UKCS won the

Pub Quiz

The Pub Quiz was held on Saturday evening, and yes, UKCS came first winning £300ish which was spent on a large keg of Hobgoblin, a load of cans of cider and pizza. The team wasn’t strictly UKCS. Halfway through some of Kritzkast appeared replacing various UKCSers who’d left and we were reinforced by representatives from the reloaded clan, but we still counted as UKCS, mostly because Xerxes, the UKCS Vice President, was there and he was wearing a white suit.

Team UKCS: Intellectual giants

Classy Saturday

This was why Xerxes was wearing a white suit and why Berath was wearing a long mauve ballgown. i45 had brought in Classy Saturday, an excuse for everyone to dress up. Many did. It was repeated for i46. It gave my ballgown the second outing that it’d ever had, the first being a Murder Mystery Party about 6 or 7 years ago.

Gaming

Last year I went on a Spectator ticket, this year I went on a BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) i.e. took computer ready to game. There was  much gaming.  Borderlands 2 and X-COM: Enemy Unknown were showcased, Borderlands 2 in particular got a good reception, and there was a tournament featuring the new game, Shootmania, which is still in beta. Shootmania has been billed as the next great e-sport and it’s really being pushed that way. It looked entertaining enough when we watched the final before the TF2 final, but much will hang on whether it can build a popular following once released, courting pro-players isn’t enough.  For the first time at an iseries, Fighting games had a significant presence and a sponsor. I caught up on a bit of LoTRO, played The Secret World and of course some TF2; well actually quite a lot of TF2. Which brings me on to:

TF2

As  said, much TF2 was played. We entered the Highlander Competition as  Cats Don’t Eat Haggis and were rolled, playing teams way better than us, one comprising players from 9men, the other players from idk ( maps were pl_badwater and koth_viaduct; we stood on the point twice). A second UKCS team also entered, Don’t Put Me On the Spot. They were rolled too.

However, possibly of more significance, the TF2 community had managed, through a mix of fundraising and very generous donations/lending of money (thanks be to Salamancer), to fly two US teams over from the States to take part in the 6v6 TF2 Tournament. Altogether $20000 had been raised. The two teams that made it, after a series of knockout games, were Classic Mixup and Leviathan Gaming.

And, unfortunately, they rolled the EU in every game. The question had been, who was best, EU or NA, all pings being equal; the answer was now obvious. The final was all-American (though there had been a tantalising possibility during cp_snakewater in the Epsilon vs LG lower bracket final game, that Epsilon may have made it through for Europe).

To be honest though, if one of the EU teams had got there and even more so, if one had won, I’m not sure that 1)it would have been deserved and 2) if it would have been good for EU TF2 in the long run.

Straight off, the US teams had practised, practised, practised, they’d watched VODs, they’d studied their opposition. They were seriously ‘in it to win it’, only natural really considering $20000 had been raised to send them. They were focused. This was not the case with the top EU teams. I think there was a certain amount of complacency here. At the top, there has been little new blood or new ideas, teams play each other over and over again, it feels as if there is a general lack of motivation or incentive.

The US teams entering this, were basically like a dirty great boulder crashing into a stagnant pond. Splash!

Leviathan Gaming; US TF2 players, they look almost like us

Not only had they practiced hard, they played differently; even as a no-name scrub I could tell. They took more risks and played faster, they off-classed more and in unexpected places; they adapted and tried to catch opponents out rather than waiting for them to make mistakes.

They provided a fast-paced, exciting final with interesting tactics and plenty of close plays. It was BO3 and went to the third map, with Classic Mixup finally clinching the win. In the main, the crowd was behind LG,  the relative underdog of the two teams. As has now come to be expected of the average TF2 audience, it was loud and excitable with hats in evidence.

Hats in Evidence

Anyhow, post-i46, much thinking is being thunk. It’s clear some people are going to leave Prem, teams are going to fold and line-ups change; playstyles, rules and tactics will be reviewed and further ways of encouraging and developing new talent and teams discussed. Prize money has already been put up for 6v6 S13 to provide an incentive, along with rule changes aiming to improve professionalism (these were being considered anyway).

So, we shall see what we shall see.

The TF2 Community

What can I say? Below, the, by now, mandatory “TF2 Community photograph with only about half the people in it because the rest didn’t know it was taking place”.

i46 incoming!!!!!!!

On Thursday I’m off to i46; Insomnia 46 billed as the UK’s biggest gaming festival. Last year I went to i43 and it was a blast. I won’t be going with WDG as none of them are going this year, instead I’ll be with the UKCS community in their clanbox; 64 of us altogether. There is going to be a Fun Highlander Cup and Cats Don’t Eat Haggis are looking to enter; I’ll be wielding my trusty Engie wrench.

So far over 400 TF2 devotees are booked, the TF2 final is going to be deafening. The community has managed to fundraise to get two top teams from the US over, so we’re looking forward to some epic US vs EU games; who’ll come up top; we’ll see!

Some of the mainland European UKCSers have already set off, they’ve planes to catch. Excitement is mounting and hype is building. Berath’s Brain Burps will be providing a full report on return.

i46…so hyped!!!!!!!

Team Fortress 2; busy busy, the pyro update and what has Valve been smoking?

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the Team Fortress 2 community.

First we had the long awaited Meet the Pyro video last Friday. Valve has made one of these for each of the TF2 classes, Meet the Pyro was the last one. Here it is.

I like it. I like it a lot.

Along with the video, Valve gave us other good things. We received new weapons and items to be found as drops, bought or crafted, and updates to ones we have already. Teddy Roosebelt can now apparently get assist kills, though I haven’t seen this yet. The Demoman now has a parrot which can get assist kills too. The Quickfix Medic gun now allows the Medic to fly through the air with his patient, as his patient rocket or sticky jumps. And we’ve been given in-game pyro goggles which allow us to see the world as the Pyro sees it; a beautiful place, people explode into balloons and glitter. It’s Berath vision (my clan said that).

Badlands

Badlands Happy Place

I think it’s all lovely and it makes me happy. I’d like to wear them and for everything to be like that all of the time. And in the game too.

Valve also brought out a new game mode/map, Doomsday; Special Delivery mode . Here, both teams race to capture a case of Australium,  a highly valuable metal element discovered in Australia and likely why Australia is so technologically advanced. Apparently the United States once had a supply of Australium. They invested it all in an attempt to launch monkeynaut, Poopy Joe, into space. Following the ensuing tragic failure, all the Australium went missing and, according to records, has not been found since.

In this re-enactment, the Australium is to be delivered to Poopy Joe so he can rocket into space. The team with the Australium needs to stand on a launch platform as it rises to the top of a rocket, where it is inserted into the tip.

It’s a fun map, but one that very easily becomes a spamfest and too chaotic with a lot of players, it’s not a big map.  I’d like to see it played 6v6, or more likely in Highlander, where it might work better.

Tragic Poopy Joe

And then, outside all this, we have the build-up to the Multiplayer i46 LAN Party. Currently it looks as if it’ll have the biggest TF2 attendance, ever; not sure if this is ever ever, or just ever UK, but anyhow I think we’ll get around 400 TF2ers. As rumoured before, there is now definately, a community funding drive to get two US teams to the LAN.  $20000 is the goal, which is a bit of a reach, but we’ve been told that there are already the resources  to get one team there.

ETF2L are also running a Highlander Nations Cup. They’ve managed to gather 30 teams from 30 countries, the first match between Turkey and France was on Monday.  The teams comprise mixes of both regular 6v6 and regular Highlander players. It’ll be interesting to see how the games play ou with this, since each format plays differently due to the team composition and unlocks, and favours different maps.

On the 6v6 front we’ve had a number of finals including the S12 ETF2L playoffs. However, most seem to have involved Infused and Epsilon playing each other. A bit of a shake-up is needed here I think, however there have been various changes in line-up to keep the community amused. A 6v6 Nations Cup is looming and is now accepting sign-ups but may lack the entertainment value of renown 6v6 players having a go at Engineer or Heavy in a Highlander match.

On a personal, Berath note, I’ve started a Highlander mix group; The Mixter-Maxter Highlander Group. Anyone from the Readership is free to join, though you’ll make best use of the group if you have TF2 installed and play it. I hope it will make games of Highlander easier, I hope members will take advantage of it and use it.

And finally, FNR! have scheduled the last matches in the Wireplay 9v9 League

8th July   FNR! vs One Round Wonders

12th July FNR! vs Uberium The Third

15th July  FNR! vs Team Awesome!

Good luck to all but mostly to us.

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