Matchmaking has arrived. And so has Doomsday.
- Published on Saturday, 9 July 2016
- In the Member Blogging Category
This is it. The end of the world. Cheers, Valve.
When Valve dropped the atomic bomb of an announcement on June 23rd 2011 that their brainchild Team Fortress 2 would become 100% free-to-play, diehard fans of the game predicted armageddon, and Valve has just nuked us again.
In the 5 years since that announcement I am yet to see the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Grim Reaper, George W Bush, or any other symbol of pure death come along and kill TF2. In-fact, it’s doing pretty good for itself. Until now.
If the first nuke didn’t reduce TF2 to rubble then the second one should do it. This nuke is called matchmaking. Specifically – casual matchmaking. Those two words coupled together make me shudder.
Prior to this atomic bomb, users would browse a list of official and community servers, that can be filtered, sorted and is (relatively) easy to read. Users would then cherry-pick a server to join instantly from the list that matched their criteria – whatever that may be.
It was uncomplicated, and worked so damn well. Valve, however, disagrees.
Mirroring every bloody Xbox and PlayStation online multiplayer game and their own Counter Strike: Global Offensive PC system, they’ve introduced the now-traditional party-based system.
You create a party. You select your game mode. You hit search.
Just think of all 9,754,892 Call of Duty games. And Overwatch. And Titanfall. And Battlefield. And Doom. And Unreal Tournament. And Far Cry. And GTA Online. You get the picture.
So why am I, and a huge chunk of the loyal Team Fortress 2 followers, grumbling over this? Well, it doesn’t satisfy the middle-ground.
That forgettable space between the happy-go-lucky, “I’m just a noob but I know I’m a noob and it’s cool”, usually M1+W Pyro players, and the super-serious, semi-professional, “I will smash your kneecaps and suggest sexual congress with your fat mother if you beat me”, true-blue nerds.
We middle-grounders enjoy the game, thrive on victory and invest bucket-loads of time (and dollar) into the game, but still only play for kicks and don’t want to chill with the angry lunatics in competitive modes.
The casuals don’t really care how they get into a game, just so long as they can superglue their finger to the Mouse 1 button for 20 minutes. The angry lunatics are too swag for everybody and only play ranked games, thus funnelling through the competitive matchmaking door.
So they’re both happy… but us in-betweeners are not.
It takes forever to join an ordinary server via casual, unranked matchmaking. Before it took mere seconds to find the perfect server with the perfect configuration. Apparently this is a known bug and Valve will repair it. Because ensuring proper functionality prior to dropping the bomb was, uhh… not cool, I guess.
If you muster the patience and have written a will, just encase you pass away while waiting forever, and join a server, only to find it’s not to your taste, you cannot leave without a punishment. Admittedly the punishment is a pinky-slap on the wrist – being banned from that particular session henceforth, but still a punishment. In a casual mode. Really Valve?
Furthermore, you cannot filter servers during the matchmaking decision to land on a map of your choice. I don’t like a whole load of Payload maps, so chances are I’ll be thrown into a server running something as grotesque as Borneo or Frontier instead of glorious Gold Rush.
I’ve omitted a major detail in this rant so far. You can still join servers through the old browser method – Valve haven’t destroyed that luxury (yet). The problem is, you can no longer join one of the thousands of official Valve servers, a collection which stretched across all game modes.
That is the final twist of the knife in the heart of the middle-ground faithful. Their servers were, in all logic and seriousness, the best ones going.
Probably because the third-party servers run by spot-faced kids with two testicle hairs – which are the only servers that remain in the browser, are just awful. With their suffocating mods and free crit bonuses and adverts and… (sigh).
Matchmaking is the future. Kids growing up as I write this will understand matchmaking as the ‘current’ and ‘right’ way to play an online game. Like how iPhones and iPads have been around forever, at least in their minds. It’s normal.
In the infamous words of Danny Glover… I’m getting too old for this shit.