A Tale of Two Communities

Lately, SPUF has gotten a bit cabin-feverish, and I can’t say I blame them. The anger seems to be directed at Valve’s repeated promises of “great stuff on the horizon!” and the actuality of the extreme drought of new content for TF2. Recently, even the throwaway crap such as blog posts, cosmetics, and localization-file-only updates have dried up. I can understand why SPUF is upset.

But I disagree with how a large amount of this anger seems to be directed at Dota 2, Valve’s newest cash cow and spearhead of the MOBA genre that is clearly getting the lion’s share of its parent’s attention. Along with regular content updates and gamewide events all-too-familiar to the stuff TF2 used to get, it’s even gone a few steps further and received its own documentary, along with several (unshared) economy patches that solved problems also infecting TF2’s market scheme. But when TF2 fans complain about Dota 2 simply because of the attention it gets, I’m reminded of the last gaming community that went through something similar.

In 1999-2006 Team Fortress Classic was on top of the world. Having won the population of TF Quake players and grabbing thousands more from TFC bundled free with any Half Life purchase, it was one of the most successful multiplayer Valve games out there and had a thriving and creative fanbase.

Then TF2 came out.

Suddenly TFC wasn’t getting updated any more. When newer games got ported to Source, TFC stayed on Goldsrc. A large part of its fanbase moved on, as did all new players, but the old timers hated how different it was from TFC. No bunnyhopping, no combat medic, cartoon graphics…they didn’t want to play TF2 and they didn’t like how it took Valve’s attention away from their favorite game.

There was lots and lots of whining, most of it directed at TF2 even though its not really the game’s fault it was Valve’s new baby. Some complaining that Valve owes the TFC community something for years of service, and how dare Valve ignore what had been their biggest game once upon a time, a game that still had a thriving fan base but was hurting due to the neglect. But Valve continued to ignore them and the game is now a shadow of its former self. Botchoked 2fort and dustbowl servers dominate the pubs, there are still pockets of communities but its nothing like it once was. It happened, and its foolish to think it would never happen to TF2 like TFC before it.

This phenomenon (two entities, both vying for the attention of an overlooking patriarchal entity, direct their anger at their competitor instead of the one who holds the power to change things) is called “horizontal resentment” and its older than recorded history. It can be seen in immigrant populations, sports team’s rosters, and animal populations. It’s no doubt going to continue regardless of what I write in this post. But I encourage you not to be a part of it. Dota 2 shouldn’t be demonized for earning its place in the spotlight. It’s merely the recipient of a torch passed on from us, that we in turn had received seven years ago, and one day Dota 2 will be passing it to a new game. Half Life 3 Multiplayer, perhaps?

Why can’t we all just be friends?

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