The other night, I watched a film called I, Frankenstein. It was a very silly film, not in an intended comedic sense but in a way where people who review films will just sigh and point out every single bad bit until they get bored and start talking about how Slumdog Millionaire changed the world or whatever. Nonetheless, despite its bad reviews, I sat down and watched it and I quite enjoyed it. Alright, the film was nothing special, the plot was basically Van Helsing, Dogma, Dracula, John Dies At The End and every other similar god-monster-demon-related film put together, but the CGI was nice and the fight scenes were well done. As a bonus, there was no shagging or anything, just a few sweet words and ‘I care for you’s and stuff like that. It also had Bill Nighy in it, which is generally a good thing.
Although the film wasn’t very good, I went into it not really caring, knowing I was about to see a fairly expensive pile of crap thrown at the screen, but having lowered my expectations, I actively enjoyed it. For those of you wondering what the fuck this has to do with Team Fortress 2, my point was in that last sentence.
We all know that the quantity and quality of Team Fortress 2 updates has declined in recent years. We have received no new weapons, too many new hats and some rather obscure weapon changes, as well as more cosmetic, not-really-needed things than we can shake a stick at. But Valve being Valve, that small-time group that made or helped make glorious things such as Half Life, Portal and DotA 2, not to mention our beloved Team Fortress 2, we have come to expect a lot from them. We’ve also come to expect deadlines that are never hit, long waits and huge amounts of secrecy and suspense. But that doesn’t stop us from demanding the earth, the moon and the sun for more Team Fortress 2 content.
Are we right in demanding more content? Are Valve right to ignore us? It depends on both questions. One of the things Valve was best known for was the communication between Valve and its customers and fan bases. As the fan bases grow, that communication becomes harder to supply and of course it will settle down slightly, but slowing down communication is not the same as silence. When you have such high standards, you train your customers to think that everything you do is high standard and when that standard drops, people notice. That’s not to say that the quality has been of low standards, it’s just not been their best. Or even their average.
Then you get comparisons to other games. DotA 2 seems to get all the love, despite how CS:GO has come out on its own and how all the CS games remain fairly popular. A glance at DotA 2‘s last update page goes to show how much energy they’re putting in to that game. Oh and they’ve also got The International coming up, where the best teams in the world play against each other for a multi-million prize pot or something like that.
Of course, we all know we can’t expect content forever. There’s a point where you have to cut ties and let the community take over. That point is generally when the product isn’t making enough money. I doubt we’ve reached that point quite yet.
How do we fix all this doom and gloom? By lowering our expectations. Not by a lot, enough to make ourselves feel a bit better, but not enough so we’ll just accept any old crap. With lower expectations, we’ll have more fun playing Team Fortress 2, ignoring those less major flaws, sailing past all those damn mini-sentries and wondering if we’ll get a mini-update on Thursday.