I was surprised the other day, when I was futzing around with my HUD, that the coaching button still exists. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone use this to any sort of effect ever. Has anyone else? Share your coaching stories in the comments, won’t you?
Now, we’ll get into the real nitty-gritty here. What did this coaching function ever actually do? It’s a fairly straightforward concept, actually. To be a part of this system, you need to sign up using the megaphone icon on the homepage. There, it will prompt you to sign up as a coach, and add you to an unknowable list of coaches that the game assigns when a player (and you can do this at any time, no matter who you are) opts to “Request Coaching” during a game, from the in-game menu. This will send out a request for one of the coaches in this mystical queue to connect to the game (after being prompted by the game to begin coaching).
Once connected, the Coach can view his Student’s screen in either first or third person, or use a free flying camera (the free flying camera, however, can only operate within 30 arbitrary distance units of the student, for whatever reason). From there, the coach also has a number of commands he can issue to his student in an effort to help guide the student. The student receives these orders, along with an audio cue, right there on their HUD. The list of commands (and their audio cues) are as follows:
Attack This: This is the primary command, bound to primary fire (default bind M1). It will signal your Student to attack something, and will also tell your student how far away (in arbitrary distance units) their target is. If you happen to select a moving target, like a Payload cart or an enemy player (an enemy Spy, perhaps), this icon will follow that target around:
Defend This: The antithesis of the Attack This command, the Defend This command prompts your student to defend an area, objective, or person. If you ever do find yourself in a coaching situation, be sure to use this command on your team’s Medic. Like the Attack This feature, this will stay around on a moving target, like a Payload or a teammate, and also shows the distance to the target.
Go Here: Go here is a much more direct way of telling your student to go somewhere. Probably best for using if they’re playing Engineer and need some ideas on where to build a sentry, but its seems like the “Attack” or “Defend” here commands would work in most situations that you could use this in.
Look Here: Lastly, a pretty useful command that whistles at your student and directs them to look somewhere. It’s very straightforward, and is actually kind of amusing.
So that’s the dirty lowdown on Coaching. The question then presents itself, of course, how can experienced players abuse this?
Thankfully, Valve did have some forethought, and made it so Coaches couldn’t see things like cloaked Spies and Engineer buildings that their student can’t see. At the same time, the ability remains for one player to select a target for attack and have that target tracked through walls and other things. According to the TF2 Wiki page on Coaching, a bug exists where Coaches are able to see Teleporter particle effects, which effectively allows them to find the position of enemy teleporters, circumventing the aforementioned building restriction.
Next, there’s the overwhelming possibility that the person you get isn’t your friend that you’re in a Skype call with. Students don’t have the ability to choose their coach from a list, or based on “Coach Rating”, so it’s entirely random who you’ll get as a coach. Furthermore, according to that same bug list, any sort of text or voice communication between a student and a coach is visible to players on both teams and spectators.
Finally, we have the student’s ability to “rate” their coach (default bind F7) and remove their coach (default bind F8). There’s no actual ranking system or anything for coaches, so I don’t really know why this option exists. So, that just leaves one question: