With post-Easter candy on sale and taxes looming on the horizon, perhaps Valve can be forgiven for not doing a heck of a lot this week. Lord knows none of the game teams for whom I’m developing ever do anything of merit around this time; save creativity for a time where it won’t get you audited.
Back in 2009 on March 13th Valve did push a minor Sandman nerf; stunned players now took 50% less damage. This gave you a slightly better chance of not insta-dying just because some Bostonian twerp nailed you with a baseball while you were trying to reload. On a happier note rocket and sticky explosions were granted the ability to launch the player further, reinforcing Valve’s love for explosive jumping in this game. It was rather nice how happily they adopted it as a core element of the metagame.
Everybody sat up and paid attention on April 15, 2010, when Valve released the promo items for Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse to a welcoming fanbase. The Big Kill and Lugermorph were the very first weapon reskins added to the game, and the Lugermorph quickly became the first Community-Sparkle item that remained tradeable, leaving both of them highly-sought aftcer items (though not nearly as sought after as their comrade Max’s Severed Head.) When the TF2 trading decided that they were a form of currency, it helped their value that they weren’t as ubiquitous as the Earbuds and Bill’s Hat because fewer people pre-ordered Sam & Max.
Speaking of hats, April 14, 2011 was The Hatless Update! Valve saw that people were sick of updates flooding the game with cosmetic items, and so made sure to grant a large content update full of nothing but gameplay altering content literally as many other non-gameplay additions as they could muster. Seriously, the list is downright impressive. Coaching, voting, training modes, styles, UI tweaks… luckily there were a bunch of item tweaks, but half of those got nerfed the next day. Occasionally somebody on SPUF comes along and says “Why doesn’t Valve do another Hatless Update?” and then you know that person wasn’t actually around for the aftermath of the first one.
They also happened to sneak in a non-hat cosmetic, but oh well.