Community updates have always had some sort of sparkle to them. You get a ton of great content-creators gathering and making something as a team. Right now, we have two communities working together on two very different but rather complimentary updates – the Iron Gauntlet, which features Mann VS Machine maps and robotic cosmetics, and the Mayann Project, which is more of an Indiana Jones themed update. Both look very promising and some cool themes behind them. And of course, more Mann VS Machine stuff is always good for me.
Thing is though, despite the fact that community updates bring about a huge amount of hype and excitement, they always somehow manage to fuck up. The phrase “community update” conjures up rainbows and unicorns and community teamwork, suggesting that the community will be doing everything, including controlling what actually gets into the game. Not once has that ever been the case.
Robotic Boogaloo, thinking back, wasn’t actually that bad. It never really hinted at being anything but hats. And by the Light, we got a lot of hats, even if some weren’t that great or made little sense. We also got a neat comic to go with it and some nice unusual effects.
With a pretty low bar set for future updates, you’d think that End of the Line and Invasion would step it up a bit. The problem with End of the Line was that no one, not the EOTL team, nor Valve, did anything to lessen the hype. The EOTL team had big plans. They wanted new weapons. They wanted maps. They wanted all sorts. It doesn’t seem that unreasonable to ask for. The whole update centered around the video, which held a lot of the update up when it was delayed and rushed to be finished. When End of the Line was finally released, the whole thing was a complete let down. It turned out to only be a handful of hats in a crate, not much better than Robotic Boogaloo.
Invasion suffered a similar but not as painful fate. Again, it’d been hinted at and leaked multiple times, and again, delays messed it up. And again, there were no new weapons, but at least there were maps. What bothered people most was how most of the hundred or so hats had not been included in the update, and out of those that were included, most were either all-class for only for several classes. Scout and Sniper received multiple cosmetics (including reskins) while other classes received nothing at all. There was also that IN DA BEEM debacle. Invasion delivered what it could, then was completely and utterly overshadowed by Scream Fortress. Why open crates and grind for kills for Invasion when you could do the same with Scream Fortress and get items?
Now, both these updates could have been salvaged if they’d done more to lessen the hype around them. But to be fair to the content creators, that’s incredibly hard to do, because not even the people behind these know what Valve will keep and what Valve will chuck out. Valve know not to overhype things and instead just throw endless silence at us, yet they allow things to get over the top with community projects. If there will be no weapons, say that there will be no weapons and a huge crisis is averted. If you have to ditch a map at the last minute, say “there are problems with the map that require fixing before we can release it” rather than suggesting that people are too stupid to understand an Attack/Defend map with a different timer, or accidentally shoot humans wearing blue rather than shoot robots.
Alright, less hype wouldn’t have made those stupid fucking ducks go away, or make the End of the Line video any better (because, if I’m honest, it was nicely animated but it had awful writing), but it would have made the whole mess easier to swallow – we’d been waiting a year for hats and a video, rather than the huge update they suggested was coming.
Does the same horrible fate await the Iron Gauntlet and the Mayann Project? I really hope not. Iron Gauntlet in particular has a lot of money-making things that Valve can jump on, especially since Mann Up mode is already a thing and the community is adding all sorts of goodies. The Mayann Project looks like a really nice change, especially with the BLU focus and an area that hasn’t been explored before.
But I feel they’ll both suffer. Things will be cut. Things will be removed. Things will be dropped at the last minute under the premise that we’re morons. Valve will take a huge cut of the money as always. We don’t really learn, do we?