Why is Competitive Matchmaking coming out of beta?

After 11 mediocre stress tests, TF2 Competitive Matchmaking is coming out of beta. And tons of little things that we’ve complained about don’t seem to have been addressed. The game doesn’t run much better on DX9, so those needing DX8 (some of whom may be on plenty strong enough computers that just don’t play nice with TF2) are locked out of competitive. Other graphical settings, mostly ones only accessible via console commands, are also turned off. Matchmaking seems to have trouble matchmaking people of varied ranks. The issue of class limits and class composition is still… an issue.

Those ‘small’ issues aside, there’s other reasons why Competitive Matchmaking doesn’t feel like it’s ready to come out of beta. Nothing really seems to have happened, even in the time between Stress Test 9 and Stress Test 10-11. A lot of it feels pretty much the same. Apart from possibly being auto-put into a game in process, the whole feeling of queuing up, playing a match and ranking/deranking is the same. You can still play with 3 Medics and 3 Scouts, or 5 Heavies and a Medic (that is genuinely fun – for you, not the enemy) or any sort of silly combination that clearly won’t do anything. Really, apart from some bug fixes, Competitive Matchmaking feels exactly as it did when it was released. I don’t expect huge changes or anything but I don’t know, I expected something. That being said, props to the UI designers because the UI is very nice.

But my biggest problem is actually based on how Valve have done other betas and released them into the wild. You see, there’s several ways this can go, based on previous betas. The first is probably the worst way. I recently discovered that Robot Destruction was released from its beta status. Small problem, the one map it has, RD_Asteroid, is actually unfinished, with untextured interior areas. Since the map was a beta, I didn’t expect it to be finished while it was in beta, but this map was released in an unfinished state. No real work has happened on RD_Asteroid or the game for a while.

The second way is similar to the first way to release a beta. It happened to PL_Cactus Canyon. The map was released and promptly forgotten about. A bit like SD_Doomsday and Special Delivery in general. Luckily, these maps are playable as they currently are, so them being forgotten about is less of an issue. Things like Pass Time though (that is still a stupid name, surely Death Ball or Jacked Up or Bomb Throw or anything else would have been better!) may not be so lucky, especially seeing how many bugs we’ve seen that completely and utterly screw up the game, and how slowly Valve deals with them.

The third way though is the one I fear most. When Mannpower was released, they didn’t release it as it was in the beta, no, they added a ton of other crap, none of which had been tested at all. The whole point of a beta is to test things before they’re put into the game proper, so why even bother if you’re going to put in extra stuff completely untested? Mannpower is a single shitty game mode that can be ignored though. Competitive Matchmaking is a whole new facec to TF2. They fuck this up, it could be very bad.

I don’t know. All of this feels half done, that more thinking time needs to be spent on it. This is one of these things that need to be thought through, but right now, everything feels… undercooked. As Dapper Apples said on SPUF, Competitive Matchmaking “Needs to stay in the oven for a bit longer.” I couldn’t agree more.

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