While not an altogether new topic, the last several weeks has seen a large amount of discourse among the community on the topic of plugins that modify TF2's gameplay to varying degrees. The pack, available on GitHub contains a variety of fixes developed principally by twiikuu, with contributions from stephanie and laurirasanen. The plugin contains quality of life improvements such as:
- Removal of randomness in fall damage amounts
- Fixing crossbow bolts not connecting at very close range
- Fixing inconsistency in ramp slides
- Fixing stickies not detonating while switching weapons
- Removing projectiles colliding with teammates at certain ranges
- Removal of Halloween soul particles
- Transparent Soldier memorials
In addition to this, there are two more controversial toggles: removal of Medic attach speed, and Gunboat resistance always applies. With many league seasons fast approaching, we reached out to admins from the top leagues in EU, NA, and APAC to find out what their leagues would be doing going forward regarding plugins, in the first part of teamfortresstv's ongoing coverage of the situation.
Europe has seen the most widespread testing of promod plugins, with much of today's discussion being spurred on by Matthes' mix group created to test the removal of Medic attach speed. On May 4th, ETF2L announced they would be taking on the following quality of life mods for season 36, and the preseason qualifiers:
- Ramp slide fix
- Consistent fall damage
- Sticky detonation fix
- Crossbow bolt fix
- No Halloween souls
We reached out to ETF2L head admin Aoshi, who shared their reasoning and hopes for the future.
As the discussion about plugins only being started up quite recently we feel like this might have blind sighted some players that aren't as active within the community forums. So we're giving it a bit of breathing room to allow for players to get adjusted to these plugins at a rather slow speed for now. Which is why we've largely focused on bug fixing as well as small quality of life plugins.
The only major plugin that we're still looking at being the medic scout speed plugin. However, we wanted to get sufficient feedback before simply dropping it into the upcoming season. In the case that this plugin doesn't make it into this season we would still have interest into a potential future with the plugin or a variant of it after larger scale testing.
With the lack of updates being added into the game this almost feels like a natural progression to avoid staleness. Updating or adding in new elements will allow for changes directly aimed at improving competitive TF2 which would be very improbable with actual updates. We hope that if an eventual push is made for a promod this gets done on a global scale.
Moving on to North America, in initial announcements for season 3 of their traditional sixes league, RGL included a survey to their players on how the league should move forward regarding a promod. As of May 5th, the results are in (as seen below), and while for this season specific balance changes have been ruled out, the following fixes will be applied for the upcoming season:
- Ramp slide fix (88% for out of 696 votes)
- Consistent fall damage (88% for out of 695 votes)
- Sticky detonation fix (88% for out of 694 votes)
- Crossbow bolt fix (90% for out of 694 votes)
- No Halloween souls (69% for out of 526 votes)
- Transparent Soldier memorials (not in poll)
In the blog post announcement, head admin exa_ shared the league's rationale behind their decision.
For the remaining promod features, there remains insufficient testing in the North American scene for us to properly gauge the impact they have on affecting gameplay, as many players have not properly play tested in such an environment yet. These features additionally turn off settings enabled by Valve or revert changes in previous updates that alter the game. As such, we classify these as features and not fixes. Plans to have an offseason cup to test these variables will be looked at in the future.
Looking down under, ozfortress has taken a comparatively conservative approach, again citing a lack of regional testing, but will be implementing the following changes starting with the upcoming season 28:
- Sticky detonation fix
- Ramp slide fix
- Removal of Soldier memorials
Head admin catfish elaborated on the league's decision and plans for the future.
We currently have plans to use the sticky det bug fix next season and likely in all future competitions, however outside of that we have no immediate plans to incorporate any of the other changes from the plugin. Our reasoning for this is that while the sticky det bug is clealy a bug, the other issues the plugin fixes are deliberate decisions from Valve (or at least seem somewhat intentional) and we feel that this crosses over into promod territory, and changing core game mechanics is a significant step for the game. We aren't opposed to implementing these changes in the future if there is demand, however if we do it will likely be in the form of a test cup first and would also require further discussion.
Last but not least, we end with AsiaFortress. While the league has made no formal announcements at this point, we were able to chat with head admin Fwishy, who confirmed that the league was looking to test both balance changes and quality of life plugins for future seasons of the league.
These are the decisions that have been made, but the future lies in the hands of you, the people. If you're looking for some takes from people who are better at the game than I am, check out the VOD of our latest episode of Fully Charged. Or while you're stuck inside, try out local efforts to test these changes.