I really debated whether I should post here since I haven't been around for years, and a lot has changed for me since (I also barely follow anything anymore lol), but I'll be honest, Jeff, it makes me pretty annoyed that you're in denial of how much Valve's influence could help in current era TF2 (which I'm spanning from the time I was still involved, around 2013, to current times). And I think you know me well enough that I'm not going to respond with bullshit (at least not intentionally). I hope not. If I am, I absolutely should be called out on it.
TLDR: nerd essay on why eXtine is wrong and what I want him to ACTUALLY do
eXtineI still think the community isn't interfacing with Valve correctly and that we can still create better relationships with them that could lead to something like a compendium eventually.
What SHOULD be the way the community "interfaces" with Valve? In all my years of randomly checking the forums and seeing you and b4nny post about this subject, neither of you have EVER elaborated what these exact steps are. I don't think people here are unwilling to engage Valve. If you look at the patterns of how people respond to anything related to Valve, it tells me that Valve has not made clear how to communicate. The onus of opening communication is not on the community. It's on Valve. As someone who works a job with a lot of high stakes customers, and communicates fairly often with them (and with other employees), we lay out and make open a very clear way of communicating with us. Hell, we have MULTIPLE ways of that, and we accommodate all of it. I don't know if you're basing what you know off of the meeting we had way back when, but, I don't remember them ever discussing how we can keep a line of communication going. Do you? Or did you just make that up based on speculation?
Can you imagine if a customer you were serving in a restaurant was dissatisfied (in an extremely noticeable way), and then you just sat there and did literally nothing? That's what the Valve + competitive community relationship looks like to me right now.
I do agree with you, though, that the Valve boat hasn't sailed. I just think they're not making the right decisions, or have decided (actively or passively) that it's not worth it to advance things. That, or we'll see said advancements in a way that's not directly related to TF2 (e.g. TF3).
eXtineIf your answer to the question of why TF2 didn't take off as an esport is "Valve's fault" you're not looking at the issue deeply enough.
I don't entirely disagree with what you're saying, but, do you wanna elaborate? Sitting on a high horse like that isn't going to win you points in this community. Evidence and deductive reasoning will (and good shitposts). The thing is, even if it's not their fault, Valve is the one in the position of power and influence, and has been this whole time. They're the ones with the power to make unlock balance changes, bug fixes, map fixes, map inclusion, etc. I'm really loving the fact that there's a pro-mod that's starting to gain legit support AND is making legitimate fixes. While I was still active, and there were only discussions of adopting a pro-mod, I actually was against it (but I never posted about it, that I remember; I didn't feel that strongly, and at the time, the closest pro-mod existing was through minor options in TFTrue), but not too long after I stopped being active, I changed my mind. Valve doesn't even really care about the pub experience, either, let's be honest. At this point in time, it looks like they're doing the minimum to keep a safe, steady playerbase. From what I can tell, they're not interested in sinking even a moderate amount of dev time, much less towards anything more serious than that. What I'm thinking is that they see development targeted at competitive support as high risk AND long term. I don't think either of those estimates are accurate, but this is speculation on my part. Maybe they're right, since they have insider info. But also, maybe they're wrong, because they're still humans who are speculating on the future and can make mistakes. Maybe they just don't feel like doing it.
Also, whatever happened to your anti-banned item stance? Way back when, you were ALL about "adapting" to Valve's item balance and allowing all unlocks. Has that changed? I didn't expect you to advocate for a pro-mod, given what stances you've held in the past. Anyways, piggy backing off of the previous point, I think you should explain what the community could do and advocate for those changes. But if you don't have any concrete actions for the community to act upon, then you're either seeing specters or being unclear. Either way isn't good for advancing the overall goals of doing more for Valve.
My own "controversial" opinion is that I would've loved to have seen more maps and game modes in the map rotation. Another KotH map to complement Viaduct Pro, and a new map to successfully replace Gravel Pit. Something like that. And probably some other stuff, but those were probably the biggest impact that I held an opinion on.
eXtineWe need to continue to focus on growing the fundamentals of the competitive community, stuff like infrastructure (volunteers, admins, leagues/websites), media (Producers, Casters, Streamers, tf2bers), and events (LANs/Tournaments/Pug nights/Newbie MiX).
I agree with you on this, but I don't think you're seeing the entire picture around what you're saying objectively. Growth in the community's infrastructure CAN'T be the only thing that's necessary for Valve to give a shit. It'll take too long and we'll all be retired from every game ever (AKA dead) by the point that we see metaphorical returns, if at all. And the question of how to grow that fundamental infrastructure has a complex answer. On top of that, TF2 looking like it's on the gaming population's backburner is an uphill battle to developing that infrastructure. With a relatively small audience, there's less incentive to invest the time to volunteer/admin/produce besides growing a love of the game (which can only keep you going for so long, as I found out). I don't entirely know what the right answers are to that question, but the status quo is (and has been for a long time) incredibly dangerous for that infrastructure. These league sign ups are most likely correlated to COVID-19, you can't count on the same numbers happening the next seasons. I've seen the cycle of abysmal to massive back to abysmal ESEA team counts even in my relatively short time of being active.
On top of that, maintaining and growing the producer/caster/etc. count is an insane challenge. American network infrastructure still sucks ass except in specific areas/cases, the scheduling logistics are all or nothing (being on the west coast, you definitely get what I mean), and, of course, as we saw last year, that shit can go nuclear at pretty much any moment. When I was admin for TFTV streams, I was CONSTANTLY recruiting producers, backup producers, AND backup to the backup producers. I frequently ran into situations where I had to call in backups. The other issue is that the competitive population is relatively young. They, most likely, haven't seen what a constructive environment can do not just for themselves but for the community as a whole. Creating and making sure that environment keeps up is a whole challenge by itself, for sure. And, just for reference, I definitely didn't know what one looked like, nor how to create it, back then. Can't say I do, now, as a "grown-ass" adult. It's a complicated question.
I really wish I could have. I most likely could have prevented the situation last year, among other things.
Anyways, sorry for the slam post, Jeff. Hope I can make a trip to Portland after the pandemic is over and hang out with you.