In the old days, the world of video games was an ever so simple place. The Games Developers, Games Designers and Games Artists made the games whilst we, the consumers bought and played them. The growing influence of the Internet in the 1990’s started to change this traditional pattern, and creating mods of existing games became popular among PC gamers. For example Counter-Strike is one of the most popular shooters in the history of online gaming, yet it started life as a modification for Half-Life. It went on to spawn numerous other incarnations including Counter Strike: Source and has sold very successfully since its release in 2004.
So, we’ve established that it’s possible for modders to use existing engines to produce extremely successful games. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or indeed the know how needed to build games (Naturally, a Train2Game course can help you work around these barriers.) However, now in 2010, it’s never been easier for a budding Games Designer, Games Developer or Games Artist to get involved with the production of a big name title, and Team Fortress 2 is the best example of this.
“Why is that?” I hear you ask. Well, the guys at Valve are extremely keen for the Team Fortress 2 community to get involved with the ongoing development of the game – for those unfamiliar with TF2 it has received free rolling updates since its release at the end of 2007. Hats for the in-game characters were introduced in 2009, and in March this year, Valve asked players to contribute their own ideas for in-game items. They received a massive response and shortly afterwards several budding designers were rewarded by seeing their work (re: mostly designs for hats) become part of official Team Fortress 2 universe. A second round of community updates has been applied today too!
So now you might be saying “Hats are silly, why do people care so much about them?” Well they don’t want them to give them an in game advantage that’s for sure; the hats are purely there for aesthetic reasons. But these comic creations allow players to add an aspect of individuality to themselves in-game and as a result are highly desired. The community I play with probably talk about hats as much as they do about the actual game they’re playing in!
With these hats being regarded so highly, the lucky few people who’ve had their designs adopted officially by Valve for Team Fortress 2 will have been seen – and perhaps fetchingly sported – by millions of players.
One TF2 fan called Mister Royzo has gone so far as to release his own (for now) unofficial update containing new skins for a number of the current in-game hats and weapons. So as of yet, these aren’t hats in their own right but just replace others. BUT apparently Valve have taken a liking to what they’ve seen, so is it possible we could soon end up with the first fan-made official Team Fortress 2 update? Possibly…after all with Valve (hopefully!) soon to be releasing the long awaited Engineer update, all of the games nine classes will have been covered so perhaps fans will be invited to submit their own suggestions for entire updates.
If this does indeed happen, the gap between developers and players will be even further reduced and there arguably will have never been a better time anyone, including T2G students, to get their first big break in the industry.