Last month, Team Fortress 2 fans held an online protest to bring attention to the shooter’s bot problem. Developer Valve had been very quiet about the issues raised by the community, but the #SaveTF2 campaign caught the company’s attention, and it said the team would be working to improve things. Last night, Team Fortress 2 got a new update, which doesn’t completely fix the bot problem, but it at least shows players the team is chipping away at long-time issues the game has faced.
The patch notes as they’re written on Steam include mention fixing different exploits, HUD images, and lagging animations dating back to the game’s Halloween event that have persisted since 2013. But a few patch notes specifically address parts of Team Fortress 2’s bot problem, in which bots have swarmed public servers, disrupting games and sequestering players to private servers.
The update prevents players (and bots) from clearing in-game text chat, which was a frequent behavior of bots that were found in the game and prevented players from properly communicating with each other. Bots can also no longer change their username while matchmaking, which some would do to change their names to ones that looked like other players’ so the human player would be mistakenly kicked out of the match instead. These are examples of Valve making small changes on the way to (hopefully) a larger solution.
One of the bigger quality of life changes that has players excited is an update to Team Fortress 2’s vote system, which now allows players to more easily kick troublesome players, and, by extension, the bots. The main change is both teams can now run a kick vote simultaneously, allowing players to more quickly jettison bots from the game.
According to ShorK, one of the members of the #SaveTF2 protest, this has been encouraging for the Team Fortress 2 community, as the quick turnaround on addressing these issues and fixing problems that are years in the making, feels like the most attention Valve has given to ongoing problems in a long time.
“People are happy that they’re taking small measures, but because of this weird, old bug fix, people think Valve might be getting ready to push out more bug fixes and getting stuff fixed, for once. It looks very promising that they’re doing it this way,” ShorK tells Fanbyte.
In the meantime, the community is hopeful that Valve’s public statement acknowledging the campaign will hold the company accountable to fixing these problems. While there’s been no direct communication, the numbers in social media engagement told ShorK and others that Valve knew the community was watching.
“A lot of people were, of course, skeptical, but a lot of people also felt safe because they wouldn’t respond to something this big without actually wanting to do something,” ShorK says. “And now we’ve seen the first part of something. Or at least, we hope it’s the first part of something.”
Following the update, #SaveTF2 started trending on Twitter again.