July 14, 2009

Spy, Gentlemen

I was tempted to do a rant about the new Tier 9 sets in World of Warcraft (I don't much care for them) but there's little I could say there that hasn't been said on the official forums- one of the "Tier 9 Sucks" threads there have over twenty-five hundred posts. Rather, I'll talk about Team Fortress 2.

I play the Spy. Not that I like generalizing about a person from the way they play, but I think it's pretty fair to say that it says a lot about me that I love playing as a Spy. I don't mean that it says I'm suave or clever or any of that crap, but I think it's totally fair to say that I enjoy mind games way more than I should. Cloaking, disguises, and of course the delicious butterfly knife. Oh the knife... I could write poems about that thing. In fact, if I need a quick post later, I may.

The thing about playing the spy that is so delightful to me is the mind games. When I first got the Dead Ringer, the unlockable item that lets you feign death, I let the same sniper nail me five times in a row just to eff with him. Another time, I disguised myself as a heavy from my own team, with his boxing gloves out, and ran into the enemy base screaming battle cries. When they, naturally, immediately blew my brains out, I feigned death, and while they were marvelling at how weird the experience was, I reappeared behind them, stabbed one, and then bolted.

What's my point here? Well, partially, I wanted to share fun stories, and to chide those who haven't picked up TF2 (seriously, if you don't have the game, you're nuts), but mostly I wanted to say this- first person shooters are fun, no doubt about that. Games like Call of Duty and Killzone are, to my mind, the pinnacle of the conventional multiplayer shooter. Intuitive, fast paced, rewarding, and fun. But sometimes offering the option for atypical play is the best choice that can be made.

In Team Fortress, many players who typically resort to harassing and griefing other players just play Pyro or Spy, because that's how those classes are designed to play. Left 4 Dead allows players to play the part of special zombies who are designed specifically to appeal to disruptive players.

Certain players do not like playing by the rules. They will always be part of your community, you cannot stop them. Even Team Fortress still has them. But by providing them with a way to enhance the experience of other players with the way they normally play, you bring out the best in them... and also help regular players realize the joy of playing like a jerk.

Because really, nothing satisfies quite like the perfect backstab.

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