It’s pretty safe to bet that new cosmetics will have something to do with the next generation of presents, due to a “Scream Fortress 2014″ Workshop tag being the only clue we’d received up until the recent blog post, but for more specifics, we’ll have to wait and see. I just hope Valve’s execution doesn’t cause too many complaints.
~aabicus, as Scream Fortress 2014 approached

Valve’s execution caused many complaints. Honestly it was the worst possible interpretation of the present system yet.

Make it stop... Picture by FeelGoodInc.
Make it stop… Picture by FeelGoodInc.

For those who weren’t there (or blanked the experience from their memory banks) Valve’s first clue as to how the new present system would work came with this blog post dedicated to the topic. Three parts apologetic and one part ambitious, Valve discussed how the previous versions of the present system didn’t work out how they hoped and how they had a new system planned that they hoped would alleviate the problem. In particular, the part they really didn’t like was how some people would create idling servers that let them teleport around the various gift spawns while idling, letting whole servers of players farm the gifts like nobody’s business. “While some farming accounts claimed more than five hundred gifts just last year,” it notes, “the median numbers of gifts claimed was only five.” It goes on to note that in order to combat this, players will first receive a present just for logging in. Then they can get a second present by completing achievements, and “put together, these two bundles will grant more items per player than the median five gifts from last year.

The event started, and Valve wasn’t kidding: each present released three new Halloween cosmetics, and six is more than five. Too bad that was literally the only way to get the new cosmetics without buying them from the Mann Co. Store, meaning that Valve basically just removed every aspect of the present system. And while it may seem odd for me to complain about that when it’s never done anything but suck, I can’t help but be a little bitter about the tone and content of the blog post they used to justify it. The post is almost entirely economy-focused, never once mentioning that the real problems with the present systems were the horrible things it did to gameplay, most notably the ridiculous amount of scouts. It then goes on to cite Idle servers are the real problem, as if the players care that somebody’s farming Halloween spells. Guess what Valve, that’s something that might bother you at the developer, but it actually doesn’t affect us in any way. In fact, it makes it better because the stuff will be dirt cheap due to inflation and we can afford what we want off the market for pennies. Because god knows relying on RNG presents to get what we want is an exercise in tedium.

It’s fitting Valve used a crystal ball to define a system where you have no idea whether you’ll get what you want.

On that note, Valve’s new system did the exact opposite. There were so few of every Halloween item in circulation that everything was stupidly expensive on the Market. Some things like Mr Mundee’s Wild Ride was so coveted that it was routinely more expensive than just buying it from the store, especially if you wanted it in strange or Haunted form. That’s certainly a good thing for Valve, but it’s insulting that they’d try to pretend this was somehow better for the players as well. And don’t get me started on the “more items per median” bit that I quoted from the passage above. Using the phrase ‘you’ll get more than X!‘ to mean ‘exactly X+1‘ is a dick move no matter how you look at it and should be reserved for used car advertisements and Tinder profiles, not smiling attempts to justify a cash grab to a community you are about to screw over.

Scream Fortress 2015 will be here in just over a month, and a lot of people have added some kickass Halloween items to the Workshop despite knowing they’re going to make jack for money, and it’s almost certain that we’re going to get presents again. I almost wish we didn’t, because it’s a kick in the pants every time, but who knows. Obviously there’s a chance Valve strikes gold and releases a present system just as awesome as the real-life one it’s based on, but after that blog post I’m not optimistic. At least the map itself is almost always a crazy fun racket.