The Theory of Gaming

May 22, 2008

On TF2 stealth patch changes

Filed under: Patches — Tags: , , , — spotpuff @ 12:30

CdTrix started a thread on the Valve forums that has been an issue that’s for a long time: stealth patch changes. Valve will issue a patch, list 2 or 3 totally mundane things in the notes, but then you start playing and notice other huge, unlisted patch changes. I don’t understand why this happens as for sure Valve’s programmers know what changes are coming days or weeks ahead of time and “lock down” an update.

Here’s the original post:

We would like to know when the classes are getting balanced with each updates.

for this latest update:
-Right doorway to upper house on second cap first map of gold rush has been removed
-Changed structures on left spawn exit on first cap second map of gold rush
– Decreased rate of fire for the sticky bomb launcher

Gold Rush patch phantom upgrades
– increased rate of fire for sticky bomb launcher
– increased direct fire damage for pyro
– increased burning rate when on fire
– increased mid range damage for heavy
– increased back stab radius for spy (it’s easier to face stab now)
– increased front stab damage from 20 to 60

Random phantom updates
– added doors to granary to prevent scout rushes
– added fence at the last cp on each team for a sentry gun

These are updates that were not published in the “update news/change log”. People will have noticed or not and is subjective to how people play these classes.

Some people don’t notice a difference in heavy mid range damage but some will see the difference in front stab damage for the spy.

Unless everyone is notified of the changes, why make them a “do you feel the difference” type of testing? Just tell us you changed it to test out something and we’ll test it out. I don’t want to come on the forums to see if my theory that X class was buffed or Y class was nerfed.

While some of his numbers are off (front stab I remember being 30, not 20, but lists the damage range as 30-50), I can definitely vouch for the demo sticky launcher nerf.  I think this is good, since after the Gold Rush patch stickies were ridiculous, but a lot of the other stuff is anecdotal.

I added some details in post #61.  Most are speculative, but the Engineer buff was very noticeable and welcome:

I’m surprised people didn’t notice the sticky nerf after the patch yesterday; I was playing demo (and I don’t play demo much at all) and I noticed both the increase from the gold rush patch and the nerf last night; even in set up when laying a bunch of stickies in an area the rate of fire decrease is noticeable.

I look at this post as an informational thing; the stupid thing is Valve knows FOR SURE what they are changing. Why not just TELL us? The gold rush patch seemed to buff soldier rocket crit rate, but I can’t really say for sure. I only noticed it because I play soldier a fair amount and I seemed to be firing a lot more crits than before. I have no statistical evidence to back this up though.

The hard part is “proving” these changes. As the OP said, we cannot undo patches and you can’t play this game offline, so how exactly do you compare between patches?

Attacking the OP is missing the point; there are for sure stealth changes made in patches, and an example was given (gold rush 1-2 door removal). The other changes are up for debate, but other than tremendous foresight of recording demos for everything you want to test in the future NOW (and realistically, how can you know what to test now when we don’t know what is going to be patched later?) due to the inability to roll back patches is a little unrealistic. Hindsight is 20/20; saying the OP should have recorded a video of demo sticky firing rate when he couldn’t have known it would be changed is unfair.

As for anecdotal evidence, there’s a few cases for things:

1. Pyros who KNOW a disguised spy is a spy and start flaming him. Spy charged pyro and stabs the pyro while being lit on fire; and apparent “face stab”. This could be due to changes in how TF2 resolves lag between clients; for sure due to lag people can seem farther away than they are (getting melee’d from 5 feet away is another example of this). A spy could easily be beside you on his screen (valid backstab) but not beside you on your screen (face stab), but when TF2 resolves these inconsistencies it says backstab.

2. Not sure if this is intentional or not, but it seems as a spy if you do the overhand backstab on one person, but then turn and stab someone else in the face, it still counts as a backstab. Only happened to me once and I only knew what happened because I was on vent with the spy who did it; he said he backstabbed someone else, missed with the overhand, and hit me in the face and I died to face stab.

3. A pyro getting the jump on a heavy + medic before had a hard time killing the heavy before the heavy would spin up and kill him but now a fully buffed 450HP heavy will die to a pyro if he doesn’t have his gun spun up. I don’t recall this ever happening before.

4. Sticky rate of fire; getting juggled indoors on gold rush 2-2 (the 2nd floor “small” houses), I noticed I would get juggled into a corner by a demo and he could fire 2 pipes before I even landed. It was a noticeable buff; the debuff for yesterday’s patch was equally noticeable especially when piping an area as a “trap”.

5. I don’t believe this change was listed in patch notes; engineers trying to upgrade guns that are shooting now will drain more metal but also refill the gun’s ammo in addition to the 25 ugprade per swing. This is a HUGE change and makes upgrading sentries much easier; previously when you wrenched a sentry that was firing, you would only use up 2-3 metal and refill the gun’s ammo but you would NOT get to upgrade the gun. This made setting up guns very difficult. Now, though, you use up say 32 metal per swing but refill the gun’s ammo AND the gun gets 25 upgrade. You use up metal faster, but the gun upgrades faster and as I’m sure most engineers can attest to, getting a gun to level 2 quickly is really important. I am not sure if you can also repair a gun and upgrade it at the same time now, I don’t think you can, but am not 100% sure.

I do not remember reading about the engineer change for sure, but the rest of the changes are anecdotal and “feel” based. Maybe it’s just play styles that have changed, and not the classes, but it’s impossible to tell right now since as mentioned several times we cannot uninstall patches.

The main issue I have with the flaming and mod response is we cannot undo patches.  How the heck are we supposed to test if we can’t undo patches?  We cannot know what Valve is going to patch next since the patches are unannounced, so how do we know what to record now for later?  If you don’t know rocket jump  range is going to be buffed then how would you know to record a video of it now?



  1. Anecdotal evidence is always presented in these cases. Personally I am not at all convinced 90% of these ‘stealth patches’ ever happened. No doubt Valve does leave things out, but I suspect it isn’t quite the deep conspiracy you’d suspect from reading people’s ramblings on the forums. Give me some real evidence! Some statistics gathered before and after! Multiple studies! Too much to expect I suppose. Perhaps nobody cares until they play a bad round or five in the game and are trying desperately to prove it wasn’t their own fault?

    Comment by Mike Tomasello — May 28, 2008 @ 7:58

  2. I agree with you that anecdotal evidence is usually presented in these cases. However, I think the last paragraph I wrote sort of gives the reasons why that’s generally the only information that can be given.

    Valve has, in the past, made fairly significant gameplay changes without letting us know, e.g. sniper rifle non-headshots cannot crit. The other supposed changes to pyros, heavies and demos are a lot harder to notice/prove without foresight, and unfortunately there’s no way of knowing what is going to be patched. That’s exactly why I wish Valve would just come out and say what they changed from patch to patch.

    A lot of people say they don’t care and they just play, and I have no problem with that approach to the game; it’s just not the approach I like to take. I like to have all information available to me. I’m sure those people don’t read patch notes/manuals/strategy sites either, they just play and become uberleet on their own. I on the other hand suck and need help to win!

    Comment by spotpuff — May 28, 2008 @ 9:20

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