Factoids and Questions
OF Team | June 29, 2022
Hello once again, fellow Mercenaries!
First things first: the Open Fortress website has been given a brand new coat of paint, as part of a wider overhaul of OF’s visual language and design style. We’ll be introducing these refinements to the game proper in the future; for now, you can get a taste of it on these very pages. Check it out! Tell your friends! Embrace the power of purple and sepia!
Secondly, it’s now been over a month since we reopened downloads, and in that time we’ve been paying close attention to some of the questions that players, fans and the community have raised. Why am I shooting at men in colorful jumpsuits? Where did all these guns come from? Why are you in my house? These and many more pressing FAQs will be addressed right here, right now…
Q: What is Open Fortress?
A: Open Fortress is a free Team Fortress 2 mod that introduces new gamemodes, weapons, characters, maps, and more to the world of TF2. These additions, crafted by over a hundred community contributors, build upon the iconic mid-century aesthetic of TF2, the gameplay features of classic FPS games, and the creativity and innovation of the Source engine modding community.
Q: Is Open Fortress an arena shooter?
A: Partially! While the Deathmatch gamemode certainly takes inspiration from classic arena shooters and delivers a modern spin on their established gameplay features, it is only one of many gamemodes that are planned for inclusion in OF. Think of these other gamemodes as “games within a game”, each one utilizing the same core mechanics and visual style, but also incorporating wildly different gameplay features and unique narrative conceits.
Q: What happened to the reverse engineering project? Will the game remain open source?
A: When we originally approached Valve with our reverse engineering efforts, they requested that we shut down OF Base, our codebase of reverse engineered gameplay code. Due to Valve’s request and despite our best efforts, OF will remain closed source indefinitely; in layman’s terms, you won’t be able to create your own mods using OF code. However, we may release a few snippets of our own code and other standalone systems for the community to use.
Q: Can I apply to be a developer on Open Fortress?
A: Not right now - we are currently working on a more formalized screening and application process for potential developers, to ensure that the development team is as cohesive as possible and to avoid the potentially unsavory results of letting anybody in without question (as was the case in the early days of OF). However, even though dev applications are currently closed, we still appreciate the enthusiasm and creativity of the OF community when it comes to development-adjacent matters such as modeling, mapping, music, etc. Sharing your fan work on the OF Discord server or on social media is strongly encouraged; the Discord server also has a dedicated channel (#pull-requests) for directly submitting files and fixes for consideration by the OF team.
Q: What’s the backstory of the Deathmatch gamemode?
A: In a nutshell - it’s the 1970s, and the Gravel Wars are finally over. Mann Co., TF Industries and the RED and BLU teams have all collapsed, with the whereabouts of both the Administrator and Olivia Mann currently unknown. The resulting power vacuum has caught the attention of mysterious shadowy figures from the global criminal underworld, who have begun employing freelance mercenaries to carry out their top-secret orders; these mostly consist of looting the now-abandoned facilities of the old megacorporations, rumored to contain top secret experimental weapons and mysterious artifacts of incredible power. For more information, check out the briefings for individual maps - there’s a lot you can learn about the current state of the TF world from those humble chalkboard messages.
Q: What parts of the TF2 lore are considered canon in OF?
A: Pretty much all the events of the official TF2 timeline are fair game, including the Team Fortress Comics series. However, with the seventh and final installment of TF Comics currently unreleased, we have chosen to keep the aftermath of a hypothetical Issue #7 intentionally vague, only setting a few basic facts in stone (the disappearance of the Administrator and Olivia Mann, the bankruptcy of Mann Co) and keeping our focus on the here-and-now of the groovy ‘70s. As far as that decade is concerned, almost anything goes!
Q: What are your worldbuilding goals?
A: We’re embracing the opportunity to venture further out into the wider world of Team Fortress, beyond the confines of RED, BLU and Mann Co. In particular, the hyper-masculine, chaotic presentation of TF2 from 2010 onwards has been considerably downplayed, and references to characters such as Saxton Hale and the TF2 mercs will mostly act as brief namechecks rather than fully-fledged crossovers. Instead of making the world of OF feel small by focusing only on these established characters and companies, we’re essentially treating it as a soft reboot, with a broader goal of spoofing the media, attitudes, aesthetics and politics of the ‘70s, just as TF2 did with the ‘60s. Outside of Deathmatch, expect the upcoming Retro Mode to feature direct nods to Team Fortress Classic, both in its original form and its later inclusion within the established timeline of its sequel. There might even be a few nods to the granddaddy of them all, Quake Team Fortress…but we don’t want to give away too much just yet!
The Gameplay Experience
Q: How do you bunnyhop in Open Fortress?
A: To bunnyhop, simply hold the jump button (usually Space, but it may differ depending on your keybinds) and airstrafe - pressing the left and right direction buttons (usually the A and D keys) while moving your mouse in the corresponding direction. Practice bunnyhopping whenever you get the chance - you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
Q: Help! I’m not used to games being this fast-paced, and I’m feeling discouraged. Is there anything I can do to improve?
A: The mile-a-minute pace of Open Fortress can be overwhelming at first, especially for players who are new to arena shooters or Source engine games. With that in mind, it helps to take a step back and focus on one area of improvement at a time; for example, maybe your aim isn’t as precise as you’d like it to be, or maybe you find that other players are always beating you to weapon spawn points. Whatever it is, identify what you want to prioritize, experiment with different approaches, and if you find one that works for you, stick with it - the journey to becoming the best merc possible may take a while, but it’s worth it. (And don’t forget that above all else, having fun triumphs over victory!)
Q: Why isn’t [X gameplay feature] more like it is in [Y game]?
A: One of the goals of Open Fortress Deathmatch is to bridge the gap between the strategic class-based gameplay of TF2 and the fast-paced mobility-oriented gameplay of classic arena FPS games. In melding the two types of game together and ensuring that fans of each side of gameplay are not alienated, there are inevitable compromises that have to be made. For example, dropped weapons and ammo boxes have physics rather than stay at the point of the player’s death, and the available weapon pool is rooted in its TF2 equivalent above all else, with a broad variety of melee, hitscan and projectile weapons. We hope that this fusion of gameplay styles is above all else enjoyable and refreshing for veterans of both camps, as well as to players new to both arena and class-based shooters.
Q: Why isn’t Open Fortress more like [X Source engine mod]?
A: Each of the many TF2 mods of recent years has their own take on TF2; there are many different approaches for gameplay and presentation, and many different ways to contextualize them within Valve’s own design philosophy. Just because one mod team does something a particular way, it doesn’t mean the others have to follow suit. This is the case with Open Fortress; we have our own unique goals that we’re following, just as Pre-Fortress 2, Team Fortress 2 Classic and Dating Simulator Fortress have theirs. (Disclaimer: one of these mods does not exist. Yet.)
Q: Why is the launcher called OFtoast?
A: The short answer is that we accidentally misspelled “test” during development and the name stuck. The medium answer is that it’s the Merc’s favorite food, and he won’t accept any assassination contract unless it allows him to take a break for his midday BLT. The long answer is that you can think of the launcher like a literal toaster - taking a slice of bread (your computer), toasting it (installing Open Fortress onto it), and then presenting you with the toasted bread so you can get on and eat it (presenting you with a complete OF install so you can get on and play it)! Admittedly the metaphor doesn’t extend to cover the OF equivalents of burnt toast, electrical fires or mutated bread monsters, but hey, we’d love to hear from you if you can figure out what those would possibly be.
Q: Is development on Deathmatch finished?
A: Not yet! Although Deathmatch is essentially playable in its current form, there are still many additional features that we are working hard to finish. These include (but are by no means limited to) new voicelines, animations, UI refinements, support for sub-gamemodes such as MCTF and Duel, new maps, new weapons and power-ups, anti-cheat features, and general optimization. In addition, the simplicity and flexibility of Deathmatch means that features and systems designed for it can be reused in other gameplay modes in the future; this, combined with the experience of the OF team, means that development on future gamemodes should progress much faster than that of Deathmatch.
Q: What other gamemodes will be added to Open Fortress after Deathmatch?
A: Once DM finishes development, our next focus will be on Retro Mode, a spruced-up recreation of Team Fortress Classic that bridges the personality, painterly visuals and backstory of TF2 with the Half-Life derived environments, unique gameplay features and military theme of TFC. Beyond that, we hope to begin development on a new gamemode called Espionage, which we’ll be keeping mostly under wraps for now - as is befitting of its name.
Q: Will the OF team be adding more classes to Deathmatch?
A: No. In order to ensure precise game balance, the Mercenary has been and always will be the only available class within Deathmatch. If you really want to see how the TF2 classes play in Deathmatch, they can be enabled by entering the developer console and typing in the following command: “of_forceclass 0”.
Q: Will any additional weapons be added to Deathmatch?
A: Yes and no. The baseline arsenal for Deathmatch is essentially complete, with only the flamethrower needing more refinement, so we don’t have any plans to add any new base weapons. However, more super weapons will be added further down the line, as their map-by-map nature means they can be incorporated without disrupting existing gameplay balance. Several new super weapons are currently in development - we’ll have more news on them soon!
Q: What is the current status of bot support?
A: Support for bots in OF is being rebuilt from the ground up, as we’ve had to remove any and all Nextbot code from the mod. The bots are basically functional in their current state, but they still require significant refinement to their AI in order to bring them up to par with human players. Expect the finished bots to accurately recreate behaviors such as switching between situation-appropriate weapons on the fly, prioritizing important item pickups, and more!
Q: Will the OF team be updating the UI?
A: Yes! We are currently developing a consistent and comprehensive overhaul of Open Fortress’ visual language and design style, both in the game and in secondary promo materials, including the recent refresh of the very website you’re reading this on. This overhaul will involve changes to the UI, so stay tuned…
If you have any more questions, feel free to reach out on our official Discord server!