Latest News

A Shiny, New(-ish) Look

December 3, 2023 - Waugh101

The imminent 2.1.3 patch is shipping with a new default look for our lighting! This new shading method utilizes Full Lambertian shading, causing more abrupt and noticeable shadows on player models and Engineer buildings.

Players might recognize this lighting style from the promotional shots given out to journalists shortly before Team Fortress 2 went gold. Changed right before TF2’s official release in 2007, TF2 Classic has restored and modified it to make it usable in 2023. Our version is slightly altered to maximize player visibility, and can be toggled at any time in video settings, or by using the ‘tf2c_new_lighting’ console command.



We find this shading helps our visuals feel even more illustrative and brings the game even closer to the work of its artistic inspirations, like J.C. Leyendecker. We hope you enjoy this refined look for our characters!



The Making of KOTH Frigid

September 29, 2023 - Waugh101
We like to start our maps out by basing them around clear, distinct ideas. Usually, our maps are made with the intent of improving upon a perceived flaw with an existing map or mode, or are just built around a strong and interesting central premise. In the case of Frigid, it was initially intended to be a Four-Team, three-point Domination map. However, as the layout came together, the central arena started looking more like a KOTH map. It was decided very early on (before the layout was even complete!) to scrap the other two points and instead focus solely on the central point. This change was primarily made to reduce development complexity, and had the added benefit of introducing a new gamemode to the Four-Team map pool, which is something we’re always interested in.




The map's early versions

With this new gamemode variant also came a new environment theme. The Arctic theme was chosen so we could try a style that isn’t often seen amongst TF2 environments. There’s plenty of snowy maps, but not many that go the extra mile with the icy cliffs and wide-open expanses that you might expect from the Arctic. As with existing environment themes, the Arctic theme carried the advantages of providing an immediately recognizable setting. Importantly for our limited development resources, it didn’t require a large amount of new assets to bring to life, too. It also allowed for similar styles of industrial structures seen in other maps, which helps to maintain the game’s visual identity. As with the alpine theme, we’ll be looking for new spins to put on it with future levels.

The architectural style itself developed in multiple ways as well- originally intended to be much more Brutalist, imposing, and neutral-oriented, it was slowly worked into the current, more industrial research station aesthetic the map has today. As well as the overall style shift, there were also smaller shifts as the map was developed alongside our Four-Team architecture guidelines that put it more in line with what we expect from Four-Team maps.




Evolution of Frigid's visuals

Notice the shift from pure concrete to a mix of somewhat more setting-appropriate materials. From there, the move away from trapezoidal shapes to more grounded and rounder ones.

We thought it might prove fun to provide some development insight through our blog like this. We have more ideas for future topics that we look forward to sharing soon!

Sunsetting LDR and DirectX 8 Support

August 12, 2023 - bobatealee
The year is 2023, and Team Fortress 2 is a very old game. Back in 2007, the Wii was still in its prime, the GeForce FX5500 was a good card, and the future of PC gaming was Games for Windows – LIVE.

After 16 years, the environment has changed. As we aim to improve the TF2 Classic experience for modern PCs, we've planned out some major changes we're hoping to slowly roll out in the near future. Today, we're here to talk about some of these changes.

Forcing HDR (Patch 2.1.2)​

Believe it or not, HDR (High Dynamic Range) rendering in Source is completely different from what would be considered HDR today. It simulates HDR internally and collapses the image down to LDR. Practically speaking, if you have HDR enabled, that means you're using LDR with bloom and auto-exposure effects.

However, due to HDR and LDR coexisting, every map has to be built twice. This is extremely inefficient, as it makes maps take longer to compile and take up more disk space. Furthermore, if a mapper accidentally only built HDR data, lighting wouldn't work at all for players using LDR.

As such, we are forcibly enabling HDR rendering in Patch 2.1.2. This should not have a big performance impact. Additionally, this update will add a slider to our video settings that will allow the user to tweak the bloom effect. If completely disabled, the game should look the same as it did with HDR disabled.

Ending DirectX 8 Support (Patch 2.1.2)​

Older Source games usually allow users to set a lower DirectX level using a launch option like -dxlevel. This forcibly disables a number of graphical features, and is popular among configs and users trying to squeeze out extra frames.

Unfortunately, this has heavy implications for development. Shaders have to be written twice, once for DirectX 8, and once for DirectX 9. DirectX 8 shader development is a lot of effort only to supplement a small user base.

To make matters more complex, there are two "shader models" for Source, Shader Model 2.0b and 3.0, and shaders also have to be written according to the shader model the game is using. Video cards limited to SM 2.0b were already considered "low-end" back in 2008.

Due to all of this, we are standardizing and forcing DirectX 9 with SM 3.0 in Patch 2.1.2 (also known as "dxlevel 95") for TF2 Classic. This is primarily due to a major upcoming shader overhaul that will add new capabilities, fix countless issues, and improve rendering performance.

For mappers, the end of DirectX 8 support means we will also discontinue support for SDK 2013's map compiler tools (vbsp, vvis, vrad). If you're still using these, please consult our wiki guide on how to update your toolset.

Ending Native Linux Client Support (Soon)​

Some time after we roll out the first two changes in Patch 2.1.2, we are planning to eventually end native Linux Client support. The aging OpenGL wrapper that Valve used when porting the game to Linux is incredibly restrictive, as it does not support SM 3.0, preventing us from fixing some graphical issues or adding new shader features.

The OpenGL renderer in itself has several Linux-exclusive rendering and performance issues that we are unable to address. As such, we will instead pivot towards supporting Proton, Valve's compatibility layer for Windows games running on Linux, and focus on fixing any bugs that manifest with it.

Proton's Vulkan-based backend renderer, DXVK, should have better performance and fewer issues for Linux users. Note that this change will NOT affect Linux servers.

Final Notes​

In short, we are force-enabling HDR rendering, forcing the use of DirectX 9 SM 3.0, and dropping support for stock SDK 2013 map compiler tools in Patch 2.1.2. Additionally, we are planning to discontinue native Linux support for clients at a later date.

We're very excited for all of these changes, and will be looking into adding new video options (possibly even graphical presets!) that provide a more accessible and reliable way to get playable frame rates on low-end machines.
Page 1 of 4