Are the best things in life free? I’m trying to think of my happiest moments, and there’s always a price tag associated with anything I’ve ever enjoyed. Laser tag, coffee, dressing up as Ron Swanson for Halloween, the Internet, house parties, Super Nintendo, Italy – these all have some sort of cost involved. A troubling note being that I literally cannot think of anything else better than what I’ve listed. Sure, sunrises are fantastic, but it’s at the cost of our planet careening towards the Sun on a slow but steady trajectory. Filipino boy-girl prostitutes? Chlamydia. Going to William’s wedding and drinking copious amounts of free liquor and dancing with Stephanie’s cute bridesmaids, all on Bill’s tab? Having to look at his facial hair. Getting Nic to do all of the website work for Podcast17 without a wink of effort on our part? Having to deal with Nic’s ruthlessly efficient dictatorship. PlanetPhillip.com? Phillip.
So no, nothing is free, let alone the best things.
With that said, I would also like to think that just having the most expensive things doesn’t automatically make you happy. For instance, there is nothing in this world I desire more than an Aston Martin DB9. I painstakingly yearn for it more than my next breath. I would happily stride a lit V2 rocket poised toward a brick wall for the chance of a single night amongst the roads littering the English Riviera with one, and chances are slim that I will have the opportunity. But in all honesty, by the sixth hour you could probably put me back in my 108 brake horsepower beige Toyota Yaris and I wouldn’t know the difference. Such is the way with lavish things.
This, I feel, is exactly what happened with TF2, and is exactly why I never spend more than $8 on a pair of shoes. I bought TF2 at the height of its incredible-ness, when it was a measly $50, included in a breathtakingly economic Orange Box, along with Half-Life 2, Episode One, Episode Two, and Portal. I even have the TF2 badge (Before William got his) to prove it. It came cheaply, and it stayed with me, not because I felt indebted to the money I spent on it, (The only reason I played Starcraft II was because I felt obligated by the ridiculous $60 price tag) but because I enjoyed its hatless warfare and meaningful teamplay.
Over the years, however, TF2 put on a bit of weight and started wearing ridiculous outfits hidden in a closet I had no idea existed. It began asking to borrow my credit card, and started staying out late at night. It would come home in the morning smelling of stale cigarettes and cheap whiskey, slowly losing its appeal to me. Needless to say, we grew apart.
Not all was lost, however, hadn’t we had our differences, I never would have met my true love, Fortress Forever, but more on that next week.
So four years later, (Oh my god, it’s been four years since the Orange Box. (a) I’m so old; and (b) Speed it up Newell) Valve makes a huge announcement. My ex-partner in the video based computing games, Fortress de la Team Dos, is now free to play. Free. Free fifty. $0.00, USD, GBP, and A$30.00 AUD (See what I did there, Glenn?) And gone is the trivial amount of money players once had to forfeit in order to play what I would say is arguably the most accessible and enjoyable multiplayer video game anyone can play. Exception of course, being Amnesia with your friends on Skype, so you can hear their listless sobs as they run away from the thing.
So what’s changed? How has this affected us? Kotaku, in its infinitely useless and ostentatious way, helped demonstrate with an article just how much I hate the site. After reporting on a fairly arbitrary script made by the community that kicks non-premium members (There are hundreds of scripts that do hundreds of stupid and menial things, why comment on this), the users of the dictator website then went on to demonstrate their absolute idiocy by commenting how the new players of the community are ruining the game. Yes, that’s right. There are people on the Internet who find slaughtering newbies with rocket launchers and machine guns disagreeable. God forbid the easy pickings accidentally skew their scores in a positive light – what will happen to us poor souls?
Presumably, these people were never newbies to begin with. Unlike us mouth breathers, they sprang forth from the womb wielding a keyboard in one hand, and an indignant pen of judgment in the other. Rocket jumping came to these individuals as teat suckling would to anyone else, and hence, they shan’t accept anything less than the most worthy of opponents in their Internet video gaming – in their spare time, practicing against aimbots in lieu of humanoids.
Anyways, with TF2 free, the game is better. I think. Besides mowing down the new guys, I feel there’s been a fresh breath of life into the game with the new monetary system Valve has in place. Making money from meaningless things like hats and rarer weapons is great. It means people like me can enjoy their game while they make money, without having to take the budgetary leap of faith to try it, which is great. I can now suggest TF2 to any of my friends under the guise of “It’s free” instead of “It’s awesome” in the knowledge that they’re going to try it since free always trumps good. Just look at how many pitiable tools make vlogs on YouTube – free of charge of course, but to great success by the wandering confused masses.
Emanuel said, from his glass house, birdapault poised in the distance.