A Design Exercise: TF2’s Heavy Class

2 Jul

The aim of this site is in part to entertain and provide news, but its primary focus is undoubtedly to provide new and aspiring game designers with some insight into what it is exactly that designers do.

So, in an effort to build a working knowledge of the game design process for readers, I’m going to be starting these exercises.

Here’s the jist of it: We will present a compelling game design problem and give you some restraints and limitations to work within; once you have a solution that you feel satisfies the requirements post it in the comments section.  All of the comments will be read and evaluated, and the top three will be reviewed in a follow-up article, detailing what those designs do well and what they do poorly.

Unlike the Design Challenges we also hold on the site there will be no cash prize, as we hope to run this more often than the contests.  You will, however, grow as a designer.  Besides, it’s fun.

Down to business then.

Valve has released some info on how they’re going to go about updating the Heavy class in Team Fortress 2.

The challenge will be to design a new weapon for the Heavy.

Here’s the primary design goal Valve has set:

Goal: Make the Heavy more viable when he has no Medic to pair with.

Here are the constraints you’ll be working with:

  • It shouldn’t have a cumulative effect when being healed by a Medic as well. Heavy/Medic pairs do pretty well as it is.
  • It shouldn’t significantly change the Heavy’s role, relative to other classes. In particular, it shouldn’t significantly encroach on another class’s role.
  • It should be understandable for both the user and the player it’s being used on.

For more info, please visit Valve’s blog; they list some other important issues to take into account.  For instance, you should take design economy into consideration: Can you make a small change that results in a big payoff?

Good luck, and have fun. 🙂


6 Responses to “A Design Exercise: TF2’s Heavy Class”

  1. SoMuchBetterThanSasha July 4, 2008 at 10:27 am #

    When I play as a lone heavy it’s frustrating because I often stood almost no chance to defend myself. It’s either a headshot from across the map or a backstab even though I just fucking spychecked or some stickies hidden out of my line of sight… *sigh*

    Anyways, here’s some ideas…


    Remove MiniGun AltFire

    This applies to the standard minigun or any similar ideas! It wasn’t stated specifically as a Heavy goal but Valve said they wanted characters to have skill curves when talking about the pyro update. Skilled players can achieve the same effect as the altfire by timing left clicks properly. Miniguns usually work like this in games, CoD4 and GRAW2 do it well for example. It’s time to take the training wheels off the minigun and free up a functionality slot: get rid of the altfire!

    Bye Bye Boomstick

    The shotgun is rarely useful, the minigun takes a couple seconds to warm up but the firepower makes up for it more often than not. Lots of people are suggesting a shotgun revamp that turns it into a double barrel or whatever – I don’t think this is the way to go. Shotguns are close-medium range weapons with high damage (that falls off quickly) and lots of scatter. The minigun could be described similarly. And so I think that as long as the Heavy has both a shot and minigun, there will always be too much overlap for neither one to emerge as near dominant.

    Ok so now the 2ndary weapon and mini-gun alt-fire slots are free for new functionality!

    New Weapons

    The Obvious

    The TF2 blog recently revealed that the Medigun’s heal rate depends on how long it’s been since the target was damaged. Playing off this, a straightforward way to increase the Heavy’s solo viability without affecting the heavy-medic combo could come in the form of an alt-fire heal. It starts healing the heavy if it’s been X seconds since the last heal. It could ramp up and would also work well to counteract another weakness the heavy has: running back to get a healthpack takes forever. It’s not the most original idea – it’s basically just an adaptation of the health regeneration mechanic found in absolutely every shooter nowadays but I think it does well to meet Valve’s goals to strengthen the Heavy’s current role. It’s not my favorite idea because it doesn’t solve the problems I encounter.

    Heal, Revisited

    A funnier variation could be a taunt-triggered heal. Every time the player decides to taunt with the minigun equipped, the game shows a brief (3-5s?) animation in 3rd person of the heavy hugging Sasha (the minigun). The player isn’t able to perform any other actions while the animation plays. If it healed for 50 HP each time, it could be a fun way to regain HP ooc. One of the pyro’s taunt’s that casts a little hadoken fireball deals damage, so this idea wouldn’t even be too far fetched. Alternatively a new animation or action that performs the same functionality could also be mapped onto the alt-fire.

    The Cricket

    Remember it from Men in Black (this thing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBhHdsKBcnc couldn’t find a video of it in action)? This dinky looking thing packs a lot of bang for its buck but it’s all show. This new 2ndary weapons is best saved for late emergencies. Ammo might be infinite, but it takes 30seconds to charge after spawning or reloading. The intense beam of energy that surges out the front does… largely nothing, about the same damage as a shotgun blast would have. All the cheeseburgers in the world however are no match for the knockback force and the heavy goes flying a good rocket jump’s length backwards. It could be used for quick retreats or offense… imagine the terror on the sniper’s face when the heavy that was so far away a second ago is now coming thundering down, minigun already spinning up. Maybe it’s a little wacky but then again all of TF2 is. It would enhance the Heavy’s role because it’s basically a way of quickly changing strategic positioning and doesn’t stack with medics because by using it the heavy effectively removes himself from heal range.

    Anyways… this has been spinning around in my head since Valve posted so I just wanted to get it written down, I might think of more later heh.

  2. StillBetterThanSasha July 5, 2008 at 12:34 am #

    Get Up Dummkopf!

    Medics gain the ability to give fallen heavies a swift kick in the butt to get them back into the fray with 1 starting HP. It works like a taunt, the medic renders himself defenseless for the duration of the animation – better hope the sniper or spy that got the heavy isn’t still hiding somewhere… The ability only works on killed but not gibbed heavies (if characters take a lot of explosive damage they gib into pieces of meat). I think this is my new favorite idea, mainly cause it solves the problems I have with the class and plays off the already existing medic – heavy relationship. It’s too risky to use in battle so it should mainly work to drastically reduce the downtime for heavies that got picked off as easy targets on the fringes.

  3. Kohyunu July 5, 2008 at 9:45 am #

    Perhaps a slightly increased running speed when firing/or readying his Minigun, and a bit more ammo. 250~300 maybe?

  4. Nobodyis>Sasha July 6, 2008 at 12:34 am #


  5. scottmorin July 8, 2008 at 5:45 am #

    Old Weapons

    Old Main Weapon (Sasha)
    No change needed.

    Old Secondary Weapon (Shotgun)
    No change needed.

    Old Secondary Melee (Barbed Wire and Rubbing Alcohol)
    One hand is wrapped in barbed wire and the other hand is wrapped in an alcohol soaked rag. On their own they act the same as the old regular heavy punch, but if the player manages to punch an enemy with barbed wire first then follow up with a punch with the alcohol wrapped fist, it guarantees a critical hit.

    New Weapons

    New Main Weapon (Yasha and Roids)
    The heavy loses his beloved Sasha and instead gains a one handed, lighter mini gun in his right hand and a syringe full of roids in the other. The smaller mini gun, Yasha, would need no ramp up but the damage would be decreased. Replacing the ability to spin the barrel (alt-fire) would make the heavy inject himself with the steroids or stim-pack or what have you, and take 50-75% less damage for 5-10 seconds. This new alt-fire would be either on a timed cool-down or something the heavy must build up (like the medi-gun) by killing enemies.

    Now the only problem I foresee with this combo is that it is cumulative with a medic but this can be easily bypassed. It could be explained that when the heavy has injected himself with the chemicals that he is unable to be healed for X amount of seconds.

    New Secondary Weapon (Blood Thirsty Shotty)
    The whole point of the shotgun is for when the heavy is on the move and doesn’t want to waste Sashas ammo or slow down running speed to start spinning the barrel. To change up this play style as well as making the heavy more viable without his German friend is to give guaranteed critical hits to anyone who is currently being healed by a medic. This is perfect for when the heavy runs around a corner only to encounter a pyro-medic combo super close with his shotty out.

    New Melee Weapon (Boxing Gloves)
    The heavys big mitts are covered in big red boxing gloves. As a result the heavy loses the ability critical and gains a knockback ability (like the pyros). The heavys normal melee is rarely used and usually because the player isn’t really trying to play rather just trying to be silly.


  1. Design Review: TF2’s Heavy Class « Vancouver Game Design - July 9, 2008

    […] Review: TF2’s Heavy Class Thanks to everyone who participated this week!  Valve was nice enough to give the site a look-see, and plan to update their TF2 blog […]

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