Originally planned as a free mod for Quake, development on Team Fortress 2 switched to the GoldSrc/Half-Life engine in 1998 after the development team Team Fortress Software – consisting of Robin Walker and John Cook – were first contracted and finally outright employed by Valve Corporation. At the point of Team Fortress Software’s acquisition production moved up a notch and the game was promoted to a standalone, retail product; to tide fans over – since, as well as time issues, much of the Team Fortress player base had purchased Half-Life solely in anticipation of the free release of Team Fortress 2 – work began on a simple port of the game which was released in 1999 as the free Team Fortress Classic (TFC).
Notably, TFC was built entirely within the publicly available Half-Life SDK as an example to the community and industry of its flexibility.
Preview article from Incite gaming magazine, January 2000.
Images [Final Version]:
Walker and Cook had been heavily influenced by their three-month contractual stint at Valve, and now they were working full-time on their design, which was undergoing rapid metamorphosis. Team Fortress 2 was to be a modern war game, with a command hierarchy including a commander with a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield, parachute drops over enemy territory, networked voice communication and numerous other innovations. This initial design for Team Fortress 2 is quite possibly the only game to have spawned a thriving sub-genre without ever being released itself.
The new design was revealed to the public at the 1999 E3, where it earned several awards including Best Online Game and Best Action Game. By this time Team Fortress 2 had gained a new subtitle, Brotherhood of Arms, and the results of Walker and Cook working at Valve were becoming clear. Several new and at the time unprecedented technologies on show: Parametric animation seamlessly blended animations for smoother, more life-like movement, and Intel’s Multi-resolution mesh technology dynamically reduced the detail of on-screen elements as they became more distant to improve performance (a technique made obsolete by decreasing memory costs; today games use a technique known as level of detail, which uses more memory but less processing power). No date was given at the exposition.
In mid-2000, Valve announced that development of Team Fortress 2 had been delayed for a second time. They put the news down to development switching to an in-house, proprietary engine that is today known as the Source engine. It was at around this time that all news ran dry and Team Fortress 2 entered its notorious six-year radio silence, which was to last until July 13, 2006. During that time, both Walker and Cook worked on various other Valve projects – Walker was project lead on Half-Life 2: Episode One and Cook became a Steam developer, among other tasks – raising doubts that Team Fortress 2 was really the active project that would be repeatedly described.
When the Half-Life 2 source tree was leaked in late 2003 three Team Fortress 2 models were included, along with direct references to the game in the stolen source code. They consisted of an alien, Combine-like grunt and a very cartoon-like and out-of-proportion soldier. The code was interpreted by fans as making references to the Seven Hour War, an integral part of the Half-Life story; however, the two leaked player models did not look combine or human.
The Source SDK was released with the Half-Life 2 source code, and also provided references to the game. Some code merely confirmed what was already believed, but other segments provided completely new information, such as the presence of NPCs in multiplayer matches, the possibility of the game taking place in the Half-Life 2 universe, fixed plasma gun and missile launcher emplacements, and more.
None of the leaked information appears to have any bearing on today’s version of the game. This iteration was mentioned in an August 2007 interview with Gabe Newell by GameTrailers, in which he mentions “Invasion” as being the second-phase of Team Fortress 2’s development under Valve Software.
The next significant public development occurred in the run up to Half-Life 2’s 2004 release: Valve’s Director of Marketing Doug Lombardi claimed both that Team Fortress 2 was still in development and that information concerning it would come after Half-Life 2’s release. This did not happen; nor was any news released after Lombardi’s similar claim during an early interview regarding Half-Life 2: Episode One. Near the time of Episode One’s release Gabe Newell again claimed that news on Team Fortress 2 would be forthcoming – and this time it was. Team Fortress 2 was re-unveiled a month later at the July 2006 EA Summer Showcase event.
Walker revealed in March 2007 that Valve had quietly built “probably three to four different games” before settling on their final design. Due to the game’s lengthy development cycle it is often mentioned alongside Duke Nukem Forever, another long-anticipated game that has seen many years of protracted development and engine changes.
The beta features three multiplayer maps which contain commentary on the game design, level design and character design, and provide more information on the history behind the development. The commentary suggests that part of the reason for the intentionally cartoonish style was the difficulty in explaining the maps and characters in realistic terms — questions like “Why would two teams put their bases so close to each other?” become more relevant when there is an emphasis on realism in a game.
The art style for the game was inspired by J. C. Leyendecker, as well as Dean Cornwell and Norman Rockwell. Their distinctive styles of strong silhouettes and shading to draw attention to specific details were adapted in order to make the models distinct, with a focus on making the characters’ team, class and current weapon distinct and easily identifiable.
The commentary also explains why the commander (a single player who sees a top-down map and is responsible for organizing the team) was not included in the final design: it was too hard to make the experience fun given a poor team and a good commander, or a good team and a poor commander.” [info from wikipedia]
The Scout was one of the first TF2 classes that was created when Valve decided to try out a more stylized approach to the game. Various character designs were drawn before find the final one.
Images Concept Arts:
Also, various weapons were removed from the final game and even the levels were a bit different in the beta (as you can see from the videos below) . In the beta version of Team Fortress 2, the Demoman had six grenades to spill out. However, they were removed for balance issues. Many more unused and beta models can still be found in the game’s code, as you can read from Uber Charged!
Images (unused models):
Thanks to FullMetalMC, Ace.Dark and NastyKill for the contributions!