Alright, ever since Valve decided to award each class with new weapons the internet has been springing with ideas for their favorite class. Some serious ideas, some not so serious but most of them aren’t exactly the best ideas. I would go as far to say they’re silly. Why is this? Because people seem to think the way you make a new weapon is give it a good side and a bad side to even it out and voila! New weapon! But this is not the way Valve does it despite what most may think. So for those of you too lazy to look into how Valve thinks of new ideas and puts them into play, I will explain to the best of my abilities and maybe one day you will have a good idea that Valve may actually like when they decide to do a second round of new weapons.
For this demonstration I will be using our friendly drunken Scottish Demoman as an example.
Alright, so what do we know about the Demoman? He’s the only class that doesn’t have a weapon that shoots bullets (Beside the Medic) so his weapons are entirely explosive related and in the hands of a good player can wreak plenty of havoc for engineers and anyone else unfortunate enough to fall into a sticky trap. He is labeled as being a Defensive class but can be played Offensively as well. He can use his sticky launcher to launch himself to high and far places if he is in a rush and willing to sacrifice the HP. So that is the Demoman alone, what about his weapons?
The grenade launcher is a fearsome weapon. A normal hit can be up to 132 damage, enough to take out a scout in one hit and a critical grenade can do as much as 300 damage, enough to take out a heavy in one shot! This is great if the target is some distance away but if the Demoman is in close quarters combat using his grenade launcher he can take up to 64 damage from self-damage which means in 3 hits, he’s done for.
The sticky launcher is the Demomans defensive weapon but it can still be a real hard hitter out on the field. The main feature of the sticky launcher is the ability to explode and shoot the Demoman to high places and far distances, a key ability for the Demoman. It can cause as much as 153 damage (And that’s per sticky!) and a critical can cause as much as 353! Enough to take out a heavy and then some. As far as damaging himself it can take away as much as 114 HP, nearly 3/4 of his health. It’s best times are when used to lay down devastating traps or to take out a sentry around a corner. It can fire up to 8 sticky grenades before a reload is needed and the Demoman can only have 8 laid out, anymore and the other grenades start to explode. To put this in perspective, 8 sticky grenades exploding onto a single target can do 592-1224 damage and with criticals 2824. That’s enough to take out roughly 9 Heavies at once while leaving the tenth Heavy heavily wounded. (Heh, Heavy heavily)
The Demomans third and final weapon is his bottle. A simple melee weapon that has the ability to break. When it does break it is a critical hit that can do 195 damage.
Alright, so those are the Demomans vanilla weapons. What are their disadvantages? This is the key part when thinking of new weapons because in order to improve something you have to now WHAT you’re trying to improve but at the same time you have to be fair and give the weapon some real disadvantages. You can’t simply have a weapon idea and not give it any criticals to make it balanced (Valve learned this with the Medics Blutsauger.)
The first disadvantage and by far the most obvious one is that the Demoman is pretty crippled in close combat. Unless he is able to get away from the enemy and into friendly territory fast his only two options are to use his bottle or use his explosive weaponry. The first option is the best option but in times of panic many will rely on the grenade launcher or in rare cases the sticky launcher to dispose of the threat but these weapons damage the Demoman and if he has happened to have already been involved in some combat the self damage from his explosives will only hinder him more.
The second disadvantage is that his weapons, other than his bottle are entirely projectiles like the Soldiers rockets. This means that they can be easily dodged by anyone who happens to have the eyes to spot the incoming grenade and dodge it. This is even more so with the sticky launcher, if the Demoman didn’t lay his trap down perfectly hidden away then the enemy can easily pick off the stickies and the only thing you can do is detonate them, hoping to do some kind of damage or run over to the trap and handle the culprit face to face.
Another disadvantage, this time concerning the grenade launcher, is that if the Demoman is not dead-on with his grenade launcher and a grenade happens to pass his intended target there is hardly a consolation prize. It’s either a hit or miss as far as being out in the open goes but if it’s indoors the Demoman may be able to do some splash damage on his intended target but the most splash damage can do is 64 damage and that’s not enough enough to take out a Sandman wielding Scout. So unless the player has trained with the Demoman mastering the art of flinging explosive projectiles through the air the Grenade Launcher can be a frustrating weapon at times.
Alright so we know the disadvantages and you may be thinking “Well, these problems can be mostly solved by just giving the Demoman some weapon that shoots bullets.” But this ruins what the Demoman is all about and that of course is explosives. Giving the Demoman a shotgun not only ruins his image but seems lazy and makes him like all the other classes. It’s just plain lazy. So now that we know the disadvantages and advantages of each weapon let’s examine each one and try to come up with a possible unlockable.
First up is the grenade launcher. Let’s briefly review, the grenade launcher can do high amounts of damage when it hits a target dead on but if it doesn’t hit the target the splash damage simply cannot compare to the direct hit damage meaning it’s only truly effective with an experienced player. It’s a terrible weapon for close combat because although the chances of it hitting the enemy are higher, so is the possibility of self-damage. Let’s address the latter issue first. So the grenade launcher lobs these somewhat slow projectiles that can be easily dodged (Unless the target is a Heavy) and when it misses, the splash damage is a very small consolation prize. Perhaps a weapon that increases the splash radius as well as the damage it deals? But what about a direct hit from this weapon? Sounds more like a buff of the grenade launcher. Make it so a direct hit from this weapon does little to no damage and instead bounces off the target. Now what about ammo? You cant have such a powerful weapon firing off in groups of four at the rate of a normal Grenade Launcher. Depending on the power of the splash radius it would be a good idea to reduce the clip size to either one or two and add a minor cool down time between each shot. Now think about this weapon idea. It would be very useful to clear out a sentry nest or a group of enemies holding out in an area. However for one on one combat it’s not as effective which means when using this weapon the Demoman would have to be a team player using this weapon to clear the way for his fellow team mates instead of running forward with the ability to kill any class in two hits. But the cool down leaves him open for attack again, making it so he can’t charge forward for the team. It may also be a good idea to make it so once it’s fired the cool down time prevents the player from switching to another weapon or at least have it not cool down when another weapon is wielded so it’s not possible to use this powerful weapon and use a secondary weapon to continue charging ahead.
Now, that is just one idea. Take it as you may but it’s only one of many one could come up with. It addresses the necessity of hitting a target but also can’t be abused. Although admittedly it does not address the issue of close combat but perhaps most importantly, it keeps the identity of the Demoman being an explosives expert intact.
I could go on for another two pages talking about the sticky launcher or the bottle and how you could change them but I wont. I wrote this so people have a general idea of how to think of a serious weapon unlock idea before spouting off something that is either just aesthetically appealing or sounds cool. Now hopefully people will think before the spout off what they have to say and Valve can take the community seriously when they hear these ideas.
Now one final note before I wrap this up.
BAD FORMULA FOR WEAPON IDEAS
Think of why the class is cool => Weapon showing of personality => No crits for balance
GOOD FORMULA FOR WEAPON IDEAS
Think of vanilla weapons good and bads => What area of combat could be improved? => What would be a fair thing to take away? => New weapon idea