It’s no secret that Valve loves to take their time. Half-Life 2 took 6 years of development. Team Fortress 2 took 10 years. Left 4 Dead 2 took 1 yea- oh, wrong example.
But the point is, they take their time a lot. And they’ve even started to apply this to their other projects. Meet the Medic took a good 2 years to make, until it was finally released as part of the Uber Update. So what was Valve doing with that thing for all this time?
In a brand new blog post on the official TF2 site, Valve talks all about the early incarnations of Meet the Medic, why they were canned, what replaced them, why their replacements were canned, and so on, and so forth.
Coming up with a Meet the Team short is a lot like a game of Jenga. 99% of it involves making room for an idea and seeing what happens.
Most of the time what happens is the whole structure collapses. Then you have to figure out why it collapsed and rebuild it, this time making sure to add in some structural support for your idea so it doesn’t bring the whole short down.
As you’ll find out in this Behind the Scenes blog, though, sometimes you can spend so much time adding all that structural support that it’s not until you step back that you realize your short is now nothing but structural support.
You can spend a lot of time building around an idea, in other words, before it occurs to you that the simplest solution is to get a better one.
If there’s anyone else out there who has never played Jenga, don’t worry, you’re not the only person who has no idea what they’re talking about and didn’t catch the analogy. In any case, Valve talks about four different visions, or outtakes, as they call them, of Meet the Medic.
The first one is “Don’t You Die On Me”, which featured the Medic returning from a long vacation only to discover his fellow mercenaries had been keeping busy by getting their asses kicked vigorously by the opposing team. The second one is called “My Darkest Moment”, where the Medic sheds some light on the origins of his beloved medigun through flashing back to his darkest moments – the times he had no medigun.
The third one is “Kill Me”, and continues from the “My Darkest Moment” concept, featuring one of the many attempts to explain the medigun. In here, apparently some stuff blows up, medical equipment falls down, a big puddle turns into a strange electrical condiment mixture that makes funky noises and splashes whenever blood falls in it… and this somehow heals a nearby Heavy and causes a disembodied Spy head to become invincible. Yeah, I didn’t exactly understand much of it.
The fourth one is called “Making Gods”, and appears to continue from the previous two versions. Here, the Medic is shown applying a bit of brainpower in order to actually create the medigun itself. Of course, the problem is, most people don’t actually want the medigun explained. Granted, people might not have wanted the Ubercharge explained either, but for these four incarnations, Valve was simply spending too much time talking about an inanimate object, and not focusing on the actual star: the Medic.
So then they really started working, and the aforementioned Jenga structure got stronger with each new iteration. So then Valve doubled their efforts, and six weeks later, Meet the Medic went live. I would imagine the Jenga structure in question is safe and sound in the Team Fortress offices. Any visitor who might accidentally knock it down is about to get very intimate with Gabe Newell’s knife collection. Because no one messes with Valve’s Jenga structures.
You can find a lot more information, and the actual outtake videos, in this post from the TF2 blog. Overall, a very informative post from the TF2 team. We’d like to see more of these in the future, and not just for Team Fortress videos. We’re just surprised to hear Valve never experimented with a censored edition of Meet the Medic.