Responding to an Active Solution to an Idle Threat
August 5, 2013
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On July 10, players found that use of the text mode method for idling no longer received any items via idling in Team Fortress 2. This coincided with an update to Team Fortress 2 that sought to balance out some of the weapons to improve their usability in-game. However, the disabling of idling was not noted in the change logs. Seven days later, Valve officially made an announcement, saying that the point of Team Fortress 2 was for people to play the game, not leave it running for the sake of accumulating virtual items. Thus, this update was in response to the trend and directed at keeping Team Fortress 2 “fair, fun and rewarding”.
- Since honesty is important, I’ll note that I idled with the aim of getting tools and new weapons. The end of idling for me simply means no more spending my Saturday open with the text mode idler and checking every few hours to see what I got. Otherwise, I’ll go back to playing Team Fortress 2 as I’ve always done.
Under the updated system, players only receive items for ‘actively’ playing the game: the criteria on the official Team Fortress 2 website state that an active player is simply someone who is running around and blowing up everything in their environment (i.e. not in text mode and running a single copy of the game). Players who have idled previously will not be punished with a VAC ban, although attempts to negate these updates may violate the conditions outlined in VAC (and will therefore result in a ban). With this announcement in mind, my idling guides are obsolete. Moreover, I do not encourage readers to find countermeasures: there are several guides out there that purportedly allow idlers to work around the system, but as they might involve altering the game client, there is a very real risk of a ban if not done properly. Personally, the effort it’d take to get a few cents worth of virtual items is not meaningful, and moreover, the value of virtual items is insubstantial compared to the worth of one’s Steam account.