There are numerous posts set to come out with changes for the future of Respawn, and we feel it is critical to outline the ruleset and infraction changes first. We've drawn these changes from both the general feedback from speaking with players and by collating the poll data. It is important that we outline again that the previous season of Highlander was heavily experimental, and was run in such a fashion as to gauge interest in crossplay for seasonal leagues going forward, along with heavier use of "pro" versions of commonly loved maps.
With this upcoming season, we are making a number of changes that reflect what we believe people want whilst having to think about what is best for the league.
It is important we note that not all of these changes are purely additions or major changes, many are further documentation to clear up misconceptions or confusion caused, and changes will be reflected throughout our documentation in a few days time.
- We've refined the mercenary rules to make the dispute process a little clearer, along with how mercing players who are class restricted in that division will work.
- We've updated our dispute rule to reflect that we have Alfred, the almighty and powerful support bot.
- Added a condition to the mercenary rules defining that the mercenary has to be within the same region they are being merced for unless they are already playing in that region.
- With the updates to the mercenary rules, we've also added a clause regarding mercenaries already playing that class in a higher division in ozfortress (for example, a Premier ozfortress player trying to play their main in Main for RSL).
- After some internal deliberation, we've added a clause to our policy about Alternate Accounts, allowing us to ban off of evidence that isn't completely 100% proof, but 95%+ heavy suspicion and/or evidence like voices matching.
- Expanded on exploits to include more specific exploits, eg. water jump scoping.
- We've also added a clause to the demo recording rules requiring scrims be recorded in POV demo format and can be requested by Respawn's Anti-Cheat team, and follows all of the same delivery conditions as a POV demo from an official.
- The Emergency Transfer rules are finally in the ruleset and are less forgiving and far stricter than the existing undocumented process.
Using the feedback we received, we went after a few main points of issue; cheating, mercenary rules, the mutiny process and poor captaining leading to disorganization or forfeiting. Many will say that we haven't been strict enough on these points of issue so far and that certain individuals and even entire teams get away with the benefits of this. We want to make it very clear that we hear you, and are making these changes as strict as we can whilst also preserving other aspects that many may not have considered.
- Adding infraction clause regarding public allegations/accusations of cheating and/or purposeful exploiting. We are releasing a page on our docs website specifically outlining the Anti-Cheat process for both you and us, and it will make it immediately clear how accusing someone of cheating is only making our job harder and potentially making those individuals aware of what they need to refine.
- Updated both Tier 1 and Tier 3 infractions surrounding racism, sexism and further bigotry and hate speech. As a league and as individual community volunteers, I think many will agree with us when we say we are fed up with seeing this verbal garbage and will be punishing its use more heavily than ever before.
- Updated many clauses to better deliver their intent.
While the infraction changes seem light on details, we would like to assure you that we plan to make much more use of them going forward.
The Reporting Process for Anti-Cheat and Poor Behaviour
We are already working on updating our documentation for this, basically, you will now submit reports via our Discord bot Alfred, which directly notifies our staff for a quicker response and allows us to directly communicate with you via the bot's Direct Message channel with you. Admin communication is a continuous point of contention for many and whilst we would like to think that the majority that seems fine with how we handle this already are truly fine with it (and just not filling out the poll) we have to be realistic, many of you will not read our news posts or even this one. So going forward we are working on finding ways to better deliver news content to you in a way you will actually either want to consume it in, or at the very least in a more efficient format.
General discussion about last season's poll data
Again to preface this (and we feel it is something that was lost on many), we aimed to make last season heavily experimental to better give us an idea of what we can and should not do going forward, and to test the waters to see how players receive potential exciting changes like crossplay between the regions.
A key point of contention over last season was the maps chosen by the staff team. Many believe Upward Pro makes changes that are unneeded and the general consensus was that Upward is fine as it is. Whilst it is not directly saying "we want it back" (although some did say that) we would tend to agree. As such, we will be passing the feedback onto the map author, but for the upcoming season, we will be returning to standard Upward, with the potential of Upward Pro returning sometime in the future in a map test cup or something of the sort.
Upward Pro was not the only map with a turbulent reception, and whilst percentage-wise the general response to Warmtic was positive, there were more than a few people wanting it gone. Its future in RSL HL, for now, is unknown, but any future use will be on the newer fixed versions released by the Refresh map team.
Like Warmtic, the refreshed version of Steel was used this season and whilst not making any gameplay changes, a few seemed to be confused as to whether or not there were gameplay changes (which there weren't), but going forward we will continue to use the refresh versions of Steel.
Vigil by theatretechie was somewhat of a surprise for us in the poll, its overall reception last season was the highest we've seen in any of our polls, and thus with an almost 70% majority, we will be keeping it in.
For the last map we will discuss here, Prowater received almost identical percentages to Badwater Pro in previous seasons, and are currently deciding what version will be used, or if it will be included in upcoming seasons. To be clear, both scores positively and majority wanted to keep both, but Badwater's popularity, in general, has been on a steady decrease, so we will begin to look at potential replacements. Whether or not that means this season or in the future, we will see.
Our general line of thought when it comes to maps is to try and include the version that will satisfy the majority of players, whilst not having any lurking issues to gameplay or playability. That is why we will be continuing to make use of the Refresh versions of each map going forward as we believe the Refresh team is doing a fantastic job preserving existing gameplay and enhancing it by fixing critical bugs, clipping and oversights by past map authors. We would like to thank everyone in the Refresh team for their continued commitment to updating and preserving these maps for us to play on!
ABBA returning to Playoffs only
The poll results for this were fairly even, and many of the points raised in the additional feedback for it were valid. We feel for now it is important to keep the Regular Season as it currently is, as we've found the more consistent average match time of two maps per week and the added advantages of the points system less heavily favouring map score and focusing more on map wins has helped create a better competitive environment. There are a lot of factors staff need to consider when making a change like this, so going forward, only the Playoffs Season will be using ABBA.
If you are unsure as to what ABBA is, essentially it means each Payload or Stopwatch map is played in "halves" where both teams need to attack and defend once, with the winner managing to either push or hold the set time. ABBA introduces multiple halves by creating a Best of 3 scenarios where one team will need to win two halves to win the map. Many consider this to be the standard used by other leagues and that it provides a more competitive environment.
Many will remember that we originally removed this from both Playoffs and the Regular season a couple of years ago almost, but its selective reintroduction this time around was also prompted in no small part by all of you. One of a few reasons as to why we originally removed it was to improve overall time commitment for teams and players, and since then we have seen an incredible increase in the number of teams, players and especially scrims. With such a large increase in those three, we are more than happy to reintroduce ABBA to Playoffs.
Have more questions you want to be answered?
Feel free to ask in #tf2-discussion or #admin-support depending on its importance, we are more than happy to answer any questions or address issues.
One last announcement
Since I am writing this in advance and don't know when this will release, but this will be the second last post you see from me. I won't spoil too much, but I am leaving you all in the capable and ready hands of omni who take over as Head Admin from this season onwards. I am eternally grateful for the amount of support and opportunities that have been afforded to me over the seasons and ask that you do the same for my successor and for the staff team. At the end of the day we are all volunteers who are trying to preserve the gamemode we love and the community we adore, and while we will disagree on behaviour and even the game sometimes, we are at the end of the day a bunch of people giving up free time to run a league in the most professional manner we can, so please, be nice!
Hey Connor, thankyou for all your hard work. Enjoy your retirement and rest up those old bones king.