Revisiting The Great Class Dash: TF2's Side-ScrollerS

Yesterday we were tipped to a video of Team Fortress 2, imagined as a side-scrolling platformer. Today I checked back with the creator for more details on this game and was assured he's serious about completing the project.

Dylan "Steaky" Loney (that's "Steak-y," as in the cut of meat), says his 2.5D Team Fortress 2 scroller is a Canabalt-esque game covering nine four different levels. The objective won't be to shoot down or defeat enemies, but to run through the levels in the fastest possible time. Players can switch between all nine classes, Trine-style, to get through obstacles and past enemies. The first level, for example, features only the Scout. Level two uses the Scout, Heavy and Sniper, and levels three and four involve everyone else.

No promises, says Loney, but he hopes to have it ready by the end of this month.

"I just called it Team Fortress Racers as I was working on it [in December]," Loney said, "but lately the name's changed to The Great Class Dash. I'm horrible at naming stuff, though. So if anyone has a better suggestion, I'm all ears."

OK, but what is this, exactly? A map? A mod? Something in between?

"Technically, it's a map," Loney says, "because it runs straight from TF2. There's also no custom coding, which I think people usually associate with a mod. With that said, though, it uses a huge amount of in-game scripting to completely modifiy the gameplay. So I guess it is both."

The Great Class Dash's calling card is its 2.5D perspective, which we've seen in throwback reboots like Bionic Commando: Rearmed and Matt Hazard: Bloodbath and Beyond. Loney says that was actually very easy to accomplish. "There are console commands built into TF2 that allow for a third-person camera, and you can change its position to make a side-scroller," he explained.

Revisiting The Great Class Dash: TF2's Side-ScrollerS

"More complex was building the levels, which brings a lot of design problems," he added. "The way I chose to do this was to build as if the world had been sliced down a plane with everything past that point rendered solid black."

In the video, we see the player beginning as Scout, with lightning-fast speed and leaping ability; he switches over to Heavy to bust through a brick wall, and to Sniper to get around a coiled snake. Figuring out which class successfully negotiates which obstacle will be a key, Loney said. "The comments that identified Trine as my inspiration for class switching were dead-on, but the game itself doesn't play like it," Loney said. "You'll have to switch classes fast and often, making it almost like Guitar Hero in terms of pressing the right buttons at the right time."

But, seriously, Sniper's skill? Sneaking past wildlife? That's like Aquaman talking to fish. Loney said he wanted to amp up the Sniper's capabilities, pegging off his Jarate, but quickly ran into a problem. "Any player who hadn't unlocked Jarate, or didn't have it equipped would suddenly break the game," he said. 'So for this reason, weapon-specific abilities were pretty much eliminated.

"Even the simplest of ideas often lead to major headaches when trying to integrate," Loney said. "For this reason, I tried to keep things as basic as possible." Thus, Sniper's invisible-to-wildlife skill was implemented, figuring that his rep as a deadly hunter terrifies them. "A little farfetched," Loney said, "but I don't think it's the worst idea in the world."

Loney said he considered a multiplayer facet to his map-mod, early in the design phase, but realized that "huge amounts of scripting" would be required, and wouldn't be as fun.. "With that said, i think a multiplayer 2D TF2 game would be amazing. It would just have to be coded from scratch."

So should Valve go ahead and do one already? Loney won't go that far.

"I don't know that its something Valve should make," he says. "It would be a nice addition to the TF universe, and there's definitely a lot you could do with the classes in terms of gameplay, but I think it might feel a little displaced coming from Valve.

"I fully support a mod team who decides to tackle making one though. I think Gang Garrison did a fantastic job with it, though, so you would have to think of something new to bring, otherwise it would just be a 2.5D knock-off."

Loney wants it made clear that he's not making Team Fortress 2 Contra. "My game is short, casual and very simple," he says. "Hopefully people won't go into it expecting crazy combat or trine-like puzzles to solve. It's a simple run and jump game because that's what I was limited to with the scripting. But that certainly doesn't mean I wouldn't like to see a game that does more."

When it's finished, The Great Class Dash will be operable on any PC that can run Team Fortress 2. "You simply need to run the map from the main menu," Loney says. You can follow the project's progress on his personal web site, and we'll be sure to let you know when it's ready.