TF2 Cheaters Don’t Go To Heaven

An artist's impression.

TF2 has recently suffered a plague of some of cheating. Rather than cheating to win matches, players have been cheating to gain in-game items, using “external idling applications”. The drops came at random, so people hung around on specifically designed servers until they’d collected what they were after. (I think.) Valve have announced this Will Not Do, and anyone who has accrued items this way will find they have vanished from their inventory. And this is the their gentle, generous response.

Erik Johnson explains on the TF2 blog:

“Due to us not having a policy in place prior to today, this time we’re only removing the items earned through cheating the system. Going forward, if we find users using external applications, we’ll remove all of their items.”

However, if you weren’t amongst the 4.5% of players who were so very, very naughty, you’ll find you’ve received a reward: a new hat. A halo.

Of course, because this is a Valve game this can only have been met by the community with utter, frothing fury. Groups like HealersAgainstHalos have been set up, refusing to heal anyone who wears one. Dozens and dozens of posts are appearing on the forum with people pronouncing Valve as the Earth’s greatest evil. Atheists are angry because it’s Christian propaganda. It is clearly the worst thing that any company has ever done to any person ever in the history of the UNIVERSE!

Or as many have suggested, those who cheated could receive a pair of horns.


  1. Mike says:

    I had assumed the third link about atheists was a joke. O-ho-ho. But no.

  2. brulleks says:

    “The members of this group refuse to heal anyone wearing a halo untill Valve apologises for punishing and villainising idlers with no prior warning.”

    Well, I think we’ve identified at least some of the cheating f**tards right there, then.

    What pisses me off is that their actions have a direct effect on the play experience of those on the same servers that want to play the game legitimately. If they just stuck to their own private servers or achievement servers I wouldn’t mind, but do these twits really think the rest of the TF2 community are going to have any sympathy for them?

    I’m glad to see the developers are actually taking some appropriate measures. These cheats are lucky that Valve have a good sense of humour. As someone who doesn’t, my own measures would have been far less appropriate.

  3. Vinraith says:

    This seems like the natural consequence of a broken drop system, but whatever makes them happy. I’m a little unsure why idling for drops is cheating but achievement servers weren’t, though.

    And that response by “atheists” is just plain embarrassing. Why are some of my fellow non-believers so intent on being offended by anything and everything? It makes them look far too much like the right wing Christian zealots they decry.

  4. Blast Hardcheese says:

    Wait, you get horns if you cheat?!


  5. merc says:

    It’s all so goddamn stupid. Stupid hats, a densely stupid mechanic for handing them out, stupid people who can’t do without the stupid hats, stupid punishments for people who game the stupid system, stupid overreactions all round.

    I still can’t help but blame valve for starting it by designing the whole stupid system. I mean honestly, who thought that was a good way to dole out hats?

  6. caged_devil says:

    Christ (sorry Christians)! This is taking it all a bit too seriously isn’t it? Given the game is obviously designed in a light hearted, humourous style, this is some serious over-reaction. Valve are being quite nice though, it could have just bitchslapped them completely, as it’s now threatening, rather than just removing their ill-gotten gains.

    On a side note, I really need to get back into TF2, damn my infernal PC and the need for Vista installs.

  7. Heliocentric says:

    How many licks?

    So, i’ve been given a halo for not having played in the last 6 months? Nice.

  8. brulleks says:


    See my post. Achievement servers do not affect the play experience of those on other servers, whereas idling does. I’ve only used them once – to get the scout weapons, as I rarely play as scout anyway- and actually found it to be a lot of fun. Like a TF2 playground, really, with everyone helping each other out with bizarre tactics to get the achievements.

    Idling, on the other hand, takes up places on legitimate servers, which is a pain in the arse for those playing on them. Maybe not as detrimental as outright overpowering cheats, but still very annoying.

  9. Don says:

    I don’t know what’s more amusing, that some people get so worked up over the removal of imaginary hats or that they should have got so desirous of imaginary hats in the first place that they felt the need to play the system to get them.

    I can sort of see it for weapons, was really chuffed when the Razorback dropped into my inventory, but hats!? Anyway I’m off to get me halo.

  10. Cooper says:

    I too don’t understand why they didn’t go after achievement server peeps, but did for this…

    To be honest, I’m not sure I care. TF2 is a great game, but I’m not into it enough to care that I’m missing a few items (I’ve got all the ones I want – for the classes I play regularly, I got them very quickly via achievements through normal play).

    I’d love to have a chance to pick up items from those I’ve killed. That makes much more sense than the current random drops.

  11. Vinraith says:


    Having idled does not imply having idled on active, legitimate servers though. I’ll be the first to say that idlers on legit servers should have their asses handed to them, much the same as people farming the sandvich achievement on a legit server by refusing to play should have had THEIR asses handed to them back in the “old” days.

    It seems odd to me that Valve has suddenly decided to clamp down on abusive behavior when it was fairly rampant and unchecked before. It also seems odd that they chose to do it in a way that harms both those that were harming the game experience of others and those who weren’t. Ultimately I don’t care, they all got their items by “illegitimate” means (though “legitimacy” in a random drop system is largely meaningless IMO), but it seems like a strangely timed, strangely targetted, and unprecedented intervention into item system abuse to me.

  12. Mike says:

    I think because the key to weapons was that you took action to obtain them, but hats were intended to be rare and random.

  13. Mr Pink says:

    I’m confused. What external applications are they referring to? Are they taking away items gained by idling on “idle servers”, or was there some other way of cheating the system? Either way, the halo is hilarious, and a really nice way of rewarding those who play in the “right” spirit :)

  14. clive dunn says:

    I used to love TF2 when it was silly, now i don’t play it because it’s silly.
    Things like this don’t help the image of computer gamers. I have a hard enough time convincing my wife that it’s a legitimate use of my precious time.

  15. Yargh says:

    @Mr Pink, I’ve seen this in action on a friend’s PC. It’s a 3rd party app that pretends to be TF2 and connects to a dedicated idling server that was setup for just this purpose.

    That’s a quite a difference to actually running the game to get stuff…

  16. Heliocentric says:

    Personally i think that people who use external applications should be banned from vac(steams punkbuster thing) protected servers. But that would be a massive pr problem. Just under 5% of your customers being banned is a pretty big deal. So, no hats for cheaters, could be worse.

  17. Noc says:

    It’s probably worth mentioning that Valve isn’t, unless I’m reading things wrong, cracking down on the practice of sitting around doing nothing on empty servers waiting to get hats. They don’t seem to be cracking down on things people do within the scope of the game, in the same way they didn’t crack down on achievement servers and such.

    It’s the whole “Using an external program to simulate playing the game” thing they seem to be objecting to. Which is much more reasonable: letting it slide sets a poor precedent for subsequent hacking or botting apps, and is pretty explicitly outside the realm of legitimate use of the software.

  18. Heliocentric says:

    @yargh Did you “Your friend” get his hats taken?

  19. Vinraith says:

    If we’re exclusively talking about dedicated idling servers (whether accessed via an “external application” or not) then I find myself back at “their priorities seem backwards.” At that point I guess it’s less about the players and the playing experience than it is exercising control of use of their own software. Meh.

  20. Lu-Tze says:

    The HealersAgainstHalos thing is the tip of the iceberg. What Valve have done is made a symbol for all those angry people to vent their rage at, the Halo.

    There are already server mods in place that prevent it’s use, and even kick and ban those who equip it, and even where it’s not admins throwing their power around, to the impotently aggravated it’s putting a big arrow on someone saying “Grief this person to feel better”.

    The angry backlash on the forums is mirrored in-game, except targeted at people who, for the most part, have no idea what’s going on. It’s a shame to see that Valve have incompetently made the community hostile, and put something in the game to ensure that the anger never ever fades away.

    Simply removing their items would’ve done enough.

  21. Vasagi says:

    mild buffoonery amuses greatly

  22. Lh'owon says:

    I dearly hope that atheist thread was a troll, we’re supposed to be the rational ones.

    @Heliocentric – don’t be absurd. Using an app to passively idle on a game server is akin to using hacks in a multiplayer game against real people? And should see those users effectively blocked from using the products they paid for? That’s utter nonsense.

    Personally I find Valve’s response very funny, but on the other hand I don’t see people who did that as “bad” any more than I see achievement-farmers as bad. Some people just want to enjoy the game with the extra content, not spend endless hours playing in the often vain hope of getting a random drop.

  23. FunkyB says:

    I don’t care if people idle or use the idler. I don’t see why people have any animosity for either side in this total non-issue.

  24. jon_hill987 says:

    About bloody time Valve did something about the idling thing.

  25. Serondal says:

    Anyone else remember a day on Starwars Galaxies when the owners allowed people to attack gold sellers in public without guards defending them ect :P You got a special badge if you killed one. this reminds me a lot of that

  26. FunkyB says:

    Although having said that, I do echo MrPink’s comment that the halos are pretty funny :)

  27. Cael says:

    There are two reasons why people are so up in arms. The first is that the program in question only simulates what you can do normally. All it does it join a server and sit there in spectator mode getting random item drops. It’s the exact same as launching TF2, joining a server, and sitting there in spectator mode, except it doesn’t hog your computer resources like the TF2 client does.
    The second reason people are angry is that this program has been out for literally months. Valve has been aware of the program, moderators have commented on the program, people have been using the program for months. Now, all of a sudden, they decide to crack down on the idlers who use the program with no warning at all.
    If they had told people from the beginning not to use the program and to sit on the idle servers with the official tf2 client, people would have done that.

  28. Masked Dave says:


    *wipes away tears*

  29. DMJ says:

    I guess the whole “halo hatred” thing is because the halo is a hat, and those who really have a hat fetish were the ones who would use the third-party app… So the idea of someone prancing around in a hat that they cannot have, when this halo is a symbol of a “moral integrity” (or whatever Valve’s idea of “moral integrity” is at the moment) they can never have must be like pouring boiling mercury into an open wound.

    Particularly since their own special hat, which they doubtless stroke and talk to at night, burns them because to wear it symbolises their underhanded nature, which they cannot stand.

    It’s a bit like those “purity” rings American teenagers have been known to wear. You know, the ones which induce rage-vomiting in some people.

  30. Ging says:

    Vinraith: they don’t care what use you put your server to, as long as the players connecting to it are actually using the TF2 client – hence the third party application users being targeted.

  31. An Innocuous Coin says:

    I don’t get why Valve needs to punish players who did this whole idling thing. They’re the ones who made hats so impossible to acquire in the first place, you know?

    No, really, I just don’t get it, outside of maybe those players not actually playing, thus Valve loses data they could use to improve the game…? Maybe it’d make sense if I actually paid attention to the whole idling thing. Regardless, this seems a bit…unnecessary.

    I do think the halos are funny, though.

  32. Rinox says:

    @ Masked Dave

    I concur in a wholehearted, booming HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

    I’m off to play some TF2 with the halo. Love it that Valve went after the achievement/item whores.

  33. jalf says:

    Seems to me like Valve screwed up by introducing random loot which can best be acquired by idling. It’s hardly fair to punish people for doing what makes sense, even if it has had a negative impact on the game for others. It’s still Valve who made it happen. If you introduce broken gameplay mechanics, who’s to blame when your players start playing the game “wrong”?

    Oh well, it’s not like it affects me in any way. I’m just glad they’ve largely left TFC alone. It’d break my heart if they decided to play mad scientist on that the way they’ve done with TF2.

  34. RagingLion says:

    Sounds like Valve has been totally proportionate in the way they’ve gone about things, to me.

  35. gulag says:

    Seems quite clear to me that this is squarely a shot at people using external apps with TF2. Sure, the idler app was benign, but it’s the start of a slippery slope. An Idler might ask himself what other sorts of apps might be run that would ‘enhance’ their experience of the game? Valve really have no choice but to drop the hammer hard, and hope people learn the lesson. And if the Angry Internet Men decide to retaliate with more abusive cheats? Well, there is always the Ban Hammer, and they can’t say they didn’t get fair warning.

    Patience is a virtue. No one playing the game has some sort of inaliable ‘right’ to this or that item, and any argument along those lines boils down to “I want it, and I want it now! Wah Wah Wah!”, which is about as childish as it gets.

  36. Gap Gen says:

    4.5% is quite a big number, though, when you consider the number of people who have TF2.

    And yeah, Valve seemed to have fumbled a bit on this one. Like people have said, if they just use a completely random drop system, statistically there are people who will always be denied hats. It’s perhaps not their fault entirely, but they have turned something that was supposed to be fun and meaningless into a pogrom.

  37. Heliocentric says:

    3rd party application isn’t playing wrong?

  38. Idle Threats and Bad Poetry says:

    Where’s all the good XBOX 360 puns when you need ’em? I can’t think of any to contribute that aren’t lame. :(

  39. Mr Pink says:

    Hell hath no fury like a gamer scorned eh?

  40. StalinsGhost says:

    I gots me a friggin shweet halo.

    Awesome move there, Valve.

  41. greenB says:

    I like not only the ridiculous hyperbole of practically making everyone who didn’t use the idle app a saint, but also the halo itself. I mean, it’s basically a shining “headshot goes here” marker.
    Also, that TF2blog post sure is interesting… not only is the drop chance for non-religious hats higher now, but they mention the ever-elusive trading system and CRAFTING for unlockables!

  42. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Silliness. Silliness squared, even!

  43. Metal_Circus says:

    Wow. The reaction to this is meaningless, petty and dumbfoundingly idiotic all at the same time.

  44. Metal_Circus says:

    Although a halo will be lovely. thankyou valve.

  45. Azazel says:

    I love how Valve turned TF2 into World of TF2 as a piss take, and then people who were SERIOUSLY after all the achievements descend on them in a cluster bonk of lamery.

    Oh the ironing.

  46. Tom says:

    Man, people get worked up over nothing…

  47. Stense says:

    Sounds to me like some people need their sense of humour checking.

    Whats the point of having a game if you’re not actually playing it, just leaving it running idle? The unlockables are supposed to be rewards for playing the game. If someone didn’t play to get them, why should they be allowed to keep them.

  48. Elman says:

    So they added stupid grinding to the game (With ridiculously low drop rates according to what I heard), and people tried to bypass that, because they don’t want to play WoW?


  49. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    As an atheist I am outraged at outraged atheists!

    And the punishment is clearly over an external app designed to screw with the system, so it’s hard to get outraged over that, too.

    Valve just can’t catch a break from these people.