The item drop system is the process of item distribution within Team Fortress 2. It distributes a random item to players on a regular basis until a weekly time-cap is reached.
This system was first introduced with the Sniper vs. Spy Update to change distribution from being dependent upon achievements. Its purpose was to improve accessibility to the expanding quantity of items within the game, while negating the need to achievement farm (meaning to perform out of context actions to gain achievements) or use third-party tools to falsify the obtaining of achievements. However, this system created another way of farming to obtain new items called idling.
Current system Edit
The current item drop system was introduced on April 20, 2010. Players are guaranteed to find items at regular intervals of 30 to 70 minutes, with an average interval of 50 minutes.It has been estimated that a maximum of 5 to 12 items can be found each week. In addition, the system has a cap on the amount of playtime in which drops can occur. This cap has been estimated to be 10 hours each week. Playing beyond the cap will not yield additional items. Mann Co. Supply Crates and other usable items drop on a separate timer, meaning that these items do not affect the interval between regular drops. The system resets each player's playtime cap every Thursday at approximately 00:00 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)[7:00 PM EST, 8:00pm EDT Wednesday]. If a player plays less than the playtime cap in a week, their leftover time will be added to the next week, so a player who does not play for one week will receive twice as many items the following week. The amount of time a player can save up is capped at double the allotment of a single week (roughly 20 hours).The dropped items are stored in the Backpack after the player's death, after a trade is completed, if the Mann Co. Store is opened, or if ten duels are won. If the player leaves the server after receiving an item, but before storing it in the backpack, a notification will alert the player of the new item(s) when the Main Menu is visited the next time. Occasionally, dropped, traded, or crafted items may get stuck "in limbo" and may not immediately appear in the player's Backpack. This may occur on instant respawn servers blocking the "New Item Found!" screen pop-up. Visiting the Mann. Co. Store or disconnecting from the server will usually restore these items to the player's Backpack.While it has always been perceived that each weapon has an equal chance of being dropped to the player, it appears that certain weapons that form part of an item set will drop more or less often than others. It is not known exactly which of these weapons are rarer or more common.Under the Free-To-Play system introduced in the Über Update, free players receive only limited item drops (with no rare or cosmetic items) until they upgrade to Premium status, upon which they gain access to the full item drop system.
Advantages and disadvantagesEdit
A positive aspect of the system is that it allows new and old players alike to earn unlockable weapons by investing playtime. It allows players to play as any class, since as long as they are racking up gametime the player is eligible for an item drop. But if players play for more than 10 hours a week, they will not be rewarded for their extra playtime.
Many players receive unwanted duplicates. This issue was resolved by the introduction of the crafting system, and later by the trading system, allowing players to respectively craft and trade many of the available items (with some exceptions) with each other.
Despite the new systems, idling still exists. It is also possible to idle for items using the offline mode, alleviating the need for dedicated idling servers. Some idlers choose to disable video and audio by launching the game with the parameters-textmode and -nosound.