Home Editorial Goldengate: The Engineer Update Scandal

….wrenches can be found up until the 100th wrench has gone out. There is no per-day limit on the number of wrenches found, and distribution has been designed to be fair to all timezones. -Official TF2 Blog

It was awfully nice of Valve to institute a totally random system for distributing the Golden Wrench. It seemed so ingenious and fair… after all, I got one.

But I had always wondered to myself, how can a system be both random, and fair to all time zones? How can a system with no daily drop caps sync with Valve’s planned day-by-day reveal of the Engineer update? Up until this point, I had assumed they were either geniuses or sorcerers. Or both.

Of course, that was before the Steam Team Fortress 2 forums imploded with allegations that the system wasn’t random at all. Someone at Valve (supposedly) leaked a list of times, down to the second, when the coveted items would drop. Whoever crafted first after each of these times would receive a Golden Wrench, guaranteed.

But, in the immortal words of LaeVar Burton, you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s a  a video proving that the Golden Wrench drop times were predetermined from the start.

Wait for it… wait for it… OH MY GAWD!!!

But the drama goes much deeper down the rabbit hole than this video would indicate. The witch man performing the countdown in the video is none other than drunken F00l. Yes, the same drunken F00l who created the Team Fortress 2 idle program (which allowed players to “earn” items without even launching TF2) and indirectly caused the Halocaust (the fallout created when Valve released the Cheater’s Lament halo). He was also the creator of TF2items.com, and one of the 100 owners of the Golen Wrench… until it was stripped from him as part of his permanent VAC ban from Steam.

While Valve has yet to release an official comment, at least 6 owners of the Golden Wrench have been VAC banned from Steam after being implicated in drunken F00l’s predictive shenanigans. While drunken F00l’s culpability is more obvious (obtaining and using the leaked list in conjunction with scripts intended to increase his odds of success), one has to wonder if all 6 of these offenders did anything to warrant a VAC ban other than “try to craft at around this time.” Aren’t VAC bans supposed to be reserved for the use of 3rd party programs?

Mind you, a VAC ban is nothing to take lightly, as being banned from Steam means a complete loss of all Steam games, in some cases worth totals over $1,000. That said, if someone told you “Try crafting at exactly 11:31:06,” would you make the attempt? Would you ever imagine you could lose all your Steam games along with your account? I believe most players would give it a shot.

That’s what Derek, the player in the video who got the Wrench, did before getting banned.  As you can clearly see in the video, many people on the server tried crafting at the end of F00l’s countdown, yet Derek was the “lucky” one to get the Golden Wrench. But his luck was short-lived, as his real reward for randomly crafting with a countdown for laughs was to lose the Wrench and all his Steam games.

Assuming Derek wasn’t using a 3rd party program to craft with this countdown, how could VAC ban him? One can only assume it was a manual ban. And yet, have the other players in the video, who tried the same thing as him, also been banned? If not, what justification can be given for Derek’s ban? If Derek or any other player had no clue who drunken F00l was (I certainly didn’t before this fiasco), what reason would they have had for believing the countdown was anything other than a harmless joke?

I don’t expect answers from Valve; these questions serve only as food for thought about the way bans are doled out, and the impact the Golden Wrench has had on Team Fortress 2.

I think it’s fairly clear by now that the Wrench is, in one manner or another, cursed. Which means it’s only a matter of time until the Wrench finds a way to destroy me.


38 replies to this post
  1. Well WiNG you wrote a splendid article there… If only Valve read this… Anyways OH MAH GAWD ITSA CURSE!!!!!

  2. This aligns with my view of things fairly closely. The only other thing I would add is that this, to me, is a bad omen; Valve have always been very open, very forgiving, very accepting of their own shortcomings. What we have here is a failure on Valve’s part to keep their data (which shouldn’t have been pre-determined, anyway) secret, and instead of taking it in good humor, perhaps turning it on end (how cool would it be if drunken/the others got a wooden wrench that did 3 dps from splinters for 6 seconds, like someone suggested), they lashed out, waving the banhammer around. I wouldn’t be so annoyed by this if it wasn’t for 2 things:

    1) Valve’s reputation as a company that simply doesn’t do this. They are one of the most honest game companies, one of the most upfront, so using a system that was created not to allow them absolute control over their subjects, but simply (their words, IIRC; I remember reading this somewhere but I can’t find it anywhere. This is paraphrased.) “At the request of our users, who found they were having trouble with cheaters.”

    2) This goes against, to a certain extent, the stated rules of the VAC system. Drunken f00l used the craft-uncraft script in a non VAC-secured server. So, if using a script (which, I’d guess, just automated clicking the scrap and craft buttons) on a server that’s not VAC secured is worthy of a VAC ban, I’m scared.

    Now I know someone will point out that it says in the full license agreement that they reserve the right to ban people for programs that give an unfair advantage, but the “up-front” rules state that it only really applies in VAC-secured servers, and I don’t like the idea of Valve relying on arcana; they’ve always been upfront about just about everything (or, when not upfront about something, it’s generally just because they don’t want to spoil the surprise). This has shaken my trust in Valve, and Steam.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this. I would love to hear any thoughts anyone has on my opinions.

    • Adam, I completely agree with your points. These seem to be wrong on principle of what VAC and Valve have always stood for. Hopefully there is more to the story than meets the eye, and Valve will release some kind of statement publically or at least on the forums.

      • I have a feeling VALVe will not just turn around and apologize for this any time soon. Besides, VALVe employees have cheated (god mode, “VALVe weapons”, unlimited uber) before on public servers and nobody from VALVe have talked about it yet.

  3. Wing, I got an idea… when trading comes out send me the wrench for my Officer’s Ushanka. Hey, I’ll even throw in one of the new wrench unlocks to make up for it… jk (kinda)

  4. Valve may terminate your Account or a particular Subscription for any conduct or activity that Valve believes is illegal, constitutes a Cheat, or which otherwise negatively affects the enjoyment of Steam by other Subscribers. You acknowledge that Valve is not required to provide you notice before terminating your Subscriptions(s) and/or Account, but it may choose to do so.

  5. Actually that’s not what a VAC ban does.

    It bans you from joining VAC enabled servers. That’s all.

    You can still play online but just not on a VAC enabled server. Also it’s per engine. So if you’re banned in a Source game you can still play Modern Warfare 2 online. All your games will still work. They only way you can lose all your games is if you get your account disabled.

  6. I’m kind of astonished they lashed out like they did at this. Seems so out of character for Valve, as Adam already eluded to. Sheesh…

    On a slightly unrelated note: Nice job with this website, Wing! Good to see you getting back in business.

  7. “If Derek or any other player had no clue who drunken F00l was (I certainly didn’t before this fiasco), what reason would they have had for believing the countdown was anything other than a harmless joke?”

    Just to help provide more information on the situation, but Derek does know who DF is. They (and I) have been playing tf2 with each other for a whiles.

  8. Additionally, a VAC Ban only applies to games sharing the same engine. So a VAC ban from TF2 would apply only to mutiplayer play on VAC-protected servers, and would apply only to the game cheated on (or other games sharing the same engine, IE, in TF2’s case, Counterstrike:Source, Half Life 2, and other games using the Source engine.)

    It would in no way impact one’s ability to play in non-VAC protected servers. It would not prevent that person from playing single-player. It would not prevent that person from playing a different Steam-purchased game on a VAC protected server (unless that game shared an engine with the game in which the cheat was detected).

    Honestly, it is a very fair system. A VAC ban is game-engine specific, and only bars you from playing VAC protected servers.

    (I have no value judgement to make concerning the events, just I’m tired of the “VAC Ban = ALL YOUR GAMES ARE LOST FOREVER BOOHOOHOO” misinformation.)

  9. The idler all over again. Valve act harshly and damage the game

    This game had unlimited potential in the beginning. Now it is dying off like a cancerous goat.

  10. From the Gentle Manne’s medal to the Earbuds to the Golden Wrench, the Valve marketing department is trying to make these “promotions” like a lottery each time. It’s called TEAM fortress for a reason, collaboration and a strong community. Each one of these promotions breaks that bond and causes tons of tension in the community.

    Another problem is that there is no compromise with the Medal, the Earbuds, the Lament, and this. There is no way you can please everyone and this is the factor that shatters the community. They did do it right once however, dominating a person with a Ghastly Gibus gains you a Ghastly Gibus. This is the right way to do things.

    I compare this to DMCA takedowns, VAC banning someone for crafting at a specific time is the same as taping a baby dance to a Prince song and have UMG take it down with a DMCA takedown. What’s the difference? VAC can’t be contested and the DMCA can be. (if you win, which was the case for the UMG case)

    Final word: I wasn’t in North America when this happened, therefore I had no internet, so I can be thankful for that and not getting caught in this mess…

  11. i think we need 2 bnd 2gether n get ur wrench back so dat valve can knows from this that we r not just pushing overs we r also powerful consumers bcuz we want ur games and want ur games now plz

  12. thr author of this article has major autism. if you are vac banned you dont lose your steam games you just cant play on steam servers,

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