Last week, Valve finally stepped in to tackle the wave of racist bots that had infiltrated Team Fortress 2 – and although the measure was well-received by the community, it still wasn’t enough to stop the onslaught. Valve seemingly solved the spam chat issue by limiting which new accounts could post, but the bots found a way around this by repeatedly changing their in-game names or the team name to form racist sentences and slurs in the chat. And unfortunately, that’s only the start of the continuing problems.
Valve’s latest update aims to solve the newest spam problem by simply preventing the bots’ ability to change the team name. As explained in the patch notes, players will no longer be able to update the team name while in matchmaking games, or their in-game name while connected to the server. “Rate limit checks for text chat” have also been introduced to help prevent spam.
From a quick scout around the Team Fortress 2 subreddits and anti-hacker communities, however, it seems the problems Valve has fixed are only the tip of the iceberg. A simple YouTube search will bring up several examples of annoying music, slurs, and high frequency noises being broadcast by bots over voice chat – but be warned, it’s pretty nasty stuff (and extremely loud). While it’s possible to fully disable voice and text chat, and you can mute specific players, it does mean anyone wanting to use voice chat for legitimate reasons risks hearing awful stuff before the bot can be muted or kicked. And, if there’s enough of them, it can get pretty annoying.
Other players, meanwhile, have reported continuing problems with bots using aimbot, and “lagbots” which produce enough lag to freeze the entire game. Valve’s updates are certainly preventing some of the most annoying symptoms of the bot problem, but the company is yet to tackle the root of the issue. “Work is ongoing” to prevent new accounts being used for abusive purposes, so hopefully we’ll see further anti-bot measures soon. Until the bots find another way around them, at least.