Co-creator of the original Team Fortress mod, he was hired by Valve and is now the lead designer of Team Fortress 2. Robin Walker is the public figure for TF2 and is responsible for most blog posts at tf2.com, TF2's official website.
Robin joined Valve in 1998 - 1999, he was originally hired due to the QuakeWorld Team Fortress modification that he created with his small team in 1995 - 1996. From there he's been responsible for Team Fortress Classic and Team Fortress 2, making the Team Fortress franchise one of the most popular franchises in the history of PC Gaming. Robin has also played Development roles in various other Valve products including Portal, Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike: Source, HL2: Episode 1, HL2: Episode 2, Left 4 Dead, Opposing Force, Blue Shift and the amazingly popular Half-Life: Counter-Strike (CS 1.6).
Robin Walker is currently a Software Developer / Programmer for Valve Corporation. Very little information is available about what it is that Robin Walker does exactly at Valve but from what can be gathered on the Internet He's the Lead Designer for Team Fortress 2 and is responsible for the larger content updates that Team Fortress 2 receives and the day to day operation of Team Fortress 2. Robin is also known to use the "Valve Rocket Launcher" in the game Team Fortress 2 on the SourceOP servers. This Rocket Launcher is unique to Valve Employee's and is extremely overpowered and used to "test" upcoming features for Team Fortress 2. (See the picture to the left of this text).
QuakeWorld Team Fortress
Robin Walker started his game development career with QuakeWorld Team Fortress (QWTF). The game was a modification for Quake and was extremely popular in 1996 to about 1997. What attracted people to QWTF was the class based gameplay -- previously in Quake everyone had access to the same weapons and looked the same. When QWTF was released it introduced nine classes known as the Scout, Sniper, Soldier, Demolitions Man, Medic, Heavy Weapons Guy, Pyro Maniac, Spy and finally the Engineer. Each class provided a different type of gameplay and provided their own form of support for the team. At the time QWTF was popular, QuakeWorld allowed as many as 32 (16 v 16) players to compete in games. Later source ports of QuakeWorld allowed for more players than that, but by that time most players had moved on to other games.
QuakeWorld Team Fortress was so popular that it landed Robin Walker, along with co-creators John Cook and Ian Caughley, a job at Valve. At the time they were currently working on a new version of TF called "Team Fortress 2" that was a standalone game running on the Quake 2 engine, at their newly formed Team Fortress Software company. When Robin joined Valve that game ended up being ported over to the GoldSrc engine and was renamed to "Team Fortress Classic" (View The TFC Section). The creators of QWTF are regarded as innovators in class-based first person shooters. Many modern shooters, including Call of Duty and Battlefield, owe a lot to the original class-based, team-oriented gameplay pioneered in Team Fortress.
Team Fortress Classic
Team Fortress Classic or TFC as it's known in the gaming community was originally designed as a sequel to QuakeWorld Team Fortress. The game was meant to be a standalone game but when Valve noticed how popular QWTF was they quickly hired Robin and the other members of Team Fortress Software and had them port the work they'd done on what was known at the time as Team Fortress 2 into a GoldSrc engine game. In 1999 Team Fortress Classic was released by Valve Corporation as a free add-on to Valve's Half-Life game. It was powered by GoldSrc and Robin was Lead Designer throughout the development of the game. In 2000, a major patch was released called "Team Fortress 1.5" which coincided with Valves addition of an "anti-lag" system to the GoldSrc engine, which provided for "Better optimized network code, for smoother and faster gameplay". In 2003, with the release of Steam, TF 1.5 was made available for purchase as a stand-alone game.
Team Fortress Classic made very few changes to the gameplay of the original QuakeWorld modification. It retained the same nine classes and the majority of the same weapons and grenades. One of the original innovations of QWTF was that it allowed level designers to create their own goals for players using a rudimentary scripting system. This system was maintained for Team Fortress Classic, and Valve used it to expand the gameplay in official maps beyond standard Capture the Flag and Capture Point Control maps, including an updated "VIP defense" map based on the layout of a single player level from Half-Life and a "soccer" map (both of which also had analogs in the original QWTF).
Team Fortress 2
Team Fortress 2 has had a troubled history. It was originally showed at E3 1999, where it won several "best of show" awards, as a modern military shooter game subtitled "Brotherhood of Arms," and boasted such features as an RTS-like "commander" class and remote cameras that the engineer class could build. It's unknown what exact similarities this version of Team Fortress 2 had with the previous releases in the franchise but it was scrapped and the game was delayed again in mid-2000. Team Fortress 2 was delayed a second time due to what we now know as a switch in development from the engine they had been using at the time to an in-house proprietary engine. The engine at the time was untitled and what we know now is that at the time it was the early stages of Valve's "Source Engine" which powers all of Valve's new releases (Left 4 Dead, Half-Life 2, Portal, Counter-Strike: Source, Day of Defeat: Source, etc).
For the next six years, almost no new information would be released about Team Fortress 2. It was accepted that Walker had moved onto other projects within Valve (at the time he was working on HL2: Episode 1) and his partner John Cook had become a Steam Developer, responsible for developing and maintaining new features for Valve's Steam Platform. Throughout the early 2000s, Team Fortress 2 was featured on Wired's yearly "Vaporware Awards" along with such luminaries as Duke Nukem Forever and the Phantom game console. Slowly, the hope for a sequel in the near future and the buzz around the Team Fortress franchise died down.
In late-2004, with the release of Valve's new game Half-Life 2 on the horizon, Valve's director of marketing Doug Lombardi claimed that Team Fortress 2 was still in development at Valve and that news about the future of Team Fortress would be released after the launch of Half-Life 2. However, new information about the development of Team Fortress 2 didn't appear until over two years later, after Episode 1 had been released and Episode 2 was ready to be launched. As such, the gaming community was once again surprised when Gabe Newell (CEO of Valve Corporation) claimed that news about Team Fortress 2 would be forthcoming.
In 2006, at EA's Summer Showcase event, Team Fortress 2 was re-unveiled (view the image to the left and above). Once again community buzz and excitement for the Team Fortress sequel picked up. However, the community would have to wait until October 10th, 2007 for the game to be released. With the release of Team Fortress 2 only weeks before, Walker talked about Team Fortress 2 and how the Team Fortress 2 development went through three to four games before settling on the release version. Information on these different versions is hard to find, but from what we know one version was Brotherhood of Arms, the modern military version of Team Fortress originally shown in 1999.
Based on files found in the Half-Life 2 source leak, the second unreleased version is believed to be a Sci-Fi game, featuring alien characters, futuristic weapons, different classes, a "new" art style, and other unknown features. The third version is unknown to the community. It's commonly believed that the third version was an experiment with the Source Engine to see what would and wouldn't work for Team Fortress 2. With the fourth and final version of Team Fortress 2, Valve settled on an art style inspired by J. C. Leyendecker, as well as Dean Cornwell and Norman Rockwell featuring "strong silhouettes and shading to draw attention to specific details of the character models". Compared to what is known about the other versions, the final version appears to have the most in common with the original Team Fortress, retaining the same nine classes and primary weapons, and similar maps and overall gameplay. Significantly, offhand grenades, which featured prominently in QWTF and TFC, were removed from TF2 during early beta.
Team Fortress 2: Ongoing Development
Development for Team Fortress 2 continues to this day, Walker and his team provide content updates for Team Fortress 2 in the form of bug fixes and minor patches every few weeks, with larger content updates (Class Updates, new maps, new game types, etc) coming every few months (five - six on average). However with Left 4 Dead 2 requiring a lot of development power Walker and his team moved from Team Fortress 2 which resulted in no larger content updates for the length of time Left 4 Dead 2 was being worked on, with the release of Left 4 Dead 2, Walker and his team have moved back to Team Fortress 2 to begin the next larger content updates.
Class Updates Expanded
Robin and the Team Fortress 2 team have continued to develop updates for Team Fortress 2. The most common of these updates consist of minor bug fixes and patches but they also work on Class Updates. Each Class Update adds new unlockable items and weapons. As an example, the May 2009 content update, focusing on the Sniper and the Spy classes, added an unlockable pistol replacement known as "The Ambassador." In addition to the Ambassador, other replacement items can be earned either through the Random Drop System or by achieving the Spy Milestones. This is how all of the updates class work: each of the classes have a set of achievements they can earn and when a certain amount are earned a Milestone is reached and they are rewarded with the replacement weapon for that particular class milestone.
Random Drop System
The Random Drop System was introduced into Team Fortress 2 on May 21st, 2009 is a system where items are dropped for players randomly as they play the game. At first these were only the available replacement weapons for classes but with updates to the system Hats, which provide no bonuses or advantages to players, are randomly dropped on any server that's connected to Valves Master Server and is VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat) Secure. Hats have mixed community feedback. Some people love them, some people hate them. The people that love them enjoy the uniqueness and level of customization they provide for player models, while the people that hate them normally are angry with the lack of a Trading System (read "Trading System" below) or the low chance to find a hat. The random drop system has come under fire a number of times. Valve has even admitted the Random Drop System didn't work as well as they planned when they released it and since then have updated it constantly to try and achieve the level of excellence Valve requires for an addition to one of their games.
In addition to the above information, Valve released exactly how the Drop System works: for every 25 minutes of playtime a player has in a server (since the Drop System Update) they have a 20% chance to find a random weapon replacement. It's assumed that the average amount of time to find a weapon with this system is exactly 1 hour and 40 minutes. This might seem like along time but with the Achievement Milestones most of the weapons people find are duplicates of something they already have. In addition to finding weapons a separate timer for hats exists in the system. The hats' drop percentage is 3.5714%. The timer will randomly award the player a hat every 15,430 seconds (4 hours, 17 minutes, and 10 seconds) on average.
On September 30, 2010, an update to Team Fortress 2 was released called "The Mann-Conomy Update" which included a store for purchasing items, the Steam Wallet for storing digital currency, and the ability for players to trade and sell items to other players.
Walker is not only responsible for the Team Fortress franchise - he has played development roles in other titles that have been released by Valve, with one of the most notable titles being "Left 4 Dead 2".
List of Games Credited For:
There are rumors floating around the Internet that Robin Walker has worked on other games but not appeared in the credits for those games. If true, we have no idea what these games are and probably never will unless Walker tells us himself.