Paul Barnett and Jeff Hickman, the Creative Director and Senior Producer behind Warhammer spend a lot of time talking about "Glory" internally, so it's something I constantly have on my brain.
It's difficult to explain glory without giving examples, but it's essentially the moments inside a game that make you feel joyous. It's why Brad can't help but use the word majesty when he talks about seeing a Colossus for the first time in Shadow of the Colossus. It's the awe. It's the secrets. It's the things you notice that you think you might be the only one to have noticed, a detail that's written on the wall, an inside joke, or a hidden passageway. It's the entire script of Psychonauts.
As an FPS, Team Fortress 2 is standard in many ways. They haven't reinvented the character archetypes, and they certainly haven't changed the way a twitch FPS is played. But as an example of what makes a game glorious and joyful, Team Fortress 2 is the acme.
Boys Don't Play Medics - (Or how I learned to stop fighting and heal a Heavy) - The support characters in Team Fortress 2 (such as the Engineer and the Medic) are done beautifully. I have always had a personal affinity for making support characters, but TF2 is one of the few games that I feel inherently rewards them. Watching my friends play Halo 3, I've noticed that it naturally pits everyone against each other, even within a team, as everyone angles to be the top spot on the leaderboard and increase their own rank. Team Fortress is a game about working together, where you go for "points" instead of "kills", which allows people like medics to get rewarded explicitly for getting out on the frontlines and healing the people in combat.
To add to the ambiance, each of the extremely personable characters in TF2 AUTOMATICALLY thanks the support characters. As I pop out of a teleport, I hear my character shout "THANK YOU HERR ENGINEER". It's the kind of thing that promotes positive online experiences, even if it is automatically triggered by the game.
Instructional Videos - I'm going to take a stab in the dark and guess that one of GameSpot's end of the year awards is going to be "Best Use of Film Projectors in a Game", because both Bioshock and TF2 have done them beautifully. I'd personally give the award to TF2, for not only being stylized, but also using them extremely functionally, by showing videos of how to play each map objective before you load the game. Dear FPS creators, they've set a bar and you can't go back now.
This Is Your Torso - Each time you die, there's this quick zoom in to your opponent, which shows you his remaining health, where he was standing, and sometimes the pieces of your blown apart body that lie around him. It's not often that I actually want to take a screenshot at this opportunity, but I have to admit to laughing out loud the first time I saw a little placard showing me one of my own body parts.
I'M ON FIYAH! - It was clear from the first time that Team Fortres 2 was showcased, that the look and feel of the game was going to be one of its greatest assets. Little did we know then how pervasive it was going to be. Since each of the characters embodies a particular archetype, they've also been given particular stereotypes: the Aussie Sniper, the french Spy, the American Soldier. The nuances of these, such as my medic shouting in his thick German accent "I'M ONNN FIYAAAAH!" after a run-in with a pyro, or said pyro's muffled call for "Medic!" are so enjoyable, that I often find myself recounting new discoveries over the watercooler at work the next day.
Winnar! - One of the simple enjoyable aspects of TF2 is the way in which you are rewarded for being successful. At the end of each round, when the summary screen pops up, the losing team's weapons are removed from them, and you have a few seconds to hunt down anyone that may have been left alive to finish them off. This brief game of cat and mouse is almost like a game within a game, as a loser I make it my every mission to stay alive by running and hiding from the winners.
According to Steam, I've played 64 hours of Team Fortress 2 in the last week and a half, and the funny thing is... I don't feel the slightest bit tired of it yet. I don't know all the things that make a game great, but just being this damn fun has certainly got to be one of them.