Without fail, the odd mysteries of game development will capture our fascination like Arthur Pendragon studying the wise wizard Merlin's teachings. On occasion, there is a moment where even the most accomplished of developers are befuddled by how their game is running in spite of all logic to the contrary. The fact that Team Fortress 2 appears to be glued together with a JPG of a coconut is one such moment.
Before there was Overwatch, there was Team Fortress 2, a first-person shooter with a visual style inspired by major artists active in the Second World War. Pitting the RED team against the BLU team, the game has five modes: Attack/Defend, Capture the Flag, Control Points, King of the Hill, and Payload. There are nine classes to choose from which all have their own strengths and weaknesses and are some of the most iconic characters in gaming. The offense characters are the Scout, the Soldier, and the Pyro; the defense characters are composed of the Demoman, the Heavy, and the Engineer; and the support characters are the Medic, the Sniper, and the Spy. Even if you never played Team Fortress 2, its impact on competitive gaming is evident and you're likely to recognise quotes and memes from the community.
However, something that has gotten fans into a frenzy is the discovery of this JPG of a coconut which is buried in the files of the game. Giving this image a once-over, there doesn't appear to be anything overly magnificent about this coconut. It's what deleting this image does to Team Fortress 2 that is doing the rounds on Twitter. If this coconut is removed from the game, then it will not work. Full stop. Nothing to be done. That's it. So where did this coconut come from and how did it literally determine whether or not the entire game would function?
"In the Love & War update, when particles for the taunts were added, one of the particles were [sic] the unused coconut.vtf," said Reddit user TheThunderGuyS. "It was literally a coconut. Due to some spaghetti code other taunts were linked to this particle, so even though it was unusued [sic], it causes errors and crashes when removed (crash on map load because TF2 preloads everything)." As Valve itself hasn't acknowledged the coconut in Team Fortress 2, it's not known just how entangled the file is with the code and whether it could ever be extracted. Still, it's a funny quirk of one of the most influential games in the multiplayer genre.
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