We are one of the oldest teams in all of online gaming that is still active today. Since our founding in 1997, our members have written their own chapters in our long history.
This timeline provides an overview of our many years of history, focusing on the predominant games in each time period. Some shorter-lived games have been excluded for brevity.
On November 30, 1997, Verant Interactive (later known as Sony Online Entertainment and now Daybreak Game Company) released the game of Tanarus, which was a multi-player online tank combat game. Spread mostly by word-of-mouth advertising, the game drew a following of dedicated and hard-nosed players. Shortly thereafter, in December 1997, [SF]Prodigy created a team called Special Forces, which started out as a six-man, rag-tag group of tank drivers stalking the arenas for kills and fun.
As one of the most active teams in the game, the ranks steadily grew until eventually filling three complete divisions at the peak of its popularity. Fondly remembered by the old-timers, this golden age was a simpler era in online gaming, where people manipulated their 28.8k modems to gain an advantage. Unfortunately this was not to last, as in 2002, SOE made a disastrous decision to implement a pay-to-play scheme in the game, driving away most players. The game never recovered even after being made free to play again in 2007 and was eventually closed down in 2010.
In the aftermath of the decision to make Tanarus a pay-to-play game in 2002, the team faced a crucial decision to either stay with Tanarus even as the community was sent into a permanent decline or to take a risk by expanding into other games for the first time. Expansion was chosen, and the first new game we expanded into was Wulfram II, another multi-player tank game where several Tanarus refugees had ended up. Over time, the Wulfram division developed its own identity and also began expanding, eventually filling two divisions and being an active presence in the squad wars scene.
Our involvement in the game peaked in 2004 and came to an end soon thereafter. Additionally in 2002, the U.S. Army released its first-person shooter game called America's Army which became our second expansion game.
During this period, the team grew and America's Army eventually became our leading game. With divisions in both North America and Europe, we fielded competition units in several leagues and ladders. Our team was highly-recognized in the AA community for its many activities. Unfortunately, over time the quality of the game began to decline with unpopular patches. Eventually development was shifted away from the game to a sequel, which failed when its release was rushed to meet a government deadline. Regardless, many team members still fondly remember their time in the America's Army division and the many compelling matches we competed in.
By 2005, the team was looking for a major boost to improve its long-term standing. The key opportunity arrived with the release of Battlefield 2, the smash-hit first person shooter and team combat game. An unprecedented recruitment drive was undertaken before the launch of the game, leading to nearly one hundred players being on our roster when the game launched. Although not all of these players stayed for the long term, the huge boost in activity propelled the team forward.
Our BF2 division evolved several times and most memorably had a number of units for each player class, which became highly specialized and provided our match units with their choice of players in each class. Despite some growing pains given the huge influx of players, the BF2 division was a big success and was our flagship division during this period. Once the game was no longer being updated, its momentum slowed, and by 2007 the division switched to Battlefield 2142.
An unexpected but fruitful turn in the team's direction occurred in 2007 with the release of the first person shooter Team Fortress 2, which was unique for its styling and atmosphere. The game turned out to be a hit and a cult classic, drawing a new generation of players to the team. At its peak, the TF2 division was our most active division, and was involved in several competitive leagues and ladders.
TF2 also had a substantial following of casual players who spent many nights rampaging on our servers. Sadly, our involvement in the game ended in 2010.
The team has since gotten back to its roots by setting up a division in the tank combat game of World of Tanks, which was in beta testing in 2010 and released in 2011. Another expansion followed into the browser-based space combat game of Battlestar Galactica Online, where the division quickly distinguished itself as one of the top teams in the game. The Battlefield division transitioned to Battlefield Bad Company 2 and later to Battlefield 3, and then again to Battlefield 4. Our presence in the Wargaming universe also continued to grow with divisions in World of Warplanes and most recently, World of Warships. The team has also started a division in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Our team has a hugely diverse and vibrant community of hundreds of alumni. It's typical for us to see one of our old members come back to our website five or more years after they left and post with amazement on our forum that we are still here and that people still remember them from way back when.
Our team's success over all these years is thanks to the dedicated efforts of all our members, past and present, who are too many to list here. From the ordinary member who played on our servers regularly to the top officers who dedicated their spare time to make this team run, every [SF] member has shaped the direction and identity of this team. It is an immense achievement spanning generations and persisting to this day.