Yes, you read the title of the article correctly. You know, some daily WTFs are so absurd sounding that they practically speak for themselves.
Earlier this week in an interview with PC Gamer, Valve honchos Doug Lombardi and Gabe Newell let slip some rather interesting information about what the famed developer was doing just before they embarked down the path that helped them create the zombie sensation Left 4 Dead. This little exchange occurred when PC Gamer asks them what they think they’ve failed at:
Doug Lombardi: There were a few failed starts to build Left 4 Dead. Gabe Newell: Well, there was the flying fairy game. Is that the one you were referring to? Erik Johnson: That was just a different game that, when we stabbed it… (everyone laughs) Doug Lombardi: … It turned into Left 4 Dead!
Huh? Apparently, this fairy RPG required mouse gestures to cast spells and such. Newell later went on to say “it was so clearly dumb that it made us say, ‘OK, what are we actually good at that we can do instead?'” However, sometimes you have to fail to learn truly valuable lessons. They went on from there to figure out that the focus should be on AI and the co-operative experience. Well, thank goodness for that little revelation.
Honestly, as ridiculous as this is, I wish more developers would take about the genesis of some of their greatest ideas. I’m sure that Valve isn’t the first studio to start down a really bizarre path only to fail and then find those gems worth polishing. It’s interesting because with movies we’ve gotten so used to special features that walk us through every step of the process. I wish we had more material like that when it comes to games, because the whole thing seems so mysterious to us outsiders.
What do you guys think about this? What games would you like to hear more development stories about? Go!
The new DLC for Left 4 Dead releases today, bringing with it some new maps for versus play as well as a new mode, “Survival”. The more I read about Survival, the cooler it sounds. Basically, it takes the big crescendo moments from the campaigns (like the hospital elevator or the boat house) and stretches them out indefinitely, gradually adding more and more zombie spawns as you mow them down with limited supplies. This could be awesome.
The Survival Pack hit the 360 late last night, and should be out for the PC version later in the day. The best part of all of this is that it’s free, thanks to the fine dudes at Valve. I haven’t played Left 4 Dead in a month or so, but I just might play it like a maniac again thanks to this.
Wow. I am continually impressed with Valve. They bitch slap the competition when it comes to releasing great content digitally, and releasing quality content in general. And now, they have bitch slapped Microsoft’s “paid DLC no matter what” stance as well.
The two new versus modes will be for the original two campaigns, Death Toll and Dead Air. Also, survival mode places humans against several waves of zombies on up to 12 different levels from the campaigns. I’m guessing these will be the crescendo moments scattered throughout each campaign.
This is pretty exciting, and re-enforces my love for Valve yet again.
One of the most important aspects of any visual medium, be it films, games, graphic novels, machinima, etc- is story. While many people put an emphasis on the kinds of images and effects they can put into their production, it’s ultimately story that leaves a resonating impact on the viewer/participant.
While gaming has come a long way in recent years, I still find this to be one of the more lacking areas in the industry. Game makers just don’t seem interested in telling great stories. Sure, they’re interested in gameplay, physics, art, mechanics, coding and so forth, and if they can slide a decent story into that framework, then great. But it always seems to be an afterthought.
After reading a great article from Gabe Newell about Left 4 Dead’s design and the idea of using “procedural narrative” that simulates a story that is unique to each player, rather than a traditional scripted narrative that unfolds before the player’s eyes, some of my suspicions were confirmed. Namely, that Valve might be the best storytellers in gaming today.
If you needed any further convincing, Valve has just confirmed that they are, in fact, complete and utter badasses. How did they do this? Well, first of all, by making some truly classic games, with a great track record. Second, for being the only gaming company that understands how its gamers want to use the Internet to buy things.
And lastly, the new Valve Complete Pack, which includes essentially every Valve game ever made, including Left 4 Dead and the Orange box, HL2, HL, CS, CSS, and all kinds of other things. How much does this cost you? $99. Seriously. It’s almost $140 in savings.
This is perfect for me because I actually don’t own the Orange Box and I was thinking about getting Left 4 Dead on the PC anyway. Anybody else going to hit Valve up on this?
To me, one of the cool aspects that hasn’t been talked about in Left 4 Dead is the “Director”, an AI system that creates encounters for you as the game goes, meaning no 2 single-player (or co-op) playthroughs might be the same.
In versus mode, this changes. You play as a zombie, which makes you the “Director”, designing the campaign experience for your friends, in a sense. You can even call other zombies to your aid to battle your human foes. A new video interview has appeared on the webz, highlighting some of these features.