Friend of The Reticule Glenn Lawrence was down at Eurogamer London this past weekend, he had the chance to meet up with Valve’s Chet Faliszek to talk about all manner of Left 4 Dead topics. Here we go!
Glenn Lawrence: What is your favourite infected from the new and old?
Chet Faliszek: My favourite is the jockey right now, mainly because you can be so evil with it. I mean I still love being the hunter and doing the long range pounces, especially in Crash Course. In Left 4 Dead 2 there are a ton of great spots for that.
Glenn: How do you think the stuff that people learned from L4D1 is going to affect their playstyle of L4D2?
Chet: So we had corner camping from L4D1, but the spitter will totally take care of that. We see teams which play together really tight, which is good…but it’s really frustrating for people in versus. So the creation of the charger will really break that up. I think the good thing is making sure that the best way to play it is the most fun way to play it. Also making sure that the survivors and their tools work for them and how the infected work & the director work, so there are a lot of things to tackle.
Glenn: What is your favourite new feature in the L4D2?
Chet: Scavenger mode is one of my favourite things, it’s a lot of fun.
Glenn: Where did the idea come from for Scavenge mode?
Chet: We actually had like a year before Left 4 Dead release a kind of broken scavenge mode in Left 4 Dead 1. It just didn’t work well and didn’t have what we wanted. We stopped working on it and while working on one of the finales and other things we could do, we decided scavenge mode would be a full mode again. We added the time base, the introduction of that with quicker rounds…something we learnt from Left 4 Dead 1.
Glenn: Is Scavenger mode the answer to those long and difficult to finish versus games?
Chet: Well we’ve actually changed versus as well, there is a difference in scoring and also it’s harder for survivors now. We’ve made it easier for the infected, they are a little more powerful, especially with the maps being so much bigger. Actually with the demo, they are the two shortest maps in the game. Weird choice for the demo but there is a meaning for that includes the mini-crescendo event and we wanted to include that.
Glenn:I’ve seen the spitter being able to interact with the gas cans in Scavenge mode, how does that work?
Chet: There is Ellis now running with a gas can (Chet points to L4D2 screens in booth) if he drops that can… (player drops can at that second…Chet shouts out “PICK IT UP, it’s going to time out, what are you doing!?”) It’s hard to get the new aspects of the mode over! Anyway…so when the can is dropped it turns orange, so once cans have been ‘affected’ by players they can be set on fire by the spitter. The spitter cannot affect cans which are untouched by players. There are great combos, for example a smoker can pull someone and the can falls to the ground and the spitter can run in and set it on fire.
Glenn: There are some new items including the defibrillator. How does the defibrillator work? Do we still have closets?
Chet: So if someone dies (not just incapacitated) you can bring them back to life, closets are still in. In a campaign like Hard Rain there are a lot of witches and it’s really dangerous, and if you’re playing realism mode a witch just kills you, so defib becomes more powerful than a health kit. Since it brings people all the way back to life.
Glenn: Tell us more about Realism mode, it’s not just expert mode is it?
Chet: No, not at all! You can even play realism mode on easy. We know some people always play with the same friends and they’re really good as a team so we want to challenge them as a team instead of their individual skill. It’s easy to say make the infected harder to kill, make your health less. But we wanted to plan it a different way so we removed the survivor glows, the witch kills you in one hit, we removed the respawn closets. All these different things it becomes really about teamwork, making you work really tightly.
Glenn: How are L4D1 and L4D2 connected story wise?
Chet: We’re not talking about that yet. Same world, same infection. Bill’s not dead, he’s still alive.
Glenn: Have you emphasised the approach to story this time since fans on the forums pieced together the story from Left 4 Dead 1? It seemed like players wanted more from it?
Chet: We always had the plan to not do a traditional story and leak it out the way we did. The way the story turned out in Left 4 Dead 1 was that you were thrown into the zombie apocalypse, and you’d have no idea what is going on. So now in Left 4 Dead 2 we weren’t sure how we’d be able to run with the next big talk about the story with 4 new characters and a fresh perspective. We’ve always had different plans for the world and the story telling in it. I think it’s working pretty well, some people in the demo are already starting to raise questions to try and figure some stuff out.
Glenn: Do you have any further plans for L4D1 DLC?
Chet: We have an update which is coming out really soon, not exactly sure when. It will be out for the PC and the 360. I’ve been out the office a lot so I can’t say exactly when.
Glenn: Was Crash Course sort of experimental for you? Trying out techniques in L4D1 to improve L4D2? Things like alternative routes from A to B / moving crescendos (generator in finale)?
Chet: We looked at it more as an experiment in the Left 4 Dead world, we don’t really break it up like that. Originally it was going to be something really different, but we were working on the best player experience, with it being a bit of a shorter campaign. There are a lot of different ways you can go and you’ll see lots more of that in Left 4 Dead 2.
Glenn: Do you think we will see the original L4D maps appear in L4D2 to make use of the weapons and game modes?
Chet: Well the weapons are here to see [at Eurogamer]. But…we’ll see, that’s something on the road we’re looking at.
Glenn: Will interest continue for L4D1, or do you think L4D2 is the only one people will play?
Chet: Well people still play Counter Strike 1.6
Glenn: Any more Left 4 Dead 2 announcements on the way before release?
Chet: Well we have some blog updates and some other stuff, we have 3 weeks yet. Loads of time!
Glenn: So what else is going on or in the pipeline?
Chet: I’ve been on the road! I have no idea what anyone is working on!
Glenn: Well they can’t just be sitting there doing nothing! Come on, they’re working…
Chet: They’re getting massages. Well no…there is plenty of TF stuff going on, it takes like 30 people to make a hat!
Glenn: A HEV helmet / hat?
[Chet checks his iPhone ignoring me]
Glenn: OK…what is Kim working on?
Chet: She’s working on Left 4 Dead! She’s one of the level artists and she out recently at the Tokyo gameshow. That’s a good example of how at Valve we all get to work on what we want and jump around you know?
Glenn: Is Doug here?
Glenn: How come?
Chet: Because he’s a lazy bastard and hates to travel! I miss travelling with Doug, I don’t know…we split some stuff up and I took this. He’s taking care of *a lot* of stuff at home.
Glenn: You enjoy travelling or are you sick of this now?
Chet: Not at all, I love doing this. Just watching people play for the first time and see the excitement, you know. I like England, I like London…coming back out. I was in London earlier this year at some press event, but that was just to tease!
Glenn: Lastly, congratulations on getting the demo out a few days ago. A few hiccups along the way, but from the reaction I’ve seen so far it’s been positive. What was the reason for the delay?
Chet: Well we held it back for a short period to fix some issues so that when we launched the demo there would be less issues for customers once it was out there. It was essential stuff, and the update after was a part of the file decryption process so that it all went smoothly after release.
Glenn: Thanks for your time Chet, well you’ve taken up a lot of my time coming to see you today, in fact I’m missing the Team Fortress 2 Halloween update and those new hats. Could you email Robin for me and get him to send them over?
Chet: No. No hats for you.