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Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead

There's a post by Gabe Newell on Edge Online offering the Valve Managing Director's pleased reaction to this week's release of Left 4 Dead. He offers some fascinating insights into the process they've created for developing and testing games, describing behavioral modeling they do to determine the comfort level of players in their games, and describing the way this enables them to create a proper sense of pace. He offers insights on one of their "theories of fun," challenges they overcame, and the emphasis they place on testing, testing, and more testing. Also, the Left 4 Dead live interview on Eurogamer transcribes a live chat with Valve's Chet Faliszek from earlier today. Along the way Chet explains the game's long development cycle: "That is a common question for people who played it back awhile back. While many of the core mechanics remain the same - the focus on co-op from the ground up etc., many of the polish and tweaking levels still remained. And when Valve was able to supplement the original team of 10 with a team of 50, we were able to give it a complete graphical overhaul as well. And that wasn't just to look pretty, but served gameplay elements as well."

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17. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 22, 2008, 20:12 Sepharo
 
I'm always impressed with the efforts Valve take to make a great polished enjoyable game.

If only every developer had the will, time, and money to do so...
 
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16. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 22, 2008, 16:43 elefunk
 
Game of the year, really? Without having played it, this is such an 'under the radar' release compared to most of the other AAA titles that I imagine calling it GOTY doesn't say much for everything else.
Luckily, some people decide on Game of the Year based on quality and fun instead of hype

There are lots of worthy games this year. I haven't played them all to make an educated decision. But what I do know is that I've had more fun with my ~10 hours of Left 4 Dead demo and ~11 hours of the final version so far than I've had in a long time, and that's really the only thing that's important in a game.

This comment was edited on Nov 22, 2008, 16:45.
 
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15. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 22, 2008, 15:56 Jow
 
Game of the year, really? Without having played it, this is such an 'under the radar' release compared to most of the other AAA titles that I imagine calling it GOTY doesn't say much for everything else.  
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14. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 22, 2008, 14:01 JaZeeL
 
I'm confused. Have you not clicked "Extras" on the main splash screen? L4D does have commentary mode.

Edit: I just went through the commentary mode. Perhaps you were referring to the fact that the commentary is mainly fundamental gameplay design-based commentary and only for the No Mercy campaign?

This comment was edited on Nov 22, 2008, 15:26.
 
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13. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 22, 2008, 13:52 Fion
 
I love L4D but I think it's missing one thing that all Valve games have had since the first HL2 episode is the mode where you can click on sound bubbles throughout the game that give you insight on how they developed that part of the game, commentary by voice actors, details on what was involved in making a particularly amazing sequence (like the plane crash at the end of the Dead Air campaign. Most amazing thing I've ever seen in a game lol.) I would have LOVED to see this in Left 4 Dead. The only issue I can see would be how zombies are always coming after you if you wait in one spot for to long. But using one could always pause the game while it plays or something.

Perhaps we'll still see this but I doubt it. L4D is GotY in my opinion, having the above would have made it even better. I hope their next games have it. Every other Valve game since HL2-EP1 has.
 
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12. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 22, 2008, 13:08 Beamer
 
After reading that bizarre article I have come to understand Gabe Newell has no idea what he is talking about. Which is odd considering the position he is in.

Funny, I found all three quotes you posted to be completely coherent and pretty intelligent.

Maybe the problem is the reader and not the speaker?
 
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11. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 22, 2008, 13:03 rist3903
 
All Valve has done here is the equivalent of putting a heartrate monitor on a guy watching a movie. Sure, that tells you when the subject is excited and when calm, but what that tells you about how you should plot your movie is another question entirely.

Well, no of course it doesn't tell you how you should plot your movie, but it is hard data that can be used by people who have experience in storytelling to create scenarios that have palpable tension.

I have encountered a few of these during the game and was on the edge of my seat. Once a tank attacked my friends and I and had killed 3 people and was gunning for our last. The 3 of us cheered him on as he limped across the bridge towards safety, the tank on his tail. A smoker latched onto him from above the safe room caboose but he managed to kill it before it dragged him and inched inside. It was definitely a moment that will stay with me for a long time.

It is not a perfect system and there is room for improvement. Fortunately it was made by Valve. These guys know a thing or two about honing games, both pre and post release.

This comment was edited on Nov 22, 2008, 20:13.
 
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10. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 22, 2008, 10:34 Rosco
 
Well, now that the excitement if over with L4D, can we get some info on the real zombie game coming, called They Hunger: Lost Souls instead?  
Consoles are schwag.
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9. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 22, 2008, 10:30 g_mann
 
Demo bored me. even in multilayer. valve lost tough with reality when they said episodic content was the way to go LOL  
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8. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 22, 2008, 10:14 danebramage
 
Yes, but what you said was more clear and cogent than anything Gabe said.

I didn't find anything Newell said particularly difficult to understand. In fact, the problem isn't that Gabe's head is in the clouds, it's rather that what he's saying is so mundane and pedestrian. All Valve has done here is the equivalent of putting a heartrate monitor on a guy watching a movie. Sure, that tells you when the subject is excited and when calm, but what that tells you about how you should plot your movie is another question entirely. It might be a great way to sell popcorn--indeed, most movies today seem to follow that exact blueprint--and yet the lousiest of all possible ways to create art.
 
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7. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 22, 2008, 08:47 Bluesfanboi
 
Yes, but what you said was more clear and cogent than anything Gabe said.

And you didn't include the dubious notion of game levels designing themselves!
 
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6. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 22, 2008, 05:06 mickelobe
 
After reading that bizarre article I have come to understand Gabe Newell has no idea what he is talking about. Which is odd considering the position he is in.

Forgive me for disagreeing but In my humble opinion after reading the entire article I honestly believe Gabe Newell knows exactly what he is talking about. Co-Op is a remarkable genre of gaming as far as I'm concerned.

As far as I know a lot of people are casual gamers who'd prefer playing with a real life friend rather than with strangers. Myself included. I have two computers in my house just for real life friends to come over, have a few drinks and play some sort of coop or versus game. L4D is a perfect choice for this sort of occasion. I honestly believe Valve will set a new standard for this sort of gaming and other developers will follow. After all they are business oriented and L4D is selling a shit load of copies.
 
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5. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 22, 2008, 04:49 Jerykk
 
Developers aren't infallible. In fact, most of the classic developers have totally cast aside everything that once made them great in favor of making the easy money. Peter Molyneaux, Cliffy B, Warren Spector, John Carmack, Ken Levine... all jumped ship to the consoles and are now making dumbed down crap for the masses.  
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4. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 22, 2008, 03:08 the_culture
 
Ohhh the irony

Hahahah, so true.

I've had the pleasure of talking to Gabe and Erik Johnson several times and hey always have something insight to say about either game design and gaming in general.

Come to think of it though, so did Harvey Smith and we all know what happened to Deus Ex 2 and Blacksite.

Hmm....
 
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3. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 22, 2008, 00:09 Yifes
 
Right, a self-made millionaire game creator with an arsenal of games that are nothing short of game of the year material has no idea what he's talking about...

Lol yeah. No-name forum posters calling out industry legends saying they don't know shit. Ohhh the irony
 
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2. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 21, 2008, 21:51 Caveman
 
Right, a self-made millionaire game creator with an arsenal of games that are nothing short of game of the year material has no idea what he's talking about...  
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1. Re: Gabe Newell and Chet Faliszek on Left 4 Dead Nov 21, 2008, 21:44 Bluesfanboi
 
After reading that bizarre article I have come to understand Gabe Newell has no idea what he is talking about. Which is odd considering the position he is in.

"Is their mouse jerking around a lot, or are they interacting smoothly?"

"Once you are monitoring all four players as they’re playing you can take the group right to the edge and then back off."

"We can play tens of thousands of games every night and then spend some time looking at graphs rather than watching individual players play."

Ridiculous ramblings and everyone around him humors him. Yuck.

 
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