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Left 4 Dead 2 Interview

Valve's Doug Lombardi on the 'quick sequel'

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It's not really the venue for announcing DLC and whatnot. I think folks took our announcement as a sign that we were dropping Left 4 Dead 1 and that's just not the case.

Any other game from any other company probably wouldn't have sparked the kind of negative reaction that Left 4 Dead 2 did. In that, do you think you've spoilt your fans with so much free content?

Lombardi: (Laughs) Oh I don't think they're spoilt, I think that they're getting their money's worth, right?

We always look at it as, if we were a customer what would we want from stuff? How would we want to be treated as customers? I think as I mentioned with Left 4 Dead so far we've done a pretty good job with the Survival Pack, the authoring tools and there's more stuff coming.

You obviously can't do that forever, both technically and financially there's reasons why at some point you have to move on to the sequel.

But with Half-Life 1 folks got Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat and bunches of other stuff that was free for a long time.

With Half-Life 2 that got Deathmatch right away, Counter-Strike: Source came with it. Orange Box we thought was pretty good value and we're trying to make Left 4 Dead 1 feel like it's really great value and we'll try to do the same thing with Left 4 Dead 2.

And of course you're still snubbing PS3 on the Left 4 Dead front. Surely this has to come down to your preference as a company now, rather than any sort of technical limitation?

Lombardi: I think I'd use a little bit of the same answers. We look at it as if we were customers of this product, how would we want to be treated and what sort of product would we want out of it?

We've run a couple of experiments over the years of PlayStation in general; we did Half-Life on PS2 with an outside company and then we did Orange Box PS3 with an outside company. We weren't able to deliver the same type of product on PS3 and PS2 for that matter that we were on the 360 and PC.

If you look at it as a matter of Valve doing it, Valve did the 360 and the PC version of the Orange Box and they both go 96 on Metacritic - The PS3 version was nowhere close to that. Left 4 Dead got a 89 or a 90 on 360 and PC. We're really, really proud of the fact that whatever platform you play the game on you're getting the same experience, you're getting the same Metacritic score. And with Left 4 Dead, you're getting the same DLC with the survival pack and some of the stuff that we have coming.

Until we have the ability to get a PS3 team together, until we find the people who want to come to Valve or who are at Valve who want to work on that, I don't really see us moving to that platform.

We've kind of learned a lesson in that again, if we were customers of that product on PlayStation, we'd feel like we sort of got the stepchild version of the product while the guys on the PC and the 360 got the sweet version of it.

You've come up with a lot of new ideas for the sequel in dismemberment, dynamic weather etc, but were there any things in Left 4 Dead 1 you wanted to cut or change in the sequel?

Lombardi: The first thing that comes to mind is changing the finales at the way they work. That wasn't on the original list, it was something that came from watching people play the game in mass after launch.

We saw a lot of people in finales 'gaming' the game, backing up to the wall and waiting for zombies to come to them to make it much easier.

So we've change the ways the finales work now. The best way to describe it is we'll 'put you on the run'. The finales don't end until you get from point A to point B and if you try to back up against the wall you're just going to get smothered. They're going to keep coming and you're going to run out of ammo and run out of health.

So we're trying to push people to play the game a little more in the way it's intended rather than 'gaming' the game.

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