Interviews

Valve's Chet Faliszek Part 1

On Left 4 Dead, the community and what's next

Page 2 of 3

A couple of good combinations that I've seen lately are the Smoker and the Charger. We have some maps in tall buildings with windows and if you hit the survivors with a Charger they'll go flying out the window and they're dead. It's hard to line it up but the Smoker can just grab someone and pull them over there.

You've mentioned the dozens of iterations and rejected ideas it took to nail down the four new survivors. Was that the case with the special infected as well?

Faliszek: Oh yes. If you just look at how the Charger was at E3 as opposed to how he is now, there's a radical difference.

Originally he would just send someone flying and then you'd have to go find the guy you knocked down. That became this hard thing of, 'I did this cool thing and now the guy's so far I can't find him' - because you used to really be able to send a guy flying and he took damage when he landed.

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So we changed that so that you can hold on to the guy. You can still send everyone else flying but he at least has one guy at the end of that run he can start pounding on.

What can you tell us about the final two campaigns, Dead Center and Hard Rain?

Faliszek: Hard Rain we've started talking about a little bit. The survivors go on an easy run to a gas station across the road but it doesn't go well.

What happens is you have to go through the town and through a sugar mill where you find out that Witches happen to be attracted to sugar - so you'll have multiple Witches. Then you get the gas cans and you have to come back.

The problem is when you come back the rain's started in the very first map, then in the second it's raining pretty hard and by the time you start to return you'll see storms come up. The storms are controlled by the AI director so you'll be going along and then all of a sudden you'll hear a crack of lightning, the winds start picking up and you'll have to find shelter - not necessarily from the rain but all your vision is obscured and it gets really claustrophobic and tight.

You're actually going back to the same map but the problem is it's flooded now so routes you previously took are now really slow and bad. But equally, as you go back we've made it so you'll notice ladders to get up and things to get on that aren't really available to you coming.

So even though they're the same maps you kind of traverse them in entirely different ways. It ends up being this kind of cool thing where you have to learn the maps twice.

We're really not talking about the first one, Dead Center. You do go through a mall and... take it from there. The four characters have just met eachother, they know something's going on in this city but they're trying to deny what's really happening. As they're on the rooftop they come to this realisation of what's going on and what they're going to have to do.

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The sequel's obviously a lot more dynamic with multiple routes and the upgraded AI director. Can you give us some examples of how a campaign can vary from one playthrough to another?

Faliszek: In Heavy Rain you'll notice that the multiple Witches will really mix it up. The Witches on the way in are wondering - because it's daylight still. So you'll think 'this Witch is blocking our path so we'll let her wonder' and she'll wonder up the only ramp you can take.

And then the storms that come up on the way back will end up being a really big event. If you get one when you're going through the cane fields it's like hell upon hell. If someone gets Smoker-ed off or pulled off it just becomes this chaotic mess. You'll see that people wait on the edge to see if a storm is going to come, start going through the field and then 'shit, it's a storm'. The AI director is also able to throw a lot more creatures at you, a lot more combinations to mix it up. Before you'd be like, 'I killed the Smoker so I killed the thing that can attack me from a distance' but now with the different combinations you're not sure. Occasionally you'll see doubles of Smokers or something like that.

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