Interviews

Valve's Chet Faliszek

The studio's writer talks Left 4 Dead, The Orange Box and PS3...

When you're interviewing Valve's self-proclaimed 'Mr Awesome', you expect some pretty forthright opinions - and not a small bit of excitement. So CVG is pleased to report that the studio's amiable Chet Faliszek offered both in abundance when we caught up with him last month.

In this Q&A, the Valve linchpin discusses the future for Left 4 Dead - and the prospects for the DLC that's coming around the corner.

In addition, he gives us his views on industry issues - and doesn't shy away from that most controversial of subjects, PS3 development...

Would you say FPS is Valve's core style of game now?
Left 4 Dead is something we all play at Valve. I'm playing Modern Warfare 2 now, so in my free time I play FPS. I mean, who isn't playing that game? We really like FPS, but there might be other stuff as well. We never pigeonhole ourselves in that way. What we like to play does feed what we work on, and we go from there.

Put briefly, what's the new Left 4 Dead DLC all about?
At the moment we're promoting the DLC for Left 4 Dead 2 called The Passing, which we first showed off last year. It features characters from the first game.

But we've also got DLC coming for Left 4 Dead 1, following on from [The Passing] that tells you how the Left 4 Dead 1 survivors got there.

The whole of Left 4 Dead leaves you in a little bit of a mystery as to some of what happens - not least when you kind of see a little bit of the tail-end of the Left 4 Dead 1 story, as you get on your way to [L4D2 campaign] Dark Carnival.

With that, we actually have a comic book coming out between the two DLCs, which will help us give a little bit more of a back story to explain what's happening in the world.

Why did you decide to make DLC for an older game like the original Left 4 Dead? Wouldn't most developers and their publishers concentrate on their newest product?
We said we'd be doing this last summer, and I don't think anyone believed us... We've always thought of it as the Left 4 Dead world, and having new characters and expanding that world and point of view.

I'm a big fan of the idea that once fiction is created, gamers have it in their head and it's real. I go back to when David Bowie created characters like Major Tom - he made [Major Tom's] world feel like it was real, and each song gave another version of it.

To me, that was really cool. We wanted to do that in Left 4 Dead: There are all these things going on in this world and its stories that feel real to players, so let's have them interact with one another.

Look at the Dead Rising guys, with the Frank West fiction and the bees. That fiction doesn't quite gel exactly, because Frank West showed up in a campaign - it doesn't fully make sense. We want to make all those rules [of plotline] are real to us because they're already real to the players.

Is the stuff you're working on for L4D more focused on the multiplayer?
We've just recently released some stuff on the PC that will help the single-player and we have some other updates coming out as well. It will all get rolled into the DLC update [on 360]. In fact, you can have those updates whether or not you get the DLC.

With that, we're always looking at improving how these games work. So that if you're playing alone or with one or two of your friends, you'll have a better experience.

What are your early thoughts on Project Natal?
I'm lazy. So I'm a little scared about something that's going to make me move. But we've had a looked at Natal behind closed doors and it's really cool.

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