Left 4 Dead 2: Chet Faliszek interview

Photobucket

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to question Chet Faliszek, writer on Left 4 Dead 2? Paying tribute to zombie attacks featured in the game, we bashed down his door and then proceeded to puke and spit all over the furniture. Bafflingly, he wasn’t amused.

CG: Why did you decide to include melee weapons this time around? Do they differ significantly from melee attacks in the original Left 4 Dead?

CF: We wanted to give players more options. Often players will be surrounded by common infected, shooting them all can get tiresome so we needed to help these players out. And after all, whacking zombies in the head with a frying pan, bat, or katana is a staple of zombie movies.

CG: Was it difficult coming up with new enemies that fit in with the zombie theme, while not being too similar to existing monsters?

CF: We look at the new Special Infected in the context of problems we need to solve. For example we saw players who were so tight with their teamwork, even a solid Infected team had no options to counter them. The Charger was created specifically to break that group up and scatter them and allow the other specials to attack.

CG: Mobile witches are a new addition, is that you guys just deliberately trying to scare the crap out of us all for giggles?

CF: Really good players have learned to handle a Witch, but other players still struggle with the Witch, so we didn’t just want to make The Witch tougher. While she wanders around, you can wait her out, she might get out of your way. Of course, she also might move even more in your way or a smoker might come by and help you get a closer look at her.

Photobucket

CG: With the new special infected joining the fray in versus, we’d imagine it opens up a set of new possibilities for tactical play for infected players. Are there any particular combinations that work well?

CF: The new Special Infected are created to work well with others, so there are many options available. Puking on someone who is being jockeyed is a combo that not only helps bring down the Survivors but is always good for a laugh. Another favorite is to Smoker pull someone into a long hallway or past an open window and have the Charger take them for a ride. And the Spitter? She just loves to spit goo on a pounced survivor.

CG: The use of the global stats pages in Left 4 Dead must have provided you with unprecedented levels of detail on how people were playing the game; has anything you’ve learned through the stats affected design choices for Left 4 Dead 2?

CF: One of the biggest pieces of data we have seen is the confirmation that people love to play co-op campaigns. Once you have played L4D for a stretch, you don’t automatically move to Versus. Many players continue to play Campaign Mode where the game becomes more of a social event than a game. We have many emails and stories of husbands getting their wives to play Co-op, friends from college getting together once a week to play or the weekly work game.

CG: Why is there still no single player story mode?

CF: We didn’t want players to have to play a different mode to get the story. We always wanted you to be able to get the story in the campaign mode that you could play alone or with your friends.

Photobucket

CG: When expansions make an appearance, can we expect new items and game modes rather than just new maps?

CF: Right now we are working to get everything we can into the game. We will start looking at DLC and what that will be after we ship.

CG: Do you think that the AI Director could be successfully implemented into a single player game –  not necessarily a Left 4 Dead one? Is this something you have considered?

CF: We have definitely thought along those lines. Replayability is just as important in single player games as it is in multiplayer games. The AI Director helps us bring that to our games so you should be looking out for variations on it in the future.

CG: Will we end up seeing Left 4 Dead 2 on the PS3? And if not, why not?

CF: Right now we think the 360 and PC offer the best community features for Left 4 Dead 2. Through Xbox Live or Steam gamers can easily connect and play, and playing with your friends is what Left 4 Dead 2 is all about.

Photobucket

CG: Valve are of course notorious for long breaks between sequels, with the admirable mantra ‘It’ll be released when it’s ready’. Bearing this in mind, why is the second Left 4 Dead game going to be in the shops just a year after the first?

CF: Sometimes the iterative process hits all its marks. Numerous times during the process we evaluated the game and were ready to pull the plug on this year’s release if it wasn’t ready. Internally we are very tough on our own games and were ready to hold back Left 4 Dead 2 if it wasn’t something we were proud of, but during development we just kept hitting our goals. I think that is a testament to how well the team understands the world of Left 4 Dead and how we were all of a shared vision for what Left 4 Dead 2 should be.

CG: There was the notorious threatened boycott, which was ended after you spoke to the leaders of the campaign personally. Why did you do this? Did you see the boycott as a real and serious threat to sales?

CF: It was less about the threat to sales and more about our community talking with us over what their concerns. We regularly invite people from the community or outside into our offices to discuss our games and how we are doing as a company, this visitation was just a little more public than normal.

CG: How do you plan to support L4D1 going forward? The sequel is almost sure to make the first game obsolete, and yet you’ve claimed that L4D2 wouldn’t spell the end of the original. Is the Crash Course DLC the last we’ll see or is there more planned for the original?

CF: We are working on updates for L4D1 as I type this. So we aren’t done yet.

Photobucket

CG: What’s your response to many people calling Crash Course a hack job?  People have pointed out and/or claimed 100% reused geometry, glitches, glitched achievements with odd grammatical errors in the text, questionable level design, too short a length, and nothing to differentiate it from other modes. Can we expect marked improvement in future L4D1 add ons?

CF: On the opening night we had a server issue that caused some issues with being able to walk through objects etc, we patched it the next day. Past that Crash Course has been very well received. We wanted to experiment and focus on Versus and we are very happy with the results.

CG: Where do you see Left 4 Dead going in the future?

CF: We plan on continuing to expand the world and push forward co-op gaming.

Before you leave the computer screen in search of more bbrraaaiinnsss to devour, why not check out the official Left 4 Dead site at www.l4d.com?

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

2 comments

  1. I really appreciate you asking those last couple questions. That was really ballsy. It’s too bad the guy didn’t really answer them, but they still tell us more about the developer than a lame question would have.

    Thanks.

Leave a Reply