Left 4 Dead Interview: Valve's Chet Faliszek on the Xbox 360 Version and the Evil Allure of All-talk

By Nick Breckon, Aug 31, 2008 9:21am PDT After greedily hogging a Left 4 Dead (PC, 360) demo station for what seemed like hours today at PAX, I had the chance to pull Valve's Chet Faliszek aside and get his comment on a number of topics related to the upcoming co-op zombie shooter.
How different is the Xbox 360 version? Will the game have an all-talk chat option? What's that about a flamethrower? Read on for Faliszek's answers.

On the differences between the Xbox 360 and PC versions:

"I know someone on Shack or Left4Dead411, someone was like, 'Oh you can see they slowed it down on the 360.' Did it seem slower to you? Yeah. We didn't slow it down at all for the 360. Our tech guys, our really smart guys, did a ton of work so that the 360 users see the same things the PC users do.

Everything's the same. When we do split-screen, we do a couple little things just graphically there to smooth things out, but it's still the same speed, same match, same number of zombies. So as we were working on it, guys were like, 'We have this big hammer, we can make less zombies.' And we're always like, 'No, we can not use that hammer. We must fix it in other ways.'

There is a little bit of auto-aim that happens. You can either do an auto-aim by helping you to track a target, or by helping you to shoot what you think you're aiming at. We wanted you to shoot what you think you're aiming at. A lot of times your friends are there, you have friendly fire on but you just want to shoot.

We also do little cheats, like if you're helping someone up, you don't get hit by friendly fire. If you're down, and a Hunter's on top of you, you don't get friendly fire. We want friendly fire to add to the fun, and not be this big negative. So on Normal [difficulty] it does barely any damage."

On flamethrower rumors and content update plans:

"You know, I didn't actually say a flamethrower. [Laughs] I got a lot of shit for that.

There are a bunch of different ideas we've got. Any cool thing from a zombie movie, zombie game--there are a lot of cool things we want to do. Personally I like lighting everything on fire. In development, I actually had a key where I could just set anything I want on fire. [Laughs] You'd do it too, right?

There are some other ideas we had for Versus mode that we've played around with. There are some other modes with [co-op] that we played around with as well, that we'll start releasing afterward.

We see outside playtesters playing [the scenarios] for about an hour and a half to two hours. So it's about the length of a movie, they kind of feel about right. We'll maybe look at making some shorter experiences, and some maybe even longer experiences."

On the reason for the minor delay to November 18:

"We talked it over with EA--they have a lot of insight into when the optimal time for release is. And then with the team, we talked about it, and it's like, 'Do you want to go a little later? A couple more weeks, eh?' [Makes a 'Why not?' face.]"

On the frequently-rumored PS3 version:

"No PS3. No PS3. No PS3. [Long pause] ..Maybe. [Laughs]

The coverage of that cracks me up more than anything. 'No PS3! Oh there's PS3? PS3's out! Rumor has it, no PS3!'"

On whether Left 4 Dead updates will include content similar to that found in Team Fortress 2 updates:

Yeah. I think one of the coolest things we started doing with TF2 is we started weekly playing [user-made] maps. We already knew what were the popular maps, because it's easy for us to go on Steam, right? And then we started evaluating those and going, are these actually good maps? Are these maps actually not filled with copyrighted material and you run around in circles? But if they're cool maps, why don't we help them get better, bring them in-house, put them out, give them our kind of stamp of approval. It's just a great way of highlighting the community and helping to get the community involved.

On whether community maps will be included in Left 4 Dead console updates:

"Yes. That's our plan for the TF2 maps. When we release the big [Xbox 360] update, it's going to include everything."

On hosting in-house dedicated servers for both versions:

"The biggest problem with [the console version of TF2] is that we had kids with dial-up connections saying, 'I can host a 16 player server.' We had a little thing that said, 'Oh no you can't.' And they're like, 'Oh yes I can.' And so then people would connect, have a horrible experience, and go, 'This game sucks.'

And so one of the things we're doing is hosting dedicated servers. It's a program Microsoft offers where they'll come in, they've got to certify our data center, they work with us on it, and they let us host the servers, and that way we're able to ramp it up and have a better experience for our users.

And of course, you won't have to connect to a dedicated server. You can do split-screen, you can play alone, you can do system link, you can do peer connection, you can do all those things. But if you go in the match menu and you hit quick match, it'll try to find you a dedicated server to play on.

We've already started doing some server hosting for TF2. We'll have dedicated servers on PC as well. To a lesser extent probably, just because there's so much there already."

On allowing an "All-Talk" option for cross-team voice chat:

"We've talked about that. I personally prefer it. I used to hate it [in TF2]. Now I kind of like it sometimes, depending on the mood I'm in.

But in this, you're like, 'Hey Douuuuggg. Hey Douuuuugg. I'm over here. Ahhhh!' There is a ton of trash talk. It really is an evil game when you play it in Versus mode. But when people play co-op, you can hear them laughing down the hall. Co-op: it's laughing and having a good time, punctuated with profanity."

On plans to show more of the playable Infected side:

"I think we'll be starting that in October. We're still on our little--if you're read the press release, we're still officially on our 'tour.' [Laughs] So there's only so many of us that do the press. Vegas next week, England after that. And Russia. We'll see how that goes."

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