Valve's picked up some surprising controversy with the announcement of its quickfire Left 4 Dead sequel, sparking more than 30,000 fans to take to the internet with pitch forks and picket signs over "abandoning" the original shooter.
We sat down with Valve's Doug Lombardi this afternoon to talk about the outcry, its reaction to the sale of id Software and plans for the sequel.
So... that was a quick turnaround?
Lombardi: Well we never make games the same way twice, right? We're completely schizophrenic in that regard so we thought why not try to put out a quick sequel, or do a sequel in a short amount of time.
The idea for that really came from the team after they had finished had a bunch of ideas for what they wanted to do; melee weapons, new characters, new game modes etc. Then when the game had shipped they saw a bunch of behaviours in the wild once thousands, hundreds of thousands and then millions of people had played the game.
Folks just basically got together and put everything that they wanted to do on a white board. The tradition at Valve is to look at things in an inside-out way and say, "what do we want to do?" and then figure out the best way to get those things out to customers.
That's kind of what happened. There was a white board exercise and there were a class of things that felt like they'd be a sequel and there were a class of things that felt like they'd be good for DLC.
We plan to keep supporting Left 4 Dead 1. There will be some announcements coming before summer's out about what's coming there, and then we haven't shown everything that's in Left 4 Dead 2 yet.
I think 8, 9 months from now once everything's been out for a while and everyone's had time to see the complete product of Left 4 Dead 2 and see continued support for Left 4 Dead 1, they may sort of see what we were up to and what the method of our madness was there.
The AI director too is another thing that makes us think that we can do this this quickly, to have it playable and up and running this quickly in new campaigns.
And there's been some chat over E3 about how the two games are going to interlock, with backwards compatibility and such. Have you decided how that's going to work yet?
Lombardi: Some of that is out there already. The authoring tools that we've put out - what folks do there they'll be able to run on Left 4 Dead 1 and Left 4 Dead 2.
We're still looking at other ways to make the community cohesive in an elegant fashion, but we haven't nailed down all the final details on that just yet.
The boycott. Did they change your plans for L4D 1 DLC at all?
Lombardi: It really didn't change our plans at all. As I mentioned we had plans to keep releasing stuff. We put the Survival Pack out for free which I thought was pretty cool on 360 as well as PC - it's sort of uncommon to be able to get new stuff out that way.
We're already released the authoring tools and the matchmaking to get that content out to people, because the problem with mods and stuff like that is people make great stuff but then it doesn't really get propagated to the whole community properly.
So we're doing that. And then there's more new content that we're working on that we'll be announcing as I mentioned at the end of the summer.
I think there was just some confusion. When you go to E3 and make a big splash on a new product you're trying to get the retailer's attention and the press attention.