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Interviews

Valve's Chet Faliszek Part 1

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

After just a year in development Valve's speediest release ever, Left 4 Dead 2, hits the shops in a few short weeks' time.

The game's project lead Chet Faliszek recently dropped by the CVG offices ahead of the big release. Here's part one of what we could get out of him.

First of all, congratulations on winning your Golden Joystick for Online Game of the Year.

Faliszek: It was great. It's a great event and it's great knowing that the fans vote for you and everything. I was a bit confused over the difference between Online Game of the Year and Multiplayer Game of the Year... but it's cool. It was a surprise.

Zoom

I got to meet the guys from Rockstar and Jagex, who're like the quiet guys of the industry who have just 104 million players.

The Left 4 Dead 2 demo's just been released. What's the fan feedback been like for that?

Faliszek: It's been really positive. I think the gore system has probably made the biggest impact.

We purposefully wanted to deliver something really short, just like a taste. We wanted to tease a little so we didn't give you any other game modes - we didn't give you Scavenge or anything else - and we wanted to give you one of the cool new crescendo events which is the bus station area.

How significant is the melee system to the sequel?

Faliszek: It's a learning thing. Sometimes when we have people come in and play they still want to stick with the pistols because that's what they're used to. I prefer a melee weapon because it means when I'm getting swarmed I can turn to it and just kill everything around, which really helps when you're getting Boomer-ed or whatever.

I imagine we're going to see a progression there where people do things that we do around the office; some people still like the dual pistols, some people like the magnum and some people like to go with one of the melee weapons.

There are three new special infected in the game; the Spitter, the Charger and the Jockey. How have you made sure the new guys have clearly defined roles in gameplay, like the original boss characters?

Faliszek: Well what we did when we were building them is look at the problems we had and wanted to solve. Some of those problems can be attacked in multiple ways and not just with a special infected.

One of the things was people holding up in a corner during crescendo events, so the Spitter was the perfect solution for that. If you spit in that room where they're holding up, they have to leave. If you move and you get out of it you're not going to take that much damage, but if you just sit in it you're probably going to get incapacitated.

Zoom

The Charger is a reaction to watching people play as a really tight group. If you play versus there'll be these groups that you just can't break up - even if you Boomer on them.

The Charger grabs a guy, then runs through the crowd and deposits them really far away and starts banging on them. You have to scatter for a minute.

When people are running ahead or lagging behind the Hunter is a really good creature for that, but the Jockey adds a twist. It can take you all the way back to the safe room and park you in there. That's really demeaning, he's a funny character to play.

How do the new specials compliment the old ones? The Boomer and Smoker were a good combination in the first game...

Faliszek: They'll do the same thing: look for the worst place to put somebody. So the Spitter will spit down and then the Jockey will run somebody into it. It's a classic move and the AI does it as well as humans.

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