Left 4 Dead Almost had no zombies because of Gabe Newell

A photo of Gabe Newell with long hair, a big white beard and black glasses.

Photography: Olly Curtis / Future Publishing (Getty Images)

Quickly, without too much thinking, describe Left 4 dead in just a few words. You’ve probably come up with something like “co-op zombie shooter”. Or maybe “online co-op FPS zombie game from Valve”. The point is, zombies would almost certainly be inside. Even so, back over Left 4 deadValve development, Valve president and co-founder Gabe Newell was not sold in creating undead villains from the game, apparently considering the zombie concept a bit rude.

As he noticed VG247YouTuber Kiwi Talkz recently interviewed former writer Valve Chet Faliszek about his time in Valve, working on Half a life, the recent game of his new company Anacrusaand of course Left 4 dead. And according to Faliszek, writing a zombie game around 2006 wasn’t too difficult, because The walking dead The TV show and the massive proliferation of zombie media that followed have not yet happened. The genre hasn’t been so tired yet, and its clichés haven’t been used too much yet.

But that hasn’t stopped President Valve Gabe Newell from wondering if zombies should be in the game. During a dinner meeting with Newell, Faliszek explained how the president criticized the choice of zombies.

“I went to dinner with Gabe once,” Faliszek explained. ‘And he beat me, that um …’ if you’re watching zombie movies’ [Newell said] ‘Night of the Living Dead it’s about racism …Dawn of the dead speaks of consumerism. ‘”

“[George Romero] he deliberately made those films about things like, to talk about them, and [Newell asked] ‘What is your film about? What is your game about? What is your zombie story about? ” Faliszek said, ‘I’m like,’ Well, you know it’s about working together. It’s about the game itself, it’s a reflection of the game. You know what you’re going to do in a zombie apocalypse? ”

This was clearly not good enough for Newell, who still felt that zombies were too “shameful” to engage in co-op horror shooters.

“They would push us more and more,” Falizek recalled, “because I remember [Newell] he said ‘so let’s not do zombies, zombies are just … rude, aren’t they? They are just very lovely. ‘”

And Faliszek agreed – at least then The walking dead The TV show helped scary zombies become more popular – the idea of ​​the undead rising and killing people was very funny.

“But like the kid who saw it Dawn of the dead in the midnight movie [screening] and he was just like, terrified … I wasn’t rude, “Faliszek said. “I had no idea those scenes were rude until I watched them later.”

The solution that Valve, Faliszek and Newell decided on was to include some characters Left 4 dead be aware of zombie movies and comics, so that these characters understand and comment on how wild it is that what was once only in horror movies is now a reality. And the key to creating all that, according to Faliszek, was to make sure all the characters were playing it seriously.

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According to the writer, a similar strategy is employed in his recently published company Anacrusaco-op shooter very inspired Left 4 dead which arrived in Early Access earlier this year.

Regarding Left 4 deadconsidering how popular the game and its sequel were on PC and console, not to mention all the clones that still come today, it seems that the choice to stick to zombies was the right call, even if some compromise was needed to get to that point. This is a great example of how fluid and messy game development can be, with an element just as important L4D‘s zombies are potentially under attack even as people continue to write and develop the game. Once again, a reminder: video games are hard to make.

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