So, we all know that Left 4 Dead is one of the greatest games ever, and the sequel only improved upon that greatness. You might also remember the backlash Valve faced for moving on to the sequel so soon after Left 4 Dead’s release. Well, in a new interview with Chet Faliszek, who was the lead writer on Left 4 Dead, there’s a good reason for why Valve went that route.
In an interview with Game Developer on the making of Left 4 Dead, Faliszek, who ended up taking on more of a leadership position for the project than his actual writing credit lets on, recalled how despite the team’s impressive work on getting Left 4 Dead optimized for weaker PCs and the Xbox 360, the game was still “broken”, due to the game using the Source Engine.
“I don’t think outside people can appreciate how broken the Left 4 Dead engine was but still shipped,” according to Faliszek. “It loaded each map two or three times in the background.” Efforts to try and fix this issue only caused more problems. One engineer’s attempts to fix the issue caused a survivor to disappear each time.
“Left 4 Dead was such a broken thing that nobody wanted to touch it,” Faliszek says. “That game iterated so quickly that if it meant breaking something horrible, where you had to load a map [two] or three times but you could playtest it today, we did it.”
As a result, while the game shipped and received plenty of acclaim, according to Faliszek, “you had to pay for that debt” if there was going to be any additional support. “There was no way you were going to support mods for Left 4 Dead in the same way we did for Left 4 Dead 2 without a big reset.”
That of course led Valve to make Left 4 Dead 2 a standalone sequel.
As to the question of why Valve didn’t communicate this issue more clearly when people asked about the reason behind the sequel being announced so soon, Faliszek had this to say: “When people kill themselves to ship a game, you don’t really want to say that there were problems with it. It was a lot of patching and Bondo-ing to get it through the door. To be appreciative of that, I’d rather just have somebody mad at me because they thought it was my idea.”
Currently, both Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 feature hefty discounts during Steam’s Autumn Sale, which is on now until November 28.