Left 4 Dead

Absolute Zero gets a blog

I finally convinced Soul that Absolute Zero needs a website, and we've been spending the past couple days filling it with content. If you've been interested at all in my past posts on the Left 4 Dead campaign, the website will have a lot more stuff including inside information, concept art, screenshots, and a new HD video we shot to show the progress of the map. I should be writing there for the campaign pretty regularly, so check it out!

Come play Absolute Zero

Over the past couple months, a friend of mine has been creating a fun Left 4 Dead campaign called Absolute Zero. The first map is done, and the second map is coming along nicely. We created some nice HD videos to show it off to everybody:

If you want to playtest map 1 with us, download the beta and come join the campaign's Steam group.

More Ice Caverns updates

Absolute Zero

A new pair of videos is out, this time showcasing an ancient tomb in Soul's Absolute Zero campaign for Left 4 Dead. The area's design draws from a lot of ancient civilizations to create a unique yet familiar look that makes you imagine what it was like in its original state. Even though it's not done yet, the architecture still looks pretty awesome!

During the making of the video we couldn't stop playing around as hunters. The area quickly reminded me of some of the freestyle trick maps for Quake where there is no particular goal, only at lot of stuff to play with. We began making tricks more and more complex and were having so much fun that I recorded a few of them for the start of the video. Despite consisting of a mere three pounces, the middle jump was by far the hardest to pull off, requiring snap aim, timing, and air control all within a quick few seconds.

Valve's original idea for Left 4 Dead was to make it a game of who survived the longest, not who survived. They didn't go through with that idea, but it's one that we've always liked. One of the first decisions Soul made when creating this campaign is that it would be much harder than Valve's campaigns. Even experienced teams shouldn't expect to survive without some really excellent strategy and teamwork. I know a lot of players seem to think that fun means winning and winning means never dying and finishing with a score of 8000 to 300, so this map might not appeal to all crowds. For people who enjoy a real challenge, I think this campaign will have a lot to offer.

If any mappers, modelers, or texture artists are out there, Soul could use your help! He's chosen such a different art design that most of Left 4 Dead's pre-made stuff isn't going to work.

The first level of the map can currently be downloaded from L4Dmaps. This second level is about 80% of the way toward a basic beta version.

Valve's Double Entendre

Crash Course poster

Today's the big launch day of Valve's much anticipated Left 4 Dead update including the two-level campaign Crash Course… sigh.

I really wonder if Valve has a QA department. It seems to break in one of three ways—either it silently launches a local server (despite lobby settings), puts the server you connect to into a livelock requiring a manual restart, or makes each player connect to their own local IP. It's not an isolated problem, with their forums being full of complaints. It makes me yearn for the days when patches weren't forced down your throat by some crap like Steam.

It actually works in single-player, so I tried the new campaign there. It uses a Death Toll theme, looking a lot like the level where you start in the church. In what seems to be a storage area, you jump from room to room or walk down the alleys connecting the rooms. Each level is uninventive, looking like one big area instead of smaller ones that vary to keep it fresh. Every room and alley looks the same, just a random scattering of boxes and cars.

Really, there's not much to left say about Crash Course. Given how short it is and how unfinished and monotonous it looks, I can't imagine myself playing it much in versus. Much rather be playing Absolute Zero or Death Aboard. If versus actually worked, that is.

Left 4 Dead…2?

Seriously—what the fuck?

Despite promises to make enough new content to make Left 4 Dead worth the $50 we paid for it, 8 months later it is still without content, buggy as hell, full of map exploits, and with terrible matchmaking. Poor game design has made being on a losing team incredibly frustrating, making it so the only reward you get for winning is half or more of the other team ruins your game, either by quitting or by childishly killing themselves to ruin your infected round— every single time.

Valve stopped caring about Left 4 Dead a while ago, and now we know why—Left 4 Dead 2 is coming out with all the content that was promised for the first one. I don't think I'll be giving them any money for this one.