Left 4 Dead live interview

Valve's Chet Faliszek answered your questions.

Valve's Chet Faliszek has been answering your questions about Left 4 Dead, live, for well over an hour. What a guy.

He's touched on just about everything, from how to confront a zombie to the potential inclusion of undead dolphins somewhere down the line.

What follows is the entire transcript of the live interview, with the earliest questions and answers at the top.

Our live coverage of this event has finished



Super Moderating Hero: And we're off! First things first, Chet, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got to be so famous?

Chet Faliszek: I am a writer at Valve Software. First started working on Half-Life 2 Episode 1, then onto Episode 2 and Team Fortress 2 for The Orange Box. If I am famous, we are all sunk.


How come L4D took so long in the end? It was in pretty amazing shape when we played it in early 2007...

Chet Faliszek: That is a common question for people who played it back awhile back. While many of the core mechanics remain the same - the focus on co-op from the ground up etc., many of the polish and tweaking levels still remained. And when Valve was able to supplement the original team of 10 with a team of 50, we were able to give it a complete graphical overhaul as well. And that wasn't just to look pretty, but served gameplay elements as well.


There's been some debate about this, so officially are they 'Zombies' or are they just 'Infected Living People'?

Chet Faliszek: They are infected humans who have no humanity left. Zombies are officially the dead risen. But if you saw them running down the street at you, you would yell "ZOMBIES!"


EG's fantastic L4D review mentioned how many stories you can tell after playing a good session. What is "Mr Awesome"'s most memorable spat with the hordes?

Chet Faliszek: There are so many, everytime we play there is a story generated. Recently I was playing with a one other Valve person online with two strangers. I had one health left and the copter was coming for us in VS on No Mercy. I was struggling, yelling at the team to just go on.

They wouldn't leave me and helped me get on board, even though that meant one of them right in front of me on the pad was grabbed by a smoker, whisked away and then had to battle back up to get on the copter himself. We won that round, and those players won a place in my heart...


Was it more important for the team to make an atmospheric zombie survival game, or to make a challenging yet fun co-op game? Were there a lot of things in the game were you found one being sacrificed for the other?

Chet Faliszek: First and foremost it was about co-op. But in the end that didn't counter a zombie survival game in any way.

So the idea of a zombie movie fit with co-op perfectly. When you watch zombie movies, every person is important, everyone is an extra gun - someone else to help defend you, etc. That is except for the girl with the dog in the new Dawn of the Dead. They could have probably done better without her.
without her.


A pretty obvious question: can we expect downloadable content in the future? If so, what's in mind? A whole new campaign seems to be what fans want! Is this possible or would it be a hell of a lot of work for the team? Also, how about vehicles so we can run zombies over and break its legs off? Or not. Whatever. Thanks EG and Chet! p.s. what a name!

Chet Faliszek: There will definitely be some new content coming out for Left 4 Dead. We have not nailed down exactly what that content is or when it is coming, but we have plenty of ideas and will be letting people know soon.


You have famously amazing stat-tracking with Steam. Do you know what percentage of people disturb the Witch?

Chet Faliszek: To be honest, I am not sure if we drill down that close to see if people are passing by her or taking her on. Sorry, the game has only been out a short while and I haven't had a long time with our stats yet to know what exactly we are tracking off the top of my head.


To what extent - beyond custom maps - do you plan to open the game up to modders?

Chet Faliszek: To continue my parade of ignorance, I am not exactly sure what is going to be released with the SDK shortly. We should have some more information on that within a week.


Super Moderating Hero: What sort of additional content are you looking at for the future, Chet? Lots of our readers are asking about weapons, enemy types, extra levels - are all those on the cards?

Chet Faliszek: Until we nail that down for sure I hate to say lest we disappoint someone. We design by iterating on ideas. Often what will start in one place will take us to some place completely new as it opens up a new better idea.


Will the 360 version be as supported as the PC version with regards to DLC/map packs? As that was not the case with TF2.

Chet Faliszek: We understand that concern and want to make sure we address it with the 360. So we will be looking at trying to coordinate major updates across the two platforms.


What is the "story" with the witch? And why after she kills a survivor does she cry and run away with her head down and covered?

Chet Faliszek: She is singular with her obsession, she makes anyone who disturbs her pay the price and then she is done. Her rage has found an outlet and now she must hide again to be alone. She really does just want to just sit by herself and be left alone – SO LEAVE HER ALONE!


Have you considered doing shorts for the four characters along the lines of the TF2 ones? The intro CG movie is wicked.

Chet Faliszek: The team who did the great work on the intro movie has many ideas of what they would like to work on. Until they nail down exactly what they want to do and how they want to tell the story, I can't tell you what they will do. But I do know they are not done with the L4D universe.


What scares the pants off Valve more: (28 Days Later/Dawn of the Dead: Redux) Runners or (Classic Romero) Stumblers?

Chet Faliszek: I will go back a little further and say the fast zombies in The Return of the Living Dead were the scariest. Any zombie that can operate a radio and request more paramedics is scary.


Super Moderating Hero: If confronted by a zombie in real-life, what should our readers do? Make themselves big? We don't have zombies in Europe.

Chet Faliszek: Run. When in doubt run. Unless your readers are human puffer fish, I am not sure how they are going to make themselves big, but either way, run! Zombies don’t care how big you are and by running you avoid that unfortunate accident with your kid brother dressed as a zombie.

Super Moderating Hero: Won't running just make it chase us, like running from a dog?

Chet Faliszek: If it is a zombie dog, well then you are in real trouble… but in general run until you can form a plan. And the first part of the plan should be yelling out – "Are you really a zombie?" and don't wait for the answer to be "yes", zombies are notorious liars.


Would you ever make a game combining the zombies of Left4Dead and the Portal Gun? And what's the future for the Source engine - isn't it getting a bit old like my granny who has no teeth?

Chet Faliszek: First, buy your granny some teeth. The Source engine keeps changing. Most people rename their engines or bump up a number, we keep adding features and tech without bumping up the number. So the same Source engine that powered HL2 is not the same engine that powered Left 4 Dead.

As for the cross-over, maybe should we have all the main characters in little go-karts, maybe Alyx, Gordon, Louis, Zoey, Chell - a big cross-over hit? Now that I mention it, I bet someone with Gary's mod will have that done by this afternoon.


Why aren't there more distinct horde zombies? Lots of repetition. And no zombie children!

Chet Faliszek: I forget the exact number, but there are thousands and thousands of zombie variations. Haven't really seen most people seeing this as an issue. But as we create new areas, we will continue to add unique zombies for that area.


Why do we never see kids or animals in Valve games? Is that an ethical problem? Not that I want any, but I'm just wondering how Valve sees that.

Chet Faliszek: I am not sure I am the right guy for the question on children. When working on L4D for example, the idea of children just didn't come up. The idea of animals did, and you can shoot birds in HL2, there are other animals in HL1 as well (probably going to get nailed for forgetting some obvious animals here).

Interrupting Moderating Hero: And Chet - I know someone asked this before, would you consider adding vehicles so we could run the animals over and break its legs off? (it's a question we ask a lot these days)

Chet Faliszek: In L4D, the virus does attack mammals, so there is a chance we will see zombie dolphins, which I guess your readers will then want boats for, so they can run over the zombie dolphins! Where will it end?


The director AI is one of the best thing in Left 4 Dead, do you think we will see more of it in future valve games?

Chet Faliszek: I think we are all really excited about the ideas the Director brings and how we could use that in other games. It works best right now in Left 4 Dead because it is all about replayability and the procedural nature of game. How it would work in other games is still open, but as with any new toy, we will play around with it and see how it can be used in other games.


Have you any idea when the Source Development Kit will be released?

Chet Faliszek: Shortly. I know we are working on it and want it out as soon as possible. I really think this is a game that brings back that urge to make maps like Doom did back in its day. You want to make your place of work and unleash the zombie apocalypse on it. When we release the SDK we will also be releasing tutorials for level makers, from newbies who have never used hammer to experienced mappers.


Super Moderating Hero: Who's the star player on the team at Valve? And who's rubbish and gets picked last? Could you beat a team of Eurogamer readers?

Chet Faliszek: We are all pretty good. One of the things at Valve is – we all play our own games. We don't just rely on a big outside testing company doing all the Q&A. We all play our games during the complete process. If someone is up for a game of VS with some devs, I am sure I can round up some people if you can get a team together on your side.

And this Saturday we will be playing with Xbox 360 gamers. You can getmore information here on that event.


Is there any scope of having more than four players on the survivor team?

Chet Faliszek: We designed the game from the ground up to be 4 players. It fits with all the balancing and design choices, so there are no plans on having more or less players.


Super Moderating Hero: What's changed since Valve splashed out and acquired Turtle Rock? Was there an argument about who kept what surname?

Chet Faliszek: Some of us have gotten a bit more sun, which either means suntans or cancer. Here is hoping it is just suntans.


(Rock Paper Shotgun's John Walker asks) What's it like to work with Erik Wolpaw? It must be amazing, getting to talk to him and listen to him being funny and get to see the results of his amazing work.

Chet Faliszek: Jay Pinkerton actually ghost writes everything for Erik.


Are you going somewhere nice on holiday to celebrate the release of L4D? How long before you're back in the driving seat making new content?

Chet Faliszek: We just released this week and already plans are being made and work has started on new content. That has been the best thing about Left 4 Dead, everyone loves working on a zombie apocalypse idea. We all have so many ideas we want to see in the game it is honestly hard to take a break.

And can you ask John Walker if he can have Jim Rossignol send me an autographed copy of his book, This Gaming Life?

[John Walker, can you fix this for Chet Faliszek? - Super Moderating Hero]


What about all the bugs posted in the Steam forums, are you going to fix them all with a single stroke, or tackle them in smaller, multiple updates?

Chet Faliszek: We definitely read the forums to see how people are interacting with the game and the problems they are having. We also monitor all the bug submissions.

We are always working on fixing any bugs or exploits as they appear, sorry, but I do not have the exact time frame on the next patch. But don't worry, we are working on the issues we see and that are being reported.


I'm sure a lot of people have been wondering this, but why can only No Mercy and Blood Harvest be played in Versus?

Chet Faliszek: Versus maps, while appearing near the same, are actually different versions of the maps. So for L4D we shipped with a total of 30 maps. The versus maps have to be split off so we can playtest and adjust them specifically.

In co-op, a section that is hard for Infected is easy for the survivors, it isn't unfair, it's just how that map plays. In versus, though, it becomes unfair, or just isn't fun for the Infected.


It's pretty hard for modders to create stuff like self-shadowing bumpmaps with no free plugins or programs avaliable. Do you have any shader creation tools you could release with the SDK?

Chet Faliszek: Your readers are cleverer than me, which is hardly a feat! I don't know, but I can ask about that.

I was worried someone was going to ask a technical question on something like self-shadowing bumpmaps. I am no Jason Mitchell, but I can poke around see - just don't know off the top of my head.


Super Moderating Hero: I think we'll call it a day there, Chet. But before you go, would you rather have lasers for eyes or be able to turn invisible?

Chet Faliszek: Oh wait, you can't end it on that! Not fair! Why couldn't you end it one earlier and I would still appear smart!?!? WHY?!?!

Invisible. Then I could steal the lasers from your eyes without you seeing. But, wait, if you had lasers for eyes, wouldn't I be invisible anyway?

Interrupting Moderating Hero: Bonus question. What are your literary references for L4D? (quick, Wikipedia)

Chet Faliszek: The Max Brooks books are great, but we don't agree on what a zombie is. I like The Walking Dead, and for a not quite there, but dreary road book - The Road.

Latest comments

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    RedSparrows 12 years ago
    All I want is for the 360 version to be supported as much as possible.
    Hobo 12 years ago
    Quite a disappointing Q&A. Where's the point in hacks who've been around these guys enough times in the build up to the game taking up question space that could've been used for better questions within the community just to name-drop or ask something that's already been asked?
    jonsaan 12 years ago
    Please get this picture off the front page. It's nasty.
    Tweakmonkey 12 years ago
    Why do people ask questions just so that they look funny? Apart from that it was interesting.
    rudedudejude 12 years ago
    I wanna play the LFD demo :( It's lame they took it down
    drumm23 12 years ago
    I understand that this could cause consternation, and that I'm ripping off Peter Griffin....

    But I did not care for The Road.
    It's not that it insists upon itself, it's just, umm, how shall I put this...not all that...
    I do love C. McCarthy though, most especially No Country.
    snick 12 years ago
    Amazon came through for me... not played yet though.
    MvK 12 years ago
    A user controlled director eh?

    That'd be brilliant, old school D&D and a LOT of fun.
    FrontLineAssembly 12 years ago
    Yeah, i asked random stuff.

    But still: Gabe Newell is a boomer, Doug Lombardi is a smoker!

    But who are the hunter and tank then...

    Allready now the witch is that lead-developer-girl for P0rtal :D
    phoopipe 12 years ago
    I had to ask the question for 360 support as TF2 was dissapointing....now to save some pennys.
    Bettik 12 years ago
    Mugwum, not a user but the editor of eurogamer.net, steals the show from the regular guys. Meanwhile, my question of the possibility of a user-controlled director goes unasked. Dammit!

    Granted, I only came here on a tip from l4d-411, and registered solely for this this event... and I'm not European... but still - Eurogamer.net Fail!
    SiN-MVGA 12 years ago
    I guess we'll never understand the mystery behind Chicago Ted.
    smoison 12 years ago
    L4D servers are currently down for PC users, is this a sign the game is more popular then Valve anticipated?

    The same happened with the demo.....

    Thanks for the great interview.
    Ninja_Tino 12 years ago
    My question got asked!!! Saying that, I didn't really get an answer, but still, I'm overwhelmed with glee.
    StooMonster 12 years ago
    I asked if we could have a cricket bat as a weapon in homage to Sean Of The Dead.
    Dragul 12 years ago
    I really would like to know about single player side of things, but my question didn't get answered... .!.
    smoison 12 years ago
    I bet LOADS of people would like to know why the Versus mode only has 2 campaigns, and if/when will be the other 2?
    MvK 12 years ago
    I got asked and answered! : D

    lol @ Night of the living dead.

    Much respect Chet :)
    mikew1985 12 years ago
    Sounds promising on 360 support. heres hoping!
    TheRook21 12 years ago
    we are not worthy DuffKing
    Duffking 12 years ago
    Yay, my question was answered :D

    TheRook21 12 years ago
    I'm looking forward to this more and more...

    As I read someones "favourite moments" and they have countless favourites but they can get a new one each time :)

    Its just awesome!
    bOse 12 years ago
    hahha nice one
    TheRook21 12 years ago
    few questions... reasonable answers :)

    I'll let him carry on :D
    Longy221 12 years ago
    Not much happening I have to say....
    Archanor 12 years ago
    Ask Amazon, not Chet?
    Ninja_Tino 12 years ago
    I TOO HAVEN'T GOT IT FROM AMAZON! The bastards, selling it 'cheap' but making me wait!
    TheRook21 12 years ago
    16:44:05 PM
    Why hasnt my copy of the game come from Amazon yet? :(

    16:45:39 PM
    Will there be a PS3 version of this game at any point? I'm getting it on the PC but I would like to get it on the PS3 as well to play with my friends who dont do "PC Gaming"... Also... Jessica Beil or Jessica Alba? Cheers TheRook21

    lets see how far my questions go...

    Avaloner 12 years ago
    You need a ? for it to be a question. Probably that is what is keeping them from answering.
    dr_faulk 12 years ago
    lol, my "Does Mugabe sit down to pee" question BETTER get answered this time!
    andromeda 12 years ago
    that zombie looks absolutely vile.
    Nightmare material right there.
    Bertie 12 years ago
    Incidentally, that's not Faliszek on the front page.