This is a little story about a magazine that no longer exists, and a game that, for all intents and purposes, no longer exists either.
It's a busy time for Valve, and it's a busy time for Chet Faliszek. Fresh from his work on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (more on its absence from the EU PlayStation Store later), he's now hard at work making Left 4 Dead, the ground-breaking co-op zombie thriller, better. But he still found the time to pop along to Eurogamer Expo last week to deliver a developer session (twice) on how to get a job in the game industry.
First things first, apologies if you were disappointed, having read our Eurogamer Expo preview on Monday, to discover that the MotorStorm: Pacific Rift vehicle outside the Expo entrance was a monster truck instead of a Humvee. We are also sorry that so many of you missed the chance to touch Bertie's moustache, which endures even now atop the sweater-clad granite torso and arms of news-typing sultriness.
Remember the last time someone tried to make an online co-op zombie shooter? I wouldn't blame you if you'd forgotten, because it was absolute arse, to be blunt. Capcom, of all people, managed to botch it up so spectacularly back in 2004 that the survival element of the horror was sheer toleration.
There are 2,000 PCs sitting in a room next door. Their 2,000 owners have carted them from as far away as Russia, and probably further. Sitting outside QuakeCon's host hotel, the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, attendees tell stories of taking PCs onto planes as hand luggage, and driving five in a car for as long as it took me to get to QuakeCon from London. So it's quite impressive that a seemingly endless stream of them would rather queue up for two hours to play Left 4 Dead.
Valve is approaching a "pretty big milestone". Chet Faliszek calls it "lockdown". It sounds like a big deal. Remembering back to the summer of 2003, when "September 30th" was starting to rust, I feel suddenly uncomfortable about effectively downsizing Valve by eight people for three crucial hours of team-based online zombie duckshoot. Oh well, it's their funeral. "We're pretty fickle gamers here, especially since we don't have much time to play games, and it's not hard to get people to play Left 4 Dead," says Erik Johnson.
We recently visited the beautiful (alright, ugly, rainy and boring) city of Bellevue, Washington, just across the water from Seattle. Not to take advantage of the exchange rate, you understand, but to pay homage to the mighty Valve Software and take a look at a project it's been working on with sometime Counter-Strike developer, and AI specialist, Turtle Rock Studios. The game in question is Left 4 Dead, a fast-paced, co-operative, survival horror FPS, and we pretty much loved it - check out our first impressions.
When a company like Valve tells you it thinks it has the next Counter-Strike on its hands, you pay attention. Counter-Strike was - and is - an incredibly long-lived global online gaming phenomenon, despite originating as a shoestring amateur mod of the original Half-Life. Valve turns championing the little man into big business, so when the Seattle super-developer invited us to visit and play the fruits of its collaboration with Turtle Rock Studios - a tiny team responsible for AI bots and map design in recent versions of Counter-Strike - we jumped at the chance.