Valve Boss Gabe Newell Didn’t Want Zombies In Left 4 Dead

Describe quickly, without thinking too much left for dead in just a few words. You probably came up with something like “a cooperative zombie shooter”. Or maybe “an online cooperative FPS zombie game from Valve”. Thing is, zombies would almost certainly be in there. Even so, back during left for deadValve president and co-founder Gabe Newell was unconvinced about making the living dead the game’s villains, apparently finding the concept of zombies a little corny.

As spotted by VG247YouTuber Kiwi Talkz recently interviewed former Valve writer Chet Faliszek about his time at Valve, working on half-life, the recent game of his new venture Anacrusisand of course Left for dead. And according to Faliszek, writing a zombie game around 2006 wasn’t too difficult, because The Walking Dead The TV show and subsequent mass zombie media proliferation had yet to happen. The genre wasn’t as tired and its clichés weren’t as overused yet.

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

“Once I went to dinner with Gabe,” Faliszek explained. “And he was beating me, that uh…”if you watch zombie movies” [Newell said] ‘night of the living dead it’s racism…dawn of the dead is about consumerism. “

“[George Romero] had deliberately made these movies about things like, to talk about it, 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. Of you know, in zombie apocalypse, what are you going to do?”

That apparently wasn’t good enough for Newell, who still thought zombies were too “cheesy” to include in the co-op horror shooter.

“We were pushed more and more,” recalls Falizek, “because I remember [Newell] says ‘well, let’s not do zombies, zombies are just… corny, right? They’re just really corny.

And Faliszek agreed that – at least in the days before The Walking Dead The TV show helped make creepy zombies more common – the idea of ​​the undead rising up and killing people was very campy.

“But, as a child who saw dawn of the dead to a midnight movie [screening] and I was like terrified…it wasn’t corny to me,” Faliszek said. “I had no idea those scenes were cheesy until I watched them later.”

The solution that Valve, Faliszek, and Newell settled on was to have some of the characters in left for dead be aware of zombie movies and comic books, so 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 making it all work, according to Faliszek, was making sure the characters all played it seriously.

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According to the author, a similar strategy is employed in his company’s recent press release Anacrusisa cooperative shooter heavily inspired by left for dead which hit early access earlier this year.

As for left for deadgiven the popularity of the game and its sequel on both PC and console, not to mention all the clones still arriving today, it seems that the choice to stick with zombies was the right choice, even if it took compromises to get there. This is a great example of how fluid and messy game development can be, with such an important element as L4D‘s potentially on the cutting block even as people continued to write and develop the game. Again, a reminder: video games are hard to make.

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