bit-tech: Was that also an attempt to tell a bit more of the story about Left 4 Dead? You have this cohesive world and a lot is inferred, but we’re never actually told where the infected are from or what people tried to do about or anything. Are you trying to tease any more information out with these methods?
Well, really we’re doing that because you start Left 4 Dead 2
in Savannah and you end up in New Orleans and so as you travel across the Deep South you see that the world is changing. In Savannah they’re just evacuating and they aren’t really sure what’s going on. If you ever look at news clips of guys when hurricanes are coming they’re always out surfing still because everybody – well, not everybody, but a big portion of people treat things like this as a thrill seeking thing.
By the time you get to New Orleans though the military has turned up and it’s a military state and you see a different way of trying to handle the infection. It’s through that interacting with the world and the way that characters talk amongst themselves and what’s going on that you really get to learn more about the story.
BT: And the campaigns now run on from one to another, unlike in the original. Was there a reason that--
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Left 4 Dead 1 actually does that too, but it’s just the connective tissue that links the campaigns together isn’t there. It’s funny because there are some threads on the Internet where people pretty much just nail completely what was supposed to happen.
BT: Was there a reason you cut that out exactly then?
Well, partially it was just that when I started working on Left 4 Dead 1
the campaigns were kind of set already and the Turtle Rock guys weren’t thinking in the same story-based way that Valve thinks. We kind of worked it out to a point where it did make sense and we attempted some ways to tell that story in between, but they weren’t very successful. We have some ways now that we think are successful though. We’re still not doing big cutscenes or anything like that, but peoples' reactions were very much that they wanted to know more about what was going on in the game.
BT: Is it more moments that are generated differently each time, like when the survivors are in the lift in Left 4 Dead 1 and they talk amongst themselves?
Um, there’s some more of that. Equally though, that’s an area where you don’t get to shoot guns and play and there’s always a group of players who just want to shoot zombies. We try to balance the two and provide something for each.
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BT: One of the new features is that the game is all set in daylight too --
No, no. There’s just one campaign that’s all in daylight and it's just that that’s the one we’ve shown off so far. The rest of the campaigns are a mix of dark and light and each level is set at a different time to help create changes in the gameplay. The infected are more active during the day and you see some things differently in daylight, like the Witch will get up and wander around. There’s some other AI stuff that we’re not actually showing yet that’ll only happen too.
Equally though, there are missions that are just as dark as anything in Left 4 Dead 1
BT: There are weather effects now too.
Yeah, there are weather events that happen so that you might be closed in by this windy claustrophobic rain that’ll force you make certain choices. You might want to go and take shelter somewhere and hold up for a bit rather than pressing on through the rain.
There are a few different events like that which the AI Director has control over. It can also change the layout of some of the maps. It plays around with all these things to kind of push the replayability up higher than in Left 4 Dead 1