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Simply perfect! Thanks for your Time and effort you guys have put into this. —Sascha (on our website)

Archive for May, 2009

May27

Flat period…

Posted by Nicolas in Media, Progress

Tags: , ,

A quick message to tell you that we’re not dead yet. It’s just a flat period… I am working for my master of engineering final exams, Geoffroy is working for his end of the year exams, and Marc is still working hard at Ubisoft while doing his best to focus on the campaign each evening.

Louis fears the dark

We don’t have any release date for the moment, we’d like to focus a bit more on levels and finish this up before we can think of an approximative date. But this will definitely be somewhere this summer (most likely july). Here is an approximative completion percentage for each level of the campaign.

  • Forest: 95%
  • Manor: 85%
  • Underground: 99%
  • Lumberyard: 65%
  • Lakeside: 30%

Stay tuned for more developer banter until the release.

May16

Left 4 Dead Authoring Tools

Posted by Nicolas in Development, Lamentation

Tags: , ,

All right, you can stop sending us e-mails to say that the Left 4 Dead SDK was released yesterday, we already know it. We’re actively following what’s going on in Valve’s universe day after day and downloaded it as soon as it came out.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t add anything useful to us for the moment, simply because we made our own SDK during this 6 month wait and because the Left 4 Dead Authoring Tools doesn’t provide anything more for the moment. Basically, it’s just a renamed Source SDK. For the moment, we didn’t investigate much, but it looks like all the changes are more or less to make the old tools compatible with the new Left 4 Dead Source engine, to release the same old particle editor and to copy/paste the Valve Developer Community’s tutorials into the Left 4 Dead folder.

We’ll see how it goes, but as far as I can tell, we’ll only use one file from the Left 4 Dead Authoring Tools, the editor’s official entity list configuration file: left4dead.fgd. The Sketchup plugin looks cool too, but we’d really prefer a plugin that would allow us to export Sketchup models directly into Source models using a GUI, because Sketchup always allowed us to export in a random format (well, the professional version does it) and then convert it into an SMD file using XSI Mod Tools.

Anyway, there is no revolution for the moment. We are more eager for them to update the matchmaking system and I bet this release won’t change much for us. At least until the SDK is fully finished and polished. Then we may see tools like the ones everyone thought they would add. But I’m getting a bit bitchy there :D

May12

Finally, a poster and a lumberyard

Posted by Marc in Media, Progress

Tags: , ,

When we began to think about a campaign title and a slogan, we naturally tried to highlight our montainous environment with a catchy title, just like every official campaign. Once the title and slogan found, the second step was the creation of a movie poster, an essential step for every Left 4 Dead campaign, because this will probably be the first thing people will see before downloading it. With his artwork/photoshop/drawing skills, Geoffroy decided to work alone on this task using the photoshop poster template built by Adam “Supernorn” Riches. Once the global layout fixed, we all had a meeting to discuss every little detail of the poster and compare a good dozen of different versions.

This poster wasn’t unveiled until then simply because the website design already uses it to some extent. It allowed us to start releasing material without repeating the same error than most custom campaigns seems to do. Which means, find an idea, make a kickass poster, don’t show anything more for two months and reward people with a few crappy screenshots that don’t even match the campaign poster. Now that everybody seems to know what we’re doing, it’s time to unveil our poster:

But unveiling the poster is also and above all an opportunity to talk a bit more about the campaign, and especially the fourth map which ressemble the poster the most. Lumberyard begins when underground ends (what a surprise), after travelling through a long underground tunnel system, the survivors finally reach fresh air again using the railway passing through the mountain. While walking in this fourth map, you’ll realize very quickly where you are (vertically talking) and this is also where the mountainous background at the origin of the title of the campaign will make its greatest appearance.

Walking through the fourth map, you’ll have to travel along a lakeside road, inspired by Canadian landscapes. This road is larger than most roads you’ll have already faced during the campaign, these are not forest trails anymore, and this one is scattered with corpses and multiple car crashes. It seems to have been used for a mass exodus who went terribly wrong. Then, what happened? In the distance, along the lake, some buildings stand out from the horizon: the sawmill. Why do they all seemed to head for this installation? This is what you’ll have to discover when the campaign will be ready to play.

From the developer viewpoint, Geoffroy, who is in charge of the level, always tries to keep a significant coherence. This credibility problem is reflected through the architecture of the level and the placement of the various buildings and props. Thus, the sawmill was entirely built for the sake of realism even before it had a gameplay layout. It may seem like a controversial way of building a map, but lumberyard was entirely imagined this way, the gameplay often adapts to the environment and not the opposite. Each 3D prop, each car on the road, each bush and tree was scattered in a realistic way, which is kind of our main goal with this campaign after all. We’re trying to put a bit more design work than what Valve did with the poorly designed survival maps released with the recent update (who said smoky rocks, invisible walls and uncrossable 2 foot height fences?). Just kidding, we love you Valve <3

Witches hates buses

Stay tuned for more developer banter until the release.