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This new campaign contains five different maps with extreme action and unique beyond-realistic atmosphere. L4D1 lovers will rejoice it to the max. —Ayan Debnath (www.gigahertz.net.in)

Archive for March, 2010

Mar28

The light at the end of the tunnel was a lie

Posted by Nicolas in Lamentation

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Hey everyone, I hope you’re not too desperate by our silence and that you still have some faith in our project. We don’t have a lot to say and most of our babbling occured on Twitter recently. Sorry if you don’t like it, but it’s far more convenient when you just have a few words to say.

Over the course of the last month, we managed to find solutions for all of the major problems that were getting in the way of the release since half a year (which is a little miracle in itself). The problem is that “finding the solution” doesn’t exactly mean “knowing how to fix it” and eventually, it took time. Last week, we found the solution to our well-known lobby connection failure that prevented any player from hosting a dedicated server on our campaign (which is kind of a deal breaker). I talked about it with people on the Left 4 Dead mailing-list, I talked about it with people at Valve, I talked about it with the team and believe me, this is not what you could call a minor problem.

Basically, the campaign is now finished (with escape vehicle and everything working) but you can only play it with bots or using console commands to control the server you’re playing on because the matchmaking system is giving up before servers hosting our campaign can reply. The solution to this problem is fairly simple: there’s no solution. The only way we can fix this is by making huge changes in the way three of our levels work. At first I seriously considered giving up and calling it a day. It’s been 14 months, we’re tired, we’re sick of working on this campaign, this was the most annoying thing that ever happened to us and it’s happening only a few days before the release… but eventually, we found some motivation to try to fix it.

We don’t know how many time it will take us, we don’t even know if it will fix the problem for good, but it’s still worth a try anyway. The release was supposed to occur next week but this won’t be the case anymore, sorry. Thankfully enough, Valve is supposed to release the Left 4 Dead 2 DLC soon and it will probably help everyone waiting.

Mar4

The light at the end of the tunnel

Posted by Marc in Media, Progress

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Like we said on our Twitter feed a few days ago, we recently decided to restrain ourselves to a few deadlines. The work is nearly over (I know we’re always saying that), the first deadline was 4 days ago, and we only missed it by a few days. Unfortunately, we still can’t give any release date yet because we’re waiting for Valve to fix the game (else we can’t even play the campaign properly), but we’re definitely seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

What’s left to do you may ask? Well, it kinda depends on our regular playtests (we always find a few things to tweak), but I’d say there’s still the extraction vehicle to export as a Source engine model, the fourth map (Lumberyard) to polish a bit, a few tweaks to the navigation meshes, a few more particle systems, various small optimizations and then, the coop should be finished. But when I said we missed our last deadline by a few days, it wasn’t really true. Most of our tasks are linked to a particular actor of the project and for some of them, there’s no other way to proceed, it’s not like anyone else could do the job. That why while Nicolas’ still finishing the last tasks, I’ve already started to take care of the Versus side of the campaign.

You read well, we never really decided if we were going to implement a Versus mode or not (mostly because we don’t care about versus), so the question was still on hold until a few days ago. We finally decided that we had to do it for the fans, but I need to warn everyone about something: we’re definitely not going to deeply playtest versus. The campaign is playing good in coop mode, we’re just providing space and paths for the infected to roam around. Basically, every map will have some special infected that won’t play particularily well:

  • Forest: Works well for Smokers and Hunters, not really for Boomers
  • Manor: Works well for Smokers and Boomers, not really for Hunters
  • Underground: Works well for Smokers and Boomers, not really for Hunters
  • Lumberyard: Works well for Hunters and Boomers, not really for Smokers
  • Lakeside: Works well for the three of them

Finally, I’ll repeat some of the things we already said recently: Why aren’t we planning an open beta? Because that’s not the way we work. Read about Agile software development and its “produce less, iterate more often” guidelines. Why is this taking so long to release? External people can’t really understand how hard it is to come up with something like what we’re doing when there’s already hundreds of campaigns out there. We’re not just building another campaign, we’re building something from the ground up with a different approach. There’s a bunch of other campaigns doing the same, and most of them are in development since shortly before I Hate Mountains. We know what we did, we know what we have to do, we know that the campaign is fully playable since months, but “playable” doesn’t mean “finished” and even less “polished” or “bug-free”.

“Stay positive guys, I have a good feeling about this!”