Subscribe (rss)
I Hate Mountains is the best looking custom add-on campaign you will find for Left 4 Dead 1. —Glenn (

Posts Tagged ‘gameplay’


Building an emmental (also known as a manor)

Posted by Nicolas in Media, Progress

Tags: , ,

During the last week, we talked about the forest level and how we managed to get around some of the limitations of the engine. This week, we’ll focus a bit more on the second level, the manor. When the survivors get out of the forest, they must reach the highest point of a dusty manor and try to launch a distress call from the radio.

Since we first talked about the campaign, some people asked the following question a few times : Will you be paying homage to any movies or games? Is the manor the same as the mansion from Resident Evil? This is one of the questions David from asked us a few days ago, and the answer is no, not really.

Canadian MountainsWe’re paying homage to multiple things and we’re borrowing from multiple sources for inspiration, but we’re not trying to reproduce anything existing. […] I personally think it’s uninteresting, people should try to innovate and create something new and fresh instead of always copying and reproducing everything from game to game. The original work/game will always be the best. Our primary sources of inspiration are the Canadian mountains and a bit of Dawn of the Dead for some details. […]

Disneyland Paris ManorDisneyland Paris ManorWhen we first imagined the manor, the campaign wasn’t even born. It was still an early prototype of what could become a single player horror adventure. We had a lot of troubles to find how we should handle this manor, how many rooms it should have and what should be it’s global age and state. At first, we decided to go for an exact copy of the Disneyland Resort Paris Haunted Manor, it was so cliché that we couldn’t miss the point. But eventually, we never found how to develop this idea. Wooden manor were usually not large enough to contain all the space we needed. Which means a lot more than what you can found in the last level’s mansion of Blood Harvest.

We browsed hundreds of plans from dozens of real estate websites until we found something that could suit our needs perfectly. The manor is called Fontainebleau, just like the French castle, but it has nothing else in common. We studied the plans, built a prototype in Hammer and spent many hours trying to figure out a path between the numerous rooms. I (Nicolas) built the prototype, expanded it and moved away from the original plan until the gameplay path got pretty solid. Then, Marc took over the prototype and decorated the whole manor with the help of the team (it’s not so easy to find a unique idea for more than fifty rooms). The process mostly destroyed the original manor and transformed it into a dusty emmental.

The final ambience progressively moved from “haunted manor” to “recently abandonned manor” and the main idea behind it became “provide the players with an extremely closed environment”, just like the hospital or the apartments in No Mercy, but without any defined path and with a darker setting (watch out for your teammates). It’s up to the players to make their way to the highest room of the manor and there’s a lot of solutions to reach it. Let’s just hope the final Left 4 Dead SDK will provide an easy way to compute multi-paths between indoor and outdoor environments.

Zoey hates attics

Stay tuned for more developer banter until the release.
… and be sure to read the little interview on


Left 4 Dead hates open spaces!

Posted by Marc in Development, Media, Progress

Tags: , , , ,

A few days ago, we unveiled our new project I Hate Mountains and this website was already visited by more than 3,000 people. This is quite impressive and it motivates us for the next part of the development. We’d like to thank you all for your support and your confidence. It’s now our job to try not to disappoint you, and believe us, it will not be the case.

Talking about the campaign, here’s some fresh news.
In our first level, the forest, a big part had to be reviewed and redone after the release of Left 4 Dead. At the beginning, it was quite an impressive and vast open-space: fun to play, hard to optimize and finally… it had some problems to fit in the Left 4 Dead gameplay.

Making a Left 4 Dead level is not only a question of level-design and geometry. You can’t build it and play it straight out of the box like most of Valve’s games. You have to complete another important task, the nav mesh creation. The goal is to mark the paths for the game, these nav meshes contains a lot of informations for the artificial intelligence. Where can survivors and infected walk ? Where is the event ? Where can they respawn ? and stuff. The Director also needs it to build the gameplay during the game.

Problem is, when we got our first playable version of the level and tried to build the nav meshes, the process took three hours to reach 1%. Finally, we never managed to get a fully working version of the level. The game didn’t knew how to compute the path from the spawn point to the first safe room because there was way too many combinations in this vast open-space.

Conclusion ?
We found out that Left 4 Dead was not really suitable for open and vast environments. Something had to be done. This is why I spent the last weeks trying to transform this open-space level in a corridor-like version. This is not something we wanted to do, but we had to resign, and after a lot of talking and babbling with the team members, we found several ways to transform the level without loosing this precious open-space feeling.

Today, this first level is mostly finished and we believe the creation process recently reached 75% (unless the late release of the SDK messes everything up, wouldnt be such a surprise).

Concerning the other levels of this campaign, our progress is constant. The third level is already beeing tested right now. We’re trying to push the director to the limits, forcing him to make mistakes and telling us what’s wrong with the level and the nav meshes.

Francis hates fire

Stay tuned for more developer banter until the release.
PS: The screenshots page is now open.