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Left 4 Dead

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Shacknews - Jeff Mattas

Turtle Rock Studios is reportedly using Crytek's CryEngine to build its next game. The Left 4 Dead co-developer has revealed that they've currently got a new multiplayer FPS in the works. Cryptically dubbed "Secret Project #1," the game will be published by THQ.

Calling the project "the most exciting, ambitious thing we've ever attempted," Turtle Rock's website (via Edge) has also issued a call to fill several positions to work on the new title: Engine Programmer, Tools Programmer, Network Programmer, AI Programmer, and Senior Gameplay Programmer. The site also notes that while experience with CryEngine tech is a "major bonus" for applicants, it's not essential.

News site VG247 recently spoke with THQ vice president Danny Bilson about the project, who enthusiastically stated: "The Turtle Rock game we'll probably talk about next year. It's well underway. It's fantastic. It's one of the most incredible designs that's ever come across my desk. Really excited about that. It has some mechanics in it and gameplay that you haven't really played before."

Turtle Rock's "Secret Project #1" is planned to release in 2013.

Shacknews - Jeff Mattas

Turtle Rock Studios is reportedly using Crytek's CryEngine to build its next game. The Left 4 Dead co-developer has revealed that they've currently got a new multiplayer FPS in the works. Cryptically dubbed "Secret Project #1," the game will be published by THQ.

Calling the project "the most exciting, ambitious thing we've ever attempted," Turtle Rock's website (via Edge) has also issued a call to fill several positions to work on the new title: Engine Programmer, Tools Programmer, Network Programmer, AI Programmer, and Senior Gameplay Programmer. The site also notes that while experience with CryEngine tech is a "major bonus" for applicants, it's not essential.

News site VG247 recently spoke with THQ vice president Danny Bilson about the project, who enthusiastically stated: "The Turtle Rock game we'll probably talk about next year. It's well underway. It's fantastic. It's one of the most incredible designs that's ever come across my desk. Really excited about that. It has some mechanics in it and gameplay that you haven't really played before."

Turtle Rock's "Secret Project #1" is planned to release in 2013.

Shacknews - Jeff Mattas

When Left 4 Dead first introduced its new brand of co-operative zombie-slaying, it didn't take long for a rabid fan-base to develop. In a recent interview, several Left 4 Dead luminaries, including writer Chet Faliszek and then-Turtle Rock CEO Mike Booth, reminisced about how the Left 4 Dead series came to be.

Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2

The team revealed that Left 4 Dead's DNA actually came from a Counter-Strike mod. Shortly after Turtle Rock Studios had shipped Counter-Strike: Condition Zero in 2004, CEO Mike Booth showed a mod called Terror Strike--ostensibly a never-ending zombie-attack mode on the CS_Italy map--to Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw, who both fell in-love with the concept. Later that day, Valve CEO Gabe Newell conscripted Faliszek and Wolpaw to team up with Booth's Turtle Rock (purchased by Valve in 2008) to develop the concept further. Early in development, Booth explained that the team understood they "had this nugget of gameplay where a small co-operative group had to deal with hundreds of melee monsters."

Years of playtesting and iteration helped the team focus on trying to create an experience for players that was both "emergent and yet structured." Out of this focus came the game's procedural population system, which constantly adds and removes zombies from the game world to create the illusion of never-ending hordes of the undead. (The first game only allowed 30 on-screen zombies at a time.) According to Booth, the zombies' non-aggressive ambient behavior (such as when they're just standing or laying around) was also based on fears brought about by the potential 2005 bird-flu pandemic.

Booth clarified:

We kind of pushed on that with the wandering infected, how they stumble around and vomit and just look like they're having the worst flu ever. We wanted that combination of pity and 'it could be me’ with 'this is horrible' and then 'Oh my God, here they come, we have to survive.'

The game's now-famous AI-director--which modulates when and where zombies and item pickups will appear, based on a real-time assessment of player performance--was also created in aid of a more dynamic, less predictable experience. Booth explained how Left 4 Dead's AI-director evolved along with the series:

We needed to make sure that certain tempos and pacing happened on a regular basis to keep people's excitement and attention going. For L4D that was basically just me and some C++ code making that happen. In L4D2 we generalised it into a larger tools framework.

The Left 4 Dead retrospective, which also touches on competitive multiplayer and how the team designed the game to encourage players to cooperate in a world where co-op was still a relative rarity, can be found here.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Last week, Valve promised to release the Left 4 Dead 2 version of classic Left 4 Dead episode 'Dead Air' if players helped beta test new community-made map Cold Stream, setting a target for 20,000 playthroughs. Good news! "You started playing at 10am on Wednesday morning. Four and half hours later you surpassed the 20,000 target," Valve revealed in a blog post. "By 5pm you passed 30,000. By this morning at 10am â€" a mere 24 hours later you hit 60,774!"

The original Dead Air in Left 4 Dead

"We are going to try and release it as early as possible but will release it on July 22nd the latest," Valve said. "It isn't currently ready for release as we have been working on The Terminal and Finale maps and need to test them more internally."

The developer also mentions working on a new version of the finale in L4D2's 'Dead Carnival' episode, "and some gameplay changes for finales in general." As ever, the changes will hit PC and Mac first.

Once the changes have been given a good testing, and Cold Stream and the rest of the original L4D episodes are finished, it'll all head over to Xbox 360 too. "What date is that?" Valve asks. "Hard to say but with your help it just got closer."

Shacknews - Brian Leahy
The Mac version of Left 4 Dead is now available, fulfilling Valve's promise to launch the Mac version before Halloween. It supports Steam Play, which means that owners of the PC version will snag a shiny Mac copy if they are equipped with an Apple machine.

It also means that Mac players will be able to play on the same servers as the PC players. To celebrate the launch, gamers can pick-up Left 4 Dead for $9.99 (50% off) or bundled with Left 4 Dead 2 for the low, low price of $14.99--though not as low as the previous sale.

Left 4 Dead 2 has been available on the Mac since the launch of "The Sacrifice" DLC. All Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 DLC is included for free on the PC because Valve is like that.

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Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
Valve is hoping to release the original Left 4 Dead on Mac "in time to celebrate Halloween," the developer revealed yesterday.

There's also a formal announcement that Left 4 Dead 2's Mac launch will coincide with the arrival of the L4D and L4D2 DLC 'The Sacrifice' on October 5--as has been known for a while.

'The Sacrifice' will bring updates to both of Valve's zombie shooters. A new campaign will arrive in the original L4D for all modes, set before the previous DLC 'The Passing' and showing Louis and the gang's journey South. The sequel, meanwhile, will score both the new campaign and the opportunity to play as the original survivors in the L4D campaign 'No Mercy' with all the L4D2 weapons, trinkets and baubles.

The Sacrifice will be free on PC and Mac but cost 560 Microsoft Points ($7) on Xbox 360. Do have a gander at The Sacrifice's grim teaser trailer, if you missed it last week.

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Shacknews - Xav de Matos
The second chapter in the four-part prequel comic series starring the cast of survivors from the original Left 4 Dead has been released.

Along with detailing some of the backstory of each original character, the comic series gives players a look at the tale woven in the upcoming downloadable content "The Sacrifice." In total, the comic will stand at 150-plus pages and also explore the death of one member in the zombie-killing squad.

For gamers looking to preserve the memory of the fallen, Valve has released parts one and two of the comic in .PDF format. There will also be two additional versions of the series released at a later date: one version with no text and another sans text, speech bubbles or sound effects. "This should help get the comic localized and give people the raw panels to play with and make their own comic," the L4D team wrote on the game's official blog.

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Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
The much-anticipated Left 4 Dead fan-made campaign I Hate Mountains has been released and is available from FileShack.

Coming from folks behind Portal: Prelude, I Hate Mountains takes Francis and the gang deep into the wilderness in a full five maps. The survivors will venture through a branching forest, explore a spooky mansion, probe tunnels, venture into a lumberyard and visit a lake.

A Left 4 Dead 2 version of I Hate Mountains is also in the works, though the team notes it "is simply a quick'n dirty port for the people who don't own Left 4 Dead 1" so it will suffer "no conversations between survivors... missing visual effects, missing objects and more importantly, the whole gameplay was initially thought for Left 4 Dead 1."

Thanks to Shacker ahem 'Godhatesfatpeople' for the tip-off.

Watch the video on Shackvideo.

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