We know, we know, you're probably knee deep in Modern Warfare 2 madness. But spare a thought for Left 4 Dead 2, the other triple-A first-person shooter out this year. At EA's recent Winter Showcase event in London, not only did we play the living daylights out of a hot off the press preview build of the game, impressions of which you can find here, but we sat down for a chat with Valve writer and all round good guy Chet Faliszek to get some last minute insight into the game's controversial development.
VideoGamer.com: The game's out soon. What does Valve do to celebrate a game going gold?
Chet Faliszek: Going gold is when it officially goes to manufacture.
VideoGamer.com: Is that the big one for Valve?
CF: No. That's our quiet point. There is a going out for certification, where we rally around certification. That's pretty quiet. People have been working hard to get it there. Our big focus and celebration always is the night of launch. Since Steam is one way we activate the product – we have a button we can press that says now the game's out there. So being able to do that, we all come together that night, the whole company, not just the team, and we'll press the button and have a party around that.
VideoGamer.com: I spoke to Insomniac Games recently and asked them the same question. They said an In-N-Out truck comes round to the office and serves unlimited burgers. Does Valve do anything like that?
CF: Not eating that stuff, that's for sure! Good god, that would be like a penalty! Why do I have to eat In-N-Out burger?
VideoGamer.com: I guess down in California that's a big thing!
CF: We're pretty laid back in that sense. When you go to the launch party there are a lot of families there. People bring their kids. We're a bit older for a developer, I think. If you go down to our garage we don't have a bunch of Ferraris and crazy fancy cars and stuff. Pretty grounded, pretty regular guys who make games. So, our party around that reflects that.
VideoGamer.com: On to the game itself. When you approach the end of a big game like this, are you completely happy with it, or do you feel you could have done more with just a little bit more time?
CF: To ship any game, I don't care if you have five years to make it, or if you have 15 minutes, there's something you're not going to ship that you wanted to ship. You see games that don't do that and they don't come out – not to mention names, but you know, a pretty famous one! So you always have to make those choices. But honestly, Left 4 Dead 1, and now Left 4 Dead 2 even more so, I'm just biting at the bit to get it out there. I want people to play it. I want to play against people. I want to play against my friends who I can't give copies to yet. It's so much fun right now. We're having so much fun playing the game.
We're at this weird state now where we're looking for bugs. We're reacting to the demo feedback. I'm out on the road, but literally we'll still, if there's a moment pause, you'd go home and be like, oh, so let's play a Versus game, let's play some Scavenge. People love to play the game and have fun. Letting more people have that is something I'm looking forward to.
VideoGamer.com: Have you had a chance to absorb some of the reaction to the demo?
CF: Oh yeah. We have big email threads about it. People have been emailing me personally about some things they see come up. We definitely share those with the team and go over that.
VideoGamer.com: So it's not too late to make changes based on feedback from the demo?
CF: The game's never done. We have an update for Left 4 Dead 1 coming out shortly. We don't let our games just go out there. We're always looking to see how we can improve it, what changes we can make.