Can you imagine Left 4 Dead without zombies? No! Then Left 4 Dead wouldn’t be Left 4 Dead, I mean the dead part of the title wouldn’t make half as much sense without blood-thirsty zombies crying bloody mary and sprinting after you. According to recent reports, Valve’s president Gabe Newell wasn’t initially keen on the idea of Zombies being the primary enemy in the game. He found the fiends to be a little bit too cheesy.
The information comes from an Interview with Youtuber Kiwi Talkz who had interviewed former Valve writer Chet Faliszek about his time at Valve and the games that he worked on. Faliszek talks about how once at dinner Gabe had played Devil’s advocate, challenging his idea.
“Once I went to dinner with Gabe,” explained Faliszek. “And he was beating me up, that um…’if you look at zombie movies’ [Newell said] ‘Night of the Living Dead is about racism…Dawn of the Dead is about consumerism.’”
“[George Romero] had purposely made those movies about things kind of like, to talk about them, and [Newell asked] ‘What is your movie about? What is your game about? What’s your zombie story about?’” said Faliszek, “I’m like, ‘Well, you know it’s about working together. It’s about the game itself, it’s a reflection of the game. Of you know, in the zombie apocalypse what are you going to do?”
Newell wasn’t impressed by Faliszek’s idea and kept with his stance that zombies are cheesy.
“We’d kind of get pushed more and more,” recalled Falizek, “because I remember [Newell] said ‘well let’s not do zombies, zombies are just…cheesy, right? They’re just really cheesy.’”
To Faliszek, zombies were not cheesy but rather terrifying. Watching Dawn of the Dead he had a different perspective of what the rotting dead meant to him. The two eventually came to a solution. To have characters who were aware of the concept of zombies from popular culture and would comment on how what was once a work of fiction is now their relation.
According to Faliszek a similar method of thinking was applied to his company’s recently released game The Anacrusis, a Left 4 Dead-inspired shooter that’s been released on early access this year.
Left 4 Dead has had massive success spawning a sequel and a spiritual successor called Back 4 Blood. Not to mention all the other co-op zombie shooter clones that have popped up over the years which “apparently” isn’t nearly enough for the creators of Left 4 Dead.