Posts Tagged ‘Valve’

New games could monitor your arousal level

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Excited yet?

(Kotaku) – Half-Life and Left 4 Dead developer Valve has been toying with new ways to use biofeedback – heart rate, facial expressions, eye-tracking, levels of physical arousal – for years. What does that mean for the future of people who like Valve video games? How about controlling games with your eyes?

Valve’s Mike Ambinder talked about the sundry ways the company is experimenting with incorporating user biofeedback at GDC today. Currently, that includes prototype versions of Left 4 Dead 2 with an “AI Director” that responds to your arousal levels, modifying how it distributes health items, zombie hordes and Special Infected based on “player trauma.”

It also includes a build of top-down shooter Alien Swarm that alters the game’s timer in response to stress and a version of Portal 2 that decoupled aiming a cross-hair and viewing the game world.

Ambinder showed a demo of a Left 4 Dead 2 player connected to a biofeedback measurement device, a custom piece of hardware designed to detect skin conductance response. An in-game graph displayed levels of arousal from the player as he fought a series of Special Infected zombies, trying to refill a generator with gas cans. The player’s stress levels steadily increased as he was attacked, until ultimately he peaked during a Tank battle. A post-gameplay graph showed spikes in player trauma levels, tied to game events: Smoker attack, Charger battle, game-ending Hunter pounce.

A Left 4 Dead 2 prototype used player biofeedback in another capacity, showing a teammates’ arousal levels above their health bar to illustrate how other Survivors were responding to in-game trauma.

Ambinder said that data was entertaining to watch during competitive play in the upcoming (Defense of the Ancients) DOTA 2. This, he said, was “the most enjoyable thing we’ve done so far” with biofeedback. Players who saw their opponents’ sense of arousal spike would “go crazy” with delight.

“It’s great to watch people suffer because of your actions,” he said.

[Full article at]


Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Latest DLC Coming to Both L4D1 & L4D2

(Press Release) – Valve, creators of best-selling game franchises (such as Half-Life, Portal, Team Fortress, and Counter-Strike) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), today announced the new add-on for its co-operative zombie thrillers — “The Sacrifice,” in development for both Left 4 Dead (L4D) and Left 4 Dead 2 (L4D2) — is due for release on October 5, 2010.

“The Sacrifice” is the prequel to “The Passing,” and takes place from the L4D Survivors’ perspective as they make their way South. In addition to advancing the story, “The Sacrifice” introduces a new style finale featuring “Sacrificial Gameplay” where players get to decide who will give their life so the others may live.

The Sacrifice DLC for L4D1 is a seperate download than The Sacrifice for L4D2.

In The Sacrifice for Left 4 Dead 1 gamers receive the complete Sacrifice campaign with maps playable in Campaign, Versus, and Survival.

In The Sacrifice for Left 4 Dead 2 owners receive “The Sacrifice” campaign playable with the Left 4 Dead Survivors. In addition, those with Left 4 Dead 2 receive L4D’s “No Mercy” campaign. Both campaigns are playable in Campaign, Versus, Survival, and Scavenge modes and both will feature the Left 4 Dead 2 Special Infected, items, and weapons. Yes, Zoey with a chainsaw!

Targeted for release on October 5th, “The Sacrifice” will be available for download on Xbox Live for 560 Microsoft Points and free to all PC gamers.

For more information, please visit

Left 4 Dead 2 DLC brings back old friends

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009


Valve is ready to bridge the gap between Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2. The DLC currently titled ‘The Passing’, will see the original survivors encounter the newcomers in Left 4 Dead 2.

The DLC will crossover the two sets of survivors in the game, but you’ll be playing as the new ones. Valve describes the upcoming campaign as “the most important campaign in the Left 4 Dead story.”

In addition to a new story campaign, the content will include a new “uncommon common” zombie, melee weapon, gun and new playable areas for the Survival, Versus and Scavenge game types. Valve is also promising a new “co-operative challenge mode of play,” but has released no details.

The Passing is scheduled for a release in “early 2010″ for both Xbox 360 and PC.


PAX ’09 Coverage: Left 4 Dead 2

Friday, September 18th, 2009
Left 4 Dead 2 is a bit more wide open than its predecessor

Left 4 Dead 2 is a bit more wide open than its predecessor

It’s almost impossible to mention having been at PAX without someone familiar with the event asking if we were able to play Left 4 Dead 2. It seems to be on a lot of minds lately. Some of the most common questions I hear when I say I did in fact have the opportunity to play the demon are things like, “Is it all new characters?” or “Shouldn’t this be DLC for the original?”  Fortunately, not only did we play the game but had the opportunity to speak with Chet Faliszek, writer for Left 4 Dead.

To answer one of the questions, yes, it is completely new characters. From what I could gather from the demo, the second tale of the zombie apocalypse appears to be based on several individuals from a high school. There’s the gruff gym coach, who I played as, and what may be three students. It was hard to determine the history behind the new characters from the level we played through but there appears to be very little mention of the previous characters, if any, in the sequel.

In regards to the fact this will indeed be a seperate game and not DLC for the original, Chet had this to say:

“We wanted to do a different cast of characters so we could give a different perspective on the infection. We’re in a different place, we’re in Savannah, we’re down south, we’re heading across the southern part of the States. It wouldn’t make sense for the other four to be here, they’ve already experienced the zombie apocalypse from before we meet the new characters and been through it and now we’re seeing it from a fresh cast so we can experience through their eyes. The old characters aren’t dead yet.”

From playing the demo and Chet’s comments, it’s a safe bet that we haven’t seen the last of the original four zombie survivors but those hoping to make more fun of Francis’ name may just have to wait a while. And while we enjoyed playing as the new characters, we also asked Chet about if there would ever be “customizable” characters, player created models to shoot our way through the game with:

“One of the things is that each character has about three thousand lines of audio that’s created specifically for that character based on the attributes of that character, where they’re from, how they interact with other people. The characters are a really important part of these games. There are games that are more wide open in general but this is more scripted. You could make new models but to do the characters is a ton of work.”

"All we wanna do is eat your brains..."

"All we wanna do is eat your brains..."

There are also new special infected to contend with, among them the Charger who has a nasty habit of catching lagging players off guard, tackling them and driving them away from the group. While waiting our turn to play the demo and watching another group, one player was caught by a Charger and pushed into a mass of undead around a corner away from his teammates. The resulting carnage was impressive to say the least. Beaten nearly to death before being rescued, the Charger had proven his effectiveness.

Another special infected is the Jockey. While small and rather easy to kill, the Jockey often came out of nowhere and landed on one of our backs and then attempted to either steer us away from the group or into a much meaner, nastier special infected. Our group had the unfortunate experience of having one teammate steered into a witch who then proceeded to trash the party. Not easily dispacthed once he latches on due to his small stature and the danger of hitting a teammate while trying to shoot him of, the Jockey proved nasty comes in small packages.

The third new special infected was the Spitter. As the name suggests, he spits venomous phlegm that will continue to burn a player unfortunate enough to get hit as long as they stay in the area the spit covers. Shooting a spitter also results in a large splash of acidic goo which can often be fatal if done too close to the group. While we didn’t have much trouble with this one, I can imagine the implications of the Spitter in versus mode.

I've been trying to tell people clowns are evil for years now...

I've been trying to tell people clowns are evil for years now...

Speaking of versus mode, Chet confirmed there return of it in the sequel as well as the usual co-op, survival, and an as yet unannounced game mode which will be revealed some time in October. With the addition of new weapons, including melee weapons, new unique infected aside from the special infected, and new environments, it’s going to be hard to say that L4D2 should have been DLC for the original game.

Before leaving, we asked Chet who we owed an ass-whooping for what we here at Busy Gamer consider to be the insanely difficult Lighthouse level. He merely laughed at us and called us n00bs. Thanks, Chet.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

L4D: Surviving in the new DLC “Survival Mode”

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
Better hit up your friends on XBL to handle all this.

Better hit up your friends on XBL to handle all this.

Ok, so maybe I should have titled this article “not surviving the new survival mode” of Left 4 Dead’s new downloadable content pack released yesterday. Myself (Crutchboy), Gritskrieg and‘s ViggoTheCarp had a chance to experience some of the new free, yeah we emphasize FREE package available on Xbox Live for this game. And considering that Left 4 Dead has been noted as being a little short on content from the get go, it is a welcomed addition to your zombie gaming pleasure.

The first word that comes to mind to us at concerning this new survival mode would definitely be “unforgiving”. The object is clearly simple, stay alive. No escaping, no rooms to run to, and very few health power ups (and most which are just not worth running back for). The wave of enemies will eventually over run you and your partners. You are scored on how long you are able to fend them off in a variety of available maps, including a new “Lighthouse” area. I believe our first attempt got us to about 70 seconds before we were hosed. You are granted a medal for each map, on how long you can hold out (4 min bronze, 7 min silver and 10 min gold) before your last non AI player dies. After a good deal of strategizing (thanks to the nice directing of Viggo) we were able to grab a few bronze medals, but not without a large amount of grumbling and yapping in a frenzy over Xbox Live. You have to be able to communicate with your partners to pull any of this off with success. And you can forget about the AI helping out too much, with just two real players we had a tough enough time lasting longer than 3 minutes, some levels ending with us yelling things at each other like “Dude just run! Keep running!” (haha).

We did like that fact that you get as much time at the start of each the levels to prepare. With a nice assortment of moltovs, gas and butane canisters around that you can move about, it makes it very entertaining to try and anticipate what would ‘concievably’ be a good idea. Some of us later found out that certain rooms are just too small to spread fire in, as we laughed and burned to our doom, all so gracefully of course.

As was noted amongst our group, Viggo pointed out that it was the sheer number of normal infected (zombies) that deal you the most damage over your entire run in this mode. With an above average amount of skill, the tank, smokers and hunters can be manageable utilizing all the resources available and the ability to find a decent place to “turtle and hole up”.

Over all we highly recommend, you’d have to be really thick in the skull (where even zombies can’t smell you), to not get this new add on for your Left 4 Dead game. It’s free. And free is good.

- Crutchboy Out

Check out our ‘BusyGamer’ review for Left 4 Dead by Gamette Miss Genocide.

Left 4 Dead – More Free Zombies!

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Publishers are saying that both PC and Xbox 360 owners of Left 4 Dead will receive the upcoming DLC for free when it goes online this coming spring. The ‘Left 4 Dead Survival Pack’ will add some new flavor (human most likely) to the multiplayer mode as well as two new campaigns in versus mode.

Reports are saying that survival mode features up to four players against wave after wave of onrushing zombies across a dozen or more maps (sounds like they are taking notes from Gears of Wars 2 and COD WAW since this type of scenario is seen in both of these titles.) Times are then logged, as all players compete online against others on the leaderboards to see who can stay alive the longest.

The update will provide new campaigns (we think in the versus mode) for the Death Toll and Dead Air scenarios.

Sounds like this will add some great longevity to this title, and it’s free which sweetens the prize even better, zombie brains are bitter enough as it is.


-Crutchboy out.