Any fan of the Resident Evil series (#2, specifically) ought to be familiar with the title-reference. As entertaining as any zombie-adventure can pan out to be, it’s really quite a logical question: Why did he bite me? Why are these infected beating us senseless, slowing and knocking us down? Better yet, what are we going to do to stop them?
Taking on the Ideation role required answering those sorts of things as creatively as possible, looking into the game theory of Left4Dead in a rather critical, and sometimes cynical, mindset, without going over the deep-end to the point where an idea becomes a mere carrot-on-a-stick. It was beneficial though because it gave us some insight towards how to dissect a game based on choices, and furthermore discern how and why they could be innovated upon to push an already very concrete idea rather than just solely added onto – such as one like L4D presents.
This became one of the more constructive ways to ask the essential question of our project: What play does Left4Dead NOT encourage, given its own ruleset? What we came up with was extensive, but has since January been slimmed down to what started off the presentation this past Wednesday. We anticipate the current revision of it, as well as our iterations in-engine, to grow over the summer – but for now here’s what we’re exploring:
What choices does Left4Dead encourage already?
- What role you play (Character)
- What level you explore/navigate
- Do you take health-packs, or let your friends take them?
- Do you help up a teammate after they’ve fallen down?
- Do you abandon your friends?
What DOESN’T Left4Dead encourage?
- Separation, or long-distance communication/cooperation.
- Consequence & discernment towards tools that are often simply givens.
- Conscious, two-way dynamic lighting as a means of play from the perspective of the environment.
- Long-term vs. Short term navigation. (There are rarely, if ever, paths divergent enough to make distance travelled a factor as much as becoming extra obstacles/partitions for a moment.)
- Working under a strict time-limit. (The game persists as long or as quickly as you find safety.)
Obviously, there’s a lot being left out, and that’s from both lists. The above list we felt was appropriate because they are options the team/player is confronted with the second they load into the game’s interface, to the moment they enter a safe room. Whether you have a hunter pouncing someone, a tank chasing you down, or a deserted street with hard-to-find infected, some of these options have more or less significance, but are almost always present. Additionally, we’re proposing those choices are what feel most familiar to the L4D community and its players. What we hope to add to the game’s content is a suite of maps that put a twist on such familiarities. More to come throughout the Summer.