RPS Summit: Why No L4D Director Mode?

As much as we pretend to loathe one another, the RPS-members do talk to one another. Earlier today, our standard chat broke into something resembling an actual discussion. John, sitting silently by, suggested this chat about Left 4 Dead’s lack of a Director Mode is the sort of thing we should post on the site. So we did. Blame John. Always blame John.

Quinns: The only thing I think I care about is whether they’re going to put in a full blown Director mode. Which I doubt they ever will.

Alec: As in one a player can control?
Quinns: Yeah.
Alec: Yeah, they probably won’t. Reduces the appeal of DLC, etc really
Kieron: I’m not sure I’ll be as cynical. It just demands too much from the players. Valve are always about easy entrance. It’s just not the sort of game they’ll make
Alec: I think you could do it very easily in terms of interface. HL2 weapon menu, but with Horde, Boomer, Tank etc, Just shoot to place, a la Gmod
Kieron: I mean, I wouldn’t expect it any more than Half-life 3 will be influenced by Deus Ex. When I say “easy entrance” I mean “minimising the chance of you having a shit game”. i.e. A player-director mode would make it too easy to ruin games. By Easy entrance I mean almost anyone who plays with will have a good time.
Quinns: Heh. I have my own personal reason. I don’t think they’d do it because it would peel back the vinyl of their game. Seeing an entire map viewed from a noclip perspective would be bad enough.

Kieron: I can see Quinns’ point. But you’re close to no-clip in the monster mode, yeah?
Alec: There is that, but I think they could tie its hands – e.g. limited max number of tanks and if you did it from a first-person perspetive, so you’re roaming the halls like you do pre-spawn as Infected. It could work quite well. Keeps balance too – you’re only affecting the area where the survivors roughly are, rather than setting mega-traps ahead
Kieron: Alec – but think the other way: Someone who chooses to spawn no monsters and makes it really dull. So you modify to prevent that and you rapidly get to a game mode where you aren’t really you doing anything because there’s so many things stopping you being a twat.
Alec: But in the same way you get players who machete their mates in the head or ignore everyone to get the gnome! If you make it competitive – i.e. Director Wins or Survivor wins – most people will go for it.
Kieron: “most people”.
Alec: “most people” play okay in standard L4D. There will always be outliers. But if everyone’s trying to win you can contain that fairly accurately.
Kieron: Putting that one aside though… It wouldn’t surprise me if they’ve tried it and they just don’t think it’s fun
Quinns: Yeah.
Alec: Yes, they’ll have certainly thought about it

null

Quinns: I guess my vision of it would go: director player gets a point total you can blow on spawning zombies or special infected. You get points every second, but also by spawning items. The only twist would be that you can drop into the shoes of any Special Infected at any time. I think that’d make the difference.
Kieron: You can see the difference between Deus Ex and Half-life though – as in, how one goes much further to make it “fun”. Which is what I’m saying. You can say that Deus Ex does everything reasonable for you to have fun… but Valve don’t agree.
Alec: I think you’re being too absolutist. It really could be very similar to the monster mode
Kieron: Valve have never made a game with any real freedom, is my point. The entire concept of what you’re talking is anti-Valve. I mean, I’ll be all over this. You both know that
Quinns: Yeah, I think I get you.
Alec: well, all the TF2 customisation stuff is leaning more towards player choice than they traditionally have
Kieron: This is going to sound sarcastic, I know, but: hats?
Alec: if they could come up with a Director system that worked quickly and easily on a 360 pad I daresay they’d be tempted. There’s absolutely no reason to read “towards” as “granting 100% choice”. I meant the weapon loadouts – creating your own sub-archetype.

Quinns: Kieron’s right. Valve have never done anything you can’t blissfully waltz into. And while I think they could potentially make an accessible Director mode, I’m not sure how much that would interest me.
Alec: Yes, they’d never allow that.
Quinns: In my initial point I was referring to full-blown control. I want a mixing table of options and traps….
Alec: But something that’s ostensibly Infected mode controlled by one person, with horde-summoning, could be a lot of fun
Quinns: Yeah. Like- you know the thrill that comes from a Boomer drenching the entire team at the same time as some other disaster?
Quinns: Imagine the thrill from orchestrating that yourself.
Quinns: Like, spawn a horde, drop a boomer, drop into the boomer for some direct control, drench the team, then spawn a charger. Or something.
Alec: And then sending in a jockey from a sideroom and you’re basically choosing whether to splurge everything at once or eke it out, wear them down.
Kieron: I’m thinking of Sacrifice here. A bit. Sacrifice meets Dungeon Keeper. The problem for me is that – as Quinns notes – the more accessible the mode becomes, the less interesting it is and to make something truly accessible, you’re not doing anything creative
Alec: Four against one is what makes it interesting. Yeah, it’s not the same as being a GM, as Quinns originally posited, but it could be an ace, breathless mutliplayer variant
Kieron: You’re basically getting to a sort of Pet-Class situation, almost. If we go MMO terms

Kieron: Here’s a thought. We’ve only talked about whether it’ll be fun to play. We haven’t talked about whether it’ll be fun to play against.
Quinns: It would be Versus mode to play against, surely. No reason why it wouldn’t.
Kieron: As in, I suspect you’d have to do quite a bit of work to smooth the infected’s responses so it’s not actually all artificial
Alec: Well, it’d use the AI that’s already in the game
Quinns: Right. With the same spawning limitations.
Kieron: I mean, I wonder – and I’m not sure – whether there’s a difference between some infected being controlled, and it all being orchestrated by a mind…. Unless it has no precision. And if it has no precision, we’re back to the “director” not having enough control. I know this is being pretty anal with this.
Quinns: Practically speaking, it wouldn’t be too hard to have an aggressiveness rating when you spawn zombies.

Alec: Good grief, we’re actually trying to design a game over instant messenger. Perhaps it could use something like Frozen Synapse’s drag-a-direction mechanic. That could be done very simply on a gamepad
Quinns: That’s what I was thinking. Actually- you wouldn’t even have to drag a direction.
Alec: Just fire at it.
Quinns: Because what direction are zombies going to move other than “At the fucking survivors”.
Alec: Well, you could try and get zombies to loop behind survivors – flank them rather than simply spawn behind them
Kieron: I’d love that. I mean, this is all Dungeon Keeper meets Sleep is Death meets L4D meets Pikmin. It’s pikmin with zombies
Quinns: Pikmin. Now we’re talking. L4D turned on its head, so you’re piloting a crowd of zombies through a gauntlet of humans.
Kieron: Which leads us to Overlord. Or Stubbs the Zombie, if we want a shitter version
Alec: Well, the key here is that you’re not really corporeal. you can just jump into a special if you’ve got nowt else to do. Dungeon Keeper is the better reference, certainly
Kieron: Yeah – and the reason why Valve will never do it like that. They dropped the commander mode in TF2, after all.
Alec: Yes, it’s too much to hope for there to be, essentially, an RTS mode for the Director – but it would be ace.

Kieron: In short: someone do it, as there’s a great game here, and Valve won’t make it. Killing Floor guys! C’mon! Step up!
Alec: L4D has never been modded much out of its fundamental mechanics, has it? Maybe the SDK doesn’t allow it
Kieron: I honestly dunno, though I’m sure this comment thread will tell us. I suspect the L4D/L4D2 split has hurt it.
Quinns: The comments will also mention Zombie Master.
Alec: The solution – L4D1 owners get to be Directors for L4D2 players
Quinns: Genius!
Kieron: WE WERE HERE FIRST! WE GIVE THE ORDERS!
Alec: AND WE HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO BECAUSE OUR SERVERS ARE EMPTY.*

That’s that, then. L4D is fixed. Next!

* I have absolutely no idea if this true or not. I just really like writing things in capital letters. – Alec

60 Comments

  1. bit_crusherrr says:

    I’ve always wanted a director mode too.

  2. KillahMate says:

    Well, as is the case with all games, it takes time for good extensive mods to come out (also subject to game complexity and graphics engine sophistication). Witness good Crysis mods starting to come out just recently. L4D2 is just too brand new to have something so extensive working already.

  3. BooleanBob says:

    Maybe you could even choose to spawn an unprecedented/i> Two Tanks! at once, eh, Quinns?

    Sorry.

  4. JonFitt says:

    I see the Zombie spawning as a kind of paintbrush effect where the longer you hold down the button the more zombies cluster. A bit like Sim City 4 trees.

    You wouldn’t have to let the Director enter special infected. I think he’d have enough to do floating around dropping zombies off.

    The rain effect would be something else he could trigger like a spell.

  5. Vague-rant says:

    Tsk shameless John bashing…

    Anyway, I’m thinking of it as an interesting reverse tower defence style game, and I suppose you could resource it in a similar way, e.g. you have to have enough resources and importantly space to place something somewhere. The zombies are your “towers”, the safe room the target, and the survivors are a seemingly unstoppable force.

  6. WantOn says:

    It worked pretty well in natural selection, but that was having a ‘commander’ directing a team; same with BF2. Biggest issue, as you describe, is getting idiotic commanders or directors spoiling the game for everyone.

    I’d absolutely love a go at being the Director in a L4D game, especially against friends and family. But then I just like being a devious b*stard.

  7. Jakkar says:

    Mistah Meer, you seem inordinately surprised by the realisation you were discussing game design via a chat system. Why?

    It’s par the course in the indie/modding world, and not uncommon on professional dev teams during concept stages.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Jakkar: Not wanting to speak for Alec, but I suspect the part of that sentence which provoked Alec’s laugh isn’t “trying to design a game” but “We’re”.

      KG

    • Robert says:

      With your 140th anniversary in 3 years, it would be about time I say.

      I coin the name: Duke Paper Shotgun: Forever!

    • Jakkar says:

      *grins* That makes more sense. Petition for the increased use of italics for emphasis. Perhaps an optional toggle button for those of us who don’t process text so well. It could be big, and red.

  8. cyrenic says:

    I don’t see why this would have to be 4vs1. I’d imagine a mode like this being closer to Natural Selection, one player plays the director while the other (3 or 4?) infected play the special infected. That would eliminate a lot of the AI issues you were talking about, and I agree with Jonfitt that the director actually playing as special infected would probably add too much to his workload.

  9. Monchberter says:

    I think both Left 4 Dead’s move too fast to enable any player controlled director to have control over anything more than the special infected. If anything, it would feel unwieldy at the best of times and unless there’s a degree of limitations with spawn times it could just be downright evil. That and on the other hand an inexperienced director could make the game a cakewalk for any survivor team.

    I can’t see it working to be honest, at least the AI director has an element of cold harsh mechanical fair/unfairness to it.

    • NateN says:

      A few ways off the top of my head to help the PC director keep control:

      1. Allow the PC Director to “preload” a map. The map starts off more or less a blank slate and the Director gets to scatter zombies and items to their black heart’s content according to whatever rules are in place. It should even be possible to set up triggers of some sorts, perhaps invisible “tripwires” that cause spawns after a certain number of characters pass a certain point with some sort of delay timer (The tripwires would be basically a line drawn in space, anything that passes above or below the line count as tripping it to avoid random bunny hopping). While this is wouldn’t be the whole mode, it would help the the Director get started.
      2. Give the PC Director a “floating” view up above each survivor and the ability to jump around between them. They have a list of buttons off to the side that correspond to the various rare and uncommon zombies, when they click one nearby out-of-sight spawns flash, allowing the PC director to quickly select where the zombie should go. If they were to right-click on a button the NPC Director does a best-guess on where to drop the zombie in question.
      3. Tie the Director’s hands a bit by having a timer on the rare/uncommon zombies. They can only spawn a new one when they have the points, but they MUST spawn a rare or uncommon every X seconds as well or the AI auto-spawns one for them. (The rules are set up so PC director can never be both out of points and need a spawn at the same time.) This would help prevent a PC director from being TOO asleep at the switch.

      I’m sure there are better ideas out there then these, but I think you probably could set up the game so the PC Director keep up with pacing even if he isn’t a 3000 CPM Starcraft fanatic.

    • Catastrophe says:

      Maybe you gain points over time to spend, the longer you don’t spend your points the slower it gets increasing, until it eventually starts going down.

      Also a cap of specials you can spawn at once so you cant spawn 5 at once.

  10. Dr. Derek Doctors, DFA says:

    From a UI perspective, I’d recommend allowing the human Director a limited amount of time to set up spawn points, guideposts (I’m not particularly familiar with how LFD does its pathfinding, though I remember a GDC presentation on it) and triggers, as well as ammo drops and the like; then, during the game, he or she can dynamically drop mobs and objects, trigger special effects, and set up pre-scripted triggers and guideposts during the game.

    However, I’m not sure that this would be more enjoyable (for either the survivors or Directors) than letting the AI do the work. Not as good as Sleep Is Death, I’m certain.

  11. Andrew Farrell says:

    So, wait, is Quinns an official RPSer? Are you now 5?

  12. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    I will mention Zombie Master. Because that whole game revolves around this idea.

    What happens, 9/10 is that the ZM doesnt act like a DM (Trying to make the game fun, as the director does) but tries to win.
    By spawning as much shit as possible.

    Now, if you make the above mode, you have option A) Put a pre determined cap on what you can spawn. This will balance the game, however, it balances the game, as long as the person spawns as much as they can. Anything less, and its probably not going to work.
    Option B, have the game guage the cap, possibly based on proformance (Thats bascially what we have now).
    C. FFA. No. Starcrafts 300 clicks a minute will probably be shattered by some annoying 13 year old. ;)

    Of course, i cant take into account some clever design of VALVes, such as make all common spawned, and you only choose infected, or an actually balanced way of determining what you can spawn.

    But ive played the idea before, and i must say, i prefer a director whos trying to make it fun over a zombie master whos just trying to kill me.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      The solution to this is not to play with power-gaming pubbies.

    • GoldenNugget says:

      It’d be kind of neat if they did Zombie Master but limited what you could spawn based on the “stress” levels the ai director uses to control the normal game. It’d balance things out much better.

    • Chris R says:

      This. Zombie Master was great fun once you got the hang of it. Having a ZM that made the game just hard enough but still giving the survivors the chance of escaping made for some thrilling games where only 1 or 2 people would make it to the end of the map… good times.

    • OctaneHugo says:

      I was sitting here reading the article screaming “ZOMBIE MASTER! ZOMBIE MASTER!” the whole time. Thank Clean Willie it was mentioned.

      Now, I think the way a L4D RTS would work is fundamentally different from how ZM works. The Director uses stress levels and all that jazz, and if you did a points system to spend on zombies based on all of those cool things you wouldn’t just have a linear, steady points system with different zombies costing certain numbers of points, it’d…fluctuate. At one point a horde might cost 300 credits, at another only 50. Or something.

      Thus, no L4D equivalent of banshee spamming. And I firmly believe that as the ZM in ZM the way to make it fun is to just use creativity and strategy to make it challenging, because getting slaughtered by 4000 banshees isn’t fun, but ending up trapped by a few Shamblers, an Immolator or 2 and maybe some hulks can be.

  13. Kid A says:

    For what it’s worth, Zombie Master shows that a Director vs. Survivors-style mode, with that steady points drip/gain points for handing the survivors goodies (see the redqueen map) can work very well.
    In the L4D version of the Source Engine, which is seemingly better at rendering the vast crowds of zombies, it would be a blast. I always though it a shame that work was discontinued on the mod… right before L4D came out.

  14. the wiseass says:

    Wait you people talk, like, with words? I always thought the great hive-mind communicated telepathically you know, just because you can’t grasp its sheer greatness in mere words.

  15. Jake says:

    Why not just turn on cheats and use the built-in controls to spawn everything as admin? I’m sure it wouldn’t take too much effort to whip up some scripts as a proof of concept. How is this different from Director?

  16. Bad King Urgrain says:

    The L4D and L4D2 SDKs do not include any source code. You can only create custom campaigns, not modify the gameplay to any significant degree. A player-controlled Director is far beyond what is possible.

    PS. As one of the Zombie Master devs, I appreciate the mention.

    • sana says:

      You’re underestimating SourceMod. A Director mode with it’s own content, HUD elements etc. may not be possible without modding support, but assortments of scripts, keybinds and cheat commands could indeed be used for a game of Left 4 Zombie Master. My friend has been hosting these in L4D1 with a rich selection of configs and scripts for a year, but L4D2 doesn’t allow you to use cheats in games you host, which has presented him with a problem since he cannot be arsed to own a dedicated server and doesn’t care much about SourceMod scripting.

      That being said, continue ZM dammit!

  17. The_B says:

    Do we have the RPS ideas in L4D boycott group yet?

  18. Aomis says:

    Thats Zombie Master.

    Go an play Zombie Master.

  19. ScalyWg says:

    fcol – it’s a podcast,it’s a podcast…(weeps)

  20. Jacques says:

    I had the idea a while back of an infected class known as a control freak that can build up a mini horde and to some extent direct them, the set backs being that you are a prime target with an unusually large head or mouth. The presence of a CF would increase the probability of common infected spawn to make this easier to accomplish. Controling a horde means that you can direct them away from pipe bombs and molotovs in favor of safer routes (given, pipe bombs will slow them as they get distracted) and make for well timed ambushes that boomer bile can give large boons to.

  21. Malic says:

    This reminds me of a mod for Half Life 2 called zombie master in which a player using an rts interface to control zombies tries to stop the other players as survivors from accomplishing the task of the map usually being survival or escape.

    It’s pretty fun, you guys should check it out.

  22. KhanCorpsio says:

    I think my RPS Hivemind implant is malfunctioning…. I was emailing Chet Falisek a little over 24 hours ago about the idea of Director Mode.

    On the original L4D we used to mess about a lot with sv_cheats turned on and some choice binds configured to drop witches, hordes, tanks, boomers and even humvees on survivors from above. It was hilarious.

    By default tanks spawned with only 1hp, it was great watching the 5 you just sent after your mate get mowed down in a couple of seconds by an uzi. It was even greater when they pinned him into a corner and played tennis with his face as you spawned a ridiculous quantity of boomers, witches and fire all over them, muhahaha….

    Sometimes however, the server just couldn’t handle the awesomeness of us spam spawning 80 billion objects and lagged out completely, so there probably does need to be some kind of limit to it. :)

  23. Gabe Newell says:

    Gosh darn it, you guys, now you’ve ruined the big reveal for L4D3.

    To the people who suggest it should be like NS/Empires mod: Are you blind? This is exactly why we axed the Commander class in TF2.

  24. durr says:

    “The comments will also mention Zombie Master.”

    Well, yea. Because it’s EXACTLY what you were discussing. :D

  25. bayan escort says:

    BENCE GÜZEL 1 OYUN

  26. somnolentsurfer says:

    So, what you’re saying is “L4D2 is broken, and it’s #JohnWalkersFault”?

  27. Snuffy (the Evil) says:

    What about a “Good” versus “Evil” Director gamemode? Two directors are facing off against one another. The “Bad” Director’s job is to spawn zombies and special infected to kill the survivors, like you mentioned. The “Good” Director’s job is to help the survivors by planting medkits and weapons. The Good Director wins the round by steering the survivors to safety. The Bad Director wins by killing off the survivors.

    This serves two purposes: the first is that it simplifies the game, so one doesn’t have to worry about planting zombies and weapons. The second is that it provides a competitive edge to encourage players to actually win. You’ll always have morons, of course, but having two directors, I think, would greatly limit the damage an internet prankster could do.

  28. Ninja says:

    I was thinking of Flash Games I would like to make (I’m starting to get into programming classes, and I know Flash games are much easier than just saying “I’M GOING TO MAKE HALO 3 BUT WITH BETTER STORY AND GRAFIX”)

    And I was thinking of a tower defense esque game, based on the director.

    The object of the game would be to make the most “exciting” movie possible. Your opposition are four computer controlled NPC’s, which move and attack on thier own. You play the role of the director. You have various tools at your disposal, all of the special infected, new weapons, all the various items, all of which have limits/cooldowns based on the levels.

    Your goal would be to keep an “action” bar high. This means trying to bombard the 4 with enemies without completely overwhelming them. The action bar would fill based on damage they take, number of zombies killed, explosions, etc. At the end you’d have an action goal which lets you progress to the next level. Each “finale” would reduce cooldowns on special infected, regular infected, and would help you out a bit by spawning free hordes (My ideas for hordes would be a sort of “ohshi” button if your action bar got too low. you could click on it, pick a spawning point, and like a hundred zombies would spawn.)

    It would be from an overhead perspective, and you would move around in typical Tower defense style. Different times of day would raise or lower the action bar.

    The special infected would have really simple movements. Like a hunter can be placed on top of a building, and as soon as a survivor gets in range, he pounces on them, incapcitating them for a while. Smokers would be similar, but with longer range and the whole pulling thing, chargers would mainly be used on long tunnels, Witches are sort of like “mines” in that you place them and hope the survivors run into them, and tanks would simply attack whoever is in range. Zombies would just stand in place until somebody got within range and attack.

    IT’s pretty complicated for a “simple” game, but I think it’s very doable.

    Now as for this kind of a mode in L4D, I don’t really see it because if you put players in the characters control, the director wouldn’t try to make it “action” packed, rather just bumrush them until they can’t survive, and if it was single player it would probably be too simple and show too much how the game works.

    • Ninja says:

      Oh and Boomers would give you a “free” horde without tripping the cooldown, and spitters would just be a sort of “ranged” “tower” “quotation” that more or less spams at people from range.

  29. vince says:

    this is basically the popular zombie-master mod for half life 2

    http://www.zombiemaster.org

  30. Laserhead says:

    Zombie master is a really fun mod, and I’d advise anyone who likes the concept of killing your friends with hordes of zombies to give it a try. Not only is there that, but you also get the evil pleasure of taunting your victims before the kill… typing “Look up” into chat before ordering your banshee minions to leap down from the ceiling and massacre the survivors… it’s genuinely brilliant stuff.

    Just for the love of god don’t go near upgrade servers…

  31. Dan says:

    I enjoyed the article.

    I enjoyed even more the seventeen people in the comments who said ‘that sounds just like Zombie Master’, presumably without reading the other comments.

    In other news, what you’re talking about sounds just like…

    • qrter says:

      I especially like the earnestness of some of the ZM replies, dropping that ZM info, presumably written by people that didn’t read to the end of the article. :)

  32. Shnyker says:

    Check out Zombie Master, or find a decent and susceptible modder to make a version from l4d

  33. Stompywitch says:

    There’s a card game called Dungeoneer, which is your standard RPG-esque dungeon bash, except for that you control both your character and the “dungeon” against the other players – each player gains “peril” points by moving and acting, which other players can use to play traps and monsters on them. It’s one of those games that is really good if you have too many friends and need to let each other know you’re all bastards. :)

    Grafting that onto L4D, I’d let the AI Director spawn goodies for the players, and give the player Director a slowly-regenerating points pool, with bonuses depending on what the players are doing (Say, a regular trickle of +1/s along the main path, +1 bonus if they’re off it, +1 if they’ve stopped moving – and this bonus would take a while to drain off – , +2 if someone’s in the middle of using a medkit, etc). Balance the scoring towards “players lose!” – the world is full of zombies, after all – and enjoy.

  34. sleepygamer says:

    I think that the PC Director could be well balanced by giving them an amount of points to spend, which slowly regenerates over time. The less Survivors alive, the faster the bar refills. Spawning zombies of any kind spends points, and killing survivors brings them back. Spending all of your points signals a win for the Survivors, or if they get to the safe room, it’s a win for them too. A win for the director is effectively killing off all the survivors, and the points are just a way of keeping score of who is doing best. So a perfect director would slowly pick off the Survivors one at a time, to ensure his or her points bar fully regenerates before picking off the last one. Rotate players around between Survivors and Director after each round. Difficulty settings could affect handicap. On Expert, for the Survivors, the Director would have more points to spend, and faster recharge time, in addition to evil additions like reducing weapon drops via some sort of spell command. On the Easy end of the scale, the Director would have a harder time of it. Weaker zombies, less points, slower points regen all combined with the Survivors having more weapon drops and ammo.

    Or something like that. That’s how I envisioned it in my head. I imagine the interface in a kind of RPG-like fashion, where zombies act as units.

    That’s an RPG I would play.

    • sleepygamer says:

      I… I meant RTS. Why did I type RPG?

      what is this i dont even

  35. luminosity says:

    There’s a server mod for L4D1 which I played a few times. It gives you points for doing things right as survivors (mostly killing special infected) and as infected (landing a boom, pouncing a survivor, etc). You can then spend these points as either team. Survivors can give themselves items, health. Infected can spawn large hordes, special infected faster than respawn limit, tanks.

    It was a really fun mod to play around with, but the big problem with it was. Wait for survivors to start panic event. Spawn tank. If a half decent players gets tank, survivors are screwed. Can’t escape with a large respawning horde on them. If you don’t spawn a tank during an event though, it’s dead already as the survivors will just give themselves shotties and molotovs. IOW, director control is fun, but would be really hard to balance.

  36. bleeding_gums says:

    What if you flipped this idea on its head? One player controls the four survivors. They can choose movement waypoints, the weapons each survivor uses, formations, when they heal, when and where they throw grenades. It becomes a sort of tactical, squad based RTS then.

    I imagine the player would have a hovering overhead view where they can move in a limited area around the survivors. I don’t think they would need no clip outside the levels for this.

    You could even have 1v1 games where another player plays as the Zombie Master.

  37. Shalrath says:

    I was thinking less Dungeon Keeper and more Natural Selection.

    My GOD that’d be fun.

  38. obo says:

    Director mode should just be screen showing fixed CCTV camera views (hey GladOS) watching the Survivors throughout the level, with four buttons and a knob beneath it: Special, Witch, Tank and Horde, and a Drops knob that goes from Ammo to Health. Because that’s all the AI director is – it sends specials and hordes on an interval to keep the Survivors moving, drops witches in semi-random spots, decides when the tank shows up, and determines the balance between ammo/nade drops and health drops.

    If you must muck around with something like placement, don’t do it like Garry’s Mod, a fast group of Survivors will beat you. Just click a spot on the fixed camera view to drop a spawn point and hit Special or Witch or what have you. If you want to get cute, you could let the Survivors shoot out the cameras with a sniper rifle or goop it with a jar of Boomer bile.

    It’d be prone to exploitation once the Survivors learn where the “cameras” are and find ways to sneak around them, but there’s exploits in every other play mode anyway. Other than that, there’s your easy entrance, and a crushing realization that the Director is not quite the utter cruel asshole it’s rather cleverly made out to be. It’s just a simple, cold AI mashing event switches.

  39. Gabbo says:

    Why not go with a stripped down (or highly beefed up as it were) DOTA/Demigod/HoN model but the Survivor side is limited to just the four humans in first person? What’s the DOTA guy they hired been up to anyway?

  40. nabeel says:

    Fascinating discussion, I like how it slowly evolved into an earnest design brainstorm. The ‘commander mode’ idea may have been an interesting way of adding whole new kind of gameplay to the game, but I agree with Alec’s point that it’d be better to integrate it with the existing framework, ie. let you control infected directly as well.

  41. Inferno says:

    I thin ka director mode would be great so long as they included a sort of GM mode in there too. One where the director isnt’ limited by span times for types of zombie other than only 3 incapper out at a time as such. If the person is a dick e ould easily wipe them instatly but the point of the director in this case would just be to make a fun game, not to kill the survivors outright. If they’re doing especially well, give em a tank. Do devious stuff and see how your friends handle it. Dont’ try to kill them too much.

    Or do a VS mode with a director as WELL as both team

  42. Durkan says:

    I think Kieron hit on something at the end with the L4D / L4D2 hurting the game. I think it’s a subtle but telling fact that the number of custom maps mods etc in use is very low.

    Don’t get me wrong I love the game massively (Steam reckons I’ve spent close to 300 hours playing the two of them, but it can’t be right can it?). I was in the middle of learning to map for L4D when L4D2 was announced. The upshot? it sits on my hard drive untouched since. The amount of work required to do a map is so huge that it’s just not worth spending the time on unless you’re at least partly sure someone will be there to play it at the end. I mean look at “dead before dawn” – how many years did Darth Brush pump into that? only to get gazumped by l4d2 at the last second, and that was a map blessed with a big thumbs up from Valve.

    I’m not bitching about it though – I think L4D2 was well worth the extra cash – it’s better in almost everyway but I think with a little more thought the two games could have been more neatly tied together.

    For instance simply “welding” them together so that players owning both games see both sets of campaigns from within the same server browser would make surely increase the number of players available to both games ? Even if the engines remained totally seperate entities.

    A step on from that wuld be to improve L4D with some of L4D2’s graphical niceties and weapons as a DLC for L4D.

    More work perhaps but a nice thank you to a community that’s currently a bit fractured.

  43. returntonull says:

    Hrm, one of the problems with everyone’s suggestions for the Director Mode are along the lines of it being Director vs Survivors.

    What should really be happening I think would be. The director gets points for doing damage to the survivors, but if he manages to kill them all off he loses everything. So playing director becomes a balancing act of how much can I dump on them, but not overwhelm them, I should put some med packs here so they’ll have enough health to take another beating. With bonus points for successful use of specials, and whatnot. Maybe, an exception to killing them all would be during the finale, so once they start the finale event it’s free for all time.

    Director’s job is to make an interesting, and challenging game that is ultimately completable.

  44. Edcrab says:

    I think what I want more than anything when it comes to these sorts of idea-mashes is a proper dungeon master interface. Basically I just wish the likes of Dark Messiah had shipped with a sandbox multiplayer mode where one player could spawn various enemies and traps and have their victims fight them off with swords and bows and magic in typically visceral FPS style. Or chainsaws and rayguns, whatever floats your boat.