Entry 0218

An Open Letter to Gabe Newell

Gabe Newell, Director of Game Development - Valve Software

Gabe Newell, Director of Game Development - Valve Software


Dear Gabe Newell,

Hi, how are you? I’m fine. The weather is finally cooling off, which is nice – won’t have to run the AC as often, which in these harsh economic times means I might be able to save a bit of cash.

But, enough small talk – this isn’t a social call. No, I’m actually writing you (or pretending to write to you via my blog) in order to register a formal complaint on the latest DLC for Left 4 Dead on the XBox 360.

This product is, sadly, buggy and not at all worth the seven dollars you are charging for it. Oh, I’ve read the sob story that Microsoft forced you into charging for the content, that you wanted it to be free but Microsoft made you charge for it… And that’s fine, that’s understandable, I suppose. They want you to charge for it, well… charge for it. But a whole seven bucks? For a level that takes less than half an hour to complete, and is full of bugs? I’d expect this from Bethesda, but not you. You made Portal, one of my favorite games of all time, and the Half-Life series of games, which are astounding.

And you also made… This. This pile of crap.

I’m sorry to be harsh, but that’s what it is: A pile of crap, a box of turds costing seven dollars.

The level is rife with clipping issues – many walls and trucks and containers can just be walked through as if they weren’t there. Normally, this wouldn’t be much of an issue – except one kind of needs barriers to act as barriers when one is attempting to find some sort of shelter from an incoming zombie horde.

Or, perhaps, this was an intentional thing, created to ratchet the difficulty of the game up a few notches? I should hope not- that’s what the difficultly setting is for. No, it’s just crappy level design and even worse QA.

There are also several building whose interiors appear to exist on other planes – peering into the door ways from outside gives one a grand view of the entire map, but entering them places on in a dark, dank closet. It’s a neat riff on the whole Portal thing, to be sure – but I don’t think it quite fits with the L4D experience. I also think it might be just plain buggy.

Then, there’s the end game.
Turn on the generator, I’m told.
What generator, I wonder? There’s nothing that looks remotely like a generator anywhere near the rest of the end-game barricades and turret. It was only through wandering around – and back tracking – that I was able to find the damn thing. What happened to the hints from the other levels that gently nudge one in the right direction?

I can see why this was free on the PC – it’s not really worth much. It should have been the same cost on the 360, or – because Big Bad Microsoft is being such a bully – no more than two bucks.

Honestly, had I the chance to do it all over again, I’d much rather have spent the cash on that neat Superman/Batman cartoon than this. I probably would have gotten far more enjoyment from it. And that makes me sad, because I normally enjoy Valve games. This, however, has made me reconsider my purchase of Left 4 Dead 2. I’m forced to wonder if this quickly tossed off bit of DLC is an indication of the level of quality the quickly tossed off sequel is going to be. Unless the reviews are stellar, I’m probably going to wait until I can pick up a used copy and a cheaper price.

Well, thanks for letting me vent – and for normally making quality games. Just stop pushing out over-priced, buggy DLC.