The L4D2 boycott

A group of more than 10,000 Left 4 Dead players is organizing a boycott of the just-announced Left 4 Dead 2.

Are you kidding me? Please tell me you’re kidding me. Because those reasons are pure comedy.

Just like I am somewhat infamous for giving straight answers to angry reader mail and crank letters, I’m going to give this joke just enough credibility, in case it might be real, and go over the points one at a time.

* Significant content for L4D1 was promised, and never delivered
Classic gamer entitlement. We got a whole new game mode, for free.  I felt that Survival Mode was quite worth the wait. Also, I haven’t heard Valve say L4D1 extra content is officially over, but maybe they did and I missed it. What exactly were you expecting that was never delivered? Was anything more actually promised, or did you make up your own release schedule for free shit? I honestly don’t know; maybe Valve did talk big and deliver small. But I didn’t get that impression as a fan of the game.

* Valve put little faith in L4D1 since they almost certainly started working on L4D2 right after release
10 million dollars is a lot of faith. Giant billboards in major cities make it pretty clear that Valve was dedicated to getting the word out, and the various tweaks and improvements that have come in the form of patches/updates since prove that they have been watching, studying, listening to, and responding to the active user base. That’s faith in the game and its community.

As for working on L4D2 so soon…creative types create. Of course they had ideas they couldn’t fit into L4D1 at ship. Every dev team leaves something behind at ship. My bet is that those left-4-later ideas grew to be larger than the first game could reasonably accomodate as DLC, but it was never a matter of emotionally charged words like “faith.” I think you could argue the opposite when it comes to having faith in L4D — “hey, this isn’t a game, it’s a franchise with legs. We think it’s strong enough to expand the game’s world, and not just bolt something on. So let’s do the sequel and not try to overextend the game that exists and clearly works. We have faith in the vision for the series.”

* The fact that L4D2 is nearly identical to L4D1 will decimate the community for both games
Sure, many players will move from the first game to the second; that’s a fair assumption. But “nearly identical” is more bullshit, because none of the protesters have played it to know. Not all L4D2’s changes are evident from screenshots and early footage; some of the changes will need to be experienced. And none of the complainers can do that until November.

* The announced date is not nearly enough time to polish content or make significant gameplay changes
More assumption from people who do not develop games and therefore cannot make any statement about game development speed or quality. Six months with a large enough dev team is plenty of time. And the L4D2 dev team is quite large.

* The new character designs seem bland and unappealing so far
Oddly personal, and frankly underinformed — so little has been shown (which is even admitted in this statement). It seems like the boycotters expect everything to be built for them, not a mass gaming audience. “And while we’re on the topic, in L4D1, beta Louis was better, and Zoey’s breasts should have been bigger.” Opinions are like assholes, but don’t mistake them for viable or even even vaguely relevant instructions.

* L4D2 is too bright to fit in with L4D1’s visual aesthetic
Um, it’s Valve’s visual aesthetic, not yours. Seems the people who refused to accept Diablo III because you could see the environment have jumped ship to talk about a new game. News flash: It’s very possible to be scared with the lights on.

* The fiddle-based horde music is extremely disliked, though the differently orchestrated music is otherwise welcome
You’re objecting to a violin? Sorry, I’m out of rational thought now. See the response about the character designs and consider telling Steven Spielberg that filming Shindler’s List in black and white was extremely disliked.

* L4D2’s release will result in a drop in quality and frequency for L4D1 content, even compared to before
Projection/assumption. Goes back to the first point — what were you promised, and what did you convince yourself to expect?

* The community has lost faith in Valve’s former reputation for commitment to their games post-release

You don’t speak for me. Maybe you have lost faith, but the community has not.

At worst, this is bratty whining, akin to complaining that the Porsche daddy promised to get you might be the wrong color. “I’m not going to pay my hard-earned money to put gas in an awesome yellow car!” But at best, it gives these people something to do this summer. Not enough L4D1 content? Convinced L4D2 is a money-grabbing disappointment some six months before its completion? Then take the freely available and heavily supported modding tools that Valve has given you since day one, and get cracking — let’s see your version of L4D1.5 and let your work prove your point. On the back of Valve’s original efforts, make something so compelling that L4D2 fails miserably in the mighty wake of your vastly superior ideas and execution. I know the Left 4 Winchester team is looking for talented folks. Stop passively boycotting things you might not like and start actively creating things you know you do.

And if you can’t do that, I look forward to playing L4D2 without 10,000 or so closed-minded players clogging the servers.

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