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Analysis: Interplay in  Left 4 Dead
Analysis: Interplay in Left 4 Dead Exclusive
June 10, 2009 | By Gregory Weir

[In this column, writer and designer Gregory Weir takes a look at enemy interplay in Left 4 Dead to highlight how creating complex interactions enhances the player experience.]

Enemies in video games tend to primarily play the role of obstacle. The player character must get from point A to point B, and an army of goons stands in her way, forcing her to take time to thin the mob before continuing on. In most games, these enemies do not cooperate in any meaningful way.

Yes, they are all pursuing the same goal -- kill the player character -- but they do it in a simple way, without taking advantage of each other's abilities. The power of a group of enemies is equal to the total power of its members.

Sometimes, enemies are more complex. Half-Life is one of the first games to use squad-based artificial intelligence, where human grunts share information and coordinate their attacks to better inconvenience the player.

Occasionally, a particular pair of enemy types are designed as partners to work together. It's especially common in strategy-focused games to find a rock-paper-scissors pattern of enemy strengths, but on a small scale this is more about the units' individual weaknesses than any sort of interaction of abilities.

Valve Software's Left 4 Dead, however, has a very complex example of cooperation and interaction between enemies, compressed into just six types of Infected units.

These units, through the interplay between their unique abilities, have more than additive group strength. The power of a group of these enemies is greater than the sum of its members, because of this interaction.

Blood Harvest

The player characters, or Survivors, are threatened by six types of Infected in L4D's zombie apocalypse: Common, Hunters, Boomers, Smokers, Tanks, and Witches. These remain the same in all gameplay modes, although other players can control Hunters, Boomers, Smokers, and Tanks in Versus mode. These six can be separated into three categories: Common, Special, and Boss Infected.

Common Infected are in their own group. They are fragile zombies who go down in just a few shots, but they are great in number. Common appear in two forms: as "wandering zombies," who begin scattered around the world and provide little more than target practice, and "horde zombies," who rush in groups of 10-30 and mob the Survivor players, causing much more danger. All Common Infected are attracted by beeping pipe bombs and car alarms.

At most difficulty levels, the Common Infected are environmental hazards; they obscure vision, block movement, and require the players to take time to thin their numbers. The other enemy types take advantage of the Common Infected to become more dangerous themselves.

The Special Infected aren't much stronger than Common Infected, but they have special abilities. The Hunter can leap great distances and tackle a Survivor, immobilizing and damaging her until the other Survivors come to the rescue. He is also the hardest to distinguish from Common Infected, making him stealthy despite his loud screams.

The Boomer is large and easily-spotted, but he can attract horde zombies by vomiting on the Survivors, or simply by being close enough to them when he explodes on death. The Smoker is the easiest to spot due to his cloud of smoke and spores, but he is able to pull Survivors with his tongue.

These three combine in powerful ways. The ability of the Hunter to instantly incapacitate makes it a bad idea for the Survivors to split up, while the Boomer's bile attacks are more effective if the Survivors are in a tight group.

The Smoker can pull a Survivor away from the group, which makes the Hunter's pounce more deadly and the horde summoned from the Boomer's bile more dangerous. The Hunter can more easily go unnoticed when the Survivors' vision is obscured by the Boomer's bile. Individually, the Special Infected are fragile enough that they pose only a minor threat, but when more than one attacks at once, they become considerably more dangerous.

The Boss Infected are even more exceptional threats. The Witch can be killed quickly with concentrated, coordinated fire, but if she survives the initial attack she is guaranteed to at least incapacitate a Survivor. The Tank, on the other hand, is simply huge, sturdy, and strong, which makes battles with him last longer than with any other Infected.

These Boss Infected are powerful enough to present significant threats on their own, but when combined with the Special Infected, they become even worse. The distraction of a Special can cause the Survivors to inadvertently set off the Witch, while the Tank is sufficiently distracting in his own right to allow the Specials to be much more effective.

By creating enemies that can combine their abilities to become even more powerful, Valve significantly increased the complexity of L4D gameplay. Instead of simply worrying about six kinds of enemies, the players must worry about 36 combinations. This increases the game's challenge without making any single threat more dangerous. Players enjoy this interplay because it creates memorable situations with interesting solutions.

No Mercy

The technique of enemy interplay can be used in any game which has varied types of enemies. Each enemy should be designed with a specific special ability or set of abilities. The Hunter can leap and pounce, the Boomer can vomit and explode, and the Smoker can pull. The designer should then think about how to make these abilities interact.

Imagine if the Boomer could vomit from a long distance, essentially hurling globs of bile instead of spraying it at close range. This would make it much more dangerous, but would weaken the interplay between it and the Smoker. Because the Boomer has a limited range, it benefits from the Smoker's ability to reposition Survivors.

Paradoxically, this process will often involve weakening individual enemies in order to make them even stronger in combination. Providing an enemy with a weakness lets the designer compensate for that weakness with a different enemy. Instead of two strong enemies working independently, they are two weak enemies working together. This is more interesting and often more challenging than a mob of independent foes.

By creating interplay between enemies, a designer can make a game more interesting and strategic. The extra complexity will be recognized by the player, and will make the gameplay experience more fun and longer-lasting. Games that take "a minute to learn and a lifetime to master" consist of simple elements that combine to provide a hidden complexity, and they have greater longevity and player investment than more straight-forward works. A designer who takes lessons from Left 4 Dead's enemy designs will create a richer, more engaging game.

[Gregory Weir is a writer, game developer (The Majesty Of Colors), and software programmer. He maintains Ludus Novus, a podcast and accompanying blog dedicated to the art of interaction. He can be reached at]

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Joel McDonald
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Nice article. Creating interesting interactions between enemies is something a lot of games seem to miss these days. It's funny, Super Mario Bros, something we'd consider "rudimentary" by today's standards, actually has better player-enemy and enemy-enemy interplay than some of today's AAA games.

Oh, and on a pedantic note:

"Instead of simply worrying about six kinds of enemies, the players must worry about 36 combinations."

I believe it is 15 combinations if you're talking about pairs, or 57 combinations if you're talking about pairs, triples, quadruples, etc. :)

Tom Smith
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Nice article. Nothing earth-shakingly revolutionary, but a clear analysis of why these designs work well in the game. I also find that the choices of abilities used in L4D are clever - incapacitation is more meaningful than damage and encourages player interaction in a coop game, and repositioning players is an underappreciated and underused ability, partially because it requires additional support to shine. Just taking six enemies and assuming that that will get you 36 meaningful encounters doesn't work unless those abilities are well chosen.

Gregory Weir
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Joel: True. My discrete mathematics totally failed there.

Colm McAndrews
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So focused as you are in praising L4D originality, you forget to notice this enemy co-op doesn't make for an interesting gameplay, not adding anything to the players' experience.

I notice this happen more and more frequently... programmers are busy making their game original they forget to pursue depth.

The average random players in random parties don't care for this stuff, all they do is shoot tings. And that's all the fun they can get, and that's why so many got bored of the game.

Ben Taber
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I find that most of those who have gotten bored with L4D's gameplay quickly are those who didn't bother to play vs mode. The AI is unfortunately not able to really take advantage of the interlocking abilities of the SI. Making the split second decision whether to pull the one survivor the boomer missed or the survivor who is exposed to the horde in an alley can decide a match; very few games offer that degree of tactical intensity, and almost none offer it in a team-based game. Well, it's been enough to keep me playing for several months.

Nathaniel Madara
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Not necessarily. Players who participate in Versus Mode find out quickly that they won't do much damage against a team of survivors by themselves when they're playing as the Special Infected. A reasonably organized group playing as the survivors requires fine coordination from the group playing as the infected if they are going to take down the survivors.

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L4D is the most over-rated game I've seen in a long time.

Alexander Bruce
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I play L4D a lot, and I play with some very good teams of people, but when playing with a number of these people on teams where there's a weaker member, a lot of the "good" people just flat out suck, and can cost you the game more so than the person who hadn't played the game as much.

One of the issues is that there are people who try to play this game well individually, and that simply doesn't work. If a player is running off and then yelling at their team mates for slowing down and not keeping up, therefore getting the runner killed, it's the runners fault for leaving the group.

I know of people who played the game and got bored of it, and it's because they truly weren't interested in the cooperativeness of the game. They wanted to play a game on a team of individuals, and that doesn't work at all in Left 4 Dead, unless every player is just as good as each other.

As for taking down a co-ordinated group of survivors, it's true that it's more difficult, but it doesn't make the gameplay boring. It just requires the infected to be just as co-ordinated, and that makes for some of the most enjoyable times in the game. If you have 4 survivors who won't separate from each other during normal gameplay, that doesn't mean a lot when a boomer explodes on all 4 and 3 hunters / 2 hunters and a smoker instantly jump in. That one last survivor who didn't get caught is likely to be surrounded by horde or just flat out can't see what is going on to where the other 3 players can take a significant amount of damage. Do this several times, and you start getting survivors that are slower and easier to take down.

I think the problem some people may have with the game is that although it is very much a pick up and play game, you just won't be very good if you don't invest time into it. It takes a lot of skill and a lot of co-ordination to get real fun out of the game when you're against a good team.

Christopher Wragg
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I find most people who get bored of L4D are a) people who play it solo, and b) people who've played it for a good 4 months on end, but hey any game that gets that many hours play time is praise worthy, and last but not least c) People looking for another generic shooter.

@Con Quests

What do you mean uninteresting gameplay.......Everyone I know who plays this game finds it an absolute riot and becomes addicted remarkably quickly. As for depth, the underlying mechanics that make the game interesting are considerably deeper than those of most games of the time, between the well designed infected and the director the game is different every play through, and can shift dramatically in pacing even mid game. Gregory puts it well "a minute to learn and a lifetime to master". (though a life time might be an exaggeration =D)

@B N

Why over-rated? Give reasons, as far as I can see the game does a tonne of stuff no other game does, and does them well, it has gameplay for those interested in working together, and for those who want to play PvP. The cunning concept behind the director is well thought out and paces the game beautifully no matter your play style. Sure it's effectively "generic zombie shooter b", but it doesn't pretend to be anything more. The game wasn't built with story in mind, and players shouldn't expect any. The difficulties are nicely constructed, with an appropriate change in enemy strength/numbers and intelligence across the difficulties.

Ultimately the game has been a raving success, and receives a lot of attention because of that success. This leads to a lot of developers looking into the why and how of it. If you think the game is over-rated, or uninteresting, you're welcome to your opinion, but unless you actually include some sort of reasoning behind your comments, they don't add anything to discussion such as this.

Anywho now that the naysayers have been dealt with;

My question is at what point does the number of possible interactions begin to spiral out of control. L4D2 is introducing another 3 special infected, and changing the witch so she actually wanders around. Now if we assume just 2 special infected come at a time thats still 28 combinations. The number begins to spiral out of control when we start talking 3 (upto a possible 56 combinations), added to the possible 2s we have 84 combinations. Now we go to 4s and we have 70 more possibilities, added up that's 126 options thus far. Now in the first game you would only ever have 4 at once as the most difficult (not including survival) because a tank and witch don't spawn together. With the 3 extra it's possible to have combinations of 7 at a time (including the old witch and tank wont occur together) totalling 238 options. Now because of how difficult it would be I think they'll severely limit the number of special on screen at once.

But even the 4 on screen at once with 126 options, is a lot of possibilities. At what point does this stop being interesting gameplay, and become frustrating gameplay, because working out a suitable tactic becomes impossible, as the number of possibilities becomes too varied to predict. Should they reduce the number of total special on screen at once. Having only 3 types instead of 4 at once on screen, significantly reduces the pressure on the players, and would allow them to get their chosen tactic wrong a couple of times. But if they got it right it would be significantly easier than having 4 on screen. Perhaps make each special weaker by some order of magnitude. It becomes a pretty tricky balance to maintain.

Thomas Detko
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Personally I think Left4Dead is fantastic. I don’t understand the “overrated” comment, especially since you don’t bother to back it up with anything.

What I like most about left 4 dead is that it is the realization from concept to game. Looking at a genre like Zombie movies, identifying conventions like “the incapacitated heroes always get overcome by zombies” and then turning these into functioning game mechanics.

With regard to the article, keep in mind that they didn’t just decided to make enemies support each other out of the blue, but they took the trend of supportive player roles, something Valve does well, like the medic and heavy in TF2 and knowingly gave these abilities to the enemy. In the case of the boomer bile attracting zombies, once again this was originally adapted from Valve’s innovative interplay of the player controlling enemy AI in Half Life 2. During initial development of L4D, they took the already existing mechanic of the player throwing antlion pheromones at an enemy, causing antlions to spawn and overwhelm the target. This is brilliant game design as it shows how to innovate using already existing mechanics thereby reducing development time.

A fantastic revolutionary game.

Now someone tell me why they are ripping off fans by doing L4D2 so soon…

Alexander Bruce
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Personally, I think the issue with going for raw numbers is that it's fairly meaningless.

I mean, we don't go:

There's only 4 survivors, true, but when we look at their weapon combinations you could have 4 shotguns, which plays totally differently to a hunting rifle, 2 assault rifles and an auto shotgun, but then you need to account for dual pistols, and the usage of pills, whether people have medpacks, etc.

Build all of THAT on top of just the combinations of zombies, and well... it's a whole lot of numbers, but they're getting to the point where they're meaningless. Pure combinations don't make the game interesting, because everything about it is circumstantial. To say that an infected on their own is fairly weak doesn't work, because a single infected versus a single survivor who ran off is extremely powerful.

This is only a comment about the discussion of the number of combinations. I think the analysis of the combinations in general is good, but we can't honestly look at numbers of combinations as anything meaningful.

Colm McAndrews
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just be honest, fellas, L4D is enjoyable exclusively for the carnal pleasure of shooting running crazy persons, it's an anti-stress casual game, sheer chemical pleasure given by the melange of the animations, the graphics and the sound effects... they form a polished ROUND taste, it's like biting at a juicy bloody steak or squeezing a stick of butter.

There's no such a thing as co-ordination, it's not necessary to win a round, the normal players just try and try until they get the lucky streak, what's important is that they keep shooting. There's just nothing beside that, and it's done extremely well technically as i said, but obviously people who like stories and exciting coherent adventures and plots started yawning. All the babbling about weird co-ordination junk, ai director crap, you're just kidding yourselves, you just love to squeeze that double barrel pump and dribble all over... if the game hadn't great animations you would snobbishly shove it.

It's no wonder that 10 months after the first game a sequel is released, that tries to create more content(the pathing director, the characters' background etc.)

@Christopher Wragg: heh oh please, you sound like the afternoon tv commercials. The AI director "variability" is a joke, children may fall for that... to me it results in "i shoot stuff near the dumper, i shoot stuff down the ladders". Big deal! The "underlying" mechanics indeed... just shoot everything and stick with the other 3 guys... wow, some mechanics. Don't get me wrong, tho, i can see how all the people you know (yeah i know console freaks too, alas) would like the game, it doesn't mean anything, i know too well the stupidity of the "masses", doesn't mean that they are right and im wrong. L4D is "fun" for the low belly, it's carnal pleasure, it's addictive, as you said. It's just that PERSONALLY i seek more off games than addiction, the concept itself of addiction to videogames is diminishing to the beauty of story-telling... i need myself puzzles and choices, i like to always put my thinking cap when i play videogames. And to see people who're with me gives me infinite satisfaction, it means that many PC gamers need something more than blood and pump-rifles to vent their daily frustrations... i'm sure many players have modded their L4D, i bet they changed the TANK skin with their office boss face, and the boomer is their wife, ready to throw up on them.

Some games are simply this, they make your PC work like a dumper to dump all your rage into it... not for me.

Alexander Bruce
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lol... that's a fair rant Con, and I think it summed up your opinions of the game (and your issues with it) better than your first post. You can't seriously comment other than saying "fair enough... you have different tastes". My only other response would be that I generally don't like shooters, so it's not just about all of the killing, and that there is seriously good co-ordination in the game. Play it enough and you'll realise that it doesn't matter how good any individual is, or how good a team of individuals is, if they're simply not playing together.

Besides all of that, there's nothing wrong with just relaxing back and having fun. I love games that make me think too, but when I'm not playing those, I need something, and L4D is perfect for it.

Colm McAndrews
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The problems with what you call co-ordination are:

-Random players CANNOt possibly be forced to co-operate, and they don't intend to

-At times a random players party gets lucky and manages to come out co-ordinated, meaning that the director sends its hordes when the party is accidentally well placed or happens to be in favorable covers, or whatever.

-At times a harmonized party of clannees can get an unlucky moment for all the above reasons reversed, and loose.

-it's pretty much on how you happen to push your WASD keys or if your fingers slips, it's based on volatile random microscopic factors that MUTATE for incontrollable reasons, not actual skill or cunning.

Real co-ordination would mean that somehow i manage to fire my weapon exactly when the companion is not... like 2 shotguns perfectly alternating the fire and the re-loading... and co-ordination would mean that i'm always to the right of my partner covering his 3 o'clock. All of this is impossible, and even if miraculously those persons do it, the majority of the players are random strangers... you guys of the "co-ordination ramblings" are an absolute minority, you're just noisier, but you ignore that 90% of L4D players who don't care and just wanna shoot schtuff.

Ben Taber
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Well, Con, if it wasn't abundantly clear before it's obvious now that you haven't played vs. And, if you haven't played vs, you're barely playing the same game I am (I've barely touched campaign mode), and your whole post is rather presumptuous about the character of the people who play it, almost to the point of trolling. So I guess that's all there is to be said.

Colm McAndrews
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...because that's what this gamey is all about, simple spam killing.

Ben Taber
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Ack you posted while I was posting. Well how about this for coordination: I spawn in as smoker, and wait for the very last moment before grabbing Francis as he's about to go down the ladder. He hangs at the top and as the other three reach the bottom, a boomer hits two of them. A horde comes, and while the horde is on them a hunter jumps into the fray. The unboomed survivor (IIRC Zoey) clears the horde off as best as she can, but by now she's noticed Francis's predicament and climbs up to save him. Unfortunately, one of my teammates was prepared, and tackles her just as she reaches the top. End of game.

No one on my team knew each other or had a mic, but we were working with each other to achieve victory. And this wasn't a crazy one-in-a-million scenario; it happened just a couple hours ago, in a random pick up game. That's why I like L4D.

Colm McAndrews
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You're right, I didn't consider Vs. here at all.

I was fascinated with this type of co-ordination at first, it felt very strategic and brainy, reminded me of the first vampire game, with the feeding thing... or even commandos, maybe.

First let me point out that the versus mode is barely half of the game, tho...

Because im honest ill confront directly the VERY best of cases: the party of infected co-ordinates splendidly to pin the enemies down, maybe because they practised in SPECIFIC points of the map that make the survivors more vulnerable... they studied the level and even have plans ready for all the key locations.

Im not even taking into account that in the end the infected just stumble upon such good actions as the one you described, in the end these perfect actions are just random contingencies and one reacts as he can in the hope of getting lucky... but let's pretend it's not true and that these actions are the result of wonderfully planned team work.

Is that the HIGHEST achievement mark can players hope for in L4D? To catch the guys in a weak spot and take 'em down by pouring on them loads of dung? And then what? Hoorray we got 'em yeah ok.

WHY is that funny?

Ben Taber
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... You don't really understand, uh, games, do you?

It's fun in the way winning at basically any game is fun. You've made clever decisions in reaction to an unpredictable situation and taken victory from an intelligent opponent. This is the same thing most competitive games offer, but in L4D's case the nature of the challenge is changed to integrate teamwork tactics to a far greater extent than any other game I know of. Yeah, there's some degree of chaos and randomness in any game, particularly real-time games; I hardly think that's something to hold against them. Poker is acknowledged to be a game of careful observation and statistical analysis despite its random nature. The degree to which a good team can completely stomp a team that's poorly coordinated easily disproves the supposition that skill isn't important in this atmosphere.

And, for me, vs is the ENTIRE game. As I said, I've barely played campaign (only when invited), and I've never played survival. This is what the game is all about, for me.

Mrs. Wolf
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Well, Con, you need to take into account that L4D isn't really an RPG and the type of gaming experience you're looking for isn't going to be found within it. What it DOES offer is a dynamic way to utilize the co-op for those who want to delve into the more intricate workings of team work with a shooter. I understand what you were saying about "getting lucky" and what not, but when playing on advanced there is hardly room for a lucky break to play any role. You'd better be damned good and more importantly your team mates had better work in a cohesive manner. Even then, it isn't guaranteed that you'll make it through as the schematics adjust to your level of playing and initiate enemy attacks accordingly. Which, for those of us who like our gaming to incorporate grisly death AND strategy, makes L4D a tantalizing treat as its design in enemy cohesion feeds our needs. No one playthrough is like another in that respect.

Colm McAndrews
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I'm sorry guys, I disagree... the kind of co-operation and teamwork tactics you're trumpeting is just non-existant to me, too flimsy, it still sounds like advertising, over-inflate something that's shallow.

When me and the party are walking a path and the horde shows up, there's no time for strategies and tactics, it's everyone on his own... when we gotta push a button, it's a matter of camping a safe spot in the closet(an issue tended to in the sequel, as they realized it was a horrid exploit)... in the best of cases, if people somehow manage to form up in a circle(back to back), make an improvized formation, even then it's not particularly exciting or compelling, because it's just about shooting a bunch of people! There's no conversation, there's no objects to pick up and use, no NPCs to defend, no items to search for, no story progression, no windows to shut with planks of wood, there's nothing to have fun with, the other players don't even need ME, they need my weapon to fire, it's almost humiliating... remember TS's night of the living dead? People are barricaded in the house and they argue and fight to decide whether to stay in the main room, go down, block the passages with wardrobes, there's fun and excitement, there's variables, there's choice. L4D has nothing but "let's camp the toilet!". It's too primitive for me.

The point is just that, for some people the game offers too little, so they Leaveit4Ever.

I should have pointed out first that I only played Expert... and still i NEVER ever noticed the hand of the director... it would have been interesting if i could interact with the AI dir. by the way I tread on the level, to somehow manipulate it to obtain the desired reaction, for example when the party is in a favorable position do an action(run fast? Make noises? Kill the standing zombies in a specific fashion?) that taunts the director to send its forces... but it's NOT possible, i can't communicate with the director, im sure noone can.

So there's simply no material for me to PLAY with.

Ben Taber
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The corner camping phenomenon is unfortunate, but in vs it's often accounted for by the fact that whoever's the last in to the defense point is going to be targeted by the infected team and held back for as long as possible. If you can get that single player down, it's often the beginning of the end for the survivors.

Man, I completely understand how you could feel the lack of variety in campaign. There's a REASON I don't play it. But again, vs is nearly a completely different game. AI smokers are too stupid to even make the NM3 rooftop the death-race it should be.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Alexander Bruce
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Con, I think that the main issue here is that what you're seeing as the "strategy" in the game is higher level than what people are actually talking about. You mention just sitting in corners shooting horde as all the "strategy" there is, but it's actually more about making split second decisions when playing as either the infected or the survivors that can make you ultimately win or lose a game.

I was going to write an example, but realised while typing it that you'd still see it as too simple. Basically, all I'm arguing from my own standpoint is that the "decisions" and "cooperation" being talked about is much more micromanagement kinds of things. Do you run off and save the person being smoked, or do you stick with your team and try to shoot the smoker off at range? If you run off by yourself and a hunter pounces you, you've now made a bad decision, and you have to hope that your team mates see you and can get you in time. If they decide to run back and help you, you've given significant spawning time to the opponents.

I'm not trying to say there's any strategy as in "where do we do this particular section of the map?" although those decisions exist, because they affect the game far less than split second decisions. Working together doesn't mean everyone is talking and agreeing on things. It may simply mean playing as a team. Watching everyone else and never looking out for yourself is one such decision, so that you can react very quickly to save other team mates, but are vulnerable yourself and need others looking out for you too.

I think the major point with L4D is that there are some kinds of gameplay that people quite clearly prefer over other kinds of gameplay. What you call shallow, others find to be absolutely enthralling. It's very much the same token as me saying "yeah but what's the point of an epic RPG really? You uncover a story, but that story is boring and I'm interested in being able to play the game, not watch cutscenes". "What's the point of this casual game? You just push a button and flashy lights go off". It's not a problem inherent to the game itself, it's more to do with the personal tastes of the players.

There are clearly people who dislike L4D, but there are also very clearly a large group of people who love it. The game can't honestly be that bad if there's a general consensus by a lot of people that it's worth their time. At that point, others just dislike it, and should move on.

Colm McAndrews
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Heh for god sake, your kind of strategy and split second decisions are the same you can find in pac-man... should i go up and eat 10 more puffs, or grab the white pill to eliminate the ghosts? Or even go inside the door to distract them? It's childish primitive level of interactivty.

Permit me saying, your level of interaction against the RPG one related to story, and role, and morality is intellectually at a lower degree... if one finds it boring it means that he doesn't intend to use his brain in too complex thoughts. That's the real difference one can't deny. I'm not saying that L4D should have been an RPG, ofc, but you can put more depth into FPS's as well.

If we would just "move on", discussions and forums would be useless. :)

Alexander Bruce
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It's amazing that you would believe that what I'm talking about isn't strategy Con. Perhaps I'll use your understanding of strategy to try and explain another game. I watched a FIFA match last night after what I posted, and you know what? I found it to be pretty much exactly the same as your decisions making in Pac-Man. Should I kick it to player A, or player B... or should I hold the ball a little longer? Perhaps I should try running for it? My, how childish the game is, and how childish all of the fans who watch it are.

I guess there's really no teamwork there either. You just need to kick the ball in the direction of another player, and then let the other player act individually to try and achieve something. If there happens to be another 2 players along the way that the ball can go between, one of whom kicks it in, then you've just lucked into a point! It also happened to be luck that the other team wasn't defending how you were playing!

Or, perhaps, there's a skill there that you're not seeing. If your argument about strategy stands, you can't deny that soccer and many other sports are, in a nutshell, the same as I have just described. Just as people in L4D are just there to "shoot stuff" people who play soccer are just there to "kick a ball". You're therefore telling everyone who enjoys playing or watching those sports childish.

Back to my main argument though, what on earth is wrong with people who enjoy the kind of gameplay we're talking about? You quite clearly have a problem if you're going to insult people by saying that people who find RPG's boring don't want to use their brain, and that making split second decisions is immature. If you're so interested in appearing adult and using your intellect, go study medicine or physics, don't base your argument on distaste and tell everyone their primitive for enjoying what you can't.

When I suggested that people "move on" it wasn't because I didn't want to have a discussion. It's because as we can see quite clearly, this discussion is going to continue going in circles. There is no other way it can possibly go than "I'm right" "No you're wrong. I'm right" "No... you're in fact wrong. I am right". Both people are correct in choosing not to play the games that they don't find entertaining, which is one of the primary goals of an entertainment medium.

Colm McAndrews
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I'm sorry if you found that statement offensive, Alex... i THINK it's not, i think it's impartiality.

How? Because naturally if in the one game you have to decide whether to support a faction that wants to gain control of a generator and increase its power production by exploiting the neutral grounds nearby, or the other faction that believes they should establish political control in nearby towns to use their energy, and this decision will affect the plot, the environment and your own personality, WHILE if in the other game you just have to decide when to shoot and to stick closer to your buddies, is not offensive to believe the first example needs a LITTLE more intellectual consideration, it's a matter of fact.

It's also impartial to assume that the second example is something children can do, and that it's primitive insomuch as you don't even need to a homo sapiens to do it. It's not an insult, i repeat, it's a fact, a fact that people DON'T wanna accept because they're not honest, nobody wants to be told that what they do is primitive, though undeniably it is.

As for the football games, i can see skill, i can see experience and twitch. But you're not taking decisions that affect the game world, and your character's psychology, like in Torment, where you have to make decisions that shape the personality of a character who has amnesia, choices that will in the end affect what the character was before the amnesia. Beautifully complex.

In the end the question really is, is there something wrong with games that don't have that kind of thinking? Obviously NOT, but neither is acceptable a level so low as L4D.

Colm McAndrews
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... that is, as far as PC games are involved, because pc gaming IS meant to be more complex and addressed to older, mature folks.

Console games instead are basically oriented to mindless pastimes.

It's a traditional separation of age jurisdiction that NEEDS to be respected and maintained, from a dangerous FLATTENING and massification of the tastes that's represented by the horrid trend of multi-platforming and the so-called PORTING.

But this is another story...

Alexander Bruce
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*sigh* Circles. That's about where this has been for a while, and it's not breaking the loop, nor will it do so if this continues. Therefore, there's nothing more to say other than "ok". The interesting part of the debate ended quite a number of posts ago, and I can't continue this with you. I'm sure others can understand why, even if you don't.


Colm McAndrews
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Sure, sure... it's the loop, whatever you say. ihih.