Ok, here’s the thing. I love playing L4D. Love it. Every day at work we sit down and play versus for an hour or so, and it rocks. In the evenings, we usually get a campaign in. All this is great, but it’s starting to signs of getting a wee bit repetitive. The AI director does a lot to help overcome this, and I’m still suprised at all the new and frustrating locations it chooses to spawn witches and tanks. However, I can see the day coming when myself and the people I play with are going to want something different. With any luck we’ll be seeing the other two Valve campaigns made available soon, but what I really want is something completely different. Something fresh. Fortunately, the modding community is already gearing up for some seriously good looking content. Here’s a couple that I think look really promising:
Dead Before Dawn is a campaign based on the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. It started life as a map of Crossroads Mall to be used in another zombie mod, but when Left 4 Dead came round the designers saw the oppurtunity and jumped on it. They have a head start on most of the rest of the custom mapping community because they already have a lot of content prepared. Here’s a video of what they have so far:
I’m impressed by the quality and scope of the design, but I have to say I’m a little worried about their gameplay plans. From watching the video, it seems that there will be a lot of backtracking. It also seems like it would be very easy to get lost in the back corridors of the mall if there aren’t any hints letting the players know which way to go. After reading Valve’s blog posts on L4D’s art direction, it’s clear that a lot of effort was put into making the levels navigable as well as pretty to look at. My hope is that the makers of this mod have also read these articles and will put the advice to good use!
Hoo Boy. This looks like it’s going to be a biggie. Final Flight is the work of Markus Bernhardt, author of the Mindful Gamer blog. He has a history of game design and user-centered design, both of which I share an interest in. He has already created some fun L4D content in the form of South Park styled wallpapers and sprays. Final Flight is his concept for a L4D campaign, and the setting couldn’t be more awe inspiring:
“Final Flight is an all new Left 4 Dead movie that features an extensive new storyline with a rather unusual setting and a pretty generous portion of old-school sci-fi/horror trash. After numerous fights against the Infected horde, the Survivors are on their way to the Pluribus Space Center, a huge aerospace facility on the very top of a plateau, somewhere in the state of Colorado. Knowing about an intact space shuttle that was previously used to transfer visitors, employees and other passangers to the Pluribus Orbital Station -- an experimental, fully self sustained installation with hundreds of jobholders directly above earth -- the Survivors set out for their ultimate challange to get aboard. Unfortunately this isn’t the easiest task. The whole facility has been run down by Infected and so the Survivors need to fight their way through the spacious parking area and the Pluribus Space Center itself. Finally they need to reach the very top of the launch pad to get into the space shuttle.
Will the Survivors catch their final flight off this doomed rock? Does anyone of the Survivors know how to operate a space shuttle? And most importantly, why does no one at the Pluribus Orbital Station answer their distress calls?”
Can you say “WOW”? Final Flight takes the number one spot as my most anticipated custom campaign. With his background in user-centered design, I think that Bernhardt can pull of an experience that will match expectations.
There’s no release date for either of these two campaigns yet, and it remains to be seen if they will even be completed. That said, both mods look to be handled in a professional manner by the authors so fingers crossed we’ll be seeing them both in the coming months.