Stolen Pixels #77: Go 4 Broke

By Shamus
on Mar 31, 2009
Filed under:
Column

Today’s comic is a about the developer commentaries on Left 4 Dead. That is, it is a commentary on the commentary. Making matters worse is that any comments you leave here will be commentary on the commentary on the commentary. Somewhere near the end of this hall of mirrors is a joke. I hope you are able to find it.

Sadly, the comic isn’t nearly as funny as the process of making it this time. I fired up Left 4 Dead and started a single player game. Then I entered some cheats to allow myself to fly around the world and take pictures of the city. I was hovering at rooftop level and lining up a shot of the street. As I sat there debating how much of the sky I wanted in my shot and thinking about what angle would look best, my teammates suddenly appeared right on top of me. I saw them for just a moment before they fell out of frame and the yellow alarm icons appeared telling me to HELP LOUIS UP! HELP ZOEY UP! HELP BILL UP!

I didn’t know it, but your companions will apparently teleport to your position if they can’t figure out how to navigate to you. They had joined me mid-air, and them plummeted to the pavement below.

Another interesting note is that they never truly died, no matter how long I let them sit there. Normally a companion will perish from the game if you leave them incapacitated for too long, but there seems to be some special rules governing the behavior of the world in the first level. Special zombies and hoard rush events will not happen until you leave the roof area where you start the game, and it seems like the behavior of incapacitated survivors is changed as well.

This means that I couldn’t get the yellow alert icons to disappear. I had to go online and find cheats to boot everyone else from the game to keep my teammates from teleporting to me and then skydiving to their deaths. It was annoying in a hilarious sort of way.

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20525 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. That must be something new then – a month or two back, noclipping around the first level would often result in the splattery doom of the other three survivors – even before opening the door. Very strange!

    Ben

  2. perry says:

    hi shamus, this is the first time i’ve looked at your comic. i’m a bit confused, should i comment on the comic on the comic page or on this page?

  3. Sydney says:

    Shamus: Was that a commentary on the commentary on the commentary on the commentary?

    And is this therefore a…and if you respond to this comment

    I think I need to lie down.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “Am I the only one who feels guilt when listening to the developer commentary for Valve games?…”

    I feel angry when I listen to those.They are,after all,just doing their jobs that we are paying for.And if every game developer did it well(with dedication youve mentioned),then we wouldnt even notice what valve does.The fact that we do,just means the rest are doing their jobs poorly.

  5. Hal says:

    Sometimes I think video games are at their most hilarious when they are unintentionally so.

  6. Nihil says:

    The Scholastics had nothing on modern video-game culture.

  7. Exasperation says:

    Technically, since this newspost is a commentary on the comic, and the comic is a commentary on the developer commentary, these comments are a commentary on a commentary on a commentary on a commentary.

  8. TainInfernus says:

    Yeah, they can die, but it’s so funny to watch them teleport and fall. Try it in the elevator shaft in the Hospital. :D
    And that behavior with the hordes and specials is actually inherent to the first part of every campaign, as well as the safe room at the beginning of every level: they can’t spawn until you leave the designated area and you hear the musical motif hauntingly in the background.
    And, yes, you can just kick the AI. Really helpful.

    The worst is getting hit by a smoker in noclip. You’re practically screwed.

  9. Rutskarn says:

    Yellow icons?

    You mean, like, the new-player-heads-up icons? You know you can turn that off, right?

  10. BarGamer says:

    That’s Valve for you. Even when they’re annoying, it’s hilarious.

  11. The thing I love about Valve is that they watch people play their game. If people aren’t having a good time– and intuitivly doing what Valve wants them to do– Valve assumes that the _game developers_ have screwed up.

    No DIAS gameplay here!

  12. Moridin says:

    That was certainly interesting.

    Now hat I’ve commented on the blog post, I’ll go post a commentary of my commentary to some random forum.

    Edit: Here it is
    http://wilmaforum.simpleforums.net/index.php?topic=20.0

    If you want to comment on that, you’ll have to register. Sorry.

  13. Face says:

    I’m enjoying L4D on the Xbox way too much. The only problems I have are with the achievements and how some are unrealistic, like having all of the survivors taking no damage from the time a rescue is called for until successful evac.

    I usually enjoy the serious gamers the most ’cause we get to kick up the difficulty and try and fail to get out. I don’t consider this a DIAS game, even when you fail repeatedly and have to keep trying. Rarely have I seen a game where it is just as much fun to fail than it is to succeed.

    Most of my dissapointments have come from the human players being dicks. I remember one tough-as-hell game where we tried and tried to get to the evac and couldn’t. The last time we have two members killed and I was rushing to the chopper with the remaining team-member. I was free and clear but Zoey was getting mobbed. I save her and help her up and then get knocked down myself. Zoey makes a mad dash for the chopper and lives.

    I was so pissed, but at the same time glad we finally finished the campaign. It was an odd mix of emotions and not something expected from a video game.

  14. Julian says:

    @4 (Sidney): That really is quite a conundrum. To make matters worse, I’m commenting about your comment regarding Shamus comment on a previous comment, which discussed his commentary about his commentary about L4D’s developer commentary.

  15. Namfoodle says:

    The unintended consequences of using a cheat to try and get some screen-cap comics is pretty funny. Think of it from the teammates perspective.

    “Where did he go? (bamf) Where’s the roof? Falling! Ahhhhhh! (smack) Ow! (zombie munch) Help! Ow! Won’t somebody please help? Whyyyyyyyyy? Ow. Ow. Ow. Hello? I’m still here. This is actually extraordinarily painful!”

  16. A fan says:

    Shamus, do you know any similar comics, or something like you did on LOTR?

  17. Dys says:

    Please, I’m begging you… horde != hoard.
    It hurts my heart to see it.

    I suspect a large portion of net content is probably commentary. Each original post spawns a tier of comments, which each spawn another tier of comments, ad infinitum.

  18. Adeon says:

    @A fan:
    http://www.darthsanddroids.net/ is a comic that uses the same principle as DM of the Rings for Star Wars.

  19. Jabor says:

    And so we have commentary recursion?

  20. Moridin says:

    There is also a comic about Conan the Barbarian made in the same way, although I don’t have a link to it at the moment.

  21. Dix says:

    I want to see video footage of the teleporting, skydiving suicides.

  22. Caffiene says:

    Teehee.

    I do love me some dev commentary. Ive been known to buy Special Editions of games for “making of” content, and yet the stuff Valve throws in for free still beats 90% of it hands down.

    @4 and @15: Confusing indeed. But now look what Ive done… multiple levels of commentary indirection in a single post!
    All we need now is for someone to edit their post to refer to a later comment on their original comment… infinitely recursive commentary!

  23. Moridin says:

    #23: We need better timing to do that.

  24. MadTinkerer says:

    How I found out about dead companions respawning in closets: I was playing the pre-release demo and decided to Noclip around to check out the scenery. I went outside the geometry to the side and came in from the top. All of a sudden, my companions teleported to me in mid-air and fell to their gruesome deaths. But it was okay, because I found them again in the back room of a warehouse down the street. Lesson learned, though. :)

    Incidentally, later when I used cheats on the full game, I realized the pre-release version used the Orange Box engine. At the time, there was no way to make the companions invincible, just the player, but the cheat commands are completely different in the full L4D game and you can make your companions invincible. This may be related to the fact that there’s no demo of the game now.

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