Gamethread 4 / 24

By Shamus Posted Friday Apr 24, 2009

Filed under: Video Games 36 comments

Open thread for anyone joining in on the Twenty Sided Left 4 Dead server tonight. Or this weekend, really.

Out of curiosity:

The server is full most evenings, and I’m wondering if there isn’t enough server to go around. How many people are having trouble joining due to server full?

The new survival mode is the gameplay du jour. Our first-night gold medal was not a fluke. Our team has scored four gold medals thus far. My own advice:

1) Find a good spot and HOLD STILL. Lots of jockying around is actually really bad for team stability. You need to know where everyone else is without looking. The bad guys aren’t shooting at you so you don’t NEED to bob and weave all over the place. Moving around for a “better shot” is folly. Trust me: They will come to you. Be patent.

2) We use a two-layer defense most times. Two people are out in front and slightly exposed. The tank will attack one of them and the rest of the team can focus-fire him down. The damage you take from a single tank punch is nothing compared to what the entire team will take if you try and scatter.

3) Don’t use molotovs. A pipebomb can clear the zone of common infected for long enough for you to use a medkit or revive a fallen teammate. A pipe bomb can salvage a critical situation. (Like everyone blinded by a boomer.)

A molotov can only block common infected, and only ones coming from a particular direction. Worse, it sets up a visual curtain. You can’t see through the flames, but the special infected can see you. Smokers will pull you into your own flames. Your teammates will either have to chase you into the fire to free you, or try to shoot the hidden smoker, which takes longer. Which increases the chance you’ll be incapacitated within the fire, and your teammates have to choose to take massive damage rescuing you or let you die. Flaming hunters are more dangerous then normal hunters because you can’t tell if they’re down or not, much less tell them from the common infected. And this is assuming you don’t get knocked by a common mid-throw and end botching the toss. A botched pipe bomb is an annoyance, but a botched molly throw can kill the entire team by forcing you out of your defensive formation. The tank might catch fire, but the damage it will take in ten seconds of being on fire is peanuts compared to a couple of close-quarters blasts from the shotgun. Instead of throwing the molly, just try to get in a couple of extra shots.

If you ARE going to use molotovs, make sure you’re doing it for fun. (Which is fine, that’s the point.) Making BIG HUGE FIRE is delightful and spectacular. But be aware that this is not an optimal tactical choice. I don’t begrudge anyone having fun, even if it puts the odds of winning at stake, because I’d rather have fun than anything else. I’d rather lose laughing than win like Leroy Jenkin’s over-serious compatriots. It just bugs me when people repeatedly burn the team alive and KEEP TAKING THE MOLOTOV just because that’s a sound campaign-mode strategy.

4) Announce a pipebomb throw. You don’t want to waste them by throwing two at once.

5) Pick a spot with light. A pitch black corner with good defense is often worse then an exposed area where you can see what you’re doing.

6) Try a spot a few times and see how it works and what the weaknesses are. Often areas that seem like a bad idea will work out because the infected don’t navigate properly. (In some places smokers try to get close, other areas they will snag you from far off. Same goes for hunters and jumping. Sometimes a place that seems ideal will fail simply because it’s so close to an infected spawn point that you end up fighting twice as many, and sometimes a seeming bad spot will be a success because the AI doesn’t use the space optimally.


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36 thoughts on “Gamethread 4 / 24

  1. JavierLQ says:

    I have been reading your stuff and checking the website often for a while now, but havn’t gotten around to leaving any comments. Thanks to your posts and comics about L4D, I have gone ahead and purchased it through Steam. It should be done downloading/installing in a bit, so I will be jumping on the single player and trying to get a hang of the game.
    I will probably be trying to get on the server sometime tonight and not screw up too badly!

  2. I just attempted to join the TwentySided server, but I guess I can only play the last-man-standing type campaign?

    I couldn’t figure out how to switch it to the regular mode. Although I was grateful for your last set of directions. Before, I kept playing the same Mercy level by myself, over and over and over again!


  3. Neil Polenske says:

    Yeah, the thing’s almost always full or always empty for me. I’ve tried empty twice and no one shows up. I’m in a California, if that’s an issue (I don’t have a clue where the server’s located).

    Time’s I’ve been on are fun and civil and I finally got a mic again, so now I plan to be a lot more involved.

  4. TehShrike says:

    If I’m not on the ball, I have trouble getting into games. I generally have to have Steam running so I can see you start playing, or notice a Twitter post and get in pretty quickly before games fill up.

    Last night, there were 8 people in the versus game and I quit to restart my machine. My spot was gone by the time my computer finished booting :-(

  5. Manticore Falco says:

    As I’m sure you’re aware after yesterday, I think that there’s a severe issue with space on the server. ;)

    It was fun when we watched the bots try their best at killing everything, though. I was amazed at how long they lasted!

  6. CrushU says:

    ARGH! WordPress just ate my post.

    Never had a problem getting on the server…

    Played the hospital elevator level most on Survival… Found that the best area is the ‘surgery’ room back behind doubledoors that the zombies have to bust down for you. There’s only one way in, but it’s a nice large room that you can avoid a tank in… Anything that comes in gets shot by Lots of Guns.

    Holding still is a good tactic, but eventually you HAVE to move, if just for ammo. We found that planning a route to take once we bled the explosives dry in the immediate area was the best to use.

  7. RedClyde says:

    My experience is that the server is either empty or full (depending mostly if Shamus is playing or not).

    Anyway, anyone up for doing an Expert Campaign? I’ve been itching to do Expert for a while now.

  8. Shunal says:

    Man, I’d love joining sometimes. But my badness at Left 4 Dead specifically and the latency being in the 300-400 range put me off.

  9. Trianglehead says:

    You have converted me as well. Download L4D and will probably be hopping on to try it later tonight also. Woohoo!

  10. Zukhramm says:

    Hmm, the molotovs are bad? We’ve been using them on tanks alot and I just assumed they worked well since the tanks went down so fast. But that might just have been our combined fireing.

    Inside the hospital is defintely the most fun of the survival levels I’ve tried so far, the other ones are a lot more open and I don’t like that.

    Also I’ll ad, I’ve been playing under the name Krà¼pet Kräà«lar.

  11. Nick says:

    I’ll try to hang out in the TwentySided group chat room more often. I also often find that I check out the server and nobody’s on or it’s full, especially since the recent update came out. It’ll be easier to meet with each other and start up a game from there using a general server instead of trying to join up on the TwentySided server. Or we can hit the server with several people if it’s empty. Either would work…

    I’m on as “Zitch”.

  12. mister k says:

    molotovvs should be saved for tanks. Pipe bombs are good, but almost impossible to hit the tank with.

  13. JavierLQ says:

    Well for my first time playing, that was some great fun! Sorry about the way I left all of a pc decided to restart itself for no reason other than to make my life difficult, came back and you all were gone.

    Catch ya next time!

  14. edcalaban says:

    I find it tends to be open most of the day, but when it fills it up it tends to lock for a solid hour minimum, so I set it to auto-join if someone inside is on my f-list.

    My own advice for people:
    1. We discovered last night on survival that a properly timed jump can prevent pounce stagger. If you’re in the air as someone else is pounced you won’t be staggered. Hard to time, but extremely useful.
    2. I’ve found that 3 auto shotguns and 1 carbine work extremely well. The shotguns should be used on the tank and massive hordes if necessary, while the carbine is perfect for crouching and picking off smokers when someone’s getting dragged. The hunting rifle, however, is useless in my experience.
    3. If you’re using gas cans, DO NOT PILE THEM UP. No matter how much you don’t plan to hit them you WILL.
    4. If you’re replacing a bot, take a minute to figure out what the current plan is and what the situation looks like. It’ll keep you alive longer.

  15. Abnaxis says:

    You keep talking about adding server space, but what about those of us who haven’t had the chance to pick up L4D and are anxiously awaiting a twenty-sided TF2 server?

  16. Nick says:

    Warlord here.

    Haha, tonight was a blast. Worked our way up to gold, then, after you left shamus, we ended up almost getting gold on generator. That upper corner is pretty nice, though we never got a 4th person, so the bot held us back.

  17. Allen says:

    I wouldn’t mind a TS versus server, that’d rock my socks off. The survival’s great, but with it only allowing 4 people it’s kinda hardtimes to get in. Makes me sad. The only times I get in are when it’s empty, and rarely anybody joins, unless I manage catch Bryce at like three in the morning.

    Also, changing the map is fairly simple – just hit escape and select “Call for Vote”, then go to Change map and select where you wanna go. If you’re on your own, it’ll change automatically, but if there’s other players, it’s not just up to you(but they tend to be open to suggestion, for the most part)

  18. Tom says:

    I find that using molotovs exclusively against the tank works absolute wonders. Gas cans and propane tanks can be used to choke up critical bottlenecks, but a molotov against a tank has so many benefits:

    1.) The tank is taking consistent damage, even if the team is distracted by more imminent threats, such as people getting mauled by smokers/hunters/boomers.

    b.) The tank immediately becomes a huge beacon of fire, denoting that “IT’S A TANK, SHOOT THAT MOTHERF***ER”. Your team isn’t going to lose sight of it, YOU aren’t going to lose sight of it – even when it’s shrouded in those dark corners which are so numerous. If your team is holed up in a good location, then common infected aren’t much of a worry, but something that is around 7’1/2 foot tall, muscular, and hellbent on carnage becomes a worry when it can wade through everything you can dish out.

  19. CrushU says:

    Heh, yeah I remember playing with you Krupet.

    Mostly I came to the Molly’s Not Good conclusion… From playing a Tank on Versus… You can tell how much the fire is hurting that way. And you realize that dropping a tank in like 2 seconds means the fire really didn’t hurt a whole lot.

    Still, explosives are explosives, both are useful. Might as well use them.

  20. Allen says:

    Incidentally, there’s two slots available in the server right now, if anybody’s interested.

  21. DKellis says:

    Out of interest, what sort of damage does the Tank do on the various difficulties? Because I was surprised by the statement “The damage you take from a single tank punch is nothing compared to what the entire team will take if you try and scatter.

    In my experience, one punch from the Tank incapacitates you. However, my experience is entirely with friends (RL) who refuse to play on anything other than Expert. Which is probably why I’ve stopped playing L4D.

  22. acronix says:

    On easier difficulties each character can sustain some punchs from the tank. In Versus, around 4 hits are needed to incap a character, if my memory doesn´t fail me.

  23. bbot says:

    Death toll!

    It’s not easy.

    Tank health and damage is the same as Normal. Which is to say, “not much health, and little damage”. This is how you’re able to handle two or three at a time during the endgame.

    Molotovs are critically important when taking down tanks… on Expert in campaign or versus.

    In those game modes, it’s the team against one tank, who has a lot of health, and does a lot of damage, with no other threats. In Survival, tanks are nerfed, and often spawn concurrantly during horde rushes and assorted hunters, smokers, and boomers.

    In this environment, it is more important to keep firing, which means sticking together and scraping hunters off of teammates. In versus or campaign you can light a tank and scatter, letting the fire damage kill him, but doing that in survival results in a fairly quick TPK.

    So, not only is burning tanks a less useful strategy, but molotovs and gas cans present signifigant friendly fire risks in survivial, where you’re much more likely to be using them indoors, and at close range. Misjudge the fire radius, and you set your teamates; who then scatter to get away from the fire. TPK.

  24. Eddeman says:

    I was going to join for some games last night, unfortunately it was 4 AM here in Sweden so I was a bit too tired. I get good enough pings to not hinder the team, the hard thing is finding anyone on the server (except for weekends).

    Hopefully I’ll see some people today though.

  25. Allen says:

    @Nick: We(Shamus, Bbot, Ruts and I) ended up getting gold on generator earlier tonight. Was a super fun ride, too, but the lesson is: Conserve your ammo! An ammo run ended with us dying 20 seconds short of gold. Which was probably my fault, cause I went the wrong way and got hunter’d.

    @BBot: God, yes. The horrible fire was scary and nightmarish and EVERYWHERE. Although when we piled it all up in front of the boathouse it was REALLY pretty. Even if it was a flaming, deadly inferno that was more likely to hinder us than anything else.

    @Supporters of fire: NO. GOD NO. My name is BaCoN and even I don’t like being extra crispy!

  26. Johannes says:

    That’s what I see as a considerable weakness of Survival mode: it essentially forces you to adopt the one winning tactic. Sure, you can vary the spots you’re trying to defend, but otherwise, it’s more or less a variety on “sit in a confined area, stay away from windows, don’t move, and everyone focuses on any appearing tank.” (ok, that last one is pretty obvious)

    I DO find the way it forces you to play as a team quite stimulating, though. Even leaving the team for a few steps will get you punished severely. You’ll never wander away from your team when playing in other modes.

    @bbot: which map of Death Toll do you mean? I had gold on the first map, on the first playthrough of it. I found that map pretty easy in comparison to, say, The Last Stand…

  27. Gandaug says:

    To answer the question posed by Shamus. Whenever I try to get on the Twenty Sided server it is either full or empty.

  28. Slycne says:

    We actually found that we could hold off everything using only pistols and only switching to shotguns for the tanks. This eliminated any need for making dangerous ammo runs.

  29. RTBones says:

    To answer Shamus — what I have found is that the server is either completely full or completely empty. For whatever reason, there hasn’t been a happy medium when I’ve been on.

    My limited experience with the game has taught me that while mollys are pretty (the fire…it LOOKED at me!!) the pipebombs are more effective. Might be my style of play though.

  30. Allen says:

    @Slycne: The only problem with that is that the pistols aren’t enough damage for long range. On certain maps(mostly crane) smokers have a wide berth to grab you from, and only the fence – which is far enough away from our position already – to slow down the pull. So we often have somebody with an assault rifle(I usually nominate Shamus, I prefer my pistols) to pick them off and still be able to cut loose a bit on the tanks. Unfortunately, Crane is one of the ones we’re struggling with right now, and it’s very frustrating.

  31. Slycne says:

    @Allen: I don’t suppose it would work in every map. We were playing on Blood Harvest in the warehouse, and were able to force a pretty good funnel in one of the corners. The only smokers we had to worry about were ones above us and they couldn’t pull you very far.

  32. Zukhramm says:

    The problem with an empty server is that no one joins it because no one’s playing there. Somone’s got to be to be first.

  33. Volatile says:

    I don’t know if this will work (obviously a first time poster) –
    In Section 1, you say “Be patent.” when I am sure you meant to type patient.
    In Section 6, you have an open paren without a matching close paren.
    I’m shocked that you have typos that have lasted for 2 weeks on an article, usually you have people telling you that you have a typo within hours!
    (Oh and if someone did submit such a correction comment in comments but you didn’t fix it yet, for whatever reason, forgive me because I haven’t read the 33 comments that are already there.)

    Also, since this is my first post, I guess I should ask if you have an email address that I can send a comments-on-your-novel file? I created it a while ago when I first read your novel.

    1. Shamus says:

      Email: shamus – at – shamusyoung com

    2. Shamus says:

      I am shocked at the divergent behaviors (FPS not showing up) we’re getting out of this dead-simple implementation of an ancient API like OpenGL.


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