Yesterday there was a bit of expected news coming from a discovery by a photo gallery of the Valve office from a team of professional Dota 2 players. During one of the photos one of the teammates captured an image of an office monitor and in the mass of text it clearly reads that Left 4 Dead 3 is in development and that it is going to be played on Valve’s fancy new Source 2 game engine.
This is an interesting leak because unlike the other Valve games/updates they had not tome to go around and sprinkle hints and clues around their games and websites (see Valve clues for their Man vs Machine update) because it was an unplanned leak there is no word on what stage of development Left 4 dead 3 truly is, as far as we could it could have just been the pre-alpha.
One would wonder if this new game engine would usher in a new wave for Valve, the same way a new console brings Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo into a new generation of gaming. I do not want to jumps to conclusions too quickly, but I do think that L4D3 and Source 2 are the only thing Valve has been waiting to release for the Steam Box with Half Life 3 and Portal 3 releasing down the line.
With all the hype around this I do have to pause and think about Valve’s other successful game, Team Fortress 2, and ask the question of can TF2 successfully evolve into TF3.
Updating a game with a huge player base is a problem that Blizzard also faces with their MMO, World of Warcraft, both are old games but are also huge cash cows for the companies and would be spell suicide if both companies failed to successfully introduce a new game that might split the fan base in half.
While Blizzard faces the challenge of creating new content and art assets that with an engine that is pushing a decade Valve, which made a game that does not require any content updates, is stuck with the same engine wondering how best to make any game squeal without losing the millions and millions of dollars floating the TF2 hat economy. With hundreds and hundreds of hats and weapons of different rarity that came from different promotional items from different games and holiday event, I assume, it would be a huge undertaking to transfer all to a new the items over without a hitch, that is if Valve want to take that route instead of pushing the hard reboot button on their hat market.
And then there is the game-play because a squeal needs add something new to the original instead of it being another set of maps and a new game mode. I remember reading somewhere that a PC gamer did not like TF2 because it was too balanced, that you knew exactly what you would be gaining and losing from playing between the nine classes and switching out the weapons. To a point I agree with that player, Team Fortress 2 is one of the most polished and balanced arena games I have ever played and I think adding another class or game mechanic would cause more harm than good.
Then there’s a problem that emerges IF Valve releases the third installment of the Left 4 Dead, Half Life, and Portal series they would still be stuck supporting old game on an old engine rather than bringing it up to speed with the new era of titles.
But I want to know what you think, do you think Valve can successfully make a Team Fortress 3 game and convince the entire player base to peacefully transfer over or should they stick to what works and continue to care for the goose that lays the golden egg?
Be MOP focuses on the world of videogames with my own reflections about the current news and developments that happens in the gaming industry. Updates Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays