If Valve hadn't made Left 4 Dead, it would have developed an RPG about fairies instead.
Before Valve came up with the idea of Left 4 Dead, it was working on a game that it really wasn't proud of. Gabe Newell refers to a previous Valve "action fantasy sort of role playing game" featuring fairies that was so bad, it drove the studio to create its co-op zombie shooter instead.
Valve head Gabe Newell, project manager Erik Johnson, and marketing director Doug Lombardi all recently talked about the game in an interview with PC Gamer. The three introduce it thusly:
Doug Lombardi: There were a few failed starts to build Left 4 Dead.
Gabe Newell: Well, there was the flying fairy game. Is that the one you were referring to?
Erik Johnson: That was just a different game that, when we stabbed it... (everyone laughs)
Doug Lombardi: ... It turned into Left 4 Dead!
Johnson explains the title's gameplay as one that included spell casting "based on movement and mouse gestures." Newell calls the fairy RPG a "useful failure ... because it was so clearly dumb that it made us say, 'Ok, what are we actually good at that we can do instead?'"
Newell continues to say it made Valve ask itself: "'How could we make a game that was this bad? And how should we make a game ... Why are we doing this game which was kind of a'... it wasn't really an RPG... it was this action fantasy sort of role playing game that had no story."
Valve had a moment of clarity, and thought: "'What we should focus in on is AI and playing in co-op, and that's the interesting opportunity.'" Newell reveals: "That was where Left 4 Dead came from." This example could show why Valve is one of the world's top developers. It can look at itself and see when it's making a blunder, and even admit it to the world. I'm confident that Valve would probably have made a decent fairy RPG, but Left 4 Dead probably has more of an appeal.
Source: PC Gamer