Left 4 Dead developer talks about why it split from Valve

"There was a lot of tripping over each other," says studio cofounder.

Turtle Rock Studios, the developer of Evolve which at one point was owned by Valve, has spoken about why the developer decided to leave the Half-Life and Steam creator and go it alone.

"We had a really great working relationship with Valve for like six years as an independent studio," said studio cofounder Phill Robb in an interview with Eurogamer, talking about the time that Turtle Rock Studios developed the original Left 4 Dead. Following that game, Valve purchased the developer in 2008 during the development of the game "and things changed--as they do."

Part of the challenge for Turtle Rock, which is based in Lake Forest, California, was coordinating with Valve in Seattle. "Co-developing and working on one product, when both teams, two super tight-knit teams, are 800 miles apart, it's a nightmare," said Robb.

"There was a lot of tripping over each other. At the end of the day, after we shipped [Left 4 Dead], no one was really happy with how it worked. So we sat down with [Valve boss Gabe Newell] and talked about it, and it just made the most sense that, y'know, why don't we go back to what we knew worked, which is us going independent again, and certainly they'd have work for us."

"This is the best place we've ever worked," said Robb about the studio he cofounded with Chris Ashton. "We've worked at EA and all these other places, and we don't want that to end. Turtle Rock was almost like a sanctuary for abused game developers. It really was--all our guys were senior guys who've been in the industry for 10-15 years, and we loved it."

"Faced with the prospect of that going away, we were like, we're not businessmen, we don't know what the f**k we're doing, but I don't want to go and work for anyone else. Valve was kind enough to give us our name back, and that's when we did all the DLC that we did for them. Eventually that work dries up, and I thought if we're going to do something big, that's the time to do it."

Turtle Rock's next game, Evolve, has four players work together to take out a single alien player. You can read more about Evolve in Mark Walton's hands-on preview.

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Discussion

84 comments
ninboxstation
ninboxstation

with games like Evolve, Titafall (also comming on the 360 & PC), and Destiny, wonder how Halo 5 will meet up to the expecations...


like when Halo 3 came out, many were kind of disapointed (after games like Gears and besides games like CODMW).., maybe Halo 5 will be a similar disapointment... 

(Halo 5 is the only reason so far to get a X1... but with such Shooters like Evolve, Titanfall, Destiny, just might skip Halo 5, if it will have the "Halo 3 effect"...)

VegasAceVII
VegasAceVII

The Left 4 Dead series was amazing and I'll never forget the countless hours I spent with it.  I look forward and wish them luck on future projects.

Bowser05
Bowser05

Meh. I never liked L4D anyway. It's a very boring, repetitive and unpolished series. No big loss there.

wizardboyus
wizardboyus

evolve looks amazing! the next step of evolution for L4D :D

ThePowerOfHAT
ThePowerOfHAT

Was worried this would end up being a story that shows Valve to be the bad guy, but I'm pleasantly surprised.  Nice to know that it really was an agreeable split, and I had no idea Turtle Rock was actually still the ones making that L4D DLC all that time.


Can't wait for EVOLvE.  (Also still haven't gotten over how awesome their title design is.)

ThePlantain
ThePlantain

maybe DICE should break away from EA

sadface1234
sadface1234

When i first read about the game I thought it would be lame, sounded like L4D but 4v1 against a tank nonstop.  


Watching the video the game makes much more sense and sounds EPIC (kinda like natural selection 2, L4D and TF2 mixed).  Cant wait, will be day 1 buy.

dylandude392
dylandude392

Does Troy Baker not go on vacation or something?

madtofu12
madtofu12

the game is going to be quite amazing


TheCyborgNinja
TheCyborgNinja

Evolve is a day-one buy for me. I'm glad to see that they're happy, as that will reflect in the work.

645798
645798

That nidoking is on roids.

C-THREE
C-THREE

that's the coolest company break up story I have heard in awhile. big props go to valve.

smartdono
smartdono

the monster look amazing will there be a beta for ps and xbox


Tzardok
Tzardok

Look forward in buying Evolve on Steam, day one. Heck pre-purchase it. This concept is too cool to pass up. This news story just made me like Turtle Rock a lot more, and Valve, dang it, you just have good rep wherever you go.

Gooeykat
Gooeykat

Another reason why Valve is awesome.

g1rldraco7
g1rldraco7

From what they've shown so far is really good.

lfebaggins
lfebaggins

These guys at Turtle Rock seem like a good group of dudes.  Their reason may not even be the real reason.  Go back to what they know works, them being an independent studio?  All their public projects have been Valve projects.  And joint work between two companies is just too common of an issue between parent companies and their subsidiaries to make it believable, but thats what makes them even more respectable.  Instead of kicking Valve on their way out, they praise the opportunity to have worked with them.  Maybe if Jeri Ellsworth can find a way to pull her head out of her ass she can learn a thing or two from Turtle Rock.

wexorian
wexorian

They forgot to add that valve can;t count to 3 so they were forced to make indepentedent game under take 2 :D

DARKSPACE
DARKSPACE

Was this copied off GameInformer Feb mag. It's reads very similar?

R4gn4r0k
R4gn4r0k

I'm actually glad they left Valve, Valve is focused on other things right now and is too busy to make games.

They have steam now

They are making an OS

They are focusing on gaming hardware
They are busy making hats

santinegrete
santinegrete

"... plus, we still want to make games" =D

n1i2z3a4n5
n1i2z3a4n5

you could have just moved to a bigger office

hyfrin
hyfrin

 Something like alien vs predator:P Hunting game I like it.

Stiler
Stiler

You see if this was any other company (EA, Ubisoft, etc), valve wouldn't have let them leave and they DEFINITELY wouldn't have gave them their name back. 


They would have ended up having to stay or violate their contract and then their name woulda been stuckw ith the publisher and they would have had to use a new name.


parabol69
parabol69

Valve is to PC gamers what EA is to console gamers.

pyro1245
pyro1245

is it because Valve doesn't want to make games anymore?

dragonkantus4
dragonkantus4

i told you but you people didnt want to believe valve sucks t

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@Bowser05

you have to play L4D on expert (4 Coop), that's when the "survival", "tension" and "adrenaline" comes into the game, like no other game before.... 

(on normal or solo, it's a dull game.....)

RAD_RADIO
RAD_RADIO

@Bowser05 dear god I could not agree more. Never got the hype about those games.

kargion
kargion

@ThePlantain  you have to make a product with less problems than bf4 to make that move look smart lol

predatorGS
predatorGS

@C-THREE indeed! for a short moment I thought that Valve was being a complete *ss, but they even gave their name back and they (TRS) still work for valve. It brought a (man)tear to my eye.

pyro1245
pyro1245

@parabol69  I don't see it. When was the last time Valve even made a game? Let alone one that was incomplete at launch and plagued by a myriad of bugs.

C_A_G_E
C_A_G_E

@dragonkantus4  Nothing in the article hints towards that. What it does say is this dev had their identity and did not want to loose that. Valve did not try and crush them and they both are happier for it. 

Bowser05
Bowser05

@ninboxstation @Bowser05  I shouldn't HAVE to play a game on a higher difficulty to enjoy it. That being said, I actually played through these games multiple times on both PC and 360 because most of my friends love it. On all difficulties. I've messed around with all the game modes as well. The only redeeming quality of the series for me is VS mode...which is a helluva lot of fun.

Bowser05
Bowser05

@RAD_RADIO @Bowser05  Don't get me wrong, VS mode can be pretty fun and Co-op has it's moments, but with the huge lack of variety and the lackluster attempt at trying to seem varied just made the game almost worthless to me. I'm glad I'm not the only one that doesn't go gaga over it. I'm surprised people were willing to pay full price for both of them. Luckily I got both for free XD.

RAD_RADIO
RAD_RADIO

@kargion That's just it, most of the problems with DICE games are the fact that they are rarely ever allotted the time by EA to properly test and finish them. You rush anything and you're going to have problems.

plaintomato
plaintomato

@pyro1245  "When was the last time Valve even made a game?"

That's a really good point.

"being really good at Half-Life level design is not as nearly as valued as thinking of how to design social multi-player experiences"

Yay Valve.

Bowser05
Bowser05

@ninboxstation  I don't know what language I need to tell you this in...or perhaps you just can't read? I mentioned more than once that I've played on all difficulties. Why is it so difficult for people to accept that not all of us have the same taste in games? Zombies bore the hell out of me because they are almost always extremely unrealistic...and there is no horror in something that is unrealistic for me. Couple that with my earlier complaints about L4D and I DID NOT ENJOY IT. Simple as that. Deal with it. You can go on loving it...that's awesome...but I gave both games over 100hours each...never found it to be exceptional.

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@Bowser05

if you're a veteran shooter, than you should have tried L4D on expert..  (no one would then say  L4D is  "very boring",.. you just clearly missed the real L4D experience, it was ment to be played on expert.., "normal" was just there to get used to the gameplay, levels and zombie types, before going expert)

Bowser05
Bowser05

@ninboxstation @Bowser05  /sigh I see I'm not going to get anywhere with you, but I'm going to address your points nonetheless...against my better judgement.


- I AM a shooter veteran. I've been playing shooters since the day Quake 1 was released in '97. That being said, I'm not extremely good at shooters, I merely enjoy them thoroughly. As a result, I almost ALWAYS play my games on normal, and I repeat...I DO NOT have to play your way in order to enjoy my games. Normal is labelled normal for a reason.


- Once again I disagree with you. The only shooters I play on the hardest and enjoy thoroughly are the Gears of War games, Half-Life games and Quake series. Most everything else I usually play on Normal because, once again, I'm not that good. They are not lame in any way shape or form to me, and you assuming that everybody on this planet needs to conform to your standards in order to have fun is extremely arrogant.


- I can say that VS is its only redeeming quality (FOR ME...I EMPHASIZE THAT I SAID THEN AND SAY NOW THIS IS RELATIVE TO WHAT I LIKE) because for me...it is. I disagree that 'survivivg' (whatever that means) the last chapter any level is 'pur' (whatever that means as well) adrenaline. I simply didn't get a kick out of it.


I don't understand why people like you insist on acting the way they do. I simply did not enjoy the games and I have well thought out and very descriptive reasons for it. Instead of assuming I should be like you, why can't you just accept that I have a different opinion than you? You enjoyed the games, and that's awesome. I did not, and there is nothing wrong with that.

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@Bowser05 @ninboxstation

- if you're a shooter vetran you SHOULD play or try shooters (of this gen) on higher stettings... (since the 360/PS3 gen, games and shooters have become so simple like never before on normal...)

- there a few (top) games and shooters out there, that are just simply lame on normal or only take off on higher settings... (Halos of this gen, a few Bethesda games, Metro Last Light ect. ect. ect....)

- ...Playing on all diffiuculties? then how can you say that it's only redeeming quality is the VS Mode??... , , just "survivivg" the last chapter of one of the 4 levels, in 4-coop on expert, is pur adrenaline....