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Letter to Gabe about L4D2 controls. - Adventures in Engineering
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2011-12-19 18:32
  Subject:   Letter to Gabe about L4D2 controls.

From: Ben Cantrick
To: Gabe Newell at Valve
Subject: Control changes for L4D2 (possibly with Cold Stream).

Hello Gabe! I know you get over 9000 emails a day, so I'll try and make this as brief as possible. My apologies on how long this turned out - even after I went back and deleted everything I felt that I could.

I play a lot of L4D2 on 360; have been nearly continuously since it came out. Needless to say, I love it. I have a list of mods I'd love to create as long as my arm, but that will have to wait until I can afford a PC that can handle the game.

I believe L4D(2)'s gameplay could be improved considerably by allowing full button remapping. I always argue for this in any console game, but I know that developers usually don't have time/can't afford to do it. (And yes, of course console manufacturers should put button remapping into the console as a standard feature so devs don't have to reinvent the wheel every time. :P)

But even if full button remapping isn't realistic, I'd still like suggest the following control changes/options:

- Flashlight on/off with L3 instead of D-pad Up. This is much more significant than it sounds. Having to take your thumb off the left stick to turn on/off your flashlight means you're forced to stop moving. Not only does this slow you down, it breaks immersion quite badly IMO. (Right now L3 is used for vocalize. You're usually standing still when you vocalize, so put vocalize on D-pad Up where flashlight used to be.)

- Reload with R3. I first encountered this in Lost Planet 2 and was amazed how it became fluid and natural in just a few minutes. So much that I now wish for reload on R3 in every game I play. I urge you to playtest this and discover how well it works.

Now, what to do with scope zoom, which is on R3 now? There are many possibilities, which is why I strongly urge complete button customizability. Personally, I would put scope zoom on right bumper (RB). This displaces 180 degree spin, which I would move to LB. That displaces crouch, which I would move to B. The reasoning behind each of these changes is overly long to explain here, but generally the goal is to maximize the player's ability to employ movement and aiming controls simultaneously.

I've had these 360 control changes in mind for a year or more, but have not bothered sending an email because I felt it wouldn't have done any good. But now, with rumors that Cold Stream might possibly be ported to the 360, I thought it possible these changes/options could be included in a Cold Stream DLC for the 360.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading. And again my apologies for the length of this email.

Ben Cantrick, mackys@gully.org. Embedded systems engineer at large.
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Ben Cantrick: ronin
  User: mackys
  Date: 2012-09-05 23:29 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Nine months later. Cold Stream came out, and the control fixes are nowhere to be found.

So it seems pretty clear how much Valve cares about people who play on the 360. We're just suckers to be soaked for DLC that the PC players get for free.
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