Valve: Left 4 Dead was almost a game about fairies

Valve very nearly made a game about fairies... but instead made Left 4 Dead. Apparently, the game was an RPG without a story... more like an action adventure, which involved mouse-based gesturing. Presumably clapping two mice together and repeating 'I do believe in Gordon! I do believe in Gordon!"

Above: Probably not how the mouse-based gesturing system would've worked

Details about 'the fairy game that never was' come from an interview with top Valve men Gabe Newell, Doug Lombardi and Erik Johnson in the new issue ofPC Gamer, which comes out in the UK on September 1. Here's an excerpt:

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%26hellip; (everyone laughs)
Doug Lombardi: %26hellip; It turned into Left 4 Dead!

%26ldquo;It was a useful failure to us,%26rdquo; says Gabe, %26ldquo;because it was so clearly dumb that it made us say, %26lsquo;OK, what are we actually good at that we can do instead? We said %26lsquo;OK, what we should focus in on is AI and playing in co-op, and that%26rsquo;s the interesting opportunity.%26rsquo; That was where Left 4 Dead came from.%26rdquo;

Above: Sadly this isn't a screenshot from the game. Maybe a crossover of the ideas would work though?

We don't mourn the loss of the fairy game, primarily becauseLeft 4 Dead and its sequel are both awesome. But there's probably a pre-production version knocking about the Valve offices somewhere. What would you give to play that?

Note:No mice were harmed in the making of this story, computer or otherwise

27 Aug, 2010

Justin Towell

Justin was a GamesRadar staffer for 10 years but is now a freelancer, musician and videographer. He's big on retro, Sega and racing games (especially retro Sega racing games) and currently also writes for Play Magazine,, PC Gamer and TopTenReviews, as well as running his own YouTube channel. Having learned to love all platforms equally after Sega left the hardware industry (sniff), his favourite games include Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams, Zelda BotW, Sea of Thieves, Sega Rally Championship and Treasure Island Dizzy.