Valve's Doug Lombardi says that the company decided to make Left 4 Dead 2 rather than Half-Life 2 because, among other reasons, it's actually simpler to develop.

What makes Left 4 Dead 2 an easier task, Lombardi told G4TV (via Blue's News), is the A.I. Director:
You had the A.I. director, which allowed us to start building sets and get gameplay up and running really, really quickly. In a game like Half-Life, every moment, every gesture Alyx makes, every facial expression she gives you, is pretty much handcrafted, and that's just a lot of hand-stitching. So for us to be able to put out… I mean, we tried [Half-life 2] with episodes, we said we were gong to go smaller, and we were going to get quicker, and we got a little bit quicker, but we didn't get that much quicker. And it was because of that, you know, that hand-stitching of that single-player experience where you have to go through and script every dramatic moment, script every time Alyx is going to turn and look at you like this and what have you. And with Left 4 Dead 2, with the AI Director, a lot of that is handed over to the controls, and then you can say, 'Okay, we can just start building new content now, checking it in and start play-testing immediately'."

Lombardi also said that the team was very passionate about the sequel and had a lot of concrete ideas on how to improve on the original formula, in no small part due to community feedback. As a result, L4D2 will hit stores on November 17th, a mere year after the original's release. Other companies have managed such a feat before but it's quite a leap forward for Valve.

There was no other mention of Half-Life 2: Episode Three in the interview. You'd assume they'd tackle that after L4D2 but you wonder if they'll consider Left 4 Dead 3 an easier, funner project as well.

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